The second season of AMC’s The Walking Dead will be back from break with all new episodes beginning Sunday Feb 12th. Here is an equally awesome treat for you that proves once again that indie filmmakers kick ass. The Walken Dead. What is the Walken Dead? Its zombies with a side order of cowbell.
This short is well produced with fantastic FX and has great usage of ‘Walken’ lines.
On December 13, 1940 — a Friday, no less — LIFE magazine attended a gathering spread across 13 tables in Room 13 of the Merchants & Manufacturers Club of Chicago. (Yes, each table sat 13 people). The result? The odd and endearing article, “Life Goes to a Friday-the-13th Party,” published a few weeks later in the magazine. Now, in light of January 2012s very own Friday the 13th, LIFE.com resurrects that feature, and celebrates some old-school businessmen unafraid to step on a crack.
The term Foo Fighter was used by Allied aircraft pilots in World War II to describe various UFOs or mysterious aerial phenomena seen in the skies over Europe and the Pacific theater. Contemporary witnesses often assumed that the foo fighters were secret weapons employed by the enemy. Despite these fears, foo fighters were never reported to have harmed or even tried to harm anyone. Usually thought of as blobs of light or fire, several different types of reported phenomena were classed as “foo fighters”.
There were other terms used to describe these objects, such as “Kraut fireballs”, but “foo fighter” seems to have been the most popular. The term is generally thought to have been borrowed from the often surrealist comic strip Smokey Stover. Smokey, a firefighter, was fond of saying “Where there’s foo there’s fire.” (this “foo” may have come from “feu”, the French word for “fire”, or from Smokey’s pronunciation of the word “fuel”.) A Big Little Book titled Smokey Stover the Foo Fighter was published in 1938.
In the same vein, “Foo” could be derived from the French “Fou,” or “mad.” “Foo fighter” was supposedly used as a semi-derogatory reference to Japanese fighter pilots who were known for their erratic flying and extreme maneuvering, it became a catch-all term for fast moving, erratically flying objects (such as UFOs).
Some thought that the term refers to Kung fighting, because of the reported wild, erratic movements of these aerial objects. The term Kung fu was, however, little known in the English language until the late 1960s when it became popular because of the Hong Kong films and the later television series: before that it was referred to primarily as “Chinese Boxing”.
Foo fighters were reported on many occasions from around the world. A nighttime sighting from September, 1941, in the Indian Ocean was similar to some later Foo Fighter reports. From the deck of the S.S. Pulaski, (a Polish merchant vessel transporting British troops), two sailors reported a “strange globe glowing with greenish light, about half the size of the full moon.” They alerted a British officer, who watched the object’s movements with them for over an hour.
On February 28, 1942, just prior to its participation in the Battle of the Java Sea, the USS Houston reportedly saw a large number of strange, unexplained yellow flares and lights which illuminated the sea for miles around.
A report was made from the Solomon Islands in 1942, by United States Marine Corp Stephen J. Brickner. Following an air raid alarm, Brickner and others witnessed about 150 objects grouped in lines of 10 or 12 objects each. Seeming to “wobble” as they moved, Brickner reported that the objects looked to be polished silver and seemed to move a little faster than common Japanese aircraft.
Foo fighter reports were mentioned in the mass media. A 1945, Time story stated “If it was not a hoax or an optical illusion, it was certainly the most puzzling secret weapon that Allied fighters have yet encountered. Last week U.S. night fighter pilots based in France told a strange story of balls of fire which for more than a month have been following their planes at night over Germany.
No one seemed to know what, if anything, the fireballs were supposed to accomplish. Pilots, guessing it was a new psychological weapon, named it the ‘foo-fighter’ … Their descriptions of the apparition varied, but they agree that the mysterious flares stuck close to their planes and appeared to follow them at high speed for miles. One pilot said that a foo-fighter, appearing as red balls off his wing tips, stuck with him until he dove at 360 miles an hour; then the balls zoomed up into the sky.”
The Robertson Panel cited foo fighter reports, noting that their behavior did not appear to be threatening. Interestingly, the Robertson Panel’s report noted that many Foo Fighters were described as metallic and disc shaped, and suggested that “If the term “flying saucers” had been popular in 1943-1945, these objects would have been so labeled.”
The Royal Tenenbaums is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I was thrilled to see it featured on AV Club’s Pop Pilgrims, which checks out the memorable real-life locations of TV and film shoots. While Wes Anderson and his crew were scouting locations for the unfinished script, Wes spotted this amazing house in Harlem and rented it for six months for both exterior and interior shots.
The Royal Tenenbaums is set in New York, but not really. The city viewers see in the film certainly looks like New York, but the names have been changed and, in at least one case, an iconic landmark covered up. Consequently, the house that Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) bought in the winter of his 35th year is located on Archer Avenue in the film, not in Harlem on Convent Avenue at 144th Street, as it is in real life.
