Sweet Excess: Rococo Cookies by Amber Spiegel

These cookies first made a cameo appearance (YOU SEE WHAT I DID THAR?) over at our now-closed Tea & Cookies with Coilhouse Q&A session at Whitechapel, prescription but I feel that they deserve to be immortalized on the blog as well. The cookies are crafted by Chicago-based Amber Spiegel. Amber sometimes sells batches of her cookies at her SweetAmbs shop on Etsy, but currently, her shop is on hiatus. However, you can still see the cookies in full glory over at her blog! Monogrammed cookies. Brush embroidery cookies. Edible cameos. Tea set, antique shoe, ballet slipper, Houndstooth pattern and polka dot button cookies. In addition to the cookies, Amber chronicles her experiments in cake decorating and occasionally shares recipes, such as this one for cocoa meringues. A sight for sore eyes!

BTC: “Kuky se vrací” a.k.a. “Kooky’s Return”

Um. Other than Zobot’s hubbatron Ales, does anybody around here understand Czech? No? Me neither. You know what? Don’t worry about it. Doesn’t matter. Just watch this, WATCH IT RIGHT NOW:

My old chum Gooby shows me the bestest things. Thanks, Goo.


KOOKY´S RETURN (Kuky se vrací) is a combined puppet and live action feature based on a 
child’s fantasy. A seven year old boy whose teddy bear Kooky has been 
thrown away wonders what his toy is up to in the big world out there, imagining 
[that] Kooky [is trying] to find his way back home.

It’s written and directed by Oscar-winning Czech director Jan Svěrák. If the film’s style/feel seems oddly familiar, it’s because Jakub Dvorský of Amanita Design (creators of Samorost, Machinarium) is the production designer. The film’s been scheduled for a May 20, 2010 release in Czech cinemas. If there is any goodness left in this cruel world, subtitled/dubbed versions in other languages will soon become available to the rest of us. But even without a translated version, nothing’s gonna stop us from seeing this, right? I mean, just look at this widdle guy:


James Randi Makes Himself Visible

Penn and Teller do a magic trick with James Randi. Unrelated… but cute.

Via John Brownlee, who posts on Twitter, “my hero James Randi just came out of the closet… although I wonder why he waited this long, or chose to come out now.” Normally, a famous person’s coming-out announcement wouldn’t really feel like big news to post about here, but something about Randi’s news struck a cord. Perhaps it’s his age; James Randi is 81 years old, and, according to his blog post, this is the first time he’s officially told even his closest friends. Perhaps it’s the fact that he’s also originally from Toronto; an antidote to Margaret Wente.

James Randi dropped out of school at age 17 to perform in a carnival roadshow as a turban-wearing stage magician and escape artist. He holds two Guinness records: one for being encased in a block of ice for 55 minutes, the other staying locked in a casket for 1 hour and 44 minutes, breaking Harry Houdini’s record from 1926. Bigger than his accomplishments in magic and escapology is his career as a skeptic/author. He entered spotlight for challenging the claims of spoon-bender/psychic Uri Geller in the 1972. Since that time, he’s made it his business to debunk those who prey on gullible people, especially for financial gain: televangelists, psychic surgeons, dowsers, vibrational healers, and the like. Randi runs an educational foundation (the JREF), which offers scholarships to a younger generation of skeptical thinkers. An excerpt from Randi’s coming-out post:

From some seventy years of personal experience, I can tell you that there’s not much “gay” about being homosexual. For the first twenty years of my life, I had to live in the shadows, in a culture that was — at least outwardly — totally hostile to any hint of that variation of life-style. At no time did I choose to adopt any protective coloration, though; my cultivation of an abundant beard was not at all a deception, but part of my costume as a conjuror.

Gradually, the general attitude that I’d perceived around me began to change, and presently I find that there has emerged a distinctly healthy acceptance of different social styles of living — except, of course, in cultures that live in constant and abject fear of divine retribution for infractions found in the various Holy Books… In another two decades, I’m confident that young people will find themselves in a vastly improved atmosphere of acceptance.

Before publishing this statement, I chose to privately notify a number of my closest friends and colleagues — none of whom, I’m sure, have been at all surprised at this “coming out.” I’m prepared to receive the inevitable barrage of jeers and insults from the “grubbies” out there who will jump to their keyboards in glee to notify others of their kind about this statement, which to them will be yet further proof of the perfidy of the rationalist mode of life that I have chosen. Those titters of joy will be unheard over the murmur of acceptance that I confidently expect from my friends.

