Friday, 20 December 2013


It's been an eventful year, but then again aren't they all.
Thanks to those who regularly pop in to visit, which has been a few of you because we finally passed the 100K mark this year.
To celebrate the festive season and the pending new year here a few freebies to celebrate the holiday break.

Till the new year you can download a FREE digital version in pdf of Home Brew Vampire Bullets
 Homebrew vampire Bullets Zero

And till further notice you can download the full Game of Kings book in ePub for your digital reading device For absolutely nothing.

Monday, 16 December 2013

DETHKLOK ‘Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem A Klok Opera

Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem A Klok Opera
Things have been pretty lean this year in the area of virtual,cartoon bands.
The promise that was PUSHER JONES never eventuated and Gorillaz are as good as sunk, even though there is apparently 2 albums at least in the boot left over from Plastic Beach. However,,,,, The good Ol' Boys from DETHKLOK have come up with the goods with this one hour special shown in October via Adult Swim
CATCH IT ALL HERE (or HEAR its only the music) looking forward to the DVD release.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Home Brew Vampire Bullets Issue One. REVIEW

Home Brew Vampire Bullets Issue One. 
Published by HBVB Editor: Garth Jones Available as 
digital download: Scribd ( AUD$6.99 )  P.O.D thru BLURB (AUD$34.99) 
Good previews available on both sites.

I suppose it’s a hallmark of the age we live in, the need to have something quickly, not to draw things out. The collective attention span of the Internet is short, to use a polite word. Where comics and magazines were once seen in the deep dark past as ephemeral, one has to think what digital downloads are going to be seen as in the next decade or so. I like my books and magazines and comics/comix.
I'm a tactile kind of guy but I'm also a realist who knows that the best new stuff appears on the web first and production costs for something to buy at your favourite shop are prohibitive for the small publisher. So if you want to wait a couple of weeks and pay through the nose to hold a book in your hand or have it now for next to nothing and still hold it in your hand albeit a tablet. That is a choice you have to make sooner than later.

There is a point to this babble.

Home Brew Vampire Bullets released its 60 page anthology in late September to a warm reception. It whetted the appetite for what was to come and at US$1.99 in 4 different formats it was a bargain to boot. It lived up to its promise of a larrikin publication inspired by ozploitation movies, good ol’ pub rock and the great underground press of the 1970s. Expectation for issue one (I speak only for myself here) was very high. Now I've got it and read it, I wish I wasn't so impatient. A good slab of issue one appeared in the anthology and kind of spoiled it a bit, thinking about this I thought maybe the publishers could have spread some of the singular pieces over the next couple of issues perhaps?. That aside (and the download problem I had, gallantly and quickly rectified by HBVB main man Garth Jones) the magazine itself is a beautifully designed piece of work , with excellent colour and graphics that makes you feel you are holding something of value (and at $34.99 P.O.D …..well, you are!)
Garth Jones as helmsman has done a truly remarkable job to give it a unique feel. The collection of artists and writers will no doubt help move some copies but its whether the stories themselves and their length as continuous pieces will bring people back. Christian Read takes a giant slice of the writers credits, a well known and respected figure he keeps it simple with R.S HELL and PALE MAGIC, stories with a haunting/poltergeist type bent. It’s when we hit BABALON SHOKK with (that man again) Garth Jones that we get into some meaty story line that leaves you wanting more. It’s just a pity the majority of it was used to heavily push the anthology. The prose pieces where enjoyable, though DINGOES was hard to read on my iPad due to background colours. But Micca Delaney’s words (or where they Scott Frasers?) kept me jumping hurdles.
Christian Read's DEVIL IN AUSTRALIA and Nick Lewis’ THE AUSTRALIAN MOTOR ENTHUSIASTS GUIDE are as good a  pieces of satire you'll see anywhere these days, both a highlight. The artist as story teller is carried by Scott Fraser in SHADOW RUMBLE, Simon Sherry with HEAVY ANGEL and Mathew Dunn's CEO.
The stand out pieces as sequentials are definitely MARALINGA , THE MANY HAROLD HOLTS OF SPACE AND TIME and BOLT These three stories will make me come back for more. The artwork in MARALINGA by Doug Holgate is a joy to look at and I found myself going over the landscape of a ruined Melbourne over and over again. The Ozploitation tag really hits high gear (and an R rating) with Mark Selan and Steve Martinez’s LUST OF CONVICTED VIXENS. This piece of sexy fun took me back to Slow Death Comix with Rand Holmes and Jaxon from the 1970s underground. Chuck in a few more stories about ignorant gangsters GUSTY SMYTHE and more devilish stories THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL with some leftie political essays in some of the other written pieces (including some fun faux adverts) and you get a great mixture for a good solid read and at a 152 pages enough to keep you satisfied until Autumn when the next issue is due.
I know I'm greedy but I was expecting a bit more of the stories already featured in HBVB ZERO.
Doug Holgate's MARALINGA artwork
Simon Sherry's Heavy Angel artwork in colour

