Posts from 11th August 2004

Aug 04

Dave Q conquers the world, part 4154145

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Dave Q conquers the world, part 4154145 — in which quite probably the Greatest Living Critic has his say about one Metallica and a recent movie of theirs. The tears of laughter are still rolling down my face.

It was actually the head and upper chest they saved

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It was actually the head and upper chest they saved — the ridiculous joy of They Saved Hitler’s Brain isn’t just the title, of course, but damned if that doesn’t have a lot to do with it. It’s a perfect time-killer movie for me — as last night I was prepping up another tomato soup and other goodness, and that took about ninety minutes all told, I slung my beloved Rhino DVD of it (I love that such a thing exists) into the player and proceeded to do things like cook onion and garlic in olive oil and slice up tomatoes to the sounds of lines like “The rumor was that Hitler was getting his daily shots of hormones from a battery of doctors. But the truth was worse than that!”

But the real treat for me has always been this bizarre bit of trivia — some years after the film was first made in the late fifties or early sixties (there seems to be some confusion on this point), a bunch of film students at UCLA went ahead — presumably on commission of some sort — and filmed a slew of new footage to expand the film to a ninety-minute running time. Rhino claims this was done in the early 1960s but they are so on crack — the extra footage is clearly from the seventies, no matter the fact they’ve got a picture of Eisenhower on the wall at one point. The footage is at least black and white to match the original footage that way, but otherwise it’s a completely bizarre and wonderful Frankenstein’s monster at the start of the movie (they give themselves a bit of an out by killing off all the characters in the new footage about twenty minutes in — personally I felt they should have gone all the way and intercut throughout, but maybe this was interfering with their regimen of pot and Dead shows).

And so while most of the film is pretty much standard black and white dawn of the sixties B-movie fare in terms of actors’ appearances, music, fashion, cinematography, jarringly this type of stuff litters the start of the film:

Bad electric piano music, stilted meet-cute dialogue (even the original film dispenses with that, the one couple that results out of the plot machinations seems to do little than be caught up in a plot, kiss at one point, then get married — this all in the space of a day, if that), and oh boy, those fashions and mustaches.

So I have to wonder what other films are like this — I know there must be other ones — and better yet, what films of ten to fifteen years ago would you add footage to if you could, while not disguising the changes in fashion, soundtrack music, editing etc. done since then?

That all said, let us remember why this film was made:

(A typically hyperdetailed and scabrous review of this film exists at the site of wonder known as Jabootu, from whence I linked these photos.)

“If you wish to see your son thoroughly depraved…

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“If you wish to see your son thoroughly depraved, send him to a Judge and Jury Club”: forgotten menace of bygone London! The Victorian London site as ever illustrates but does not interpret: as far as I can tell the notion was a drinking club where the entertainment was a mock trial, at which men dressed as women told tales of debauchery and sin.

“A jury was selected; the prosecutor opened his case, which, to suit the depraved taste of his patrons, was invariably one of seduction or crim. con. Witnesses were examined and cross-examined, the females being men dressed up in women’s clothes, and everything was done that could be to pander to the lowest propensities of depraved humanity…I believe many a youth fresh from home felt a little ashamed of himself that he should be in such company listening to such unmitigated ribaldry, but these reflections were soon drowned in the flowing bowl, and the lad, if he blushed at first, soon learned to laugh.”

last python alive

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last python alive

i can’t really tell if terry jones’s constant reversion to his old shtick in terry jones’s medieval lives is
i. tactical,
ii. just kneejerk, or
iii. semi-sheepish.

you can hardly accuse jones of dumbing down or selling out – he’s a actual real professional slapstick goof-off – and it none of it gets in the way exactly. if you watch it to learn stuff you will – cz he’s a actual real professional historian also, and discovered that henry iv had chaucer murdered in prison, maybe.* animating the illuminated manuscripts is holy grail knock-off of course – and you might just miss gilliam’s visual sense – but since TV hates static pictures and wd certainly otherwise be requiring the rostrum camera guy do dumm stuff with shock comedy zooms on scary monsters etc, this is more than forgiveable. as for terry’s tumbles across the screen, dressed up as gurning emperor, jester, kern or gallowglass, well, they serve no great purpose, except a kind of wonky-faithkeeping: as if he knows some people are turning on to see this kind of thing and he feels badly about letting them down completely the way EVERY ONE of his EX-BUDDIES so tediously did tv-wise.

