Monday, 2 May 2022

fan mail from a flounder?

Given the MST3K treatment for the first time on this day in 1999 in their tenth season, the surpassing bad 1971 sci-fi horror film also released under the titles ZaAt (the name of the chemical compound), Hydra and Attack of the Swamp Creatures relates the plot of a mad scientist first to transform himself into a catfish-like monster (sort of like the hybrid God-Emperor primate-sandworm) then drug an entire town’s water supply with the same serum to create a community of merpeople. The mad scientist then turns his focus to revenge on his fellow researchers who ridiculed his work.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

i will kill you!

At the risk of over-explaining the gag, the seventh episode of the second season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, airing for the first time on this day in 1990, is one of the first incidents of the above often repeated threat or pledge throughout the show’s run which is itself a reference to Sting’s portrayal of Baron Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in Dune (1984) delivered to Paul Atrides and they both try to usurp power from the Padishah Emperor, during their treatment of the 1967 William Grefe film Wild Rebels in which a retired stock car racer is engage by the police to infiltrate a biker gang called Satan’s Angels, who are terrorising southern Florida with a crime spree, undertaken not for financial gain but rather “kicks.” Below is a short preview of the lampoon as the full episode wasn’t yet available for watching.

Monday, 8 November 2021


poppy watch: juxtaposed recruitment campaign for lorry drivers looks like a cheesy Whovian villain (previously)—via Super Punch 

if past is precedent: a comic illustrating vaccine requirements in public schools—via Nag on the Lake  

voleur de grand chemin: literary correspondence for Jack Kerouac’s On the Road 

wurzelkindern: a delightfully illustrated 1909 children’s book about when the root children wake up—via Everlasting Blรถrt

greatest movie never made: storyboard, note for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune, to star Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson and Salvador Dalรญ, up for auction  

nitt witt ridge: an eccentric castle on a hill—via Messy Messy Chic (lots more to see here)  

could’ve been an email: a concise plan for shorted, more productive meetings from John Cleese in 1976  

high-fidelity: a patent for a playback stylus that moved the needle rather than the record in the form of a VW Bulli 

mop and smiff: the Saw-See annual, a nostalgic diversion from BBC1 uncovered

Saturday, 30 October 2021


the motion picture that pits steel weapons against steel nerves: Joan Crawford in Herman Cohen’s 1967 Berserk! plus a medley of other horror films 

phenaskistiscopic vinyl: animated record albums—see previously  

cop26: designer installs a sinking Monopoly style house on Putney Weir ahead of this crucial climate conference 

ghostly footsteps (with chains): in 1977, BBC’s foley artists (previously) released a best-selling record of spooky sound-effects  

cloaca maxima: Rome’s revered sewer-system—see also  

auchan daily mascarpone cheese: a decade of Russian music videos  

the high-handed enemy: director Denis Villeneuve storybooks the gom jabbar scene 

 kitchen witchery: a tarot deck to divine one’s dinner

Sunday, 24 October 2021


Premiering in theatres on this day in 1970, this Freddie Francis (cinematographer for such films as The Elephant Man, Sons and Lovers, Son of Dracula, The Deadly Bees, Glory, The Executioner’s Song, Dune, Cape Fear), low-budget science fiction horror vehicle stars Joan Crawford (in her last role) as a renowned anthropologist who learns that a solitary troglodyte—Ice Age caveman—is dwelling in some remote caverns of the English countryside, whom to the distress of the locals tries to lure him out in order to study and perhaps civilise this missing link. For all its camp and status as a transgressive cult movie, it is surprisingly raw and touching.

Monday, 16 August 2021

wormwood star

We very much appreciated the introduction to actress, artist, poet and occultist Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel—known by the professional mononym Cameron by way of the short film by friend Curtis Harrington, the eponymous piece featuring Cameron’s paintings and recitations and the sole documentary source for much of her work as much of her fame came posthumously. The title is also in reference to the name she choose for her first child, the first of many moonchildren devoted to the veneration of Horus, Cameron being adherent of Thelema and becoming a convert from her first husband, rocketry pioneer Jack Parsons having also worked at the Joint Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) during World War II, to be breed according to magick sex rituals called “Babalon Working” that Cameron herself oversaw, like a Bene Gesserit mother superior. Instead, Cameron’s surviving child, born on 24 December 1955, from a subsequent marriage though paternity is uncertain was named Crystal Eve. Cameron was also in the film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

gom jabbar

What’s in the box? Pain. Boing Boing directs us to a years’ long collecting campaign that’s recently netted a complete set of the Duniverse in graphic novel editions from Hayawaka Publishing, following the literary saga of Frank Herbert rather than the cinematic adaptations of the series. 

