Friday, 27 May 2016

Oi

cyclelicious

At the Cinemas Soon

Johnny Depp divorce to be directed by Tim Burton
Johnny Depp’s forthcoming divorce will be directed by legendary director Tim Burton, it has been confirmed today.
The divorce, which is expected to have a budget in the high millions and reach a global audience, will tell the story of a childlike, quirky man who falls in love with a woman played by a much, much younger co-star.
Leaked set designs show a divorce court decorated with dark swirls and curlicues and populated by angry-looking grotesques dressed as lawyers whilst Depp stands in the middle looking forlorn and confused.
Composer Danny Elfman is expected to supply a score for the divorce, which will go “Tiddly widdly tiddly tee tiddly BOM BOM BOMTITTY BOM” just like all his others.
“It’s an eternal story of an outsider who thinks he has been accepted by a beautiful woman, only to be chased out of society by an angry mob. We’re planning to film that scene in Australia,” Burton told reporters.
“There’s going to be a wonderful scene where a single, lonely tear falls out of Depp’s eye as a ravening hag makes off with half his money.
“She might be played by Helena Bonham Carter, but then again that might be a bit close to the bone for me, to be honest.”
Critics have already warned this is likely to be nowhere near as good as Depp’s earlier messy breakups, and will probably go on for at least an hour too long.
NT

Well Said

In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Johann von Neumann
US (Hungarian-born) computer scientist, mathematician (1903 - 1957)

Yawn

Maureen to Man U.  A marriage made in heaven...

DYK?

A trip around the bases on a baseball diamond is 20 yards longer than a goal-line-to-goal line run on a (American, I presume) football field.

Laptop Rebuild

After the Vaio rebuild and with a little time to let it settle, I have to say it has never worked so well.  The upgrade to 10 Gb RAM and Windows 10 has really helped it to pick speed and it will make a great travel computer.  Wedge well spent.

That just leaves our main lappie to get its free Windows 10 download, which is now scheduled for Sunday.  Hopefully that will also go smoothly but at least we have a back up.

Brothers Grimsby

I like Sasha Baron Cohen.  Up to a point.

He is a very funny guy who can cross the line and hold his nerve but he also has a tendency to stretch things too far and make you cringe for all the wrong reasons.  Such was the case again with his latest film.

It all makes perfect sense- take a beer swilling, football hooligan, yob (SBC) and pair him up with a suave, sophisticated secret agent brother (the impeccable Mark Strong).  Separated as kids, they have not seen each other in twenty eight years and of course they meet up at a very inopportune time.

Genuine belly laughs coupled with excruciating bouts of unintentional hideous embarrassment make for a very nervous film and all in all it's not worth the bother.

Pathetic scenes of sucking out poison (and you can guess from which body parts) and getting bathed in elephant sperm are simply puerile and not funny any more but you'd exepct his from SBC.   But Mark Strong?  How low has he sunk?

Anyway, while it will make you laugh in other areas, I wouldn't waste your money on it.  Wait until it comes along for free and suffer the adverts.  They may be the best part of the movie.

Beer Time

Just realised we haven't been out since Siem Reap.  Looking forward to heading up to the Corner this afternoon and catching up with everyone.  Going to be difficult readjusting to Chang after the Khmer beers.  Not only far stronger but also much more expensive.  Still cannot believe we were drinking beer at 25 US cents a time- and it was more than reasonable too.

Viz Bits

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 09.23.15

What Did the Romans Ever Do?

Here are 10 ways Britain would be a completely different place without immigration:

1. The NHS

According to the General Medical Council (GMC) 37 per cent of doctors are foreign born, and 40 per cent of nurses.

2. The UK economy

Foreign-owned companies only make up one per cent of registered businesses in the UK but account for over one a third of the British economy.
Think Selfridges (founded by American Harry Gordon), and Easy Jet, founded by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, a Greek man, to name a few. What if they'd never been allowed to move to the country?

3. Businesses, homes and streets would be filthy

Over one third of the workforce in cleaning and housekeeping management are foreign-born, and approximately 95 per cent of the London Underground is cleaned by foreign-born workers.

4. Food manufacturing

In a similar vein, almost 40 per cent of food manufacturers are migrants. This means where almost half of food companies receive their food from businesses owned or operated by migrants.

