November 30, 2010

Irvin Kershner RIP

Irvin Kershner, director of The Empire Strikes Back, best of the Star Wars franchise, has died at 87. An excellent run.

Kershner said he had only one sharp disagreement with Lucas.

The script originally called for the heroine, Princess Leah, to tell Harrison Ford’s character Han Solo ‘I love you’ and for him to reply ‘I love you, too.’

Kershner said: ‘I shot the line and it just didn't seem right for the character of Han Solo.’

George Lucas died in 1985, all too young at 41. But stories like this suggest it is just as well his threat to direct the second trilogy never materialized; Lucas did not understand the gravity of his own creation. Wiser by far to have left Empire and Return of the Jedi in the hands of Kershner and Richard Marquand.

The Lucas estate has continued the franchise tradition of turning over each new installment of the series to a fresh pair of eyes. A new generation, and their fan-boy fathers, have thrilled to the Star Wars prequels: Ridley Scott's dark, stylish '40s retro The Phantom Menace and James Cameron's tech noir military sf Attack of the Clones.

Expectations are high for the last of the second trilogy rumoured to show a gut wrenching transformation of Anakin Skywalker into the man-machine Darth Vader in all its horror and pathos. The crowning achievement of Lucas' original vision may be the eagerly awaited Revenge of the Sith directed by David Cronenberg.

Related: The Empire Strikes Back (1950).

Posted by the Flea at 05:55 AM | Comments (4)

The plot stickens

Majid Shahriari, assassinated in Tehran on Monday, is believed to have ben the head of Iran's team charged with removing the Stuxnet virus from its systems.


Prof. Majid Shahriari, who died when his car was attacked in North Tehran Monday, Nov. 29, headed the team Iran established for combating the Stuxnet virus rampaging through its nuclear and military networks. His wife was injured. The scientist's death deals a major blow to Iran's herculean efforts to purge its nuclear and military control systems of the destructive worm since it went on the offensive six months ago. Only this month, Stuxnet shut down nuclear enrichment at Natanz for six days from Nov. 16-22 and curtailed an important air defense exercise.

Prof. Shahriari was the Iranian nuclear program's top expert on computer codes and cyber war.

It is Debka so salt to taste.

Posted by the Flea at 05:54 AM

Puritanism by proxy

A Florida school has banned Christmas and colours associated with Christmas (via Gates of Vienna).

“You can’t use red and green,” one outraged parent told WESH. “It’s ridiculous.”

The parent, who serves as a volunteer room mother, said she was recently given a list of guidelines that listed the holiday restrictions. She said the basic theme of the letter was, “We don’t want to offend anyone who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus or the Christian beliefs.”

Perhaps the schoolboard will have a change of heart once someone points out the jolly old gift giving elf is a pagan embellishment. Banning "Christmas" may be the first Christian thing the school has done in decades.

Posted by the Flea at 05:53 AM | Comments (3)

United States Marine sings the 4th verse of the Star Spangled Banner

This will make your hair stand on end.

Posted by the Flea at 05:52 AM

November 29, 2010

The Green Lama


It may be I have found the before of Dr. Strange. The Green Lama was a '40s pulp superhero, the sort of character most familiar these days from their resurrection in Alan Moore's Watchmen.

Although appearing in a detective fiction magazine, the Green Lama tales can be considered science fiction or supernatural fantasy in that the Green Lama and other characters are possessed of superhuman powers and super-science weapons. The Green Lama is an alias of Jethro Dumont, a rich resident of New York City. Born July 25th, 1913, to millionaire John Pierre Dumont and Janet Lansing. He received his A.B. from Harvard University, M.A. from Oxford, Ph.D. from the Sorbonne, also attended Drepung College in Tibet. Inherited his father’s fortune, estimated at ten million dollars, when his father and mother were both killed in an accident while he was still at Harvard. Spent ten years in Tibet studying to be a lama (a Buddhist Spiritual Teacher) and learning many mystical secrets in the process. He returned to America intending to spread the basic doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism (Remove ignorance and relieve suffering), but realized that he could accomplish more by fighting crime.

Much the same career trajectory as the Flea!

After his comic run ended, CBS produced eleven Green Lama episodes for radio from 5 June 1949 to 20 August 1949. Thanks to the interwebs, you can listen to "The Man Who Never Existed". Camp fun.


Posted by the Flea at 08:33 AM

Public Domain Super Heroes

"Public Domain Super Heroes is a collaborative website about comic book, film, literary, or pulp characters in the public domain that have appeared in comics or fit in a common comic book genre such as the masked vigilante, caped crusader, or jungle lord."

The above mentioned Green Lama, for example, enjoyed a short-lived 2008 reboot. Some heroes hold more promise than others. Undercover Girl is at least potentially chic and the opportunities for Gay Desperado (and his sidekick Patsy) need hardly be mentioned.

I am surprised Skeleton Key hasn't already been beaten to death by some extended, pointless Brian Herbert style re-imagining. But for me, it is The Old Man of the Pyramids that offers the most promise for a second (or rather, third) life.

Go to town, people.

Posted by the Flea at 08:28 AM | Comments (1)

By any means necessary

Something to remember in case the film adaptation ruins Captain America. Golden Age comic creations didn't set the bar all that high.

Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM


Stuxnet appears to have been an even greater achievement than has previously been believed.

