The toilets were out of commission at the Handy Pavilion. That wasn't a terrible thing in Christian's book. There were a couple of porta-loos out the back, so it wasn't like no one could go. It did mean that the customers would be asking questions about the bathrooms all day, in spite of the dozens of big signs up explaining the situation. So annoying! But still not the problem.

The problem was that the plumbers would be digging up part of the toilet floor. They'd find the passage to the Phantasm's lair. They'd have to. Wouldn't they? And then what would happen? ...continue reading Do It Yourself – Chapter 35: Toilet Humour

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Hello again, my tens of readers! Particularly those of you who aren't trying to guess my password or post spam. In other words, 'Hi, Mum!'

So, we've just gotten through an astonishing twenty four weeks of Leonard Nimoy saying strange things. What have we learned? Well, one we've learned that I couldn't even come close to meeting the promise I made in my first post about not calling out the show's factual errors. I tried -- really I did -- but I just couldn't.

I don't even remember which episode this comes from, but it looks incredible
I don't even remember which episode this comes from, but it looks incredible

Before I started writing this series, my favourite way to watch the show was just to sit back, take a drink, and let the glorious nonsense wash over me. Trying to write critical reviews of episodes just makes that impossible. Where once I would have just rolled my eyes or chuckled, now I have to say something. I won't say this makes the show any less fun, but it does change my relationship with it. I can't look at the show's nonsense like an indulgent adult listening to a child blather about nonsense, I have to be more like a stern teacher demanding that it do its research and tuck its shirt in. ...continue reading In Search Of… Season 1: The Reckoning

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This is going to be a short review of a strange movie. It's the first ever film version of Mary Shelley's novel and it's… special. Historically, it's much less of a big deal than the 1931 version. James Whale's Frankenstein created much of the modern iconography of Frankenstein – the stitched together body, the slab, the lightning.

The Monster discovers that it can't hail a taxi in Frankenstein's living room.
The Monster discovers that it can't hail a taxi in Frankenstein's living room.

The 1910 version has none of this. It's based to some degree on the stage tradition of Frankenstein, which often had Frankenstein create the Monster through alchemical means. This is not completely at odds with the novel, in which Victor is inspired as much by alchemical thinkers as by contemporary science. What it meant in terms of staging is that the actor playing the Monster often made his appearance springing out of a huge cauldron, and something similar happens here. ...continue reading Frankenstein -1910

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Unusually for a Saturday, there was no charity sausage sizzle on at the Handy Pavilion.

Like so many Australian big-box hardware stores, the charity sausage sizzle was a weekly tradition. Service clubs, school groups, social clubs… all of them would take a turn cooking sausage sandwiches for the Pavilion customers. The organisations would provide the ingredients, their members would provide the volunteer labour and the Pavilion would provide them with a stall and a barbeque, gratis.

The Handy Pavilion's weekly sizzle had been going downhill with the Pavilion's customer base. Already the biggest charity groups had decamped to the DIY Barn. The Rotary Club, the Lions Club, Apex, Local High School and the South Hertling Ute Spotters Society… all gone. The last couple of weeks, the sausage sizzle had been run by the Pinecone Awareness League, the Friends of Lithgow, and an obscure church group that alienated its customers by refusing to put two sausages in the same bread. ...continue reading Do It Yourself – Chapter 34: From Bad to Wurst

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We open on Stonehenge, silhouetted against the sun. Awesome. Nimoy talks about how people built 'this great machine' then disappeared, leaving their work behind them.

Great cold open, seriously. Almost immediately, we're looking at footage of modern day druids, and Nimoy's talking about a 'strange power' in the place. I'm kind of pleased. After a couple of not-too-factually-awful episodes, I could really use some of the good stuff. We're not just looking at Stonehenge. We're looking at the magic of Stonehenge. Now, is that going to be the main thing we're looking at? Or is it going to be an enticement to see a relatively straightforward documentary, treasure in the Inca Treasure episode.

The Druids invented lens flare?
The Druids invented lens flare?

Nimoy, in the studio, claims that Stonehenge is a 'classic mystery' which I guess it is. He divides the mystery into two questions: who built it and why? Both good questions. Nimoy claims that the 'why' part of the question is 'so simple it was overlooked for centuries'. I feel a little let down, now. It's just going to be that it's a calendar, isn't it? I guess that was a new and exciting idea in the mid-70s, so I can't fault the In Search Of… people for making a big deal about it. Even so, it's a bit of a letdown. ...continue reading In Search Of… S01E24: The Magic of Stonehenge

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"Hi, what can I get you?" Norman said. He was under the counter, taking stock when the customer came in. Why did the Handy Pavilion coffee shop have three times as many small cup lids as it had small cups? It just didn't make any sense.