5. Food

Do you remember the curry crisis of 2012?
In 2012, the government announced only the top 5 per cent of the most skilled chefs qualified for admission to the UK, which naturally led to a shortage in chefs in Indian restaurants.
Britain’s curry industry stands at between £2.5bn and £3.6bn and a good portion of those businesses are run by Asian entrepreneurs and rely on foreign chefs.

6. Universities

A study conducted in 2015 showed that international students studying in London universities alone contributed some £2.3bn a year in net gains for the UK economy.
You think it's bad now?
The government has already hiked up university fees from £3,000 to £9,000 despite promises to the contrary, and a recent government White Paper indicated that the fees could rise again.

7. Taxes

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has warned that if immigration to Britain was reduced, the government would have to increase taxation just to be able to meet government targets to lower the deficit.

8. "Culture hubs"

Places like Shoreditch, Chinatown, Brick Lane, Hackney exist as an amalgamation of different cultures, constantly developing.
These places also have a high percentage of migrants, who have brought part of their cultural identity with them to Britain.

9. Science

Eight Nobel Laureates wrote a letter to the British government and warned that hostile anti-immigration policy may deprive the UK of scientific talent.

10. Sport

Foreign players continue to boost England’s football teams, and most recently Riyah Mahrez, an Algerian, won PFA Player of The Year as part of Leicester City's title winning side.
i100

Spectre

Fancied a bit of Bond and watched this for the second time last night.  I think I preferred it this time but it still left me feeling slightly disappointed.  I think I saw a headline recently that Craig will not be doing another Bond.  A good decision all round.

He has by far been the best 007 in years but that is only because the scripts have been brought up to date and lost all the silly smugness and quips.  Anyone could have done a half decent job and that is all Craig has done- he is hardly a brilliant actor, merely OK.

I wonder who the next incumbent will be?

IotD

Removable hooks that don't.

Any Time Soon

All our phones are on so we can be called when the delivery van arrives at the security gate.  I should then have enough time to finish clearing the fridge so our new one can be installed.  I can't get over how excited I am- we will have ice-cream for the weekend for the first time in a year.

Then again, we have been advised delivery will be between 10:00 and midday.  That'll be Thai time, of course.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Must Dig This Out

Smokey and the Bandit—a film thought up and directed by Burt Reynolds' roommate/celebrated stuntman Hal Needham—combined the appeal of watching high speed chases with the appeal of watching Reynolds, Sally Field, and the comedic stylings of Jackie Gleason. It was the second highest-grossing movie of 1977, directly behind Star Wars. Here are some fast facts about the classic action comedy.

1. IT WAS BASED ON A REAL COORS BANQUET BEER PROBLEM.

While Needham was in Georgia working as Reynolds' stunt double in Gator (1976), the driver captain on the set brought some Coors beer from California and brought a couple of cases to Needham's hotel room. After he noticed that the maid kept stealing the beers from the fridge, he remembered a TIME magazine article from 1974 about how Coors was unavailable east of the Mississippi River, because the beer was not pasteurized and needed constant refrigeration, and couldn't legally be sold outside of 11 western and southwestern U.S. states. Which made him realize that, "bootlegging Coors would make a good plotline for a movie."

2. BURT REYNOLDS'S FRIENDS BEGGED HIM NOT TO DO IT.

Needham—who had been living in Reynolds' pool house for 12 years (the two barely ran into each other due to their busy schedules)—presented his landlord and close friend with the script for Smokey and the Bandit, written on yellow legal pads. Reynolds told Needham that if he could get the money to shoot it, he'd star in it. The movie star's friends, according to Reynolds in his autobiography, "got down on their knees with tears in their eyes and begged me not to do it."

3. SALLY FIELD DID IT BECAUSE SHE WAS SEEN AS UGLY.

"I did Smokey and the Bandit because Sybil (1976) was coming out, and everyone said, 'Whoa, the work is extraordinary. It's really good work …' or something like that, '... but man is Sally Field ugly! Man!' And I thought, 'Oh God, okay,'" Sally Field explained of why she took the role of Carrie, a.k.a. "Frog." "And then Burt Reynolds, who was this really big box office star at the time, called me and said would I consider doing this, which I was completely flabbergasted that he would call me and do that. And there was no script. There was virtually no script. Since I wasn't a person that had come from the New York stage, and I came from this sort of weird unorthodox background, I wasn't one who stood on principle and said 'Hmm, there seems to be no script here.' So I just took a leap of faith, and thought, well, you know, 'If I play this character that Burt is supposed to think is attractive, maybe the world will think I'm attractive, and somebody else will hire me.' So I did it. And it was a great fun romp, journey, and certainly a good experience. And then it was all improv. It was almost entirely improvised."