Posted by the Flea at 08:24 AM

Symphony of Science: A Wave of Reason

Posted by the Flea at 08:21 AM

November 27, 2010

She chose Brown

Because Cambridge was "a bit Hogwarts looking".

Related: A rather large Emma Watson picture archive. I have only checked the first couple pages but I believe it may span the life of the film franchise.

Posted by the Flea at 06:58 AM


Press in dire situations.

Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM

D&D World of Adventure

What the world looked like when I was twelve.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

The Gamers

Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V.

is it bad that i know that the dark elf with the scimitars is drizzt do'urden?

wtf are you thinking, that is Drizzt Do'Urden we are talking about man! He is our hero, he led us through the Underdark of middle school and highschool socialism. : )
Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM

Pixietea: I Don't Care

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM

November 26, 2010

Peter Christopherson RIP


Sleazy has died.

Throbbing Gristle was foundational; this was a creator of industrial music as a genre. Coil was my favourite "band" full stop. Without them my record collection would not be my record collection, my music would not be my music. I have their logo tattooed on the back on my neck.

Sleazy's visual art career included work as a member of the influential British design agency Hipgnosis, creating iconic record sleeve artwork in the 1970s for Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and, later, Factory Records. He took the first promo photographs of the Sex Pistols, created a highly controversial window display for Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's clothing shop, SEX, and went on to design the logo of the hugely popular fashion company, BOY. In 1976 Sleazy met Cosey Fanni Tutti, Chris Carter and Genesis P-Orridge and together they formed electronic music provocateurs Throbbing Gristle and Industrial Records, creating one of the first independent record labels of the era and laying the foundation for a new genre of music. The band was infamously described in the Daily Mail by Tory MP Nicholas Fairbairn as "the wreckers of civilisation".

Lots of links at Boing Boing including this BBC 6 Music tribute. Condolences are appearing at Unkle Sleazy.

Before: Coil on "Hello Culture". The Beeb outdoes itself with this one.

Some favourites: Ostia (The Death of Pasolini).

From the unreleased soundtrack to Hellraiser.

So much of it just exquisite.

And a Leonard Cohen cover.

Posted by the Flea at 01:44 PM

I am Harry Potter

It turns out Daniel Radcliffe kind of rocks.

Posted by the Flea at 09:19 AM

Dalida: Plus Loin Que La Terre

The compression is fuuuuuuuuu...

Posted by the Flea at 09:18 AM

November 25, 2010

East Main Street - 1951


Michael Paul Smith stages extraordinary vignettes using model cars and pixie dust. What I am after in this particular image, however, is a bit of automobile identification. If anyone can tell me what the car with the interesting grill might be called, I would be grateful.

Updating: Thanks to answers by comment and email the car is revealed to be a Studebaker Commander/Champion!

Posted by the Flea at 01:28 PM | Comments (2)

This is the end

The last Harrier took off from HMS Ark Royal earlier yesterday.

Posted by the Flea at 01:27 PM


The Daily Mail misses the point completely, reporting a new film adaptation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that will not feature Sarah Michelle Gellar.

The point is the film will not involve Joss Whedon, the man who created the character, the first film and the television series.

Whedon has slammed the film studio for commissioning a new adaptation of his work without his consultation.

'This is a sad, sad reflection on our times, when people must feed off the carcasses of beloved stories from their youths – just because they can't think of an original idea of their own,' he said. 'I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death. But, you know, after.'

He added dryly: 'But seriously, are vampires even popular any more?'
Posted by the Flea at 01:24 PM

Alex Roman: The Third and the Seventh

Posted by the Flea at 01:23 PM

Christmas Food Court Flash Mob: Hallelujah

And He shall reign forever and ever (hat tip to the Sister of the Flea).

Posted by the Flea at 01:22 PM

November 24, 2010

The People vs George Lucas

Thanks to the Neighbour of the Flea, I saw The People vs George Lucas last night at the Lightbox. Much truth was to be found there.

The director of THE PEOPLE VS. GEORGE LUCAS, Alexandre Philippe, sits down with Mark Walters of http://bigfanboy.com during the South by Southwest Film Festival 2010. Philippe discusses his drive to make the documentary, his experiences doing the interviews, and overall perspective on the STAR WARS franchise, in this candid one-on-one interview.

I am certain the film will leave some feeling some sympathy for the man but mine remain closer to a visceral Two Minutes Hate. I am not certain if this was the director's intention.

Related: Don't go into the Endor Woods.

Posted by the Flea at 09:38 AM

Ingrid Pitt R.I.P.

Queen of Hammer horror Ingrid Pitt dies aged 73.

Actress Ingrid Pitt, who survived a Nazi concentration camp and fled Communist police to become one of Britain's best-known horror stars, has died at the age of 73.

The Polish-born star collapsed in London last week while on her way to an birthday dinner hosted by members of her fan club. The cause of death wasn't known, although her daughter Steffanie Pitt said her mother had recently been in poor health.

Pitt was best known as a seductive screen siren in a string of British horror films, including The Vampire Lovers and Countess Dracula.

Memento mori: Ingrid Pitt in The Wicker Man; a scene of such elemental horror it would have driven H.P. Lovecraft to madness.

Zut!: I have sent Lovecraft spiralling into madness along my own trajectory. Five Feet of Fury points out Willow was played by Brit Eckland. Ingrid Pitt was the Librarian!

