Alexandre Alexeieff DVD Forthcoming from Facets

The Animation of Alexeieff - cover of the Facets DVDI’m thrilled to serendipitously learn that July 28 late November, 2009 will see the US release of The Animation of Alexeieff, a new DVD from the good folks at Facets Video in Chicago (who also recently brought us the phenomenal and long-overdue Lawrence Jordan Album four-DVD set).

Update: release of this Facets edition was delayed for four months, for reasons I’ve not been able to learn.  Back in July, Scarecrow Video even had it on their “Coming Next Week” white board…and the following week they listed it as “delayed,” and no one there seemed to know why.  This happened again earlier in November.  At this writing (Nov. 28, 2009), the Facets web site actually lists it as “in stock,” so let’s hope they’re actually shipping, too. I’m also disappointed to see that, now that it’s finally coming out, the single-disc release has a whopping $40 price tag.

This is a North American-market re-release of the stunning (and out-of-print) 2005 French release, Alexeïeff: Le Cinéma Epinglé, issued by Cinédoc in Paris.  It brings together five theatrical shorts and 18 commercials made by Alexandre Alexeieff and his partner Claire Parker, using their remarkable invention, the pinscreen.  Also included are a couple documentaries, notably the excellent workshop film The Pinscreen, made by Norman McLaren when he brought Alexeieff and Parker to the National Film Board of Canada to do master classes and create some new work there.  (That film can also be found in the mammoth but essential DVD box set, Norman McLaren: The Masters Edition.)

One of the NFBC filmmakers inspired by those sessions was Jacques Drouin, who went on to create a number of films using the pinscreen.  His 1976 film, Mindscreen (Le Paysagiste), is also included on this DVD.

Additional enticements and goodies are a photo gallery of Alexeieff’s gorgeous engravings and illustrations, as well as an illustrated booklet.

My discovery of the pending Facets release couldn’t have been timelier — I was just about to convince myself to drop a 100 bucks (!) on a second-hand copy of the original French edition, which had just surfaced on eBay.  Alexeieff and Parker’s films are almost completely unique in film history, and I’ve been a huge fan since I first saw Le Nez as part of a “surrealism in film” program of shorts in Chicago during the late 1980s. Beautiful, otherworldly and, yes, rather surreal.

Needless to say, I recommend this DVD very highly.  (I’ve watched the original French edition, which can be rented from Scarecrow Video here in Seattle.) The only disappointment is that more of their theatrical shorts aren’t represented, and that their masterful prologue to Orson Welles’ The Trial (1962) is also omitted.

Here’s some additional stills to whet your appetite:

A still from Alexeieff and Claire's 'En Passant' (1943)

This still from En Passant (1943) shows the incredible amount of detail possible with the pinscreen, not to mention the breathtaking skill Alexeieff and Parker brought to bear.  Now imagine animating the above image, shifting one metal pin at a time…24 times per second.  Astonishing.

A still from Alexeieff and Claire's 'A Night on Bald Mountain' (1933)

One of the many darkly evocative images from their first pinscreen film, Nuit sur le mont Chauve (Night on Bald Mountain) (1933), set to the composition by Mussorgsky.

A still from Alexeieff and Claire's 'Le Nez' (1963)

From Le Nez (The Nose) (1963), an interpretation of the short story by Gogol. The wavy horizontal pattern is part of the original image and was itself animated during portions of the film.

From the pinscreen prologue to Welles' 'The Trial' (1962)

Alexeieff and Parker’s pinscreen prologue to Orson Welles’ The Trial (1962), above, is not included on the forthcoming Facets DVD, but makes that film even more worth renting that it would be on its own considerable merits.

Thanatopsis (Ed Emshwiller, 1962)

Thanatopsis (1962)

Becky Arnold and Mac Emshwiller
in a film by Ed Emshwiller

Sound design by Ed Emshwiller?

A powerful film that must be almost overwhelming when shown nice and big with a good sound system. And dig how early it is; anticipating industrial music and film/video by about 30-35 years.

More Ed Emshwiller

Screening Room with Ed Emshwiller (1975)  77 min.
Directed by Robert Gardner
Link offers video downloads for sale or rent

Ed Emshwiller appeared on [the weekly Boston TV program] Screening Room in July 1975 to screen and discuss the films Chrysalis, George Dumpson’s Place, Carol Emshwiller, Thanatopsis, Film With Three Dancers, Scape Mates, and Crossings and Meetings.

