April 29, 2009


Spy Vibe’s virtual party has been a chance to highlight of some of our fave characters and review part of the Playboy’s Penthouse box set (Ella’s appearance is still the highlight so far). As maestro Nicola Conte keeps the groove, a notable guest arrives fashionably late. In celebration of the Peter Wyngarde festival on
Permission To Kill, Spy Vibe’s guest of honor this time around is the fabulous Jason King.

Jason King (Peter Wyngarde/Department S/Jason King) Flamboyant and sharp-witted, who better to inspire a round of stories and intellectual games than the playboy and author of Mark Caine adventure novels, Jason King. Wyngarde’s character embodied attitudes of the times, playing a man who embraced pleasure and quality as a member of the super tax bracket -often as a foodie, wine connoisseur, and lover. A hedonistic consumer and creative force, King was a champion of style. In fact, when the baddies in Flamingos Only Fly on Tuesdays want to torture King, they cut up his personally designed and tailored suits! Wyngarde patterned King on himself. "I decided that Jason King was going to be an extension of me. I was going to have a superimposed personality. I was inclined to be a bit of a dandy."

Said to be one of the inspirations for Mike Meyer’s Austin Powers, Wyngarde also brought human elements to his character when King was picked to go solo as a spin-off of Department S. Some believe his choice led to the show’s short run. An adventurer/spy hero shedding a tear over the hit of a crime lord’s moll? But it is Wyngarde’s ability to be outrageous as well as caring and present in his intimate interactions that puts his Jason King in the seat of honor for this party.

At first viewing, Jason King seemed as bizarre to me as Austin Powers. The initial episodes are confusing and wild (and I mean wild!), but they improve and grow on one quickly. Wyngarde’s King has the kind of charisma and conflict of brilliance, confidence, and frailty that I would equate with the work of Peter Cook, Richard Harris, and Peter O'Toole. Permission To Kill has posted some excellent reviews of Wyngarde’s appearances. I especially recommend the two episodes of The Avengers, A Touch of Brimstone and Epic (this one gets extra points for Peter’s many roles in the show, including a Shakespeare voice-over of Hamlet and a Hammer-style Gothic menace), and his appearance as Number Two in The Prisoner episode Checkmate.

For more info about the “International crime author and sizzling side-burned sex-god from “Department S,” Jason King, visit:

Jason King’s Groovy Pad
Hellfire Hall

April 24, 2009


I've finally had a chance to check out The Green Hornet (1966) and have become an instant fan. More to come on the fabulous Spy Vibe of this show, but in the meantime... this news from the official Press Release website for The Green Hornet film from
Sony Pictures.

A Comedy?

Some readers have pointed out that the film will be a comedy. One of the reasons I enjoy the show so much is that they play it straight. hmmm. Could be another I Spy/Wild Wild West disappointment? As Matt Maranian mentioned in our chat, earnestness is what is missing from most re-makes, and producers quickly fall into parody with a movie designed for laughs. Dear Gondry, please keep the Green Hornet cool and adventurous. These characters are not winking at the audience- they are too busy fighting crime in their fantastic Bond-meets-The Dark Knight-meets-Bruce Lee fashion.

CULVER CITY, Calif., February 24, 2009 - Michel Gondry is in negotiations to direct Columbia Pictures'
The Green Hornet, starring Seth Rogen and Stephen Chow, it was announced today by Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach, presidents of Columbia Pictures. The screenplay is by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg, who will also executive produce. Neal H. Moritz will produce the film through his Original Film production company. The film will begin shooting this summer and is set for release June 25, 2010. The film will also be executive produced by Michael Grillo.

Commenting on the announcement, Tolmach said, "From the very beginning, Seth, Evan, and Neal wanted this film to stand out from the pack with its originality. You couldn't ask for a better director than Michel Gondry to bring that to life."

Moritz added, "We're huge fans of Michel Gondry. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and all his films are as daring as they are extraordinary, fueled by creative ideas that spring from his unique worldview. Our first rule, always, is to make the movie that we want to see, and that couldn't be truer than with Michel bringing his stylish and original touch to the helm."