By way of compensation for my sinus meds, The Vampire Lovers (1970).

Posted by the Flea at 09:34 AM

The perfect gift for a goth

Just the ticket for my hypothetical black-and-blue garden, horticulturists have developed the world's first black petunia.

British is best!*

The dramatic new flowers, named Black Velvet, were developed using natural breeding techniques to turn them a dark black colour. The rare plants, which have taken four years to perfect, are due to blossom in British gardens for the first time next spring.

* I used to believe this, btw.

Posted by the Flea at 09:33 AM

Grace Jones: Slave to the Rhythm

"This is what Édith Piaf used to say: 'Use your faults, use your defects; then you're going to be a star'."

Posted by the Flea at 09:31 AM

November 23, 2010

Herge and Lovecraft


More Murray Groat at the link (via Quotulatiousness).

Posted by the Flea at 07:08 AM


Joris Hoefnagel's 1572 watercolour is the only way to know what Nonsuch Palace looked like.

This 450-year-old picture, expected to fetch up to £1.2million when sold at Christie’s next month, is believed to show the true likeness of the palace, named Nonsuch as it was said no other could rival its beauty.

But even Joris Hoefnagel’s painting has only been seen twice in public. It is one of the oldest watercolours in the country and was painted at the palace near Ewell, in Surrey.

Wikipedia credits the same image to Georg Hoefnagal, perhaps it was a family occupation.

Related Nonsuch fact.

Only about three contemporary images of the palace survive, and they do not reveal very much about either the layout or the details of the building. The site was excavated in 1959–60. The plan of the palace was quite simple with inner and outer courtyards, each with a fortified gatehouse. To the north, it was fortified in a medieval style, but the southern face had ornate Renaissance decoration, with tall octagonal towers at each end. It was within one of these towers that the premiere of Thomas Tallis' masterwork, "Spem in alium" was performed. A motet for forty voices divided into eight choirs of five it is rumoured that each choir took position in one of the eight balconies of a tower and sang the piece for the patrons below.

O for a time machine to visit England.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM

Alex Roman: Above Everything Else

Rendered in Autodesk 3dsmax, V-Ray (Chaos Software), Adobe AfterEffects and Adobe Premiere. Worth clicking through to watch properly.

Posted by the Flea at 07:02 AM

Alan Parsons Project: Eye In The Sky

Posted by the Flea at 07:01 AM

November 22, 2010

You might think this is the creepiest Harry Potter fan ever

But you would be mistaken.

I don't care what they have been paying Daniel Radcliffe. He earned it.

Rupert Grint deserves a raise.

Posted by the Flea at 06:48 AM | Comments (1)

Alan Moore: Art is Magic

Posted by the Flea at 06:42 AM

CocoRosie: Lemonade

Posted by the Flea at 06:41 AM

November 21, 2010

Upstairs Downton

Just in time for Downton Abbey to have stolen its thunder, the long awaited return of Upstairs, Downstairs.

With its ground-breaking exploration of the class tensions and sexual scandals between servants and gentry in the face of a rapidly changing society, it inspired a host of later costume dramas – including Downton Abbey, written by Julian Fellowes.

The new incarnation of Upstairs Downstairs takes up the story of 165 Eaton Place in 1936, six years after the original ended. The BBC decided to bring it back with the help of American backers at the same time as ITV opted to make Downton Abbey, which was initially due to be shown next year.

However, in the end – and to the BBC’s huge frustration – Downton was shown first and became a phenomenal success, attracting more than nine million viewers.

Doesn't bother me in the slightest; any excuse for Keeley Hawes.

The original, for those who weren't brought up with it.

Posted by the Flea at 10:51 AM

So much more real than life

Sir Ian McKellen explains acting.

Hat tip to the Sister of the Flea.

Posted by the Flea at 10:48 AM

Alice Cooper, Meatloaf, Johnny Ramone


Posted by the Flea at 10:47 AM

Kylie Minogue: Better Than Today

Be of good cheer.

Posted by the Flea at 10:42 AM

November 20, 2010

Ideologically driven


I am not normally one for ideologically driven design but I am making an exception for the Mercedes Biome concept. It reminds me of what the future used to look like.

Taking their inspiration from nature, [the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studios in Carlsbad, California] designed a vehicle which is fully integrated into the ecosystem, from the moment of its creation right through to the end of its service life. The Mercedes-Benz BIOME grows in a completely organic environment from seeds sown in a nursery. Out on the road the car emits pure oxygen, and at the end of its lifespan it can be simply composted or used as building material.
Posted by the Flea at 09:28 AM

London 80 Gigapixels

It took me a moment to work out why I couldn't orient myself in this 80 gigapixel London panorama. I always navigate the West End by looking for Centre Point...

his new London gigapixel image, if printed at normal photographic resolution, would be 115 feet long and 56 feet high.
Posted by the Flea at 09:27 AM

Michael Caine: Five Favourite Films

Related: This is how Michael Caine speaks.

Posted by the Flea at 09:24 AM

Miles Davis: Miles Runs the Voodoo Down

Posted by the Flea at 09:23 AM

November 19, 2010

Family Guy: It's a Trap

"The third and supposedly final Star Wars spoof from MacFarlane - he claims he won't touch the prequels."

