Thursday, October 1, 2015

William Shatner as Alexander the Great!

An unsold TV pilot, of which I have only had titillating YouTube glimpses. Shatner in a skirt, or in a hot bath, or wrestling, or. . . That's definitely him on the horse, not a stunt double, no stirrups so it's the same as bareback, and if so, he rides as well as Gary Cooper.He even does a few of those impressive running vaults onto the horse. This was pre-Trek, and it's easy to see why they thought of Shatner when re-casting the failed Star Trek pilot. Jeffrey Hunter was too boring, no histrioncs, and couldn't do the stunts. Remember the famous Kirk wrestling throw?  Anyway, this also has Adam West, John Cassavetes, Joseph Cotten, and many other solid journeyman actors, so I am not sure why the pilot never sold. I think it was a Desilu production, but the costumes are at least a little less chintzy (though with no shortage of gold lame). The truth is, it may just have been too expensive to produce. In a few scenes A the G postures and poses, turning his profile this way and that, and damn, he really is a fox! Being 84 and still an able horseman and able at just about everything else a 35-year-old can do, I greatly admire the man and wonder what sort of deal with the devil he made to stop ageing at 60.

(Watch it here!)

The man himself. Not bad for 84.

Blood moon

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

World's worst airplane food: bring back the airsick bag

World’s worst plane food

A “classic English breakfast” and pasta with a “bodily fluid-like"
sauce are among the worst offenders identified in air passengers'

Safe to say this was one of the more interesting plane meals I've
had #jetstarairways #planefood. I've literally no idea [what it was],
it upsettingly tasted ok but that could have been the hangover telling
me that!' Photo:

By Soo Kim

3:51PM BST 30 Sep 2015


Amused, confused and disgusted passengers have revealed some of the
most unappetising in-flight meals they’ve been subjected to on a plane
with pictures posted on Twitter and Instagram.


After living off rice for the last 10 days, I couldn't wait to have
 an 'English Breakfast' when offered it on the plane. But then, I got
this. #planefood #britishairways #whatisthat #fullenglish' Photo:

The snaps have ranged from several unidentifiable, sloppy masses
and questionable pasta with “hard pellet-like things” to one British
Airways meal described as “the most disgusting plane food ever” as
well as a sad, skimpy cheese sandwich from Virgin Australia. One
disgruntled Virgin passenger once sent
"the world's best passenger complaint letter"
to Richard Branson, which went viral after it surfaced, in which he
described his "culinary journey of hell" on a flight from Mumbai to

The British Airways solution to bland airline food


This was supposed to be some sort of Italian pasta, and I can
only compare the sauce texture to a bodily fluid. I could not, after a
 lot of effort, identify the hard beige pellet-like things in the sauce.'
 Photo: Kathryn Siegel (submitted to MailOnline)

One user posted a picture of his meal for others to guess what it
could be, while another user, williamrae27, admitted the meal he
had "tasted okay" even though he couldn't identify what he
actually was eating.


Images of other contenders for the world's worst airlines meals
can be seen on

A hamburger served on North Korea's Air Koryo, which was ranked
the world's worst airline by Skytrax earlier this year Photo:

Helpful hint: avoid the mushroom omlettte on the menu Freebird

Swimming in what looks like the water at the bottom of your
dishwasher, Ukraine International Airlines offers up a sad fruit salad.

However, a few users revealed some of the more enjoyable and even
"delicious" meals they've had on airlines including Qatar Airways and

'Pea and Mint soup aboard #Qantas #qf598 #perbne
 #businessclass #avgeek #aviation #paxex #planefood
 #flying #planes #lifewelltravelled
' Photo: Twitter / @PeterLoh

Blogger's note. This was a cut-'n-paste job, obviously, as posting
links is not only dull, I am sure no one ever bothers to read them.
This does all sorts of bizarre things to the formatting, so it takes
a while to screw around with it before I can post it, with a few
flubs left over. I've had airplane food that was pretty much inedible,
but you can't even LOOK at this stuff, and it probably has
that steamed-dirty-socks-combined-with-disintegrating-brussels-
sprouts reek and institutional metallic taste,like something served
off a green plastic tray in a mental hospital.

Makes me feel just a little bit better that I can't afford to fly anywhere.

geography lessons. I've never seen South
America done in mushy peas.

  Visit Margaret's Amazon Author Page!

