Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On This Day In 1981...

...deep sea divers recovered a safe from the wreck of the SS Andrea Doria, which sank in 1965 after a collision with another ship.

The expedition was financed by one Peter Gimbel, who planned to open the safe on a live TV broadcast. Unfortunately the safe turned out not to contain any shiny, photogenic jewelry, but it was stuffed with travellers checks and various Italian, Canadian, and US bank notes, which Gimbel fixed up and sold as souvenirs.  Most of the notes obviously aren't in the best of shape, but they make pretty neat-looking decorations all the same.

Side note: I think shipwrecks are woefully underused as creepy settings in movies and books. Imagine diving down, down, down into the murky, silent waters and suddenly seeing this gutted, corpse-like monstrosity right under you:

Oh, and did I mention that according to Wikipedia, divers call the Andrea Doria a "noisy" wreck, because it sank in just the right place that the currents are slowly tearing it apart and constantly scraping metal on metal? The article doesn't go into detail about what that sounds like, but in my imagination it sounds like the forsaken otherworldly wailing of a million tortured souls imprisoned in the cold embrace of Davey Jones' locker. Oh, and sixteen divers have died exploring the thing, so it's probably legit haunted.

Don't get me wrong--I'd totally finance an expedition like that if I had the means. Salvaged stuff is pretty cool to look at, as long as it's in a museum on good ol' dry land. If I had to go down there myself, though? I'd have to really, really, really want whatever was in that safe.   

Monday, August 25, 2014

Music Video Monday: The Last In Line

Look, Music Video Land, we really need to talk about elevator safety.

Specifically, about your habit of putting portals to Hell in the elevators of unassuming office buildings:

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't install a portal to Hell on your elevator at all. I'm willing to accept that you may have a perfectly good reason to install one. Maybe the local wizard college's department of demonology and infernal studies rents floor space from you. Maybe this is the headquarters for Politicians, Hedge Fund Managers, Serial Killers and Puppy Kickers Consolidated, and you installed the portal because your employees were all clamoring for a shorter commute. I get it. Sometimes you've just gotta make compromises.

But you need to label the button that activates the portal. And no, just labeling it with the floor number isn't good enough. If you do that, then sooner or later some poor delivery boy who isn't familiar with the layout of the building will get in and press that innocent-looking "9" button:

Only to be violently Tower of Terrored into a foggy, cyberpunk wasteland where this sight greets him at the opening of the door:

Seriously, guys, this portal is nothing but a big fat wrongful death lawsuit waiting to happen. Your company has only managed to avoid being sued into oblivion thus far by a stroke of sheer dumb luck. You see, the late Ronnie James Dio hangs out in Hell like it's the mall, because even in death he's still unbelievably awesome:

And fortunately for your negligent asses, he's such a kind soul that he can't resist stepping in to rescue the occasional innocent bystander who accidentally rode the Hellevator (by stabbing marauding robo-zombies in the crotch with what appears to be a sawed-off lightsaber, because why not):

But you can't count on Ronnie James Dio to save errant delivery boys for you forever. He's got important shit to do, like dragon-fighting, tiger-riding, and shopping for more sweet snake-themed jewelry:

One of these days he'll be off doing something else and some hapless delivery boy will wander through the portal and get killed. Or, if you're really unlucky, Dio will finally get sick of cleaning up your messes and will decide to teach you a lesson. Trust me, you don't want Dio teaching you a lesson. He can sic this thing on you. Also, he's got a sawed-off lightsaber and he's not shy about using it.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I am amused by this video's portrayal of Hell as a place where sinners are chained to old school video game machines and forced to play games that they can't win, over and over again:

Excuse me, I'm off to tell my avid gamer husband to repent his sins and live a good life. He'll thank me when he escapes condemnation to an eternity of losing at Demon Pac-Man.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

On This Day In 1985...

So I found this article in the New York Times archive.

The gist of the article is that the United States was considering imposing economic sanctions on the South African government for being horrible and oppressive, and one Reverend Jerry Falwell really didn't want that to happen.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that no one should ever oppose economic sanctions because--let's face it--economic sanctions kind of suck as a way to make brutal dictators stop being brutal, and usually end up doing more harm to the oppressed people they're meant to help. But even if he was concerned about this possibility, Jerry Falwell was physically incapable of not coming across as a terrible person.

His argument was basically that he talked to South Africans "in every segment of every community"* and they didn't like the idea of sanctions, so obviously everyone is fine with the way things are and we should keep on supporting the (horrible) Pretoria Government and investing in companies that do business in South Africa.

He also didn't like anyone who brought an opposing viewpoint to the table, most notably Bishop Desmond Tutu, about whom he said, "If Bishop Tutu maintains that he speaks for the black people of South Africa, he's a phony."


Bishop Tutu...

or Jerry Falwell?

One of these guys looks waaaaay more qualified to "speak for the black people of South Africa" than the other.

Here's a hint: It's not the rich white American guy.

*This is probably a teensy exaggeration on his part. Somehow I just can't see the Reverend Falwell, in his immaculate suit and silk tie and his perfectly slicked-back 80's-businessman hair, trudging around the poorest slums in Johannesburg to fulfill his "every segment of every community" requirement.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Music Video Monday: King Of Dreams

You know what creeps me out?