This declaration of mine was prompted just last week by seeing an excellent film — starring Sean Penn — that told the story of politician Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California. I’m in excellent company: Barney Frank, Oscar Wilde, Stephen Fry, Ellen DeGeneris, Rachel Maddow, are just a few of those who were in my thoughts as I pressed the key that placed this on [the JREF blog] and before the whole world…

I should apologize for having used [this blog] as the venue to publish this note, an item that is hardly the focus of what we promote and publish here, but I chose the single most public asset I have to make this statement. It’s from here that I have attacked irrationality, stupidity, and irresponsibility, and it is my broadest platform. Here is where I have chosen to stand and fight.

And I think that I have already won this battle by simply publishing this statement.

It just goes to show that it’s never too late to step forth, never too late to declare visibility. Thank you and congratulations, James Randi!

RIP, Sean Stewart (HTRK)

For the past few hours I’d been hoping it was just some erroneous internet rumor, but a close and trusted source just confirmed the news: Sean Stewart, the bassist for HTRK, passed away earlier this week. Further details remain unverified. I’ll update when they’re available.

It feels like someone just punched me in the chest. Which makes sense, in a way. Sean’s basslines were the thudding, grinding, pounding heart of the Hate Rock Trio.

Goodbye, comrade.

Photo by Emma Pop.

Jónsi: “Go Do”

What would you like to see/hear on this cheery Spring Equinox? How about a beautiful, fey boy named Jón Þór Birgisson who cuddles with birdies and sings like one, too, in an Arni & Kinski video that looks very much like something Selene Gibbous & Peter Hinson might shoot if they got into the business of making music videos? Swooning yet? Here ya go…

“Go Do” is the first single from the Sigur Rós singer/guitarist’s upcoming solo record, Go, which comes out on April 5th. Eeee, Jónsi! Can’t wait!

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.

Inner Space

I realize that this demo reel from Hybrid Medical Animation may only appeal to me. As a child if I was sick I would often visualize the goings on within my body as some sort of protracted war; a campaign waged around and within the machinery responsible for the operation of the various divisions of my physical person. Even now, ask as what some would call an adult and what others would call a drooling man-child, buy cialis I still fall back upon these simplistic representations when feeling feverish. Hybrid, pills of course, represents the internal mechanisms of the human body as close to their reality but still, when viewed from a macroscopic perspective, they swiftly recall those childhood visions.

Children by the Millions Wait for Alex Chilton

In honor of Alex Chilton’s passing, we’d like to publish this article written by Joshua Ellis. This article appeared in Coilhouse Issue 04. You can also view a PDF of this article, by a strange twist of fate, over at the official Pixies website. It’s not an article about him, or The Pixies, per se. However, we’ve been wanting to publish this article on our blog for a while now, and this feels like the right moment to do so. This article speaks to the heart of why we’re all here together. What’s that song? / I’m in love / With that song…

I have this memory, and I’m not sure if it’s even real–or if it’s real, if it’s cobbled together from a half-dozen memories, fragments of things that happened over the course of a year or two that began the summer before I started high school, in 1991.

In this memory, I’m sitting in the basement of a girl named Sara, who pronounced her name “Saah-rah” and had purple hair and smoked clove cigarettes. I didn’t know Sara very well, but she was part of a small collective of freaks and weirdos that I had congregated to when I moved that summer from my ancestral home of north Texas to the small mountain town of Hamilton, Montana.

I’m sitting in Sara’s basement with my friends: Jeremy, the pretty guy who wears big black woolen overcoats and Jamaican tam o’ shanters in bright yellow and red and green, and seems to have unlimited access to the panties of every single girl in the Bitterroot Valley; Wade, who perpetually sports Birkenstock loafers that look like inflated bladders and drives a white Volkswagen Beetle covered in Grateful Dead stickers; Nate, who is one of the best guitarists I’ve ever met and is a huge aficionado of what will later come to be known as “extreme” sports, like bouncing down jagged rock faces on a beat-up skateboard deck; Sarah and her sister, Jenny, who are both fond of dropping random giggly non sequiturs into the conversation when stoned.

They’re all here, or some of them, or none of them. We’re sitting in the dark, talking bohemian bullshit, maybe smoking pot. It’s the kind of night that gets put on endless repeat when you’re young and strange and condemned to spend your adolescence in some far-flung desolate shithole like Hamilton, Montana, where you can’t lose yourself in the noise or happily become part of it, the way you can in New York or Seattle or Los Angeles or Chicago.

