In case you were wondering what all that spaceyship stuff on Google today is about. Douglas Adams, the creator of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is not 61 years old today, he’s over a decade deceased, and we are much poorer for that loss. I’ve been on a bit of an animation binge lately, so let’s take a look at some of the hugely influential animation work done for the Guide entries in the BBC’s Hitchhiker’s TV series by Rod Lord and for the 2005 film by Shynola. Share and enjoy.
Sorry the Shynola clip is so lo-res. Best I could find.
Lady Starlight is profiled in the online magazine IN*TANDEM, with many pull-quotes and video loops by Jason Martin. Jump to page 95 for the action. Has she traded in the Jack Daniel’s for donuts? Denim for diamonds? What is going on?
Mike Nobody has uploaded some vintage 1990s Brown Cuts Neighbors video to his YouTube Channel. First up is the video for X Simple X (above), from 1995′s Squeeze Out Another Twinkle EP on Nose Hair Records. It takes a few seconds for the show to get going, but it is worth it. Mike also posted a Best of BCN TV compilation. These clips really show off the live aspect of the band, which some people may find disturbing.
From The Guidepost English Reader 2A. ET, The Extraterrestrial Meets the Inspector and asks to use his phone; and is given the tourist treatment. Garfield looks on approvingly. The book also features Popeye, Minnie and Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Little Duck, The Pink Panther, Little Bee and a girl named Angel. The Penguin baby promised on the back cover never appears. Printed in Taiwan?
When I first saw a tweet of the news that Frank Sidebottom had left us today, I was pretty sure it could not mean that Chris Sievey, the man behind the enormous head, was actually dead. Maybe just taking a break or retiring the character he’d played for over a quarter century. But, no, very sadly, Chris Sievey, who had been fighting a cancer that he seemed very likely to win, died suddenly on the morning of June 21, 2010.
I’ve been deeply mired in what is some fairly obscure bits of research lately. Things like, ‘what did World War One nurses wear?’ and ‘why the hell is HD video not performing on my damn computer?’. I’ve also been digging into some of the more elusive parts of the Brown Cuts Neighbors mythos. I somehow failed to get any of the pieces I was digging for last night, but have dug up a crucial one today.
The late, great Reginald Gardiner had a nightclub act where he did sound effect renditions of wallpaper designs and trains, or so the story goes. That piece was recorded at some point and ended up on the soundtrack for “At Home Abroad“, which could be borrowed from the Schenectady Public Library, and, thus, lives on today. Now, I dug this thing up many years after Brown Cuts Neighbors had released a cassette named after this in 1994. I have no idea what the actual story is as to why that title was chosen.
Continuing with the Pink Floyd theme, this hypnotic video is from Mark Sunshine’s Armoredbaby YouTube channel. Mark is an old friend, collaborator, creator of the classic Montezuma’s Revenge video game graphics, artist, musician, designer and contributor to the late, great Tuna Casserole books from the early Wow Cool era; and he has not gotten nearly as many shoutouts from here as he should. He’s got 60+ more videos on his channel and a stellar array of favorites. So, take a day. Sit back, relax, grab a beverage.
I’m at a terminal bar in MSP – The Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport, a few stools down from me is a woman who has an astounding resemblance to Catherine Tate. And her personality is like one of Tate’s characters from her old show, but American. It’s kind of amazing, she has commented on practically everyone who has passed. “Whoah check out that hat!” “Everyone’s on Computers!!!” Yes… Yes, we are, the sad pathetic lot of us. Cheers.
His massive body of work in music, video and art continues to trickle out to the world like he never stopped. The Frank Budgen record has been available from Specific Recordings for a few months now. The Exploding Corpse Action LP should be out soon from Armageddon Records. Many other projects are bubbling towards release…
OK, I’m not Criswell (although my grandmother was an actual psychic) But I have a strong sense (hell, a tingling of a spider sense) that in the near future we will see comic book downloads on Apple’s iTunes. I have a strong feeling that DC Comics will be in the initial offering. You heard it here first. I swear, this is just my instinct and I have zero insider knowledge of this. My moving to Cupertino is also completely coincidental. I swear. Paul Levitz, if you have not already made this deal, but now know it to be your destiny, I am way teh jealous of you and that little voice in your head that is chanting ‘big money, big money’.