…Ed Emshwiller started out as an abstract expressionist painter and an award-winning science fiction illustrator before becoming a major figure in avant-garde cinema and the experimental film movement of the 1960s and ’70s. Eventually a highly respected video artist and dean at the School of Film/Video at the California Institute of the Arts, Emshwiller was always looking for ways to push the boundaries of film and video. He was a pioneer of computer-generated video and combining technology with art. Many of his films, including Relativity, Totem, Film with Three Dancers, and Thanatopsis received screenings and awards at New York, Cannes and other major film festivals worldwide.

…Screening Room was a 1970s Boston television series that for almost ten years offered independent filmmakers a chance to show and discuss their work on a commercial (ABC-TV) affiliate station. The series was developed and hosted by filmmaker Robert Gardner…who was Chairman of the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies and Director of the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts at Harvard for many years.

This unique program dealt even-handedly with animation, documentary, and experimental film, welcoming such artists as Jan Lenica, John and Faith Hubley, Emile DeAntonio, Jean Rouch, Ricky Leacock, Jonas Mekas, Bruce Baillie, Yvonne Rainer and Michael Snow. Frequently, guests such as Octavio Paz, Stanley Cavell, and Rudolph Arnheim appeared as well.

Nearly 100 programs were produced during the years Screening Room was broadcast. Recently, The Museum of TV and Radio in New York City offered to copy the two-inch master tapes that had been given to the Film Study Center.

A still from 'Screening Room with Ed Emshwiller' (1975)

Sun Ra: “Calling Planet Earth”

Calling Planet Earth (1986)

Video short by Bill Sebastian. Made at Mission Control, Boston.  13 min.

“Visuals performed by Bill Sebastian on the Outerspace Visual Communicator.”

Music by Sun Ra and his Arkestra:  Ra-keyb, voc; Al Evans-tp; Fred Adams-tp; Tyrone Hill-tb; Marshall Allen-as; John Gilmore-ts; Danny Ray Thompson-bs; Eloe Omoe-bcl; James Jacson-bsn, perc; Bruce Edwards-eg; John Brown-d; June Tyson-voc. Dance, gesture, and Virtual Reality: Michael Ray, Barday, Eddie Thomas (Thomas Thaddeus), Atakatune.

RIP Bruce Conner

'Bombhead' by Bruce Conner (1989)

The ground-breaking and highly influential avant-garde filmmaker, sculptor, painter, photographer, and collagist Bruce Conner died at his home in San Francisco on July 7, 2008, after a prolonged illness. He was 74, and is survived by Jean Conner, his wife of more than 50 years, and his son, Robert.

One of the last of the genuine Beat artists, Conner was born in 1933 in McPherson, Kansas, relocating to Wichita with his family when he was four. At the age of 8 he had an out-of-body experience, which led to a life-long interest in mysticism. As he matured, Conner became a painter and assemblage artist, hanging around with other local artists like Michael McClure (another Beat figure), who became a lifelong friend. By 1956, Conner’s work was being exhibited in New York City; in 1957 he moved to San Francisco, where he would live for the rest of his life.

While a lauded and highly influential sculptor and visual artist, Conner is probably most widely known for his equally esteemed experimental films, most of which were compiled from “found footage” — taken from educational films, B-movies, government documentaries, ephemeral films such as newsreels and old commercials, and even in some instances soft-core porn. Conner’s films were made on 16mm until the mid-’90s, when video became more viable for independent artists.

Bruce Conner in 1965 (photo by Larry Keenan)Conner’s first film, A Movie (1958), was chosen by the Library of Congress in 1996 for preservation in the National Film Registry, reserved by law for works that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” That and many of his other films are regarded as classics of avant garde cinema: Cosmic Ray (1962), Ten Second Film (1965), Report (1967), Crossroads (1976), Mongoloid (1978), Mea Culpa (1981), America is Waiting (1982), and Television Assassination (1995) among them.