Posted by the Flea at 10:35 AM

Journey Quest

JourneyQuest is a fantasy comedy web series from the creators of "The Gamers" and "The Gamers: Dorkness Rising".

Posted by the Flea at 07:59 AM | Comments (1)

Sometimes a cigar is a penis

Revealed: How Prince William is following his father's footsteps and actually marrying his nanny.

Posted by the Flea at 07:57 AM

Laundry Day

Posted by the Flea at 07:54 AM

Jennifer Lynn, Christine Wu, Meytal Cohen: Toxicity

Via Binks.

Posted by the Flea at 07:53 AM

November 18, 2010

That Prince among shampoos


Bond Lifestyle identifies James Bond's shampoo; now not to be had for love or money.

"His two battered suitcases came and he unpacked leisurely and then ordered from Room Service a bottle of the Taittinger Blanc de Blancs that he had made his traditional drink at Royale. When the bottle, in its frosted silver bucket, came, he drank a quarter of it rather fast and then went into the bathroom and had an ice-cold shower and washed his hair with Pinaud Elixir, that prince among shampoos, to get the dust of the roads out of it."
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Chapter 2

I would have thought Pinaud would keep it in production if only as a special reserve. They could sell it at a premium.

Not much use to me, in any event. But I am after Blofeld's exfoliation regimen, should anyone should happen to come across it.

Posted by the Flea at 06:28 AM | Comments (1)

Launch of Duncan

Duncan is the sixth and last of the Royal Navy's powerful, new Type 45 destroyers. It was launched on the Clyde on Monday 11 October 2010. This video shows the launch and interviews with key people involved.
Posted by the Flea at 06:27 AM | Comments (2)

C.S Lewis's surviving BBC radio address

The lone surviving reel of audio with Lewis's voice on it. He deals with prayer and evolution (Evolution on the second installment). Recorded during WW ll these talks eventually became "Mere Christianity".

Posted by the Flea at 06:24 AM

Faun: Deva & Punagra

Posted by the Flea at 06:22 AM

November 17, 2010

Brian Eno interview: Small Craft on a Milk Sea

Brian Eno is interviewed by Dick Flash of Pork Magazine about new album 'Small Craft on a Milk Sea'.

Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM

Quark: May the Source Be With You (1977)

It is a strange rediscovery to find both The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Farscape owe it a debt. That said, some sound effects are borrowed from ST:TOS and something suspiciously similar to a '70s TARDIS console makes an appearance (hat tip to Mr. Campbell).

Part II, III, IV, V.

Posted by the Flea at 08:54 AM | Comments (1)

Transvolta: Disco Computer

Kraftwerk: Less original than you might think.

Posted by the Flea at 08:53 AM

November 16, 2010

The counter-revolution starts here


My ongoing after shave investigation brought me to Badger & Blade and in turn to the best product review I have ever read.

So manly it's scary.
Published by thunderball

There is a place where men can still be men, and that place is called Mandom. Feared, loved, revered and reviled, much like its frontman Charles Bronson this aftershave is anything but bashful. Like Tabac it divides men...families...armies...and indeed nations. It has been referred to with such far-ranging epithets as "pure unalloyed essence of awesomeness" and "urinal pucks and bugspray". Though I myself lean in favour of the former description, I also understand and accept the latter, just as I accept (and even welcome in a sadistic kind of way) my wife's comments that I "smell older than the oldest person she can imagine"...now that's old.

With Mandom, one must know what one is getting oneself into. This is not something you casually splash on in hopes of attracting the fairer sex down at the mall. This is not Joe Jonas, this is Clint Eastwood. This is not JayZ, this is Jack Lord. 2009? Try 1970. This is a scent for men who are so engaged in manly pursuits that there is simply no time for women. It is to be splashed on when riding alone in the desert, when reclining solo in your buckskins 'round a dying campfire, when fishing without a fishing rod, when wrestling boar mono-au-mono in the African wilds. Is Mandom for you? Only you can answer that.

What I can say is that this stuff works and you're not going to have to use all your poker winnings to get it. It plays 'good cop, bad cop' with your face as it at once burns like tequila and soothes like aloe. The fragrance is a heady mix of alcohol, leather, musk and other manly intangibles. Is it for everybody? I think not, and that is why I like it. Is it my everyday aftershave? Hell no. I simply don't have the stuffing to pack this kind of power daily, but for those special days when I just want to kick back and fly my Spitfire naked or ride out into the desert to hunt sidewinders bare-handed there's simply nothing else I'll use.


Does this man look approachable to you? Hardly. And that, my friends, is Mandom.

Scored some at J Style. Now waiting for my bottle of superpower to arrive.

Amazon does not carry the after shave or I would try to sell to you because, seriously, I don't care what it smells like. Fortunately, I am not above trying to take a cut from selling you a Mandom T-shirt.

The best part is when he hooks up with Scarlett Johansson.

Posted by the Flea at 12:08 AM | Comments (2)

Erich Sokol

His early Playboy work. I am reasonably certain this qualifies as a "blue" period (mildly nsfw; hat tip to Small Dead Animals).

Over a year ago, we began our series of posts on Playboy cartoonists with a feature highlighting Erich Sokol. Sokol was arguably the most gifted artist who ever worked for the magazine, with a keen eye for all of the elements of good drawing- composition, clear silhouettes, original color harmonies, interesting staging and a keen sense of light and shade. There's a lot to be learned from these masterful cartoons.
Posted by the Flea at 12:07 AM

Now here is why I love America

And Americans.

