The Max Headroom Incident

from the youtube page:

During a broadcast of the Dr. Who episode "Horror of Fang Rock" on WTTW Chicago Channel 11, on Sunday November 22nd, 1987, at around 11:15pm, a Video "Pirate" wearing a Max Headroom mask broke into the signal and transmitted one of the weirdest things ever to hit the Chicago airwaves.

Earlier in the evening on the same day, during the Nine O'Clock News on Channel 9 (a different channel) the Max Headroom Pirate also broke in - although it was for a much shorter time and there was no audio. He was never caught.


Trendsetter 7

Look at the size of this thing. It's like a full-scale prop from Adam West's Batcave.

I saw one of these at an antique shop in West Hollywood. It lit up, and all of the stereo components worked, but when I played a Don Henley cassette to test the light organ, I couldn't get the lights to flash. So let me know if you ever spot a functioning one.


Christmas Evil

"The BEST seasonal film of all time…a tue cinematic masterpiece. I wish I had kids. I'd make them watch it every year and, if they didn't like it, they'd be punished!"
-John Waters

Curl up with the family around the computer this evening for the magical mirth of "Christmas Evil". And enjoy the holiday.


Kalle Anka

Excerpted from an almost-too-strange-to-be-true story first published in Slate.com last year, and reprinted this week. Read the whole thing

Every year on Dec. 24 at 3 p.m., half of Sweden sits down in front of the television for a family viewing of the 1958 Walt Disney Presents Christmas special, "From All of Us to All of You." Or as it is known in Sverige, Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul: "Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas."

Kalle Anka, for short, has been airing without commercial interruption at the same time on Sweden's main public-television channel, TV1, on Christmas Eve (when Swedes traditionally celebrate the holiday) since 1959. The show consists of Jiminy Cricket presenting about a dozen Disney cartoons from the '30s, '40s, '50s, and '60s, only a couple of which have anything to do with Christmas.

The show's cultural significance cannot be understated. You do not tape or DVR Kalle Anka for later viewing. You do not eat or prepare dinner while watching Kalle Anka. Age does not matter—every member of the family is expected to sit quietly together and watch a program that generations of Swedes have been watching for 50 years. Most families plan their entire Christmas around Kalle Anka, from the Smörgåsbord at lunch to the post-Kalle visit from Jultomten. "At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, you can't to do anything else, because Sweden is closed," Lena Kättström Höök, a curator at the Nordic Museum who manages the "Traditions" exhibit, told me. "So even if you don't want to watch it yourself, you can't call anyone else or do anything else, because no one will do it with you."

Kalle Anke and Friends has made national icons out of its cartoon characters—Kalle, Ferdinand, Piff och Puff (Chip and Dale), Musse Pigg (Mickey Mouse), Långben (Goofy), Pluto—but also its Swedish stars. Arne Weise, who hosted the show live from 1972 to 2002, personified Christmas to two generations of Swedes. In 1992, when he attempted to get the network to record his portion of the program in advance so that he could spend Christmas with his family, newspapers got a hold of the story and helped scuttle the change. "We had recorded everything, but no way," SVT's Haegerström said. "[The] host was supposed to sit there in some sort of vigil over Christmas." Weise claims that Sweden's stubborn insistence that he record live every year destroyed his personal life, blaming the show for his three divorces.

For many Swedes, there is something comforting about knowing that every year there is one hour, on one day, when you sit down with everyone in your family and just be together. "People always want to change everything, and make everything new," Feldreich, Sweden's Jiminy Cricket, told the Swedish newspaper Länstidningen in 2008. "And then, like in a fairy tale from when we were kids, there's something familiar." Kalle Anka, he said, "offers security in a confusing world."

Three Holiday Bummers

Go stuff these in your stocking. You're welcome.


Blood on Satan's Claw

I don't consider this film to be nearly as accomplished as the similarly themed Witchfinder General, but you can find that film on Netflix, and you need to see it right away. This, however, is unavailable on home video.

Produced by the same studio that did "Witchfinder", most likely in response to that film's well-deserved success, this regards evil in more metaphysical terms. Witchfinder General is about corruption and authority, and leaves the actual existence of the supernatural (or, for that matter, of any sort of benevolent God) up to question. Blood on Satan's Claw, however, says yes, the Devil does actually exist, and he's taking possession of the world, one person at a time. It's lots of fun. See it before it's pulled.


Black Sabbatical

Goin' to Hawaii, won't be back until the new year. Don't know if anything will be happening here before then.

Happy Holidays.


Another BetamaxMas Plug

BetamaxMas is still going strong, two years since I last posted about it. Click the above image to be transported to a basement den, circa 1985.

Use the remote to change channels, move the antenna around if you start losing reception, and click the TV guide in the upper right corner to see if anything good is on (spoiler: there isn't).