Friday, August 27, 2010

Another girl is loving you now, another planet, forever holding you down (the Only Ones)

Have to share this - just watched an unbelievably out there episode of Lost In Space. Called Collision of Planets - it is episode number 9 of season 3. It aired in August 1967. The summer of love.

This episode has four stoner hippie biker aliens (long hair, beards, groovy vests, space age speeder type bikes, nasty helmets and bad attitudes - an intergalactic version of Brando's Wild Ones biker gang who were incidentally called 'The Beetles' - I kid you not!). The stoner hippie biker aliens (SHBAs) are trying to blow up the planet that the Robinsons have landed on. They have the worst luck! Anyway the SHBSs are three guys and one spectacular stoner hippie biker chick in dayglo red go-go boots who makes drugged out hippie shapes and ensnares (no better word) poor Dr Smith who has breathed in some alien gas (drugs maan) and gained Samson-like powers. Phew. Try making a show for prime time with that plot now and see how far (out) you get.

The robot has the best line at the end after the Robinson's flee the planet (after helping the SHBAs to also escape they are buzzed by the SHBAs on their bikes) - 'it just goes to prove - there is nothing you can do with a really dedicated misfit'.

I love the way films and TV programmes of this era tried to be hip and edgy with the drug culture - remember The Trip starring Peter Fonda? Or the Get Smart show when Max and 99 enter a hippie 'joint'?

My all time favourite before I saw this LIS episode was The Beverly Hillbillies show when Jethro joins a hippie band and tells them about smoking crawdads. A classic!

A big welcome back to Nu Zild to Samantha's Jesse. Good to have you back in the land of the long white cloud (in Taranaki it's more accurately described as 'the long black rain cloud') young sir. Sounds like his dad and family will be coming down under for a visit too. Great stuff - we look forward to seeing Michael et al at some point.

Love and peace - Wozza

Thursday, August 26, 2010

That's sugarcane that tasted good, that's cinnamon, that's Hollywood (R.E.M.)

If I wasn't welded to the idea of song lyric titles for my posts - this one would be called 'In praise of D.I.Y.'

Ross and I are at odds on this one - I'm a fan but Ross isn't. Fair enough. I'll explain my position - I'm a clutz with tools and home maintenance generally. I'm okay with a crowbar and a hammer and rough sawn timber (the sheep yards are testament) and only once have I built anything finickity successfully - a large bird aviary. It was something of a miracle given the complexity but even then it was the size of the TARDIS. Ross however inherited all the skills for fine work on a smaller scale - building model planes was his early education and he has graduated to building his own tools to make things. I'm in awe. I once made a model tugboat and I felt like a clumsy ox compared to Ross' fine skills.

So - when I get a chance to do some D.I.Y. I leap at it - much to Jacky's consternation I'm sure. Recently you'll remember I redecorated a lot of the house. When we returned from Doha I continued with the spare bedroom and laundry. The final room to require a touch up was the master bedroom.

I've left it to last for a reason. In short, because the wardrobe needed a makeover.

The master bedroom is bizarrely like a villa's room - 12 foot stud etc. Bizarre cos the rest of the house isn't a villa or remotely like a villa. Someone at some point, again - bizarrely, built a wardrobe in the room and used a curtain instead of a door.

The task - enclose the wardrobe properly with two doors instead of the curtain.

I asked my nephew (a building apprentice) to have a go for me. He looked at it - considered all the lack of plumb and level on each side of the wardrobe, said he'd help but it would be tricky and then quietly withdrew from the project. Daunted? Moi? No way!

I've spent the last two days the job and after much angst, swearing, tooing and froing - I succeeded in finishing the job. A great sense of satisfaction was to be had by me and my padowan (Jade).

Now I'm up a ladder wearing Joe 90 goggles and washing the ceiling and walls with sugar soap in preparation for a lick of paint.

Joe 90 reminds me - Ross wrote that he was in fact a co-viewer with me of Lost In Space. Sorry bout that chief! He also sent in a list of other programmes we watched. A lot of Gerry Anderson stuff - Thunderbirds (we almost knew them off by heart), Stingray, Joe 90 of course and many other cartoons like Gigantor, as well as Disney and Hanna-Barbera cartoons (The Huckleberry Hound Show, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, Top Cat, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest (left - looks like Jesse huh? I've noticed you never see Jonny and Jesse together in the same room. Hmmm?), Atom Ant, Secret Squirrel were regulars)

Simpler times - much more innocent days than the poor kids have now with their plethora of entertainment outlets.