Posted by the Flea at 12:03 AM

Henry Mancini: Lujon

Posted by the Flea at 12:02 AM

November 15, 2010

The Sopranos in Middle-earth

For your consideration, the Game Of Thrones Official "Raven" Tease.

"Game Of Thrones" will be premiering on HBO in 2011.

The series, based on author George R. R. Martin's best-selling A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels, chronicles the violent dynastic struggles among noble families for control of the Iron Throne of Westeros.
“The Sopranos in Middle-earth” is the tagline Benioff jokingly suggested for the television adaptation, referring to its intrigue-filled content and dark tone set in a fantasy setting. Fantasy is described as incidental to the series. The storytelling is what HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo found appealing, not the magic or the exotic milieu, in spite of the network’s new developmental policy to “[take] shots at shows that we wouldn’t have taken a shot at five years ago.” Nonetheless, HBO hired expert language creator David J. Peterson from the Language Creation Society to develop a Dothraki language — “possessing its own unique sound, extensive vocabulary of more than 1,800 words and complex grammatical structure” — to be used in the series.

On the one hand: Lena Heady features. On the other hand: Tamzin Merchant left the production. On the gripping hand: Tamzin Merchant has been replaced by Emilia Clarke (hat tip to Ben).

Posted by the Flea at 06:28 AM | Comments (1)

One must commit acts of the highest treason only when dressed in the most resplendent finery

I have a lot of time for Grant Morrison but he sets himself up for priceless snark in the comments. There is a limit to socialist/revolutionary posturing when you are being interviewed by Wired magazine on your forthcoming Hollywood projects.

I seriously get first dibs on the executive rights to the upcoming “Illuminates of Thanateros” movie. I already have it cast and EVERYTHING. (That first sentence is legally enforceable.) Step aside Freemasons, Skulls and Ya-Ya Sisters. It’s OUR time to shine! I just hope it doesn’t garner the dreaded NC-17 rating… Otherwise, I’m ruined. Ruuuiiined!

So take that, Batman Incorporated, LLC DBA Bruce Wayne! That’s what you GET for trying to change MY personal beliefs through Chaos Magick. And clever writing.

But wait- is there a variant edition of this comic? A retailer incentive edition, perchance? [wringing of hands] In THAT case, never mind! I’ll see you at my local comic shop in two Wednesdays!
Posted by the Flea at 06:27 AM

Morning Yoga in Bed

Your Monday morning yoga.

Posted by the Flea at 06:23 AM | Comments (5)

Esthero: Heaven Sent

Posted by the Flea at 06:22 AM

November 14, 2010

Brand stretching


Inspired by the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and BMW X6, Lamborghini and Maserati may launch SUVs in 2012.

Aston Martin's recent decision to move ahead with its Lagonda SUV concept means that there are no longer any barriers to entering a market that may once have threatened to dilute super-luxury brands.

So long as they keep their prices in the usual range, their brands are fine. I am already sold on the Maserati SUV concept.

Posted by the Flea at 08:04 AM | Comments (1)

Catalina: Joe le Taxi

The immortal classic.

Posted by the Flea at 08:02 AM | Comments (2)

November 13, 2010

Save Ark Royal and her Harriers

On November 10th a letter from two former first sea lords and other retired officers was published in the Times. It argued the decision to scrap 80 Harrier jump jets and the carrier Ark Royal is “dangerous” and that reversing the decision is “in the overriding national interest” (via Quotulatiousness).

Francis Tusa of Defence Analysis, a newsletter, reckons that retiring the much more maintenance-heavy Tornados instead of the Harriers would have saved £4 billion-5 billion, while keeping Ark Royal going would cost only about £120m a year. He adds that getting out of the strike-carrier business for ten years means that critical skills will be lost. Others, including the letter’s authors, fear that the “carrier gap” will mean Britain loses the ability to carry out autonomous expeditionary missions. Among other things, that would, they say, leave the Falkland Islands (and their valuable oilfields) vulnerable to attack.
Posted by the Flea at 10:23 AM

The Night of a Thousand Waistcoats

It is almost time for the Grand Anarcho-Dandyist Ball and once again I shall not be in London.

The Chap Magazine puts its best brogue forward to stage the year's most dapper shindig.

This "night of a thousand waistcoats" will give followers of the country's only gentleman's journal the chance to don their most splendid threats and jitterbug/Charleston/pogo the night away in London's only Art deco ballroom.

Dress code: 1890s decadence, 1920s villainy, 1930s glamour, 1940s spiv.

Posted by the Flea at 10:18 AM

Philip.K. Dick - Arena (1994)

Philip.K. Dick documentary on BBC's "Arena" originally broadcast on 9th April 1994.

"When I think of these stories of mine, I think of the Lucky Dog Pet Store. There's a good reason for this. It has to do with the lives of most freelance writers; it's called poverty."

Posted by the Flea at 10:17 AM

Professor Elemental: Fighting Trousers

Hat tip to Bill.

Posted by the Flea at 10:14 AM

November 12, 2010

Hollywood on the Tiber R.I.P.


Cult film impresario Dino De Laurentiis has died aged 91. A brilliant run.