Mathew Dunn's CEO artwork

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Snappy the Little Crocodile

Schnappi akkurat Krokodil (Snappy the Little Crocodile) is a Swedish children's cartoon character.
The introductory song "Schnappi, das kleine Krokodil" became an Internet hit before it reached number 1 on the German charts in January 2005, and was widely popular in other European countries as well, (Popularized byJamba!) topping the singles charts in Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland for several weeks.
 Schnappi was a character in a popular animated German children's TV show called Die Sendung mit der Maus (The Show With the Mouse). In the cartoon in which the character appeared, Schnappi is seen singing a song about life in Egypt. That song, which is sung in German, has a very catchy tune and simple lyrics.
The song, which first appeared in the Sendung mit der Maus show in 2001, was written by Iris Gruttmann and performed by her then-six year old niece, Joy. In 2004 Schnappi became a hit on the Internet. It got more and more popular while playing on the Internetradio RauteMusik. The moderators and listeners often played that song before it got released on CD In December of that year, the song Schnappi, das kleine Krokodil was released on CD. The single reached #1 on the German Pop-Charts on 3 January 2005. A bootleg translation into English was recorded and released on the Internet on the 20 February 2005 by the Bronx artist DJ Damien. Despite being an unofficial cover, this version was made available on the official Schnappi website.
Other translations by collaborations involving DJ Damien include a French version "Crocky le Petit Crocodile", Lithuanian "Šnapis mažas klokodilas" and a Japanese version "Togetogeshi, chiisai wani" Alternative versions of the song - varying from simple remixes of the basic vocal track, to a full cover version by Belgian techno group Dynamite - were also at numbers seven and ten in Belgium, and at number two in the Netherlands.
source: Wikipedia and my kids who own this horror 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Anthrax, bunnies, Frenchmen and beer. A sidetracking journey through our colonial years

Recently I came across a post by the Mt Dandenong & District Historical Society on Facebook.
One of their readers was intrigued by a derelict building that they often passed on Belgrave –Hallam Rd. South of Wellington Rd.

The building on the side of the road

The call was put out if anyone had any history to share. As is often the case with this site, a multitude of followers gave what snippets they knew which culminated in a post of a 1975 newspaper article referring to an anthrax outbreak in a Knackery in Narre Warren North, where four men were hospitalized and many greyhounds kept on the premises were in danger of being put down. The owner of the dogs, a butcher in Prahran was also admitted and had his shop fumigated and all his stock destroyed.
It wasn’t until a Mr. Adam O’Brien posted on behalf of his father to clarify some the situation. The building was the slaughter house the last surviving structure of O’Connor’s Abattoir that operated in the area up until the outbreak.
According to Mr. O’Brien: “There was an animal that came in on a truck with anthrax on it, this was detected and the government declared the site contaminated. They destroyed all fences, clothes, pens etc by burning. They limed the paddocks and pens. The government compulsory acquired everything and forced O’connor’s relocate to Pakenham….. After 29 days of quarantine another animal died and the government gave up and closed the site indefinitely.”
 Mr O’Brien also confirmed the news article mentioned earlier was not related to the property that was being discussed as O’Conner’s was an Abatoir, not a Knackery. (As a side note if you’re wondering what happed to the business? G&K O’Conner flourished in Pakenham and is now the largest meat exporter in Australia as well as one the biggest employers in the area.) This put my focus on the news article.
 Though the articles reported were small and not as alarmists as one would have thought, much of the relating reports concentrated not on the anthrax itself but on the health of dogs at the Sandown racetrack and a simmering feud between the Agricultural and Health departments about who would be best suited to control and contain such outbreaks, as it was only the year before that the State Government had taken responsibility of Knackeries away from the Health Department, who now accused the Agricultural Department of putting different priorities on situations.
I thought that a bit odd and I could find no more mention of the incident after an exhaustive Internet search. I did establish that these incidents were the last known anthrax outbreaks in the Melbourne area.
Most people these days would associate anthrax with the September 11 bombings where there was a spate of envelopes containing white powder believed to be anthrax being sent to Government officials in various countries, causing quite a panic and plenty of news media coverage. Because anthrax is one of the easiest diseases to contain and use as biological weapons it has made it a very popular subject as a storyline in television and movies since the turn of the century.
 Anthrax is one of those diseases from the past such as small pox, rabies, typhoid, cholera and polio that mankind has managed to control and in many cases irradiate. Anthrax is basically a spore and can remain dormant in harsh conditions for decades and in some cases centuries.. When these spores are inhaled, ingested, or come into contact with a skin lesion on a host, they may become reactivated and multiply rapidly.
The disease effects both humans and livestock
Because of its long lifespan the soil borne variety can remain at the burial sites of animals killed by anthrax for many decades. Disturbed grave sites of infected animals have caused reinfection over 70 years after the animal's interment. I learnt that anthrax has been an ongoing concern in Australia for nearly 170 years. It had first been identified near Sydney in 1847, but then it was termed mistakenly as Cumberland disease. Australian stock breeders had become less cautious as the colonies grew, with livestock becoming less of a valuable commodity and ships arriving from Europe becoming more plentiful and faster. With these ships came imports. Human infection has been attributed to handling the hides and pelts of infected animals to the possession of drum skins and shaving and hair brushes. Massive outbreaks came in the 1880s due to imported fertilizer such as dusted blood and bone imported from the sub-Continent. Losses were sometimes catastrophic. It is recorded that in 1885 on one combined property - comprising 220,000 sheep, nearly 5,000 cattle and 600 horses - a total of 42,000 sheep, 500 cattle and 60 horses died from anthrax. At the height of the epidemic, 500 sheep and 40 cattle were found dead in one day. Graziers concealed knowledge of their losses for fear of depreciating the value of their land and not being able to sell stock.
A number of lay remedies, including purgatives and pasturing sheep with goats, were tried with little effect. Luckily it was around this time (1881) the great French micro biologist Louis Pasteur developed the first effective vaccine against Anthrax. Pasteur was a brilliant man and responsible for many great discoveries, his previous research showed that the growth of micro-organisms was responsible for spoiling beverages, such as beer, wine and milk. With this established, he invented a process in which liquids such as milk were heated to kill most bacteria and moulds already present within them.
His work also helped create the vaccines for rabies.
Because of his study in germs, Pasteur encouraged doctors to sanitize their hands and equipment before surgery. Prior to this, few doctors or their assistants practiced these procedures, making way for modern surgical practices. But in 1887 Louis Pasteur had suffered a second stroke and was recovering, Pasteur had dedicated himself to building The Pasteur Institute to continue his commitment to basic research and its practical applications but its establishment and ill health had left him short of funds. He needed a large injection of cash to finish his dreams.