Amusement parks.

Come on, don't hate me for saying what we all secretly think. Amusement parks are vomit-scented, funnelcake-grease-secreting hives in which carnies strap hapless tourists into fiendish torture devices* so they can then be more easily tricked into blowing all their money on rigged games while their brains are still frothy from being jerked around. Also there are clowns sometimes, and I'm pretty sure they eat unattended children.

But as creepy as amusement parks can get nowadays, they were downright terrifying in the 80's when--if this video from Deep Purple is to be believed--they were also haunted by an irresistibly seductive incubus who preyed on teenage girls.

This is the story of a typical encounter with this monster, beginning with a girl sitting at a picnic table. Here we see her casually looking up:

Only to see a hot guy seductively licking a soft, wet, transparently symbolic ice cream cone:

He gets up and heads out of the little restaurant area, strategically brushing past her as he goes. She pretends not to notice him leaving:

Oh, but she totally does. She leaps up and hurries after him, as if compelled by an invisible force, and her fate is sealed. Her downfall is detailed in a series of euphemistic images, presumably to keep the video from getting an X rating. First, she rides one of those big, long, swingy, rocking boat rides to get her blood pumping:

While he creeps on her from the scaffolding. I guess he just loves to watch her bounce:

Then they move on to the carousel, where she grips a big thick pole:

And gets a ride on something other than the pretty horsie:

Now you may be thinking that this actually looks like lots of fun. I don't doubt it is--until the poor girl ends up alone, dazed and disheveled, with barely a chance to bask in the afterglow:

And the incubus is all, like, "Thanks for the quickie, babe! I've gotta glide silently off into the inky blackness from whence I was born now. Oh, by the way, good luck raising our unholy demon-human hybrid baby for the next eighteen years!"

The moral of the story? Incubi are assholes. Also, if you're a young woman, don't forget to stock up on condoms and morning-after pills next time you go to Six Flags. Unless, you know, you actually want to birth a humanoid devil spawn, in which case I won't judge you. I've gotta admit that their little tiny horns are awfully cute.

*I believe they call them "roller coasters."    

Monday, August 4, 2014

Music Video Monday: Summertime Girls

Okay, since last week's Music Video Monday sort of got us on the subject of dudes suffering the consequences of their own ill-advised romantic behavior, we need to talk about this video:

In this video, hair metal band Y&T take on the role of a gang of nerdy guys at the beach. I believe we're supposed to feel sorry for them because they can't get any action from the ladies, and I do feel sorry for them for the duration of the first scene. Not only do the ladies ignore them, they actively shove the poor guys out of their way:

That shit's just rude. So I was firmly on Team Y&T until the video played a little longer and we got a better idea of what a day at the beach with our Our Heroes actually looks like.

For one thing, they seem to enjoy bursting out of unexpected places to scare the crap out of bottle-collecting old ladies and guys with metal detectors:

And blatantly taking stuff from their fellow beachgoers without asking:

Y&T GUY:  Hey, lady, can I borrow your fancy binocs?

RANDOM TOURIST:  Um...I'd actually rather you di...

Y&T GUY: K, thanks! Bye!

CARMEN MIRANDA CLONE:  Excuse me, sir! Do you mind?

Y&T GUY:  Hell yeah I mind! I wanted Royal Rainier cherries. These are just plain old Rainiers. Gross!

No, Mr. Carnie, don't invite one of those guys to try his luck at your Bozo Baseball stand!

He'll cheat. In the most sociopathic way available to him.*

I think it's pretty clear at this point that the problem isn't the girls on the beach being shallow and rude. The problem is the fact that the Y&T guys have earned themselves such a solid reputation for being huge, brazen douchebags that no one wants to hang out with them. So I was quite surprised when the same women who blew these guys off at the beginning of the video come back to them at the end, looking very friendly:

...until I realized that these ladies have likely hatched a plan to lull the guys into a false sense of security before pushing them off the pier as punishment for ruining everyone's nice day at the beach.

Petty Side Note: Hey, lead singer guy, I don't like to single you out, but your outfit was bugging me the whole damn time I watched this video:

I know, I know. You're at the beach on a hot day. You're supposed to look kinda dorky for the purposes of the story. You're in the 80's, and everyone else who lives there (then?) is varying degrees of style-impaired too. You've got a whole host of excuses for not dressing your best. But that ensemble is a big honking fashion DON'T. Those two items just do not go together. You could make that sixpack-bearing top work, but only if you wore it with skin-tight, colorful spandex pants, leather boots, and lots of makeup and hair product like a good little pinup boy. Whereas you should be wearing those shorts You shouldn't be wearing those shorts. Ever. Promise me you won't, okay? If you do, you can swipe binoculars and cherries from me all you want and I won't even get mad.  

*Actually, in this case I'm assigning partial blame to whoever owns/runs this little beach-side carnival. Seriously, who leaves a loaded bazooka lying on the ground in a place where little kids and rock stars with bad people skills might be running around?