January 31, 2010

SPY VIBE BIRTHDAY PRESENTS

SPY VIBE BIRTHDAY PRESENTS
What's a birthday without presents? Spy Vibe celebrates its first year with a series of contest give-away prizes! Need hints? Think... Gold Key, Irwin Allen, James Bond, Secret Agent...


January 24, 2010

THE AVENGERS & MATT HELM: WATCHDOG

THE AVENGERS & MATT HELM: WATCHDOG
Spy Vibers will want to stop by Barnes and Noble this weekend and pick up a copy of issue #154 of Video Watchdog. The front and back cover not only feature beautiful photos of John Steed and Cathy Gale from The Avengers, but also cinema's original international man of mystery, Matt Helm. Much of the issue is devoted to writer Kim Newman's excellent (and thorough!) coverage of surviving episodes of the first season of The Avengers as well as complete coverage of season two episodes in the order they were originally taped. In addition to the meaty, Spy Vibe tasty text, Newman provides a number of fantastic photographs. If that wasn't enough to whet your secret agent appetites, Newman also reviews the Matt Helm Lounge box set of the four Dean Martin classics, The Silencers, Murderers' Row, The Ambushers, and The Wrecking Crew. If you can't find Video Watchdog at your local retailer, you can also order issues directly from them here.


Fellow C.O.B.R.A.S. agent Bish reported recently about another special edition magazine on stands now. Put together by the editors of American History, "100 Greatest Spy Movies" is available at Borders and other retailers. The magazine highlights most of the top espionage thrillers throughout cinema history. Though I did not see Deadlier Than the Male listed (what gives?), I did note the newsworthy mention of Triple Agent by French New Wave auteur, Eric Rohmer, who recently passed away. Titles covered from the 1960s are: The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Goldfinger, Manchurian Candidate, Ipcress File, Dr. No, Funeral in Berlin, Looking Glass War, Army of Shadows, The Deadly Affair, From Russia With Love, The War is Over, Torn Curtain, The Counterfeit Traitor, Our Man Flint, Operation Crossbow, Billion Dollar Brain, Guns of Navarone, The Venetian Affair, Modesty Blaise, Ice Station Zebra, and Quiller Memorandum. The films are not listed in order of rank or alphabet, so I'm hoping a Spy Vibe reader will uncover a code. The magazine also features many sidebars about how some of the films relate to real spy cases in history.

January 23, 2010

JASON'S SONG/FILM ON YOUTUBE

JASON'S SONG/FILM ON YOUTUBE
Spy Vibe Jason's winning song/film project with the Plastic Ono Band is now listed on Yoko Ono's YouTube Favorites. The visuals are black and white, experimental scenes of ocean creatures, but I think readers may enjoy the Lounge/Jazz approach of the music. You can read more about the project here.
Before creating Spy Vibe, I have been composing music and making films for the international festival circuit. My previous film, I Was A Dancer -filmed in Japan- was short-listed for the Sundance Film Festival and screened around the world. Being a lifetime fan of 1960s revolutionary artists like Ono and The Beatles, I feel thrilled and blessed to have had a chance to collaborate with the Plastic Ono Band and to share the results. Thanks for checking it out!

January 21, 2010

THE WHO: BLU MOD GROUP

THE WHO: BLU MOD GROUP
Breaking out as The High Numbers, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltry, Keith Moon, and John Entwistle embraced the 1960s
Rock and Roll explosion with tunes tailored to Britain's Mod scene. The flip side of their initial single echoed the sub-culture slang, "I'm the Face." To be The Face meant to be popular or cool. With a change in management, the group was reborn as The Who, and embodied the youth generation through Pop Art and Auto-Destructive Art concepts. The use of military insignia (the RAF target) and other icons as fashionable Pop symbols ignited the imagination, and continues to sell T-shorts today! In 1965, the year of the big spy boom and The Beatles' Help, The Who released "Can't Explain" and "My Generation" and rocketed to stardom. As the culture evolved in 1966 and beyond, The Who began to experiment with concept albums and linked song cycles, first in short story/Pop Art form (A Quick One, The Who Sell Out), and then moving into full-blown rock opera (Tommy). Along with The Beatles, perhaps no other band stands today as a reflection of the 1960s as an era of ever-changing narrative and visual revolution. On March 2nd, Universal Music Group will release the excellent documentary, The Kids Are Alright on Blu-ray. Play it loud! Spy Vibers may also want to check out a new (still unseen) documentary called The Who, The Mods, and The Quadrophenia Connection. Looking for Mod clothes? Check out I'm The Face.

MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E: TIM ESTILOZ

MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E: TIM ESTILOZ
A short celebration of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. by reporter/performer Tim Estioloz, originally aired on the Comcast Network.


January 17, 2010

007 MAGAZINE IS BACK

007 MAGAZINE IS BACK
After a 3-year sabbatical as an online Internet publication only, 007 MAGAZINE is set to return with not one, but two separate titles. The sister publication will be entitled 007 MAGAZINE ARCHIVE FILES, and the first issue will feature articles and many never-before-seen images from the making of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, in the film's 40th anniversary year.


As stated on the official 007 Magazine website, each issue of 007 Magazine Archive Files spotlights various elements of one particular James Bond film featuring rare and never-before-seen imagery coupled with informative and definitive information. 007 Magazine Archive Files #1 examines the filming of the exciting and brutal beach fight that opens the sixth James Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) starring one-time Bond George Lazenby, and the filming at The College of Arms in London. Featuring never-before-seen images from a scene cut from the final movie when Bond discovers the villainous Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s spy has infiltrated the college and is listening-in to 007’s top secret conversation with Sir Hilary Bray. Bond fans can purchase 007 Magazine Archive Files #1 at the official 007 Magazine website. Check out their list of back issues, too!

007 Magazine first appeared in print in April 1979 and premiered on the World Wide Web during 1997, while its more recent web persona evolved during September 2004. 007 Magazine publications and website feature the definitive work on the subject, covering everything relating to the James Bond phenomenon and spanning six decades from 1952 to the present day. During its 30-year history 007 Magazine & Archive has become the foremost worldwide focal point for countless inquiries relating to Bond, James Bond and provides the ultimate resource for James Bond enthusiasts worldwide, and a unique commercial picture agency & information centre for the world's media.

Thanks to agent Wes Britton for the heads-up and to the 007 Magazine website. Additional information and James Bond news at the excellent community and research site, Commander Bond Network.

January 11, 2010

SPY VIBE: YEAR ONE

SPY VIBE: YEAR ONE
Spy Vibe turns One today! How did it all start? After a number of movie and comic scripts, and a non-fiction book about cartoon art, I was adapting a movie guide book I wrote into a new blog project. It would be a place to discuss how films go together like elements of a fine feast. A little Fellini here, an echo of Woody Allen there- discussions of the great auteurs and genres in cinema history. But then I heard about the passing of actor Patrick McGoohan. I began to reflect on The Prisoner and the other spy-related artifacts from the 1960s that were so much a part of my background. Before I discovered Fellini, Bergman, Kurosawa, etc, my imagination was ignited by images of secret agents in tight suits, the sleek lines of the Jaguar XK-E, and Jazzy-Lounge music of 007, Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Avengers. I remembered the spy-fascination of my childhood: making silencers for cap guns out of painted rolls of paper, making cassette recordings from the TV so I could re-experience stories as radio dramas, and collecting spy memorabilia. An avid James Bond fan, I joined the fanclub and savored issues of the club magazine, Bondage. And I waited patiently each year to catch a broadcast of my fave film of the era, The 10th Victim by Elio Petri. As an adult, I loved to look deeper into these old adventures and relish the cultural significance of their production design, costumes, and stories. The influence of the space race, the sexual revolution, and the baby boom was, and remains, thrilling to explore. Although the movie guide book was a solid project, I could not escape the lure of Swingin' 60s Spy Satisfaction. I began the Spy Vibe blog and website on January 11, 2009 with a tribute to Patrick McGoohan.