Oh, btw, the thing that set me off on this is, old DC animation is now available on iTunes, and at first I thought it was the comics. The exciting part for me is that the actual first season of Super Friends… Wendy, Marvin, Wonder Dog, Alex Toth, Ted freaking Knight!!! is now available for you to enjoy. You couldn’t even get those joints illegally (no torrents, no DVDs, no longer on Cartoon Central or even Boomerang, not even VHS… NOTHING!), now it’s all there in beautiful digital glory, Minimus and Maximus Mole and the trees and rocks that walk and steal air conditioners and all the rest of it. Oh, the lost weekend that awaits me.
I have written about this case a couple times before, and a banner to the CAE Defense Fund has been up on Wow Cool for a bit (must remember to take it down now). It had been announced that charges were dismissed, but now that the appeal option has lapsed, it is official. Rest now, Doctor. Here is the entire press release; un-quoted-out for maximum readability.
Department of Justice Fails to Appeal Dismissal
Kurtz Speaks about Four-Year Ordeal
Buffalo, NY–Dr. Steven Kurtz, a Professor of Visual Studies at SUNY at Buffalo and cofounder of the award-winning art and theater group Critical Art Ensemble, has been cleared of all charges of mail and wire fraud. On April 21, Federal Judge Richard J. Arcara dismissed the government’s entire indictment against Dr. Kurtz as “insufficient on its face.” This means that even if the actions alleged in the indictment (which the judge must accept as “fact”) were true, they would not constitute a crime. The US Department of Justice had thirty days from the date of the ruling to appeal. No action has been taken in this time period, thus stopping any appeal of the dismissal. According to Margaret McFarland, a spokeswoman for US Attorney Terrance P. Flynn, the DoJ will not appeal Arcara’s ruling and will not seek any new charges against Kurtz.
For over a decade, cultural institutions worldwide have hosted Kurtz and Critical Art Ensemble’s educational art projects, which use common science materials to examine issues surrounding the new biotechnologies. In 2004 the Department of Justice alleged that Dr. Kurtz had schemed with colleague Dr. Robert Ferrell of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health to illegally acquire two harmless bacteria cultures for use in one of those projects. The Justice Department further alleged that the transfer of the material from Ferrell to Kurtz broke a material transfer agreement, thus constituting mail fraud.
Under the USA PATRIOT Act, the maximum sentence for these charges was increased from five years to twenty years in prison.
Dr. Kurtz has been fighting the charges ever since. In October 2007, Dr. Ferrell pleaded to a lesser misdemeanor charge after recurring bouts of cancer and three strokes suffered since his indictment prevented him from continuing the struggle.
KURTZ SUMS UP END OF FOUR-YEAR NIGHTMARE
Finally vindicated after four years of struggle, Kurtz, asked for a statement, responded stoically: “I don’t have a statement, but I do have questions. As an innocent man, where do I go to get back the four years the Department of Justice stole from me? As a taxpayer, where do I go to get back the millions of dollars the FBI and Justice Department wasted persecuting me? And as a citizen, what must I do to have a Justice Department free of partisan corruption so profound it has turned on those it is sworn to protect?”
Said Kurtz’s attorney, Paul Cambria, “I am glad an innocent man has been vindicated. Steve Kurtz stared in the face of the federal government and a twenty-year prison term and never flinched, because he believes in his work and his actions were those of a completely innocent man. Clients like him are a blessing, and although I have had many important victories, this one stands at the top of the list.”
As coordinator of the CAE Defense Fund, a group organized to support Kurtz from the beginning of the case, Lucia Sommer sees the end of the prosecution as bittersweet, and like Kurtz, is thoughtful about the broader significance of the case: “This ruling is the best possible ending to a horrible ordeal–but we are mindful of numerous cases still pending, and the grave injustices perpetrated by the Bush administration following 9/11. This case was part of a larger picture, in which law enforcement was given expanded powers. In this instance, the Bush administration was unsuccessful in its attempt to erode Americans’ constitutional rights.”
Referring to the international outcry the case provoked, involving fundraisers and protests held on four continents, Sommer said, “The government has unlimited resources to bring and prosecute these kinds of charges, but the accused often don’t have any resources to defend themselves. This victory could never have happened without the activism of thousands of people. Supporters protested, vocally opposed the prosecution, and refused to let it go on in silence. And without their efforts at fundraising, Kurtz and Ferrell would not have been able to defend themselves from these false accusations.”
Sommer added that the next step for the defense will be to get back all of the materials taken by the FBI during its 2004 raid on the Kurtz home, including several completed art projects, as well as Dr. Kurtz’s lab equipment, computers, books, manuscripts, notes, research materials, and personal belongings. The four confiscated art projects are the subject of an exhibition entitled SEIZED on view at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo, NY, through July 18: http://www.hallwalls.org/visual_shows/2008/show_seized.html.
