“A funny thing happened in Australia,” Frank Sinatra told a New York audience. “I made a mistake and got off the plane.”
The plane in question landed in Melbourne on 9 July 1974. Fresh out of self-imposed retirement, the 58-year-old Sinatra was visiting Australia for the first time in 15 years.
His career was back on the upswing after a decade of poor record sales and crappy movies; his five shows, billed as the “Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back” tour, were eagerly awaited.
Trouble began the moment he set foot on the ground. Nobody was waiting to pick him up. As he headed to his rehearsal in a borrowed car, he was pursued by a journalist, who was disguised as his then wife, the former Mrs Zeppo Marx.
Finally, he sprinted through the rain to the venue with a media posse at his heels, only to find himself locked out. Photos splashed across the afternoon papers showed a very cranky Frankie pounding on the stage door “like a demented fan”.
That night when on stage, the Chairman of the Board let fly. In a prickly monologue, he described journalists as “bums”, and as for “the broads who work for the press”: “hookers” worth “a buck and a half” at best. Shame on you Frank!
The crooner had bitten off more than he could chew.
When the journalists’ union demand for an apology was brushed aside, the Australian Council of Trade Unions slapped a ban on Frank’s tour.
At the suggestion of Gough Whitlam, Prime Minister the president, of the ACTU Bob Hawke, took personal charge of the campaign.
The Silver Bodgie was then 45, a champion pisspot, notorious womaniser and the artful manager of Labor’s industrial wing. He declared that unless Sinatra could walk on water, he would be stuck in Australia until he said sorry.
With transport workers refusing to refuel his jet, Sinatra was forced to sneak onto a commercial flight to Sydney. Holed up in the Boulevard Hotel, he considered calling on the US Navy to rescue him. Eventually, he agreed to negotiate.
On 11 July, the two men met in Sinatra’s suite. Over four hours, an agreement was hammered out.
In return for a statement that Sinatra “did not intend any general reflection upon the moral character of working members of the Australian media”, Hawke was prepared to green-light his remaining concerts.
Bob Hawke went on to become Prime Minister of Oz for some years.
It’s hard to believe that anything as jaw-droppingly futuristic could be 55 years old, but the lava lamp (or astro lamp as it was originally known) has been around that long.
Invented by a British accountant named Edward Craven -Walker in 1963, the lava lamp quickly became an icon of 1960s psychedelia, with news of the product spread by worth-of-mouth.
The lamps work by using a light bulb to heat a bottle containing coloured oil and water (and some other minor chemicals – but those are the main two). The oil and water have similar densities but are insoluble to one another, meaning they don’t mix.
When the bottle is heated the oil absorbs the heat first, expanding in size as it does so. The expansion means that it becomes less dense and begins floating upwards.
As it floats up it cools, contracts and falls back to the bottom of the bottle, starting the chain of events all over again.
This continual slow motion process is based around very slight differences in density between the oil and water – the balance between them is like a very sensitive pair of scales, with small amounts of heat tipping the balance back and forth.
Bizarrely, the assembly line robots who help the humans have come from Detroit’s collapsed motor industry.
How can we not feature something that boasts airships, Arctic wastes, tentacles and sensuality – all at once? Impossible, I say! So here is the “Airships and Tentacles” Series by Myke Amend, combining Vernian and Lovecraftian atmosphere and concepts into strange-fiction fantasy horror mashups:
—- What are your influences, besides the obvious Lovecraft references and airship-induced themes?
“I would count my artistic influences over my lifetime as: Gustav Dore, Pieter Brueghel (the Elder mostly, but I admire the entire family’s work) Zdzislaw Beksinski, Bethalynne Bajema, Michael Whelan, Derek Riggs, Dave McKean, and Gerald Brom – though recently I have found myself very drawn by the works of newer artists such as Brian Despain, Travis Louie, Chet Zar, and Chris Mars.
I don’t see any of which really showing in my works, regretfully, but they are there – each encouraging me to try something new and experimental in the styling, media, or feel of each work I do.
I am also influenced by the written works of Edgar Allen Poe, Algernon Blackwood, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Robert W. Chambers, Gordon R. Dickson, Tolkien, Jules Verne, Terry Brooks, H.P. Lovecraft, Mary Shelley, Neil Gaiman, and Warren Ellis.
In my teen years, it was music – gloomy gothy music, deathrock, horror punk ordered by mail or shared through duplicated cassettes – and the largest assortment of obscure and semi-unknown metal and progressive metal bands – many of which I picked out of the music store almost entirely according to their album art, hence Derek Riggs (Illustrator for Iron Maiden) listed in my artistic influences.
Most influential, especially in my youth, outside of Dungeons and Dragons and Dark Sun campaigns, were the entire series of Final Fantasy games, the Dragon Warrior games, as well as Chrono-Cross and Chrono Trigger – leading into my earlier adult years with games such as the Heroes of Might and Magic series, Xenosaga, Dark Cloud, and Dark Cloud II.
Audio-visual eye-candy tends to grab me more than anything else these days. This perhaps because I regrettably find myself with less time for reading or for visiting my favorite museums.
Doctor Who, Torchwood, The Golden Compass, Stardust, Mirrormask, Pan’s Labyrinth, City of Lost Children, Chronos, Howl’s Moving Castle, Casshern, Brazil, the Adventures of Baron Munchausen account for much of what I have been doing over this last year or so.”
“The Machine” was done for for Josh Pfeiffer/the Steampunk Industrial Band “Vernian Process”.
We’ve seen lots of artists creating portraits that look like photographs, but very few have come as close to the real thing as Sheryl Luxenberg.
Her work is fittingly called ‘hyperrealism’ – her paintings are just too real to be true.
You probably need to stare at them for hours to spot one feature that doesn’t look utterly lifelike.
Sheryl is an award-winning visual artist living in Ottawa, Ontario.
On her websites, she says that she tries to present the objectivity of her subjects, taking advantage of illusionistic depth and emphasizing with paint a flattened three dimensional look.
I’m an art-dummy, so I really have no idea what that means. But it’s apparently the hallmark quality of the Photorealism Art Movement that began in the United States in the late 1960s.
“I became fascinated with these techniques 35 years ago when studying under the famous American painter, Tom Blackwell,” Sheryl writes.
For many years, she stayed true to water based pigments, until one day when she developed a special technique of mixing acrylic and water-color paint with granulating medium to promote a distinctive grainy effect.
She’s quite the perfectionist in her work, striving for tight details and precision, especially on architectural elements.
She uses an airbrush when suggesting motion and for fading images into the background.
The paints she mixes may be different, but Sheryl’s drafting and painting methods are quite classical in nature. “ My drafting and painting methods are grounded in classical formulae,” she says. “I work in dry brush style using a pointillist technique of lying different colored dabs of paint side by side and by glazing with thin translucent layers of single color one on top of the other.”
Now that you know a little bit about her, try staring at some of her works and try to identify what sets them apart from actual photographs.
I couldn’t find anything
For more incredibly realistic paintings, check out Sheryl Luxemburg’s official website.