Said Gondry, "I'm very excited about The Green Hornet and all that I hope to bring to it. This story has always been close to me and now Seth & Evan have written a script that is both funny and real - the best of both worlds. I cannot wait to further collaborate with them on it."

Gondry, an award-winning film, commercial, and music video director, is set to release his most recent film, Tokyo!, a triptych film telling three stories about the iconic city, on March 6, 2009. Gondry recently released his film Be Kind Rewind, which inspired Gondry's debut book, You'll Like This Film Because You're In It: The Be Kind Rewind Protocol. Gondry's recent films include The Science of Sleep, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for which Gondry received a 2005 Academy Award for original screenplay, for his contribution to the storyline alongside Charlie Kaufman. Gondry co-produced both Be Kind Rewind and The Science of Sleep through his production company Partizan Films.


Spy Vibe's been throwing a virtual party to highlight some of our favorite characters. Nicola Conte is our musical maestro. More guests have arrived. Which agents would you Spy Vibers invite?

Dr. Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles/Moonraker) Despite her humorous name, Holly is a secret agent, NASA rocket scientist, and a full-fledged astronaut! Look over her collection of the latest Hubble snaps or ask Holly about peak dynamic pressure. I wonder if she met Carl Sagan? Although her character doesn't scream 1960s style, Dr. Goodhead is a Space-Age Aviatrix with all of the ingredients for a fascinating party.

James Bond (Timothy Dalton/Living Daylights) Kingsley Amis wrote in his James Bond Dossier that Bond is “a simple pro forma we can all fit ourselves into. We don’t want to have Bond to dinner or go golfing with Bond. We don’t want to talk to Bond. We want to be Bond.” Although this may be true about most of the on-screen 007s, Timothy Dalton’s is the one man in the group that would not require too many martinis to make warm and honest conversation. Bridging the charm of the cinema persona with the man of Ian Fleming's novels, Dalton brought nuances to the character that get at least one Bond on our invite list. Plus, he might give us a ride in the Aston Martin to pick up more refreshments.

Wai Lin
(Michelle Yeoh/Tomorrow Never Dies) A martial arts master and charming secret agent, Wai would have interesting stories to tell about culture and change in China. Plus she could act as a bouncer if any of the evil guests forget their manners! Wai gets to wear a cool 60s-style costume in Tomorrow Never Dies that is reminiscent of the catsuits worn by Mrs. Peel (The Avengers) and by the Irma Vepp character (Les Vampyres/1915, Irma Vepp/1996/
Maggie Cheung).

April 20, 2009


There is a lot of fun spy buzz right now, and one exciting voice in the center of the storm is Jeremy Duns. His spy novel, Free Agent, will be released in May in the UK and June in the US. Spy Vibers will enjoy the 1960s setting of this tale of espionage (more info below). Fellow C.O.B.R.A.S. site, Permission to Kill, has posted an interview with Duns here. Enjoy! Free Agent is available for pre-order from booksellers now.

In July 1945, MI6 agent Paul Dark took part in a clandestine mission to hunt down and execute Nazi war criminals. He will discover that everything he understood about that mission, about its consequences, and about the woman he once loved, has been built on false foundations. Now it's 1969, and a KGB colonel called Slavin has walked into the British High Comission in Lagos, Nigeria, and announced that he wants to defect. His credentials as a defector are good: he has highly suggestive information indicating that there is yet another double agent within MI6, which would be a devastating blow to an organisation still coming to terms with its betrayal by Kim Philby and the rest of the Cambridge ring.

Dark has largely been above suspicion during MI6's years of self-recrimination, but this time he's in the frame. For some it would be flight or fight time. But when you discover everything you've taken for granted turns out to be untrue, and when your arrest may only be moments away, then sometimes the only option is both flight and fight...

April 19, 2009


Welcome to the Spy Vibe party! Step from the elevator into a vast penthouse of glass, brushed metal, and 360 degree views of city lights and avenues that lead to intimate country getaways. It's an international hub in the imagination, where Tokyo, Hong Kong, Rome, New York, London, and Paris intersect all countries and hot spots of the globe. With Nicola Conte's band setting the groove, the first guest arrives.