BACKGROUND TO THE CASE
The case originated in May 2004, when Kurtz’s wife Hope died of heart failure as the couple was preparing a project about genetically modified agriculture for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Police who responded to Steve Kurtz’s 911 call deemed the Kurtzes’ art materials suspicious and alerted the FBI. Kurtz explained that the materials (legally and easily obtained basic life science equipment and two harmless bacteria samples) had already been displayed at museums throughout Europe and North America with absolutely no risk to the public. However, the following day, Kurtz was illegally detained for 22 hours on suspicion of bioterrorism, as dozens of agents from the FBI, Joint Terrorism Task Force, Homeland Security, Department of Defense, ATF, and numerous other law enforcement agencies raided his home, seizing his personal and professional belongings. After a federal grand jury refused to charge Kurtz with bioterrorism, Kurtz and Ferrell were indicted on two counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud concerning the acquisition of of harmless bacteria for one of Critical Art Ensemble’s educational art projects. (Critical Art Ensemble is the recipient of numerous awards for its projects, including the prestigious 2007 Andy Warhol Foundation Wynn Kramarsky Freedom of Artistic Expression Grant, in recognition of twenty years of distinguished work.).
The Department of Justice brought the charges in spite of the fact that the alleged “victims of fraud”–American Type Culture Collection and the University of Pittsburgh–never filed any charges or complained of any wrongdoing, and the fact that in bringing the charges the Department of Justice was acting completely outside its own Prosecution Policy Relating to Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud
Here is an excerpt from the most brilliantly scathing review of anything I have ever seen:
This is the most torturous, pretentious, incompetent mess of a movie I have ever seen. Don’t believe the reviews that suggest this film is visionary or a classic. The songs are ridiculous: the groans at the beginning of each one were deafening. The “Piccadilly Lily” song must have been done 15 times. There is nothing visionary (or even mildly interesting) here, only a long string of poorly-done Fellini ripoffs — actually, that’s the whole movie. It was like a train wreck. This was by far the longest hour and 45 minutes of my life. The movie made me long for death. My fellow audience members screamed and screamed as minute after endless minute and song after horrible song beat us into the ground. People were pleading for other audience members to kill them. Other kind-hearted viewers tried to distract the crowd by juggling and reading Moby Dick. Some, like myself, simply attacked the screen. Watching this self-obsessed piece of garbage was like having sharp nails scraped along the chalkboard of our souls.
Guiltcology. A cute little portmanteau neologism that stabs right at the heart of the green zeitgeist. Long overdue, I think. Has that same beautiful illogical quality as Irangate and chocoholic. Coined this day by Marc Arsenault. Guiltcology can be loosely defined as an approach of argument that focusses on blaming individuals for causing grossly disastrous effects on the environment. You shower too long, you drive too much… change these selfish habits and everything will be OK, and better yet, you’ll feel better about yourself. ‘I hugged the earth today. I walked to the corner store (instead of driving the 2 blocks) to buy (mercury laden) CFLs to replace the bulb I broke last night stumbling around in the dark (because I’ve been keeping the lights down to save energy).’ A classic example is US President George W. Bush’s speech about how Americans are addicted to gasoline.
Many examples are directly tied to the crassest and most misleading forms of advertising, like a recent example in the Gardener’s Supply Company catalog (Late Spring 2008 edition, page 68… nothing against them, really, they’re a fine company, but this is just plain stupid) that begins “Americans throw away more than 300 million tires every year.” Well, surely, this is the responsibility of that industry? I don’t get my old tires back when I replace them. (I didn’t get my wisdom teeth either, even though I practically begged for them. Who knows what they did with that hot commodity?)
Typically it then leeds in to full-on guiltvertising (neologism no. 2 for today). Continuing on in the Gardener’s listing… ” The good news is that today, almost 80% of those tires are being recycled into road surfaces, building materials… and our exclusive rubber mulch! Our customers alone have purchased enough recycled rubber mulch to keep 896 tons of rubber out of the landfills.” Really, OK, don’t hurt your head too much thinking about how that works… Like how many tons are 300 million tires and what percentage this mulch that will just hang around forever represent.
Far worse are the many examples of ad copy out there for how buying a plastic water bottle or coffee mug is so awesome for the environment because it saves X amount of bottled water bottles or coffee cups. And that makes it green as all get out, no matter what it is made out of.
It was amazing. Pere Ubu tore it up. I am in fucking awe. They did Sonic Reducer and I completely went fucking mental. It was all a million times better then I deserved to expect. Best damn Easter basket ever. See my choicest shots here.