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  • Bizarre Japanese TV commercial for dog-shaped speakers starring Quentin Tarantino
    09.27.2016
    01:03 pm

    Topics:
    Advertising
    Movies
    Television

    Tags:


     
    Americans have long found Japanese advertisements peculiar—the “Mr. Sparkle” commercial parody from The Simpsons (“I am disrespectful to dirt!”) is certainly an excellent representation of why we regard them as so strange.

    In this 2009 commercial for a Japanese telecom named SoftBank, renowned director and would-be actor Quentin Tarantino makes his best pitch at being the Mickey Rooney of his generation (watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s if you don’t get that reference) when he dons a kimono, waves his hands around martial arts-style, and says a few words in Japanese.

    The product in the commercial is a cell phone speaker shaped like a dog, which is SoftBank’s mascot. The dog is actually the patriarch of the family featured in SoftBank’s commercials. They are known as “the White Family,” and as David Griner observes, the family consists of “the most popular recurring commercial characters in Japan” in which “the father is a human in a dog’s body ... the son is a black American, and their maid is an alien incarnation of Tommy Lee Jones.” Hooo-kay! But then again, try summarizing any Geico commercial and you end up in Weird Town pretty fast.

    See it for yourself, after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Damn fine teeny-tiny ‘Twin Peaks’ dioramas
    09.27.2016
    09:50 am

    Topics:
    Art
    Heroes
    Movies
    Television

    Tags:


    A diorama based on Agent Dale Cooper’s dream about the ‘Red-Room’ from David Lynch’s 1990 television series ‘Twin Peaks.’
     
    An artist based in Babenhausen, Germany named “Kristina” is currently selling her super-small DIY Twin Peaks diorama sets that come in three different versions based on scenes from the original television series that made its debut over 25 years ago.
     

    A tiny David Lynch is included with this version of ‘Red-Room’ diorama.
     
    Available in her Etsy store Boxartig you can pick up what Kristina refers to as “Dodos” of Agent Dale Cooper’s dream about the Red-Room, a scene from Lydecker Veterinary Clinic that features Agent Cooper and a Llama getting acquainted; and a grim miniature recreation of the body of Laura Palmer resting on the beach wrapped in plastic. While they are pricey ($58-$94 bucks a pop) they are really well done and it’s my hope that the talented German artist will continue to create others as I’m quite sure the one’s currently available at Boxartig will quickly disappear (the Lydecker’s Vet diorama already has).

    Images of Kristina’s tiny homages to Twin Peaks follow.
     

    A diorama based on the Lydecker Veterinary Clinic in ‘Twin Peaks.’
     

     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    ‘The Dark Crystal’ action figures coming in October!
    09.27.2016
    09:47 am

    Topics:
    Movies

    Tags:


     
    If you’re a fan of Jim Henson’s 1982 fantasy-adventure film The Dark Crystal, then you’re in luck! Toy manufacturer Funko is going to release key characters from the film as action figures. According to Funko’s website, they’ll be available to purchase in October. Exactly when in October? I don’t know. There’s no information on pricing or the action figures’ actual size.

    I guess you’ll just have to keep checking out their site throughout October when they’re finally released.


     

     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
    Fortune Cookie Porn Portraits
    09.27.2016
    09:40 am

    Topics:
    Art
    Sex

    Tags:

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    New York artist Kalen Hollomon creates disruptive collages exploring commerce, fashion, gender identity and the taboo through everyday images. His work examines “the ever-changing relationship between subject and object.”

    “I am always concerned with what lies beneath the surface.

    “I hope to create conversation that is rooted in questions related to learned social rules, identity, the subtext of everyday situations and perception. Above all, I try to capture a sense of romance in images that are spontaneous and slightly unnerving.”

     
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    Hollomon’s collages juxtapose images of sports stars with fashion models and porn actors, celebrities and brand names with down and outs and environmental disaster, porn with the utterly mundane.
     
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    Hollomon photographs his collages on his smartphone and shares them via his Instagram account. He has a following of over 100,000.

    All subversive art is ultimately subsumed by the establishment it attacks. Hollomon’s success subverting the medium has led to a demand for his work from the very fashion magazines and brands he satirizes—Gucci, Calvin Klein and Vogue have all commissioned him or used his work.
     
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    His most recent project Fortune Portraits combines pages from porn mags taped over with happy, predictive tidings from fortune cookies.

