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  • Chuck Barris is dead, but the scandalous ‘Popsicle Twins’ will live forever
    10:05 am



    Well, the CIA lost their greatest assassin today. Gong Show host Chuck Barris has died, aged 87.  Dumb but beautiful and entirely emblematic of the decade in which it flourished, The Gong Show was quintessential 1970s junk TV, a swirling, whirling dimestore cocktail of low-watt celebrity worship, vaudeville schmaltz, and punk ferocity. Half game-show, half freakshow, it allowed ordinary knuckleheads a chance to shine on national television while D-grade stars like Jamie Farr, Jaye P. Morgan, and Rip Taylor mocked them. It was like American Idol, except for that everyone was in on the joke. Lording over the whole chaotic enterprise was game-show impresario Barris, a bucket hat wearing goofball who could not care less if anybody won or if anybody died. It was so, so good, a riot of polyester, bubbles, desperation and abject failure. It made legitimate stars out of unlikely characters like Gene Gene the Dancing Machine and The Unknown Comic.

    It was everything the 1970s promised and more.

    ‘Gong Show’ greatness: Gene Gene the Dancing Machine
    Barris also created The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game and, according to his kooky autobiography Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (!), he ran his media empire while working as a spy-slash-assassin for the CIA. The CIA denied it, but of course they would.

    Anyway, let us not mourn the man’s tragic passing, but celebrate his most towering achievement: the 1977 Gong Show appearance of “Have You Got A Nickel” AKA the Popsicle Twins. We could analyze it, but that’s not what Chuck would’ve wanted. All you really need to know is that sometime in 1977, The Gong Show featured 17-year-old twins eating orange popsicles on stage—that’s it—and the whole country almost had a heart attack.

    Rest in peace, Chuck. You truly were a Dangerous Mind. Gong, but not forgotten…

    Watch the Popsicle Twins after the jump…

    Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
    A Marilyn Monroe-themed house is up for sale and it’s batshit crazy-looking
    09:41 am



    A shot of the living room in the Marilyn Monroe-themed house in Dublin currently up for sale.
    If your dream has ever been to move to Ireland and live in a house that was once owned by Marilyn Monroe’s number one fan, then you may finally get to live out that very strange and oddly specific fantasy. Nearly every wall of the 1,200 square foot, three-bedroom, one bathroom house at 44 Harelawn Drive in Clondalkin, Dublin is covered in images of Marilyn and has been painted in blinding pop-art style colors.

    To say that the home is tasteless would be an understatement—just looking at the photos included in the listing nearly gave me a seizure. And everywhere I look, I see Marilyn’s famous mug looking right back at me. According to the listing, the decor inside this little slice of heaven is described as “quirky.” But since the home is located so close to the pleasant-sounding Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, I’m sure someone will express interest in making this their new digs. But will they keep this zany decor? And while it may seem like a deal to some people, the current asking price is around $230,000 USD (or €185,000). I’ve posted images of the Marilyn Monroe house of horrors below.

    The plain, rather normal looking exterior of the Marilyn Monroe house.

    This room is purple. Very, very purple.

    The stairway leading to the second floor of the Marilyn house.
    More Marilyn after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    ‘I’d Kill for Her’: New music and video from The Black Angels
    09:00 am



    Austin, TX’s Black Angels have risen to join psychedelia’s premier standard bearers in the decade or so since they found their way onto the world’s radar after the release of their first LP Passover. On that debut, they emerged damn near fully-formed, proffering a pastiche of riveting Spacemen 3 drones, stoneriffic Sabbathy heaviness, and an entrancing darkness worthy of the Velvet Underground song from which they purloined their name. But though they’ve released four albums (with #5 on the way), their reputation was built as a live act, thanks to utterly immersive performances of practically cinematic hugeness. This made them naturals to serve as backup musicians for their fellow Austinite Roky Erickson when he returned to the stage in 2008 to perform 13th Floor Elevators songs for the first time in decades, a meeting of the minds documented on the DVD Night of the Vampire. They’ve taken on a curatorial bent, as well—band members Christian Bland and Alex Maas are principals in Austin’s annual Levitation Festival (previously known as Austin Psych Fest), which has been a destination for fans of stoner, psych, shoegaze, and related musics since 2008.

    By titling their forthcoming fifth album Death Song, the Black Angels have rather cheekily completed the loop on the V.U. joke they undertook when they formed, and the album seems to split the difference between their first two records relentless droneyness and their subsequent exploration of shorter, hookier songs, opening with the hypnotic lament “Currency,” a meditation on the role of money in our culture and our lives. Singer Maas took some time to discuss that subject with Dangerous Minds.

