18 May 1980

typed for your pleasure on 18 May 2013, at 3.03 am

Now that it’s right to decide
In his time he was a total man
Taken from Caesar’s side
Kept in silence just to prove who’s wrong
He no longer denies
All the failures of the modern man
No, no, no, he can’t pick sides
Sees the failures of the modern man
All the failures of the modern man

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typed for your pleasure on 26 December 2012, at 10.17 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Dance floor bathroom’ by Coachwhips

Time for the annual Shouting to hear the echoes Boxing Day Post! And by ‘time’, I mean that this would be the first time I’ve ever announced this sort of thing. And more than likely the last! Who has time to read a blog on Boxing Day? People are too busy punching each other!
And that’s the exact lack of cultural sensitivity that’ll prevent me from moving to Toronto.

For all of you who keep furtively checking the post announcing the impending arrival of our rubber Russian, Elena Vostrikova, she’s been safely home since the 18th of the month. I’m slowly writing the posts that’ll comprise my review of her (spoilers: Sidore and I are in love with her), as well as the tale of How I Brought Her Home, so expect that in… err, January? Yes. But Lenka’s enjoying herself at Deafening silence Plus! The Missus has someone female to interact with, and my plan of getting multiple Dolls from differing manufacturers has moved a step forward!
We’d hosted the last Doll Congress of the year round at ours; Mahtek and Noquiexis from Ohio, CJD and his Organik wife Cat from Ontario, and ‘Hans’ from Chicago were in attendance, and we were joined by Euchre later that eve for dinner. Not only was it the first official Congress we’d had since last August, but this was the first time everyone got to meet Sidore and Elena together! As usual, it was a fab time, with great people, but then, our iDollator meetups always are.

After everyone piled into their cars and went home, Lenka wanted me to get her first official photoshoot in! So I did.

Just under sixty photos is a good start, I think. She’s gonna need more clothes; she’ll never fly Korean Air again, as they lost her luggage. Lesson learned!

And on the obverse side of the coin, today I also learned that Gerry Anderson, creator of amazing science fiction productions such as UFO, Space: 1999 and ‘Doppelgänger’ (aka ‘Journey to the far side of the sun’ outside the UK), and pioneer of Supermarionation, the revolutionary technique that brough us Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, passed away today at 83 years of age.

Gerry Anderson: Obituary
BBC News | Published Wednesday, 26 December 2012

TV producer Gerry Anderson, who has died at the age of 83, made his name with classic shows like Thunderbirds – despite saying he never liked working with puppets.

After starting his career at the Colonial Film Unit, part of the Ministry of Information, Anderson set up a TV and film production company, AP Films.

But work was hard to come by, and when he was approached to make a puppet show called The Adventures Of Twizzle in 1957, he had little option but to accept.

“I was shattered when I learnt the programmes had to be made with puppets as I’d allusions of making great pictures like Ben Hur,” he later said.

“But there we were with no money, and an offer on the table. We had to take it.”

Another puppet series, Torchy The Battery Boy, followed, and the positive reaction to his wooden creations and relative failure of live action ventures persuaded him to stick with the marionettes.

The 1960 series Supercar, about a vehicle that could travel in the air, on land or under the sea, honed Anderson’s trademark formula of mystery and futuristic adventure.

It also allowed Anderson to perfect his production technique called Supermarionation.

The voices were recorded first, and when the puppets were filmed, the electric signal from the taped dialogue was hooked up to sensors in the puppets’ heads.

That made the puppets’ lips move perfectly in time with the soundtrack.

Subsequent science-fiction puppet series Fireball XL5 and Stingray were also hits, and Anderson dreamed up the idea for Thunderbirds in 1963 while listening to a radio report about a team of rescuers rushing to a collapsed mine in Germany.

