Saturday, September 29, 2007

Kosuke Tsumura's PET fashion/armour.

From one of our favorite blogs: Pink Tentacle

"It takes only a few minutes to down a soft drink, but the plastic bottle it comes in is designed to last for centuries. In the eyes of Kosuke Tsumura, designer for the Final Home brand of urban survival clothing and accessories, the durability and abundance of PET plastic bottles makes them an ideal material for clothing…and armor. At the request of the world’s largest cola cartel, Tsumura made this suit of PET bottle armor by slicing up bottles and sewing the pieces together with transparent nylon thread. The armor may not hold up well in combat, but it looks cool as hell and it won’t biodegrade until long after you are gone."

Friday, September 28, 2007

Movies You Haven't Seen But Should: Phase IV

From the excellent 1,000 Misspent Hours:
Ants are truly amazing creatures. An individual ant, so far as anyone can determine, is entirely mindless, yet the complexity of their societies rivals anything that we humans have devised. Ants are master builders. They cultivate food crops. They raise livestock. They wage war and practice slavery. They are able to communicate elaborate instructions to one another through a combination of gestures and scent chemicals. In short, nearly every practical feature of human societies finds its analog in that of at least one species of ant. But whereas our social achievements are mainly the product of culture, consciously or unconsciously taught by one generation to the next, ants do it all by instinct alone. It is this awesome fact, I believe, that has led so many authors and filmmakers over the years to speculate about what might happen if some environmental change were to occur so as to put humans and ants into direct competition. Most of the time, this means little more than making the ants big enough to pose a direct threat to human life, as in Them!. Occasionally, though, someone will try the more thoughtful approach of leaving the ants at their natural size and giving them intelligence instead. Phase IV, one of my longtime favorite 70’s sci-fi movies, is probably the best example of this latter strain. Those with short attention spans will find it rough going, but anyone who enjoyed The Andromeda Strain or Colossus: The Forbin Project owes it to themselves to have a look ....

... A lot of people lump Phase IV in with the Mother Nature’s Revenge movies that were being made at about the same time, but I don't really think that's quite appropriate. There’s no revenge going on here, nor anything that would allow a person to say that we brought it all on ourselves— hell, there isn’t even any toxic waste lying around for the ants to eat! What we’re dealing with here is just the emergence of a new species capable of out-competing us in the great struggle for survival. For that very reason, Phase IV seems like much more serious and intelligent a movie than Frogs or Prophecy. The absence of much in the way of showy special effects is another big point in this movie’s favor, indicating as it does director Saul Bass’s confidence that the screenplay he was working from was strong enough to stand scrutiny without such things to distract audience attention. Or at any rate, that’s how I score it; it’s also a big part of the reason the short attention span crowd are going to be squirming uncomfortably in their seats before the first hour has passed. If you’re asking me, though (and if you aren’t, then why the fuck are you still reading this?), Phase IV gets along just fine with barely any action. The entire point here, after all, is that the challenge posed by the intelligent ants is one that can’t really be met with firepower. This isn’t war we're talking about, but evolutionary change. Modern man is so far removed from the days in which he existed at the same level as the rest of the biosphere that most of us have never stopped to consider what it would be like if we had meaningful ecological competition. By positing a rival for humanity that is too small to be hunted, too adaptable to be poisoned out of existence, and at least potentially too ubiquitous to be quarantined, Phase IV forces just such a consideration. Meanwhile, the fact that it ends before the two species have come to grips with each other on a large scale leaves open all of the questions that it raises. We never get more than the vaguest hints as to what the ants’ real agenda might be regarding humankind, nor is any conclusive answer forthcoming to the question of whether meaningful communication is possible between them and us. Though the ants are apparently comparable to humans in terms of intelligence, the vast social and biological differences between the species might preclude communication on any but the most concrete and tangible subjects. It isn’t even clear whether all the ants in the changed colonies are intelligent, or whether sapient queens are directing swarms of workers that are just as mindless as ever (although there are a few vague clues suggesting that the ants may have developed a new caste in their society that is as specialized for thinking as the soldier caste is for fighting). A lot of filmmakers seem to have lost track of this in recent decades, but there’s a reason why its thinner-skinned fans prefer to call science fiction by the rather more pretentious name of “speculative fiction”— the shit’s supposed to make you think! Phase IV does, and that’s a hell of a lot more than you can say for most movies about killer bugs.
- and here's (naturally) the pages for it on Wikipedia and the IMDB

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Welcome to Weirdsville: Larceny in the Heart

What a trustworthy looking fellow

You can never be too careful.

The deal sounded good--almost too good. A parcel of land in South America, a possible gold mine, a moderate investment towards what could be an truly immense fortune. The investment might have been moderate, only $500,000, but the least he could do was ask to see Mr. Weil's backers, have their claims validated by the President of the Merchant National Bank in Muncie, Indiana. Everything seemed to be in order. The bank was refined and stately, the tellers behind their gold-plated bars professional and proficient, the rest of the bank's employees courteous and efficient. The bank manager seemed a worldly soul who was straight-forward and immensely knowledgeable about such dealings.

After the meeting, how could he not accept Mr. Weil's deal? Hands were shaken, signatures were exchanged, backs were patted. And when they parted, did immense dreams of South American profits in fill the investor’s thoughts...and the thoughts of Mr. Weil? Mr. Weil dreamed, too, of wealth but of a more respectable and present $500,000.