Sydney Morning Herald 17- Sept 1887

 The potential answer to Pasteur’s problems began a bit over 25 years earlier. In 1859 one of Australia’s biggest environmental disasters was playing out. At his property outside Geelong, British-born pastoralist Thomas Austin released twenty-four rabbits, five hares, and seventy-two partridges into the wild. Austin, who hated the local flora and fauna, wanted to introduce “a touch of home”. By the mid1880, the rabbit population had exploded and become a plague, rabbits numbering up to billion know had spread across the country from South Australia to Queensland and all points in between. In 1887 with the problem now extreme, New South Wales premier Sir Henry Parkes sat down with his Rabbit Minister and devised an international competition with of prize of £25,000 for a microbiological remedy to the rabbit plague, to be advertised around the world. In Paris Pasteur’s wife alerted him to the completion, she knew Pasteur’s stroke had been brought on by the money worries of building his Institute and Sir Henry Parkes’ competition prize, the equivalent of $10 million in today’s money, would enable the eminent scientist to equip and staff his institute. Pasteur was certain that he had the winning remedy, chicken cholera, which he had seen swiftly kill rabbits in earlier experiments. Pasteur full of confidence dispatched his nephew and protégé Adrien Loir as part of a three-member team to prove that his remedy would solve the Australasian rabbit plague, and claim the prize, convinced that it should only take four to six weeks for Loir to satisfy the competition judges before setting off home with the desperately needed prize money. But it would not be that simple. On arrival to Melbourne, Loir learned that the competition’s terms of reference required entries to be tested for 12 months.
But Pasteur had only sent his team to Australia with enough money for six weeks. Just as it seemed he might have to leave Australia unrewarded, fate took a hand. Local brewer Thomas Aitken was about to set off for Denmark, to learn the secret of Pasteur’s yeast cultivation techniques that had enabled the brewers of Carlsberg Beer to prosper. Hearing that Pasteur’s nephew was in town, Aitken offered to pay Loir to teach his staff the Pasteur methodology. Loir agreed, and spent two weeks at the Victoria Brewery. As a result, Victoria Bitter beer would become Australia’s top-selling lager, and, with Aitken’s fee of £250 Loir had enough money to keep his team in Australia for a year. Loir’s time in Australia held many highs and lows. His attempt to win the rabbit competition was hampered from the start. Two of the judges were major barbed wire importers, wanting to make rabbit-proof fences compulsory. Another judge was president of a poultry farmers’ association. None wanted Pasteur’s chicken cholera employed against Australia’s rabbits, because they considered it bad for business – their business. To make matters worse, two other influential judges, both Doctors, were students of Louis Pasteur’s greatest scientific rival and harshest critic, Germany’s Robert Koch.
Even his chicken cholera research was copied by another researcher, Oscar Katz, once again a student of Koch. Whilst waiting for the trial period to elapse Loir began researching ‘Cumberland disease’ the disease killing so much livestock in Australia at the time and discovering it to be actually anthrax. Lori had previously worked on a vaccine against anthrax, and proposed a large scale anthrax vaccine trial to the NSW government. Colonial farmers lined up to pay for Pasteur’s vaccine, and stock losses to anthrax quickly declined. To produce the vaccine each summer, Loir set up a Pasteur Institute in the Rodd Island facility on the Parramatta River , enabling him ultimately to send Pasteur more money than even the rabbit prize represented. As for the somewhat influenced Rabbit Commission, it ended up recommending against awarding the prize to anyone, opting for rabbit-proof fences. Misrepresenting the findings of its own ‘expert’, Oscar Katz, the commission dismissed Pasteur’s entry by claiming that chicken cholera did not already exist in Australia, and that its introduction would pose an unacceptable risk to poultry and native birds. Adrien Lori loved Australia but unfortunately his young French wife – who didn’t speak English , whom he married on a whirl wind return to France did not , so he left never to return. Living a full life researching all over the world.
In 1897 it was established Chicken Cholera had existed in Australia, though the findings were vehemently attacked by Rabbit Commission members determined not to have their reputations undermined.
As for the anthrax break out in February 1975 I could find little to nothing to pin point its location so I drove past the old O’Conner site as that was much easier to find.
Guess what I saw running all around it.
 Yep, rabbits.

 Sources: Science, Sex &; Sabotage Stephen Dando-Collins Australian Heritage June 2010
The Age 26+27 Feb 1975
SMH 26 Feb 1975
Mt Dandenong & District Historical Society Facebook
 History of Veterinary Health KL Hughes 1991 Wikipedia: Louis Pasteur / Anthrax
Anthrax in animals DPI pub:Ag0802 Jan 2003

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls

Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls

One of the wacky ideas floated by Hammer Films in 1971 but never developed beyond a sweet poster was 'Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls.' People have said it's tragic this movie was never made. Now tragically it has been made, a mashup of public domain cliffhanger serials and old movies. It has been touted as an original concept but apparently some of the cut scenes have been proven false without a doubt

then there is this! supposedly a rare collaboration between Fleischer Studios and Ub Iwerks resulted in this cartoon, based on the above flick. The cartoon apparently was shelved for half a century due to a three way legal dispute between Republic, Fleischer and Iwerks. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rejected Oscar nominations for Ben Burtt's sound design in the cartoon because it had not been formally released and because of the legal status.
All bullshit of course.