*(i mean maybe chaucer wz murdered (he’s not sure) and maybe jones discovered it (i’m not sure))

A History Of Beer Commercials

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 174 views

A History Of Beer Commercials:

Enjoyable article, wish there was a UK equivalent. I particularly liked this story:

Among the earliest, and certainly one of the most successful, ID characters put to work on television for a brewery was “Mabel,” a genial blond bartendress who rarely spoke, but ended virtually every commercial with a friendly wink. Beginning in 1951, and for nearly the next 20 years, Mabel and her tray of Carling Black Label Beers glided across millions of television screens in response to that familiar call, “Hey Mabel–Black Label!”

Mabel’s graceful charm and captivating smile seemed to hit beer drinkers right between the eyes. One observer commented that Mabel could “compel any man to leave home–to fetch a carton of Carling’s, that is.” Indeed, with Mabel leading the way, the Carling Brewing Co. skyrocketed up the list of America’s largest brewers, from number 28 in 1951 to number 6 in 1957.

Pot shots from rival brewers were inevitable. In a clever TV spot for Labatt’s Beer, a young woman exits a tavern with a package under her arm. Wearing dark sunglasses and a scarf over her head, she scurries down the sidewalk, her face obscured by her coat collar. Much to her dismay, she is stopped by a man-on-the-street interviewer, complete with microphone and camera crew. Upon inquiry, the young woman reluctantly reveals that her package contains a six-pack of Labatt’s. The interviewer then asks, “Would you tell us your name?” The woman, as if relieved that her dark secret has been uncovered, removes her sunglasses dramatically, looks directly into the camera, and says, “Why, yes. I’m Mabel.”

“and if the devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack!”

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“and if the devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack!”

“Even before Family Christian started selling its karaoke music line, its store in Augusta, Ga., was holding monthly karaoke nights that really weren’t karaoke nights at all because singers sang along with accompaniment music.” And in other karaoke-that’s-not-actually-karaoke news, the entire history of singing ever…

The only living American boy in New Cross (not necessarily true)

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The only living American boy in New Cross (not necessarily true) — as I mentioned yesterday, I had reason to be in New Cross for two of my London trips, and while I can’t say I got to know the entire area or anything like that, for me, for a while, it was what I considered to be home away from home when I came. And of course me being me the only thing I had ever heard about it was That Carter USM Song, which is not only one of their best efforts but helped provide part of the spectacular ending to Tom’s pre-wedding FAP, so nyah to those who would complain. But I digress.

I remember that there are two New Cross stations, and the one I was familiar with had a bridge over the tracks that I then crossed, walking up a short distance to then cross the street and pass by a pub. It seemed to be popular enough for the area, fairly roomy and had a chalk sign indicating who was playing what on whichever night was upcoming — never had cause to poke my nose in there, but it might have been fun.

The walk would continue up a slightly curving and longish road, past a row of houses for the most part, but I remember one more open driveway and some overgrown patches of weed and sod near the top of the road where it curved slightly. It was a bit of a haul traipsing up there with my luggage, as it was definitely uphill and all, but it could be managed. I recall seeing somebody, maybe a couple, in the process of moving out one of the times I passed by.

At the top of the curved rise I would cross the street again (or not, I could just as easily cross later) and then turn left and go down a slightly sharper descent along a main road, the one that if you head west eventually takes you past Goldsmiths College, if I recall correctly (I might not — I know that somewhere down there was a Sainsbury’s as well, way down the way). But I was heading east, and I remember that walking down that block took me to an intersection that I always rather enjoyed, as that’s where my then-girlfriend’s flat was.