4. NEEDHAM COULDN'T GET ALL THE CARS HE WANTED (AT LEAST FOR THE FIRST MOVIE).

Needham saw a picture of a Pontiac Trans Am in a magazine and thought up a product placement idea. He asked for six Trans Ams, but Pontiac would only agree to send four. Needham also asked for four Bonnevilles for Jackie Gleason's cars, but he only got two. By the time they shot the final scene, they had wiped out three Trans Ams and the fourth wouldn't start after all of the stunts, so another car was used to push it into the scene. For Smokey and the Bandit II (1980), Needham asked for and received 10 Trans Ams and 55 Bonnevilles with no trouble.

5. UNIVERSAL CUT THE BUDGET JUST AS PRODUCTION WAS ABOUT TO BEGIN.

Set with his $5.3 million budget, a studio "hatchet man" was sent to Atlanta to inform Needham his budget was cut by $1 million. With Reynolds making $1 million, Needham still had $3.3 million to make his film.

6. CARRIE'S ORIGINAL NAME WAS KATE.

In the original screenplay, Bandit's last name is LaRoue, Carrie's name was Kate, Cledus' was 'Bandit II', Big Enos and Little Enos were Kyle and Dickey, there was no Junior, Bandit's car was not a Trans Am, and the reward for making the run was a new truck, not $80,000.
Adding the Junior Justice character (Mike Henry) was Jackie Gleason's idea. "I can't be in the car alone," Gleason said. "Put someone in there with me to play off of."

7. THE STUDIO WANTED RICHARD BOONE TO PLAY SHERIFF BUFORD T. JUSTICE.

Reynolds wanted someone "a little crazier, a little more dangerous, and a lot funnier" than Richard Boone, so he suggested Gleason.

8. BUFORD T. JUSTICE WAS BASED ON SOMEONE REYNOLDS'S FATHER KNEW.

Reynolds' father was a Riviera Beach, Florida police chief, and he knew a Buford T. Justice type. One of the things the real Buford T. Justice said was "sumbitch." Reynolds told Gleason about the man's bastardization of "son of a bitch" and Gleason ran with it.

9. JACKIE GLEASON AD LIBBED.

It was Gleason's idea to have the toilet paper coming out of his pant leg when Buford left the Bar B-QReynolds wrote that Gleason "never said a single word in the script."

10. GLEASON ENJOYED "HAMBURGERS" ON SET.

Gleason would often ask his assistant Mal for a "hamburger," which was code for a glass of bourbon.

11. REYNOLDS AND GLEASON WERE SUPPOSED TO SHARE MORE SCREEN TIME.

Variety reported that, "after shooting the first of what was intended to be a handful of scenes with Reynolds and Jackie Gleason on screen together, Reynolds demanded that the subsequent scenes be scrapped. Why? The question isn’t directly answered, or even indirectly addressed."

12. "EAST BOUND AND DOWN" WAS WRITTEN OVERNIGHT.

Jerry Reed (Cledus) also provided the hit song "East Bound and Down" for the film. After promising he would come up with a song, he didn't have one at the end of filming. After Needham asked him about it, Reed promised he would have something for him the following morning. Despite being out all night, Reed managed to sing his new song "East Bound and Down" for Needham the next day. When Needham didn't react right away, Reed said, "If you don't like it I can change it. "If you change one damn note, I'll f*ckin' kill you!" the director replied.

13. ALFRED HITCHCOCK WAS A BIG FAN OF THE FILM.

His daughter Patricia revealed that every Wednesday her father would screen films on the lot in his office. The last one he ever screened was Smokey and the Bandithis favorite film of his last few years.
MF

Parlez Vous?

Foreign words which have no English equivalent, but should have:


Abhisar (अभिमान)

(Bengali, n.): lit. 'going towards'; a meeting (often secret) between lovers / partners.

Chai pani (चाय पानी)

(Hindi/Urdu, n.): lit. 'tea and water'; favours or money given to someone to get something done (similar to a 'bribe', but without a negative connotation).

