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by Robert Moore

7 Jan 2010

Long before Xena, long before Buffy, there was Annie Oakley. In 81 episodes made between 1954 to 1957, the TV series starring Gail Davis stood in stark contrast both all other contemporary Westerns, all of which starred men, while all other shows with female leads had none who were especially heroic. The show’s Annie Oakley was based only very loosely on the real life Annie Oakley, an Easterner who grew up outside of Cincinnati whose prowess with a rifle gained her a spot as the star performer with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

The show was actually fairly pedestrian, with stories that never rose above standard Western fare, though in fairness they were no worse than the vast majority of B Westerns. Set in the town of Diablo, the only major recurring characters were Annie, her little brother Tagg, and deputy Sheriff Lofty Craig. Tagg’s main purpose was comic relief and as a catalyst for advancing the plot of most episodes, his mischievousness creating situations where Annie had to save him (think of the famous line from Buffy: "Dawn’s in trouble, it must be Tuesday). The plots invariably consisted of some problem that Annie had to resolve, either a mystery to resolve, or a villain to apprehend, or an innocent to absolve of guilt. The show was targeted at kids so the good guys always won and there was no such thing as moral ambiguity. The series is memorable exclusively for Annie. Without her there would simply be no reason to remember or watch the show.

by Tyler Gould

7 Jan 2010

(Temporary Residence)
Releasing: 23 February

In the two years since Eluvium’s last album, Matthew Cooper has learned how to add vocals to his ambient tracks, and not in an “incomprehensible mumbling and cooing” way either. This is bona fide singing with lyrics and everything. It’s definitely a different listening experience—it’s harder to lose yourself in the music when there’s someone else in the aural room.

01 Leaves Eclipse the Light
02 The Motion Makes Me Last
03 In Culmination
04 Weird Creatures
05 Nightmare 5
06 Making Up Minds
07 Bending Dream
08 Cease to Know

Leaves Eclipse the Light [MP3]

The Motion Makes Me Last [MP3]

by Bill Gibron

7 Jan 2010

Diablo Cody is rapidly becoming a one note joke in the eyes of many film fans. Forget the Oscar, the split personality Showtime series (United State of Tara, for those who don’t know), and the recent big screen debacle of Jennifer’s Body. This is one writer who is manipulating her muse in such a deliberate, limited way that all Jason Reitman infused Juno joy aside, she’s dangerously close to becoming a parody of herself. One need look no further than the aforementioned Megan Fox vehicle (new to Blu-ray) to see the signs of potential self-spoof, as well as what might be her ultimate saving grace.

Granted, many of the problems facing this uneven genre romp come directly from the frequently aggravating ironic-ditz speak substituting for meaningful dialogue crafted by Ms. Thang Cody. The storyline centers on the title character, the local hot chick in a one horse town. Her best friend is uber-nerd Needy, and together they are the yin and yang of high school clique chic. While Jennifer enjoys being the cock-tease titan, her shy if still socially acceptable pal hangs out with sensitive band boy toy Chip. One night, the gals attend a concert by a lame act named Low Shoulder. One onstage mishaps and raging inferno later, and Jennifer is MIA and Needy’s entire world is shaken to the core.

by Rob Horning

6 Jan 2010

It occurred to me while listening to Veckatimist by Grizzly Bear for the third or fourth time. As the songs played, I was finding myself perversely satisfied when I could pin down for myself a reason not to like it (and not to try listening to it again), whereas I had a vague feeling of dread if I found myself reserving judgment, extending the benefit of the doubt. I realized I can’t really hear it for what it is; I want it to suck too much.

Rather than hoping new music I hear about—particular from hype vectors online—will be good, I almost always want this music to suck, preferably in spectacular, self-evident fashion. But why? Why do I have this entirely counterproductive attitude? Is it because I am “curmudgeonly”? Is it because I have too much amour propre to endorse what’s trendy, even to myself in my private listening moments? (Maybe it’s no longer possible to believe in private moments in the era of real-time networking.) Am I just old and bitter about how everything was better when I was younger? All that may be.

Mostly, though, I have this pressing sense that to like something new will increase my already unmanageable cultural consumption burden. And that burden seems partly the result of technological developments that puts all this consumable culture a few clicks away on my computer, and partly the result of behavioral changes—e.g., a burgeoning tendency to hoard—that have come along with all that accessibility. If I end up appreciating Veckatimist, then I’ll inevitably have to seek out all the band’s other albums, and not only that, I’ll feel obliged to investigate all the bands who are ever compared to or lumped in with Grizzly Bear. And I’ll need to be predisposed to like those bands to a certain degree, and then the responsibility of fandom would just continue to ripple out from there. Soon everything becomes diluted, the passion for listening gets spread too thin as it strains to embrace everything.

