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In preparation for a major blog project I'm starting in a couple weeks I've been going through Youtube links and found this. One of the many cool montages Something Weird Video assembled to promote themselves, usually by putting these at the beginning and ending of their old VHS tapes of regional horror films, Italian gladiator films, sleazy 1960s soft-porn and occasional trailer compilations mixing them altogether and more.

In the golden age of people buying anything that came out on DVD Something Weird struck a deal with Tower Records to promote their wares. However as time went on and Something Weird lost licenses to films featuring Mexican wrestler and monster hunter El Santo, South American horror kingpin Coffin Joe and others to competing DVD labels they stuck with the products that proved to be their biggest sellers at Tower: drive-in porno that veered towards the hardcore side of things.

I don't begrudge them this as it's the price of doing business, but I do miss their somewhat less sleazy and more genuinely weird era that this clip is from.

Anyways, enjoy it, if only for all the cool tunes used in the clip. (Honestly, that country song that kicks in at 3'41"? If that was sung by Johnny Cash it'd be the most terrifying country song ever recorded).

Sunday unfunnies

I'll be honest, even though I had come to dislike the strip in the past few years, there's still a bit of me that felt a twinge about seeing this particular strip which ends the real time era of the strip.

As a Canadian who was the same age as oldest son Michael, and having a sister the same age as oldest sister Elizabeth, I couldn't help but feel a certain connection to the strip (it wasn't until much later that I realized the early strips were done by Lynn Johnston while she was living in Manitoba. ) As they grew up so did we. Even as their lives became less similar to my own I still regarded the strip with a certain amount of fondness. On a newspaper comics page where the only two other families at the time were banal Hi & Lois and the distastefully saccharine Family Circus, a strip that actually showed the characters living in a home that was often chaotic, messy, and having the parents at times make sarcastic jokes about how parenting is overrated are was a welcome breath of fresh air.

I think one of my favourite strips that I remember was a Sunday strip which had family dog Farley be mounted by Michael as if he was a motorcycle and just a series of puzzled expressions on the dog's face as Michael made vroom vroom noises. Not really funny per se, but a moment that I knew all too well as something I did with Sylver when I was about 9 or 10.

When I was a bit older, I actually felt a bit of pride for the strip for bringing one of its characters out of the closet. It was (and in some ways still is) a gutsy choice on Lynn's part.

However as time went on I'd get out of the habit of reading the local paper so I fell out out of the habit of following them. When I would come back, while the strips were more soap operatic, I still didn't really seem them as "bad" per se. It wasn't until reading the snark about them on the Comics Curmudgeon that I really began to realize just how maudlin and sentimental the strip has become.

I think this post by a Canadian woman around the same age as Liz over here does a good job of dissecting the unfortunate implications of the Liz/Anthony relationship that has taken over the strip. How it basically seems to be telling young women that going out and exploring the world isn't worth it. They should should just move back to their parents' neighbourhood and hook up with the boring guy and settle down and have kids. It seems like this is borne out of Johnston's own experiences (Her first marriage was to someone who was more cosmopolitan than her, and when they divorced, she moved back home to marry an old friend who was a dentist). It's a shame that she seemed unable to allow her character which is a stand in for her daughter in the strip have a different life from her own.

Still this need to re-visit her past in idealized form may have a perfect explanation in Lynn Johnston's own life: Her second husband, the one who's fictional analogue in the strip, filed for divorce last year.

Anyways, I do feel sad that the strip has declined to this point. It actually makes me appreciate Berke Breathed, (creator of Bloom County, Outland, and Opus) who keeps getting tired of doing a strip for newspapers and eventually cancels them for a few years befroe he gets lured back again.


Karaoke Terror Trailer

It's sad, but no matter what type of music it is, if it's attached to some intriguing visuals, I immediately like the music. So despite the fact this film appears to be loaded with the sort of old saccharine pop that the Japanese seem to specialize in for karaoke, I'm actually digging the tunes. Even the one that sounds suspiciously like an old Barry Manilow piece right at the end.

Anyways, the film is coming to DVD through Synapse films (off of their website is another trailer for Katsuhito Ishii's PARTY 7, his follow-up to the cult hit SHARK SKIN MAN AND PEACH HIP GIRL that's also rather um, eye-catching.)