Fiona Volpe
(Luciana Paluzzi/Thunderball/1965) As head of SPECTRE’s execution branch, Fiona Volpe brings a playful edge of danger to any gathering. Whether she is plotting a seduction or tying up enemy spies (or both!), Fiona is always on the move. She travels widely for her work and has a passion for fast vehicles and gadgets- a sure hit with manly-men who like to talk tools and speed. Ask her about the four rocket launchers on her BSA motorcycle. Fiona is bound to heat up the party!

Fiona Volpe was played by Italian redhead Luciana Paluzzi (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., To Trap A Spy, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., No Roses For OSS 117, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Sensuous Nurse). Paluzzi was originally considered for the role of Bond Girl Domino, but was chosen instead to portray her now-famous femme fatale. Originally an Irish character named Fiona Kelly in the script, the surname was changed to Volpe to suit the Italian nationality of Paluzzi.

She and Connery share some sizzling screen time in Thunderball, including a humorous moment when he offers her shoes when she asks for something to wear out of the bathtub. Fiona Volpe meets her end while the couple dances at an outdoor nightclub. After she catches friendly fire during a ballroom maneuver, Bond leaves her at a table with one of his infamous quips, "Do you mind if my friend sits this one out? She's just dead."

According to her interview with Cinema Retro (Issue #10), her husband Michael Solomon became smitten when he saw her astride her BSA A65L Lightning in Thunderball. Shaking her long hair from her helmet after a kill apparently really got to him (and to many others!) But the two wouldn't meet and marry until 1979, after which the actress went into retirement to focus on her home life.

April 18, 2009

NICOLA CONTE: Spy Vibe Penthouse Party

Welcome to the Spy Vibe party! Step from the elevator into a vast penthouse of glass, brushed metal, and 360 degree views of city lights and avenues that lead to intimate country getaways. It's an international hub in the imagination, where Tokyo, Hong Kong, Rome, New York, London, and Paris intersect all countries and hotspots of the globe. As the guests begin to arrive, the first band sets the tone of the night.

Special Musical Guest: Nicola Conte
I first heard Nicola Conte in Tokyo standing at one of HMV's stylish listening posts in Shibuya. A talented producer, musician, and DJ, Conte immediately opened the Spy Vibe world of 1960s Italian soundtracks and Bossa Nova with his incredibly groovy album Jet Sounds Revisited- a re-mix version of his debut Jet Sounds released in Italy on Schema in 2000 (and by Thievery Corporation's ESL label in 2001). Some of you may remember Bossa Per Due, a track that was licensed for an Acura commercial. Conte has continued to explore Jazz with a spice of Retro fusion, and I think Spy Vibers will especially enjoy his early records. Review on Rolling Stone. Now let's get this penthouse party moving. Take it away, maestro Nicola Conte! Video/Sound clips on the SpyVibe.com website.

April 14, 2009

Spy Vibe’s Penthouse Party

Taking a new step from behind the desk to inhabit the lifestyle he envisioned for himself, Hugh Hefner launched a show for television in 1959 called Playboy’s Penthouse (re-named Playboy After Dark). The concept was to host a party with his pals and heroes (many of whom would become personal friends), and invite the world to be a part of the scene- a kind of casual talk show in an intimate setting. Now released on DVD, it’s really interesting to study the program, as Hefner has commented, because it offers a glimpse of the 1940s/1950s world on the brink of a revolution, and the world of the late 1960 and early 1970s with a new cultural climate ushered in by the youth movement. Each party offered a chance to invite musicians, models, and interesting thinkers of the day to spend a casual evening discussing their ideas and playing music.

Highlights from Disc One: Author Rona Jaffe talks about her novel, The Best of Everything, after Hef screens a sneak preview of the film adaptation for the party on his movie projector. She and Hef begin an interesting, perhaps contrary, discussion about attitudes toward romantic affairs and responsibility, but are interrupted by Ella Fitzgerald’s arrival at the penthouse. Hef gets to sit piano side with Ella, who performs a great live set. Hef surprises everyone with a knockout recording that Ella made at Playboy’s famous jazz weekend festival prior to the party.

