Wednesday, June 30, 2010
That's today's rumor, which will almost certainly be debunked by the time you read these words.
That's today's rumor, which will almost certainly be debunked by the time you read these words.
A sad day for American broadcasting, with news that Larry King is retiring. Let's celebrate the beloved, reptilian talk show legend with this extensive and eclectic collection of celebrities doing their own, off-color King impressions. Seen here, Craig Ferguson... Although I'm also partial to this eccentric attempt by Titus Welliver, Lost's Man in Black.
This June 16th marked Captain Picard Day, a celebration of all things Jean-Luc Picard. Click on over and see how fans honored the Enterprise captain with Picard cartoons, Picard oil paintings, and oh, so much more. Really, there's everything but Picard macrame! (Well, there's always next year.)
In the Fall of Gravity from Ron Cole on Vimeo.
Ron Cole's short film, In the Fall of Gravity, has previously been spotlighted here on Monsters and Rockets. Now I'm pleased to report that Cole has put the entire film online to view for free. The short is a beauty indeed, featuring some absolutely breathtaking stop-motion animation.
Mort Walker, the newspaper cartoonist famous for Beetle Bailey among other strips, apparently likes to relax by doodling really filthy cartoons featuring his strip characters. Fair warning: these strips are absolutely NSFW. They are also about nine thousand times funnier than the newspaper versions.
Youtube user Josh Millard's mashup of Nine Inch Nails' Closer and Laurie Anderson's O Superman works surprisingly well. Somehow, I suspect that both Laurie and Trent would approve.
Millard apparently does these things using a Python script to automatically sync the music and video, in a process I'm not nearly smart enough to understand. But even a dope like me can appreciate The Beautiful Muppets, Millard's mashup of Marilyn Manson and Sesame Street.
Another promo for the upcoming Manos: The Hands of Fate sequel, this time featuring Torgo the goat-man's lilting rendition of Take It Easy. Don't let the fear of Master's dogs drive ya crazy.
British food is delightful, for the first breakfast or two. But before long you'll find yourself in a very bad way indeed, greasy and aching and swollen like a tick from a constant diet of meat and eggs and more meat fried in meat sauce with eggs on top. And not to be a big dental snob or anything, but British dentistry really is not good. I mean, Prince Charles has crappy teeth. How bad does your dentistry have to be, for your freaking prince to have a smile like a brewery horse? And seriously, the winters in England are just brutal. Step outside on a February morning, and it feels like Ebenezer Scrooge is slapping you hard across the face with a wet sock full of ice cubes.
But on the other hand, in England you can just turn on the TV on some random Wednesday night, and there's a documentary about Monty Python, narrated by Doctor Who.
In this rare clip from an old Mike Douglas Show appearance, William Shatner out-Shatners himself as he performs a monologue based on a famous scene from The War of the Worlds.
Andrew Orton brings us this short film, showing us what it would look like if the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy had an entry on Daleks. It's amazingly well-done, really capturing the flavor of the animation from the 1970s BBC Hitchhiker TV series. (The writing, unfortunately, is not exactly Douglas Adams-caliber. But it's mostly harmless.)
Joel, Mike and the bots suffered through some seriously heinous movies on Mystery Science Theater 3000, but Manos: The Hands of Fate was arguably the worst of them all. So it is with a mix of delight and horror that I report that a new generation of filmmakers will soon bring us a Manos sequel!
While the original movie was hilarious in clearly unintentional ways, the sequel is a much more knowing, campy affair. Jackey Neyman Jones, who portrayed little Debbie in the original, returns here as one of the "Master's" brides. (She's the mature lady doing the hoochie mama dance in this clip.)
An aside: I know this clip is probably framed weirdly in your browser, and I can't seem to help that. Both Youtube and Blogger recently futzed around with their formats, making it much harder to change the dimensions of embedded clips.
This trailer is a goof, but here's hoping it doesn't inspire some Hollywood hack to remake Citizen Kane for real.
