A Tragic Day For Good Actors

It’s with great sadness that the news came that Patrick McGoohan, the brooding genius behind The Prisoner, died yesterday. The second gut-punch came with word that the uniquely regal Ricardo (Mr. Roarke/KHAN!) Montalban had also passed. McGoohan was 80, Montalban was 88.

Despite his status as the epitome of ’60s Brit psychedelic cool, McGoohan was actually Irish American. He took his early fame as “Danger Man’s” secret agent and turned it completely around, creating The Prisoner, a stunningly strange and powerful statement on, well, this:

While more reclusive in later years, McGoohan still managed a wonderfully vicious turn in Braveheart.

Ricardo Montalban arrived in Hollywood at a time when the only roles Mexicans could get were as Indians or Asians — and they wanted him to change his name to Ricky Martin. He persevered, eventually finding success as Fantasy Island’s suave host, Mr. Roarke, and becoming a supervillain for the ages as Star Trek’s Khan Noonien Singh:

Montalban worked up into his 80s, including some sly self parody in Freakazoid.

Both were excellent, oft-underrated actors. Both were true originals. Rest in peace, gentlemen.

William Mortensen: The Anti-Ansel

William Mortensen’s Wikipedia entry consists of one line: “William H. Mortensen (1897 – 1965) was an American art photographer.” Though he was a well-known and respected Hollywood photographer in the 30s, Mortensen remains relatively obscure today due to his devotion to pictorialism, the Ye Olde version of “Photoshop the shit out of everything” – a style that, while he was living, became quickly supplanted by the straight photograph as the spirit and future of photography. Mortensen was one of the few photographers to champion pictorialism in its battle against “straight” photography, and he lost, becoming a footnote in photo history. But not before it got personal: Ansel Adams went so far as to call Mortensen “the devil” and “the anti-christ.”

An excellent essay and image gallery by Cary Loren on the Journey Round My Skull blog outlines Mortensen’s work against the backdrop of pictorialism’s waning relevance, and uncovers newly-scanned tidbits of Mortensen’s two books: his pictorial manifesto, Monsters & Madonnas (1936) and his more instructional title, The Command to Look. The grainy, sinewy images remind me of Laurie LiptonRichard D. James (it’s that smile!), and Gustave Doré. Some images of Mortensen’s less creepy work can be found on this page, alongside another excellent bio and notes on his process. [via IO9]

Outlander: Vikings Fighting Aliens, Beeyotch.

Repeating for emphasis, people: VIKINGS. FIGHTING. ALIENS.

Holy fucking spaceturds:

As an age old battle rages amongst the stars, Kainan’s ship burns brightly as it crashes into the Nordic coast. As his space craft comes to rest in the fjords of ancient Norway, it’s with dismay that Kainan realizes that he wasn’t the only survivor. A second passenger, a Moorwen also emerges from the wreckage. A Fierce and animal-like creature, the Moorwen is intent on causing harm to those it perceives have wronged it. As the Moorwen kills everything in its path, Kainan must work together with the Vikings to destroy the beast before it destroys them all.

Okay, so there’s only one alien. And they probably should have found someone other than a 7th grade remedial English student to write their plot synopsis…


Right. Well, maybe it’s a wee bit suspect in a Chris Dane Owensy kind of way, but…


Kvlt as fuck, baby.

Verily, ’tis time I donned my sacred pewter dragon pendant from Medieval Times, whipped up a batch of special “tarragon” brownies and sojourned forth to one of the “limited release screenings” with only my bravest and most bake-ed friends.

Did I mention Ron Perlman’s in it?

(I still can’t believe we overlooked him in our Preternaturally Beautiful Men post.)



Better Than Coffee: Wingsuit Base Jumpers in Norway

“Meredith Anne Yayanos, I ABSOLUTELY FORBID IT.”