Songwriter Cy Coleman performs a number of tunes, including a few that Sinatra recorded. And greats like Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis Jr. stop in to chat and share their talents. Comedian Lenny Bruce and Hef have a discussion about honesty and about the relationship between humor and society. Disc One is worth seeing especially for Ella Fitzgerald, and I look forward to checking out the rest of the box sets.

Spy Vibe’s Penthouse Party
What if Spy Vibe could host a Penthouse party of fictional characters? Which agents would get the For Your Eyes Only invite? Who would you invite? Stay Tuned!

See the SPY VIBE Website for related VIDEO

April 10, 2009


***EXTRA Amazon just marked the Emma Peel Megaset down to $47.99!

Readers have been asking where they can find some of the DVDs that have been mentioned on Spy Vibe and there are a few current sales that are worth checking out.

Amazon is running a buy 2- get 1 free sale on British TV on DVD. The larger sets are listed: Prisoner, Danger Man, Gerry Anderson shows, etc. They also list many of The Avengers DVD volumes for $14.99- maybe a chance for some Spy Vibers to pick up missing sets in your collection! Note that the 1965-1967 episodes are covered in the Emma Peel Megaset (probably the better deal- plus it includes a cool documentary disc), so I suggest looking for bargains on the Cathy Gale and Tara King years (of which they have 1963-1964, and 1968). The Amazon sale ends on April 27th.

Amazon is still offering a sale on classic TV box sets until April 16th. Great prices on Mission Impossible, Wild Wild West, Hawaii Five-O, Get Smart, and others.

I notice that
DeepDiscount has each Avengers volume for about $12 and they currently offer the cheaper price on the Emma Peel Megaset for $61.97.

April 9, 2009



Gigantor (1964)
Japanese monsters and robots conclude their attack on Spy Vibe, as I highlight the second show from my course last week, Gigantor! Based on the Japanese comic and animation, Tetsujin 28, Gigantor was developed for western viewers by Fred Ladd. Ladd was inspired by an image he saw from Testsujin 28 of an empowered boy controlling a giant robot. Working on the Astro Boy cartoons at the time, Ladd formed his own production company in 1963, Delphi Associates, for the purpose of adapting and distributing Testujin 28, now dubbed "Gigantor," for American television.

Much like the character dynamics seen years later in Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot, Gigantor featured a heroic boy thrust in the middle of international intrigue. With the help of his radio-controlled robot, Gigantor, young Jimmy Sparks helps secret agent, Richard “Dick” Strong, and his uncle, Dr. Bob Brilliant, to battle global terrorists. In the first episode, we learn that the various stations set up by countries from around the world on Antarctica have been destroyed. Jimmy joins a team to investigate. They are ambushed by the machine gun-toting henchmen (who first appear disguised as penguins!) of the evil Dr. Katzmeow. As Dick infiltrates the terrorist organization to cripple it from within, Jimmy and Gigantor help to destroy the enemy troops on the battlefield and to crush the evil lair of Katzmeow. And so the formula goes for the show’s run of 52 excellent episodes.

Gigantor has a terrific blend of fast-paced spy and robot action with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. The episodes were made in black and white, which gives the thin-black-tie fashion of the show a cool Spy Vibe. A long-time favorite on Adult Swim in the US, Volume One of the Gigantor DVDs (I believe remastered) will be back in print on May 5th! The DVDs are available for pre-order on vendor sites. You can see a brief interview with Fred Ladd on the Amazon website. iTunes has both original DVD volumes of Gigantor available for download and Netflix has them for rent.


Speed Racer (1967-1968)
The heroic Jimmy Sparks and Johnny Sokko have a slightly older incarnation in the Japanese comic and animation, Mach Go Go (Speed Racer). Here's another lad who gets to drive fast and pack a pistol! Speed Racer starts as a series about industrial espionage. With secret plans written in invisible ink on his windshield, Speed helps his inventor/father in a high-octane battle against enemy spies. If you think the monkey is too sily, just remember that Speed Racer drives a gadget-filled race car that would make 007 drool. The costumes are racing-stripe cool, and the machine gun-toting baddies on motorcycles give the show extra Spy Vibe points. This is another first-wave adventure show from Japan that is worth re-visiting. See the SpyVibe.com website for related video.