Peter Montgomery an independent film maker has been developing a tribute using modernand affordable effects. This is quite interesting and a click on the link will take you to his youtube page for a bit more.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Home Brew Vampire Bullets

Home Brew Vampire Bullets
A quick review
Home Brew Vampire Bullets or HBVB is an anthology to prepare the unsuspecting public for the first real issue proper due to be published in many formats come November this year. It announced itself as the bastard child of such wonderful classics such as Metal Hurlant (no mention of the Nation Lampoon sponsored US version Heavy Metal) Tales from the Crypt, Oz Magazine and 2000AD (the earlier version , not the later I hope) and more current publications such as Alan Moore's Dodgem Logic.
 It promises a great collection - to quote: “uniquely Aussie myth spinning, prose, politics and pulp sound tracked by Rose Tattoo, soaked in Melbourne Bitter and dyed defiantly navy blue.”.
 It doesn’t disappoint, to a point.
HBVB has many talented people in its stable.
Those stories featured in this anthology which have made Issue one a promising "must get" are: The Many Harold Holts of Space and Time, Maralinga, Heavy Angel, Bolt and BABALON SHOKK. (see credits for artists in the contents screen grab below). All have the look of what I consider good adult entertainment. We have some classic faux ads, much in the tradition of 70s legend Tony Edwards Captain Goodvibes Collections and later days Chaser newspaper. The classic Martin Sharp style birth control advert is a killer. My only concern is that HBVB doesn’t try to be Ocker Aussie with a political correct and left wing leaning. The prose piece titled The Tachyon Tribulations of Dr. Radium read like a lefty Uni students whine because the election didn’t go the way he dreamed. As the Chaser Boys discovered it’s just as funny to see things from the other wing of politics as well. All up I’m looking forward to issue One and at AU$1.99 for a 4 different format (ePub, pdf, Mobi for Kindle and CBR for comics reader like Comic Zeal) from it’s a bargain to boot. A pdf only version is also available through

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem

Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem
source: Wikipedia

Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem is a Muppet rock band of The Muppet Show.
Following The Muppet Show, they appeared in various Muppet movies and television specials, and have also recorded album tracks. Dr. Teeth and Animal were designed by Jim Henson, while the rest of the original band members were designed by Michael K. Frith.
The band consists of Dr. Teeth on vocals and keyboards, Animal on drums, Sgt. Floyd Pepper on bass guitar, Janice on guitar, and Zoot on saxophone.
 In season five of the show, Lips joined the band on trumpet.
Animal, Floyd and Zoot also played in the Muppet Show pit band, performing the opening and closing themes and underscoring most of the Muppet Show performances. Lips and occasionally Janice appeared in the orchestra in later episodes. Though Lips made some appearances with the group after The Muppet Show ended production, the group later reverted to its original line-up. Also, the original pilot episode featured "Jim", a Muppet caricature of Jim Henson on banjo.
The band's first film role was performing the song "Can You Picture That?" in The Muppet Movie. They also performed "Saturday Night Life" and participated in "The Happiness Hotel" in The Great Muppet Caper, and performed "Jingle Bell Rock" in A Muppet Family Christmas. They appeared in The Muppets Take Manhattan (sans Lips), where Dr. Teeth sang "You Can't Take No For An Answer".
Following the deaths of two of the group's puppeteers, Jim Henson (Dr. Teeth), and Richard Hunt (Janice), they were limited to brief instrumental background music for years. However, Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem backed Miss Piggy for a song in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz and performed alongside Miley Cyrus in the Studio DC: Almost Live television special. More recently, they appeared on the YouTube channel as part of the 2009 parody cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" in which many Muppet characters took part. An Electric Mayhem "survive" tour, with animatronic versions of the puppets, and rock band My Morning Jacket performing the characters, was proposed by The Walt Disney Company, but ultimately abandoned.  


Dr. Teeth
Dr. Teeth is the keyboard player and gravelly-voiced leader of the band. He is green-skinned and red-haired with, as his name suggests, a large grinning mouth of teeth, including a gold tooth claimed to be fashioned by melting down his gold records. He maintains a scruffy beard, a fur vest, a striped shirt, and a floppy purple top hat. He has arms so long that additional puppeteers are required to guide them; this design enabled Henson to work the Dr. Teeth puppet while another performer acted as Dr. Teeth's 'hands' in order to play the keyboard. His introductory lines in The Muppet Movie were: "Golden teeth and golden tones, welcome to my presence." He often misuses long words and mangles verb conjugation. Jim Henson originally performed him, and based the character on musician Dr. John.
Dr. Teeth only sings lead vocals on the second Muppet pilot and during the first season and these songs were only written before Rowlf had become firmly established as the regular Muppet pianist. Later performances mostly feature lead vocals by Floyd or Janice and only a few featured Dr. Teeth. His speaking roles got even smaller after his performer Jim Henson's death; an exception was the 1991 Muppets stage show "Muppets on Location: Days of Swine and Roses", the voice being performed by John Kennedy. He performed Dr. Teeth from 1991 to 2003, but made only very brief appearances, with very little dialogue, some examples being the 1999 film Muppets from Space, and once in the music video for the We Are Family charity song in 2002. Bill Barretta took over the role beginning with The Muppets' Wizard of Oz so that Kennedy could start performing Floyd instead following the retirement of Jerry Nelson, Floyd's original performer (although Matt Vogel later assumed the role of Floyd, as well as most of Nelson's primary Muppet characters). Dr. Teeth's first major speaking role since Henson's death was in Statler and Waldorf's very own show, Statler and Waldorf: From the Balcony, where Victor Yerrid performed him. Despite being the band leader, Dr. Teeth is never featured in the regular orchestra playing at The Muppet Show like the rest of the group. Instead, Rowlf plays the piano in the orchestra pit. Jim Henson once said that Dr. Teeth was one of the more difficult characters to play due to the harshness of the character's voice. Interestingly enough, Dr. Teeth and Rowlf are remarkably similar in voice, with Rowlf's being less gravelly, but still recognizable as being very similar to Dr. Teeth.