10 Toys that made you Gay

Just a quick hit and run for now: Suggestively shaped tails of electronic toys...and more.

Some interesting (in a good way) stuff happening. Details to follow at some later date.

tylerpistol turned me on to these guys a few weeks ago. Coming out of that early 80s school of funk & hip-hop that was more into generating synthetic sounds and using vocoders a la Kraftwerk instead of rapping over Aerosmith samples.

What I'm impressed with, above and beyond their quaint futurist outfits by way of George Clinton's Parliament/Funkadelic school of stage costumes, is that there's a genuine dedication and intensity to the compositions that Kraftwerk never had due to their more tongue-in-cheek nature (don't get me wrong, that's what I love about them). Not that I'd necessarily say the Jonzun Crew are humourless. While 5 of the 6 tracks off their album are as coated on as cold and futuristic sheen as the above , there's one track where they sing using their real voices called Space Cowboy that sounds like the sort of thing you might have heard on the end titles of a crappy Dan Ackroyd or Rodney Dangerfield movie, it threw more for a loop until I learned that one of the outrageously costumed gentlemen above later changed his name to Maurice Starr and became the svengali-like mastermind of R&B band New Edition and perhaps more disturbingly, the New Kids On The Block.

I'm linking to a few more of their tracks on Youtube. From their declarative album opener We Are The Jonzun Crew to their nod to Sun Ra Space Is The Place to mellow Electro Boogie Encounter to the wonderful melancholy Ground Control, if you like these guys...well you know the options.

After poking around for other tracks of similar bent I found a couple of other tracks from other artists of the period that have a simlar feel. Two of them are apparently on the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City so there's more than a few gamers out there who are hipper than I am at this point (I have no delusions about my musical hipster cred nowadays, or rather the lack of it. For all I know these are played all the time at Electro/Indie nights everywhere because they still they're music from the future but now everyone's sick of them; What can I say, it's new to me so....)

Cybotron - Clear (sampled by Missy Elliott, but that's ok since the song is built around a sample of Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express")

Hashim - Al-Naafiysh (The Soul) (God I love minor keys on synths)

The other two are by Newcleus, who I knew for the goofier Jam On It but I much prefer

1. Cyborg Dance (I mean, the title alone...)

2. Computer Age (Push The Button)

When I was younger I used to sit around with friends drinking while listening to our new music finds, regardless of how new or old it is. Think of this as a virtual alcohol free version of such a night (unless you want to drink while listening to these, which if this isn't you thing, might be understandable.)

If that's the case, bottoms up!

EDIT: Ok, I just found out the hard way the Firefox 3 Html links bug. I fixed it. You should be able to go directly to all the Youtube videos now.

Thomas M. Disch

Committed suicide on July 4,

You're most likely to know him from the children's book  The Brave Little Toaster (or the Disney cartoon spun off from it), but I've also read the mordantly funny The Businessman: A Tale of Terror, as well as his novel that was a continuation of The Prisoner TV series, and particularly a lot of his criticism that was always insightful. I've always wanted to read more because I REALLY liked what I read from him.



and he had a Livejournal too, at tomsdisch

I have definite memories of Viewmaster Reels and I have the vaguest recollection that I had at least one of these: Hanna Barbara cartoon characters recreated as 3-D miniature dioramas. While perusing them on Bob Logan's blog I saw the above pic and fell in love with it. I hope the reasons why are self-evident.  

Fatal Attractions

I don't care what anyone else says. This is the most wholesome picture of toadfucking imaginable.

Off to bed.

I can't believe it's not Photoshop!

What in every way is a mistake (reflection of a museum exhibit taken in too dark light with no flash), somehow ends up with this picture that looks like it's trying too hard to be a collage. Still, I like it.

Very busy so had little chance to actually sit down and write a blog entry. I missed out on the ambassador of Poland who dropped by the museum this weekend. Oh well.

If I update this week, fair warning: I took over a hundred pics this weekend. I'll sift through to get the good ones, but it was a creativelty rewarding day today.

Now off to bed.