I led a fun week-long class last week that explored monsters and robots in Japanese culture and in contemporary design. They saw the original Godzilla film, the Japanese version that was censored by the US and remained unreleased here for 50 years due to its anti-nuclear sentiment and references to WWII. We looked at many films, cartoons, Tokusatsu (live-action/special effects shows), and had a special visit with manga scholar/translator, Frederik Schodt (Astro Boy). Two programs we watched had special interest for spy fans, and today I want to highlight the first episode of Giant Robot, known in the US as Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot.

Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot
1967-1968 Toei Production
The Earth is invaded by a terrorist group called Big Fire (Gargoyle in the US), led by Emperor Guillotine, who commands his minions of henchman and captured scientists (who make monsters- naturally) from his ship beneath the ocean. Enter Johnny Sokko (Daisuke Kusama in Japan), who meets up with a dashing young man, Jerry Mano (Juro Minami in Japan), on a cruise ship. Johnny discovers that Jerry is, in fact, Agent U3 for a top-secret peacekeeping organization called Unicorn. Jerry’s cover is blown when his pen starts ringing! Jerry extends an antenna and contacts his boss at HQ- a rather colorful version of U.N.C.L.E. headquarters.

The ship is attacked by a giant sea monster, and our two heroes find themselves castaways on a beach and quickly captured by the alien terrorists. The baddies in Johnny Sokko are designed with a wonderful mix of evil elements- black berets, sunglasses, Nazi salutes, and sci-fi makeup. Jerry and Johnny break free and an intense gunfight ensues that would never been seen in a US-produced kid’s show. Jerry uses a guard as a shield. The poor henchman doesn’t stand a chance and his pals riddle him with bullets. Even Johnny is armed with a pistol and looks super heroic despite his mini-shorts.

The action and camera work are fast-paced and fun. Jerry and Johnny race through corridors and down an elevator where they discover the Giant Robot and a scientist who has been held prisoner to do Guillotine’s bidding. The man gives Johnny the robot’s control-watch. In James Bond fashion, the heroes blow up the secret lair and shoot it out on the beach. When things get tough, Jerry reminds Johnny that he now possesses the watch that controls the robot. The boy flips open the top, makes his first commands, and a franchise is born! Johnny is brought into Unicorn as Agent U7, and joins the secret fight against the alien terrorists.

It was interesting to talk with Fred Schodt about the violence that we see in Japanese pop culture. There is an edge to the storytelling, seen even in live-action and animated shows from the early 1960s, which remains compelling for American viewers. Johnny Quest was pretty cool and dangerous for its time. But imagine if Johnny Quest, like Sokko, had been allowed to carry a pistol and command a giant robot! In Japan there is generally a greater distinction between fantasy and reality, which is one reason that creators in Japan have explained the graphic tone of their content. They didn’t have a Dr. Wertham, for example, leading a Congressional charge that comics were inciting youth to violence. Fred Schodt agreed, and added that Japan’s low crime rate, gun control, and overall group-sensitivity in the culture would help maintain a boundary between fantasy and what can be expected to happen in real life. But as Japan experiences more of the kind of violence that happens in the US, he added, maybe those lines will blur and the graphic tone will become an issue.

Now, back to that giant robot! While the secret agents are talking into their pen communicators and shooting it out with baddies, Johnny’s robot has quite an arsenal at his disposal: Finger Missiles, Back Missile, Bazooka Cannon (which fires out of the top of the robot's head), Eye Ray/Beams, Flamethrower (from his mouth) and Electrocution Wires. If you are a fan of Japanese monsters, heroes, and toys (and love spies!), Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot (Giant Robot) is a campy and fun adventure!
See the SpyVibe.com website for related video.

