Friday, 28 September 2012

More Shit Than Hit I Would Imagine

Ahhh, indeed. Once upon a time in the dark days before internet dating made finding a compatible partner as easy as merely clicking a mouse and lying about your CRB check, S.I.M. Autodates offered the discerning perv a chance to meet other discerning pervs with discretion.

The advert looks innocent enough but was never seen in the likes of Woman's Weekly - let alone, the Radio Times. Oh no, S.I.M Autodates only ever advertised 'specialist' European 'art' periodicals of the sort that could only be bought under the counter.

I imagine that the male to female readership of these magazines was about a thousand to one. So quite who or what you'd be meeting up with is anyone's guess. You do the math.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Worm Turner

Dear old Diana Dors as she appeared in the classic 1980 Two Ronnies serial 'The Worm That Turned', set in a dystopic future (2012!) where women are in charge. Why have a dicktatorship, when you can have a fannyocracy? And, yes, I still would, Diana, I definitely still would.

A Tale Of Two Fingers

In the end analysis, I think R.D Laing said it all in 'Knots'.

What an interesting finger
let me suck it

It’s not an interesting finger
take it away

Hey, dear reader, how's your finger?

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Linda Found Me

Take a moment to pity the plight of poor Richard Briers in 'Swap You One of These for One of Those' , a charming episode from the 1977 ITV series: 'The Galton & Simpson Playhouse'. Briers plays Henry Fairlane; a middle-aged man, tortured and teased by sexual tension in his place of work.

Just when things couldn't get any worse, in walks another unmarried young secretary to cruelly reinforce all of Henry's worries and inadequacies, only this time it's the supernaturally stunning Linda Hayden, and Mr. Fairlaine's problems have suddenly shifted from his office and into my own front room.

Those looking for a happy ending will be pleased to hear that Mr. Fairlaine is subsequently invited to attend a swingers party at the flat of one of his randy work mates. Sadly, he spends the whole night sitting on the doorstep, refused entry and drowning his sorrows with a bottle of whiskey after being separated from his wife on the way there.

Don't worry about Mrs. Fairlaine though, she made it to the party and spent a wonderful evening getting to know all of Henry's male colleagues.

Supermarket Seep

Click to (a-hem) enlarge.

Yes, once upon a time boys and girls, it was nigh on impossible to catch a flash of Jane's bush or of John's thomas, let alone an unairbrushed tit. Thanks to Britain's puritanical publishing laws, you'd have to don a balaclava, gloves, a mackintosh, adopt limp and a foreign accent just in case anyone spotted you scarpering out of one of the few licensed adult shops with a dirty book under your arm. 

Luckly - for those of a more nervous disposition the answer was only a second class stamp away. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Kinky Kesman

Ahhhh, the Kesman catalogue - the mid-70s Ann Summers. You'd find the Kesman tucked away in quality (sic) nudest and exotic cinema publications. If you wanted your bird to dress up as Mrs Peel here was your chance. Though sadly only 0.0000001% of the female population could be actually coerced into wearing the bloody stupid things.

The models photographed struck poses that made them look as if they were holding in farts (see Vanora below) and all had their nipples painted out as with most 70s printed smut it,  lead to them having a strange almost doll-like aspect.

Fab FOB Fonts

The 1951 Festival of Britain. What's not to like? Here at Mounds and Circles we like it a lot, almost as much as our sister blog. Arguably the high water mark for Modernism in Britain, it offered a 'tonic to the nation' after the austerity of WWII and the rationing of the post-war years.

This illustrates the organizers approach to typography and supergraphics:

Will people talk about the intellectual design and aesthetic rigour of the London 2012 Olympics in the same way in the future? Have a guess?

Wedlock and Mandible

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Getting the Fear

Here's some bloody good news direct from the run down Mounds and Circles Mansion. Fearlono, of wonderful blog / sound project 'Cottage Of Electric Hell' has moved his shit in to the South Wing and become our fourth regular contributor!

Welcome to our dysfunctional family, Andrew, please feel free to have the run of the place, although I would definitely keep out of Dolly Dolly's room, he has unusual and unnatural ways of dealing with trespassers.