As I said before, you can never be too careful, and in the case of any dealing with Mr. Weil, no amount of forethought and protection would have been enough. The bank was fake, the real bank recently moved; the employees were, every last one of them, associates and fellow crooks; even the bank president was a good pal of Mr. Weil. And Mr. Weil wasn't who he appeared to be, for he was also known as the King of Conmen, "The Yellow Kid."

So what is Weil, whose moniker came from the legendary comic strip, doing in this column where I've waxed with purple prose about such things are the deadliest venom on the planet, the Wizard of War, and grand gender issues throughout history? Weil was just a man, after all--just a dapper little gentleman, often sporting pince-nez, a beaver hat, a full opera cape and yellow gloves. But this elegant little man managed to con the usually un-conable: cops, bankers, doctors, your name it. That alone, though, isn't the reason the Yellow Kid is here. Rather, it is because of his genius and...well, morals. The fake bank was but one of his brilliant skullduggeries.

One of my faves is the "Dog Con," and it goes like this: A guy walks into a bar with a very ugly pooch. Suddenly remembering an appointment, the man asks the bartender to mind the mutt while he runs out. While he's gone though a dapper gentlemen appears and proclaims the hound to be the finest example of a muttus commonous (or something impressive-sounding) and offers the bartender $500 for it. Alas, the bartender can't sell, but offers to try and get it from the owner, and so accepts the dapper man's phone number with a promise to call if he succeeds. Sure enough, the owner of the dog returns and grudgingly accepts $200 from the bartender for a dog that he believes is worthless - and it is. The dog owner is a friend of the Yellow Kid, and the dapper man is the Yellow Kid himself. With this con, the Kid and his pals managed to find homes for a lot of stray dogs and cats - as well as a lot of money. Weil's skill at cons remains legendary to this day.

Truly, his skill with hoodwinks boggles the mind. He used to travel to small towns, visit the local library, and skillfully plant fake documents, falsified newspaper clippings, and so forth, then start the con over, say, some land somewhere in South America--knowing that the interested parties would of course get down to the local library as soon as possible to check on Weil's claims. His money was as good as gone. No one was safe from the Yellow Kid's art.

To give you an idea of his persuasiveness, one time Weil was being escorted to the clink by a local cop. Chatting amiably with the flatfoot, Weil casually told him about all the cons he'd performed over the years, the thousands and thousands of dollars he'd taken from the greedy. So convinced was the cop that Weil soon after had a new partner in crime, one who stayed with the Yellow Kid for over twenty-five years.

Another cop wasn't so lucky, he was taken by the Kid for over $30,000 - while taking the Kid to jail.

A touching moment in the Yellow Kid's life came when love brushed against him in the form of a lovely young lady whom he met on a European cruise. Taken off guard, the Kid was enthralled that when she proclaimed through tears that she was tragically short of funds, he more than willingly gave her $10,000 for a pearl necklace, a legendary family heirloom. Soon after she vanished, taking Weil's money and leaving him with junk jewelry. Rather than being furious at being conned himself, Weil was beside himself: "What a team we would have made!"

But what I really love about the Yellow Kid was his sense of right and wrong. Make no mistake, Weil kept what he took, but he often boasted that he only took from those who were ruled by greed, or who could easily afford a lesson in caution. Not to mention, of course, a lesson about the old maxim: if it sounds too good to be true, then, well, it probably isn’t.

The Kid hung up his cape and beaver hat after a point, at the end of his third (and last) jail term, dedicating himself to the simple life. His Autobiography of Yellow Kid Weil was the self-confessing capstone to a remarkable career of separating people from their money. While Weil often regretted his life of crime, stating before Congress in 1956, "I see how despicable were the things I did," he more often looked sadly to the crooks of the present, who he saw as monsters and not quick-witted gentlemen: "Taking the life savings from poor old women is just the same as putting a revolver to her head and pressing the trigger."

Forger's works are considered masterpieces in their own right, and copies of Howard Hughes' autobiography fetch a fortune. Yet, as Weil proves, crime might certainly pay, but to make it an art takes real skill.

"What a magnificent dog! What will you take for him?"

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Damn hippies, the billy clubs just bounce right off them: Craig Vetter's peace shield.

From Craig

"While I was designing the Series 1500 motorcycle fairing in August, 1968 the police of Chicago a hundred miles to the north were billy clubbing demonstrators at the Democratic Convention. My brother, Bruce and I thought we could help. We made a shield of fibreglass and Bruce inlayed it with leather in the shape of a Peace Sign. It was passive. It made a peaceful statement. It was strong and would protect you from billy clubs. It never made it as a product."
"The well dressed protester could have worn a Vetter Fairing. Our potential market didn't want protection. They wanted to get beat up and make the TV news. Those guys didn't have any money, anyway."

Open the pod door Martin.

By George Bryant, Daily Telegraph Magazine, Early 1970's. (via

"Retreat Pods, Teddy Bear Chairs, Dinosaurs, See-saw Sofas, Ball Chairs and an Experience Generating Mind Field, sound like props from a science fiction fun fair. They are not. They come under the heading of "home furnishing", although you could hardly call Martin Dean's Retreat Pod a piece of furniture, it may revolutionise your concept of home life, or your home itself, because, from today, it is on the market.