Here are a number of web addresses where you can find out more about Johnny Sokko and even see episodes of the show:


April 8, 2009


agent Matt’s incredible talent for spaces, furniture, and style is celebrated in his two books PAD and PAD PARTIES, and in his home and vintage clothing shop in Vermont. Matt is also the co-author of L.A. BIZARRO!. Matt and I struck up a friendship over Italian film soundtracks and Japanese bands. In the first weeks of creating Spy Vibe, I had a brief chat with Matt about some aspects of Spy Vibe culture:

SV: When I think of the Spy Vibe, and most of my images come from films, it is a kind of Lounge culture for the Space Age. When did the Lounge aesthetic first emerge?

MM: Well I'd guess we'd first have to establish a definition of "Lounge Culture," because that term is pretty vague. If we’re talking about sipping alcoholic drinks and listening to music while sitting around on stylish furniture in some kind of sophisticated setting, it seems to me that there has been some form or another of that for hundreds if not thousands of years. I'm sure plenty of pharaohs did that. Every decade of the twentieth century had its version.

SV: How did this style evolve or change in the Space Age culture of the 60s?

MM: I can only make some semi-informed guesses, but I'd say it had less to do with the influence of the space age and more to do with the influence of the birth control pill. Playboy magazine was probably an important factor too. The lounge became a tool for seduction, which went a long way in shaping that scene; there was sex to be had without the risk of pregnancy. Cocktails were a way to impair a woman's judgment, and an environment that engages the senses—seductive lighting, sensuous furniture, a good sound system, and whatever—helped create the mood. And mood has power, it's the same reason why churches burn incense and light candles; it's a different kind of seduction, but seduction nonetheless. So with regard to all the elements that compose what we're calling lounge culture—music, design, fashion, and the rest—it was basically all about sex.

SV: What did the James Bond films bring to the table that was different?

MM: In my estimation, what James Bond did was put a face on an ambiguous concept. Like Playboy magazine, there was now a directive. It got very specific. It became a fantasy.

SV: Story-wise, I wonder if it’s a shift from Private Detective heroes to Spy heroes? Cramped offices to ultra-modern pads?

MM: That's a great distinction, and again, it's the advent of the birth control pill at work here. Where are you going to most effectively seduce a woman, in a cramped office, or an ultra-modern pad?

SV: We’re both fans of Our Man Flint (1966), In Like Flint (1967), and Barbarella (1968). Why do you think they stand out from other films of that time?

MM: Because they were tongue-in-cheek and probably had the more to do with sex and half-naked women than the other movies of that ilk; Jane Fonda gets naked in the first five minutes of Barbarella!

SV: When movies like Austin Powers try to recreate that period, they seem to miss the boat slightly. What are the missing ingredients?

MM: Earnestness. Austin Powers is satire, and was designed exclusively for laughs.

SV: The styles of Kubrick’s 2001 (1968) and A Clockwork Orange (1971) seems so integral to one’s experience. Do you see changes in design between those years?

MM: The vision of the future got more ambitious. And the promise of a new decade always has an impact on design.

SV: The early 90s saw a rebirth of 50s and 60s style. It has continued as graphic design, animation, illustration, and pop-surrealist painting embrace the retro modern/futuristic look of the period. What was it like for you writing PAD (Chronicle Books, 2000) amidst that wave? Did you have a sense that you were part of a larger tribe?

MM: I never considered PAD to be an accessory to that scene. More or less, PAD spoke to a reinvention and repurposing of the past, and not so much a recreation or celebration of it. PAD was more about digging through dumpsters than mixing martinis. I never really identified with that whole lounge thing; I went to one of those exotica events in Los Angeles once and felt like a fish out of water. Everyone looked adorable, but I couldn't get out of there fast enough. So writing PAD never had me feeling like I was part of the lounge tribe, for sure, in fact a lot of those lounge people hated PAD because they assumed the book had something to do exclusively with the clichés of bachelor pad style, which it really didn't much at all, and they just couldn't see beyond that. So to a lot of them, PAD was a tacky disaster. Some people are extremely myopic, what can you do?

SV: What is your list of Essentials for those wanting to explore the 1960s Spy Vibe?

MM: All the movies you've mentioned for sure. And the music collections of that era released by the German label Crippled Dick Hot Wax, as well as Scamp Records and Rhino Records. They all do a great job capturing the period and that sensibility in music. The French and Italian films especially; spy is best when it's European, spy has to be a little exotic. An all-American spy is not that romantic.