Click through for a lengthy thread on Matt Caron’s progress through the franchise and explore how pivotal scenes are reinterpreted and characters represented—see also. The mantra, the Litany—Fear is the mind-killer; fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration...—recited before the test and by many others  is inspired from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar “A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once.”

Friday, 23 April 2021

halfway between the gutter and the stars

Featuring Bootsy Collins, the accompanying music video for the Big Beats artist Fatboy Slim’s 2000 “Weapon of Choice,” reprised on the occasion as a stand-alone single, directed by Spike Jonze, was first aired on this day in 2001. Depicting Christopher Walken dancing around an empty lobby, the choral refrain of “You could blow with this or you could blow with that” references the Native Tongues’ “The Choice is Yours”—the titular album an homage to Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan (“some of us are looking at the stars”) and the lyric advising to “walk without rhythm and it won’t attract the worm” quotes Frank Herbert’s establishing novel.

Friday, 4 December 2020


three blind mice: researchers restore sight by reversing the epigenetic clock in laboratory animals, re-endowing youthful characteristics—via Marginal Revolution  

big drunk girl energy: the dumbest coup is still playing out in the courts  

a touch of cabin fever: this is what stir-crazy looks like—the Year on TikTok—via the morning news

manifest destiny: a scrollytelling art histories (previously) that recounts the mythology of North America—via Maps Mania  

alpenhorn: disappearing, defaced and duelling phallic totems in the mountains of Germany and Austria 

for the longest time: dispel the zoom and gloom with this quarantine rendition from the Phoenix Chamber Choir 

 home box office: Warner Brothers is simultaneously releasing its cinematic productions on subscription television for 2021—via Kottke  

oceanus procellarum: Chang’e probe (previously)has lifted off of the lunar surface and will return with the first samples of moon rocks since 1976—via Slashdot

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

unprocessed cartoons

PRINT magazine contributor Steven Heller has a nice retrospective appearance and remembrance for an underground political cartoonist often overshadowed by his contemporary R. Crumb in R. Cobb. While many might more readily recognise the Cheap Thrills that duly excoriated our modesties of the former, we might not be as familiar with the latter, who recently departed (*1937) after a long bout of dealing with dementia, whose extensively syndicated illustrations laid bare how the governments—most pointedly the US establishment—was eroding civil rights, liberties and the environment.

Cobb turned his talents to raising awareness and championing social justice causes after being dismissed as redundant by Disney studios in 1957 once the animation of Sleeping Beauty was complete—notably the last film to use hand-inked cels. There are an embarrassment of panels from the late-1960s that are very resounding and correspond, appearing in the Freep plus more mainstream outlets, with what we face at present (see a whole gallery at the source up top), but we are choosing to highlight the ecology symbol Cobb created—combining e (environment) and o (organism) into a ฮธ-like glyph that gifted into the public domain and was adopted by the conservation movement. After his career as a cartoonist, Ron Cobb designed conceptual art for science-fiction films such as Star Wars, Alien, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unfinished Dune, The Abyss and Total Recall.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020


From the extensive archives of JWZ, we are reminded what a golden age the 1980s were for up-and-comer sandworms. Shai-Hulud (1985) as they are called by the Fremen of Arrakis (not to scale) grow to gigantic proportions, hundreds of metres in length and forty metres in diameter and ply the desert sands as whales do in Earth oceans, and extending the comparison, as with flensing and whale oil, were the source of the spice melange—the most valuable commodity in the Cosmos. The sarlacc that inhabits the Great Pit of Carkoon (1983) is classified as non-sessile arthropod though shares a similar physiology to its companions.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

a book by its cover

Appreciating the inherent, joyful weirdness that can adorn paperback novels—especially the of the science fiction and fantasy genre—the Seattle Public Library system has challenged readers to stage recreations of their favourites (see also) using items that they can find around the house. Check out the full thread and get inspired to stage your own.

Monday, 24 February 2020

circus maximus

Two podcasters of note, John Hodgman and Elliot Kalan, are hosting an absolutely delightful mini-series revisiting the 1976 prestige television adaptation of the Robert Graves work of historical fiction I, Claudius.
Though harshly panned by critics on its first airing, it enjoyed cult-status and a dedicated viewership both in the UK and in America where it was syndicated by the Public Broadcasting System in 1978 and features an extraordinary cast of actors including Sir Derek Jacobi, Dame Siรขn Phillips (the Bene Gesserit reverend mother of Dune and voice actor for all the Disney princesses for their UK releases) as Livia, John Hurt, Sir Patrick Stewart, John Rhys-Davies, Brian Blessed, Patsy Byrne (Nursie in Blackadder) and Patricia Quinn, the Lady Stephens (Magenta from The Rocky Horror Picture Show)—just to name a few. Watch along as they recap each chapter with special guests, beginning with the pilot A Touch of Murder/Family Affairs—an extended episode counted as one.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019