In his landmark history of experimental film, Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde 1943-1978, scholar P. Adams Sitney wrote:

…Conner is not naive in his vision of doom. Everything he shows us has the primary actuality of the newsreel or the secondary reality of the images of violence we encounter in popular entertainment. …Conner deliberately and carefully orchestrated the twists and changes of pace within his film[s]. He is a master of the ambivalent attitude; it is the strength of his art and the style of his life. …Conner’s films aspire to an apocalyptic vision by engendering in the viewer a state of extreme ambivalence.

(Side note: Canyon Cinema, the major avant-garde film distributer, used to offer a number of Conner’s 16mm films for rent. But judging by a visit to their web site just now, these have been pulled from circulation. Hopefully this is only a temporary situation, perhaps pending estate probate and/or further preservation efforts.)

Bruce Conner in 1995Conner was always into adventurous music. He was instrumental in creating the legendary light shows for San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom during the psychedelic era, and a decade later he became a regularly-contributing photographer for Search & Destroy, the seminal punk magazine. (It’s said that he wore knee pads to help protect himself from knocks and bruises while shooting during shows.)

It is not surprising then that Conner was among the first experimental filmmakers to use the music of contemporary artists — Terry Riley, Devo, David Byrne, and Brian Eno among them. Mea Culpa and America is Waiting were set to music created by David Byrne and Brian Eno for their 1981 album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Both the album and Conner’s films were extremely influential in the ’80s — the LP inspired a whole generation of audio collage and sample-based music, and the films were an undeniable aesthetic source for the MTV music video. Ironically, Conner didn’t make another film for 13 years.

Writing in 2006 about their collaboration, David Byrne reflected:

In the course of recording this album Brian and I crossed paths with artist and filmmaker Bruce Connor, who lives in San Francisco. Bruce’s’ legendary “experimental” films are well known for their pioneering use of found footage, so it was natural that we approach him regarding the possibility of working together — which was more like suggesting he use some of the Bush of Ghosts tracks in a film or two, due to the similarities of our working methods. …His work was sampling before that word existed, as was this record. The films gain an additional level of depth due to the fact that you can often guess what the footage was originally used for, and so you see it as an artifact and as something entirely new, both at the same time.

In 1999, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis assembled a major exhibition, 2000 BC: The Bruce Conner Story Part II, which gathered 150 of Conner’s works in all media spanning 40 years. The exhibition toured to four cities in the United States through 2001. A hardbound catalog was also published.

At this writing, Bruce Conner: Mabuhay Gardens, a collection of 53 of his photographs of the late-’70s and early-’80s punk scene, is on view at the Berkeley Art Museum through August 3, 2008. Meanwhile, several of Conners’ watercolors are being shown at the Nordic Watercolor Museum (Nordiska Akvarellmuseet) in Skärhamn, Sweden as part of the Pacific Light: California Watercolor Refracted 1907-2007 exhibition, through September 7, 2008.

Conner’s film work has been important and influential to me personally, and I am saddened to learn of his passing. My heartfelt condolences and very best wishes go out to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Bruce Conner in 2000

Bruce Conner Filmography

  • A Movie (1958)
  • Cosmic Ray (1962)
  • Vivian (1963)
  • Ten Second Film (1965)
  • A Class Picture of the CCAC Film Class of ’65 Actually Taught by Bruce Conner in the Tradition of Lumière (1965)
  • Easter Island Raga (1966)
  • Breakaway (1966)
  • Report (1967)
  • The White Rose (1967)
  • Looking for Mushrooms (1967)
  • Antonia Christina Basilotta (1968)
  • Permian Strata (1969)
  • Marilyn Times Five (1973)
  • Crossroads (1976)
  • Valse Triste (1977)
  • Take the 5:10 to Dreamland (1977)
  • Mongoloid (1978)
  • Mea Culpa (1981)
  • America Is Waiting (1982)
  • Television Assassination (1995)
  • Looking for Mushrooms (long version, 1996)
  • LUKE (1967-2006)
  • EVE-RAY-FOREVER (three screen DVD projection) (2006)
  • His Eye Is On the Sparrow (2007)
  • Easter Morning (2008)

Related Links

'Psychedelicatessen Owner' (collage, 1990) by Bruce Conner

Keep Warm, Burn Britain! Movies, Performance and Music on April 13 at The Rendezvous

Event poster, design by Brian Alter.This coming Sunday at the Rendezvous, the Sprocket Society presents a special event featuring original works by Los Angeles filmmaker and noted restorationist ROSS LIPMAN, plus live music by Seattle’s own RUBY THICKET and THE PHILISTINE LIBERATION ORCHESTRA.