Early hits ranged from Italian titles La Strada and Nights of Cabiria, which both won Academy Awards, to Barbarella, War and Peace, and the Al Pacino hit Serpico. The modern era brought success with the Conan the Barbarian films, and the Silence of the Lambs sequels Hannibal, Red Dragon, and Hannibal Rising.

Yet De Laurentiis was equally famed for his flops, which were typically underwritten with cash from outside investors. Dune, which burned $40m in 1984, was his; so was the infamous 1976 remake of King Kong, and 1977's Orca.

The man has left a greater legacy than George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. Barbarella (1968), Serpico (1973), King Kong (1976), Three Day of the Condor (1975), The Shootist (1976), Orca (1977), Flash Gordon (1980), Conan the Barbarian (1982), The Dead Zone (1983), Firestarter (1984), Dune (1984), The Bounty (1984), Blue Velvet (1986), Evil Dead II (1987), Army of Darkness (1992) to name a few.

Even his failures were triumphs.

Take Orca, for example. Sure it was crap, but it scared the hell out of me. It was genuinely upsetting. It hit primal Bambi nerves Jaws leaves untouched.

His much maligned King Kong adaptation is clearly superior to Peter Jackson's CGI confection. Plus, it isn't supposed to be Eisenstein; it's supposed to be King Kong. So chill.

Dune gives David Lynch fans an eye twitch. Result.

Barbarella, Conan the Barbarian, Evil Dead II... it is a long list. And, of course, this. Dispatch war rocket Ajax!

Posted by the Flea at 07:08 AM | Comments (3)

As imagined by kids

The Cthulhu Mythos in a structured learning environment (hat tip to Mr. Liddle).

This time I wanted to try something more structured so I pitched the idea to them that since it was getting on to Halloween how ’bout drawing some monsters? And not just any monsters but creatures from the writing of H.P. Lovecraft‘s Cthulhu Mythos. Now, only two of the kids (the older ones) had any knowledge of who Lovecraft was or had read some of his stories. So, I was able to introduce the kids to these creatures pretty much fresh with no previous imagining of what these monsters look like.

Click through for illustrations.

Posted by the Flea at 07:07 AM

PKD speech at Metz sci-fi convention, France (1977)

"Did Philip K. Dick disclose the real Matrix in 1977?"


Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM

Gus Van Sant: Discipline of Do Easy (1982)

Adapted from the 'Exterminator!' piece by William S. Burroughs (1973).

Small but potentially crucial aside: I am in favour of D.E. in principle but I cannot recommend storing your electronics under the wash stand.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM

Kate Bush: Rocket Man

Because a very few things more than make up for all the rest.

Posted by the Flea at 07:02 AM | Comments (3)

November 11, 2010

An intake of breath

A map of Toronto's fallen from World War II.

In 1942, as losses among Canadian air crew mounted and the failed raid on Dieppe left hundreds of Toronto families with a loved one killed or in a German prison camp, officials started a formal effort to keep track of the city’s dead.

As the war ground on, a file of typed index cards at the city clerk’s office at what is now Old City Hall grew and grew, until there were thousands.
Posted by the Flea at 06:48 AM

Lullatone: Leaves Falling

Posted by the Flea at 06:42 AM

November 10, 2010

Known unknowns

A mysterious contrail 35 miles out to sea from Los Angeles serves to underline the key problem with most conspiracy theories: These tend to assume an unreasonable belief in the competence of the supposed conspirators. It is almost ten years after 9/11 and people who regularly deal with the post office and stand in line to get their driver's licenses renewed still imagine it is impossible the United States government did not have a clue what was going on until hours, days and weeks after the fact.

Reaction to the mystery "missile" suggests yet another time when my low expectations leave me better prepared to deal with the world than would an undue optimism. I have no trouble believing NORAD is clueless and their messaging cluelesser. Indeed, such is my expectation.

An anonymous comment at DefenseTech shares my thinking.

Naval analyst Raymond Pritchett makes a smart point: that the mystery itself is becoming a security problem.

“When someone makes an unannounced launch what looks to be a ballistic missile 35 miles from the nations second largest city (at sea in international waters), and 18 hours later NORAD still doesn’t have any answers at all – that complete lack of information represents a credible threat to national security,” he writes. “If NORAD can’t answer the first and last question, then I believe it is time to question every single penny of ballistic missile defense funding in the defense budget. NORTHCOM needs to start talking about what they do know, rather than leaving the focus on what they don’t know.

Yes, the mystery may represent a problem especially if this is, say, the PLAN or the Russian navy making a point. But assuming this is a regular contrail seen from an unusual angle (and such is my assumption), the fact the mystery remains a mystery is most probably the bigger problem.

A Clinton administration would have had its story in place yesterday morning. The current administration cannot recognize the mystery is a problem in itself.

Or: I should have mentioned another comment at DefenseTech claims there was a NOTAM (Notice To Airmen) about this issue in which case NORAD's hemming and hawing is still less explicable.

notam from FAA:
Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM | Comments (2)

G-Force: Guardians of Space (1986) - Ep.1

This holds up surprisingly well. I still think the Phoenix is beautiful and the incidental sound kicks ass. Though I don't know if the latter is native to the 1978 "Battle of the Planets" version I grew up with or to this 1986 re-release.