I’m not as cool as they are. I don’t know about cool shit. I’m just this uptight kid from J. R. Ewing Land who talks too much, still wears Bugle Boy button-downs and M. C. Hammer pants, and has only the dimmest idea that there’s some entire world out there of cool shit that I know nothing about. I own a Jane’s Addiction album and I’ve vaguely heard of the Sex Pistols.

And in this memory, Sara gets up and puts a cassette tape into her boom box. It’s a time traveler from 1984, beaten and scuffed, with the inevitable broken-off cassette door, so you just slap the tape in and hope that the tape head keeps it from falling out, which will cause the relentless motors to chew the tape and unspool it like the entrails of a slaughtered pig. Sara slaps the tape in and hits play.

This song comes out–a slow beat, big and echoing, then a bass playing eighth notes, and then a guitar, dreamy and vibrating. It sounds like what I imagine sunrise on a beach would be like, like what I imagine doing heroin would be like, like what I imagine sex in a dark room with that awesome girl you lie awake and dream of meeting would be like. I haven’t experienced any of these things–yet.

And then a voice, a high husky man’s voice, gentle over the music.

Cease to resist, given my good-byes
Drive my car into the o-o-sha-hah-hahn

You think I’m dead, but I sail away
On a wave of mutilation, wave of mutilation
Wave of mutilation


“What is this?” I ask. Sara shrugs.

“It’s the Pixies,” she says in this memory that may not even be real, or maybe didn’t happen this way at all. “The song’s called ‘Wave of Mutilation.’ This is the U.K. Surf Mix. The real version is faster and louder.”

“I’ve never heard of them,” I said. “I’ve never heard this.”

“They’re pretty cool,” Sara says. “I think they’re from, like, Boston.”

I nod. Pretty cool.

A Depressed Whale

FilmCow, buy creators of such classics as “Charlie the Unicorn” present the story of a depressed whale and the fish who tries to help him. What ensues is a vicious cycle of victimization and one-upmanship; a harrowing look at the nature of survival in the briny depths of our oceans.

via The Daily What

Youareareyouwhoareyou… Jonna Lee?

In the past two months, seven clips have appeared on YouTube under a mysterious account titled iamamiwhoami. Two days ago, the first full-length music video appeared – and many are claiming that, based on a few clues in the video, the identity of the author (widely rumored to be Goldfrapp, Trent Reznor, Lykke Li, Lady Gaga, The Knife and, seriously, Christina Aguilera) has finally been uncovered. But first, a bit of background by Leila Brillson to underscore the sheer amount of gematrical/Fortean weirdness packed into this haunting viral endeavor:

In December, a 55-second clip of a hyper-saturated, eerie (Scandinavian?) forest appeared on YouTube. No information was given, just the title “Prelude 699130082.451322-” The set of numbers following the dash, when matched to their alphabetical correspondents, spell “Educational.”

A few weeks later, a second video emerged, with a dirt-covered blonde girl seductively licking trees to a slow, driving electronic beat – the message this time, “Its Me.” Each video ended with the outline of an animal: a goat and an owl, respectively. The next video, accompanied by a funkier and more cheerful song, featured the painted girl again, up-close, with freakishly large eyes… this time, it spelled “Mandragora.”

The next video (“Officinarum”) increased the count to five (the featured animals, at that point, comprised of a goat, owl, whale, bee and llama). Then, on Friday, [James Montgomery, a music editor] received a package from a messenger service. “It was a thin, brown envelope with my name and floor typed on the front, and no return address.” Inside was a strand of hair from the blonde wig, some bits of wood, and what Montgomery calls a codex.

The project is not without a sense of humor. Each of the videos has a hyperlink in its description to another random but zoologically relevant YouTube clip –  Spit On by a Lllama, Screaming Monkeys, Bumble Bee on a Sunflower, to name a few. The new music video, which you can see below, links to this terrifying monstrosity.

So, yes! Now that the new music video has been posted, people have been started putting together the pieces. The most compelling evidence is here – while it does take a bit of magic out of the whole thing, it’s an impressive piece of internet sleuthing.

Yep, she’s a weird one. Please, please let it be her, and not some overproduced pop star. I mean, look at what she did to Nitzer Ebb. Jonna, if this is you, you have arrived!