Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's Nancy Kovack Day!

The Gorgeous Nancy Kovack as "Nona"

It's Nancy Kovack Day! Ahh, Nancy - was I the only 6 year-old who went mad for this lusty, cultured, Michigan born beauty?! I think not. My introduction to Nancy Kovack was, like many around my age, via her role as Nona (above) in the Star Trek episode A Private Little War, or as Queenie in the Batman S01, Ep 5 The Joker is Wild. and S01 Ep 6 Batman Gets Riled. But, it didn't take long for me at all to start noticing her in many of her Television appearances of the 60s and 70s, Bewitched, Get Smart, The Invaders, I Spy, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Perry Mason, Hawaii Five-O, It Takes a Thief, etc, and her film work - most notoriously, her role as Medea in Jason and the Argonauts and that amazing, erotic, super-charged dance sequence. As me Grandpappy used to say, "hubba hubba."

Born in Flint, Michigan, Nancy was a very brainy and very beautiful young lady. She entered the University of Michigan at a very young age, some reports claim she entered at 15 and graduated at 19 - going on from there to win numerous Beauty Pageants. She ultimately caught the eye of Hollywood and started out on the Jackie Gleason show, the rest is history. Nancy essentially retired after she married symphony orchestra conductor Zubin Mehta. I have not seen a photograph of her in a very long time. She didn't even do the Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Magnum PI, Simon and Simon, Fall Guy, Hotel, What Have You tour, which many many actors and actresses would do to for various reasons (from simply keeping busy and in the public psyche - to "hey I need the cash").

Early 60's "Coppertone" Advertisement

I miss Nancy - she hasn't been on the scene in a very, very long time. Hope she knows that she's got many loyal fans out there.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Forthcoming Publication

I finally got word that my first publication is going to press. I answered a call for papers for an edited anthology on the Dracula myth (from a trans-cultural perspective) nearly two years ago. Anthologies can take a looooong time. But I received word from one of the two editors last night that Scarecrow Press is the publisher and the project is nearing completion. As a super cool bonus, the world's leading horror historian David J. Skal (pictured at left) is writing the introduction to the book. I love David Skal, anyone with even a passing familiarity with the genre knows his name. My chapter discusses the Toho Dracula Trilogy - here's a portion of the abstract: This chapter explores the curious existence of a trio of Japanese financed, produced, directed, and distributed vampire films from the early 1970s – Legacy of Dracula (1970), Lake of Dracula (1971) and Evil of Dracula (1974). This essay characterizes the cross-cultural properties of these films and then attempts to explain, beyond cross-cultural parameters, the more formal issues of identity in the modern Japanese horror film. These three films, marked with and odd "Western Gothic" aesthetic appear to be the product of much more than mere imitation/appropriation of a successful British economic and aesthetic model (Hammer Studios, the trilogy’s most obvious economic and aesthetic antecedent); they are representative of a fear and anxiety of foreign rule and interference consonant with the period under which they were produced. And so forth and so on... The picture that has been the calling card for Trash Aesthetics (at the top of this page) is taken from this Dracula trilogy. At any rate, it's very cool that this is finally being published. Now, back to the dissertation...

Here are some promotional materials and stills from these films to give you an idea of what my chapter is all about aesthetically.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's Joan Collins Day!

Yes, that's right it's Joan Collins day here at Trash Aesthetics. Why? Hey, why the fuck not?

Is Joan Collins even one of Chick Young's favorite TOP gals of all-time you ask yourself? Absolutely! See, I've got very fond memories of Joan and was indeed ga ga over her. But, it frequently depended on the venue. Dynasty? Not so much (although I watched it - and let me tell you when Joan posed nude for Playboy in 81' or 82' that Playboy made the rounds at my Junior High School and I am sure it caused a fair amount of DNA to be spilled).

I recently bought a copy of Midnite Movies' double feature of Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror. Two very fine Amicus British horror anthologies from the early 70s (a decade careful readers will note that I am fond of). And I was hit with a powerful wave of Nostalgia for Joan as I put in Tales from the Crypt - which I had not watched in many years. While watching it, I was reminded of her beauty and charm and it got me motivated to have Joan Collins Day. That's the fascinating and gripping true account regarding the STORY BEHIND the story. True Story.