SV: Your ultimate Evil Lair- what would it be and why?

MM: I think it would have to be vehicular, so I could get around; an amphibious vehicle that flies too—and with lots of bells and whistles. And it would have to have white auto upholstery, because I have a thing about white auto upholstery.

Thanks to Matt for taking some time during the pre-launch of the new edition of his book, L.A. Bizarro! (due July 2009!). You can learn more about Matt and his projects on his website.

new cover design for the july '09 release

From Amazon:

(Chronicle Books/2000)
You have a futon left over from college, some dingy end tables that Aunt Miller left you, and an apartment whose carpeting dates back to the Me Decade. The decorating magazines and TV shows never seem to talk to you. So what? With some attitude, know-how, and a lot of your own style, your place can be transformed into a fabulous Shangri-La, a swanky venue fit for living and entertaining well. Pad: The Guide to Ultra-Living is filled to bursting with hip, affordable projects for every room in the house and shows how to use basics like lighting, plants, mirrors, and paint to enhance even problem areas. Numerous testimonials from real people with real living spaces demonstrate how a little spunk and individuality can overcome the limitations of the average urban dwelling. Offering a complete lifestyle package, Pad has instructions for building your own home bar, ideas for party themes and recipes--and even collateral hangover cures! This total living guide will have your place all spruced up--and the envy of guests--in no time.

PAD PARTIES (Chronicle Books/2003) The highly anticipated follow-up to Pad, the definitive guide to extreme domestic décor, Pad Parties is the irreverent manual that will make any party an over-the-top entertainment sensation. Filled with deceptively simple and funky recipes for drinks, exotic garnishes, and appetizers, Pad Parties also includes ideas for enhancing the partyscape with music, ambient oddities, and creative homemade projects. Readers will learn how to transform a forlorn thrift store painting into an arty liquor larder and infuse their soirees with a gentle touch of surreal perversity by screening classroom safety films and Liberace variety shows. Concocted late in the night by a team on the leading edge of party style, the secrets to a happening scene are all here. With full-color photographs and illustrations, this is the perfect party guide for people with the distinctive and demanding sense of style that says, "That hideous vase would make a great swag lamp."

April 7, 2009


At last, EMI and The Beatles
website have announced that their back catalog has been remastered and will be released with fantastic album art, notes, and additional stereo and mono set packaging. The EMI CDs were early releases for the format and fans have hoped for years to see this essential collection of music receive its due attention. Beatles fans got a taste of what remastering may offer with the release of the Yellow Submarine soundtrack in 1999. Ten years later, we are bound to see some exciting results. No digital availability upadates at this point.

Official lead: Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music are delighted to announce the release of the original Beatles catalogue, which has been digitally re-mastered for the first time, for worldwide CD release on Wednesday, September 9, 2009 (9-9-09), the same date as the release of the widely anticipated "The Beatles: Rock Band" video game. Each of the CDs is packaged with replicated original UK album art, including expanded booklets containing original and newly written liner notes and rare photos. For a limited period, each CD will also be embedded with a brief documentary film about the album. On the same date, two new Beatles boxed CD collections will also be released.

See The Beatles website for more details.


Wes Britton talks about his ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TV SPIES tonight on TV Confidential. The on-line radio show will begin at 8PM EST (11 PM EST) at KSAV.ORG.. The one hour program will be available for 24/7 access on the KSAV website or at Audio Entertainment.

April 6, 2009


The year was 1965 and the world had been thrown into James Bond-mania. Thunderball, the Bond adventure to save the world from two stolen nuclear bombs, was about to debut in theaters. Meanwhile, a group of technicians and plotters were working to unleash their Agent Bondson to UK audiences on the small screen. Agent Bondson?

The rugged spy Bondson, who closely resembled Sean Connery and found his name in tribute to Fleming’s character, appeared in the Thunderbirds episode, The Man From M.I.5 on January 20, 1966 (disc Vol 7 of the original A&E megaset). With a Bond-style score by Barry Gary, the episode had a wonderful tone of danger and international intrigue. Long before viewers were shocked by the likes of Mr. Bill, Team America, or Robot Chicken, Gerry Anderson’s puppets were smoking cigarettes, tying up super models, and carrying out assassinations. If you have only seen the Thunderbirds films and are looking for something with a spy edge from International Rescue, this is one to check out. *spoiler alert.

