Goodbye, Jack Horkheimer

[photo via AP]

Jack Horkheimer, beloved TV personality and executive director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium, has died, age 72. Countless legions of us grew up watching the gruff-voiced, wide-eyed astronomer hosting Star Gazer and Star Hustler on public television. Week after week, decade after decade, he’d walk in front of that green screen and excitedly tell us what we could expect to see in the evening sky. His enthusiasm was deeply infectious. He taught us all sorts of things about the universe, and he made us smile.

Farewell, farewell fellow star gazer. We’ll keep looking up.

H.B. to H.P.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Born on this baleful day back in 1890. Portrait by Bruce Timm

“There are not many persons who know what wonders are opened to them in the stories and visions of their youth; for when as children we listen and dream, we think but half-formed thoughts, and when as men we try to remember, we are dulled and prosaic with the poison of life. But some of us awake in the night with strange phantasms of enchanted hills and gardens, of fountains that sing in the sun, of golden cliffs overhanging murmuring seas, of plains that stretch down to sleeping cities of bronze and stone, and of shadowy companies of heroes that ride caparisoned white horses along the edges of thick forests; and then we know that we have looked back through the ivory gates into that world of wonder which was ours before we were wise and unhappy.”

–from H.P. Lovecraft’s “Celephais”

Previously on Coilhouse:

Captain Eo Flies Again

I went to Disneyland on Monday for the first time since my high school graduation night, which was a very, verrry long time ago. The biggest lure to re-enter the happiest place on Earth? Captain Eo‘s triumphant return, of course. The 17-minute, 3-D [or 4-D, if you count the synchronized in-theater effects] film stars Michael Jackson as the captain of a spaceship on a mission to deliver a gift to the Supreme Leader of a dark planet deep in the throes of a cyber-catastrophe.

Coppola-directed and Lucas-produced, Captain Eo began screening in 1986 and was shut down at the height of the alleged child abuse drama in the early 90s. Re-opened, predictably, after Michael Jackson’s death, this film is quintessential Jackson. As Eo, in addition to feeding his notorious Disney obsession, Michael gets to shoot lasers from his fingertips and to hang with adorable fantasy creatures and robots. He also wears a tight, studded white leather space suit while saving the world through the power of music and dance. This is who he wanted to be. Captain Eo should have been a mini-series.

One of my favorite aspects of watching this film again was finding all the influences from from sci-fi and fantasy films of the time. There’s the Geiger’s Alien-inspired Supreme Leader, the Gilliam’s Brazil-inspired pipes and steam of the dark planet, the Jim Henson-inspired puppets alongside nods to Star Wars and Terminator. You can probably find even more influences if you watch Captain Eo beyond the jump, but I don’t recommend it if it’s your first time and there’s a chance you might make it to an in-theater screening. It’s just so much better in 3-D!

Tripping Balls With UNARIUS



The Unarius Academy of Science is a non-profit organization founded in in the mid 50s in California, with various cells still located throughout the United States as well as Canada, Japan, and Nigeria. Unarius is an acronym which stands for UNiversal ARticulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science. Founded by Ernest and Ruth Norman, Unarius espouses “a new interdimensional science of life based upon fourth dimensional physics principles.” Ernest Norman also believed that the Chinese “evolved from ancient interstellar migrants who began colonizing Mars a million years ago.” After being attacked by native humans, these interstellar migrants reportedly returned to Mars, where they now live in subterranean dwellings. In 2001, the Unarians were all supposed to fly away in a fleet of spaceships, but that doesn’t appear to have worked out so great for ’em. From Wiki:

From the period of 1954-1971, when Ernest Norman still controlled the organization, the organization defined “the mission” as the bringing in of the interdimensional science of life in the books channeled by Ernest Norman. In the period of 1972-1993, while Ruth Norman guided the organization, the organization experienced renewed growth and public awareness. “The mission” became bringing Unarius to the masses. Ruth Norman granted interviews, appeared on The Late Show […] and kept very up-to-date technologically with video productions and a studio built in the late 1970s when such equipment was still in its infancy. Unarius video productions began appearing on public access stations all over the United States…

…much to the delight of stoned and tripping teenagers nationwide. Watch their entire “educational” film, The Arrival, below.

Z’s Zero-G Spacecake

Last week, the Coilhouse crew and extended family – Courtney, Mer, Mildred, Stephanie Inagaki and Andy Ristaino – got together with Zo on the roof of the Standard Hotel in LA after Mer and Zo had joined forces to prepare a particularly juicy Coilhouse blog feature that will be revealed at a later date. I couldn’t be there, but the picture from that night filled me with joy. Next month it’ll be three years since we all started working together, and to me, the photo speaks volumes regarding how much we’ve grown together, and all the changes we’ve been through. This is especially true in Zo’s case. An epic wedding, a house move, and a full transition into a freelance career – that’s a lot for anyone to handle, but our co-editor makes it look effortless. So in lieu of being able to wish her a happy birthday in person, I present Zo with the cake above (with a little bit of help from R. Stevens). You are a vital, talented, creative force of nature, and the world is more strangely beautiful with you in it. We luff yoooooo!

Cuddle puddle: Courtney, Zo, Mer and original fourth co-editor Mildred Von.

Shatner And Nimoy: The Tale Of Nimoy’s Bike

Presented here without commentary is this clip of from 1991’s “25 Year Mission” tour, in which Leonard Nimoy relates the story of how the cruel and unscrupulous William Shatner stole his bike.

Via The Daily What : reddit

Jeremy Geddes And The Cosmonauts

Jeremy Geddes, an accomplished artist from Australia, is working on a series of cosmonauts that has me wishing for a modern, minimally-decorated living space so that I may grace my walls with his work.

