In last week’s episode of Mad Men, smug Madison Avenue advertising honcho Roger Sterling drops acid for the first time, thumbs through a magazine with the above image and then looks into a mirror, seeing himself with a similar situation going on with his own hair.
The ad was actually real and so was the product: “Great Day For Men” hair dye. The gentleman modeling the two-tone ‘do? None other than future “Ted Baxter,” the great Ted Knight!
A mock trailer for a “Dogme 95” film Donald Duck movie from Icelandic television’s Mid-Island show. The pretentious checklist of the Danish avant-garde cinematic movement seems to be followed to the letter here.
From the YouTube description:
Donald leads a tormented life on the unforgiving streets of Duckburg, where sometimes he must betray his own conscience to make ends meet.
Donald has to raise his 3 nephews, deal with a cheating girlfriend and put up with working for his stingy uncle; the richest duck in down. This is a tale everyone can relate to.
Wait for Goofy’s appearance, you’ll be glad you did.
Jonathan Frid died of natural causes in Ontario, Canada, the home of his birth, on Friday the 13th. The news of his death was reported yesterday evening. He was 87.
Frid played Barnabas Collins on the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows that ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971. The show has a fervent cult following to this day. So much so that a Tim Burton-directed big screen adaption starring Johnny Depp is scheduled to be released next month.
Dark Shadows, along with Hammer movies, were obsessions for proto-goth kids in training. For many of us who felt like outsiders, the vampire was the perfect fantasy figure for our anti-social yearnings. Vampires didn’t take shit from anybody and they liked to stay out late and sleep-in. I could relate.
The clip that follows features Frid seductively intoning “I Barnabas” from the album The Original Music from Dark Shadows which was released in 1969.
In June 2004, Dave Davies suffered a stroke as he was exiting a lift, in BBC’s Broadcasting House.
Suddenly the right hand side of my body seized up and I couldn’t move my arm or leg. Although I didn’t lose consciousness, I couldn’t speak. Luckily my son Christian and my publicist were there, so they carried me outside and called an ambulance.
Though he had warnings signs - waking up one morning to find he couldn’t move his right hand or speak when he opened his mouth - and was examined by a doctor, nothing indicated the imminence of his stroke. As Dave later wrote in the Daily Mail in 2006:
I was told I’d had a stroke - or, in medical terms, a cerebral infraction. An ‘infarct’ is an area of dead tissue and there was a patch of it on the left side of my brain - the bit that controls movement on the right side.
The doctors told me I had high blood pressure and that this was what had caused the stroke. They thought I’d probably had high blood pressure for at least ten years….
...Two weeks after my stroke, I finally plucked the courage to pick up my guitar. I held it across my lap, pressing on the strings. I could feel everything but the hand itself was virtually immobile.
I knew I was going to have to work very hard if I was to get better, and I started using meditation and visualisation. I thought if I could visualise myself running, walking and playing the guitar, it might prompt my brain to remember how I used to be.
It took Dave 18 months of physio, determination and hard work, to get “about 85 per cent back to normal”.
I believe my stroke was meant to happen to slow me down. I’d like to write and male films and start a foundation where I can help people be more spiritual…
...For now I appreciate my slower pace of life. I feel I have discovered an inner strength which I know will see me through any adversity.
Made in 2011, Julien Temple’s pastoral documentary Kinkdom Come is a touching portrait of the other half of The Kinks, Dave Davies.
Opening with Davies in the wilds of Exmoor, where he revels in the desolation and the quiet, Temple’s film moves through Dave’s life story, examining key moments in his childhood, his career as guitarist with The Kinks, his openness about sexuality, his (some would say torturous) relationship with his brother Ray, and the damagingly high cost of that all of his fame, success and position as “iconic Sixties figure” has cost him.
Throughout, Dave comes across as an honest, gentle soul, slightly lost, beautifully innocent, almost ethereal, as if he is a visitor from some other galaxy.
Philip K. Dick wrote an excited letter to Jeff Walker, at the Ladd Company, after watching a television preview of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, the film version of his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
October 11, 1981
Mr. Jeff Walker,
The Ladd Company,
4000 Warner Boulevard,
I happened to see the Channel 7 TV program “Hooray For Hollywood” tonight with the segment on BLADE RUNNER. (Well, to be honest, I didn’t happen to see it; someone tipped me off that BLADE RUNNER was going to be a part of the show, and to be sure to watch.) Jeff, after looking—and especially after listening to Harrison Ford discuss the film—I came to the conclusion that this indeed is not science fiction; it is not fantasy; it is exactly what Harrison said: futurism. The impact of BLADE RUNNER is simply going to be overwhelming, both on the public and on creative people—and, I believe, on science fiction as a field. Since I have been writing and selling science fiction works for thirty years, this is a matter of some importance to me. In all candor I must say that our field has gradually and steadily been deteriorating for the last few years. Nothing that we have done, individually or collectively, matches BLADE RUNNER. This is not escapism; it is super realism, so gritty and detailed and authentic and goddam convincing that, well, after the segment I found my normal present-day “reality” pallid by comparison. What I am saying is that all of you collectively may have created a unique new form of graphic, artistic expression, never before seen. And, I think, BLADE RUNNER is going to revolutionize our conceptions of what science fiction is and, more, can be.