Animal is the primitive wild man, drummer, and the most famous member of the band, being the only member to have appeared in every feature film and the only member in the regular cast of the Muppet Babies spin-off cartoon. He is named for his wild behavior and drumming. Some speculate the character is based on either Keith Moon,or Levon Helm while others have suggested Mick Fleetwood. In the April 8, 2002, episode of Inside the Actors Studio, Billy Joel claimed that Liberty DeVitto was the inspiration for The Muppets character Animal, but most others say there is no evidence he was based on anyone. Frank Oz operated Animal from his first appearance until 1999; in 2002 newcomer Eric Jacobson took over. In Muppet Babies he was voiced by Howie Mandel (1984–1985) and Dave Coulier (1986–1991). Animal was also played by Kevin Clash in Muppets Tonight and by Bill Barretta in Muppetfest. Animal's drumming was performed by British jazz and big band drummer Ronnie Verrell.[5] His first appearance was in the original pilot, "Sex and Violence!", and he has had numerous other appearances on television, in advertising, and even on a U.S. postage stamp.

Sgt. Floyd Pepper

 Sgt. Floyd Pepper is the bass player. A laid back "hipster" with a pink body and long orange hair, he usually wore a green army cap, or sometimes, while in the pit, a slightly fancier cap of stiffer, glittery material, and a red uniform with epaulets and ornate gold braid on the buttons. His name refers both to Pink Floyd and to the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. His jacket is a clear visual reference to the album. He also plays his bass left-handed, like Paul McCartney. The character was played and voiced by Jerry Nelson until 2004. At this time, Nelson retired from performing most of his characters, citing health reasons, and John Kennedy took over the role, beginning with The Muppets' Wizard of Oz. However, Nelson performed Floyd's voice (though not the puppetry) one more time for Studio DC: Almost Live, Matt Vogel took over in A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. Floyd is the most cynical member of the band and perhaps of the entire cast; in several episodes, he observes his fellow Muppet Show performers' backstage antics and pratfalls with great amusement and is not above outright laughing at them. A battle of the egos occurs whenever he and Miss Piggy are on screen together as he loves to poke fun at her airs and graces. He's also somewhat arrogant, referring to himself in a Muppet Magazine article as "one real cool dude" and during The Muppet Show (season 1 episode 23) he says to Kermit: "Kermit, you are talking to Floyd Pepper! The hippest of the hip! I mean I have a room for life at the home of the chronically groovy!". His pink color is a little insider joke, and a reference - he is a Pink Floyd. He first appeared in The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence. He appears backstage more often than the other band members, presumably because Jerry Nelson was the muppeteer least often preoccupied with performing other characters backstage. Although Dr. Teeth is the leader, Floyd is the one who sings lead most often. Some of the songs he sang on The Muppet Show include: "New York State of Mind", "Ain't Misbehavin'", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover". He has a close relationship with Janice, and is Animal's handler, and in books like The Case of The Missing Mother, by James Howe, Animal is practically Floyd's pet. Floyd claims to consider himself an excellent songwriter but, with no apparent contradiction, admits that everyone hates his music. Not that he blames them. "If I didn't know I was a genius," he once declared, "I wouldn't listen to the trash I write."

Janice is a lead guitar player. She has blond hair, big eyelashes and lips, and usually wears a brown hat with a turquoise gem and a feather. Though she regularly performed vocals, she actually only sang lead a couple of times on the show. She also acted in sketches periodically, most notably as wisecracking Nurse Janice in 'Veterinarian's Hospital', a recurring parody of medical dramas. Her name is an homage to Janis Joplin. Janice is the band's lead guitar player, and she plays left-handed. Her favourite guitar is a Gibson Les Paul with cherry sunburst colour scheme. This flower girl was involved with Zoot in the first season of The Muppet Show, but paired up with Floyd Pepper at the start of season two. Janice was performed by Eren Ozker during the first season of The Muppet Show (without the valley-girl voice), then she was performed by Richard Hunt until his death in 1992. Due to the lack of female Muppeteers, Janice has, since Ozker's departure, consistently been played by a man. Muppet characters are frequently paired together based on how well puppeteers perform as a team. Richard Hunt and Jerry Nelson had established themselves as a team prior to The Muppet Show. Therefore, the change in Janice's performer may have been the reason for her relationship shifting from Zoot to Floyd. After Hunt's death, her character was faded back to brief non-speaking background appearances until the 2002 It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, in which she was performed by Brian Henson. In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, she was performed by Tyler Bunch. Her most recent performer is David Rudman, who first performed her in Studio DC: Almost Live. Rudman has also taken over for Scooter, as well as Janice, thus adding another two of Richard Hunt's characters to his own Muppet characters. Matt Vogel also performed Scooter and Janice's voices in the video games Muppet RaceMania and Muppet Party Cruise. A running gag in some Muppet movies was that, during a scene where several characters were excitedly talking at once, and someone called for silence, Janice would be the last one still talking, on a topic with no apparent connection to the situation. In The Muppets Take Manhattan: "So I told him 'Look, buddy, I don't take my clothes off for anybody, even if it is artistic,' and... Oh". Another example from The Great Muppet Caper, she says: "Look, Mother. It's my life. OK. So if I want to live on a beach and walk around naked... Oh". In season 5 episode 3, Janice and Sgt. Floyd Pepper sing The Beatles song "Blackbird". Janice is the only member of the band apart from Animal to have appeared on the animated series Muppet Babies. In her single appearance she was portrayed as slightly older than the main characters, and able to read. She was voiced by Dave Coulier, who regularly voiced baby versions of Animal, Bunsen and Bean Bunny.