It is based on a philosophy intended to free people's minds; the Central Area, or Mind Field is a particularly powerful example of this.

Apart from the entertainments, films and occasional pop group performances planned for this central area, visitors will be invited to sense the 'experiences' and help to generate others to take part in the activities.

Retreat pod is a piece of equipment, according to its designer, Martin Dean, in which one can contrive to cut oneself off from the world. There is adequate air-conditioning. To counter possible claustrophobia the door stays shut by its own weight, so no catches are needed. The interior of the Pod is lit by hundreds of tiny orange neon bulbs from Philips, which look like glow-worms

George Bryant of A.B. Films says: "Within a circular screen in the central area we are trying to provide the public with an opportunity to play around with things which influence the immediate environment. Some are technological, some not. For instance, if someone walks into the exhibition and says something near a microphone, the visuals which happen to be projected on the screen at the time, will change colour. There will also be a light organ, or Space Integrator as it's called, which people will be able to play rather like a piano. So if they don't like what's on the screen, a simulated thunderstorm say, they can blank it out by playing its keys."

There is also a computer memory drum which can be programmed on the spot to change the sequence of the automated film and slide show. Even people who are hopeless with the simplest of machines will be able to take part in the audio-visual show. You will, for instance, be able to take a picture of friends with a Polaroid camera and then project it, enlarged by a marvellous machine called a Rank Aldis Epivisor, on to the screen. Rank Audio Visual have provided several more recent and riveting devices like "EVR" which will enable you to make your own TV programme, say, of someone else being hugged by a Bear Chair.

The bustle and noise within the central area are intended to provide the kind of relaxed environment where people can try out something new, like a see-saw sofa, without feeling self-conscious.

To the average British furniture manufacturer, Martin and Roger Dean are two long-haired designers whose ideas are strictly non-commercial.

Established designers do not approve of the Deans' approach either. Roger Dean, who designed the Teddy Bear Chair, says it is because "they are more concerned with function, economics, marketing and teaching people good design," whereas he and Martin are not. "You can't teach people to like Mies Van der Rohe, Corbusier or any of those sort of junkie people," he says. "You take a really smooth piece of Bauhaus design work, the sort that architects rave about; to your average man in the street it's sterile and boring.

"Nobody buys furniture solely for practical reasons," says Roger Dean. "For instance, people who buy what their Mum had, do it because it makes them feel secure." The Teddy Bear Chair which he designed has immediate appeal, because it offers a kind of security.

"There is a guy called T. E. Hall who wrote a book on psychological space bubbles which people build up round themselves, and when they break they become neurotic. The Pod recreates this kind of bubble only in solid physical form," says Martin Dean.

"The Pod simulates conditions which are in some ways similar to brainwashing. Because the Pod is sound and light proof and has a soft fur interior to minimise touch, it disconnects you, and that's a state in which you are most receptive to propaganda, or self-determined indoctrination via tape recorders, projectors, light effects, and so on. You could take your mind from a state of near sensory deprivation right through to sensory chaos."

The Pod also has long ventilation "feelers" (not shown in the photograph) because Martin Dean wanted to make people aware of the existence of ventilation - "so they won't get paranoid about suffocating." He explains: "The feelers only needed three-quarter-inch tube, but I've used two-inch tubes to give psychological reassurance to people that they are actually breathing."

Retreat Pod, like certain drugs, induces a self-awareness. Martin Dean believes there is a chance it could very ell make drugs redundant. Awareness between people also increases inside the Pod: "There's no point in telling lies to each other, all you have got is two lives, and any other social facades or barriers are meaningless."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Our Favortite heroes: Jerry, Luther and Gideon.

"Lord of the time-streams, master of the multiverse, androgynous, bisexual, well-dressed, gun-toting, drug-taking, fast car-driving arsonist, rock star, nuclear physicist and assassin"

Moorcock (left) with Jerry (actor Jon Finch) from "The Final Programme"
"Jerry Cornelius is a fictional secret agent and adventurer created by science fiction / fantasy author Michael Moorcock. He is a kind of hip secret agent of ambiguous and occasionally polymorphous sexuality; the same characters featured in each of several Cornelius books, though the individual books had little connection with one another, having a more metafictional than causal relationship to one another.

The first Jerry Cornelius book,The Final Programme was made into a feature film starring Jon Finch and Jenny Runacre.The series draws plot elements from Moorcock's Elric series, as well as the Commedia dell'arte. Moorcock hints in many places that Cornelius may be an aspect of the Eternal Champion. The name Jerry Cornelius and its variants appear at least four times (Jerry Cornell, Jherek Carnelian and the anagrammatic Corum Jhaelen Irsei). The location of Notting Hill in London also features prominently.
Moorcock encouraged other authors and artists to create works about Jerry Cornelius, in a sort of early open source attempt at open brand sharing. One example is Norman Spinrad's The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde; another is Mœbius's The Airtight Garage. The Nature of the Catastrophe, a collection of Jerry Cornelius stories and comic strips which had appeared in the International Times (with art by Mal Dean) by various hands, was published in 1971. It includes works by Moorcock himself, James Sallis, Brian Aldiss, Langdon Jones, M. John Harrison, Richard Glyn Jones, Alex Krislov and Maxim Jakubowski.