    It’s something that’s been bothering me for a long time, the way the whole monetary system is smoke and mirrors, this kind of mirage, an illusion between the Fed, the Treasury, and us. I’ve always been confused by how that system actually works.

    The song is kind of a reaction to what’s happening in the world—but that’s all art, isn’t it? Not to say that art is political in itself, but if you’re going to say anything it might as well be important to you. There are threads on the record that go through every song, and we’re inspired to write music by the unknown, and fears about where the world might be headed, that’s kind of a golden thread through all our work. You can tie money and greed into a lot of the songs that we wrote on this record, and we’ve touched on that before.

    America is obviously a toxic place to live in right now, and I think the new record speaks to that toxicity, the greed, and the illusion that people in power have any interest in what’s best for the world.

    Much more after the jump…

    Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
    ‘Love Story’: Definitive doc on the great Arthur Lee and Love
    01:27 pm



    It seems that Love is in the air…. Just a few days ago we featured a swell duvet cover featuring the cover art of Forever Changes as the prevailing design.

    Love was perfectly primed to become an object of cult adoration. They were an interracial band that was smack in the middle of a very fertile California music scene in the 1960s. The quality of their output was very high, and reflected a very important transition in the maturation of the rock scene as a whole. Love’s “classic” line-up didn’t last long. They were a hard-luck band with more than its share of uncommonly punitive arrests and premature deaths. On top of all that, Love did produce the one clear masterpiece, the aforementioned Forever Changes that is today widely regarded to be one of the greatest albums ever recorded.

    The documentary Love Story was released just after frontman Arthur Lee’s death from leukemia in 2006. While it is properly adulatory, directors Chris Hall and Mike Kerry largely manage to keep the distorting effect of sadness and grief out of it, presumably because much of the footage was filmed before the deaths of Lee as well as the (unrelated) 1998 deaths of Ken Forssi and Bryan Maclean.

    Feel the Love after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    ‘Follow the Sun’: FM radio-perpetrated pop fodder from 1970s Australia
    11:50 am



    When Anthology Recordings’s ace publicist Jess Rotter asked me if we wanted to premiere something from the label’s upcoming Australian 70s folk-rock compilation Follow the Sun even before I heard it I pretty much knew from the description alone that it was something I was probably going to like. I’m always looking for something new to listen to and this sounded like “it” to me. An Australian 70s folk-rock compilation? Yes, please, count me the fuck in…

    Follow The Sun was compiled by Mikey Young (Total Control, Eddy Current Suppression Ring) and Keith Abrahamsson (Founder / Head of A&R at Anthology Recordings and Mexican Summer). The album is a survey—twenty cuts—of the golden age of 70s FM “soft rock” by acts who were (mostly) unknown outside of Australia, if they were even known there.

    Independent labels and recording studios proliferated across Australia during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, while major labels simultaneously scoured the furthest reaching corners of the continent to foster new approaches in making music. With both indies and majors ultimately compelled to uncover the almighty single, the fringe was frequently explored for “crossover” sounds. This engendered a creative freedom amongst artists that mirrored the open-ended mood of the times. Anything was possible.

    Follow The Sun does not represent those Australian acts who produced a number one single leading to international fame and fortune. Some of the artists on the compilation never even made the local hit parade. But the fact that many of these artists didn’t enjoy chart success is secondary; these artists represent the consciousness of their time. As radio-perpetrated pop fodder trodding the middle ground to ensure maximum advertising, the artists on this album chronicled the times in their own unique ways. [Emphasis added]

    If that last sentence isn’t the single best thing I’ve read in a music industry press release all year, then I don’t know what would be… It oddly makes you want to hear it even more, right? Worked for me!

    More after the jump…

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    Homemade Monsters: DIY horror movie makeup from 1965
    11:48 am



    Martian #1.
    In 1965, Forrest J. Ackerman hired legendary movie make-up artist Dick Smith to produce a Famous Monsters of Filmland Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-Up Handbook. Smith (1922-2014) was the guy who did the award-winning make-up for movies like The Exorcist, Little Big Man, The Godfather, Taxi Driver and Ken Russell’s Altered States. Smith’s special edition illustrated magazine presented a 100-page step-by-step guide on how to get the look for some of cinema’s best-known movie monsters. Using a range of everyday objects—from crepe paper and breadcrumbs to ping pong balls—Smith shared some of his best-kept secrets of the trade.

    In his introduction to the handbook, Smith wrote:

    Make-up is an exciting hobby, but it has been enjoyed by only a few young people because learning how to do it was very difficult. It was my hobby when I was a teenager, so I know both the difficulties and the excitement. I enjoyed make-up so much that I became a professional make-up artist, and after twenty years, I still love it.

