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  • Monster Magic Action trading cards from the 1960s are crude, colorful masterpieces
    09.27.2016
    02:47 pm

    Topics:
    Art
    Media

    Tags:
    monsters
    trading cards


     
    “The Magic Lens is the secret of its action!” With this sentence the Abby Finishing Corp. lured kids to purchase its amazing set of 24 lenticular monster trading cards in around 1963. For the most part, we think of the pop culture artifacts from that time as being pretty cheesy, but these cards are anything but, incorporating a bold use of color and crude, arresting compositions. I’d love to see one of these take up a full wall in my house!

    The lens seems really simple, just a plastic rectangle really. The instructions were simple: “Place the magic Lens ROUGH SIDE UP on picture, and wiggle both together; or place Magic Lens ROUGH SIDE UP on picture, and slide Lens only.”

    As the 3D Review online magazine asserted about these cards, “When using the Magic Action viewer, the cards would come to life showing a flying monster’s wings flapping or the tail of a giant lizard whipping up and down or people fleeing.”

    You can buy a complete set for $95 on Amazon.
     

     

     
    Much more after the jump…...

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    King Turd: This absurdist play from 1896 could have been written about President Trump!


    Poster design for a re-interpreted version of Alfred Jarry’s ‘Ubu Roi’ from 2013 in which the tale of Donald Trump’s golf course development in Scotland follows the storyline of the play
     
    French absurdist playwright Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi (“Ubu the King” or “King Turd”), a pre-Surrealist work, is considered an influential classic of French theatre. It originally premiered in 1896. There were three Ubu plays written by Jarry, but only one, Ubu Roi, was ever performed during his short lifetime (Jarry died at the age of 34 of tuberculosis. After he beckoned a friend to come closer, his whispered last word on his deathbed was allegedly “toothpick” or whatever it is that the French call them).

    The Ubu trilogy was conceived to employ actors and marionettes in a vicious satire of greed, royalty, religion, stupidity and abuse of power by the wealthy. The two other plays were Ubu Cocu (“Ubu Cuckolded”) and Ubu Enchaîné (“Ubu in Chains”).

    The protagonist “Père Ubu” (yes, this is obviously where the band’s name came from) was originally based on the teenage lampooning of a stuffy teacher written by two friends of Jarry’s from school, but Jarry expanded the plays and used the character as a vehicle for his howling critique of bourgeois society’s evils.

    People absolutely hated the scandalous Ubu Roi—it was considered lewd, crude, vulgar and low—and its controversial author. At the premiere in Paris, it was booed for a good fifteen minutes after the first word, “Merdre!” (his coining for “shit,” deliberately close to the French merde and translated in English as “Pshit” or “Shittr!”), was spoken. Fist fights broke out in the orchestra pit. Jarry’s supporters yelled “You wouldn’t understand Shakespeare, either!” His detractors rejoined with their variations on the theme of “shit.”

    William Butler Yeats was apparently in the audience that night in 1896 and is alleged to have said “What more is possible? After us, the Savage God.”

    I can think of something… or rather *someone*...

    The play was accused of being politically subversive, the work of an anarchist mindfucker or even that it was a “hoax” designed to hoodwink a gullible middle-class audience with metaphorical shit that some of them, at least, would say tasted good.

    Again, this seems so freaking familiar, doesn’t it?

    Not that an absurdist agitator like Alfred Jarry cared about any of this. Characters had names like “MacNure,” “Pissweet” and “Pissale.” Confrontationally pissing off the audience was practically the entire point for him. Ubu’s scepter, after all, was a shit-smeared toilet brush.
     

    A ship of fools in a sea of shit…

    Via Wikipedia:

    According to Jane Taylor, “The central character is notorious for his infantile engagement with his world. Ubu inhabits a domain of greedy self-gratification.” Jarry’s metaphor for the modern man, he is an antihero—fat, ugly, vulgar, gluttonous, grandiose, dishonest, stupid, jejune, voracious, cruel, cowardly and evil—who grew out of schoolboy legends about the imaginary life of a hated teacher who had been at one point a slave on a Turkish Galley, at another frozen in ice in Norway and at one more the King of Poland. Ubu Roi follows and explores his political, martial and felonious exploits, offering parodic adaptations of situations and plot-lines from Shakespearean drama, including Macbeth, Hamlet and Richard III: like Macbeth, Ubu—on the urging of his wife—murders the king who helped him and usurps his throne, and is in turn defeated and killed by his son; Jarry also adapts the ghost of the dead king and Fortinbras’s revolt from Hamlet, Buckingham’s refusal of reward for assisting a usurpation from Richard III and The Winter’s Tale‘s bear.

    “There is,” wrote Taylor, “a particular kind of pleasure for an audience watching these infantile attacks. Part of the satisfaction arises from the fact that in the burlesque mode which Jarry invents, there is no place for consequence. While Ubu may be relentless in his political aspirations, and brutal in his personal relations, he apparently has no measurable effect upon those who inhabit the farcical world which he creates around himself. He thus acts out our most childish rages and desires, in which we seek to gratify ourselves at all cost.” The derived adjective “ubuesque” is recurrent in French and francophone political debate.

    Sound like anyone you watched in a debate last night who made a total ass of himself in front of one of the largest television audiences in history?

    All that was missing was the fucking shit-smeared toilet brush if you ask me….
     
    More absurdity after the jump…

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    Bizarre Japanese TV commercial for dog-shaped speakers starring Quentin Tarantino
    09.27.2016
    01:03 pm

    Topics:
    Advertising
    Movies
    Television

    Tags:
    Quentin Tarantino


     
    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


    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:
    The Dark Crystal


     
    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

    000BiggerPlans.jpg
     
    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.”

     
    AA1hollomon.JPG
     
    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.
     
    AA2Hollomon2.JPG
     
    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.
     
    AA3Hollomon3.jpg
     
    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.
     
    015BiggerPlans.jpg
     
    007BiggerPlans.jpg
     
    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

    Tags:
    Van Dyke Parks
    Ry Cooder


     
    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:
    Fantastic Fest
    Morgan Spurlock
    Rats


     
    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:
    Chernobyl


     
    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:
    RoboCop
    Peter Weller
    Paul Verhoeven


    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
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