Pinball was banned from the early 1940s to the mid-1970s in most of America’s big cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, where the game was born and where virtually all of its manufacturers have historically been located. The stated reason for the bans: Pinball was a game of chance, not skill, and so it was a form of gambling. To be fair, pinball really did involve a lot less skill in the early years of the game, largely because the flipper wasn’t invented until 1947, five years after most of the bans were implemented. Up until then, players would bump and tilt the machines in order to sway the ball’s gravity. Many lawmakers also believed pinball to be a mafia-run racket and a time- and dime-waster for impressionable youth. (The machines robbed the “pockets of schoolchildren in the form of nickels and dimes given to them as lunch money,” New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia wrote in a Supreme Court affidavit.)
NYPD Held Prohibition-Style Raids on Pinball. In New York, the pinball ban was executed in a particularly dramatic fashion. Just weeks after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia issued an ultimatum to the city’s police force stating that their top priority would be to round up pinball machines and arrest their owners. La Guardia proceeded to spearhead massive Prohibition-style raids in which thousands of machines were rounded up in a matter of days, before being dramatically smashed with sledgehammers by the mayor and police commissioner. The machines were then dumped into the city’s rivers.
Although pinball was illegal in New York, it did not disappear entirely — it just moved behind curtains to seedy pornography shops, in places like Harlem and Greenwich Village. And the police were still raiding illegal pinball operators through the 1970s.
Pinball production changed during World War II, much of America’s manufacturing infrastructure switched over to the war effort. The pinball industry, which was a major user of copper wiring, was no exception. During the war, few new games were made. Instead, pinball suppliers began selling so-called conversion kits, which would allow pinball operators to transform a machine’s artwork to a fresh theme. These conversion themes often took the form of wartime motifs, such as the patriotic “Victory in the Pacific.”
Because pinball was illegal for so long, it became a symbol of youth and rebellion. If you watch a movie or TV show that was either produced or takes place during this period, virtually any time pinball makes an appearance, it is for the purpose of portraying to the audience that a particular character is a rebel. For example, the Fonz is regularly seen playing pinball in “Happy Days” episodes. And when “Tommy,” The Who’s pinball-wizard-themed rock opera album came out in 1972, pinball was still banned in much of the country. The album’s use of pinball is largely misunderstood by today’s audiences, who may view the deaf, dumb and blind pinball wizard as quirky. In all likelihood, The Who was using the game to portray the titular character as anti-authoritarian.
Filmmaker Richard Linklater makes use of this symbol in a significant number of his movies, with rebellious or outcast characters seen playing or talking about pinball in virtually every one. And in “The Simpsons,” Sideshow Bob once proclaimed, “Television has ruined more young minds than pinball and syphilis combined.”
In 1976, the New York City pinball ban was overturned. The coin-operated amusement lobby (which represented the pinball industry) eventually succeeded in earning a City Council hearing to re-examine the long-standing ban. Their strategy: prove that pinball was a game of skill, not chance, and thus should be legal. To do this, they decided to call in the best player they could find in order to demonstrate his pinball wizardry — a 26-year-old magazine editor named Roger Sharpe. Fearful that this hearing might be their only shot at overturning the ban, the industry brought in two machines, one to serve as a backup in case any problems arose with the primary machine.
Suspicious that the pinballers had rigged the primary machine, one particularly antagonistic councilman told them that he wanted them to use the backup. This presented a problem: While Sharpe was intimately familiar with the first-choice game, he had never played the backup. As he played the game, surrounded by a huddle of journalists, cameras and councilmen, he did little to impress City Council’s anti-pinball coalition. So he made a final Hail Mary move that, to this day, he compares to Babe Ruth’s famous called shot in center field. He pulled back the plunger to launch a new ball, pointed at the middle lane at the top of the playing field, and boldly stated that, based only on his skill, he would get the ball to land through that middle lane. He let go of the plunger and it did what he said. Almost on the spot, the City Council voted to overturn the ban.
When asked Sharpe what he thought would have happened if he had missed the shot. After thinking about it for a few hours, he got back to me: “I’m not sure pinball would be legal today.”
Pinball is still illegal in some places. Just a few years ago, Nashville, Tenn. overturned its ban on children under 18 playing, or even standing within 10 feet of, a pinball machine. And, to this day, it is illegal to play pinball on Sundays in Ocean City, N.J.
Hugh Hefner collects pinball machines and has cooperated with pinball companies for at least three Playboy-themed pinball machines over the years. A former editor at Playboy told me that the magazine’s editorial offices had a Fireball pinball machine in the ’70s.
In 1999, Williams Pinball was the largest pinball company in the world. But it was also part of a larger, publicly traded company that demanded higher profits than the games were producing. And so the bosses gave the pinball division one last chance to save the company — and its jobs. It was to create a new game that would bridge the gap between pinball and video games. The result was Pinball 2000, and it was a strange hybrid of the two types of games. Instead of relying on physical targets, the system projected holographic characters on the screen that would interact with the flying ball. The new game was considered a modest success, and two Pinball 2000 games were produced. But it wasn’t enough for Williams’ parent company, which nonetheless pulled the plug on the entire pinball division.
The best-selling pinball machine of all time is still “The Addams Family,” which came out in 1991. Just one company still makes pinball machines and they’re all made in the United States. Every new pinball machine comes from one Stern Pinball factory in the Chicago suburbs, where factory workers assemble several thousand parts, mostly by hand.