    Sayings like: “Business is a lot like playing tennis; if you don’t serve well, you lose,” “Expect much of yourself and little of others” and “Financial hardship in your life is coming to an end!” are plastered across wet-lipped young models who look directly (and suggestively) at the viewer creating a false sense of sexual intimacy and arousal. In the same way the fortune cookie promises some false good tidings to whoever happens to read it.

    Hollomon describes the Fortune Portraits as being about “open-ended questions, seduction and desperation, both the wild unknown and the cliche, false promises and first impressions.”

    Prints of the Fortune Portraits series are for sale—details here. More of this interesting artist’s work can be seen here.
     
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    More of Hollomon’s work, after the jump….

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    Mini-documentary on Ry Cooder made by Van Dyke Parks, 1970
    09.26.2016
    04:39 pm

    Topics:
    Advertising
    Music

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    Here’s an interesting find. It’s a 14-minute promotional documentary that Warner Bros. put together for the 1970 debut album by a young performer named Ry Cooder, who was 23 at the time. What sets the movie apart is that the wonderfully eclectic singer and songwriter Van Dyke Parks, who had already released his first solo album Song Cycle, played on Tim Buckley’s first album, and contributed his considerable labors on Brian Wilson’s legendary Smile project (which eventually reached the public to great acclaim in 2004), was (quite strangely) at this time an employee of Warner Bros. tasked with overseeing the creation of promotional videos for Warner Bros. artists.

    If anything, Cooder’s resume was even more impressive than Parks’ at this point, having already played on albums by the Rolling Stones and Captain Beefheart and Randy Newman. On this album Cooder actually covered Newman’s “My Old Kentucky Home (Turpentine & Dandelion Wine).”

    A universally revered master of the slide guitar, Cooder would later become renowned for his work on movies starting in the 1980s, among them his collaborations with Wim Wenders, most notably the Oscar-nominated documentary Buena Vista Social Club.
     

    Van Dyke Parks, enjoying a beverage
     
    In 2013 Keith Connolly interviewed Van Dyke Parks in the pages of BOMB, during which the two men had following exchange about his stint at Warner Bros.:
     

    Connolly: Let’s talk about Warner Bros in the ‘70s. Around ’71 there was an AV department you were put in charge of?

    Parks: Yeah, but I wasn’t put anywhere at Warner Bros. I insinuated myself into that, I made up that audio/visual services. As a matter of fact it was a decision, a career decision, you might say, to put the audio before the visual.

    Connolly: Right.

    Parks: I had a department with five employees. We made 13 promotional films (and they were films), which were by nature documentary, so that they could be rented or bought by any accredited music school. They were instructive, they were entertaining, they were promotional—but they could create an income stream for musicians who were hard-pushed into tours that required drugs to sustain them.

    We would spend $18,500 in the production of one film. Generally, they would be 10 minutes in length or song length. The one exception was for a Steel Band documentary, which was a 40-minute documentary about a trip through the South, a bunch of black men going through the American South. That was a fascinating, gripping adventure which I felt deserved to be presented. But having recovered the production expenses—that is, having broken even—I provided that each artist would get 25% of the net profits of the rentals or sales. It was going to be a very promising market for the artist. Warners soon tired of what I thought was a fair equation of participation in creative profits, and basically isolated me to the extent that I left.

     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Eating rats with Morgan Spurlock at Fantastic Fest 2016
    09.26.2016
    02:27 pm

    Topics:
    Movies
    Science/Tech

    Tags:


     
    At this year’s Fantastic Fest in Austin the movie with the highest gross-out factor wasn’t a horror flick. It was the documentary Rats directed by Morgan Spurlock. As a New Yorker who braved the garbage strikes of the 70s, I know a thing a or two about rats. Rats as big as cats. I don’t like them. Spurlock’s film made me hate them. The disgusting little creatures are taking over the world and Spurlock has shot the film in ways that make the invasion as spooky as an episode of The Walking Dead. Using bursts of sound, night-vision photography, jump cuts, creepy point of view shots, skewed camera angles and Pierre Takal’s subtle but unnerving score, Rats shows us that reality can be far more horrifying than fiction.

    I ran a few bars in downtown Manhattan in the 80s/90s. One was right near The Bowery. A giant 9000 sq.foot space. We had a serious rat problem. I came up with a somewhat effective solution. I offered my night clean-up crew $10 bucks for every rat tail they’d bring me. In the mornings when I got to work there would be a plastic bag containing dozens of rat tails in a box near the door to my office. One guy was picking them off with a .22 caliber rifle. No shit.

    Some of the best moments in Rats feature battle-hardened exterminator Ed Sheehan who’s been in a Sisyphean war against the rat population in New York City for more than fifty years. He’s a cigar-chomping character right out of central casting. Here’s our next Netflix hero.
     