The idea for International Rescue was born, and the show saw the Tracy brothers take off in their fleet of space-age craft from the secretive Tracy Island to complete daring rescue missions and combat nefarious villains.
the rest of the article is here

After Doctor Who, UFO has to be one of my favourite science fiction programmes from England. Its optimistic view of the future — the series took place in 1980 — was the kind of future that I would’ve loved to live in, as the fashion and architectural design was completely informed by the Sixties. I mean, if you can’t trace a direct line from the purple wigs of the SHADO Moonbase Operators to my wife’s preferred haircolour, you haven’t been paying attention. And although I enjoy Thunderbirds, to me it pales in comparison to Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. The episodes were a better length, more espionage-driven, and every episode had the Mysterons broadcasting their intentions, as Spectrum raced to foil their plots.
Those shows, as well as most of the ones produced by Gerry’s company, Century 21, featured mechanical designs by Derek Meddings and Reg Hill, whose influence lives on in the many tokusatsu series of Japan. Years ago, I’d attended an anime convention, and one of the Q&A panels had one of the Super Sentai production staffers being interviewed; I can’t remember his name off the top of my head, but he was one of the producers. One of the friends I went with had asked if there was a correlation between all the vehicular techno-gadgetry of shows such as the Ultraman and Super Sentai franchises, and he’d replied that Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation programmes were a huge inspiration on the set and model designs. And of course, let’s not forget that we wouldn’t have Parker and Stone’s ‘Team America: World Police’ without him.

Considering the legacy of innovations that he’d created, the world will probably never see another director as unique as Gerry Anderson

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18 May 1980

typed for your pleasure on 18 May 2011, at 10.39 am

You’ll see the horrors of a faraway place,
Meet the architects of law face to face.
See mass murder on a scale you’ve never seen,
And all the ones who try hard to succeed.
This is the way, step inside

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typed for your pleasure on 14 January 2011, at 8.06 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Valerie’ by Broadcast

It is with great sadness we announce that Trish Keenan from Broadcast passed away at 9am this morning in hospital. She died from complications with pneumonia after battling the illness for two weeks in intensive care.

Our thoughts go out to James, Martin, her friends and her family and we request that the public respect their wishes for privacy at this time.

This is an untimely tragic loss and we will miss Trish dearly – a unique voice, an extraordinary talent and a beautiful human being. Rest in Peace.
Warp records, 14 January 2011

1997 was when I first learned of Broadcast; their debut Cd ‘Work and non work’ had come out on the Drag city label. I’d read about them somewhere — can’t recall where, but it was a case of ‘if you like Stereolab, you might also like Broadcast’, recommendation and similarity being the way I find a good number of groups. ‘Work and non work’ was really a compilation of their first three 7″ releases; the three-year wait until ‘The noise made by people’, their first proper release, would be excruciating, as I found myself listening to ‘Work and non work’ far more than I thought I ever would, and was eager to hear new material.

The comparison to Stereolab is actually a bit tenuous — sure, both groups traffic in retro-Sixties-sounding music, but whereas Stereolab’s basis draws from motorik, tropicalia, and easy listening, Broadcast took their influences from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, avant-garde pop groups, and Eastern European film soundtracks. Admittedly, one of Trish’s favourite films was the dreamlike Czechoslovakian entry ‘Valerie and her week of wonders‘, and having seen it for the first time a couple of years ago, it totally made sense why she loved it, and why both Jaromil Jireš’ direction and Luboš Fišer’s soundtrack were such a heavy influence on their sound. Stereolab overall are brighter and poppier, but Broadcast projected a mood akin to a year-long autumn. Their music and images complemented each other, but the thing that tied it all together was Trish’s voice — vulnerable, but simultaneously strong.

Broadcast were one of those rare groups where each successive release was better than the previous one, going from ‘The noise made by people’, to ‘Ha ha sound’, to ‘Tender buttons’, to their collaboration with The Focus Group’s ‘Investigate Witch cults of the Radio Age’, from 2009. They can quite literally be said to be the originators of a new genre of music: hauntology. Groups like Moon wiring club, Research Laboratory of Electronic Progress, Mordant music, and every artist on the Ghost box label create nebulous sounds, couched in the past, like soundtracks from déjà vu experiences from places you’ve never personally visited and occurrences you’d never personally witnessed. We’ve all been there. But do you recall that voice you’d heard in the background of nearly all your dreams? That whisper like a familiar but slightly chilling breeze? Naturally, that was Trish.

I’d say she’d be missed, but she’ll always be with us. Especially in our dreams

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typed for your pleasure on 28 January 2010, at 4.48 pm

Sdtrk: ‘When it rains, the puddles shine black’ by Leyland Kirby

It appears that another one of my favourite authors has passed away: Jerome David Salinger has died of natural causes at his home in New Hampshire, at the age of 91.

