Saturday, 28 June 2008

Film Soleil

Amongst the usual SAS books and boxer biographies a small selection of Pocket Essentials caught my eye. A long time fan of the series I was chuffed to find a title I hadn’t picked up before. Film Soleil is a concise exploration of what the author proposes to be a film genre that has evolved in the mid 70s, Chinatown perhaps being the turning point. The book explores a host of neo noir films that draw upon the conventions of noir, but “turn the lights on”. Dry arid highways, cowboy boots and fast cars form part of the visual imagery. Directors include Dahl and the Coehns, films include Sexy Beast and Point Blank.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008


It was nice to see all the crowds starting to gather for the Glastonbury Festival today. The infrastructure for the event goes in place several months in advance of the event, with the perimeter fence having sprung up about two months ago. I have spoken to chippies and other workers who have been preparing the site for some time now. Its strange to see quiet Pilton become a city of thousands almost over night. Of course getting to work is a bit tougher because of all the crowds, but it is such a smooth operation the impact is pretty minimal. Whilst I’m not attending the full event, I will be going Sunday, so here’s hoping its not as ridiculously muddy as last year.

When I checked the line up I was a bit disappointed that two of my favourite groups, Massive Attack and Crowded House, were playing Saturday. So I checked Crowded House’s website when the program came out and was thrilled to see they were also playing in Westonbirt Arboretum (a fantastic location for a nice bourgeoisie night out). So I made the trip up there last Saturday and enjoyed a ripper performance. When they had their farewell concert in 96 I thought that was that and I would never see them play, especially with the untimely death of Hessie (who still makes me laugh when I see him on The Wiggles).

They played a good selection of favourites and new tracks. Neil’s banter is playful and confident and he works the crowd well. The reinterpretation of the songs and audience involvement makes the night more intimate and special for the audience. I can only imagine how many times they have had to play most of their songs, but you really felt that on the night this was the first time they had played it to anyone and they gave it their all. In the words of Moly Meldrum, do yourself a favour, see them before they really retire for good.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Jack Klompus's Battery Shop

I am ashamed to say that my knowledge of aerospace is limited to the realms of fiction, but I was particularly intrigued to read about NASA's Ulysses craft. Whilst its mission was interesting (to study the sun) its the length of service and the reason its mission has ended captured my interest. NASA has now ended the vehicles mission after seventeen years as its power system has now run out. Considering my phone runs flat in two days and my Frog runs for little more than 10 minutes, what the hell was powering this thing?

Like something out of Dr Brown's car, the energy for the Ulysses came from a radioisotope thermoelectric generator. This cell generates power using thermocouples heated by radioactive fuel. The radioisotope decays and gives off heat, which the thermocouple converts to electricity. The isotopes used allow for an extended cell life, hence the Ulysses lasting 17 years.

Where things get a bit scary is that isotope thermoelectric generators aren't confined to what we send out into space (or what falls back to Earth). The Soviets were big fans of them for beacons and lighthouses, and concerns remain as many have been just left, their status unknown.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Oh yeah!

Travel Guide

I found this on the shelves of Forbidden Planet. It is densely packed with info on the locations of over 500 films. Like any traditional guide book its broken down into geographical sections. The traveller is taken on walks that take them along routes that point out film locations from the more obvious landmarks to the more non descript. Many photos accompany the sections, and the maps are clear. There’s some central colour plates with thematic collections of sites, the Hitchcock’s London has piqued my interest. I look forward to trying this out when I holiday in the capital next.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Mr King

The Skull Kun has essentially become BxH’s platform figure, having now been released in a variety of guises. Whilst BxH has collaborated with the likes of Disney, Medicom, Takara and Lucasfilm,  Mr Skull seems to be for the more personal projects. The chosen few (so far) are Slick, Hiddy, Kaws and now James Jarvis. JJ’s collab is a “perfect fit” with the original BxH/Silas Martin having been released ten years ago.