     
    In addition to screening the film, Alamo Drafthouse had a special treat for the people attending Rats. Drafthouse chef Brad Sorenson prepared some delicious (so I’m told) rat curry. Here’s a shot of some stouthearted men (including Drafthouse CEO Tim League) chowing down on vermin vindaloo. Supersizing was not an option. Rats can carry up to 5 million viruses on just one of its tiny little gross rodent hands. So no rat sushi.
     

    Photo: Scott Weinberg.
     
    As repellent as the idea of eating rats is to westerners, the fact is that rat is a commonplace dish in many parts of Asia. One can see this as nature’s way of dealing with a rodent problem. As a vegetarian, the thought of eating a rat isn’t that much more repulsive to me than eating a chicken or veal calf. And all rats are free range and locavore. Rat is going to be the next foodie trend. Just wait.
     

    Rat Thai-style goes nicely with red chili sauce.
     
    Rats will be screening on the Discovery Channel on October 22.  Tune in. Just don’t watch while eating a TV dinner. Or anything else.
     

    Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
    Chilling pictures of the nuclear ghost town located in the Chernobyl ‘exclusion zone’
    09.26.2016
    12:04 pm

    Topics:
    Art
    History

    Tags:


     
    In April 1986, a terrible accident took place at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in what was then the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The event took place during a systems test at reactor number 4; there was a sudden and unexpected power surge, and an emergency shutdown procedure rapidly led to a much larger spike in power output, which caused a reactor vessel rupture. A series of steam explosions exposed the graphite moderator of the reactor to air, causing it to ignite. A plume of highly radioactive fallout spread over the western Soviet Union and Europe. Thirty-one people died during the accident.

    Within a year 135,000 people were evacuated, and the city of Pripyat, which had had a population of about 50,000, was rendered almost entirely empty. Wikipedia gives its current population as less than 200. Photographer Guy Corbishley documented the eerie wasteland created by the accident and evacuation. He is responsible for all of the pictures on this page.

    The USSR military established the Exclusion Zone very soon after the accident. It stretches 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) in all directions from the power plant. It is 100% free of human life except for roughly 300 stubborn individuals who have refused to leave.

    Fascinatingly, the local wildlife is apparently thriving in the exclusion zone, which has prompted scientists to rethink their understanding of the effects of nuclear radiation. The absence of human competition or disruption has allowed other species to assert themselves again.

    The Exclusion Zone has purportedly become more popular as a region for “extreme” tourism.
     

     

     
    More pics after the jump…...

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Guts, gore and glory: Behind the scenes of ‘RoboCop’
    09.26.2016
    11:04 am

    Topics:
    Movies

    Tags:


    Actor Peter Weller in his ‘RoboCop’ costume getting a quick adjustment on the set, 1987.
     
    I use the word “masterpiece” to describe director Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 film RoboCop and I’m not at all sorry, nor am I wrong. Verhoeven’s light-years ahead-of-its-time dystopian tale, based in a future version of Detroit in which crime has reached an epidemic level, turned 29 years-old in July. And it is still very much a film that I find impossible to shut off when I happen across it on cable TV. Especially if I’m lucky enough to catch it in its gloriously gory unrated form.
     

    Paul Weller as ‘RoboCop’ shooting a scene on the grounds of Dallas City Hall. Though the film was based in a fictional version of Detroit, all but an aerial sequence in the beginning of the movie was filmed in Texas.
     
    I’ve been binging on a lot of celluloid from the 80s lately and ended up watching the unrated version of RoboCop over the weekend and was once again highly entertained by it as well in a bit of awe when it comes special effects that were utilized in order to achieve some of the more grotesque shots and scenes in the film that the MPAA called “excessively violent.” So violent was the movie that Verhoeven had to cut nearly a dozen images and scenes from the film in order to achieve an “R” rating. An unrated director’s cut of RoboCop was released on Blu-Ray in 2014, the entire undertaking was put together by Verhoeven who directly managed the process of restoring and remastering the film in 4K resolution along with RoboCop‘s original cinematographer Sol Negrin. If you’re not familiar with the film I won’t spoil the story for you, though be forewarned some of the images and the fascinating “fun fact” folklore associated with the unapologetically violent film in this post will.

    When Paul Verhoeven first finished reading the script written by Edward Neumeier (who also penned for another of my favorite sci-fi flicks directed by Verhoeven 1997’s Starship Troopers) and Michael Miner (who also contributed to the second and third RoboCop movies) the Dutch director allegedly “threw it in the trash” in utter disgust. Verhoeven would retrieve the script at the urging of the movie studio and his wife Martine Tours and eventually ended up digging the script and the rest of that story is history.