JD Salinger, in a recent photo

Obituary: JD Salinger
BBC News | Published Thursday, 28 January 2010

When The Catcher in the Rye first appeared in 1951, chronicling 48 hours in the life of a teenage rebel, Holden Caulfield, as he wanders the streets of New York in a state of mental collapse, it enjoyed early, but modest success.

But within a few years, it had become a bible of teenage dissent in America and a staple of high school and freshman college English courses.

A study of adolescence — at once tender and harshly honest — it spoke for millions of young people who didn’t want to be “phoney” in a commercial, materialistic world.

Caulfield became a cult figure comparable with James Dean, but it seems the novel also had an undesirable influence on Mark David Chapman, who said he killed John Lennon to promote Salinger’s work, and the man who shot and wounded Ronald Reagan, John Hinckley.

Almost immediately after “Catcher” was published, Salinger became disillusioned with publishing.

He hated interviews and contact with the public and in 1953, increasingly fed up with publishing and the public, he bought a house at Cornish, New Hampshire, and retreated into a seclusion that was to last for the rest of his life.
the entire article is here

Like many people, I was introduced to Salinger through ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, which stands as an honest tale of disillusionment. It may be slightly dated — it takes place during the very late Forties — but its sentiment still holds true. But then I began reading his other stories, and pretty much fell unhealthily in love with the Glass family, a family of five brothers and two sisters. They were blessed with precociousness at a young age, which was exploited for years through being panelists on a radio quiz show, and suffered the price for it as they grew older.
From Holden to the Glass family, as well as many other Salinger characters, the underlying theme of many of his stories is that of a dissatisfaction with the way society is, and how short of falling into lockstep conformity, living a decent individualistic lifestyle can be extremely difficult.

Salinger is once quoted as saying that he was in this world, but not of it, which is a sentiment I can completely empathise with. It may sound strange coming from someone who enjoys being a public face for the community that he represents, but apart from the resonant and bittersweet tone of his characters, I always admired the fact that Salinger was a recluse’s recluse, and yet still managed to garner the attention of millions. That’s really something to be proud of

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typed for your pleasure on 7 August 2009, at 2.41 am

Sdtrk: ‘You’re not the only one I know’ by The Sundays

So upon getting home from work this eve, I learned that John Hughes, director of two of my favourite films, ‘Ferris Bueller’s day off’ and ‘The Breakfast club’, passed away today at the age of 59.

Comedy director John Hughes dies
BBC News | Published Friday, 7 August 2009

The US film director and writer, John Hughes, who created some of the most famous comedies of the 1980s and 1990s, has died at the age of 59.

The director died after a heart attack in New York, his spokeswoman said.

Hughes was the director of such successful films as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

He was also a leading script writer, penning films such as Pretty in Pink and Home Alone.

Over the past decade, Hughes withdrew from Hollywood and became a farmer in the Midwestern state of Illinois.

Hughes had been in Manhattan on a family visit when he died.

1980s zeitgeist

The BBC’s Vincent Dowd says Hughes had not directed a film since Curly Sue in 1991, but it did not matter – his early movies had become part of the 1980s zeitgeist.

If, in 1986, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off owed something to the on-screen energy of the young Matthew Broderick, it also benefited from Hughes’ sharp script and direction, our correspondent says.

He worked well with young talent, as he had already shown the year before in The Breakfast Club starring Emilio Estevez and Mollie Ringwald, he adds.

In the high-school story, our correspondent says, Hughes cleverly portrayed teen America to itself – and the box office was enormous.

“Many filmmakers portray teenagers as immoral and ignorant, with pursuits that are pretty base,” Hughes told the Chicago Tribune newspaper in 1985.

“They seem to think that teenagers aren’t very bright. But I haven’t found that to be the case. I listen to kids. I respect them. I don’t discount anything they have to say just because they’re only 16 years old,” he added.
the rest of the article is here

What he’d said above completely fits in with the way that ‘The Breakfast club’ starts — at the end of the opening credits, on the screen is an excerpt from David Bowie’s ‘Changes’:

…And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consolations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through…

The films of John Hughes will always evoke an acute fondness for the Eighties, my formative years, as I’ll always see parallels between his characters and the friends that I grew up with. I’m sure countless others will as well, no matter what decade they grew up in

EDIT (10.11am): You’ll definitely want to read the witty, heartfelt, and, well, John Hughes-esque post over at ‘We’ll Know When We Get There‘, concerning one person’s pen-pal relationship with the man

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Now it can be told

typed for your pleasure on 4 July 2009, at 2.16 pm

I’m not one for emotional posts; frankly, I think there’d be extended wincing on both the side of the reader, and the side of the writer. But y’know, sometimes these things are unavoidable.