Jerry (left) and Major Grubert in Mœbius's The Airtight Garage

Bad Voltage
, an 80s cyberpunk novel by Jonathan Littell that also dealt with themes of bisexuality and violence, features guest appearances by a decidedly has-been Jerry Cornelius and a substance-abusing 'Shaky' Mo Collier.

Luther Arkwright

In comics various writers have used elements of the character, most notably Bryan Talbot's character Luther Arkwright.(above) The story is adult in tone, with many mythological, historical and political references, and a little explicit sex. Its genesis owes something to the influence of Michael Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius stories, though Moorcock and Talbot agree that the similarities between the characters are limited. Warren Ellis calls Arkwright "probably the single most influential graphic novel to have come out of Britain to date... probably Anglophone comics' single most important experimental work."

In 1999 Dark Horse published Talbot's sequel to Luther Arkwright, which was called Heart of Empire.

In 2005 the artwork was digitally remastered by Comics Centrum for an edition in Czech (Dobrodružství Luther Arkwrighta), allowing proper reproduction of both light and dark parts of "tonal" pages. The new artwork was also used for a French edition by Kymera Comics. Bryan Talbot has described the Czech edition as "the best ever published". In 2006 it was republished as a webcomic using the digitally remastered files at the official fanpage at The Adventures of Luther Arkwright

Other Jerry Cornelius comic inspirations are Image publishings Matt Fraction's Casanova series. Tony Lee's Midnight Kiss actually features Cornelius. Grant Morrison created an Oscar Wilde-inspired steampunk version of Jerry Cornelius in Sebastian O, the original Vertigo mini-series. Another Morrison character, Gideon Stargrave, is one of the few interpretations of the character that Moorcock strangely has issues with, as he considers the character little more than a straight lift of Cornelius:

"I find a difference between an homage, an amplification and a straight lift. Lifting is usually done by artists in comics. Alan Moore, Bryan Talbot and others have done riffs on Cornelius which have added to the method -- extended what can be done with the character and technique, if you like. Morrison doesn't have the talent to do that, though he's probably seen the others doing it and thinks that he's doing the same thing. In my view he isn't. I wasn't ready to sue Morrison but I was extremely pissed off with DC for running it. Only after his most blatant rips had appeared did someone at DC read the originals and realise to what degree he had stolen the material"
Sour grapes from Moorcock?..Its ironic as (in our opinion of course) Morrison's does Cornelius better than Moorcock does Cornelius-wich is ironic as Morrison states that Stargrave was in fact inspired by J. G. Ballard's The Day of Forever.

Morrison's Gideon Stargrave

"The character appeared in issues 3-4 of Near Myths in stories written and also drawn by Morrison, before that title was cancelled (Morrison also wrote and drew stories in issues 2 and 5, but they did not contain Stargrave). He made a brief appearance in Food for Thought (a British benefit comic to aid Ethiopian famine relief ) in 1985.

The character next made an appearance in Morrison's The Invisibles as an alter-ego of King Mob, one of that title's main characters. In this incarnation, Stargrave is used by King Mob to confuse his enemies during interrogation. Gideon is a '70s spy modelled after James Bond and Jason King who spends every scene he appears in seducing his partner, and is supposedly the main character of King Mob's works as an author. In this sequence, we see not only the actual Stargrave story but King Mob's cover identity (or probable real world identity) as Gideon Starorzewski, who produces his work under the pen name Kirk Morrison.
This ties the real creator (Grant Morrison) in with his various fictional creations (Gideon Stargrave and King Mob/Gideon Starorzewski/Kirk Morrison) and bringing together the various creations together in a metafictional conceit. Much of the premise of The Invisibles involves the philosophy that language is a perfectly acceptable method of creation so the notion that Gideon Stargrave is a fictional character does not preclude him being also a real person."

Movies You Haven't Seen But Should, Movies You Haven't Seen But Should, Movies You Haven't Seen But Should ... Uzumaki

From Snowblood Apple:

Welcome to the wild, whirling, weird world of Uzumaki, the most psychedelic, berserk, acid-addled, alarming, astounding, hilarious horror film ever. Go buy the DVD, and strap yourselves into your sofas, 'cos it's gonna be a helluva trip…

…when you were little, did you ever spend hours and hours running around in circles trying to make yourself dizzy, and then fall over laughing while the room span around you? Well, Uzumaki makes you feel like that all over again...

From start to finish, Uzumaki is a rollercoaster ride of non-stop schlock-shocks, one of the oddest films I've ever seen, and a complete hoot. Tinted throughout in a bizarre green colour, and featuring little tricksy gimmicks like camera-wipes and tiny digitized spiral shapes that form and deform in strange places throughout (you'll find yourself playing Spot-The-Spiral after a while), it's a joy for the eyes as well as the brain.
Wikipedia on the original manga:

Uzumaki is a horror manga by Junji Ito, serialized in Shogakukan's Big Comic Spirits.

