Manz Whirled

I’ve been listening a lot to the music of Charles Bobuck (member of The Residents and likely creator of much of my favourite Residents music -but we’ll never know really – more about CB in a later post) when and this excellent update of their also excellent cover of This Is A Man’s World re-entered my shuffled listening orbit.

This has been released under the title of ‘Manz Whirled’ as a ‘Charles Bobuck Contraption’ (read that ‘version’) and features beautiful ethereal vocals by Residents comrade Molly Harvey. Looks like it’s been around for ages but you need to hear it – it’s dreamy and magnificent and, oh look, here’s a clip of them performing it live in all their fluoro glory.

You can also buy an mp3 of it at CB’s Bandcamp page here for $1.

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Películas de Terror Mexicano

El Barón del TerrorEl hombre y el Monstruo

I found this short documentary on YT about Mexican horror movies. It serves as a great introduction to the genre, especially to my favourite kind of Mexi-horror, the atmospheric Gothic films. If this interests you, some of the titles you might like to look out for are:

• Misterios de Ultratumba aka The Black Pit Of Dr. M (1959) review
• El Barón del Terror aka The Brainiac (1962) review
• La Maldicion de la Llorona AKA The Curse Of The Crying Woman (1963) review
• El grito de la muerte AKA The Living Coffin (1959) review
• El hombre y el Monstruo AKA The Man And The Monster review
• El Vampiro AKA The Vampire (1957) / El Ataúd del Vampiro AKA The Vampire’s Coffin (1958) review
• El Espejo de la Bruja AKA The Witch’s Mirror (1962) review

La-maldicion-de-la-llorona El Espejo de la Bruja

The ‘review’ links take you to DVD Verdict for more information about these titles. The documentary also moves into the lucha horror genre as well as some late entries such the super atrange Alucarda, but best for me is the more traditional (albiet Mexican skewed) Gothic frights.

Muñecos infernales



One film not mentioned in the documentary is Muñecos Infernales AKA The Curse of The Doll People (1961) which is a fabulously creepy film with doll people that will give you the willies. At the moment there’s a great (Spanish language) print of it on Youtube.


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Document 72 Hours

I love this odd melancholy TV show on NHK World. They spent 72 hours at a certain place (all night gyms, cafes, airports, tourist spots, travel agents etc…) and observe and talk to the people that go there. It’s often terribly sad and offers a secret glimpse into everyday Japanese life. This is no-frills TV and looks like it costs 25 yen to make, but the stories it finds are remarkable.

This is my favourite episode, about a 24 hour noodle vending machine in Akita.

And this is the beautiful song by Nao Matsuzaki played at the end of each episode.

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Gutevolk – Picnic

Charming Japanese indie music and a little like an advertisment for socks.

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…it’s the freakiest show…

Oh dear, I wrote this in April (April 18, to be precise) and forgot all about it. We’re currently watching the next Americn Horror Story series (Hotel) and Murphy’s Scream Queens which is one of my favourite shows of the year. However, let me transport you back a few months to when we were watching Freak Show. Let’s think of it as ‘retro’. Enjoy…


If you watched American Horror Story Freak Show you’ll understand why I’m quoting David Bowie’s Life on Mars above. If you didn’t here’s your warning that this post will probably be littered with spoilers, or maybe not, depends what you call a spoiler and if you don’t watch it much of this won’t mean much anyway, so, whatever about that.

Now to the fun part. There’s a lot of reviewers and commenters getting themselves in a bit of a knot about this show, and I can see why. The problem seems to start when you try and place any sort of logic, narrative or otherwise, on it as it’s unlikely to live up to expectations. AHS in general is a bit of a mess, but a wonderful one at that. Full of plot holes and story arcs that go nowhere. It also seems to ignore the conventions of series TV by doing things like introducing major characters 3 episodes before the end of the series and setting up stories that go nowhere. It’s nonsense generally, but for me that’s part of the fun. As I watched the final episode of AHS Freak Show there was a scene with some of the cast watching a psycho killer drown in a Houdini Water tank whilst cheering and eating popcorn. It’s one of the many scenes I couldn’t have imagined they would do, and it made me realise it’s why I roll up each week in front of the TV and think – what have you got for me this week? You just don’t know. Eating popcorn and cheering might well be the way to watch AHS.

OK, so to the show, and I wanted to do a little list of weirdness, bouquets, brickbats and questions it left me with. As I said, this probably won’t mean much if you don’t watch it, but it might still be colourful reading.