My Dad (standard response whenever I expressed interest in skydiving, bungee-jumping, para-surfing, parkour, driving a motorcycle, skateboarding, driving without a seat belt, crossing the street against a red light, not washing my hands before dinner, forgetting to floss, etc) 1976 – ?

“Have you ever heard of proximity flying? Fascinating. I’m thinking of getting myself a wingsuit for my birthday. If you hear a loud, dull thud, you will know my jump from our roof was unsuccessful.”

My Dad, 2009

My dad is getting quite XTREEM in his golden years, it would seem! He’s just about the last person I’d expect to get base-jumping links from. Nevertheless, pops just sent me this clip from the Matchstick-produced “action sports” documentary, Seven Sunny Days. It is, hands down, the most beautiful wingsuit footage I’ve ever seen. Instant adrenaline rush. Thank you, Doctor Yay!

Click below for more astounding “squirrel suit” clips from around the world.

Jessica Joslin’s “Clockwork Circus” Exhibition in LA!

Orlando (5”x5”x4”). Antique brass findings and hardware, leather, velvet, wood, tacks, cast/painted plastic, glass eyes.

Damn you, Hollyweirdos! You get to have all the Joslin fun. *shakes fist* As I write this, the astounding Madame Jessica J. (featured extensively in Coilhouse Issue 01) is over at the Billy Shire Gallery prepping a cavalcade of her Wunderkammer critters for the show’s opening reception tomorrow (Saturday).

Lambert & Salvia (8″x10″x22″) Antique hardware and findings, bone, brass, beads, leather, velvet, trim, coat hook, model cannon, glass eyes.

Trying to picture the Joslin lovebirds mounting a show is always a bit dangerous for me, prompting ardent fantasies of Jessica and Jared donning drum major uniforms and marching their whimsies down the street and through the door in step to a demented chiptune rendition of “76 Trombones” before shooing various characters onto pedestals, canvases and placard hooks. (There’s usually some whip-and-chair action in there as well, but… uh… I digress.)

Anyhoo. Jessica’s been working on these “Clockwork Circus” beasties for months now. They’re as winsomely exquisite as anything she’s crafted yet. If you’re in the area, go get acquainted.

Aster (27”x19.5”x10”) Antique brass findings and hardware, bone, leather, antique vestment trim, velvet, brass bullet casings, chain, silver, snakeskin, glass eyes.

Click below to view a couple more of Jessica Joslin’s “Clockwork” creatures.

[EDIT] Oh! One more thing! I’m sure Jessica wouldn’t mind us mentioning this here… Heads up, Phillyfreaks! If you’re not already all swoony and spent from Laura Kicey’s reception (or even if you are) and you’re feeling piney for something to do tonight (Friday), you probably shouldn’t miss the Mutter Museum “Disco Inferno Dance Party” for ANYTHING IN THE WORLD. What better way to celebrate the museum’s 150th anniversary than some inspired booty-shaking amidst the bones and tumors? Go, go, go!

Be a Cog in the Machine

Inside your Issue 2 of Coilhouse Magazine you’ll find a love letter to Los Angeles that talks about some of my favorite places in this Angel City Desert. Near the top of the list is The Machine Project– a modern-day salon dedicated to zapping life into this city, one lecture/field trip/class/performance at a time. Art space, home of Dorkbot SoCal [another one coming up this Saturday!], miniature lecture hall and experimental kitchen, this place has hosted some of the best events in town. Visitors enjoy a friendly atmosphere and beer as the boundaries between art and science melt away.

Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir at Machine Project. Original here.

Places like this are indispensable, especially here in big bad disjointed Los Angeles. They cultivate community, learning and provide outlets to brilliant outsiders rarely seen elsewhere. You want Alt Culture? Here it is. The Machine Project mission statement, from the Epic FAQ:

Machine Project exists to encourage heroic experiments of the gracefully over-ambitious. We provide educational resources to people working with technology, we collaborate with artists to produce site-specific works, and we promote conversations between scientists, poets, technicians, performers, and the community of Los Angeles as a whole.