The story concerns the people of a small Japanese town who become obsessed by the occurrences of natural and artificial spirals around them. The result of this obsession is a slow transformation into something other than human, leading to a gruesome, realistically-depicted death.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The best of both worlds. I dead? is this heaven? no-its Mo's Bacon Candy Bar

"I started playing with this combination at the tender age of six while eating chocolate chip pancakes drenched in maple syrup. Beside my chocolate-laden cakes laid three strips of fried bacon, just barely touching a sweet pool of maple syrup. Just a bite of the bacon was too salty and yearned for the sweet kiss of chocolate syrup. In retrospect, perhaps this was a turning point, for on that plate something magical happened: the beginnings of a combination so ethereal and delicious that it would haunt my thoughts"
Thanks to Redferret, who beat us to the punch...but obviously have not tasted the pure heaven the Mo's has wrought up.

Knowing me, knowing, me.

From the Chicago Reader

By Kelly McClure August 3, 2007

"AMBER HAWK SWANSON met Amber Doll on January 25 and the two were married the next day in matching rented gowns at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Swanson noted a few gawkers as she wheeled her bride through the casino and into the chapel, “but people who are in Vegas are already ready to sort of have something wild come at them,” she says. “I only got one real look of disgust.” Swanson, a video and performance artist, had ordered her bride online: Amber Doll, a lifelike sex doll, was specially made to look just like her. Their wedding video and other footage documenting their relationship will screen for the public this week.
Swanson, who’s 26, earned two BFAs at Iowa State University and an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She studied printmaking, drawing, and painting, but never video. The doll project grew out of a response to a job she had before grad school designing for Stride Rite. Disturbed by the elongated figures of fashion sketches, Swanson wanted to caption them with the words of real women and began videotaping her sorority sisters to generate quotes. She ended each interview with the same question: “How do you define feminism?”
Intrigued by their responses, Swanson began talking to more women and by 2005 she herself was in front of the camera. “Feminism?” consists of ten shorts in which she quotes from interview transcripts while participating in her own objectification. One short, Not a Feminist Way of Thinking: Daddy’s Little Girl, re creates a scene from Lolita; in it Swanson’s real-life father paints her toenails. “I was interested in the cultural phenomenon of young women rejecting feminism,” Swanson says. “In some ways I took on the character of a young woman doing so—either rejecting feminism or being naive about it.”
“Feminism?” toured colleges and film festivals and is now part of the collection at the Museum of Contemporary Photography. Reaction was understandably intense. “I put myself in my own mock porns. I was not only sexualized but I was also hyperfeminized,” Swanson says. “People conflated the persona of the work with me. There was so much attention, positive and negative. I was excited to get attention but also overwhelmed by it.”
That’s when Swanson began researching Realdolls—whose scale, molded features, silicone skin, and adjustable joints make them eerily realistic—as a tool for exploring the boundary between the real and the fantasy. “I was looking for a receptacle for the onslaught of attention and negative feedback—a stand-in for myself,” Swanson explains. “It was just the right amount of crazy to order a $12,000 doll.”

It took some convincing to get the San Diego-based company to go along with her vision. Customers can dictate everything from the style and color of their Realdoll’s hair to his or her shoe size, but making a doll in a particular person’s image is considerably more costly. Last July 4, after several weeks of negotiation, Swanson put $6,000 down on a doll that would be four inches shorter than her, with a waist six inches smaller, but have a face identical to her own. (A full body replica would’ve doubled the cost.) She set the date for her 3-D facial scan—executed by Burbank-based Cyber F/X, which caters to Hollywood—to coincide with her birthday so she and Amber Doll would share the same one.
In the months before the doll’s arrival, Swanson prepared her home, buying the doll gifts of jewelry and clothing that often matched her own. “I increasingly began thinking about her as my ideal woman and eventual wife,” she says. “I would lie in bed and rub my hand on the sheets where I knew she’d be lying soon.”
Swanson began to recognize herself in the people who detailed their relationships with their sex dolls online. “I identify with the other owners in a real genuine way,” she says. “Whether it’s dating related—not being able to have romantic relationships or whatever—or that desire for companionship as well as to enact violent fantasy.” She had her wrist tattooed with the word “Bully” and had Realdoll paint the word “Prey” in the same font on the doll’s wrist.
In January she got word that her doll was nearly finished. “The total time from the beginning of my discussions with them to eventually picking her up to be mine was nine months,” Swanson says. “Which of course cracks me up, thinking about her as my twin, my wife, and a baby of sorts.” She flew out to the Realdoll warehouse in California to film the final four days of production and then packed Amber Doll in a car and drove her to Vegas, shooting the entire way. Footage from the warehouse and the wedding ceremony are included in the video To Have, To Hold, To Violate: The Making of Amber Doll, which screens Saturday at “Diamonds at Dusk,” an outdoor showing of films by local queer artists.
Since the wedding Swanson has put Amber Doll to use in a project exploring the interplay between fantasy and reality in sexual relationships. The finished work, which is still untitled, will contrast stills of intimate “partnership” scenes with video reenactments of rape scenes from movies such as Irreversible and The Accused. Unlike “Feminism?” which spoofed sexualized depictions of women in popular culture, Swanson’s latest videos are meant to mimic them as closely as possible—with one main departure. In the rape scene reenactments, both Swanson and Amber Doll will be dressed as the victim in the film. She gets most of her costumes from Forever 21 and H&M, including dresses similar to the one worn by Monica Bellucci in Irreversible. “These places had the majority of the ‘asking for it’ outfits I was looking for,” she explains.