Let me sum it up this way. Science fiction has slowly and ineluctably settled into a monotonous death: it has become inbred, derivative, stale. Suddenly you people have come in, some of the greatest talents currently in existence, and now we have a new life, a new start. As for my own role in the BLADE RUNNER project, I can only say that I did not know that a work of mine or a set of ideas of mine could be escalated into such stunning dimensions. My life and creative work are justified and completed by BLADE RUNNER. Thank you..and it is going to be one hell of a commercial success. It will prove invincible.
Philip K. Dick
The tragedy is PKD never saw the finished version of the classic science fiction film, as he died 5 months later, on March 2, 1982, just months before Blade Runner was given its cinematic release.
On the surface Dick Clark looked about as hip as Dick Nixon and as a kid I thought Clark was somewhat dubious as a purveyor of youth culture, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate his massive contribution to rock history, particularly when he went out on the limb and booked edgy acts on American bandstand, including Pink Floyd Public Image, Captain Beefheart, Bubble Puppy, Love, and X.
Here’s something I’d never seen before and I think it demonstrates just how on top of the rock scene Clark could be. Pink Floyd on American Bandstand
While no one will mistake this for a historic meeting of the minds, it does have its odd charm. The Marshall McLuhan of punk Billy Idol chats with Timothy Leary about rock n’ roll, cyberspace and computers. “Pretty deep,” Joey Ramone observes while Television (the band) let old skool technologies like drums and guitars do the talking.
A retrospective of the work of film-maker Peter Watkins will take place at the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA), in Oslo, between the 7th and 14th May.
Watkins is a great and important film-maker, whose career spans over 5 decades and includes such works of brilliance as Culloden (1964), the story of an English massacre of the Scots, retold as an analogy to the Vietnam War; The War Game (1965), the essential banned drama of the after-affects of a nuclear war; Punishment Park (1970), a harrowing imagining of the National Guard pursuing members of the counter-culture; Edvard Munch (1973), Watkins’ personal take on the life of the artist; and La Commune (de Paris, 1871) (1999), an examination into the cause and effects of political interpretations of historical events, through the re-telling of revolution in France.
The retrospective will include screenings of Watkins’ key films, with a discussion of his work.
Peter Watkins: A Retrospective will start with the screening of Edvard Munch, Watkins’s film on three decades of the life of the artist, and will be followed by a public discussion in which the director will address, together with members of the cast and the technical team, the meaning of the film, both at the time it was released and today. Edvard Munch, considered by Watkins the most personal film he has ever made, dramatises three decades of the life of the artist and provides a raw and haunting portrait of the creative process as embedded within the spirit and the social relations of its time.
This will be followed by screenings of Watkins’s other Scandinavian projects, The Gladiators (1968), Evening Land (1976), and The Freethinker (1992–94), a biography of August Strindberg with four different timelines and a spiral structure that will be shown on the 100th anniversary of the artist, writer, and playwright’s death in 1912. Additional screenings will include The War Game (1965), Punishment Park (1970), and La Commune (de Paris, 1871) (1999), films in which the dramatisation of historical past or the present results in revealing political assessments that are at the same time critical reflections on filmic language, distribution networks, and media in general.
Central to much Watkins work is the role of mass media within society and its insidious effects. Here, in an interview from 2001, Watkins discusses the damaging role of mass media, in particular the misunderstanding in the role of mass communication, and how the contemporary media landscape allows little space for independent and critical thought. Though Watkins may sound like a man with bad indigestion, his thinking and analysis is clear and still hugely relevant.
Star Maidens, the long forgotten UK/German sci-fi/comedy TV series from 1975 takes place on the “highly advanced” retro-futuristic planet Medusa, where women live a life of luxury and the males are their subservient slaves. Two grunts steal a spaceship from one of their mistresses and set off for Earth, a planet where the equality of the sexes is—hey—a way of life!
Star Maidens was campy and cheap—the sets were reused from Space 1999 and incorporated tennis balls and air fresheners. The security guards all wore hot pants and platform shoes… How is it possible that Star Maidens was all but forgotten about until it was released on DVD in 2005?
Eagle-eyed otaku-types will recognize Gareth Thomas, who would soon go on to fame on Blake’s 7 and Judy Geeson, first seen as a teenager in From Sir to Love and later as the annoying British neighbor in Mad About You, as Fulvia, the Supreme Councilor. Dawn Addams as Clara, President of the Grand Council of Medusa, is recalled by fanboys for her roles in Hammer’s The Vampire Lovers, the Amicus portmanteau Vault of Horror and as the female lead in Charlie Chaplin’s last film, A King in New York.
After thirteen episodes, Star Maidens was toast, but the show aired sporadically in other parts of the world until the early 1980s. I think Star Maidens, like Baywatch, would translate pretty easily, don’t you? Someone should revive it!