Discs Of Despair
May19

Discs Of Despair

In 1969 an independent publisher called Flimflam Books put an advert in local newspapers across the Pacific Northwest area of America looking for authors willing to engage in a novel (no pun intended) revenue-sharing scheme. One of the first books that appeared in the stores of Seattle in early 1970 as a result of this advertisement was Discs of Despair by E.C. Clamp. Discs of Despair followed the story of two best friends, George and Henry, abducted by a UFO whilst playing with their flying disc on a beach at twilight. They effect an escape from the craft, destroying it in the process, but in doing so find themselves stranded on an alien planet. With just what they can salvage from the wreckage, their wits, and their disc to keep them occupied they search for a way home that ends up taking them through interstellar portals and eventually into a bloodthirsty disc-throwing competition with family members of the aliens who originally captured them. The novel revenue-sharing scheme revolved around playing rock-paper-scissors to determine cut of the profits. E.C. Clamp lost all three rounds against the publishing house and ended up with no royalties from sales of the book. This experience turned Clamp off writing for the rest of his...

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South America Cruise Videos
May09

South America Cruise Videos

A companion post to the two articles that I recently posted outlining our recent cruise from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Valparaiso, Chile on board the Princess Cruises ship Star Princess, containg the videos that I’ve subsequently uploaded to YouTube along with some brief notes. To read a review of the cruise see: Star Princess: South America Cruise (Part 1) Star Princess: South America Cruise (Part 2) A quick pan around the admittedly not terribly photogenic dockside area in Buenos Aires from our mini-suite stateroom balcony. We boarded a steam train in order to get to the winery at Juanico in Uruguay. This is a few minutes of the countryside and small towns rolling past which sadly doesn’t capture many of the happy, waving, or just plain gobsmacked locals who stopped to stare at our mode of travel. A zumba session taking place out on deck. People who know me will not be surprised to learn that not only did I not partake I also didn’t even consider partaking. The Star Princess outside the influence of the River Plate and on the South Atlantic, as seen from our balcony once again. A Magellanic penguin wandering past us as we strolled through its rookery at Punta Tombo reserve in Argentina. Two dancers showing off some Argentina Tango moves in the piazza to the enjoyment of three decks of viewers. The dancers were very good but they weren’t as good as the Uruguayans who danced for us as the winery and with whom I “danced” in front of everyone. And nobody was as good as the dancers who put on the tango show in Buenos Aires. But still good, as you can see. You’re probably looking at this and thinking “nice filters” or “nice processing” or something along those lines. Well, stop that. The sunset that you see here was exactly as it appeared as the ship made its way southwards from Argentina towards the Falkland Islands. We’d been sitting down in one of the bars (shock) when we noticed the sudden colour of the sky outside so, along with a great many other passengers, headed out onto the promenade deck to stare at it and take some photos and video. A quick pan around on our Falklands War Battlefields tour that we took on the Falkland Islands. As you probably could have guessed. Fascinating tour that you can read more about on the first article I wrote about the cruise. The next three videos are from our cruising around Cape Horn. The theme of these videos is “grey”. Now for three videos shot on a catamaran trip out onto the Beagle...

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Lillian F. Schwartz Movies
May08

Lillian F. Schwartz Movies

Some extraordinary videos, mostly from the 1970s, showcasing innovative computer animations or filming techniques in artworks produced by Lillian F. Schwartz. From Lillian.com: Lillian Schwartz, resident artist and consultant at Bell Laboratories (New Jersey), 1969-2002. During the 70s and 80s Schwartz developed a catalogue of visionary techniques for the use of the computer system by artists. Her formal explorations in abstract animation involved the marriage of film, computers and music in collaboration with such luminaries as computer musicians Jean-Claude Risset, Max Mathews, Vladimir Ussachevsky, Milton Babbit, and Richard Moore. Many more of Lillian’s films can be found...

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Invictus Games: UK Versus USA
Apr30

Invictus Games: UK Versus USA

When Barack Obama and Michelle Obama challenge Prince Harry with respect to the upcoming Invictus Games he brings out the big gun in response…...

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American Reflexxx: Mob Violence And Gender Confusion
Jan02

American Reflexxx: Mob Violence And Gender Confusion

You know what it’s like. You’re following some random links on random Tumblr sites looking for 1980s-style neon gorgeousness (don’t ask me why) when you find yourself somewhere called Sleazeburger and during the scrolling you notice a comment from someone asking about a film. And then you follow the link in the answer. And then you spend a little over 14 minutes gawping at something mesmerising and distressing, captivating, and mind-reeling. American Reflexxx is a movie featuring that Tumblr site’s owner, performance artist Signe Pierce, and filmed by Alli Coates in 2013. It was supposed to be a short film featuring Signe in stripper gear, neon shoes, and a reflective mask strolling along Myrtle Beach in South Carolina; something pretty, something futuristic cyborg-like, in a tourist destination in the heart of conservative America; it was probably expected there’d be stares, maybe some comments, photos from phones; it was probably not expected that a crowd would form and that both verbal and physical assault would take place. Oh, so naive. There’s some interesting time-dilation editing in the movie which helps to make Signe Pierce’s cyborg seem that much more alien amongst the humans. And, interestingly, it’s very difficult to come away from this video with anything other than bad feelings towards those humans as their behaviour to the alien is distressingly… well, human. The initial interest in the sexy giant very quickly gives way to uncertainty over gender. Unable to truly know whether Signe is male or female or something else entirely the instinct becomes to assume she is wrong, and therefore bad, and therefore a threat, and therefore scary. Adrenalin’s a hell of a drug and it will either trigger a fight or flight instinct but when you’ve got the safety of the herd around you and the threat has no obvious weapons a fight with the protection of numbers in the mob is probably the result you’re going to get. I mean, you’d like to think people could think rationally, perhaps think it’s a model doing a photoshoot or even the art piece it is, show some interest maybe, then go about whatever it was they were doing before, but forming into a mass of bullies is certainly an option too. The video features Signe getting sprayed with water, someone trying to trip her, and someone cowardly pushing her from behind to the floor where she suffers a cut. In each case the person assaulting the alien is a woman. A raised reaction to a perceived raised threat from a potential rival perhaps? Or women are just naturally violent in South Carolina? I’ve not been so I don’t...

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Sympathy For The Devil
Dec30

Sympathy For The Devil

The August 1979 publication of Heavy Metal magazine (volume 3, issue 4) contained a comic strip – or, in its own words, a Songsaga – set to the lyrics of the Rolling Stones track Sympathy For The Devil. It just so happens that despite the annoying tendency for students at university to sing along with the music it remains possibly my most favourite Stones track and since the magazine is available for viewing on the Internet Archive I thought I’d reproduce the imagery from that publication here. Heavy Metal v03 #04 Story concept: James Waley Adaptation: James Waley & Gene Day Pencils: Gene Day Inks-lettering: Bill Payne Colours: Martin Springett And, if you want to sing along...

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