Monday, 21 April 2014

Shelf Life Stuff

Hello, just a brief note to let you know that after several months of intensive rehabilitation I am now considered a fit member of society and will be blogging again at Shelf Life Stuff.

Life after the debauchery and perversion of Mounds & Circles seems a little tame but there is still plenty of books, films and music I'd like to share with you. Why not come and have a look?

Sunday, 9 March 2014

You Have Been Watching

Mounds and Circles may be back in some shape or form, but not in this shape and form for a while, so it might be worth following us or bookmarking the site. Thanks for the last few years, it's been great.

You can catch us individually at the following locations --



Mr Paul Bareham (Unmann-Wittering) 
 Island of Terror and The Pseudoscientific World of TOMTIT 



Colonel Andrew Brown (Fearlono) 
HRH Andrew Demetrius (Glimmung) 
TBC

Count Ivan Kirby (Ivan) 
Sir David Yates (Dolly Dolly) 
 Dolly Dolly Blog and Dolly Dolly Image Blog

TTFN,

Mounds & Circles

XXX

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Sheer Shire



Underground, Overground


This modest book seems like an apt object with which to bid a personal farewell to the Mounds & Circles project, in that a suitably tatty old paperback captures the central theme we have examined during the life of this blog: sex, or rather smut. I found it in a second-hand bookshop in Lyme Regis last summer, a last lingering residue of 20th century British seaside vulgarity.

This book, dragged up to look like some pseudo-psycho-sociological study (look, it's introduced by a real doctor!) was originally published in hardback but propbably didn't sell well so good old Panther picked up the rights and re-issued it in paperback (easy to slip into one's dirty mac) with a suitably salacious cover, (only) partly revealing a dominatrix and slave.


The book looks at various aspects of pornography from respectable jazz mags such as Penthouse and King, through pulp and underground magazines for more 'minority' interest groups, before finishing in a slightly bizarre twist with an examination of the sexual psychology of comic books. It's all entertainingly superficial with plenty of 'spreads' to enlighten readers with limited literacy.

British culture has a long and complicated relationship with matters sexual. Rarely approached openly, we prefer to so sidle up coyly or snigger from a distance. We can't take it seriously, or when we do and judges, politicians and the church get involved, disapproval and censorship are usually the result.


Hard pornography (filth) remains socially unacceptable (quite apart from arguments of moral and economic exploitation) and yet the need for titilation and amusement, coupled with the prurient attitude of the media, forced the British sexual desire to take on a not so subtle guise: smut.


What's the difference between filth and smut? One definition might be filth leaves nothing the imagination; all is laid bare in livid gynacological detail. Smut is more evasive, suggestive rather than graphic; soft porn, saucy postcards, Page 3, Carry On innuendo, tits and arse but no flaps or stiffies.


Filth stays behind the twitching curtain, under the counter, deep in the hard drive. Smut filters into the culture, enriching and undermining society for better or worse. M&C doesn't take a view on these things but we don't want it brushed under the carpet either. The mores of smut interest and entertain us and we hope you've enjoyed it too.







I hope this post sort of sums up Mounds and Circles, some of the things we like, and the cultural marginalia where the dank undergrowth festers in the shadow of the mainstream. Grotty old paperbacks, Penthouse Pets, pseudoscience, Tom of Finland, cross-dressing, the permissive society, BDSM, lesbian perversions, 1960s, The Avengers, guns, rubber, The Bash Street Kids, Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk. Something for everyone.

It's nearly over. Goodbye.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Friday Night Film: I Cannibali








“…disobedience is the worst of evils. This it is that ruins cities; this makes homes desolate; by this, the ranks of allies are broken into head-long rout; but, of the lives whose course is fair, the greater part owes safety to obedience. Therefore we must support the cause of order, and in no wise suffer a woman to worst us” 

‘I Canibali’ aka ‘Year Of The Cannibals’) is an Italian film loosely based on a two thousand year old Greek text: ‘Antigone’ by Sophocles. In ‘Antigone’ a war between powerful brothers has left one dead, and the other King. The King decrees that his brother’s body should go unburied, left exposed to the elements and carrion, a gesture of contempt for his life and soul.  The dead man’s daughter, Antigone, defies the King to give her father a rudimentary funeral. She is arrested and later entombed alive in a cave, a sentence she cheats by hanging herself. It’s a Greek tragedy, of course, so most of the supporting cast also kill themselves in protest, or in grief or because they cannot live with the consequences of their actions.