Cwtch

(Welsh, n.): to hug, a safe welcoming place.

Fjellvant

(Norwegian) (adj.): Being accustomed to walk in the mountains.

Gumusservi

(Turkish, n.): the glimmering that moonlight makes on water.

Kvell

(Yiddish, v.): to feel strong and overt (expressed) pride and joy in someone's successes.

Mерак

(Serbian, n.): pleasure derived from simple joys.

Morgenfrisk

(Danish, adj.): feeling rested after a good night's sleep.

Nakama (仲間)

(Japanese, n.): best friend, close buddy, one for whom one feels deep platonic love.

Samar (سمر)

(Arabic, v.): to sit together in conversation at sunset/ in the evening.

Sólarfrí

(Icelandic, n.): sun holiday, i.e., when workers are granted unexpected time off to enjoy a particularly sunny/warm day.

Sprezzatura

(Italian): nonchalance, art and effort are concealed beneath a studied carelessness.

Sobremesa

(Spanish, n.): when the food has finished but the conversation is still flowing.

Suaimhneas croi

(Gaelic, n.): happiness / contentment on finishing a task.

Toska (тоска)

(Russia, n.): longing for one’s homeland, with nostalgia and wistfulness.

Waldeinsamkeit

(German, n.): mysterious feeling of solitude when alone in the woods.

Whakakoakoa

(Māori, v.): to cheer up.
i100

Zorro

A dispute over image rights could see new Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho wear a balaclava on the touchline and during post-match interviews.
Talks have been ongoing after it transpired that the Portuguese manager’s image is trademarked by Chelsea, leaving little chance of a resolution.
“It’s a very unusual situation,” explained sports lawyer David Barnes.
“Mourinho’s image is owned by Chelsea and it would be a hugely expensive process for Mourinho to buy the trademark back.”
“So the only plausible solution appears to be that any time that Jose is representing Manchester United he covers his face with a balaclava – or even a pair of tights, as if he was going to turn over the local Post Office.”
It is understood that lawyers for Mourinho and Chelsea have been unable to agree on a way forward with the offer to wear a fedora, baseball hat or trilby being flatly rejected by Chelsea.
However, sports psychologist Mandy Draper believes that the situation could be turned to Manchester United’s advantage.
“Having instructions barked at you by a manager wearing a balaclava could be incredibly intimidating, and, therefore quite motivating,” says Draper.
“Plus, if it catches on, they might even be able to convince Wayne Rooney to wear one too.”
NT

A Good Tip

MF

The next time you’re baking, don’t worry about softening your butter beforehand. Just grab a grater and add those shreds of dairy goodness to the mix. 
A lot of recipes call for softened butter to fold into dough, but you don’t necessarily need to have the foresight to take it out of the fridge a few hours in advance to make a successful cookie. According to The Kitchn, even frozen butter thaws in just a few minutes when grated. 
Even better, grated butter is easier to mix into a recipe, especially one that calls for cold butter, like for a pie crust or biscuit dough. The flakes incorporate better than chunks hacked away by a knife, allowing you to mix them more easily throughout the whole dough and eliminate pockets of extra butter. 
Really, there's no reason to slice off a pat of butter from the stick again. It's pretty much always better grated, whether it's spread on toast or added to a baking project. (As are a lot ofkitchen staples, in fact.)

Well Said

That's the secret to life... replace one worry with another....
Charles M SchulzCharlie Brown
US cartoonist (1922 - 2000) 

Oi

rustybaker28

Walking Down the Street

In 1966 the best-selling rock band in the United States wasn’t the Beatles—it was the Monkees. And they weren’t even a “real” band (at least at first); they were a Hollywood creation.
The_Monkees
THE PRE-FAB FOUR