King Kun stands at  about 17.5 cm  high, making him a bit taller than a standard Skull Kun. His legs, arms and hands articulate. The arms are slightly shorter and much thicker than a Skull Kun's. King Ken’s nails are punk black. The signature JJ potato head sculpt is clear and a stark contrast to the more angular Skull Kun head. The Frankenberry brain bumps give it the Skull Kun look. Unlike many BxH figures, the figure is made in China. There are no serial numbers on the feet, but copyright of Amos and BxH is imprinted alongside 2008. Like most BxH figures and the Amos Sillything/Stussy Leons, the figure comes in a bag without a header. What was odd is that mine came double bagged. The outer bag being slightly bigger and thicker, but looking just like the inner bag.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Masks 02

The HK vinyl toy scene has seen better days. Tim Tsui and Michael Lau continue to represent the scene, but the pre SARS golden era has passed. An era which produced still unsurpassed classic ”urban” inspired figures. Without doubt, the standout piece from this era, for me, is Eric So’s collaboration with Phase 2.0 , Masks 2.

Kenneth Tang, owner of Phase 2.0 was instrumental in bringing both Lau and So into the toy world. Masks was Tang’s more high end clothing line for Phase 2.0. Thankfully, it also included toys. The first two figures, Masks 1 and 2 were designed by So and released around June 2001. Another three colourways were released for Japan, Taiwan and France. Masks 2 comes in red, white, black and grey.

Eric So states in Boon Toys Eric So mook that “this (Masks) was the figure that brought me to the other side of the word. My name was being introduced in (sic) US, Europe , Japan and Southeast Asia”.

Masks 2 measures almost 23 cm high. His arms articulate at the shoulder and his feet can swivel. Despite its considerable weight, the feet provide perfect balance, and toppling isn’t an issue. Gas masks came with Masks 1 and 2. An ashtray accompanied some of the colourways.

Phase 2.0 went onto release Masks 3 and 4 plus the Masks Crow Team. Masks 3 and 4 were done by Devil Robot and H8 Graphix and produced my Medicom in 2003. Masks Crow Team comprised 4 vinyl crows and a canon; of course...

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Avoid Immitation

The ash makes a bit of a mess, but I do love incense. The Nag Champa has been getting a good work out of late leaving me in a haze of sandalwoods, but a fragrant array from Resonances are always worth a burn. Incense tend to come in lovely packaging too. I think the photo packages don’t really work as well as the plainer/simpler packs, and I prefer boxes over tubes. Guess which my favourite is? Released in June 02 with package design by Geoff Heath.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Anti Fashion?

“I’m not a fashion person. I’m anti-fashion. I don’t like to be part of that world. It’s too transient. I have never been influenced by it. I’m interested in longevity, timelessness, style—not fashion.” Ralph Lauren

Cleaning up my study last week I started reading through some old Japanese magazines. Whilst Boon (RIP) will always have a fond place in my heart, other titles including Cool Trans and Asayan often proved an interesting read/look. Apart from picking up the odd issue now and then for the premiums they come with, I have stopped buying these magazines. Now that many of the companies who used to reveal their latest offerings in the magazines first have an online presence (via press releases or home pages) or release their own mooks, they have reduced appeal. That still doesn’t take away from several great years of otaku friendly product photo spreads.

I was struck especially by one in a 2001 issue of Asayan, featuring Supreme’s line-up. The line included their seminal Brothers, Supremes, Woody and Pryor Ts, but its the cut and sew that is the motivation of this posting. All killer and no filler. Fantastic short sleeve gingham shirts, a simple M65, supurb chest seam jacket and spot on crusher hats. The pinnacle of the collection being the yet unsurpassed 9th backpack. If this line was to be release tomorrow it would sell out without doubt. And therein lies a large part of Supreme’s popularity, longevity and the appeal to me; its timeless anti fashion. Like the man who has inspired many of their designs, and who they have paid homage to, its about style.