Sheer Shire

Friday, 21 September 2012

Shock of the New Music

Slumped in front of BBC4 the other evening I caught a re-run of Shock of the New, Australian art critic Robert Hughes' 1980 polemical TV series on the story of modern art. It had been so long since my last encounter with the programme that I had completely forgotten it's opening titles from the same team as early 80s Dr Who; graphics by Sid Sutton and wonderful radiophonic opening by the great Peter Howell. (The rest of the show uses Eno's Music for Airports and Music for Films).

Shock of the New was an excellent series, the more pugnacious younger sibling to John Berger's Ways of Seeing, swirling historical fact with contentious opinion, determined to engage or enrage the viewer. Just watch the first minute if you're not up for an intellectual drubbing from Hughes.

This put me in mind of The New Sound of Music, a terrific documentary on the development of electronic sound. Presenter Alan Partridge, sorry, Michael Rodd, demonstrates the basics of tape manipulation and oscillators, moving from the Victorian barrel organ, via Robert Moog and others, to focus on the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, allowing us a wonderful glimpse of their great composers at work: Peter Howell, Malcolm Clarke (he's got the look), Roger Limb (nice jumper), Paddy Kingsland and Dick Mills, plus electronic oddballs Peter Zinovieff and David Voorhaus. It would benefit form Delia Derbyshire or Daphne Oram's presence but the rest is all good.

Opinion is divided on the BBCs recent decision to revive/rape the corpse of the Radiophonic Workshop online. None of the old guard appears to be involved and the muso snobs have already decided that RW2.0 is a pointless venture in nostalgia. Let's wait and see whether this Next Generation can continue the work of there forebears to boldly go where no composer has gone before.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Dark Woods

Clare Woods is predominantly concerned with landscapes, but she doesn't bother with merry little hillocks and cows looking over a gate. Instead, she goes in for wild, uncultivated places with a hint of pagan menace. One of her modus operandi is to go out late at night to some lonely wood or desolate scrubland and take photographs, not really knowing what she is capturing. Having been out in a lonely wood at night, I'm sure it's an exhilarating, terrifying way to work. Certainly, the results are uniquely wild and sinister, and, I think, extremely beautiful.

Clare Woods strikes a pose.
Her work is the view from the undergrowth, looking up and through into the impenetrable heart of nature, the thorns and gnarled branches of a dark fairy tale forest. Many of her canvases are also extremely big, so that the microscopic and underfoot become part of a huge but claustrophobic panorama. Woods also gives her paintings fantastic titles, some derived from the names of long shut Victorian asylums, or just brilliantly descriptive, like 'Black Vomit' (see below) and 'Obscene Porridge'. I think she's great.

Black Vomit (2008).

Bleeding Cross (2008)
The Spectacle (2007)
The Bloody Kernel (2011).
Thunder House (2011).

'Carpenters Curve' was a work commissioned for the London Olympics (remember those?). The UK may not be as good as it was at promoting its phenomenal contribution to world art, but be was encouraged by this: it's a big, challenging abstract work by an exciting and original artist placed slap bang in front of a stadium visited by thousands and seen by billions.

My thanks to my friend and colleague Dolly Dolly for marking my card about Ms. Woods' work.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Sheer Shire

Suppliers of brilliant fact-filled little books since 1962, Shire Publications operate in the now twilight world of the informative and non-dumbed down, the eclectic, the erudite, the expert. I'd like to share some of my favourites with you.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Music to Watch Girls By

Okay, you like movies, you like girls, you like French jazz, you like grubby Frenchmen. Forget about old Andy Williams. Orson Welles has the next-level shizzle for you with a sequence from his film F for Fake, where he parades his then girlfriend around Paris in a minidress and films the resulting lustful gallic leers. 

It's a red herring of course but like most of the scenes in this shaggy dog story plus non ultra it manages to combine revealing profundity and sublime entertainment. Welles described it as "a new kind of film", neither fiction nor documentary but an inspired fusion of both in what has been termed the first 'essay film'. Alas it was also his last film and given it's poor box office performance sadly few producers since have been interested in pursuing this idea further.

Michel Legrand provides tip-top tunage with Orson's Theme, the only scrap of music from the film that appears to be commercially available. 

Mr Jonny Trunk, if you're listening, an OST release is much needed, s'il vous plait.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Font Favourites

Words are great, aren't they? They're a bit like human bodies - the best ones are functional and durable but also make you go 'phwoar'. Fonts are like clothes for words, sort of. Some are like shit coloured cardigans, some are like wacky novelty ties. Some are like timelessly stylish Savile row suits - oh, or mad dandy peacock coloured cravats: the cravat has no particular purpose, but it certainly makes your neck look good.