Back in 2007, my mum went into hospital for a routine check-up. When all the tests came back in, they called her back, saying that they’d found what may be a cancerous growth. Turns out that yes, it was colorectal cancer. So they got Mum into surgery, had it out, and had her on chemo/radiation to make sure. Eventually, she was given a clean bill of health, and we all thought that was that.

Late last year, we discovered that wasn’t that, as the cancer had returned. So Mum started treatments again. It took place over the course of winter, which was doubly-hard on her, as the treatments made her more susceptible to cold environments. But she took it all in stride, as she was never one to complain about things. Well, at least, not at length.
Round the beginning of 2009, the hospital said they were going to try out a new and experimental treatment with her, as the previous one wasn’t getting the immediate results. Thing is, there were a limited number of slots for treatment, as it was on this ‘you’ll have to wait in the queue when your turn comes up’ system. As she was waiting for her date to start treatment, the hospital discovered she was having liver problems, which would’ve prevented effective and safe treatment, so they had to get that sussed first. A couple of outpatient surgeries later, they attended to her liver issue (it was blockage) as well as they could. However, as she had to get that done — and that required scheduling, which is never immediate — Mum missed her slot for the new treatment, and so had to wait for another open slot. Of course, that meant the cancer was still progressing in the meantime.

I’d seen her in April, checking up on her and whatnot, and asked if she’d started proceedings. She replied no, as she was still having some liver-related issues. In between waiting on slots and waiting on surgeries, she’d actually developed jaundice, which again, postponed cancer treatment. She was annoyed, but still optimistic. She wasn’t a pessimist, but she tended to have a realistic outlook on things. In the case of something like this, however, optimism is what everyone aims for.
During another check-up call on Mum in mid-June, I spoke with her for only a couple of minutes, as she was in some amount of pain. The drugs she were taking were exhausting her, and making her tired and irritable. She told me that she wanted me to come round, as ‘we need to talk’, which is a phrase that, considering the context, I didn’t want to hear.

As she, my dad, and I sat in the basement watching coverage of the Iran election cavalcade, they laid it out for me: essentially, the doctors had told her that between the tag team of cancer and jaundice, things had gotten to a point that they were discontinuing treatment, as there was nothing more they could do. They estimated that she had about six months to live. Insert line about ‘you never think it’ll happen to you’ here.
Six months was a hugely optimistic estimate. Between her liver, the cancerous tumours on her liver, and her original colorectal cancer, she was in a very rapid decline. I promised to stop round on Mondays and Saturdays to see her, and over the course of two weeks, her health had degenerated in no time flat.

I stopped round after work yesterday, as we’d gotten off early, and Mum had been in bed all day, and was so weak that she couldn’t even really speak. Sitting with her was Gran, who’d flown in from Alabama on Wednesday. We chatted for a bit, and she went downstairs with Dad so I could be with Mum alone. I held her hand and talked to her — I told her how I was dragged to that hideous Transformers movie, and she managed a smile — but otherwise, she was barely lucid. I probably took off from there about two hours later, telling everyone that I’d be back Saturday morn.
As is our wont, on Friday eves, my good friend Marika stops round, and we watched the last two episodes of Ashes to ashes (hell of a show, it goes without saying), and she decided to crash here for the night, as her car was having problems. Whilst she was reading on the loveseat, I was scheduling about three posts to automatically post to ‘Shouting etc etc’, when Dad rang at a quarter to 5am. As you suspect, Mari and I spent a couple of hours crying after I hung up.

Although I’m an atheist, I can say without bias that she was an example of a perfect christian — never wished ill will upon others, always was there for practically anyone when they needed help, never smoked, drank… hell, she even quit swearing sometime in the mid-Eighties. She was someone who legitimately made a difference in society by being a good human being.
All of my friends knew that Mum had cancer, but I only got a chance to tell some of them. Part of me wanted to wait for the ‘right’ moment, and part of me was still in denial about everything. So now the world knows, and clichéd as it sounds, the world is dimmer for Mum no longer being in it.

I love you, Mum. Always have, always will.

21 Sept 1948 – 04 July 2009

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