burr and bramble: hitchhiking African seed pods put under a photographer’s lens

shibuya crossing: Greg Girard’s Tokyo of the late 1970s

bene gesserit sisterhood: ahead of Denis Villeneuve’s remake, there will be a screaming-television prequel 

the mouse-earred one that flees from the light: Washington DC adopts the Little Brown Bat as its official state mammal

we will control the horizontal: an omnibus post on vintage tv test patterns—see also 

itunes: an 1876 suggestion to use Alexander Graham Bell’s recently patented telephone machine to listen to music remotely

elephant & castle: a finely curated collection of maps and posters for the London Underground 

Saturday, 26 May 2018

combine honnete ober advancer mercantiles

Rummaging through the extensive archives of Open Culture, we discovered these wonderful, curious artefacts from 1984 and the release of David Lynch’s cinematic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic saga Dune. In an attempt to build off the merchandizing success that followed the Star Wars franchise, publishers rushed to market a children’s colouring book and activity book, which included projects like a recipe for No-Bake Spice Cookies—cinnamon offered as a substitute for the mind expanding spice melange. Learn more at the link above.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

jai guru deva om

Against the advice of his gurus and meditative-betters, philosopher and author Robert Wright not only took notes to be later adapted into a book during his silent retreats, he also shared his feelings of inadequacies and failing when it comes to practicing mindfulness.  
Why Buddhism is True does not privilege it above other religious traditions and articles of faith are not addressed but is rather true in the sense that its core teachings and methods of coping—suffering comes from misunderstanding and meditation leads to liberation—work on a physical and psychological level because they allow us to transcend the inscrutables of billions of generations of evolution. The great chain of being that has led to you and your condition is miraculous but also has brought the hitchhikers of history which may have conferred advantage (Fear is the mind-killer.) at one point when our lives were more precarious but are now nuisances and sources of unbidden bias and anxiety. Perhaps not to be edited away could we identify the offending gene, the willingness to be still and confront and embrace the distressing renders it less powerful. The take-away is—by the way—that there is no wrong way of being attentive (Do or do not. There is no try.) and that daily practice yields daily reward.

Monday, 24 April 2017

westermarck effect

Something that I can’t quite identify really resonated with me about this clever bit of re-imagining how author Frank Herbert might ghost-write the autobiography of Chelsea Clinton.
I suppose it struck me as something that ought to be more fully developed and I wanted more than just a page, which was enough to limn the exchange between Lady Jessica Atreides and Mother Superior of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood is re-scripted for Hilary Clinton, whose match-making decisions may have compromised both blood lines in the shadowy organisations goal to breed a superhuman ruling class. The Westermarck Effect is the opposite of the sexual imprinting that the Bene Gesserit excel at, referring to the desensitisation, friend-zoning that comes from familiarity. In any case, I hope the Clintons’ daughter continues the dynasty.

Friday, 24 February 2017

everybody has their little… the denizens of the deep and all that

At PfRC we have perhaps an unfair aversion to listicles that purport to educate but are really just vehicles for multiply advertising opportunities, but we’ll make exceptions for anything that claim to have affinity with film-maker David Lynch. We did not regret the decision and we’ll owe that we knew very little about the enigmatic and profound strange director and it was no catchpenny slideshow.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

butlerian jihad

Though there’s no definitive word yet on what form the property may take, it’s pretty exciting to learn that the creative team behind the likes of Pacific Rim (that Kaiju movie with the Voltron battle bots that I could watch over and over again and can’t quite point to what it’s got) has acquired the rights to Frank Herbert’s science-fiction classic Dune.  While I think the entertainment world is drowning in remakes and nostalgia (though it’s obviously appreciated and deserved over originality) and the David Lynch version is simply timeless, I’d be hard pressed to find another work deserving of a revival.
We could have a new film franchise, a Home Box Office-style television series with source material that could run for decades (sometimes I think that binge-watching might be trending in that direction—to occupy whole segments of one’s life) or something else entirely. Reminiscencing and wonder have sparked a lot of speculation what this announcement might mean, but largely absent is the underlining theme of the Dune Universe: the dangers of a cybernetic revolt and the commandment, “thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind.”

Monday, 17 October 2016


Working in conjunction with UC Berkeley and the Peace Corps, a San Francisco-based laboratory has produced a prototype atmospheric well that, powered by wind alone, can harvest litres of clean water. The Water Seer’s turbine push air into a buried condensation chamber (cache) to be collected as needed and is a completely closed system, requiring no extra plumbing or purification-process—very similar to the techniques that Frank Herbert described for the Fremen of the desert world of Arrakis.