It wasn’t distinct in and of itself, perhaps — maybe it was a little dangerous (I recall being worried terribly when she mentioned the murder that had occurred around the corner one day). But actually aside from that unfortunate incident it felt like, well, a neighborhood, and a modern English one at that — the majority of businesses (hair salons, chicken takeaways, the corner stores, more besides) were run by folks of Jamaican descent, which also described most of the customers. There were billboards and signs all over the place — I remember one of A. Kornikouva, at the height of her diaphanous ‘she doesn’t actually win anything does she?’ fame. Everything felt very lived in, comfortable — maybe those there would assume something far differently, and I could have easily been overlooking something in my ‘oh, is that also going on?’ mind.

All the exact details are a bit of a smear in my mind now, I never took any pictures to my knowledge, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be back to see that particular intersection again. But personal memories define and describe that neck of the woods for me, and why my London visions inevitably conjure up the location of a basement flat in New Cross.


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SHAM 69 – “Red London (Live)”: Did you know that in their first ever review Julie Burchill wrote “Sham 69 play rock’n’roll in the manner that American negroes fight, not for fun but for existence”!! Nor did I. Rigid angry sneer. “Free yourself from this individual -” last word garbled. Signal failure.

WARREN ZEVON – “Werewolves Of London”: This must be one of the most famous records I’d never heard. I’ve heard the Dexy’s track which nicked from it, maybe that’s why I’m enjoying it. I have no idea at all what Zevon is on about but this does make me think of London: that corner of Soho around the Raymond Revuebar, rain-slicked; sleazy; callous almost; media boys rubbing suits with market traders, whistling the hook.

THE MISFITS – “London Dungeon”: Lead singer walks through the Iggy Stooge trick-book, nice widescreen feel to the music, “I don’t want to be here in your British hell”, presumably the band had fallen foul of Plod on tour?

THE POGUES – “Dark Streets Of London”: I like the Pogues. They might or might not sing about places you know, but they tended to sing about places you feel you could know, if you turn the right (or wrong) corner. I was in a bar once with my brother, it was under new management. We stood by the jukebox and the new landlady came up. “At least a quarter Irish, lads” she said, quietly but sternly. Our fingers wandered away from 2 Unlimited and towards the Pogues. Here I like “the chill that comes to the streets around Christmas time”, a worse lyricist would have just gone for “at” not “around”. Not quite as evocative of being on the lash in town as “A Rainy Night In Soho”, though.

THE ACTION PACT – “London Bouncers”: “London bouncers ANTAGONISE!” – terrific, self-righteous new wave buzz-pop, plummy and shrill at the same time. It’s like Kitten off Big Brother made a record!

X-Seed 4000

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 262 views

X-Seed 4000: Some great browsing at this buildings site – this is the tallest building in their ‘vision’ section for structures which are never likely to be built. It seems somewhat arbitrary to say that the X-Seed is the tallest building ever designed, though, even with their secret “by a proper architectural firm” caveat. Especially given that the drawing reminds me of those great ‘spaceship’ Top Trumps where poor old Apollo 9 rubbed shoulders with a host of made-up star cruisers (and the Death Star! Except maybe they couldn’t call it that!).


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To celebrate the 50th birthday of CERN a firework display was held telling the story of the universe. It included a big bang (obviously), inflation, fundamental forces, matter, stars and planets. According to Rolf Landau, who helped design it, the public may have got lost when the four forces of nature diverged but the battle between matter and anti matter was a treat.

In related news Disney have developed a new type of fireworks which is much more accurate, conventional fireworks have an error of +/- 10% in altitude. Apparently the Disney ones explode with an accuracy of +/- 25ms, although i have no idea what that works out at in terms of altitude.

Looks like we might be seeing much more ambitious and impressive displays in future – perhaps the story of life, or the Lord of the Rings in fireworks. Any other suggestions?

(From New Scientist)