Zoot is a green (sometimes blue), balding saxophone player with dark glasses and a high-crowned blue felt hat, and was generally a laid-back fellow of few words. His name refers to the 20th century saxophonist Zoot Sims and per designer Bonnie Erickson, is modeled after Latin jazz artist Gato Barbieri. He is performed by Dave Goelz. He was conceived as a burned-out, depressed 50-year old musician, but according to Goelz, when the role was assigned to him, he did not know how to perform that type of character. He therefore made the character mainly communicate through his playing rather than by speaking. Oddly enough, Zoot spoke much more in the first season, where he was often seen dancing with Janice in the "At the Dance" sketches. Goelz stated that he tried to give most of Zoot's lines away to other characters, particularly Floyd. Floyd's performer Jerry Nelson was not performing full-time in the first season, which may explain Zoot originally having more dialogue. Zoot's claim to fame was playing the final off-key note to the end theme of the show; he then looks into his saxophone with a bewildered expression, checks his music, gives a satisfied nod, looks around at the other musicians and gives the same nod. Curiously, the note played is the lowest note on the baritone saxophone, and most of Zoot's other playing has the sound of a tenor saxophone, while his instrument appears to be an alto.[citation needed] In A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, it's revealed that he celebrates Hanukkah.

Lips, performed by Steve Whitmire, joined the Electric Mayhem for several numbers in the later episodes of the series, playing the trumpet. His name naturally refers to the fact that trumpet players use their lips to play. He has a yellow Afro, goatee, and a permanent squint. His appearances on the Muppet Show were few and far between, and when he did appear in the later episodes or movies, he rarely did anything besides play the trumpet. One of his few speaking appearances was in the Shirley Bassey episode, where he sang a line of "Barnyard Boogie". He was mainly created so that Whitmire could have a character to perform in the band. His lack of character development was apparently due to Whitmire's uncertainty about performing Lips. He was less experienced as a puppeteer at the time, and wanted to use a voice like Louis Armstrong but was afraid of offending African-Americans. After The Muppet Christmas Carol, he was never seen at all until the NBC special Christmas in Rockefeller Center. He was also seen again in the newest movie, The Muppets.

In an episode of Adult Swim's Robot Chicken (Season 1, Episode 4), Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem were in a fake VH1 Behind The Music sketch detailing the band's activities after The Muppet
Show. It shows Dr. Teeth earning a living as a piano teacher, and claims that no one has seen Zoot since he was arrested in Japan for possessing a suitcase filled with thirty-seven pounds of hash - which is a parody of the 1980 Paul McCartney marijuana bust. Also, in a fake episode of The Howard Stern Show, Janice reveals that Tommy Lee gave her Hepatitis C and that she only has 5 years to live (referencing similar claims made by actress Pamela Anderson); when Stern ignores her distress and asks if Janice will show him her breasts, she angrily refuses. Finally, a possible comeback for the Electric Mayhem—a performance on Star Search—ends in tragedy when Animal has to be put down for a vicious attack on host Ed McMahon. The sketch ends with Floyd sadly stating that a reunion of the Electric Mayhem is impossible without Animal and Zoot, as Dr. Teeth plays a piano duet with Rowlf the Dog and a sickly Janice coughs in the background

Friday, 6 September 2013

My $3 Note

I was only eleven years old when the 1972 federal election was held, by comparison to today’s election campaigns the duel between William McMahon and Gough Whitlam was titanic.
Of course it was a different time and place and many things have changed socially and politically over the last forty years. I myself have found the two parties fighting for this next election differing very little and the campaigns boring and sterile with an over excited press, both mainstream and social, finding “news” in nothing at all. So when I rediscovered this little gem (pictured) that my father brought home after voting in the 1972 election I was excited that something so clever but ephemeral had survived and the humour still valid. A piece of satirical propaganda, it is an election day flyer handout . Most of the jokes are obvious and not too subtle, especially the inflation serial number, however the artwork is superb and from what information I could gather (and I appreciate any more substantial data if anyone can offer) were only given out on the day of the election. They were designed and created by Seaman’s Union in Sydney but distributed by members of the Trades Hall Council in Victoria. The electorate where I grew up at the time, Henty, was notorious for swinging from one party to another quite regularly over the years and because it straddled a Housing Commission area and more affluent South Eastern suburbs there always seemed to be plenty of representation from all parties on polling day. My Dad said he was lucky to get one because the Police rolled up and confiscated them because they were in breach of federal law, that I quote here in edited form because it is quite long “includes a representation of current paper money… when detached from the newspaper, journal, magazine, notice, placard, circular, hand﷓bill…. or other material in which it is included, capable of misleading a person into believing that it is that current paper ”
 I think they were tipped off somehow.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

When Hunter S Thompson Came Downunder

Recently I rediscovered a favourite book from my late teens and early 20s. JJ McRoach's " A Dozen Dopey Yarns- Tales from the Pot Prohibition" A collection of articles written with a great sense of fun and knowledge of what the author was getting into. This was  good journalism about counter culture topics.
He could also report on  the more serious side of the times with a clear and well researched view.  JJ McRoach was the pseudonym of Peter Olszewski who ran for the senate in the 1977 election as a candidate for the Marijuana Party. Though the party never had a candidate elected to office, it still managed ( thanks to McRoach) to draw a substantial amount of votes from its major political rivals. The one article I want to share here is the time McRoach acted as Hunter S Thompson's publicist for his Australian spoken word tour , who at the time was at his peak of craziness and popularity due to the release of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas several years earlier. This link and the larger one below will take you to an authorised copy of the story and below are some clippings relating to the visit and the story.