Love and peace - Wozza

Friday, August 20, 2010

There's a starman waiting in the sky (Bowie)

I know you're keen to find out how the Lost In Space-a-thon is going. On to the third and final season now and it's ace! I love the fact that they are reusing spaceship images from the first season pilot. Class!

The third season (from 1967) was never shown in NZ so the different opening and new Robinson family uniforms took me by surprise. The more I think about it the more I think we only ever got the first season here for some bizarre reason. The third season returns us to space (much of one and all of two were set on a single planet) and adventure rather than camp comedy and it's all the better for it. It's definitely the best season which makes the lack of a fourth season quite perplexing.

The robot still has all the best lines and Dr Smith is still causing mindless angst and Judy (Marta Kristen) is still gorgeous. Well, she is! I watched the movie version again recently (it's actually really good apart from the really annoying Matt LiBlanc as Don West) and one of the extra bits is interviews with Judy, Penny and Maureen. It's fun to hear them reminisce about the series and they clearly loved the experience. Fun also seeing them 40 years later - they've aged well (especially Marta).

It's a bit sad the producers/writers never made much of Judy - she never had any meaty story lines and didn't develop as a character. Even Penny had more to do. Puzzling because Marta is a good actor, in my humble opinion. Certainly she is much better that Guy Williams.

Why do I love the show so much? Partly it's the nostalgic urge. It reminds me of simple times - Sunday nights, age 10, in front of our black and white TV at 18 Korma Ave, Royal Oak, Auckland. I don't recall my brother, or parents, ever watching it with me. Not really their taste. Comic book heroic Americans conquering space was certainly mine though.

Partly it's the innate period charm - the reusing of film stock, the flimsy monsters, the lurid and imaginative use of colour. Partly it's the great dialogue between Smith, the robot and Will. Partly it's the terribly wooden acting from Guy Williams (the father).

I'm not alone either, I hasten to add. There are huge fan conventions for not only L.I.S. but the other 60s and 70s TV shows we grew up with. Some of mine were Hogan's Heroes, Get Smart, Mission Impossible, C'Mon, Happen Inn, The Beverly Hillbillies, Time Tunnel, Hawaii Five-O, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and, of course, Lost in Space. All American (Pete Sinclair counts as he was trying so hard to sound hip and American) and pretty much the same show really - humorous, imaginative, at times quite camp, cool and exotic. Great material to escape 1960s NZ boredom.

Till next time, inshallah -

Love and peace - Wozza

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Some guys they just give up living, and start dying little by little, piece by piece (Bruce Springsteen)

Jacky is working nights at the moment which means I can catch up on some of the music videos I've horded for when Jacky is at work (and Woody Allen movies which she hates). Bruce Springsteen's Live in Hyde Park London DVD was first up yesterday. I cranked up the stereo and the Clash's London Calling blasted forth from the DVD.

Woagh!! What a sound. Brucie baby has lost nothing in terms of passion and commitment over the years. I love his 1975 UK live set and the E Street Band has grown in numbers and stature since those days (although poor old Clarence Clemons looked in bad shape over his 1975 model - back pains and surgeries have obviously taken their toll). Stand out track for me was Racing In the Street. It's long been a favourite but the grizzled 2009 Boss injects the words with new subtleties of meaning. What extraordinary words for a young guy to write.

I realised, listening to it about 30 years after I first heard it, that I don't want to be one of those guys who gives up living, who comes home/washes up/and goes racing in the street. I'm going to continue to fight that 'dying little by little' impulse that, I suspect, resides in all of us.

Tonight's visit is to Oasis land.

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, August 16, 2010

Well, I'm so tired of crying, but I'm out on the road again (Canned Heat)

The family and I have just returned from a road trip - the object of which was to collect my father's ashes from the funeral home in Auckland and scatter them where my mother's ashes are placed in Taupo.