The White Cosmonaut

Whether they’re suspended in monochrome space, seemingly ascending with flocks of doves, or floating across barren cityscapes, these cosmonauts’ head-to-toe space armor makes them into blank representations of ourselves. Almost any emotion can be projected into these paintings: is the cosmonaut doing a happy air dance, or is he dead in his suit? Or maybe they’re just awesome space people, placed into aesthetically-pleasing, universally-appealing settings.

Heat Death

OK, the title of the piece above leaves less to the imagination, but I prefer to think of him merrily romping through the empty, radioactive streets, enjoying the lack of gravity. Geddes has consistently said that he wants these pieces to raise questions, rather than answer them, which is precisely what makes me love them more each time I look. Whatever the case may be, this series is gorgeous beyond belief.

The Red Cosmonaut

There are more, bigger cosmonauts on Geddes’ website. Click the jump for two more images here.

Clearsignals: Stars Lost Your Name

It’s been nearly a month since Portland-based, multi-disciplinary artist John C. Worsley released Stars Lost Your Name, and it’s still my daily work accompaniment. The twelve-track album begins as a beautiful, dreamy blend of minimal electronic grooves and sedate guitar riffs, then slowly escalates, fluctuating between waves of intricate, restless layers, and muted ambiance. At times measured and brooding, at times brimming with anticipation, this is easily one of my favorite albums of 2010 so far. Bonus? Every song is named after a star, the album thus forming a constellation.

I’m a sucker for a concept album, and Stars Lost Your Name happens to be one of those. The official story goes like this:

On the 24th of February, 2010, a moving truck was picked up in Portland. Over the course of the following 6 days, 12 states, and 3096 miles, while helping a friend move from Portland, Oregon to Cambridge, Massachusetts, these 12 songs were initially composed; in motels, in living rooms, and in the passenger seat.

After returning to Portland by air, 6 more days were spent recording and arranging before the album was deemed finished at 66:48 in length on the 12th of March, and released the following 24th; a roadmap, memoir, and secret constellation.

You can download Stars Lost Your Name in its entirety, for free, here. Thank you, John. However, if you like what you hear, the album is also on iTunes. Love it with money!

All Tomorrows: Sovereign Bleak

I always thought danger along the frontier was something that was a lot of fun; an exciting adventure, like in the three-D shows.” A wan smile touched her face for a moment. “Only it’s not, is it? It’s not the same at all, because when it’s real you can’t go home after the show is over.”

“No,” he said. “No, you can’t.”

Story goes like this: there’s an emergency ship en route to a plague-ridden planet, carrying essential medicine. The pilot finds a stowaway; a young girl, Marilyn, who just wants to see her brother.

The pilot now has a problem: he has enough fuel to get himself to the planet, but no one else. Interstellar law is clear: all stowaways are jettisoned immediately.

But space captains are heroic sorts. Whatever harsh decisions the author puts in their background to prove their grit, this is still a story. This time will be different. Marilyn is the perfect, plucky sidekick-in-training; surely the pilot can figure out some way to save both her and the planet’s populace.

No. There is no solution. She says her goodbyes and is ejected, with “a slight waver to the ship as the air gushed from the lock, a vibration to the wall as though something had bumped the outer door in passing, then there was nothing and the ship was dropping true and steady again.”

The above is from Tom Godwin’s The Cold Equations. When it came out in Astonishing Science Fiction in August, 1954, it shocked the hell out of the magazine’s readership, used to the last-minute triumph of human ingenuity.

Godwin’s classic was only the beginning. The ensuing decades would see American sci-fi delve into realms unthinkable to its forebears. Desperate to shake off the genre “urinal,” as Kurt Vonnegut so succinctly termed it, writers first ditched one of the key assumptions: that the hero will always save the day. Maturity, in this view, meant uncomfortable truths. Often, it meant unhappy endings, not just for the protagonists, but frequently the entire world.

This is a scattershot story of how the bleak tomorrow came to reign, and how it changed our visions of the future.

FAM Double Feature: Invasion Of The Neptune Men

While it must be said that all actors start somewhere it must also be said that some start lower than others. Sonny Chiba, before starring in the martial arts films that would bring him international success, was no different taking roles in scores of what can only be described as truly terrible films. This is not to say that his output since then has been of stellar quality and one could say that he never quite graduated from the B-movies of his youth but then one might risk Sonny Chiba punching one in the face so hard that one’s eyeballs exit explosively from one’s colon.

Today, the FAM takes a look at one of those early films, Invasion of the Neptune Men from 1961; a title that simply screams B-movie. The then 22-year-old Chiba plays one Shinichi Tachibana, a mild-mannered astronomer, who in actuality is the superhero Iron-Sharp, or Space Chief as he is called in the English dub. When mysterious metal aliens arrive to invade Earth, it’s up to Iron-Sharp/Space Chief to stop them.

It’s standard, ’60s era sci-fi/superhero fare with the distinct advantage as being a pretty awful example of the genre. With a kitsch factor this high it was no surprise that it was featured on the cult television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1997. Indeed the movie was so bad that it almost succeeded in fulfilling the plans of Dr. Clayton Forrester to drive Mike Nelson, Tom Servo, and Crow insane. They are only saved by a surprise visit from characters from the 1958 Japanese television series Planet Prince. The movie received fairly harsh treatment from the three, including one off-color moment in which they refer to Chiba’s character as “Space Dink”. The MST3K version also omits footage of the destruction of Tokyo which was actual World War II bombing footage — the writers’s feelings being that it had no place in a kids’s movie.

Regardless of such questions of taste, Invasion of the Neptune Men remains a prime example of ’60s era, Japanese cinema awfulness; a must watch for anyone looking to expand their knowledge beyond the likes of Godzilla.