    When it comes to my favorite character in the film, that would have to be the unforgettable trigger-happy cocaine snorting crime boss Clarence Boddicker. Portrayed by Kurtwood Smith, it’s said that the actor improvised many of Boddicker’s most memorable lines, such as “Can you fly, Bobby?” (spoken as he’s throwing one of his own men out of a speeding van into highway traffic), as well as spitting a bloody pile of phlegm on a cop’s desk while sneering the line “Give me my fucking phone call!” (which led to the authentic looks of shock on the faces of the various other actors in the scene as only Verhoeven and Smith were in on the plan.)

    And as if Smith’s portrayal of Boddicker wasn’t already sinister enough, the grim glasses he wore in RoboCop were fashioned after specs worn by none other than Heinrich Himmler.

    If you didn’t know any better I think it can be remarkably easy to write off most of what happened in the 1980s as neon-coated garbage when it comes to music and films but you’d be sadly mistaken. RoboCop is an undeniable example of the fact that a dizzying array of films from that decade continue to hold their own without the aid of advanced CGI or other modern forms of movie magic and technology. If you still don’t believe me all you need to do is simply fucking GOOGLE the words “movies from the 1980s” and the results will prove my point. It wasn’t all Weekend at Bernie’s II. In the meantime I hope you will enjoy the following somewhat NSFW images that come straight from the heart of 1987, and that once again should be considered “spoilers” if you’ve never seen the film.
     

    Weller and ‘Sergeant Warren Reed’ played by veteran actor Robert DoQuiro.
     

    Director Paul Verhoeven and one of RoboCop’s giant mechanical arms.
     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    ‘A List of the Gay Houses and Ladies of Pleasure’: Vintage brothel guide to Philadelphia from 1849
    09.26.2016
    10:54 am

    Topics:
    Books
    History
    Sex

    Tags:

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    A Guide to the Stranger or Pocket Companion for the Fancy was a “correct list and description of the greater portion of the Houses of Ill-Fame in Philadelphia” published in 1849. The book reviewed both the brothels and bed houses—those rooms rented by the hour. It listed the names and addresses of the landlady or madams and the quality of services on offer.

    In his introduction, the anonymous author assured his readers:

    With this book in his hand a man will be enabled to shun those low dens of infamy and disease with which this city abounds, as a true and authentic description of each house is here briefly given.

    Among the best madams and working girls were:

    Miss Josephine Somers of 4 Wood Street, near Eleventh Street, who was described as “an accomplished lady” and her brothel a “Temple of Venus.”

    You can spend an evening here with great pleasure; the young ladies are all beautiful, accomplished and bewitching—they are Elizabeth Moore, Louisa Garrett, &c. Go one, go all, and you will be pleased.

    Miss Sarah Turner of 2 Wood Street, above Eleventh, who is a “perfect Queen” her house situated “in one of the most respectable parts of the city.”

    At this house you will hear no disgusting language to annoy your ear; everything connected with this establishment is calculated to make a man happy. The young ladies are beautiful and accomplished; they will at any time amuse you with a fine tune on the piano, or use their melodious voices to drive dull care away. Stranger, do not neglect to pay a visit to this house before you leave our quiet city of sisterly affection.

    Miss Mary Blessington of 3 Wood Street, a “young and beautiful creature” who “is as snug a lump of flesh and blood as ever man pressed upon his bosom. Her bed and house and first class.

    Miss Emma Jacobs of Bryan’s Court, Cherry Street:

    This lady is the Queen of Trumps, tall and majestic, and noble in appearance. She is a lady in manners and conversation. She lives well and her house is comfortable and safe. One glance will satisfy a person of that fact.

    The author also gave the following caveat:

    To every man the author of this statistical warning says, avoid each and every place that is marked with a woeful X, as a single visit might be the cause of utter ruin and disgrace.

    Examples of such places include:

    X—Madam Vincent of Lombard Street, who runs “a low house”.

    ...be cautious when you visit this place, or you may rue it all your lifetime.

    X—Mrs Hamilton of 152 Locust Street who has “grown bald and toothless in the service.”

    Beware this house, stranger, as you would the sting of a viper.

    X—Sarah Ross, Passyunk Road:

    This is one of the worst conducted houses in the city. The girls, though few in number, are ugly, vulgar and drunken. We would not advise any body of common sense to stay there.