Spy Vibe's mission has been to celebrate "1960s Style Meets Action." And what a fun first year! We saw most of the James Bond films and The Prisoner released on Blu-ray. I had a chance to talk with Richard "Jaws" Kiel, David "Felix Leiter" Hedison, and we interviewed artists Richard Sala, Matt Kindt, and Kevin Dart. An amazing community of fellow spy writers found each other and formed a coalition we dubbed The C.O.B.R.A.S., and we've reached out to a larger community that includes artist/historian Steve Bissette and Cinema Retro's Lee Pfeiffer. Spy Vibe readers have come together to discuss agents, fashion, modern design, and childhood heroes. We've celebrated exhibits by Richard Avedon, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Alexander Calder. And readers have brought attention to some incredible classics that had been off our radar. Some highlight discoveries for me: the Shaw Brothers spy films, C.O.B.R.A.S. agent Wesley Brittons' books, Design Within Reach, and the German TV show Raumpatrouille Orion (Modern dance will never look the same again!). Whether it's been a daily check-in with a classic video clip or a full article about aesthetics and 1960s culture, the year has been its own thrilling mission to begin this community place called Spy Vibe.

We've also enjoyed a number of prize competitions. In fact, what's a birthday without presents? As a thank you to all Spy Vibe readers, I've got some Gold Key and 007 comic re-print collections (and more) coming up! Stay tuned for the Spy Vibe: Year One Give-Away!


January 10, 2010

JASON WINS REMIX COMPETITION

JASON WINS REMIX COMPETITION
During the flurry of Beatles and Mod style-related posts in the fall, Spy Vibe announced that Yoko Ono released an exciting and richly artistic album with the Plastic Ono Band. Members included Sean Lennon, Yuka Honda, and Cornelius. The band, now on a US tour, held a remix competition in November for their song, The Sun is Down. Music has always been a big part of my life, including remixing, songwriting, guitar & bass, film scores, and many spy-sampled lounge tunes. I jumped at the chance to collaborate with these guys! Yoko provided a handful of vocal clips. It was up to the remixers/composers to interpret as we wished. I planned a number of solutions, but had a busy fall as Spy Vibers will know. In the end I completed a lounge/jazz song- which was chosen as one of the 20 winners of the competition! When I'm not teaching and writing films, fiction, and comics, I'm busy making short films. With my song on the award list, I made an experimental film to promote the track. See it here on YouTube. Remembering the Japanese meaning of Yoko's name, Ocean Child, I shot black & white footage of dancing sea horses, jelly fish, and a dolphin on my iPhone. The film is dedicated to my brothers-in-film Kousuke
Ono, Michele Civetta, and Jack Criddle. No stealthy spies or mini skirts in this one, but I hope Spy Vibers will check it out. More news about Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band at Yoko's website Imagine Peace. Information about Jason's films and projects at jasonwhiton.com.

January 8, 2010

CONE OF SILENCE

CONE OF SILENCE
The genius of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry ensured that Get Smart would be a true original. Defining secret agent, nitwit humor, Max Smart spawned many imitations (including most of the kid's programs recently covered in Spy Vibe's look at trench coats). The "cone of silence", here from the pilot episode, still cracks me up. Happy Friday to all Spy Vibers!

January 6, 2010

IT TAKES A THIEF

IT TAKES A THIEF
Spy Vibers of the 1960s-1970s era thumbed through TV Guide each week like explorers looking for rare treasure. Was a station airing The Avengers or Wild West West? Maybe The 10th Victim or On Her Majesty's Secret Service? Because if they weren’t listed, it meant that it could be another week, another month, or even years until those thin black ties and silencers would show up again on the screen. This was a time before streaming video, before Netflix, Blu-ry, DVDs, VHS, Laser Disc and Betamax. Like many kids, I loved any chance to see the likes of The Prisoner, UFO, Man From U.N.C.L.E., and James Bond. Unless shows were in first run, or we're looking at the 80s -when Bond marathons became more regular, we just never knew when they'd be on. But I had a vision of the future. I dreamed of growing up and having a studio with a kind of library, where I could enjoy studying these adventures in depth. One cannot underestimate the power of the technological floodgates that opened and flourished during this past decade. Not only did we make the transition to DVD, Blu-ray and streaming, various studios around the world have also been busy releasing archival editions of virtually every Spy we ever hoped to find. Apart from a few that still have not made it to release, that dream of the library has come true. A few titles that have eluded major digital releases in disc-form have at least found their way to streaming venues like Hulu. Fellow C.O.B.R.A.S. agent Armstrong Sabian recently posted a reminder that some U.N.C.L.E. episodes are available. Hopefully Spy Vibers have the box set collection for the full complete-library experience. Amazon currently has the set on sale. Armstrong's reminder got me thinking again about other titles that are streaming on-line.