Tabla workshop at Machine Project. Original here.

I’ve been an occasional attendee for years now, but this is changed today, when I become an official Member. You see, I received some sad news in my inbox recently. It seems the economy is kicking my beloved Machine square in its mechanical nuts! This wonderful place need help, and it needs help now. Fortunately, helping such an awesome organization is easy and fun. Here are the ways you can be part of The Machine Project:

Laura Kicey: Lonelyhearths and Living Rooms

All photos in this post are © Laura Kicey. Please do not repost without permission and a credit.

“I take the things I see in these places out of their realm and ask the viewer to see what has been overlooked. I prefer to use what I encounter in raw form, creating visual order by giving new context to what I have singled out.”

–Photographer Laura Kicey

Laura Kicey and I both joined the now-thriving shutterbug site Flickr aeons ago when it was still in beta, and Laura hit the ground running. She’s been uploading all manner of strange beauty captured with her camera –from off-kilter self-portraits to innovative “Construct” collage work to ongoing documentation of an abandoned asbestos factory— for several years now. Laura’s also a terrific memoirist, so living vicariously through her stealthy, sometimes dangerous adventures is quite the visceral thrill.

She says “my goal for every image is to build an experience that invokes all the senses as intensely as I witnessed,” and with her astute attention to texture, gradations of color, and composition, she succeeds. Really, the only thing missing is Smell-O-Vision.  (Scratch n’ sniff truck-stop motel charnel, anyone?)

Her portraits of derelict, hollow houses remind me again and again of the creeping, wistful quality of certain passages from House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, or the long, lonely, thriving takes in a Tarkovsky film.

Living Rooms, a series of her photographs of abandoned home interiors, will be showing through the month of January at Café Estelle in Philadelphia. Locals who stop by Laura’s reception today (Friday) between 6 and 9pm will get a chance to meet the flame-haired swashbuckler in person. Pass on a fist-bump from her old chum Theremina, won’t you?

Click below for more haunting images.

Weekly Ad Uncoiling: Amboss Precision Scissors

Meet the Beetles! The Bee-Gees! Adam Ant! W.A.S.P.! (sorry, x4.) Any entomologists in the Coilhouse? How ’bout Cosmetologists? Prints ads, via Munich ad agency Saint Elmo’s, for Amboss precision scissors. Showing an asymmetrical, Christian Siriano-like haircut on the wig of a bug is certainly a new visualization of the concept of precision. But, wigs on bugs? Putting aside the coolness/creepiness of this look for a sec, is this sell believable? I guess this is a trade campaign targeting pro stylists. Some of the Amboss shears have three finger holes, which maybe allows one to cut hair with more exactitude, I’m assuming. But, simply claiming the “precision” advantage so phantasmagorically may be enough to get a discerning (and offbeat) beautician to change brands. I love the imagery, doubt the selling power. But the last word is yours—what do you think? Two more hipster arthropod below (images via adsoftheworld).

All Tomorrows: Where now, Dangerous Visions?

What you hold in your hands is more than a book. If we are lucky, it is a revolution.

It is “steam engine time” for the writers of speculative fiction. The millennium is at hand. We are what’s happening.

-Harlan Ellison, from the Introduction to Dangerous Visions

They are two volumes: old by now and a little yellow around the edges, imposing both in size and scope. Seventy-nine stories by as many authors. The overloaded dynamite clump of an era.

The world had never seen anything like 1967’s Dangerous Visions or its 1972 follow-up, Again, Dangerous Visions. Enfant terrible Harlan Ellison bought together sci-fi’s old masters and a grand array of new talent to unleash a wave of stories sexy, violent and far enough out there that they’ll still shock the living hell out of you today. Attacking “the constricting narrowness of mind” that ran sci-fi, Ellison urged the authors: “Pull out all the stops, no holds barred, get it said!” They did.