In 1953 a TV producer named Bob Rafelson was traveling through Mexico with a group of “four unruly and chaotic folk musicians” and thought their exploits would make for a fun TV show. He unsuccessfully pitched the idea to Universal in 1960. Five years later, Rafelson was working at Screen Gems, the TV division of Columbia Pictures, with another young producer, Bert Schneider. Both were fans of the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night and marveled at how it had fused comedy and rock music. They wondered: Could that be translated to TV?
The two men formed Raybert Productions and began developing their series. At first, they wanted to hire an established band, such as Herman’s Hermits, but decided they didn’t want to deal with record company contracts. But through the magic of TV, the band didn’t even need to be musicians—they wouldn’t really be playing the instruments; they only had to look convincing. Acting experience wouldn’t be necessary, either.
In 1965 they ran this ad in Hollywood Reporter and Variety: “MADNESS!! AUDITIONS. Folk & Roll Musicians, Singers for acting roles in new TV series. Running parts for 4 insane boys, age 17–21.”
MICKY, DAVY, PETER, AND MIKE
Word spread around the L.A. music scene, and 437 “folk & roll musicians” and “insane boys” showed up to audition. After a three-month process in which the leading candidates were called back several times to perform in various groupings to see who had chemistry together, Raybert ended up with two professional actors and two professional musicians—all of whom could sing and all of whom were funny.
  • Micky Dolenz, 21, a former child star (he’d starred as an orphaned acrobat on the 1956 show Circus Boy), was hired to be the drummer, even though he couldn’t play the drums or even look like he could. His singing, however, was top-notch, so he ended up singing on most of the Monkees’ hits.
  • Davy Jones, 21, was an experienced stage performer who had toured with the musical Oliver! in 1962. (With that production, he had appeared on the same 1964 Ed Sullivan Show as the Beatles, had seen the girls going hysterical, and said to himself, “I want a bit of this.”) Jones was under contract with Screen Gems and was urged to audition—he could sing, was good-looking, and had a British accent—in other words, he was Beatles-esque. He was hired as the “official” lead singer.
  • Stephen Stills of the band Buffalo Fish (later Buffalo Springfield) was cast, but he backed out when he learned that Screen Gems would own the rights to any songs he wrote. He suggested an ex-bandmate named Peter Tork, 24. By the time Rafelson tracked him down, Tork was working as a dishwasher. He was primarily a guitarist; in this band, he’d be the bassist.
  • Mike Nesmith, 21, was playing in a band called the Survivors. Already a successful songwriter—he’d written Frankie Laine’s “Pretty Little Princess”—he was on his way to a successful music career when he auditioned for the show. Wearing his trademark wool cap and carrying a sack of laundry, Nesmith announced in his slight Texas drawl, “I hope this ain’t gonna take too long, fellas, ’cause I’m in a hurry.” He was named lead guitarist.
HEY, HEY, WE’RE THE CREEPS!
Raybert had their four musicians, but they were lacking one important detail—a name for the band. Some possibilities tossed around: the Creeps, the Turtles, and the Inevitables. Then Schneider suggested taking a cue from how the Beatles had misspelled “beetles,” and he turned “monkeys” into Monkees.
Rafelson and Schneider now needed money to film a pilot. Former child star Jackie Cooper, then a Screen Gems executive, offered $250,000 before he even saw the script. It helped that Schneider’s father was the president of Columbia Pictures, parent company of Screen Gems.
In early 1966, Rafelson and Schneider hired character actor James Frawley to conduct acting classes and direct the pilot. It would be his first directing job. They told him to relax and to “dare to be wrong.” So Frawley had the band members, who were quite stiff at first, watch Marx Brothers movies and perform improv exercises: “Swim around in slow motion! Now roll around on the floor! Now you’re a crab! Now you’re giraffes! Run around and talk like a giraffe would talk!” By the time they filmed the pilot in the spring, the Monkees’ personas were in place and, perhaps more importantly, they’d become friends.
TEST PILOT
The plot of the pilot: The band’s upcoming gig at a fancy country club is in jeopardy when the sweet-16 birthday girl falls for Davy, and her stuffed shirt of a father doesn’t approve. The four stars—even Dolenz and Jones, who’d done some TV—were overwhelmed by the complexities of the shoot. Raybert wanted a fast show, so they brought in TV commercial production teams, who filmed the stars riding on motorized skateboards, running amok through hotels, and doing other silly things. The Monkees themselves were quite lost; the show, they were told, would be crafted later in the editing booth. “The narrative of the shows was never that important,” recalls Nesmith. “What was important was a kind of kinetic energy.”