She aims to wrap up the project by May, when she’ll have a solo show at Locust Projects in Miami. After that, it seems like she might need a break from Amber Doll. “In so many ways she’s a huge hassle,” Swanson says. “I already spend so much time taking care of my own body, and it takes triple that to care for the doll.”

Taking the doll, which weighs 135 pounds, off her wheeled metal stand is a trick in itself. “It’s beyond a hassle,” says Swanson. “It’s so difficult just to lift her off. Or to even put her face back on; it velcros on and falls off all the time.” And since Amber Doll’s skin is made of silicone rubber, “everything sticks to it. I use tape and rubbing alcohol to clean it. It just gets so dirty.”
The honeymoon, however, is not entirely over. Later this month Swanson and Amber Doll will host a joint birthday party and belated wedding reception for friends. A tent will be set up and there’ll be wedding cake.
Swanson is still toying with ideas for what to do with Amber Doll once the project is finished. “I’ve thought a lot about it,” she says. “It does seem like there needs to be an end to the body. I had a dream where I shot her in the face and it ricocheted and killed me."
Thanks again to MKF reader (and content "suggester") R.T.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The little spaceship that could.

The AMT Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser (a.k.a. the UFO Mystery Ship) first appeared in 1967. It had been advertised on the side of AMT's Star Trek line of models, but it was never part of that TV show. Mike Okuda, who's great work has been seen on several Star Trek series, has filled in some background info on the Leif Ericson design:

The Leif Ericson was designed by Matt Jefferies, designer of the original Star Trek Enterprise and many of the ships that appeared in that series. While the Leif Ericson never appeared in the original series, Mike mentioned that it did show up in a couple of places on Filmation's storyboards for the animated Star Trek series in the early 1970s, although the ship did not appear in any of the finished episodes of the animated series.

no need for a night light-the little scout ship glowed in the dark

The short story included with the Leif Ericson mentions that this kit was the first of several kits in AMT's "Strategic Space Command" series. This may have been an attempt by AMT to start their own line of non-Star Trek spaceship models; in any case, only the Leif Ericson was produced. The kit also came with a small glow-in-the-dark scoutship, a lighting kit, a record of the "Sounds of Outer Space" and a two page short story that covers the history and adventures of the ship.

"The LIEF ERICSON had been on a routine exploratory mission, carefully probing the five planets of a newly-discovered solar system. As usual, one of the four-man scout ships (this time it was the VEGA) had been sent on ahead of the LIEF ERICSON, for planetary scan. Now the mission was no longer a routine one. The VEGA had radioed that it was in trouble, and was preparing to crash land on the surface of the fourth planet. After sending a report of its intended landing position, radio contact had been suddenly lost, and the VEGA was presumed to have crashed. The fate of the crew was not known"

Just a cheap plastic model to sell to the Star Trek geeks?-No, just ask Hugo award winning author Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle From "Building the Mote in God's Eye"

"Long ago we acquired a commercial model called “The Explorer Ship Leif Ericsson,” a plastic spaceship of intriguing design. It is shaped something like a flattened pint whiskey bottle with a long neck. The “Leif Ericsson,” alas, was killed by general lack of interest in spacecraft by model buyers; a ghost of it is still marketed in hideous glow-in-the-dark color as some kind of flying saucer. It’s often easier to take a detailed construct and work within its limits than it is to have too much flexibility. For fun we tried to make the Leif Ericsson work as a model for an Empire naval vessel. The exercise proved instructive."
artwork (detail) of The Mote in Gods Eye by (yet another) Star Treck designer Rick Sternbach

It makes us wonder if any kids bought the kit, or only science fiction writers and cover artists (like Bob Larkin's Cover for "ROD SERLING'S OTHER WORLDS" 1978 ) grabbed them off the shelves.

The story continues: around 1975 Matt Jefferies (see above) was hired by George Pal to work on a TV series based on THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. "The Hyperspace Carrier Pegasus" is an outgrowth of the Leif Ericson. Perhaps getting a bit dry that day on ideas Jefferies actually had the ship upside down in order to make the connection less obvious. The TV series was never picked up...and the idea came full circle, only this time inverted.

Houston we might have a problem: the Pegasus

Thanks to the definitive Leif Ericson page.

God IS The Details: The Work of Kris Kuksi

For more info on this fantastic artist check out his site here, his MySpace page here, and his DeviantArt page here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ah the romance of the open lanes: the electric milk float.

Can it be? yes it is! A rare Ross float in the Bates dairy fleet #SFY 74K. It displays the more common design of front dash panel. It is pictured here on Scarisbrick New Road on its regular round. I do not know why careless milkmen who leave thier racy floats alone, sureley they would be stolen in a heartbeat by speed crazed lactose-intolerant kids.

Here's something the weeds at Jalopnik are sure to never mention. ladies and gentlemen of the motoring world-I bring you the Milk Float: The king of the lane, the hauler of the highway-or in my local circles-"the curd curb king". Ah the glories of my all to short youth. While my fellow schoolmates would tremble at the thought of the mainline steam engine screaming through the station, or rush to the window of our towns local Triumph agency to drool over the newest racy and shiny models I would spend my glorious gray and dour early mornings chasing the dreamy (and creamy!) milkfloats.