Sunday, April 13, 2008 at 7:00 PM
The JewelBox Theater at the Rendezvous
2322 2nd Avenue, Seattle (in Belltown)
$5 suggested donation

More info at the Sprocket Society web site.

KEEP WARM, BURN BRITAIN! is Ross Lipman’s personal memoir of the London anarchist squatters movement during the 1980s. A work-in-progress, Ross will present it as a Magic Lantern slide show with live narration plus recorded music by legendary street performer Thoth (who was the subject of a 2002 Oscar-winning documentary short).

Lipman is internationally known for his film/video and performance work, as well his writings and restorations of independent cinema. His 16mm and 35mm experimental films have screened throughout the world at venues such as London International Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives (NYC), the Los Angeles Film Forum, the San Francisco Cinematheque, Sixpackfilm/Top-Kino (Vienna), AMIA (Austin, Minneapolis), Chinese Taipei Film Archive (Taiwan), and many others. This is his Seattle debut.

Lipman is also one of the world’s leading figures in the restoration of independent cinema. Working at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, he has restored films by John Cassavetes, Kenneth Anger, John Sayles, Emile de Antonio, and others. In 2007, the National Society of Film Critics gave Lipman their Film Heritage Award “for the restoration of Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep and other independent films.”

Also on the program are several of Ross’ earlier experimental shorts and and documentaries:

10-17-88 (1989, 16mm)
An optically printed collage of found and archival footage, with audio collage by John (Ruby Thicket) Shaw.

A requiem for Grandma Prisbrey’s famous cathedral of light, built entirely of glass bottles, pencils, and industrial detritus. With a score improvised on a broken piano by Jodie Baltazar (aka Monotrona).

A screen test for a film that was never made, a feature-length narrative about the unbridgeable gap and connection between a father and son.


Live music by RUBY THICKET
Featuring John Shaw (vocals, guitar, bass, harmonica), Mac McClure (bowed saw and vocals), Bob Barraza (drums, shakuhachi flute, ukulele, and vocals), Jillian Graham (vocals and rhythm guitar), and Jim Graham (bass). Download sample MP3s from their CD You Never Know What You’ll See.

Lounge and show standards crooned (or c-ruined?) over free improvised accompaniment. Featuring the velvet pipes of John Shaw backed by composer Bill Potter on guitar-synth, the lovely and talented David Milford on fiddle, members of Ruby Thicket, and other surprise guests. The set list includes songs associated with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Kate Smith, Robert Goulet, Man of La Mancha, and Woody Guthrie.

Hope to see you there!

PS — Ross Lipman will be presenting at the Pop Conference at EMP this Friday, April 11. He will give his lecture “Mingus, Cassavetes, and the Politics of Improv”, using film clips, texts, and still photographs to examine the complex and explosive collaboration of John Cassavetes and Charles Mingus for the film Shadows (1959) at a pivotal moment in the history of independent cinema, jazz, and race relations. More info is online at the Pop Conference web site.

Bruce Bickford’s Prometheus’ Garden Set for 2008 DVD Release

Some typically detailed clay animation models by Bruce Bickford.

My old pal Hell’s Donut House just directed me to this excellent news from Brett Ingram, recently posted at Idiot Bastard Son, a Frank Zappa fan site:

In the next few months, Bright Eye Pictures will release Bruce Bickford’s Prometheus’ Garden, the first film over which Bickford maintained 100% artistic control.

Prometheus’ Garden is a 28-minute stop-motion film utilizing clay puppets and sets, cutouts, replacement series, aluminum foil, “strato-cut” slices, molten wax, and other techniques. The film is (very) loosely based on the Greek myth of Prometheus — an immortal who (in some versions of the story) created the first mortals out of clay. Bickford’s incorporation of this myth into his animated film includes appearances by Vikings, cowboys, Vietnam War era mercenaries, imps, elves, fairies, and countless other historical and mythological creatures.

Prometheus’ Garden, like most of Bickford’s later films, is an unscripted stream of consciousness animated over the course of years. Bickford began work on Prometheus immediately after the release of Frank Zappa’s film Baby Snakes in 1980. Prometheus’ Garden was completed by Bickford in 1988.