1. Stanley – what happened to him? After his Freaks (the movie) homaged multilation it seems like the writers forgot about him.

2. Stanley again – why the plotline about him having an extremely large penis. Went nowhere, was never mentioned again.

3. Why wasn’t Salty in the Valhalla/Heaven/Whatever it was freaks reunion?

4. Can someone please give Sarah Paulson an award, she is consistently amazing in this show and never more so in her dual/single role as Dot and Bette this season. The special effects to create that illusion were also spectacular, although when Dot/Bette were filmed from behind or walking or both and there was clearly a dummy head there it tended to look a little Zaphod Beeblebrox from The Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

5. Other amazements – Angela Bassett for me is somehow trashy camp excellence (in other words – perfect), Neil Patrick Harris was only in 2 episodes but stole the show – and casting Jamie Brewer as his ventriloquist doll was genius (she was one of the best things about Coven, which I also loved). Frances Conroy who I almost forgot to mention because she was out of the show far too soon. Oh, and Finn Wittrock as Dandy – stupendous. More awards, give them awards.

6. Slightly less excited – Emma Roberts, felt like the same character again, I’m not sure if that’s the fault of the actor or the casting, Kathy Bates Baltimorian accent was distracting (I recognised it thanks to John Travolta in Hairspray of all people), Evan Peters got to do a lot more this time and was good but I’d like to see him cast in a really different type of role – he could have been Edward Mortlake maybe, the angry young man thing is starting to get a bit tired. And Jessica Lange who is great (even with the slightly silly accent Liebchen), but again I feel there’s a lack of challenge for her in these roles which have been more of less variations on the same character.

7. The songs. This is where AHS meets Glee, but both of the Bowie songs were perfect, I loved that they were completely decade inappropriate, ra-ra, all the better. That’s So AHS. The other songs though were less exciting and it would have been better without them.

8. The title sequence is a nightmare come true. That clown with the 360 head turn and red eyes is going to haunt me at some stage.

9. Plot holes? Inconsistencies? We got ’em. But I don’t care. Again, it’s part of the thrill ride suspension of disbelief this show is all about. I don’t care that Jimmy, a wanted fugitive with fake lobster hands, somehow eludes capture and lives inconspicuosly with his two-headed pregnant wife in the suburbs. Or that Stanley just happened to have the required ipecac syrup on him at the jailhouse and Jimmy thought that was A OK buddy.

9. Oh the mysterious top hat thing, very obviously inserted on coffee cups etc. shouting IT’S A CLUE. AHS isn’t good at being subtle – like the Freaks homage episode where they make sure you get told everything about that movie, and Desiree making a parallel the pickled-in-jars freaks before drowning Dandy in the water chamber. It’s OK, we got it. Also, I’m not convinced that the inter-season relationships were designed from the start, I think that’s something that has been added as the series have been written.

10. Pepper. I left actress Naomi Grossman out of point 5 only because I felt she deserved her very own dot point. In a role where she barely spoke Naomi Grossman was nothing short of spectacular in ‘Orphans’, the episode that revealed Pepper’s back story and the link to AHS Asylum. This episode will destroy you, it’s TV on a whole new scale. Truly, beautifully devastating.

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Record Store Day 2015 – and some of my vinyl treasures

Today is Record Store Day. I’m planning a trip to a few shops later to see what’s on offer, but I won’t be fighting the crowds for door buster grab-em-while-you-can RSD releases, as usual I’ll take my chances later when the crowds diminish.

Anyway, this post is a tribute to in general and some that I am just very happy to own. I’ve been collecting vinyl since the early 1980s and have rather a lot of it. Probably too much if that’s actually possible. Over the years I’ve chanced upon many special things. Here’s a just few of them…

LiLiPuT/Kleenex singles
These are collectible now, but when I bought them you could hardly give them away. Most came from 50 cent bins. Apart form the great music the covers are super.Liliput you did it
LiLiPuT – You Did It (1983)
Kleenex Split
LiLiPuT – Split (1980)

liliputLiLiPuT – Eisger Wind (1980)

aint you 2aint you 2
Kleenex – Ain’t You (1978)

Deux Filles
Another one you couldn’t pay people to take at the time, now going for insane prices are the two Paper Mache label releases by Deux Filles. Spectacular records now readily and affordably available on a deluxe CD set that you really should own. Spooky, haunting music, and actually two fellows pretending to be ladies. Something for everyone.