If “All Tomorrows” is your informal classroom on the glories of the Deviant Age, consider these the fucking primers. They personify everything great and terrible about this time. Here, in paper form, are seventy-nine utterly genius minds cutting loose.

Here too, is the trilogy that was never finished. It is thirty-six years later, and The Last Dangerous Visions, the long-touted finale, is lost as the holy grail. Like its era, the Dangerous Visions series broke the old into tiny pieces and screamed towards the future — only to fall sickeningly short in a mix of bile-ridden hubris.

More on one of the greatest triumphs and tragedies science fiction has ever seen, after the jump.

Wedding Porn: The Blog of Offbeat Weddings

Mario, a magician, and his assistant, Katie, have a 1920s-themed wedding. Kate wears a headband bought on Etsy. Photos by Daria Bishop. More images here.

In Junior High, our Health class had a unit about “basic adult life skills”: how to pay your bills, how your car works & why you really do need health insurance, despite the fact that you think you’re indestructible. One of the final projects we had that quarter was to budget out $30,000 in one of two ways: it was to be either your funds for one year of single living, or your budget to plan a wedding. The teachers assigned this without irony, and kids took it very seriously: it was not a lesson to show us how excessive the average wedding seems when you consider how else the money could be spent, but a lesson in how a proper American wedding was to be done. I was horrified. Years later, the following passage from The Commitment, Dan Savage’s gay-marriage memoir, summed up my perception of The Great American Wedding perfectly. In the scene below, Savage and his boyfriend Terry find themselves at a wedding expo:

Each and every vendor, from the lowliest florist to the highest-end caterer, was selling the fairy-tale princess wedding, the wedding that almost all straight girls grow up fantasizing about. For the women in the room, this was their one and only chance to be the princess in the Disney movie and they were determined not to fuck it up – and “it” refers to the ceremony and the reception, not the choice of a mate, as divorce rates would seem to indicate. (The wedding industry rakes in billions annually at a time when one out of every two marriages ends in divorce. Isn’t it about time some trial lawyers slapped Brides magazine, Vera Wang, and the rest of “big marriage” with a class action lawsuit modeled on the ones filed against big tobacco?)

Back to the boys: As we worked out way up and down the rows of vendors, I caught sight of the same guys again and again. Every time their fiancées or future mothers-in-law looked away, the boys would send out subtle distress signals, like a kidnap victim in a ransom video, blinking messages in Morse code. “Oh my god, what have I done?” As they were dragged from florist to caterer to limo, they looked like pawns. No, it was worse than that: They looked like hostages. No, worse still: they looked like afterthoughts. You don’t need men to have weddings! You need women and their mothers and sisters and their best friends and container ships full of machine-made lace from China and towering ice sculptures and enormous white canvas tents and karaoke machines and stretch Hummer limos and bouquets and chocolate fountains and cover bands and garter belts and veils and trains and engraved champagne glasses and sterling silver cake knives and on and on and on … you need a boy at a wedding like you need a stalk of celery in a Bloody Mary: It looks nice, and it makes things official, but it’s not crucial and probably wouldn’t be missed if you left it out. But a wedding – as currently understood, practiced, and marketed in America – without a bride? Unthinkable.

Clockwise from left: pink-haired bride, casual Arkansas wedding, Lucifire & Dave Tusk’s bright red circus wedding, Han Solo & Leia cake topper

There are, of course, other ways to go, especially this year. More and more people are opting for crafty, creative weddings that either twist around the tired tiara-and-lace tropes, or toss them out altogether. And on the site Offbeat Bride, the Wedding Porn section chronicles the most unusual, inspiring weddings ever to be documented on the web.

These are the weddings of our generation: pixelated 8-bit wedding invites, space helmets, brides as officants, a special category on the blog just for black wedding dresses, a San Francisco bike wedding, and, of course “Wedding! The Musical.” There’s enough love and joy on this site to make you queasy if you’re in a “only stupid people have good relationships” kind of mood, but even then, something on the site will make you smile.  Like these Lego cake toppers, for instance.