I recently recorded Bickford’s (characteristically dry-witted) commentary tracks for the upcoming DVD and began production on “extra” elements — including the documentary featurette, Luck Of A Foghorn. This new half hour documentary will take viewers behind the scenes and into the mind of Bickford. I shot miles of film while making Monster Road (the documentary feature I made about Bickford) and most of this footage has never seen the light of day. Luck Of A Foghorn will unearth these images along with footage from the making of Prometheus. Laird Dixon (from Shark Quest) has created an original score for Luck Of A Foghorn and it is hauntingly beautiful. The title of the featurette originates from a surreal day dream Bickford had while hovering near death with pneumonia in hospital.

I hope to have the DVD ready for sale on the Bright Eye Pictures site (along with Monster Road) no later than February 1, 2008. [See update, below.] Bickford has several films that have hovered near completion for years. Hopefully, the release of Prometheus’ Garden will spark a chain reaction so that Bickford’s recent work can find the audience it deserves.

As readers of Mugu Brainpan may recall, I’m huge fan of Bickford’s truly amazing animation (to wit and thus). It is my considered opinion that he is one of the greatest animators ever, as well as among the greats of visionary film more generally.

The reclusive filmmaker, who lives in the Seattle area, garnered some well-deserved attention thanks to the excellent aforementioned documentary, Monster Road (2005), after many years of grossly undeserved obscurity (not helped, I’m sad to say, by copyright snarls involving the Zappa estate). Following that release, Bruce surfaced in 2006 with an all-too-small spate of rare screenings and public appearances in Baltimore and Seattle, including a May 2006 screening at the Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery that included a recently completed new work of line animation.

The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore included clay sculptures and projections by Bickford in Home & Beast, an exhibition that opened in October 2006 and ran for a year. His work was featured alongside paintings by William Kurelek in a gallery of the exhibit titled “Home Sweet Home,” described by the Museum as exploring “memories of home life and what, in fact, constitutes a home.”

Since precious few of Bickford’s astonishing film works are in circulation (and not even Canyon Cinema includes him in their legendary catalog of avant garde works), news of this DVD release is very good indeed. Keep an eye out, and kindly ask for it at your neighborhood video outlet.

Update: Brett Ingram recently announced on his blog that release of this DVD has been delayed (again), as he works to complete editing on Luck of a Foghorn: The Making of Prometheus’ Garden. Once completed, the whole shebang will still need to be mastered and duplicated, so it will be some weeks (at best) before the disc sees the light of day. Brett also announced he is launching a new web site, (still very much under construction, so don’t order yet), that will offer direct-sale copies of the Prometheus’ Garden DVD, as well as the collectors’ edition of Monster Road, his aforementioned (and excellent) documentary about Bruce Bickford. Watch this space for further info.

Bruce Bickford Films on Home Video

Baby Snakes (1979 – released on DVD in 2003) — A Frank Zappa concert film that includes several segments of Bickford’s animation. The most widely-seen examples of Bruce’s work.

The Amazing Mr. Bickford (1987, VHS – out of print) — A superlative anthology inexcusably unavailable on DVD. In Seattle, Scarecrow Video has a copy for rent (with deposit). Used copies also occasionally surface on eBay.

The Dub Room Special (1982 – released on DVD in 2005) — A sadly ill-fated TV special by Frank Zappa that, along with some great concert footage, includes various snippets of animation by Bickford.

Monster Road (2005 – released on DVD in 2006) — An excellent and endearing documentary that takes us into Bickford’s very private world. The DVD includes a number of his short films as extras, including spectacular examples of his line animation.

Seattle School’s A Clockwork Reduction Live at NWFF

Coming up this weekend (Fri. Dec. 14 – Sun. Dec. 16), the Northwest Film Forum is hosting A Clockwork Reduction Live, an ambitious new conceptual multimedia project by Seattle School, the same folks that organized the amazing MOTEL event back in September. The full scoop — including the all-star cast — is below, and meanwhile you can get advance tickets via

A Clockwork Reduction Live

A Conceptual Project By Seattle School

Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave. (on Capitol Hill, between Pike and Pine)

Fri. Dec. 14 & Sat. Dec. 15 @ 8 PM – the main event
Sun. Dec. 16 @ 8 PM – screening of the finished work