And I gather in the Japanese original it was more obvious Galactor was an hermaphrodite thereby lending dramatic tension somehow.

Posted by the Flea at 07:02 AM

Wilbur Sargunaraj: First Class Meat (Chicken 65)

I am now on an epic quest for a source of Chicken 65 in Toronto.

Posted by the Flea at 07:01 AM

November 09, 2010

Imprecision in such matters brings out the pedant in me

Taken from Second Opinion: A Doctor's Notes from the Inner City, in which Theodore Dalrymple explains an Englishman's poo is his castle. A "body packer" was on the ward and "the police, of course, were interested in his faeces."

The law states, however, that an Englishman’s poo is his property, and to search it without the owner’s consent requires a search warrant. I had mistakenly supposed that, once shed, it was in the public domain. One learns these arcane things through experience.

Fried food and alcoholic Friday nights made flesh: The full scale of Dalrymple's reactionary evil and a link to Common People, in which he claims vulgarity is now the ruling characteristic of England. One is forced to agree.

That vulgarity is now the ruling characteristic of England, of the prosperous as of the poor, is evident in small things and in large. At the airport you can always tell a flight bound for England by the number of grossly fat and hideously apparelled passengers waiting to board. No man can be blamed for being ill-favoured by nature; but every man can be blamed for making the worst of himself, as the English now seem to do as a matter of principle. They are the ugliest people in the world, but this has nothing to do with biology.
Posted by the Flea at 07:28 AM | Comments (1)

SPT-CL J0546-5345,

The South Pole Telescope - imagination could conceive almost anything in connexion with that place - has identified a super massive galaxy cluster as seen about half way back to the dawn of time.

The most massive conglomeration of galaxies ever spotted in the early universe has been found, astronomers say. This behemoth galaxy cluster contains about 800 trillion suns packed inside hundreds of galaxies. And it's not even finished growing.

The newfound cluster, called SPT-CL J0546-5345, is about 7 billion light-years from Earth, meaning that its light has taken that long to reach us. Thus, astronomers are seeing this clump as it was 7 billion years ago. By now, it likely will have quadrupled in size, researchers said. The universe is about 13.7 billion years old.
Posted by the Flea at 07:27 AM

The Royal Navy: First Sea Lord SDSR Interview

An elf interviews a befuddled admiral. I expect the superfluous unsteadycam is meant to convince us their conversation was held on the bridge of Galactica.

Such is the triumph of the virtual. Why bother with actually existing ships when public relations talk can be a place-holder for the Royal Navy in England's symbolic grammar. The UK seems determined to prove Baudrillard right: the Gulf War never happened after all.

Presenter Kate McIntyre interview the First Sea Lord about the Strategic Defence Review.

It is a sorry spectacle.

Much less depressing: The Royal Navy HMS Dauntless Tour. And here she is inbound to Tyne 30th April 2010.

Posted by the Flea at 07:24 AM | Comments (1)

Kylie Minogue: Better Than Today

Posted by the Flea at 07:22 AM

November 08, 2010


"The female political movement 'FEMEN' started their protest actions on the 8th of June, 2008 in Ukraine. These pretty but very manly ladies protest against sex-tourism, corrupt practices and lack of democracy in Ukraine. Here are the photos of their demonstrations."

Their chosen mode of protest might charitably described as missing the point; here chastisement might only been seen to provoke - even reward - that which it attempts to dissuade.

That said, if it is true a half million Ukrainian women have been sold into slavery abroad since the fall of the Soviet Union (three guesses where, first two guesses don't count) it is perhaps the most grotesque, most evil hallmark of civilization in collapse; a world where our daughters become a commodity to be bought and traded and any hope for the future sold with them.

Posted by the Flea at 05:28 AM | Comments (1)

A virtuous heretic shall be saved before a wicked Christian

Christopher Hitchens accepts the first Logidea University Honorary PhD In Heresy.

Posted by the Flea at 05:27 AM | Comments (1)

On open letter by Tim Wise

The clock may be ticking but, if so, it is counting down to a nasty surprise for the "Stuff White People Like" enthusiastis amongst us.

Posted by the Flea at 05:24 AM

Alan Moore on Austin Osman Spare

In which Alan Moore is the first class loon I am aspiring to be. Featuring Geraldine Beskin who is always good fun.

Posted by the Flea at 05:23 AM

Nurse With Wound: A Piece Of The Sky Is Missing

Posted by the Flea at 05:22 AM

November 07, 2010

USB Wood Grain Underwood Portable


If I had a spare 800 dollars I would be in the market for an Underwood USB typewriter.

This antique typewriter has been modified to work as a USB Keyboard for PC, Mac, and even iPad! That's right -- its a beautiful and fully functional computer keyboard!
Posted by the Flea at 07:28 AM | Comments (3)

Run Chipmunk! Now you are free

After years of lethargy, Michael Murray decided it was time to get in shape (hat tip to Agent Bedhead).

The first thing that I did was comb through Craig’s List in search of a suitable Personal Trainer, settling upon Anastasia, a 21 year-old that had recently emigrated to Canada from Russia. Amongst her hobbies were beach volleyball, mature gentlemen and running. Her rates were very reasonable, and she agreed to come to our apartment three times a week while my lady, Rachelle, was at work.

