December 31, 2012


Spy Vibe invites you to the Starlight Casino for a New Years Dance Party! Feeling futuristic? Learn more about Raumpatrouille Orion here



Happy New Year from Spy Vibe!

December 30, 2012


DEAL ALERT: Amazon's deal-of-the-day is a sale on Kindle mysteries and thrillers. You can pick up Ian Fleming's original James Bond novels (with Amazon's new cover designs) for only $1.99 each! Details here.

December 28, 2012


Secret Squirrel was a Hanna Barbera cartoon spy, who made his debut during the spy boom in 1965. Voiced by veteran actor Mel Blanc, the character was packaged with Atom Ant and other shorts until 1968. Known as Agent 000, he got his missions from Double-Q (voiced by Paul Frees) of the International Sneaky Service. Secret's assistant was Morocco Mole, voiced in Peter Lorre-style by Frees. Secret Squirrel made a brief comeback with new adventures in 1993's Super Secret Squirrel. The design of Secret Squirrel took on the classic conventions of the private eye and wartime spy characters of the past. Like Lancelot Link, another animal/spy for children's programming, he rejected the jet-setting, suave fashions of James Bond and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. for easily understood spy symbols: the trench-coat and fedora. Warner Brothers and Jazwares teamed up a while back to create a series of posable toys based on classic Hanna-Barbera characters, including The Flintstones and The Jetsons. The series included this nifty Secret Squirrel figure, complete with camera and pistol! Toys R Us currently has a number of these figures on their shelves at close-out prices. Happy Hunting!


Spy Vibers with a knack for design have a chance to win a gift certificate to Design Within Reach- the company that brings you furniture classics like KnollEames, Saarinen, and more! All you have to do is design a chair using only the label, foil, cage, and cork of two champagne bottles. Photograph your creation and send it in by January 14th. First prize is $1,000! Details here

December 27, 2012


Doctor Who fans might enjoy the cover designs of this retro-style novel set. They are scheduled to be released this winter as part of the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. More info here. Spy Vibers, have you read any of the Doctor Who novels? Which ones did you enjoy? I listened to a fun audio book today, Dead Air, read by David Tennant. The story took place on a 1960s pirate radio ship off the shore of England! There were a few music references to place it in time, and one characters spoke with a fab scouse accent. You can find it on iTunes.


AudioGo UK recently launched a series of exciting Ian Fleming audiobooks read by many top British actors. The first seven 007 novels have been packaged into a box set called The Ian Fleming Classic James Bond Collection Part One. Although the AudioGo Bond set and individual books are not available through US vendors, they are available for order on Amazon UK. The Classic Collection Part One is currently on sale for only 32 pounds! Presumedly the remaining novels will be sold as a collection in the future. But if you can't wait to hear David Tennant or Kenneth Branagh reading James Bond, you can pick up their titles cheaply, as well. Read about the series and hear samples at AudioGo UK

What's in the Classic Collection Part One? Seven of Ian Fleming’s classic James Bond novels read complete and unabridged by a stellar cast of British actors:

Casino Royale Read by Dan Stevens 007’s mission is to neutralise the Russian operative Le Chiffre by ruining him at the baccarat table, forcing his Soviet masters to ‘retire’ him. 

Live and Let Die Read by Rory Kinnear When 007 goes to Harlem it’s not just for the jazz. This is the kingdom of Mr Big, master of crime, voodoo baron and partner in SMERSH.

Moonraker Read by Bill Nighy The Moonraker project has a millionaire backer, the war hero Sir Hugo Drax – a man who, it seems, cheats at cards...

Diamonds are Forever Read by Damian Lewis Diamonds are being smuggled on a formidable scale from Africa to America via Britain. 007’s assignment is to break the smuggling ring.

From Russia with Love Read by Toby Stephens (Die Another Day) James Bond is targeted for elimination by SMERSH, and the malevolent Colonel Rosa Klebb has set the trap in Istanbul.

Dr No Read by Hugh Quarshie Arriving in Jamaica to look for a missing agent and his secretary, Bond learns that the reclusive Dr Julius No could be connected with their disappearance. 

Goldfinger Read by Hugh Bonneville It seems that Auric Goldfinger is a bad loser when it comes to cards. He’s also the world’s most ruthless and successful gold smuggler.