Virginia Bogert – Tootie Pie
Sue Corcoran – She’s a Dog
Daniel Gildark – Cthulhu
Kris Kristensen – Inheritance
Christian Palmer – Forcefields
Lynn Shelton – We Go Way Back

Rob Millis – Climax Golden Twins
Jacob Stone – Punch Drunk Productions
Kris Moon – Fourthcity

Aaron Allshouse, JD Barton, Kyle Bliss, Danielle Gibeson, Dustin Kemp, Abby Klein, Caitlin Ngo, and more …

Six years before Stanley Kubrick’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, Andy Warhol adapted the Anthony Burgess novel for his classic, black and white Factory film, VINYL. [You can rent the original at Scarecrow, albeit only on PAL.] In homage to Warhol, Seattle School will transform the entire Northwest Film Forum building for a unique Factory-style recreation of the film. This grand, live happening restages the film in parts, with simultaneous live performance, filming, and screening in our two cinemas and lobby.

Northwest filmmakers Lynn Shelton, Daniel Gildark, Virginia Bogert, Sue Corcoran, Christian Palmer and Kris Kristensen will direct models cum actors in cinema 1. Their footage will be projected live in cinema 2, where the audience intervenes in the creative process and composers (including Rob Millis of Climax Golden Twins) perform an improvised score. In the lobby, VJs (including Jacob Stone of Opticlash and Kris Moon from the Decibel Festival) will merge and edit the video and audio feeds from both cinemas in real time, creating a live finished film projected onto a translucent screen.

The audience can move around freely between rooms throughout the evening, witnessing the different stages of the event’s unique filmmaking process. The event ends when the final new interpretation of VINYL is complete. In keeping with Seattle School tradition, everyone is invited to stay after for fresh waffles (and yes, there will be Cool Whip.)

Burnt Weeny Sandwich – The Movie

Burnt Weeny Sandwich
April 30, 1969 KQED TV, San Francisco, CA
18 min. B&W and color. Originally on 16mm.

Screen captures from the film 'Burnt Weeny Sandwich'

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:

Aired on KQED TV in 1969, the Dilexi Series represents a pioneering effort to present works created by artists specifically for broadcast. The 12-part weekly series was conceived and commissioned by the Dilexi Foundation, an off-shoot of the influential San Francisco art gallery founded by James Newman. Newman, who operated the Dilexi Gallery from 1958 until 1970, saw this innovative series as an opportunity to extend the influence of the contemporary arts far beyond the closeted environment of the commercial gallery.

Formal agreement was reached with KQED in 1968 with the station’s own John Coney designated as series producer. No restrictions, regarding length, form or content, were imposed upon the works, except for Newman’s stipulation that they be aired weekly within the same time-slot. Upon their completion, the 12 works were broadcast during the spring and summer of 1969.

Of the 12 artists invited to participate in the Dilexi Series, ten of them completed new works, and two, Andy Warhol and Frank Zappa, submitted extant works. The tapes and films are far-reaching in their approaches to the medium and the circumstance of the broadcast series. Some of the artists chose to intervene in the relationship of broadcaster and audience by broaching the subject of communications. (…)

Burnt Weeny Sandwich is another rarity. Created by Frank Zappa, the film, in one form or another, found its way into a larger work, Uncle Meat. Something of a high-speed home movie, Burnt Weeny Sandwich features the original Mothers of Invention, along with Captain Beefheart. This is one of the works that exists only within the Dilexi Series.

Once broadcast, the Dilexi Series was stored on the original 2″ videotape masters, a now archaic video format. Some masters were transferred to a contemporary format in 1982 and presented at the S.F. Video Festival. Through the generosity of KQED, the last of the Dilexi Series was just transferred to an exhibition format. This marks the first time in 22 years that all the Dilexi tapes are available. (…)

More info at:

The Music:

  • 00:00 “Uncle Meat: Main Title Theme” (1:26-1:55) from Uncle Meat
  • 00:34 Unidentified Percussion Piece
  • 01:27 “Theme From Burnt Weeny Sandwich” from Burnt Weeny Sandwich
  • 05:47 “A Pound For A Brown (On The Bus)” from Uncle Meat
  • 07:15 “Snork”
  • 07:22 “Dog Breath, In The Year Of The Plague” from Uncle Meat
  • 11:20 Unidentified Percussion & Snorks Piece
  • 11:44 “Prelude To King Kong” from Uncle Meat
  • 15:22 “God Bless America” from Uncle Meat
  • 16:01 “The Dog Breath Variations” from Uncle Meat

More Things to Thank John Coney For:

(King Kong-sized hat tip to Hell’s Donut House.)