The crown jewel of any sane persons milkfloat dream fleet: # SOG 148 a 20cwt Morrison D1 first registered in 1955/6 and pictured when new. These vehicles were rebodied twice, to the style carried by OVP 195G and later with the M&M body. (Photo posted to the Milko group by Paul Brady)...but of course I do not have to tell you this,...its all so obvious.

Is there a tear in your eye?, do not be ashamed for there is one in mine as I write this. Let us go into our collective attics and find our milkfloat spotters guides, our notepads filled with our local milkfloat plate numbers and our "childs first book of milk orders".

...One yogurt, one cream, and two large frosty ones of the white stuff- the cookies are on me.

What man would want a Bugatti after getting his eyes on this stunning Wales and Edwards 3-wheeler? Unigate's WXR 729 (fleet number 94/267 naturally) dates from 1959. It is pictured on sunny scenic Woodbridge Road, in Guildford in 1981. Photo by Peter Relf.

Thanks to
for the truely great site.

So, how'd you get into this hole boring business?

If you're interested at all in people who like to drill holes in their heads - and most of all why anyone would want to drill holes in their heads - check out this little piece we have on the SF side of Dark Roasted Blend (thanks, Avi!).

The word of the day is trepanation.

Yes, you're expected to wince.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

One of Our Favorite Heroes ... er, Thieves

Arsène Lupin (from the fantastic Cool French comics site)

From Wikipedia:

Arsène Lupin is the name of a fictional gentleman thief who appears in a book series of detective fiction/crime fiction novels written by French writer Maurice Leblanc, as well as a number of non-canonical sequels and numerous film, television, stage play and comic book adaptations.

A contemporary of Arthur Conan Doyle, Maurice Leblanc (1864-1941) was the creator of the character of gentleman thief Arsène Lupin who, in France, has enjoyed a popularity as long-lasting and considerable as Sherlock Holmes in the English-speaking world.

There are twenty volumes in the Arsène Lupin series written by Leblanc himself, plus five authorized sequels written by the notorious mystery writing team of Boileau-Narcejac, as well as various pastiches.

The character of Lupin was first introduced in a series of short stories serialized in the magazine Je Sais Tout, starting in No. 6, dated 15 July 1905.

Arsène Lupin is a literary descendant of Pierre Alexis Ponson du Terrail's Rocambole. Like him, he is clearly a force for good, while operating on the wrong side of the law. Those whom Lupin defeats, always with his characteristic gallic style and panache, are worse villains than he. Lupin is somewhat similar to A.J. Raffles and anticipates characters such as The Saint.

The character of Arsène Lupin might have been based by Leblanc on French anarchist Marius Jacob, whose trial made headlines in March 1905 ; but Leblanc had also read Octave Mirbeau's Les 21 jours d'un neurasthénique (1901), which features a gentleman thief named Arthur Lebeau, and seen Mirbeau's comedy Scrupules (1902), whose main character is a gentleman thief.

Lupin's lineage has also spawned a Japanese take in his grandson, Lupin the 3rd:

The gang from the Lupin the 3rd anime

Lupin III is a manga and anime media franchise created by Kazuhiko Kato under the pen name of Monkey Punch. The franchise follows the adventures of a gang of thieves led by Arsène Lupin III, the grandson of Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief of Maurice Leblanc's series of novels. Lupin and his gang travel throughout the world to steal treasures and escape from the law.
Each project within the Lupin III universe has its own plot. The overall plot of the franchise centers on the international thief Arsène Lupin III. He is joined by Daisuke Jigen, Lupin's closest ally; Fujiko Mine, the femme fatale and Lupin's love interest who works against Lupin more often than with him; and Goemon Ishikawa XIII, a master swordsman and the descendant of Ishikawa Goemon, the legendary Japanese bandit. Lupin is often chased by Inspector Koichi Zenigata of the ICPO, the descendent of Zenigata Heiji. A rather cynical detective, Zenigata has made it his life's mission to chase Lupin across the globe in hopes of arresting him.

The Lupin the 3rd manga by Monkey Punch

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Kilroy was here.

"James J. Kilroy, an American shipyard inspector, was the man behind the signature. During World War II he worked at the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts, where he claimed to have used the phrase to mark rivets he had checked. The builders, whose rivets J. J. Kilroy was counting, were paid depending on the number of rivets they put in. A riveter would make a chalk mark at the end of his or her shift to show where they had left off and the next riveter had started. Unscrupulous riveters discovered that, if they started work before the inspector arrived, they could receive extra pay by erasing the previous worker's chalk mark and chalking a mark farther back on the same seam, giving themselves credit for some of the previous riveter's work. J.J. Kilroy stopped this practice by writing "Kilroy was here" at the site of each chalk mark. At the time, ships were being sent out before they had been painted, so when sealed areas were opened for maintenance, soldiers found an unexplained name scrawled. Thousands of servicemen may have potentially seen his slogan on the outgoing ships and Kilroy's omnipresence and inscrutability sparked the legend. Afterwards, servicemen could have begun placing the slogan on different places and especially in new captured areas or landings. At some later point, the graffiti (Chad) and slogan (Kilroy was here) must have merged. (Michael Quinion. 3 April 1999.[1])
The New York Times reported this as the origin in 1946, with the addition that Kilroy had marked the ships themselves as they were being built—so, at a later date, the phrase would be found chalked in places that no graffiti-artist could have reached (inside sealed hull spaces, for example), which then fed the mythical significance of the phrase—after all, if Kilroy could leave his mark there, who knew what else he could do?