    What I want to do with this book is to provide you young amateurs with the information you’ll need to make it easy for you to understand and enjoy this art. The book begins with very simple make-ups and ends with some complicated ones.

    Any kid who grew up on black & white Universal and RKO monster movies would have dug Smith’s book. Nearly every kid loves the thrill of making themselves into monsters and scaring the bejesus out of grown-ups. It’s all the fun of growing up. And Smith’s Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-Up Handbook certainly offered the young and those old enough to know better that chance.

    Dick Smith’s Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-Up Handbook is still available to buy as a paperback. But here’s a taste of how it looked when first published in Famous Monsters of Filmland in 1965.
    Martian #2.
    Werewolf #1.
    See more of Smith’s scary monster make-up tips, after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    Labor of love: Writer-director-star Alice Lowe on homicidal motherhood & the making of ‘Prevenge’
    10:45 am



    Alice Lowe’s horror black comedy Prevenge, as you may have gathered from my last post, is pretty likely to be my favorite film of the year (though there’s some fierce competition, for sure.) A hilariously bleak look at motherhood and murder, Prevenge is the story of mother-to-be Ruth who, after the tragic death of her unborn baby’s father, starts to hear the child’s voice. And it is telling her to kill.

    The film is packed to bursting point with wicked laughs, stomach-turning violence and, perhaps most surprisingly of all, genuine pathos, the kind of work that gives you faith that independent cinema is still capable of turning out films that are both fresh and brilliant. Written, directed and starring Lowe herself in the lead role, Prevenge was made on a shoe-string budget over the course of three weeks, all while Lowe was heavily pregnant. While it might mark her first time behind the camera to helm a feature, as an actress and a writer Lowe is a seasoned pro, lending her formidable talents to work as diverse and quality as The Mighty Boosh, Sherlock, Snuff Box, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and Sightseers.

    We’re long time fans of Alice Lowe’s work here at Dangerous Minds, so it was a real treat to finally nab an exclusive interview with this dark comedy powerhouse. I caught up with her on International Women’s Day to talk about Prevenge, producing films, and the trials of juggling motherhood with an artistic career.

    Dangerous Minds: Which one was harder? Making a film or giving birth?

    Alice Lowe: Giving birth! If I had to compare the two, making a feature film is pretty easy. No, it’s still pretty nerve wracking! But that’s one of the things that made me do it because, compared to childbirth, I thought “oh it’s just a feature film, who cares?” If I hadn’t been pregnant I would have been like: “My precious first feature!” I maybe wouldn’t have made it because I was so scared of it not being perfect. As it was, I wasn’t that stressed to be honest, I was just enjoying it.

    So far the critical reaction to Prevenge has been very positive. How have you found the reception to the film?

    Alice Lowe: It’s amazing! I don’t think it’s gonna hit me until about a year’s time because I just haven’t stopped. Making the film, having a baby, editing the film with my baby, finishing the film in time for the Venice Film Festival, it’s all just been a whirlwind, really. I haven’t had a chance to stop and take stock. Because it was so low budget, we just didn’t have any expectations. I was thinking: “If I can make a film then that’s brilliant, it doesn’t really matter what it’s like.” Haha! Honestly, I was just glad to get a feature under my belt, because features notoriously don’t mix well with childcare. So I didn’t really have any expectations, but I certainly didn’t expect to still be promoting it now and people to still be talking about it!

    As ‘Dr Liz Asher’ in ‘Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace’
    Prevenge is your first feature film as director. Was there any particular template that you were working to as a first time director, either for a low-budget horror or just more generally?

    Alice Lowe: Initially I did think it would be easier to do a revenge film because you have a narrative template. You don’t necessarily need to see the preamble, what has happened before, you can just take the audience on this journey of a revenge spree, and to a set timetable. So that’s quite useful. Taxi Driver was a big influence though, as I had often thought there was room for a female Taxi Driver-type film.

    Yes, there’s definitely a kind of Travis Bickle-ish aspect to Prevenge‘s Ruth. As for the comedy side of this film, which is just as important as the horror, that’s a tricky balancing act but one you’ve pulled off brilliantly. Did you have any inspirations or templates when it came to this kind of fusion of horror and black comedy?

