Afterween: I review Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit”.

I am truly an 80s lover. I was a teen in the 80s, not a child, but I coveted a lot of things kids liked in the 80s(My Pet Monster, for example) as well as the stuff teens were into. So I feel I have a sort of double-whammy 80s love.

I especially reveled in the music. Although I am probably a bigger fan now of hand-played music, all the techno of the 80s radio airwaves was like nothing we’d ever heard before; it was fresh, exciting, and sometimes really bizarre.

Enter the music video. Called “promo films” in the 60s, music videos were nothing new; it’s simply that when I was a teen a mind-blowingly cool channel called MTV gathered all those promo films of current songs together and came rocking into the lives of those of us who had the mystical “cable”, which I at first thought was an actual cable that connected to a movie theater!!!!!

So where am I going with this? I’m setting up that I was a true MTV kid.  My generation was always ready for the next big video that came out, talking with friends at school about new videos that next day, taping videos on my family’s top-loading VCR to be able to not only hear the song over and over until I could get the record or tape, but to analyze the video or be able to pause it on cool shots and cute guys wearing way too much makeup. Videos might be surreal mini-movies or straight-up “live performances” on stage with the artists lip-synching.

Then there was Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit”.

rockit13.jpg

 

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Monsters of Europe: The Questing Beast!

Questing Beast, © 2015 Liz Vitale
Questing Beast, © 2015 Liz Vitale

The Questing Beast is a monster from Arthurian legend. It is the subject of quests by famous knights like King Pellinore, Sir Palamedes, and Sir Percival. This oddity has the head and neck(do serpents have necks?) of a serpent, the body of a leopard, the haunches of a lion and the feet of a deer(or “hart” as it was called during the period). It is also referred to as the” Beast Glatisant“, which comes from the great noise it emits from its belly. It makes a barking noise that is said to sound like “thirty couple hounds questing”. “Glatisant” is related to the French word glapissant,which means “yelping” or “barking”.

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Monstrous Engravings: Plague Doctor!

Plague Doctor.jpg

This is drawn from  a copper engraving of Doctor Schnabel [i.e Dr. Beak], a plague doctor in seventeenth-century Rome, circa 1656.

Plague doctors served as public servants during the time of the Black Death of Europe in the fourteenth century. Their principal task, besides taking care of plague victims, was to record in public records the deaths due to the plague. Some of these “doctors” wore a special costume, although graphic sources show that plague doctors wore a variety of garments(and often had no medical training). The garments were invented by Charles de L’Orme in 1619; they were first used in Paris, but later spread to be used throughout Europe. The protective suit consisted of a heavy fabric overcoat that was waxed, a mask with glass eye openings and a cone nose shaped like a beak to hold scented substances. Some of the scented materials were ambergris, lemon balm,mint leaves, camphor, cloves,laudanum, myrrh, rose petals, storax. This was thought to protect the doctor from miasmatic bad air. There was also a bit of straw in the beak and this acted as a filter for the “bad air” that was thought to transmit the disease. Plague doctors also carried a  wooden cane pointer that was used to point to and examine the patient without having to touch them.