Because blogger is dumb, to read the clippings, right click and open in a new window to view better.
The Age October 1 1976

October 5 1976

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Peter Jackson's Roxy Cinema Miramar New Zealand


Wellington New Zealand is a lovely city, windy, but lovely. It is also the home of Peter Jackson and just about everything to do with his production companies. Stone Street studios,Park Road Production facility, Weta Digital and Workshops, etc , etc.
To walk around the suburb of Mirramar and casually stroll passed these places is a wonderful experience.
You of course can't visit any of these places with the exception of a peek through the front gates of the studio and of course the wonderful Weta Cave, a must for all Jackson and Lord of the Rings Fans. One treasure that often gets overlooked and possibly ignored is the Roxy Cinema situated between the Weta Cave and Stone Street in a small group of local shops.
The Roxy was originally the Capital theatre and was built in 1928, it operated until 1964 until is was converted to a shopping mall and then was left derelict for years until Lord of the Rings Editor Jamie Selkirk oversaw the restoratiom into an art deco masterpiece. With the full weight and support of the Weta Workshop behind him it has been transformed in a 1930 style cinema with the latest in movie going technology.
Selkirk says. The team researched using books and the internet, and Selkirk bought many of the cinema’s art deco lights when browsing in antique shops overseas. He “searched high and low” for interesting lights to suit the period. Three lights in the café came from a 1930s diner in Chicago; the sidelights took four weeks to make in China. Other cinemas in the US (Los Angeles, New York, Santa Barbara) provided inspiration, as did cinemas in movies such as King Kong and Inglourious Basterds, which gave the dusky, pinky-brown colour for the café walls.

I was there in early 2012 and enjoyed a lovely cuppa and was left to wander around unmolested by the happy staff and explore the upper floor and the majestic Grand Lounge

The Roxy Before...

The Roxy Now...

The Coco Lounge, where they make a lovely chai
Tea with TinTin

Gollum tucked in the corner
Antique Camera
A section of the Grand Lounge and its Art Deco beauty
The Grand Lounge Bar

Artworks abound
The ceiling painted by steampunk maniac Greg Broadmore

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Flying Man

The Flying Man
A 10 minute short that is quite freaky but good.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Crossing The Line: Boronia’s forgotten killer intersection

The crossing today and early 1950
Most long time residents of Boronia, in fact anybody who had to drive through the area will remember the notorious bottleneck that was the Boronia/Dorset Road intersection prior to the upgrading of the train crossing. I remember my first time trying to navigate it; I was living in Croydon and had to go the Angliss Hospital. Being new to the area I took what I thought was the most direct route along Dorset road. I managed to get confused at which lane I was meant to be in, then a train came and I ended up heading down Boronia road towards Wantirna. After that nightmare I quickly learnt of ways to avoid the intersection.
In 1998 the Kennett Government had the whole thing straightened out and the train crossing buried under the road . This not only stopped the separation of Boronia but brought close to an era of one of the most dangerous level crossing in the countries history
It was a history of death and misery spanning decades.

The Age June 27 1926
The first recorded incident in 1926 was the worst of its kind in Australia to that date. Nine people were killed and fifteen injured when a bus carrying picnickers returning home to the city after a day out at Ferntree Gully. The accident was also a watershed moment for the Scout movement who were praised for their courage and bravery. On the train involved in the collision were several troops as well as some from Boronia district who were near the crossing as it happened. These young men  helped carry the dead from the site and move the injured to a nearby garage where six local doctors treated them. The dead were transported back to Flinders St where in those days platform one had a siding that was used to take coffins and mourners to Springvale Necropolis. By the time the bodies arrived back to the city news has travelled and crowds had gathered to witness the result of the carnage.
 It was reported that the reason the bus driver (who survived) didn’t hear the trains whistle was because the passengers were singing too loud. The quiet little village of Boronia was thrust into the national spotlight, the ensuring inquest was more of an investigation of who was at fault; had the bus driver been drinking? Was the train driver going to fast or not paying attention? It was concluded that neither party was at fault. The Coroner Mr. Berriman expressed the opinion "that the crossing, upon which five roads converged, and at which portion of the rail track was hidden scrub, was very dangerous" There was no recommendation to install warning precautions.

The Argus Oct 30 1944
There is another less reported incident in 1944 where five people were killed late in the afternoon when a train ploughed into their car. They also were on a day trip and the accident was overshadowed in the papers at the time by war time stories.
The collision of June 2nd 1952 was to be the worst rail crossing accident in the Melbourne area, the State record was eclipsed when Victoria's (and Australia's) worst rail-road crash happened on May 8 1943 when a bus carrying soldiers hit a train near, Wodonga. 25 people died in this appalling collision.
The year earlier on August 7 1951, nine were injured at the Boronia crossing and two more , this time locals, on October 22.
At this stage the crossing was still only guarded by a solitary rail crossing sign.
It was still decided by “experts” that the crossing didn’t need signals.