Ten Hours of Stan Brakhage Radio Broadcasts

The ever-lovin’ folks at the utterly phenomenal UBUWEB have posted MP3s of Test of Time, a 20-part series of radio broadcasts by seminal experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage, recorded at KAIR, Univeristy of Colorado in 1982.

The series includes “long passages of Brakhage musing on subjects such as film, poetry, theater, and other arts. Includes music, lectures, readings, and sound pieces by Edgar Varèse, Peter Kubelka, Kenneth Patchen, Charles Ives, Kurt Schwitters, Robert Duncan, Ed Dorn, Glenn Gould, James Joyce, Virgil Thomson, Gertrude Stein, Olivier Messiaen, Louis Zukofsky, William Faulkner, Charles Olson, Henry Cowell and many others.”  Transcripts of the broadcasts are also provided in both HTML and PDF formats.

UBUWEB also offers a free PDF e-book edition of The Brakhage Lectures (1972: The GoodLion, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago), in which he discusses the works of George Méliès, D.W. Griffith, Carl Theodore Dreyer, and Sergei Eisenstein.

Bruce Bickford Film Event at Fantagraphics Bookstore This Saturday

Poster: The Idiosyncratic Cincema of Bruce Bickford. Click for larger copy.

Mugu Brainpan is a huge fan of animator Bruce Bickford, and you should be, too.

This Saturday, Seattle-ites will be treated to a rare, uh, treat when the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery down in Georgetown hosts a special screening of four recent short films by Mr. Bickford, including “the public debut of a recently completed untitled line animation.” If you’ve checked out the extras on the Monster Road DVD (Scarecrow has it for rent), then you know that Bruce’s line animation is even more mind-blowing than his clay stop motion…and that’s really saying something. It’s one of the only times I gave my TV a standing ovation.

As an added bonus, Seattle cartoonist Jim Woodring will host the evening, and the reclusive Mr. Bickford himself will be in attendance.

By way of teasers, here’s the current YouTube offerings of Bruce Bickford’s work.

Following is the full press release from the Fantagraphics blog. (Sorry the reference link takes so bloody long to load. For some reason you can’t link to an individual post but only the whole bloody month.)

Fantagraphics Bookstore Presents “The Idiosyncratic Cincema of Bruce Bickford” on Saturday, May 12

Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is pleased to host a screening of animated shorts by Seattle-based artist Bruce Bickford on Saturday, May 12 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. This event, hosted by Bickford’s associate Jim Woodring, gives the public a rare opportunity to view new and recent works by the highly acclaimed, yet reclusive, filmmaker. Fantagraphics Bookstore is located at 1201 S. Vale St. at Airport Way S. in Seattle’s Georgetown arts community. The screening is free to the public of all ages.

Bruce Bickford’s obsessive clay and line animations are at once seductive and grotesque. The son of a Boeing engineer, Bickford began working in film as an adolescent, drawing on childhood insecurities and dreams to create a stunning body of work of singular vision. His work gained international prominence when featured in Frank Zappa’s 1979 concert documentary Baby Snakes. Bickford’s contribution served as a dynamic visualization of Zappa’s approach to composition-as-metamorphosis. Bickford is the subject of the award-winning feature length 2005 documentary Monster Road, which will be available on DVD at the event. He continues to create subversive films in seclusion in his south Seattle studio.

The program on May 12 will feature four short films, including the public debut of a recently completed untitled line animation, in addition to other recent works. Seattle cartoonist Jim Woodring will serve as host. Woodring’s art, currently on view at Fantagraphics Bookstore, shares Bickford’s meticulous and visionary approach to the creative process. The screening will be followed by comments from Bickford and a question and answer period with the audience…

Listing Information:

The Idiosyncratic Cinema of Bruce Bickford
Saturday, May 12, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery
1201 S. Vale St. (at Airport Way S.) Seattle
Admission Free. All Ages.
Hours: Daily 11:30 – 8:00 PM (Sundays until 5:00 PM)

Production still from a Bruce Bickford clay-animation film.