Deux Filles – Silence and Wisdom (1982)

Deux Filles – Double Happiness (1983)

Barbarella – The Bob Crewe Generation Orchestra (1968)
I wanted this for many years and finally found it in Olympia in the USA. For $8. Before the internet you had to seek things and hope a lot.


ABBA – Greatest Hits (1975)
The freakiest ABBA cover ever, seriously, how did this ever happen? Benny’s feet. Frida’s mouth breast things. Bjorn is playing a elephant guitar with fish shoes. Agnetha – multi-feet. In glorious gatefold goodness for maximum freakery.
abba hits

 Mari Wilson singles
I’m a big fan of Mari as well as the Compact Organisation label that was ahead of the whole lounge revival by a good decade (to their own detriment unfortunately). Still, many of their records are reasonably easy to find still and it’s worth buying everything. Here’s some of the Mari Wilson singles, I have mutiple copies of most as I keep finding them for next to nothing and, well, they’re lovely. Oh,and the liner notes are killer.
Mari beat Mari Just Mari Beware Mari Baby Mari Dance Card
Beat The Beat (1982)
Just What I Always Wanted (1982)
Beware Boyfriend (1982)
Baby It’s True (1982)
Dance Card (1981)

The B-52’s – Rock Lobster (1978)
One of my favourite bands I am pleased to have one of the early releases of this single – it’s a bit like a demo version of the song that went on to be a huge smash. There’s something wonderful about the simple retro cover design (a little like some of the Devo singles around the time) and the band image on the back that’s so charming. Look, you can write to them too!

I could list records all day but you know, Record Store Day beckons…


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Participatory Art Part Two: Yoko Ono

In December 2013 I travelled to Sydney for a holiday and also rather excitedly to see the Yoko Ono War Is Over (If You Want It) exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for over a year. Sorry about that.

I’m a big Ono fan. I love the (apparent) simplicity of her art; her direct and universal ideas; her clouds. All of this I expected and was not disappointed, but I got a lot more out of this exhibition than I anticipated.

Most of Yoko Ono’s work from her artwork to her Twitter feed is about involving the viewer beyond just communicating it to them. Often that involvement is through planting ideas. Simple ideas, but big ideas. But there are also opportunities to take a direct part in the artwork. I had decided from the outset that I would involve myself in every aspect of this exhibition. And I’m so glad I did.

Mend Piece For Sydney

SAMSUNGSet up on a large table was broken crockery, string, sticky tape and glue. I read the instructions and did what Yoko said. This was the result.

SAMSUNGP1000700I don’t know whether it was ‘good’, or anything remotely like ‘art’. I do know that it didn’t matter. The act of creating this ‘mended’ piece of mishapen crockery with tape and string while thinking about a world that needed mending was a surprisingly powerful thing to do. I did feel like I was, somehow, helping to mend the world. Apparently at the end of every exhibition Yoko selects one piece she keeps for her personal collection.


SAMSUNGThere were stamp pads and rubber stamps with ‘IMAGINE PEACE’ written in several different languages. Large maps were pasted around the room full to capacity of peace stamps from visitors. The effect was powerful. Below is my contribution (the English language stamp in the Antipodes).


A room with suspended soldier’s helmets filled with jigsaw pieces.

P1000707An invitation to “Take a piece of sky / know that we are all part of each other.”.

P1000708P1000711 P1000712Again, the universal and direct idea of the pieces of the jigsaw and the lightness and repurposing of the helmets made for war was another magical part of the exhibition.


P1000689Without a doubt, this was the one that resonated the most. A simple invitation to celebrate your mother with a note and a thought. This was very raw for me as my mother had passed away earlier in 2013 and this request for me to stop and create for her brought me to tears. I have been moved by art before, but never like this. I chose not to use words. Below is what I made.

P1000687I spoke with several of the MCA staff and found them all deeply enthusiastic about the work. Some even told me how much they enjoyed simply being there in the space (which is of course their workplace and maybe somewhere they’d not always want to be), as they loved the enviroment she had created. What I’ve shown above is only the participatory part of the exhibition and there was much more. I’ll include some more photos in a subsequent post. I left the exhibition feeling different to when I went in, it was an experience that not only made me feel something, but it also affected the way I was looking at the world. Even now, blue clouds remind me of Yoko’s work and her eternal message of peace. It’s strong stuff.

One final thing. A few floors above the exhibition in the cafe was another Yoko Ono participatory piece.


P1000736This was my wish.


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