It seems easier to be skeptical and wait to see if people still seem to care about the music six or seven years later. Or if they don’t, I can “rediscover” it and champion it to myself against the heedless indifference of the masses and the cognoscenti. (Currently on my personal hit parade is one such “rediscovery”: Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage.) I’m content to live in a time lag rather than chase the zeitgeist.

I suppose an alternative is to be more radically married to the cultural moment, collect nothing in the way of music, and pay attention only to what’s new. I could float on the sea of ubiquitous musical novelty, let it carry me wherever it’s going. Then I can simply try to like everything without feeling as though that means something or makes me responsible for learning more. I don’t know. Grizzly Bear is not the music that will inspire me to do this.

by Nikki Tranter

6 Jan 2010

Was really hoping I’d get an explanation for that title. Alas, I did not. If I think about it, I figure it’s just sensational enough to get the crowds interested. Ooh, an actor’s memoir with ‘sex’ in the title – that has to be juicy. It’s quite a decent ruse, I suppose. Makes me rethink the title of this blog category: My Sexy Reading Year, maybe? Or, Sex and the Single Girl ... With Books? Something will come to me, I’m sure.

For my first book of the year, this was an interesting one. A last minute grab, a two-day read, full of Hollywood gossip, on-set anecdotes, and an overall handy insight into the life of a successful Aussie actor (on his home soil anyway) in the early ‘90s trying to land that make or break role. Phelps’s story is not rags-to-riches as he doesn’t succeed in becoming what Russell Crowe would become a few years down the track. He was not a part of the great Aussie actor explosion in the USA, and he really did very little of note at all while in-country aside from 12 episodes of Baywatch.

The fun thing, though, about Phelps—a recognizable TV and film star in Oz—is he knows he’s marked very little territory in Hollywood, and while he could be full of excuses, he’s instead up front about his misfortunes, and is without regrets. Not everyone makes it, he informs us, but that doesn’t mean a sojourn OS needs to be boring. What Phelps has collected here is a range of weird and wacky experiences involving famous movie stars dancing to Bee Gees records, bar brawls with Hell’s Angels, a breakdown of the best burger joints LA has to offer, experiences with naked women flashing on the roadside, rodeo riders, swordsmen, and seedy nights on the town with Czechoslovakian film crews. It’s less to an actor’s journey and more a travelogue of adventures abroad, with a few auditions and film sets thrown in. Phelps’s chatter is from the perspective of a Sydney-surfing fish-out-of-water, and he views his surroundings as any great wanderer would, soaking it all up as he goes, taking the hits with the misses in his jovial Aussie stride. (And after Baywatch, it’s all pretty much misses.)

I wasn’t expecting, however, the actor to have such a way with words. If the book is without a ghostwriter, then I wonder if Phelps shouldn’t scrap acting all together and start a career with Lonely Planet. His observational eye is sharp, his enthusiasm as far as getting into the spirit of each visited locale refreshing and fun. His musings on life share a mix of wicked self-deprecation and enormous ego (he’s an actor, after all). He’s down and out, but, in his eyes, he’s still Hot-As and able to bed women left, right, and centre. Just not Madonna, apparently.

The book works as a glimpse into one man’s quest for superstardom that didn’t quite eventuate, with a few gossipy moments here and there (David Hasselhoff fans beware). It’s also a fairly decent guide for LA visitors wanting to experience the best in food and shopping. And it’s very much a breakdown of a particular era in Hollywood history – the early ‘90s, that, it would seem, tragically hasn’t changed that much.

One thing Phelps manages to identify well, too, is the contrast between Americans and Australians as far as personality, sense of humour, and what each holds dear. Phelps, although faking an American accent throughout much of his time “over there”, writes here with a distinctly Australian surf-coast voice and attitude, which makes his crazy situations slightly moreso – selling mobile phones to Hollywood wives, trying to decide with of the 3,000 types of salad dressing to enjoy in a meal, or shooting paint ball paint all over the Tucson Hilton with some mid-level TV stars. Americans, we learn, are just different.

The larrikin in Phelps remains, and with this kind of charm, it’s hard to decipher just why he didn’t pip Crowe at the Aussie superstar post. But then, as Phelps reminds us, that’s Hollywood.

Note: The book is 15 years old, and, as far as I can tell, way out of print. So, instead of a cover image, I’ve posted a TV Week cover featuring Phelps in full-on hunky Aussie soap star mode. I get the feeling he’d appreciate that.

//Mixed media

Oz Is Not Down Under As Everyone Thinks It Is

// Re:Print

"Frank L. Baum's Oz isn't in the land of Aussies, as one might think, but in a far more magical setting.

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