Bondi dreams (Muskoka in the fall)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

When does the time change? Did it change already? Why don't I remember?

Nude women! Come take a look

Highly giffable: but it's getting to the point that I'm giffing everything that moves. A lovely 3 minutes of movement that predates film, with the female subjects going from prim to playful. Might have been seen as pornography then. I just pasted it on Facebook as an experiment to see if they'll take it down. They left up graphic photos of Stephen Harper wielding a very realistic dildo.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Time machine: the birth of TV

As you've probably guessed by now, this isn't exactly an educational blog. If you want to learn everything about the birth of television, go on Wikipedia NOW:

There. I promise you that this Wiki entry is a small book that goes on for many thousands of words, without too many pictures. And pictures are what this blog is all about (if it's about anything - I'm still trying to figure that out). 

I love everything about early TV, because it constitutes my very first memories. I swear I remember sitting in front of the TV on the floor, my fat little legs splayed out, left on my own because those flickering black-and-white images from the DuMont network were a convenient babysitter. This is a body memory which  places me at around age two. Mid-1950s, in other words, so my recognition of Ernie Kovacs decades later proved that he wasn't just a nightmarish fantasy.

Though most prototype TVs looked like big radios with a round eye, this one looks like some sort of bird house, or maybe a barn. I wonder what sort of programming they had back then, and how close you'd have to be to the screen to see anything at all.

For some reason people were less intimidated by TVs that looked like radios. Early newspaper headlines talked about being able to "see the radio", a bizarre concept. This one, handsome as it is, still has a pretty small screen, but something is visible there that might even be people.

Viewtone must have become obsolete at some point, like my beloved DuMont Teleset with its swinging cabinet doors that were used to hide the bloody thing during the day when there was no signal. Slowly, slowly the screen is getting bigger, the cabinet less radiolike.

This is either John Logie Baird, or someone posing for John Logie Baird, an early television pioneer who experimented with trying to broadcast the image of a face. To me, it looks like Dylan Thomas after a night on the town.

And it looked. . . something like this. Please forgive the large colour watermark, but I can't crop a gif. I like that vertically-striped effect which sliced and diced the picture. It was no worse than the constant flipping which always afflicted our set, nearly as bad as the picture tube "blowing" which necessitated a visit by the TV repairman.

It is said that Felix the Cat was the first TV star. He sat on what looks like a turntable for days on end, some time in the late 1920s I think (look it up!). I don't know if the broadcast image was this clear. Probably not. The audience for this sort of programming was likely small, because no one had a TV set or even knew what one was.

"Her face at first just ghostly. . ." These are spectres, and no doubt the people behind them are long dead. I don't understand the bottom one however, as the picture was usually divided into vertical slices, and these are horizontal. Another experiment, perhaps.

I am sorry to have to include this, but according to the early TV site I lifted it from, it's an image of - WTF??? Looks like an ultrasound gone terribly wrong, or an xray of a woman who left her IUD in for 26 years.

How close to the TV would you have to sit? Even closer than we did when our Moms screamed at us, "Don't sit so close to the TV! You'll ruin your eyesight!" (Fortunately, my eyesight was already ruined, but I won't say by what.)

This is the first image I could find of actual entertainment on TV. Probably on the DuMont network, which featured Milton Berle doing sketches on a stage with curtains and everything. Well, that's how you did things, wasn't it? This isn't the radio, for God's sake. Get back on that stage where you belong!


This lovely little sucker, the G. E. Octagon, surely must have been some sort of prototype rather than a model people could use in their homes. Unless their eyesight was a hell of a lot better than mine.

Like the Dumont Teleset, which had a screen about 100 times larger than this one, the Octagon (made in the late 1920s) had foldout doors like a cabinet. Why? Inside were spindles, perhaps speakers, perhaps not, and two indescribable "things" that looked a bit like drawer handles.  I love things that baffle me just because I like to be baffled.

As far as obsolete technology is concerned, this is about as good as it gets. You'd have to treat this like a veritable microscope and put your eyeball right down on the glass.

People still rebuild these, refurbish them, and somehow get them going again, no doubt pulling in signals from Clara Bow, Ben Turpin and Harold Lloyd. Only problem is, there'd be no sound.

This is called the Octagon "motor", but how could a TV set have a motor? This whole scenario just gets weirder and weirder. Looks like a deformed metallic elephant to me.