But it wasn’t until the aforementioned 1952 disaster that things came to a head.
At 8.45PM on Sunday the 2nd June a bus carrying a church group of 32 teenage bible students back home after a day trip were slammed into by a Melbourne bound train – Stories vary, initially it was declared 13 dead and nearly 20 injured (the Age and Argus June 2, some reports had seven dead and 22 injured (Adelaide Advertiser) but in later reports it settled at nine dead and 22 injured (The Age & Argus June 3) One of the few to survive without any injury (mental scaring withstanding) was the 40 year old driver.
The crash site was a nightmare and reports cite Boronia residents ferrying the dead and wounded to Angliss hospital because of the long delays between ambulances, even though six were sent to the scene on first response.
Excerpt from Knox Leader 2001 via Richard Coxhill's excellent History of The Basin

The accident was so horrific it appeared on the front pages of major papers all over the country. This appalling loss of life demanded action being taken after 31 people losing their lives and 54 injured at the crossing in the last 28 years. When one considered how many died, you can only imagine how severe some of the injuries must have been.
The Age and The Argus both wrote editorials calling for the need of action, not just for the Boronia crossing but all crossing state wide. An inquest into the accident was commissioned and a jury empanelled within hours of the disaster by the Coroner J.R Bourke, a move he later regretted due to what he felt was impartiality of the jury and dismissed them in early August and conducted the enquiry by himself. Mr Burke  tabled his findings on September 2nd , it was once again front page news a. He said no one had been
criminally negligent but the Railway Commission could have done more to prevent accidents especially a crossing with such a tragic history. Funds were allocated and work on new signals for the crossing started immediately . Reports of up to nine legal cases against the Railway Commission were being considered as soon as the inquest read its findings. . Come early October flashing lights were installed and working much to the joy of Boronia residence. Which in time was forgotten and turned to frustration as the suburban sprawl reached Boronia and the car population multiplied accordingly. Resulting in the traffic snarl that led up to the eventual revamping of the intersection. The sinking of the rail line and straightening of the intersection benefited Boronia greatly, not only because of flow of traffic and ease of congestion, it meant new shops could be built on reclaimed land to boost the economy. The intersection now barely resembles the bad old days of the dangerous crossing with its deadly past, the memories of the many tragic accidents have faded much the same as the frustration of the stalled traffic from only a few year just gone.

Three photos of the crossing The first one was taken around about the time of the 1952 incident. All photos are from the well documented ROSE Series.

Some interesting notes:

  • Because a rail crossing incident is not a train crash if you visit the VicRail History site or the Rail Museum web site, neither mentions any other serious accidents at Boronia other than the 1926 tragedy.
  • In news reports of the times, in two incidences it is remarked how the accidents resulted in train delays. One in 1951 where two people were injured and another from 1944 where 5 people died the delays were 40 minutes and 30 minutes respectively. Compares this to today’s rail network when a branch over overhead lines can stop large sections of track for nearly the whole day.
  • All collisions happened in the evening late in day and on the week end. From what information I can gather, none of those killed were locals.
  • Boronia rail crossing had the dubious title of worst accident in Victoria and then the worst accident in Melbourne.
 This article previously appeared in the Boronia Basin Community News Issue 213 July 213
References National Library archive
Richard Coxhill -History of The Basin 1992
The Argus 2+3+4 June 1952, 27 April 1926,  October 22 1951,October 31 1944
The Age 2+3 June 1952, April 27 1926
Adelaide Advertiser 3 June 1952
Sydney Morning Herald 3 June 1952
Launceston Examiner 2 June 1952
Western Australian 30 Oct 1944
Barrier Miner (Broken Hill) 3-Sept-52
Lismore Star 2-Sept-52
Canberra Times 2-Sept-52
Townsville Bulletin 2 Sept-52
 Facebook page photos and recollected stories from: Lost Melbourne, Past2 Present and Dandenong Historical Society

PTUA webpage

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Bands and artists that have been Simpsonized Part Two

Bands that have appeared on the Simpsons television show, movie and comic books.

Bands who have been  immortalized and parodied on the world's longest running prime time cartoon show.
Actually there has been so many bands and artists that I had to cut this into two posts.

The Who

Episode: A Tale of Two Springfields
I jist finished reading Pete Townsend's book "Who I am" and he made no reference to being on the Simpson whatsoever.

The Rolling Stones 

Episode: How I Spent My Strummer Vacation

Episode: How I Spent My Strummer Vacation
Mick and Keith
Episode: How I Spent My Strummer Vacation

Brian Setzer and Elvis Costello 
Episode: How I Spent My Strummer Vacation
Lenny Kravitz 

Episode: How I Spent My Strummer Vacation

Tom Petty 

Episode: How I Spent My Strummer Vacation

Bette Midler 

Episode: Krusty Gets Kancelled

Red Hot Chili Peppers 

Episode: Krusty Gets Kancelled

Barry White 

Episode: Whacking Day

The White Stripes

Episode: Jazzy and the Pussycats

Britney Spears

Episode: The Mansion Family

Cyndi Lauper

Episode: Wild Barts Can't Be Broken

David Byrne

Episode: Dude, Where's My Ranch?

Dolly Parton

Episode: Sunday, Cruddy Sunday

Elton John

Episode: I'm with Cupid

Jackson Browne

Episode: Brake My Wife, Please

James Brown

Episode: Bart's Inner Child

Kid Rock

Episode: Kill the Alligator and Run

Lionel Richie

Episode: He Loves to Fly and He D'ohs

50 Cent 

Episode: Pranksta Rap


Episode: You Kent Always Say What You Want


Episode: Weekend at Burnsie's

Robert Goulet

Episode: $pringfield (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)

Spinal Tap

Episode: The Otto Show

Tom Jones

Episode: Marge Gets a Job


Episode: Trash of the Titans

'Weird Al' Yankovic

Episodes: Three Gays of the Condo
and That 90s Show

Dixie Chicks

Episode: Papa Don't Leech

Linda Ronstadt 

Episode: Mr. Plow

James Taylor 

Episode: Deep Space Homer

The Decemberists
Episode: The Day The Earth Stood Cool