Sounds simple huh? But nothing with my family is ever simple - particularly when there are animals to consider (many thanks to Kerry for house and animal sitting) and people to manage.

Samantha drove up to us from Wellington and together with Jade and Jacky we set off initially for Hamilton and a visit to Adam's place.
Keegan, of course, lives in Auckland - hence his no appearance in the photo taken in Adam's front yard. We handed over the oud and other gifts from Doha and collected a CD of Adam's music. It's a collection of the tracks he sends us regularly and a top effort it is too. I do find his tribute to his grandad (Graham N Purdy R.I.P.) very affecting. He also gave me a copy of a CD by Emancipator - I have no idea who or what they are but it is also a superb collection of trip hop instrumentals.

Next it was Keegan's turn in the spotlight as we entered Auckland. Again we handed over the Doha gifts and enjoyed a catch-up. Keegan gave us a lift to the ferry buildings where we needed to catch a ride to Waiheke Island. We spent the night at Brian's fantastic house on the island with Michelle and Gavin also joining us.

This is all pretty rare really. Given the geography it is sometimes a real hike to see family members. Collecting dad's ashes had the bonus of meaning all these reunions were possible.

The next day was spent driving Jacky, Jade, and Samantha down to Taupo to join Ross, Lynda, and Scott in scattering the ashes in the appropriate place.

It was a feeling of completing a journey that began with dad's stroke last August, rather than any kind of closure. The responsibility to rejoin our parents symbolically was ours to undertake and I am very proud that we have achieved this. I certainly feel a large sense of fulfillment knowing that we have reunited them after 28 years.

Now back in Stratford it is possible to start moving forward again and entering a new phase of our lives.

I'm also hoping to regain energy in the blog. I feel like I've been sleepwalking through entries a little since returning to NZ.

Ka kite ano/ till next time, inshallah -

Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Clouds of myst'ry pourin' confusion on the ground (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

My the weather has been atrocious of late. Storms with rain and wind have us hunkered down inside the homestead. I ventured out two days ago and cut down a barbary hedge. Felt good to be out in the rain (the opposite to the America classic - Horse With No Name).

So that means reading, listening to music and watching TV. Latest book is a Lee Child actioner called Tripwire. Ross recommended the writer and they are perfect novels for rainy Stratford days.

Music - I'm making a determined bid to listen only to stuff procured in Doha at the moment. Should be finished around 2012. Current favs are prog metallers Pendragon, Isis, IO Earth, and Riverside.

And TV - well Jacky and I are hooked on The Unit. I bought season 1 in Doha and season 2 in Palmerston North while Jacky roadtested a horse. Excellent stuff. Now hunting down seasons 3 and 4!

I have to continue my Lost in Space-a-thon alone though. I'm currently up to episode 20 of season 2. This season is in colour - something we never had in NZ until the mid seventies. None of the episodes ring any bells though. Maybe NZ only ever got season 1 which was more adventure based than season 2.

I'm hugely enjoying the experience. The humour of season 2 is a standout. The interactions between the robot and Dr Smith are hilarious. The writers really went out on a limb and gave the robot the best lines and camped up Dr Smith. The rest of the cast made little progress acting wise from season 1. The only non cardboard cutout is Will and maybe Penny. The rest are reduced to guest stars in their own series and support for the Will/Dr Smith driven plots. I guess the writers went with their strengths or perceived strengths of the time. A shame though as the sci-fi story lines of season 1 were a standout.

I find myself interested in what happened to the cast after their three seasons in the sixties on this classic show and did a bit of lazy wikipedia research.

Jonathon Harris (Never fear - Smith is here) died in 2003. Guy Williams played the father and died in 1989. Billy Mumy played Will and is an excellent musician still. He continued to act after LIS. So did Marta Kristen (Judy) and Angela Cartwright (Penny). She is also a photographer of some ability. her blog is worth a look! Here she is as Penny and now.

The mother of the Robinson clan was played by June Lockhart. She has continued to appear in a lot of TV shows and movies.

That leaves only Mark Goddard (Major Don West) who has of late gained a masters degree in education according to wikipedia!

A lot of the original cast appeared in the remake movie - worth a look in itself!

Okay - time for another episode. Ka kite ano.

Love and peace - Wozza