This looks like a gramophone from Mars, or a meat grinder that can walk, but apparently it's some sort of experimental device for sending pictures. 

This thing - no, it's not a coconut cake shaped like a juke box, it's a TV of some sort. This is from a fantastic site about the history of television, but the thing of it is, it's all in French. Still. I'll post the link to it in case you're French, or only want to look at the pictures.

Call this the badda-boom. I keep finding ever-more-bizarre things about early TV, the guts of which looked like some kind of sewing machine with a spinning disc full of holes. The image projected - somewhere - was a disembodied head named Stooky Bill. (So much for the Felix the Cat legend.) John Logie Baird looks proudly on his glass-encased Sleeping Beauty of a machine which, beknownst to him, will change society forever. If he was smart enough to build this, he was smart enough to Know.

This is the Wizard of Oz of television invention, pulling levers and throwing switches. Chug, chug, chug, chug, chug, it went, as if driven by a giant hamster. 

I realize I've come at this subject in abstract fashion, but it's imagery I'm after, not history. Consider it an archaeological dig with the layers somewhat scrambled. I never much cared for chronological order anyway, and always walk through museums backwards, starting with the present moment and ending with the Dawn of Time. The invention and development of television is nothing less than a spectacular feat of human evolution, as important as the wheel, stone tool-making and harnessing fire. There were, of necessity, lots of experiments, lots of things thrown away, and things that look pretty goofily godawful to modern eyes. But to me, it's all beautiful: John Logie Baird and his creepy dummy head, all those sliced-'n-diced, quiveringly surreal, disembodied ghost-faces, viewing screens a couple of inches across, obsolete companies like Viewtone (a nod to radio, no doubt) and DuMont. And a glowing, flipping, flickering eye that raised me while my parents were off doing more important things.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Oddity Archive: now I'll be up all night

Late night will never be the same. Having chopped my way through all 107 videos of the Commercials for Defunct Products playlist, I now stumble on to - or into - another LaBrea Tar Pit of mental distraction, the Oddity Archive. This one promises to suck me down like boiling mud, for it deals with a lot of my favorite obsessions: early TV, including my beloved DuMont Network; local commercials; public access programming (Stairway to Stardom, anyone?); early kiddie shows like the bizarre Ding Dong School;, TV signoffs featuring religious shows and "o I have slipped the surly bonds of earth"; and even the Emergency Broadcast System ("This is only a test. BOOOOOOOOOOOP" - doomsdayendofworldGODgetunderthebed).

This looks better than it really is, for it's very heavy on sarcastic, intrusive narration by "this guy", the one who presumably put it all together. Whoever he is, he hides behind a piece of cardboard with someone's picture pasted to it (picture changes with each video, I think). I'm assuming he's trying to avoid prosecution for using other people's videos. How anyone keeps control over any of that in this age of YouTube and Faceboob is anybody's guess. Though I see a lot of potential here, the constant interruption with wiseacre comments is jarring. I loved the 107 videos because they were just shown to us whole, unedited, punctuated with tons of really good, really long film headers (always love to make gifs out of those). Not only that, but there'd be 7 ads for Pream in one 15-minute video, and I wanted to see those ads, I really did. 

I'll be picking my way through these videos and likely giffing bits of them, because gifs mercifully don't have sound (yet - there's another format taking over which has the same few seconds of sound repeating over and over, and which I think will ruin the whole thing by driving us nuts). What I see so far has real promise, and I don't know how he got hold of some of it (thus the cardboard picture). But it reminds me of those old monster movie late-night TV shows  where every few minutes you'd hear a voice-over of some sniggering, sophomoric remark: "Oh! Look over there!", or "yeah, like the monster'd do THAT."

Meantime. . . crawls are great too, and this has to be among the most bizarre I've ever seen. 

POST-BLOG HANGOVER. After perusing a few of these videos, I have to conclude they won't be worth exploring. It's not just the fragmentary nature of the clips, it's the annoying YATTER YATTER YATTER of "that guy" who won't shut up, constantly commenting and putting on irritating voices and doing the "Look how lame this is! Yeah, like we'd ever buy that! How obvious can you get!" etc. etc. I tried watching it without the sound, but it's just too disjointed, and most of the visual is taken up with the piece of cardboard with part of a guy behind it. Lame. Too bad, because there are a few gems here, but it's not worth the frustration.

I no longer detest Bolero thanks to these guys!