Courier is a classic, no nonsense monospaced slab serif font. Designed to make electric typewriters look like manual ones to ease people into the electronic world, it's Mod to the core and, if you type it in 12 point size, any film or TV executive will be fooled into thinking it's a red hot script. I keep wanting to say it's very 'Mad Men', but I've never seen 'Mad Men', so I'd just be bullshitting and, as the font was invented in 1955 rather than 2007, in fact, 'Mad Men' is actually very Courier.

Friday, 14 September 2012

So Long, Stanley

In shit smut related news, I'm immensely sad to report that Stanley Long has died aged 78. Producer, director, writer, cinematographer, Stanley was a, yes, seminal force in British smut, please just click on the 'Stanley Long' tag at the foot of this post to see just how many times we've featured stuff he had his grubby fingers on. He was truly a COLOSSUS of British film, smut or otherwise. RIP, Stanley.

Friday Night Film: Eureka

John Boorman described ‘Eureka’ as ‘the best picture ever made – for an hour’. I’m not sure that I’d go quite that far in terms of praise, but the film is certainly a game of two halves: one intriguing and dazzlingly inventive; one stodgy and unconvincing. The finished product embarrassed the (usually shameless) distributors to the extent that they were reluctant to sell prints, even to those that asked for them. Directed by Nicolas Roeg in 1983, ‘Eureka’ is based on the case of Harry Oakes, a British millionaire and rascal who was murdered in the Bahamas at the end of war. His son in law was tried and acquitted for the crime, but enough doubt remained that he was immediately deported. In ‘Eureka’ the Oakes figure is recast as the richest man in the world, Jack McCann (the mighty Gene Hackman, when he used to act in films rather than just appear in them).

Unlucky Luke.

Death Experience.

Near Death Experience.


There's gold in that thar pond.
In the film’s brilliant and disorienting opening minutes we see the destitute younger Jack arriving in the Yukon to find his fortune. The first we see of him is when he is fighting with his partner in the snow – Jack violently asserts ‘I never made a nickel from another man’s sweat’ and carries on alone. He will spend fifteen years looking for gold and then, after a miraculous incident where he is saved from death by a propitious meteor strike (which frightens off the wolves encircling him and ignites a fire which keeps him from freezing), he literally falls into the biggest claim ever made.

Note parrot shit on shoulder.

Esoteric Judaism.

Sweaty young lovers.

Father in law trouble.
Twenty five years later, the wolves are still circling in the form of Jewish gangster Joe Pesci who wants to build on McCann’s private island. McCann’s indifference to the proposal will lead to his death. Jack’s other problem is his wilful daughter, Tracey (Theresa Russell), who has married a dodgy French playboy, Claude (Rutger Hauer) but both of these issues are unimportant in comparison to Jack’s real angst: he has come to the end of himself as a human being – he put his heart and soul and life into finding the gold and then, fatally, found it. Without goals, without desire, he just wanders around ‘in a dress with parrot shit on his shoulder’. As his business manager puts it: ‘he used to have it all, now he just has everything’.

Jack has his death wish fulfilled in the most brutal way: he is beaten, burned with a blow torch and finally beheaded. Pesci’s gangster hitmen are there, but so is Jack’s business manager and Claude and there is some deliberate mystery about who strikes the fatal blows.

'What are you doing, Tracey?'

'The same as you: killing this film stone dead'
After Jack’s death, the spark goes out of the film so quickly that it’s almost like the second half was created separately by a much less talented director, a cinematic cut and shut. Claude is arrested and we are treated to his interminable trial, culminating in a ridiculous and unbelievable cross-examination between Claude (who is conducting his own defence) and Tracey. Theresa Russell is a pretty girl (and, at the time, Roeg’s wife) but she simply not good enough an actress to make her long speeches sound anything more than forced and hollow. Anyway, Claude gets off, but it ruins his and Tracey’s relationship. End of.

'I knew it would be you' 
Desperately disappointing, ‘Eureka’ signalled the end of Roeg’s reign as the most interesting British director of his time– after this, he never regained his touch and began to either repeat himself or accept more mainstream projects simply to keep working. It’s a real shame as much of the film is really great – oblique and enigmatic – but all the good work is wiped out by a deathly final act.