I'm ashamed to admit I've been neglecting Shatner Sunday lately, and we've been Shanter-less for two Sundays in a row. To make up for this gross lapse on my part, here's a fun little sci-fi historical curio to start your Monday morning off right. From 1994 or so, here's William Shatner being interviewed by a very young John Barrowman, who would of course go on to portray Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and Torchwood. That's right... Captain Kirk meets Captain Jack!
Pretty sweet trailer for the Battlestar Galactica online game... Although I'm still not sure how this will work as an online game that thousands of people will play. I mean, the show was claustrophobic by design, with the surviving remnants of humanity all crammed into little shuttles and garbage scows and so on. They didn't meet a lot of exotic aliens or explore cool planets or anything. To accurately reflect the show, the game would have to be mostly people arguing in cramped corridors, punctuated by occasional space battles and the odd glimpse of sexy Cylon lady butt.
As a young man, Rod Serling enjoyed great success as the screenwriter for various hit TV dramas (Requiem for a Heavyweight, etc.) and the creator/host of The Twilight Zone. But his later years were a struggle. His other anthology series The Night Gallery was kind of a disaster, and he spent much of the late 1960s and 1970s taking whatever work he could get. His scripts weren't selling much anymore but he was still a popular narrator, lending his voice to everything from The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau to trashy TV documentaries about paranormal phenomena like In Search of Ancient Astronauts.
He also tried hosting a few game shows. The clip above is from 1969's The Liar's Club, featuring Serling bantering with such game show fixtures of the era as Betty White and Bill Bixby. (I can't quite decide if Bixby's look here is the epitome of 1969 badass-cool or if it makes him look like Austrian thug #3 from one of those old movies where spies meet in abandoned factories to trade briefcases full of microfilm.) While Serling makes a decent host for the game, he just doesn't seem to belong here. You keep expecting him to turn to the camera and spark up a cigarette, as the studio suddenly goes dark and quiet, a lone spotlight shines down upon him, and he speaks to us in that clipped, sardonic voice...
Submitted for your approval: Two eager young contestants, four celebrity guests, and your humble host, gathered together for that popular American entertainment, the game show. But tonight's game is being played for very high stakes indeed, and the loser gets an all-expenses paid, one-way trip to... The Twilight Zone.
Eleven cringe-worthy minutes of classic horror star Vincent Price, in a purple caftan, making mildly risque small talk with three nervous 1970s nimrods with crazy sideburns. You're welcome.
The seemingly modern skyscrapers in the clip above are actually over 500 years old. Shibam, the so-called "Manhattan of the desert," is a city in Yemen with ancient mud-brick buildings standing 5-16 floors high. Originally made to protect the inhabitants from invaders, today the structures require constant maintenance to protect them from erosion.
This video of a blue balloon bobbing and weaving its way through a series of Dyson bladeless fans is absolutely mesmerizing. Seriously, I could just sit here in a trance, watching this clip all day.
If all of the tinkering George Lucas did years ago on those Star Wars special editions made you nuts, here's a commercial that's sure to put you in a really sour mood. In this Adidas spot, Snoop Dog and other disagreeable modern quasi-celebrities are inserted into the cantina scene from the original Star Wars. It's like they created this ad specifically to give all of the "Han shot first" fanboys something to really cry themselves to sleep about.
Dead Man's Island is a 1996 TV movie featuring such camp favorites as Barbara Eden, Traci Lords, Roddy McDowell, Morgan Fairchild and Ralph Malph. It also features what may well be the most undignified moment of William Shatner's entire career, as the portly former Enterprise captain walks around in what appears to be a ladies' one-piece swimsuit and is then electrocuted in a hot tub.
A 1970s St. Louis TV news report about the Rocky Horror phenomenon, featuring absolutely harmless, endearingly dorky college kids getting sneered at by repressed newscasters with helmet hair and crazy Herb Tarlec jackets. But why does that gangly gal around the 1:30 mark seem so familiar? Maybe because that's actually REM's Michael Stipe! (Via Metafilter.)
Brighten (or at least weirden) your sweetheart's day by sending them a video love song from the Serenading Unicorn! It's a bizarre ad campaign that's somehow supposed to promote Juicy Fruit. The Boys II Men and Michael Bolton videos are pretty funny if you can stomach listening to those awful, awful songs, but the Culture Club video is pure dorky genius.