    Alice Lowe:  Well, horror and humor has become quite a British thing, I think. I mean, going back to Ealing Studios there is horror mixed in with comedy there. But you know I also wanted to put drama in there as well, and pathos, and that to me is a bigger experiment in the film, as I didn’t know if anything else had done that successfully. And that’s about having the confidence to steer the audience into these different gears, essentially. That was a labor of love in the edit. Even though I wrote the script as a mixture of genres, I had an epiphany during the actual shooting when I realized that it didn’t have to be any one genre, we just tried to make it as good as possible. Same as with the music, really. While there are lots of influences, it has to be an idiosyncratic thing because it’s really this one person’s journey. So it’s allowed to feel quite new and strange as long as it is managed skilfully.

    As Ruth in ‘Prevenge’

    You not only wrote and directed this film, which is an achievement in itself - while being heavily pregnant, let’s not forget - but you also starred in it too. I found your performance really powerful, giving murderous mum-to-be Ruth a gravitas and an empathy that strangely complimented the fear and the belly laughs. It’s quite a feat. So can you tell me how you approached Prevenge as an acting gig?

    Alice Lowe: I knew I wouldn’t have any time to get into character. There just wasn’t enough time! I had to channel what I was feeling, the intensity of being pregnant, through the performance. But I’ve done a lot of low budget films, not directing necessarily but writing them, and I always know what I am doing with my character and sometimes what I fear, as a director, is that I can’t convey to an actor what I want them to do. Especially when it’s a complex character that is pushing and pulling the audience’s sympathies in different directions. You have to give something for the crew to latch on to. If the central performance is wobbly, the whole thing could become wobbly! So I had to carry the whole thing through and I couldn’t have any vanity about the performance at all. We needed ten seconds of me by the window, we got it, we moved on, there was no other take, no sense of me doing it for four hours. But in a way I was confident to do that because I knew the character inside out. I had written her. I knew what I was doing. And I don’t like to watch playback because I don’t like to be too self-conscious. I had to be in the zone. and when you have a small budget and a small crew, it enables you to do good performances anyway because there was very little set-up, re-setting, lighting and all that. There was very little down time, so you’re just acting the whole time, 24/7. We were just immersed in it, the same as when we shot Sightseers. Which is quite good because you forget you’re acting. You’re just being it. That has a very favorable impact on the performance.

    And I presume you were given carte blanche by the producers to do whatever you wanted?

    Alice Lowe: Yeah pretty much, I mean they would look over stuff and give me help or feedback if I wanted it but really they just let me get on with it. It was me and the editor, really, pushing through with this experience of the edit. in terms of the script, we didn’t have time for re-writes or anything like that. I basically wrote the script in about a week, having thought about it and written a pitch document before that. I mean, we had to change things as we went along, like when we couldn’t get a particular location and things like that, but in effect it was a first draft.

    As David Bowie on ‘Snuff Box’
    Wow! That is impressive. So do you think you were liberated artistically by these low-budget/indie constraints?

    Alice Lowe: Yes I do actually. I think it gave me faith in the simplicity of a narrative that people will accept. I knew that to be able to film it in such a short time it would have to be long scenes. I knew I was writing it as a series of two-handers, each scene was one other actor, one location and one long scene. It’s like little bits of theater really, and it’s funny because people don’t really comment on that. I thought we would get a lot more criticism because it is such a simple narrative. I mean we did get some criticism, but not as much as I thought we would.

    For me the challenge was to write characters that felt modern and recognizable, but they’re not operating to a conventional script. I wanted the audience to feel that this was really happening. You know, how life is unexpected, people don’t do what you think they’ll do. Bringing stuff to life so there’s a vibrancy of performance. And again, that’s something that comes from the low-budget set-up, because everyone knows we may only get one take at this and it’s quite exciting. I just know the film wouldn’t have got made through a conventional development system. People would have said: “You can’t have a scene this long”, “There’s too much dialogue”, “What’s this bit about?”, “This joke doesn’t work.” There would have been so much of that. It drives me insane! Those kinds of people. You just think “Have you ever directed a film? Or written anything? Have you ever made people laugh? Ever in your life?” The kind of people you have to accept feedback from don’t know how to make a film! 

    Continues after the jump…

    Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
    Human skull ‘log’ for your firepit
    09:32 am



    Even though it’s spring, it’s still chilly outside at night and a human skull ‘log’ might be just what the witch doctor ordered to keep you warm. It’s definitely a conversation piece, I’ll give it that. The human skull ‘log’ is for gas or liquid propane pits only.

    The description from the listing is below:

    • The log is steel reinforced, plus produced with lave granules plus significant heat ceramic refractory which is employed to check rocket machines.
    • ★Handmade, longer Lead-Time★ Dimensions: About an adult skull. Averagely, the length is 8-9 inches, width is 6.5-7.5 inches. Heavy. Highly detailed, hand painted refractory fire log.
    • By 3 generations of designers, logs are designed, handwork manufactured in CA USA.
    • Type: Imitated Human Skull Fire Gas Log with 3 color choices - White, Black, Brown
    • Approved Certification is through OMNI TESTING LABORATORIES. Indoor gas logs sets have limited LIFETIME WARRANTY by manufacturer.