At any rate, it also got me thinking about the stories that were relayed in the first Natalie Wood biography I read when I was about 19. Collins was heavily involved with Warren Beatty while Natalie was making Splendour in the Grass with Beatty - and of course, Natalie and Beatty hooked up - Natalie dropped husband Robert Wagner for Beatty and the tabloids were convinced that Joan Collins would latch on to Robert so they could commiserate and presumably - fornicate. R.J. was devastated - left for Italy and didn't return for quite some time. Sad that. Warren dumped Natalie awhile later - according to the biography for a fucking hat check girl. Warren - what a snake. Time for another pic...

So, sometimes here at Trash Aesthetics, we have empty, bullshit posts about nothing in particular. Today, I honor Joan Collins. I always thought she was drop-dead gorgeous and still do. Here's to you Joan...

Now, that's a killer 70s publicity still if there ever was...

Monday, August 11, 2008

"No One is in Control. The World is Rutterless" - Alan Moore

As I lie here at 2:30 in the a.m. watching a recap of the Olympics, hoping to get "sleepy", and contemplating the 147 things that need to be done tomorrow, I am struck with a palpable emotional overload. And, I might add, this palpable feeling has been growing steadily for years now.

What I don't exactly understand is why.

At the mere age of 38 I am saturated with desperate nostalgia for a "time better spent." I maneuver through a culture so completely different from the one I knew growing up that the thought of returning to it consumes me. I crave desperately to crawl back into a geographical and temporal womb. To kick off my shoes and put my feet up on an ottoman called "yesterday."

As a child of the 1970s, I must admit that I feel a complete and total disconnect from the youth culture of today. Not always mind you, I do teach hordes of undergraduates every semester and "connect" on various levels with various students. But, this feeling is a more macro disenchantment, ambivalence, and disenfranchisement in "general" which as a result, has left me clueless and disillusioned. I don't know how to navigate anymore - a captain without a compass or even a star to sail by. The world is rutterless...

I find something "good" everyday as there is much good in this world of ours. But, I yearn for the slower pace of my childhood. I yearn for rotary telephones, typewriters, family dinners, playing in the snow with my brother, fishing on those long, hot, dog day summer afternoons, the sting of sweat in the corners of my eyes as I reeled in a small mouth bass, the sweet plum compote that my grandmother would make, watching the four o'clock movie while eating an oatmeal raisin cookie (in a pre-cable society and on a television set that only received seven or eight channels because that's all we had). We all have a nostalgia for our childhoods, none of which were perfect, but they are remembered that way. I am not blind to the problems that I or we had back then. It's not so much that I want to go back to my childhood, I just want to go back to the 1970s - period. Did you know that while I sit around doing work - I have the Game Show Network on for several hours every day? Why? Because the re-runs of Match Game, Card Sharks, Family Feud, (and others) teleport me back to the mid to late 70s - a time where things made SENSE to me. Yes, I'm grateful for some of the "modern conveniences" of life today, but I would give them all up in a second to go back. The state of world affairs was a bloody mess then too - many dominant ideologies of that period are thankfully no longer sanctioned, political and economic matters were (as usual) chaotic, core issues that face us today were but whispers, and so forth and so on, and yet, I still would want to go, in spite of all that.

The cultural differences between 1970 and 1980 seem very small to me. The differences between 1980 and 1990 also seem insignificant. The differences between 1990 and 2000 are crater like. And 2008, just seems an extension of this chasm.

A student told me - just last week - that the technology of your average cell phone eclipses the technology put into the NASA spacecraft program that sent men to the moon. 1969. The year before I was born. That's the place I belong. I'm an anachronism in 2008. One of my heroes, Alan Moore, addresses this phenomena in the following, please watch:

Maybe I subconsciously chose a profession where I can keep the past alive and well because this society often leaves me cold.