Rafelson and Schneider loved the pilot, but test audiences hated it. Tork explained why: “When the audience didn’t know who these kids were, the obnoxiousness was overpowering. They were like, ‘What are these brats doing?’” But instead of making the Monkees more polite, Raybert simply showed the pilot again—this time with early screen tests from Jones and Nesmith tacked on at the end. That did the trick: “It gave the next audience enough identification with the kids that they forgave them for being obnoxious.”
Raybert showed the pilot to NBC’s programming chief Mort Werner. “I don’t know what the hell we’ve just seen,” he exclaimed, “but I think we should put it on the air.”
MONDAY NIGHT MADNESS
The Monkees premiered on Monday, September 12, 1966, at 7:30 p.m. The show was an instant hit and ruled that time slot for two seasons. At the time, it seemed revolutionary.
Some of the cutting-edge aspects:
  • Quick takes. Most shows at the time had about 15 scenes per episode. The Monkees averaged about 60.
  • Surrealism. The Monkees regularly featured dream sequences, visual gags (such as “stars” in Davy’s eyes), wacky sound effects, rapid-fire scene transitions, and action that was sped up and slowed down.
  • Breaking the “fourth wall.” For example, when the boys find themselves in a tough situation, Micky looks at the camera and says, “Who wrote this?” The camera follows him as he leaves the set and walks into a smoke-filled room with old Asian men crouched around typewriters.
  • Music videos. Elvis and the Beatles had done it on film, but until The Monkees, no TV sitcom routinely stopped telling its story—twice per episode—to feature a music video of the band’s latest song. The Monkees’ musical interludes proved that television could sell records.
  • Counterculture presented in a good light. The Monkees had long hair and lived in a groovy beach house, but compared to real hippies (or the Beatles), they were square: on-screen, they didn’t do drugs, didn’t talk politics, and didn’t disrespect young ladies. Ironically, that lack of an edge may have boosted the counterculture movement. “Kids could show their parents that there were long-haired people who weren’t deviant,” said Tork later.
The Monkees became overnight sensations…but they’d soon suffer the scorn of the music industry.
MONKEE FACTORY
On the set of The Monkees, the on-screen action was wacky and loose. But behind the scenes, NBC and Screen Gems had put so much into promoting the show that nothing was left to chance. During filming, any cast members who weren’t in the scene being shot were kept in a room with black walls and a meat-locker door. They could be loud, smoke pot, and even entertain women without being seen. Each Monkee had a corner, and in each corner a light was installed. When a Monkee’s light started blinking, that Monkee or Monkees would report to the set and perform. Then it was back to the black box.
During press interviews, they were given a list of topics they could not talk about, including politics, Vietnam, and drugs. “We were hired actors,” said Nesmith. “We came in at seven in the morning and did what we were told until seven at night. We had almost no part in the creative process.” And they often had to add vocals to their songs in recording sessions that went long after midnight.
DAYDREAM DECEIVERS
Screen Gems’ head of music, Don Kirshner, was hired to develop the band’s sound into something catchy and marketable. Kirshner tapped top songwriters of the day, including Neil Diamond, Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart, and Carole King, who contributed to the band’s hits, such as “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer,” and “Daydream Believer.” Although Tork and Nesmith were both skilled guitarists and Jones was a decent drummer, the “band” wasn’t allowed to play instruments on their first two albums, The Monkees and More of the Monkees.
As the first season came to a close, word had leaked out that the Monkees were a fabricated band, but their popularity had already skyrocketed—especially that of Davy Jones, who became a teen heartthrob. To capitalize on their fame, NBC sent them on a concert tour in early 1967 to perform their hits—which they hadn’t even played in the first place. TV’s first manufactured band was about to become a real band, and the task was daunting. “Putting us on tour was like making the cast of Star Trek fight real aliens,” said Dolenz.
STEPPING STONES
The Monkees’ early concerts didn’t go well musically, but few noticed because their teenage fans didn’t stop screaming long enough to even hear them. Jimi Hendrix got the job of being their opening act, against his wishes (his manager made him do it). “Jimi would amble out onto the stage,” recalled Dolenz, “fire up the amps, and break into ‘Purple Haze,’ and the kids would drown him out with ‘We want Daaavy!’ God, was it embarrassing.” Hendrix quit after seven shows.
The Monkees soon learned to actually play together, and got a big boost on the European leg of their ‘67 tour when the Beatles threw them a lavish party. John Lennon didn’t see them as competitors or imitators, but contemporaries. He called the Monkees “the Marx Brothers of rock.”