    The skulls come in three colors: white, black and brown. They sell for $65 each here.




    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
    ‘Show Me Your Soul’: Amazing ‘Soul Train’ documentary from French television
    09:24 am

    Pop Culture


    Show Me Your Soul: The Soul Train Years is a 2013 documentary produced for French television by filmmaker Pascal Forneri (who also directed the critically-acclaimed 2010 documentary Gainsbourg & his Girls). It uses wonderful rare footage, archival photographs, and brand new interviews to take the very first in-depth look at the history of Soul Train. Forneri not only highlights the amazing soul and R&B artists who performed on the program over its 35 year, 1,100 episode run, but also the real stars of the show: the in-studio dancers who would set the standard for future generations of contemporary urban dance.

    Several recurring Soul Train dancers are spotlighted in this documentary who provide a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how the show came together. Most of the dancers were not professionally trained, they would spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets to fly themselves out to Hollywood from cities all over the U.S. to be on the show. Those determined few who didn’t make the cut at the audition would sneak themselves onto the studio lot by any means necessary: including one dancer who got onto the set by hiding himself in the trunk of a car. As the show’s popularity in American households increased, so did the dancer’s popularity: week after week they’d try to outdo one another. First by their dance moves which became more and more wild, then by their fashion choices. Some dancers were so eager to get in front of the camera that they started bringing in props (a man known as “Mr. X” became famous for his dance routine that included a large, oversized toothbrush). Dancers began getting recognized on the streets of their home cities as if they were veritable celebrities.

    Visionary host Don Cornelius always stated that Soul Train was a home for soul artists regardless of their race, and featured a long list of white artists who appealed to black audiences: Gino Vannelli, David Bowie, Beastie Boys, Elton John, Teena Marie, Hall & Oates, Pet Shop Boys, and Spandau Ballet were amongst the many white artists who appeared on the program over the years. As music trends slowly began to change, Don Cornelius struggled to keep Soul Train true to his original vision. When disco went mainstream, Cornelius made sure the show focused on only the most soulful disco artists that were being played on the radio. When rap music went commercial, however, Cornelius could not hide his contempt for the genre and made it very clear from the beginning that he wouldn’t get behind hip hop. Forneri documents this well, showing footage of Cornelius hanging his head in disgust following a performance by Public Enemy. As he slowly approaches Chuck D. and Flavor Fav for an interview he begins with a very long pause, and then exclaims, “That was frightening.” In the middle of a Kurtis Blow interview, Cornelius awkwardly admits on television “It’s so much fun, I mean, it doesn’t make sense to old guys like me. I don’t understand why they love it so much but that ain’t my job is it? My job is to deal with it and we’re dealing with it,” which was followed by uncomfortable laughter from the studio audience.
    Watch ‘Show Me Your Soul: The Soul Train Years’ after the jump…

    Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
    Could this be the earliest live concert footage ever shot of Judas Priest?
    09:05 am



    An early shot of Judas Priest before all the leather and studs.
    The answer to that question is quite possibly, yes. The vintage footage posted below features Judas Priest in action at the Reading Festival in 1975 and was shot with a Super 8 camera.

    In 1975 Priest joined the surreal lineup of Hawkwind; UFO; Lou Reed; Thin Lizzy; Soft Machine, and Yes among others at the three-day festival. The band was still sort of under the radar after the release of their 1974 debut Rocka Rolla produced by Rodger Bain, who’d also produced the first three albums by Black Sabbath. Despite Bain’s groundbreaking success with Sabbath, his heavy metal magic didn’t necessarily cast the same spell for Priest on Rocka Rolla which the band recorded live at Olympic Studios in London. During this time the group was still playing small rock clubs and were struggling quite literally just to find money for food.

    According to Rob Halford, things were so bad that Gull Records (their label at the time) handed out food tickets to the formative Birmingham band to use at a local cafeteria which truly gives perspective to the hard-luck notion that rock ‘n’ roll don’t pay. Here’s a little more from Mr. Halford on those early days and his thoughts on their first album which ended up being a flop, from author Steve Gett’s 1984 biography of the band HEAVY DUTY:

    It simply wasn’t Priest. We allowed ourselves to be influenced and maneuvered by people who suggested that it would probably open up more of a market for the band because we wouldn’t immediately be stigmatized as a heavy metal group. In actual fact, it probably did us more harm than good.

    More after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
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