The Man From M.I.5 begins with a shocking puppet murder! A mysterious scuba diver sneaks aboard a yacht and shoots a British agent in the back- five times. He dives back into the water and blows up the boat. Agent Bondson investigates and discovers that his agent contact has been shot (“five times”) and that the stolen plans for a deadly nuclear device are missing. With world survival in the balance, Bondson calls on International Rescue to help recover the plans.

Bondson is called to a secret meeting in the woods by Thunderbirds “London Agent,” Penelope. He feels a pistol jabbing him from behind, announcing her arrival from the shadows. The dangerous tone of the story is pressed as she warns him, “Move a muscle and I’ll blow off your head.” These puppet spies are serious!

Agent Penelope goes undercover to recover the plans in a sting operation. The enemy scuba spy takes her at gunpoint to a remote boathouse. Again, the puppets are threatening; “This gun is loaded and I don’t mind using it. I said move and cut the chatter!”

Penelope manages to open her communicator compact and open a channel to Thunderbirds HQ. A series of coded hand movements and tapping passes between her and HQ, but they are interrupted when the baddie ties her to a chair. His plans? He’s planted a bomb in the room to kill two birds with one stone. “At the right moment, we detonate the bomb. The patrol boat comes in shore to investigate the explosion. You die and we will escape [the radar].” Once he leaves her to her doom, Penelope tips her chair to the floor so she can warn HQ.

The suspense is drawn out to allow the various (and cool) vehicles of International Rescue to search for Penelope and the enemy agent sub. The Thunderbirds aquanaut saves the day by shooting knockout gas into their ship. The detonator switch is not pulled, and the plans are recovered.

In a final meeting, Agent Bondson is lead again into the woods by Penelope- who speaks to him through a microphone. He finds the plans to the nuclear device hidden in a tree (a classic dead drop), and the two exchange the gratitude of their agencies. Bondson is given a final and deadly warning to never try to trace Penelope or attempt to investigate the identities of International Rescue.

As someone who has focused mainly on Anderson’s espionage/sci fi shows (UFO, Captain Scarlet), it was a treat to explore this Thunderbirds “mission.” The story, dialog, score, and camera work all allowed the crew to pay homage to the spy film genre. The Bond connections are clear. Special Effects man Derek Meddings even went on to do the Bond films The Man With the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, and For Your Eyes Only. As mentioned, Agent Bondson resembles Connery's alter ego in face and in name. Even the scuba action was reminiscent of Goldfinger and Thunderall (which would also include yacht locations and props).

Beyond gadgetry and FX, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson often gave their shows adult-style thrills and spills, which is a main reason they continue to endure. Their puppets killed! The Man From M.I.5 brought a fantastic sense of style and danger to Thunderbirds that Spy Vibers will enjoy.

See SpyVibe.com for related VIDEO


Superspy author/artist and designer Matt Kindt had one set come immediately to mind when I asked him about his favorite Spy Vibe sets from the 1960s- Thunderbirds! Here’s what Matt had to say:

“The Thunderbirds Tracy Island set would probably be my #1 if you made me choose something right now....that set was fantastic!”

If you have not read Matt’s Superspy, order a copy right away. The book does an excellent job weaving together stories about duplicity and betrayal with a LeCarre kind of edge and human quality. I have some original work of Matt’s that I will share soon.

Spy Vibe continues its series on Spy TV/film production design and the influence of Art and design movements, Playboy, Hugh Hefner, adventure story conventions, and the Space Race.

Guest Set Lists: Lee Pfeiffer, Jeremy Duns, Armstrong Sabian, Steve Bissette, Roger Langley, Matthew Bradford, Wesley Britton, David Foster, Matt Kindt.

Spy Vibe's Set For Adventure here, Set Countdown #10, #9, #8 ,#7, #6, #5, #4, #3, #2, #1.