In ‘I Cannibali’ the singular character of the King becomes a faceless but fascistic city state, a place where the bodies of executed ‘rebels’ block the pavements and roads, are left strewn across fields and piled up on waste ground. It is strictly forbidden to touch the bodies, let alone bury them, so the oppressed people have learned to step over them as if they were bags of rubbish. Indeed, government propaganda describes the bodies as ‘garbage’, and their decaying remains are linked to immorality, to corruption. As the slogan says: ‘rebels make you vomit’ - figuratively, literally.

Antigone (Britt Ekland, very serious) is haunted by her murdered brother’s unburied body, and teams up with a sympathetic foreigner to defy the law and move her brother’s corpse (and others) to a place of sanctity. The foreigner is called Tiresias, a bit part player in both the original play and in wider Greek mythology, but a pivotal character here. In legend, Tiresias was a prophet of Apollo, who made a habit of annoying the Gods, and was struck blind and, later, turned into a woman for his indiscretions.

This Tiresias is not blind, or a woman, but he has seemingly been washed ashore, and speaks no known language. He’s played by Pierre Clementi, an extraordinary presence in a number of outstanding films of the period. Tiresias’ symbol is the sign of the fish, a clear allusion to one of the first organised attempts to subvert an oppressive regime. With his bright eyes and scruffy little beard, Clementi played both Jesus and Satan in his career, the latter most notably in Bunuel’s ‘The Milky Way’ (1969).

Antigone and Tiresias’ rebellion is short lived, as they are quickly arrested, separated, interrogated, beaten and shuffled around various Brutalist buildings. As in Sophocles, Antigone bears the worst of it -

“Better to fall from power, if we must, by a man’s hand; then we should not be called weaker than a woman” 

Thusly, the ruling junta are exposed as pathetic, spiteful individuals, cowards who watch executions from behind roller blinds, yet jostle for use of the binoculars. They will go the way of all petty tyrants: swiftly, and without mercy.

Ultimately, Antigone and Tiresias are reunited, only to fall side by side in the street. Public opposition is growing, however, and they will not lay unburied for long.

Friday Night Film: La Donna Scimmia



‘The Ape Woman’ is the poignant story of Maria, a woman born with an excess of body hair who ends up working in a convent, far away from the stares and jibes of the general population. A travelling salesman spies her and realises that there is money to be made in exploiting her unique characteristics and, after marrying her (at the nuns insistence) sets her up in a jungle themed side show where she makes out that she is a primitive monkey woman from darkest Africa.



Ferreri usually cameos in his own films. He's the one with the chin strap beard.

Ow!


Showtime.


The happiest day of her life...









In fact, she is a sensitive, kind woman who is capable of enormous love and tenderness and, hairy or not, she’s very sexy. Her husband Antonio, however, is only interested in her commercial prospects and treats her appallingly, at one point trying to sell her virginity to a rich man with an interest in bestiality. When the increasingly disgruntled Maria goes on strike, Antonio is forced to be kinder to her and, at her insistence, they start a relationship that goes beyond a business partnership and marriage of convenience. Unfortunately, against Doctor’s orders, Maria becomes pregnant and she and her baby die in childbirth. Antonio is heartbroken and, when he finds out that her mummified remains are on display in a museum, he fights to get her body back – so he can exhibit it himself in a travelling sideshow.

Based on a real life story from the 19th century, ‘The Ape Woman’ is both funny and terribly sad, and the relationship between Maria and Antonio (Ugo Tognazzi) is beautifully and realistically drawn. Although there is no doubt that, eventually, Antonio comes to love Maria (and who can blame him, she’s gorgeous) he never diverts from his primary instinct – to make money out of her unique appearance – and, because Maria loves him more than she loves herself, she is prepared to do more or less anything to make him happy, including stripping and making chimp noises while dressed as a lady Tarzan.

Subtly directed, wonderfully acted, gorgeously black and white, ‘The Ape Woman’ is an unusual film with an unusual subject – perfect Friday night viewing

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Twisting With Old Ned



You know how it is. Mounds & Circles would like to think that our theme music would be some cool, modal jazz - something hip and slightly impenetrable. The reality, of course, is something quite different: it would have to be 'Steptoe & Son' played as a twist number...

Spence of Humour


Culture Centre for Bahrain, 1976

Barbapapa's House, 1974
Design for City of Gold and Lead, 1947

Hutchesontown, Glasgow

Sea & Ships Pavilion, Festival of Britain, 1951
Basil's Space Age Bachelor Pad, Beaulieu
Crown of Thorns sculpture, Coventry Cathedral, 1961

Possible source of Basil's inspiration?