    The guide’s author(s) estimates there are some 10,000 prostitutes working in Philadelphia. This figure was based on an estimate of the number of working girls in New York. These women serviced the numerous businessmen, travelers and rural workers who came to the city for business and pleasure. How our author(s) managed to find out so much about these brothels and bed houses suggests some firsthand experience. The whole A Guide to the Stranger or Pocket Companion for the Fancy can be read below.
     
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    More from the guide to ‘Gay Houses” and ‘Ladies of Pleasure,’ after the jump….
     

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    Punks, headbangers & homeless kids: Penelope Spheeris on ‘The Decline of Western Civilization’
    09.26.2016
    10:23 am

    Topics:
    Movies
    Music

    Tags:

    Penelope and Eyeball
    Penelope Spheeris and her boyfriend, Eyeball

    Penelope Spheeris, creator of The Decline of Western Civilization series, is a veteran Hollywood filmmaker, a “den mother” and most importantly, a cheerleader for punk rock. Spheeris got her start with filmmaking with her company, Rock N’ Reel, that specialized in music videos. She first got the idea for The Decline of Western Civilization during this time. “I was going to all the punk rock clubs here in Los Angeles and simultaneously I was filming bands for record companies. I always had equipment so I thought why not use the equipment to shoot the cool bands instead of the not cool ones I was having to shoot.”
     
    Darby Crash
    Darby Crash and friend

    Featuring X, Black Flag, The Bags, The Germs and many more, Spheeris says the bands featuring in Decline had a lot to do with the “access factor.” “Most of them were my friends. I reached out to some bands that didn’t want to do it. There were some bands like The Screamers that I really wanted to have in the movie but they were too die hard punk so they didn’t ever do any publicity or filming or pictures or anything.” While making the film, Spheeris had no plans to make a sequel, let alone, two. “I was still going to lots of clubs and around ‘83 or ‘84 there was kind of a shift in the club scene here in Los Angeles and all of a sudden the whole look and feel changed and the music changed towards metal. At that point, I happened to coincidentally be asked by a producer if I could do any movie what would it be and I said Decline Part II. So, that’s how that one happened.”
     
    Penelope And London
    Penelope Spheeris with London
     
    A huge component of The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years is the idea of the male musician as all powerful, getting all the women and never needing to work a day in his life. Spheeris reflects on the sexism that appears in Part II: “The fact of the matter is, that’s just the way it was at the time. The girls and the guys both bought into it. You look at it in retrospect and it is disgustingly offensive and it would hopefully not happen today. But it’s just the way it was back then. As I look back over the different musical trends over the years that I’ve experienced, there’s just different situations that women have been in and the good thing about the punk rock movement was that women started to really stand up and object to discrimination and sexism.” While no female bands were filmed playing in The Metal Years, members of Vixen were interviewed as well as some other female musicians. “The guys back then really liked the women bands and respected them and still today women that sling a guitar are pretty well-respected.”

    By Part III the music scene had once again drastically changed. “When I started the third Decline I really thought it was going to be about a new era of punk rock. What it turned out to be about was gutterpunks, the homeless kids that took on those punk rock ethics. What happened when I was filming was I started to turn away from shooting so much music. I focused more on the social aspect.”
     
    Gutterpunks
     
    It can be said that between the first and third Decline films, there are fewer and fewer female musicians featured. Part I has Exene Cervenka and Alice Bag as well as many other women who had parts in the punk scene. The Metal Years brings on the height of the heavy metal groupie era. By Part III, the only female musician featured is Kiersten “Patches” Ellis of Naked Aggression. “Just because they weren’t represented in the movie doesn’t mean there weren’t female punk rock bands. Hard to find, but they’re there. Let me just say this, Kiersten Ellis is equal to ten women instead of one. She’s one kickass bitch. She teaches middle school in South Central Los Angeles. She teaches school in a place where the children going to school have to go through a metal detector.”

    Making Part III deeply affected Spheeris. “That film for me is the film that I loved the most out of all the films I’ve done in my career, it’s the one I’m most proud of and it affected me the most in terms of my values and my choices about what to do in life and how to decide my future. When I saw such a terrible problem out there on the street, and mind you that in the 19 years since I shot it, the problem has gotten worse with homeless children and children being treated badly and abused. So I said to myself, what’s more important, trying to help with this terrible situation or making more money in Hollywood? I decided it was more important to be a foster parent. I’ve had six foster kids. You gotta put your money where your mouth is, if you really believe in something. Having a kid and helping a kid is so much more gratifying than making a movie. It was a good choice.”
     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Izzi Krombholz | Leave a comment
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