"Can you do me a Greek coffee?"

"Don’t have the equipment for Turkish coffee."

"I didn't ask for a Turkish coffee, I asked for a Greek coffee."

"It's all the same sh… Oh, it's you, Dad." Norman rose, dusting his hands with a paper towel. "Basically we're just set up for espresso. I can get you a short black, if you like."

Norman's father was a handsome, broad faced man with thick salt-and-pepper hair and a neatly trimmed grey beard. He was a couple of inches taller than Norma and looked like he worked out. The sleeves of his fawn windcheater bulged with muscle.

"Just a cup of tea will be fine," he said, "if I can't get a proper coffee."

...continue reading Do It Yourself – Chapter 33: Family Business

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We begin with lovely footage of the Andes, which as you know are covered by the gloveys. Sorry, that was awful. Coffee hasn't kicked in yet. Anyway, Nimoy tells us that 'it is believed' that there is treasure there, the lost treasure of the Incas. He tells us that 'white men' called the Incan Empire 'El Dorado' which is… Look, it's just wrong, okay?

There's a lot of good footage in this episode. Majestic mountain ranges, grand Incan fortresses, the fascinating people of Cuzco and archaeologists hard at work. None of these images is quite so awesome as what Leonard Nimoy is wearing in this picture.
There's a lot of good footage in this episode. Majestic mountain ranges, grand Incan fortresses, the fascinating people of Cuzco and archaeologists hard at work. None of these images is quite so awesome as what Leonard Nimoy is wearing in this picture.

We intercut pictures of the mountains and golden Incan artifacts. There's a beautiful, if slightly confusing, prose-poem about searching for treasure, and then we see some Peruvian guys hacking their way through the forest. We're told that the In Search Of… cameras have come closer than anyone to the 'heart of the mystery of the great Inca treasure.'

Parse that, if you dare ...continue reading In Search Of… S01E23 Inca Treasures

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"It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied me, still my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world." -- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.

"Wolfman's got nards." -- Horace, The Monster Squad

In ye olden days, van Helsing and his friends tried to destroy Dracula (Duncan Regher) but their plan failed. Now it's the 1980s and Dracula is trying to conquer the world again.

The boys are back in town
The boys are back in town

He reckons without a bunch of kids who have a monster fanclub. They are looked down on by their principal and bullied by the older brother from the Wonder Years (Jason Hervey). However, they win the respect of the coolest kid in school, Rudy (Ryan Lambert), who looks like he just stepped out of a kid's version of The Wild One. He's made to complete a quiz on how to kill monsters and is allowed to join the club. The leader of the monster club, Sean (Andre Gower) happens to come into possession of van Helsing's journal. ...continue reading The Monster Squad – 1987

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It wasn't about the newsletter. Not anymore, not since the forces of censorship had made sure that nothing important or true would be found there. No, as Karl Wintergreen sat in his old Citroen in the car park seeking the truth, he knew he'd never be able to tell anyone what he'd learned. Oh, he could put it on the Internet, probably. One more conspiracy theory amongst thousands, for all the good it would do.

No, Karl Wintergreen was not there as a reporter. He was there as a witness. Because someone needed to be.

The clues had been scattered, but he'd taken them all in. Not long ago, Carol from the coffee shop had arrived at work with a bruise on her face, which she'd ineptly attempted to cover up with makeup. Karl might have suspected her lunkhead boyfriend, Zorgar Ofthechimps, but he'd turned up for work at the Place O' Pets with his eyebrows singed off, suggesting that something had happened to both of them.

The same day was the first day he saw the concrete truck parked in front of the Handy Pavilion. There was no concreting work going on, but tradies often went to the Pavilion for tools, so there was no reason a concrete truck shouldn't have been there. But it was there the next day and the next day after that--always in a slightly different parking spot, but always a good spot. Too good a spot for the Pavilion management to let some random vehicle park there indefinitely. ...continue reading Do It Yourself – Chapter 32: Transformations

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Voodoo

InSearchOf1.22

Ok. This is the sort of topic that could play well to the strengths of In Search Of, but also to its weaknesses. Let's see how we go.

We start with a voodoo ceremony. Dancing, chanting, beating drums. Nimoy tells us that "the ceremony mingles the demons of humanity's oldest fears with elements of a young religion" which isn't a bad summary I guess. ...continue reading In Search Of… S01E22 Voodoo

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