However, The Times also notes that James J. Kilroy's story only came to light as a result of a contest to find the originator of the phrase; the contest was sponsored by The American Transit Association. The article makes no mention of how the contest was decided, or how credible Mr. Kilroy's story was deemed to be.

Another contender stepped forward a year before James J. Kilroy, when Sgt Francis J Kilroy claimed that he was the originator of the phrase, having scribbled something similar on a bulletin board that was then shipped overseas.[2]
Author Charles Panati says, “The mischievous face and the phrase became a national joke.” He continued to say, "The outrageousness of the graffiti was not so much what it said, but where it turned up."
While the origins of the slogan are obscure, those of the cartoon are less so. It almost certainly originated as "Chad", in the UK before the war; a creation of the cartoonist George Edward Chatterton. Presumably, the two merged together during the 1940s, with the vast influx of Americans into Britain. The "Chad" cartoon was very popular, being found across the UK with the slogan "What, no …?" or "Wot, no …?" underneath, as a satirical comment on shortages and rationing. (One sighting, on the side of a British 1st Airborne Division glider in Operation Market Garden, had the plaintive complaint "Wot, no engines?"). Later, as the country began to prosper in the 1950s and 1960s, it became a feature of some forms of advertising, especially on posters touting home improvements etc. For instance in many areas of the country outdoor toilets were the norm, so a poster might say "Wot, no inside lav?" advertising indoor plumbing.
Kilroy was the most popular of his type in World War II, as well as today. Clem (Canadian), Overby (Los Angeles- late 1960s), Chad (British- WW II), and Mr. Foo (Australian- WW I & II) never reached the popularity Kilroy did. The ‘major’ Kilroy graffito fad ended in the 1950s, but today people all over the world scribble ‘Kilroy was here’ in schools, trains, and other similar public areas.
Kilroy is still known and used today by US Servicemen. He has been seen scribbled on barriers on Main Supply Routes (MSRs) in Iraq and on warehouses in Taji, Iraq.
Hello Kilroy from

There are many legends attached to the Kilroy graffiti. One states that Adolf Hitler believed that Kilroy was some kind of American super spy because the graffiti kept turning up in secure Nazi installations, presumably having been actually brought on captured Allied military equipment. Another states that Stalin was the first to enter an outhouse especially built for the leaders at the Potsdam conference. Upon exiting, Stalin asked an aide, "Who is this Kilroy?" Another legend states that a German officer, having seen frequent "Kilroys" posted in different cities, told all of his men that if they happened to come across a "Kilroy" he wanted to question him personally.

The graffiti is supposedly located on various significant and/or difficult-to-reach places such as on the torch of the Statue of Liberty, on the Marco Polo Bridge in China, in huts in Polynesia, on a high girder on the George Washington Bridge in New York, at the peak of Mt. Everest, on the underside of the Arc de Triomphe, scribbled in the dust on the moon, in WWII pillboxes scattered around Germany, around the sewers of Paris, and, in tribute to its origin, engraved in the WWII Memorial in Washington D.C.
The Transit Company of America held a competition in 1946 offering a real trolley car to the man who could verify he was the "real Kilroy". J. J. Kilroy brought his co-workers with him to prove that he was undeniably the true Kilroy. The other forty or so men who showed up were not able to establish they were the "real" Kilroy. Kilroy gave his prize to his nine children to play with in their front yard

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Monster in the forest.

"A strange apparition awaits the visitor in the midst of this forest oustide Fontainleau: a massive twenty-two-metre high construction by Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely, made of three hundred tons of metal. It rises like a totem in the form of a huge cyclopean head sparkling with mirrors and traversed with stairways, footbridges and mezzanines that enable the visitor to explore this enchanting world. On the outside, a giant ear, a moving eye inlaid like a diamond in the middle of the forehead, and a fountain gushing out of the mouth and running down the tongue like a waterslide. On the inside, a riveting clutter of riotous machines with gears made from scrap metal spinning, colliding, and clattering.
Le Cyclop is a "museum" of Tinguely's mechanical universe and a monument of contemporary art.

Work on Le Cyclop began in 1969. It took ten years to make the monumental sculpture and ten years to complete the installation. Rising twenty-two meters and weighs around three hundred tons Jean Tinguely invited fifteen artists to join him in the building of this great adventure. Inside the sculpture the visitor will discover works by Niki de Saint Phalle (also Tinguely's wife) who created the Cyclop's face covered it with thousands of fragments of mirrors "which scintillate and reflect the natural movements of the trees, the clouds, of the visitors, the shades and the lights, the dancing water on the language of Cyclop, founding a permanent dialogue between work and surrounding nature". Surrounding the sculpture, four splendid oak trees form an integral part of work.

Artists Daniel Spoerri, Arman, César, Jean-Pierre Raynaud, Eva Aeppli Jesus Raphael Soto, Bernhard Luginbühl, Seppi Imhof, Rico Weber, Larry Rivers,
Philippe Bouveret, Pierre Marie Lejeune all contributed to the massive work.

In 1987, Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle gave Le Cyclop to the French government. In 1988, the Ministry of Culture set up an association 'Le Cyclop' to promote and look after the work. The site was officially inaugurated in 1994."