Meanwhile, back in the States, tension mounted between the Monkees and Kirshner, especially after he rejected songs Nesmith had written…because they weren’t “Monkee enough.” The final straw came when Kirshner released a Monkees song—the Neil Diamond-penned “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You”—without Screen Gems’ or the Monkees’ approval. Nesmith was so angry that he punched a hole in the wall of Rafelson’s office. Kirshner was fired, which gave the group more control over their music but not over their image…or even their lives.
OF MONKEES AND MEN
By this time, the Monkees were widely resented by musicians who’d paid their dues for years, only to be upstaged by a fabricated band. Not even the 1967 album Headquarters, which the Monkees wrote and performed themselves, could save their reputations. Even when the Monkees were honored, they were dissed. After season one, the show won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy and another for Jim Frawley’s directing. In his acceptance speech, Frawley said, “I couldn’t have done this without four very special guys—Harpo, Chico, Groucho, and Zeppo.” The band took his remarks as a snub, not a compliment.
As the second season dragged on, the Monkees spent most of their waking hours working, and grew increasingly tired and jaded. How many episodes could be written about country clubs or haunted mansions the band gets lost in? The band agreed to come back for a third season only if the show switched formats to a variety program. (They got a taste of that toward the end of the second season when Frank Zappa, dressed up like Mike Nesmith, interviewed Mike Nesmith, who was dressed up like Frank Zappa.) NBC didn’t want to change the format, so they canceled The Monkees in 1968 but signed a deal with them to make three specials a year.
HEADING TO THE BIG SCREEN
The Monkees as a band, however, remained intact. In the summer of 1968, Raybert began filming a Monkees feature film conceived of by their friend Jack Nicholson while he was tripping on LSD. Head was a stream-of-consciousness, psychedelic diatribe against Hollywood—TV in particular. It began with the Monkees chanting, not singing, a parody of their theme song: “Hey, hey, we are the Monkees, you know we love to please / A manufactured image, with no philosophies.” It only got weirder from there—and it confused its teeny-bopper audience. The film was panned and made only a fraction of its budget, squashing any plans for a sequel.
The band then made a few guest appearances on TV variety shows in 1969. Their last hurrah was a bizarre NBC special, 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee. In one scene, the guys were placed inside giant test tubes, a reference to being “grown in a lab.” Later, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Jerry Lee Lewis all played pianos stacked on top of each other. The program got such poor ratings (it had run opposite the Academy Awards) that NBC canceled the remaining contracted Monkees specials. Then, citing exhaustion, Tork quit the band. The special was the last time all four Monkees would appear together for 16 years.
THE SECOND COMING…AND GOING
Throughout the 1970s, Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, and Davy Jones continued performing together occasionally while also pursuing solo careers. However, the money they had made from their TV series and album sales was poorly handled, so Jones and Tork ended up deep in debt. Nesmith never had to worry about money thanks to his mother’s invention—Liquid Paper. In 1979 he inherited $25 million (about $82 million today).
While the Monkees’ success on vinyl faded, the popularity of their old TV show stayed strong. From 1969 to 1972, CBS aired reruns on Saturday mornings, and local stations aired it here and there. Then in 1986, MTV began airing the show, and it was a huge hit all over again. Now in their 40s, the Monkees reunited and recorded a new album,Justus, and followed it with a successful world tour.
Everything was rosy until the Monkees failed to show up at an MTV-thrown Super Bowl party in 1987. Though the band had missed the date because of a scheduling snafu by their manager, MTV execs saw it as an ungrateful snub and retaliated by banning the band’s videos and reruns. Monkeemania 2.0 quickly died.
THE REFAB PREFAB FOUR
While the band was still selling out stadiums around the world back in 1986, Screen Gems producer Steve Blauner thought that the Monkees revival could give way to a totally new incarnation of the band, with new members, and to reflect the music and sensibilities of the 1980s.
Following a casting process like the one conducted 20 years earlier, Blauner found four young musicians and cast them in The New Monkees, which began airing in fall 1987.
Don’t remember it? That’s because it lasted only 12 episodes, it generated no hit songs, and the four guys never went on to much else.
Another New Monkees attempt was made in 2003 by American Idol creator and Spice Girls mastermind Simon Fuller. He hired Simpsons writers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein to write scripts. NBC passed.
TIFO