It Takes A Thief made a brief comeback in the wake of Austin Powers when Mike Meyers hosted a week of 60s spies. I seem to recall that episodes started airing briefly. It Takes a Thief began in January 1968 and ran for 65 shows until 1970. The premise: Alexander Mundy (Robert Wagner), an infamous cat burglar, is offered a full pardon in return for lending his special talents to his country. Spy Vibers may recall Mundy's SIA controller cajoling, "I'm not asking you to spy. I'm asking you to steal." Sort of a Mod Squad meets The Saint adventure show, It Takes a Thief has not seen a full digital release, but 63 episodes are available for viewing on Hulu! This is not breaking news, but may possibly be off the radar of some readers. The show is a cool classic that is worth checking out. Head over to our favorite magazine, Cinema Retro, for a wonderful past article about It Takes on Thief on-line.

January 5, 2010

GERRY ANDERSON UFO MOVIE

GERRY ANDERSON UFO MOVIE
Director Matthew Gratzner is working with producers Avi Haas and Henri Kessler to bring a re-imagination of the sci fi classic, UFO created by Gerry Anderson, to the big screen. Legendary producer Robert Evans is behind the scenes in a collaboration with ITC. The
movie website's synopsis seems close to the original: Based in the near future - 2020, where a super secret military organization SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Organization) becomes operational. Its purpose, to defend Earth from an Alien race, which has been abducting humans from all corners of planet earth for decades. SHADO's cover is a Movie Studio with their main headquarters hidden deep below the surface. SHADO is run by the extremely dedicated "Studio Mogul" and SHADO Commander Ed Straker who has a cadre of crack operatives with an arsenal of cutting edge futuristic weapons systems and hidden bases on earth and beyond.


Forbidden Planet has posted an
interview with the director where they address casting, as well as fan concern about how the new version will incorporate essential elements from the original show. I would not want to see a campy or dated revision, but I do count purple hair, miniskirts, Nehru jackets, space-aged sleek cars, and Barry Gray organ lounge music as essential elements. Partial joking aside, Gratzner says in this excellent piece that "My biggest goal for this is firstly to not alienate the fans of the original show. We're not picking up where the series left off - we are starting from the very beginning. We really take the franchise seriously, unlike a film such as Thunderbirds, where they were saying 'here's a franchise that was great and everybody loved it, now let's put a whole new spin on it...'. We're not doing that. There's a reason UFO has a following, there's a reason that Gerry Anderson has a following, and for us to overlook that or take that for granted would be foolish." Sounds like the project is in good hands.


From FP:
"What I want to do with UFO is what Christopher Nolan did with the Batman franchise, or Martin Campbell did with Casino Royale." says veteran Hollywood visual effects wizard Matthew Gratzner, now the director/co-producer of a $130 million Hollywood adaptation of Gerry Anderson’s cult 1970 UK TV show. "UFO is not a spoof, or a parody or a kids' movie. It's a pretty dark story, actually…it is not a show for young children." UFO is set for a 2011 release with photography starting early this year. Spy Vibe will be watching for more updates. Fans may also want to check out the UFO Series website and the Gerry Anderson website, Fanderdson.

GEORGE LAZENBY INTERVIEW TONIGHT

GEORGE LAZENBY INTERVIEW TONIGHT
AGENT Wesley Britton has been busy with some fantastic projects, including a Best of The Decade compilation of essays that I am looking forward to reading. As many Spy Vibers will know, he is also behind many memorable interviews on Dave White Presents. As we leave 2009 and the 40Th anniversary of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, it is fitting that one of the most popular shows in the program was his chat with 007 actor, George Lazenby. For Spy Vibers who missed it, the full interview is being re-broadcast and will be available on-line. More from Dr. Britton's press release:


When DWP debuted in Aug. 2008, many of our interviews were broken up into parts and broadcast over several shows. Without question, the most popular was Wes Britton’s lengthy conversation with former 007 George Lazenby, which first aired on our Dec. 24, 2008 and Jan. 7, 2009 broadcasts. As a New Year’s gift to all our fans, and Bond lovers in particular, our Jan. 5, 2010 show will include that interview in its hour plus entirety from beginning to end. If you missed it the first time around, or would like to hear the conversation without interruption, here’s your chance to hear George’s memories in one go—and listening to George telling his story adds dimensions to the saga not always quite so poignant in printed versions of how
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service came to be.
It will debut Tuesday night, Jan. 5, at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time, 10:30 EST at KSAV. Wednesday, Jan. 6, the broadcast will be available for 24/7 access at Audio Entertainment. More info at Spy Wise.

January 4, 2010

SECRET ORIGINS OF JAMES BOND

SECRET ORIGINS OF JAMES BOND
Wesley Britton presents an in-depth article by Spy author and C.O.B.R.A.S. ally agent, JEREMY DUNS. Announced today from Spy Wise: "Duns’ 16 page history and analysis traces the previously unexplored literary influences of novelist Dennis Wheatley on the James Bond books in character descriptions, scenes in the novels, and innovative writing techniques. It’s surprising no one has called attention to all this before- Duns has provided us all with a richly detailed window into what literary wells Ian Fleming drew from, most notably in Thunderball. Jeremy Duns is, of course, the author of the spy sensation of 2009, Free Agent. This article is his expansion and revision of an essay he posted on his 'Spy Novels' list serve.
The Secret Origins of 007 is available as a PDF download in the 'James Bond Files' at Spy Wise."

January 3, 2010

FERRARI BY LELOUCH

FERRARI BY LELOUCH
The New Year offers us a chance to pause and consider resolutions and the passing of time- and nothing says "passing of time" like Ferrari! In the driver's seat today is film director Claude Lelouch. Lelouch had been working on documentaries and was just about ready to pack it all in when he created his Academy Award-winning (and career saving) film A Man and a Woman in 1966. Lelouch had a true knack for capturing the poetry of everyday lives and relationships, and it didn't hurt the film that it starred Jean-Louis Trintignant as a race car driver and Anouk Aimee as a script girl. Poetry-in-motion, indeed. Lelouch was a car enthusiast, and years later he made a rather infamous short film called Rendezvous. The concept? During the length of one reel of film mounted to the bumper of his Ferrari 275GTB, a man rushes through the streets of Paris (without stopping for traffic or lights!) to meet with his love on the other side. The camera was set, the film started, gears slammed into place- and the Ferrari blasted off on its uncertain journey. Absolutely exhilarating! Legend has it that Lelouch could not (or did not) get a permit to make the film, leaving the streets open to the public, and that he hired a professional driver to take the wheel. Made in 1976, the classic style and sound of the Ferrari roaring over cobblestones in retro Paris has Spy Vibe written all over it!


Claude Lelouch's Rendezvous... from Dat on Vimeo.

January 2, 2010

WELCOME NEW C.O.B.R.A.S.

WELCOME NEW C.O.B.R.A.S.
Busy with missions throughout the fall, I haven't had a chance yet to officially welcome all of our new C.O.B.R.A.S. agents. The HMSS WEBLOG is an editorial based magazine blog that covers James Bond and spy-related news. A current post reminds fans about one of my childhood faves, Lancelot Link Secret Chimp (mentioned in Spy Vibe's Spy Kids: Trench Coat review). Johny Malone's UNA PLAGE DE ESPIAS is a fantastic site that brings fans into the world of spy fiction in Spanish. Phillippe Lombard's QUANTUM OF BOND offers 007 and spy articles in French. This is a cool pad where you will find Spy Vibe faves like OSS 117, comics, spy fiction and more. Spy Vibers may remember that the C.O.B.R.A.S., a collective of blog writers about spies, formed early last year. Like agents responding to chalk marks on park benches, a core group found one another and has continued to grow internationally (check out this cool book cover from Johny Malone below). I'm pleased to welcome our newest members at last and I encourage readers to check in with all of the C.O.B.R.A.S. for your daily dose of espionage culture.


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