For some reason, this didn’t sit well with Rachelle — who has a difficult streak — and she insisted that I get a new trainer, one that she would pick out. Anastasia was very disappointed when I told her this, texting me the message, “im sadd was looking fortheword to bring you comfort.”

Rachelle's choice at the link.

Posted by the Flea at 07:24 AM

Psych-Out (1968)

Dean Stockwell and Jack Nicholson might have left this one off their resumes.

Part I:

(Just now discovering Part II has its audio disabled due to copyright issues. Zut!)

Posted by the Flea at 07:23 AM

David Bowie: Cygnet Committee

Posted by the Flea at 07:21 AM | Comments (3)

November 06, 2010

Morgan Super Sports


At last, the Fleamobile (more images at Auto Express).

The half tonne Morgan three-wheeler will be called the Super Sports and goes on sale next year. It will be powered by a 1.8-litre Harley-Davidson 45-degree V-twin motorcycle engine coupled to a Mazda five-speed transmission driving the rear wheel via a specially fabricated rear end. There are no prices yet, but Morgan is striving to deliver the first cars at about £25,000 plus VAT.
Posted by the Flea at 05:48 AM | Comments (1)

Lanvin for H&M - The Show

Posted by the Flea at 05:44 AM

Scala & Kolacny Brothers: Yellow

From the twilight of England.

Posted by the Flea at 05:42 AM

November 05, 2010

Enjoy Guy Fawkes Night and Diwali

If only there were some way to combine the two.

Posted by the Flea at 06:46 AM

Prophecies and Iron Crown


It is time for you to learn about things. He, Fenris Badwulf, wrote this.

Though I confess I am not ready for the iron crown roll out just yet. I had been under the impression it was a members only deal.

Member's only: My quest chain is at its beginning.

"In a time of fear and segregation, the Order... is proud to encourage and promote unity and goodwill through the growth of facial hair. There was a time when a beard and moustache was a symbol of wisdom and courage. We aim to return people's views to that which is all but lost. Please join us in this battle."
Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

Christopher Lee: Charlemagne - Act III - The Bloody Verdict Of Verden

Directly related: Christopher Lee stabbed a Nazi.

Posted by the Flea at 06:43 AM

The Iron Crown (1941)

"A crown, supposedly made from a nail out of the Cross of Christ and the metal of Roman swords, becomes a legend and a symbol of justice."

I gather it was released in Turkey in 1941; a dubious provenience.

Background: The Iron Crown of Lombardy.

Posted by the Flea at 06:42 AM

November 04, 2010

Glenn Beck celebrates

"Happy days are here again!"

Related:The big loser in Tuesday's election was George Soros.

Posted by the Flea at 06:37 AM

Kate Beckinsale: Esquire's Sexiest Woman Alive

Why we write.

Posted by the Flea at 06:34 AM

November 03, 2010

Police guidelines on how to behave while trapped in a wicker man

I expect we will hear from 'elf and safety next.

The 300-page guidebook has been updated to recognise the religious sensitivities of those who worship nature, which actually exists, as opposed to an angry man in the sky who keeps massive jars of plague.

A Police Federation spokesman said: "During stressful situations there is a tendency to use hurtful or insensitive language, especially if you're trapped in a massive, highly flammable corn dolly while an entire village gambols around it with lit branches singing folk songs about 'ye offerings'.

Oh so related: Sample offerings.

Also related: Yet another instance of ersatz environmentalists/tree worshippers lacking a rudimentary grasp of causation, let alone systems relationships in the environment or the economy. My faith in the Enlightenment is restored by the comments section. Possible photo accompaniment of the year though.

Posted by the Flea at 08:08 AM

When one does not know what it is, then it is something; but when one knows what it is, then it is nothing

Christopher Hitchens answers his own riddle (and parses it too).

Posted by the Flea at 08:07 AM

Allen West victory speech

Best to imagine this was on the radio. The audio is fine; the video lacks specificity.

Posted by the Flea at 08:02 AM

All great change in America begins at the dinner table

Marco Rubio victory speech.

"Let me begin tonight by acknowledging a simple but profound truth. We are all children of a powerful and a great God. Of a God who... things are not always going to end up the way you want them. His will is not always going to be yours. But I promise you this: No matter what you face in life He will give you the strength to go through it."

Posted by the Flea at 12:32 AM

Sister Souljah: My God is a Powerful God

Posted by the Flea at 12:28 AM

November 02, 2010

Blogger links to CNN/Bill Maher hate site

Lawsuits/fatwas expected presently.

Zeitgeist related: Why a transit riding, downtown Toronto loving, non driver voted for Rob Ford.

Posted by the Flea at 01:06 PM

Remember, remember the 2nd of November

What the left said then: David Kopel - Ronald Reagan, Extremist Collaborator.

What the left says now: Technocult - Is it too late to stop fascism in the US?

Posted by the Flea at 07:58 AM

Communist Party of America leader endorses Democrats

Are we connecting the dots yet? Via Mitchieville.

Jarvis Tyner speaks in Detroit on October 7 on the need for an all-out mobilization to defeat Tea Party and other right wing Republican candidates.
Posted by the Flea at 07:54 AM

Rush: The Trees

Now there's no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet,
And saw.

Posted by the Flea at 07:52 AM

November 01, 2010

Girl's Generation: Hoot

Why we write.

Posted by the Flea at 06:22 AM