Richard Svensson, the ferociously talented stop-motion animator whose work has previously been featured on Monsters and Rockets, has a sideline making his own Star Trek props. Here's his version of a baby Gorn, the lizard aliens designed for the original series episode Arena.
Imagine that you have a lovably morbid little niece, a budding Wednesday Addams who likes to cut the heads off her teddy bears and who's gone as the Corpse Bride for a few too many Halloweens. She flies through Edward Gorey picture books the way other kids go through Dr. Seuss, and she swoons with disgust at the mention of Hannah Montana. She gets teased a lot, and more than once, her teachers have suggested that the pictures she draws in class are cause for concern. We will call her Lenore.
One chilly morning, you invite Lenore (and her only slightly less dramatic mommy, whom we shall call Dora) to come along for a drive to the beach, and you bring your camera. Lenore decides to make the day into a photo shoot and brings along her box of old-timey dresses and hats, her dolls and puppets. The next thing you know, you've been pressed into service, trying to capture on film the various dark fairy tales of Lenore's devising, with Dora chiming in with her own weird suggestions. You end up having to chase Lenore and Dora across the wet sand and through fields of dead, crunchy grass, taking shots of them in assorted glamorous but cheap and ill-fitting costumes as the salty sea breezes blow their stringy hair in their faces.
You would come home with pictures of a cute, chubby little girl and her cute, chubby mommy, both straining to look eerie against dramatic backdrops. These pictures would be pretty awesome, but Lenore would hate them so much that she'd make you promise to destroy them. You'd lie and say you had, and then when she was 25, you'd dig them out again and show them to her, and she would laugh and laugh.
Well, Pamela Wilson has somehow seen the photos from your hypothetical day at the hypothetical beach with your hypothetical niece, and she's used them as the basis for some amazing oil paintings. Wilson creates girly yet gritty fairy tales, resembling scenes from Terry Gilliam movies that never happened. If you actually staggered away from Tideland wanting more, well, this is the show for you.
Anybody who has ever seen goth art has probably seen plenty of little girls in frayed tutus clutching sickly-looking dollies. And yet, Wilson takes the stuff of goth cliché and makes it all seem brand-new. She has a near-photographic eye, expertly capturing the look of slightly woozy determination on the face of a Disarranged Fairy God Mother as she trudges through the snow with an anxious baby under her arm, or the play of autumnal light through the veil of the slouchy, wannabe child bride in Barren Omen. Wilson's symbolism often seems obvious—until you figure out that you're not really sure what she's getting at. The weary sexpot of Remedies for a Blind Spot is dressed like some kind of super-spy as she looks through a tin of old photos. She has binoculars by her side and a complicated contraption with a lot of lenses on top of her head, all of which clearly suggests . . . well, I'm supposed to be the critic here, but your guess is as good as mine. Apparently she has a blind spot, and these devices are meant to remedy it. That much, we can be sure of.
The paintings seem to be telling an ongoing story of some kind. Various characters recur, and you have the feeling that all of this stuff is taking place in the same warped county. And what a grimly evocative county it is—you can almost hear the snap of dead twigs underfoot and smell the green scum at the edge of those stagnant ponds. It's a decayed landscape, a perfectly natural world where these unnatural characters find themselves. When Wilson places an apparently abandoned freeway in the middle of a brown, weedy field, as she does in Regarding Rex, the effect is at once apocalyptic and strangely familiar. You feel as if you once stood in this lonely place yourself, although whether in a dream or reality, you can't say. Perhaps that crazy old man with the antlers could offer some directions.
(This post originally appeared, in an altered form, as an article in OC WEEKLY.)
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As a Trekkie, I'm glad to see Trek finally cool again. But these days everybody is all Spock this and Kirk that. Where is the love for our old pals from the Next Generation? Well, this June 16th is your chance to celebrate Captain Picard Day, dedicated to "one of the bestest, baldest, and badassiest Star Trek captains around." Make little Picard dolls, draw Picard comics, sculpt Picard heads with lumpy orange skin, go crazy! (And I think we should take Picard's suggestion in the clip, and celebrate Will Riker Day next month.)