December 26, 2012


Doctor Who has become quite a tradition around the holidays. The latest Christmas special just aired on Tuesday and featured the Doctor in Sherlock Holmes garb and some very 'cool' snowmen villains! The show first appeared on television in 1963 and has continued to tell the story of a time lord who faces mysteries, ghouls, and villains throughout the universe. The character can regenerate his form when damaged, giving way to 50 years of actors sharing the role. And despite some of the low-budget camp that might not appeal to everyone, it remains a pioneering time-capsule of each era of production. The music and sound FX developed by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop is especially worth exploring. In 2009 the official magazine posted the top-200 episodes. The top on everyone's list was The Caves of Androzani (available on Netflix streaming). This 1984 episode includes a fiendish villain and leader of an android army named Sharaz Jek, who wears a creepy mask and skin-tight bodysuit reminiscent of Danger Diabolik and Kriminal

According to the buzz on-line, the role of Jek was originally offered to David Bowie, but the production coincided with his Australian and Asian Serious Moonlight tour-dates. The Caves of Androzani is pretty edgy and fast-paced for classic Doctor. In fact, the Doctor is mortally wounded at the end, sending him into regeneration. As a way of introduction for Spy Vibers who have never seen this kind of thing, here is a fun tribute to the episode using the Die Another Day Bond theme by Madonna. Try to imagine Bowie in that suit- it would have been amazing! The image above is from Ain't it Cool


Gerry Anderson, the creator who brought us the puppet-adventure classic Thunderbirds, has died. Anderson announced in June that he was suffering from alzheimer's disease. He had planned to take part in a charity walk this autumn, but was not well enough to attend. Anderson recently moved into a care facility to cope with his rapid decline in health. His son announced today at noon (UK time) that Gerry passed away.

Gerry Anderson worked with his wife Sylvia to create a string of hit shows that went on to cult status. Although they set out to develop essentially children's programming, their knack for combining adult-style intrigue and adventure, science fiction gadgets, modern fashion, groovy music, and exotic sets pushed them into international stardom. Their most popular creations include Supercar (1961), Fireball XL5 (1962), Stingray (1964),  Thunderbirds (1965), Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967), and the live-action hits UFO (1970), The Protectors (1972), and Space 1999 (1975). Ingenious and inventive, the Anderson style influenced many filmmakers. Nick Park infused his Wallace and Gromit films with Thunderbirds-inspired gadgets and transforming sets. Can puppets be cool? Look at the opening sequence to Captain Scarlet below, followed by the absolutely groovy opening to Anderson's first live-action show, UFO.

Gerry Anderson has been a celebrated hero here on Spy Vibe. Some of our past posts include Gerry Anderson Announces Health News, Gerry Anderson UFO Movie, 1967 Anniversary of Captain Scarlet and The PrisonerThunderbirds License to Kill Puppets, and scroll down our Set For Adventure page to see our Set Countdown #9. Check out YouTube for My Thunderbird: The Gerry Anderson Story. I also recommend the books, Filmed in Supermarionation, Sylvia Anderson's My Fab Years, and The Future Was Fab: The Art of Mike Trim. Anderson image above from ITV

In tribute to Gerry Anderson, here is our original 2009 coverage of the James Bond-inspired Thunderbirds episode The Man From MI5.

License To Kill Puppets: 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 led 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.

December 25, 2012


Wishing all Spy Vibers a stylish and Happy Holiday! May your day be filled with curiosity and joy!

The Cat Burglar Black image above is by Richard Sala, the master of the macabre mystery/adventure. Richard's story, Delphine, has just be collected into a new book from Fantagraphics! Details on Amazon here. Perfect for that ghoulish henchman who has everything...

December 24, 2012


Music engineer Steve Hoffman reminded me today of a great interview that Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg did for German TV during the filming of the 1967 color season of The Avengers. It's a great day for networking because graphic novelist Richard Sala has added that the interview is being conducted by Joachim Fuchsberger, the actor who played many heroes in German krimi films (learn about krimi here and here). I believe we featured this some time ago, but we can never get enough of "Steed and Mrs. Peel." Pull up a hot beverage and spend some time with these wonderful actors. Enjoy!

December 22, 2012


[Ended] Deal alert: The Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection Blu-ray set is Amazon's deal of the day. For $119.99 (down from $299.99), the set includes the following feature films with bonus materials: Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, Rear Window, The Trouble With Harry, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Vertigo, North By Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Marnie, Torn Curtain, Topaz, Frenzy, and Family Plot. More details at Amazon here

December 21, 2012


Music is my first true love and I admit that I spend most of my free time playing instruments, listening to records, researching artists, and collecting recordings. Although I mostly listen to vinyl, I've always had a fascination with the many audio formats that were developed over the years. When I lived on the east coast, I had a few Victrolas and quite a large collection of 78s. Winding up the crank and hearing someone like Bix Beiderbecke echo from the wood was like having a time machine! Flash forward to a week ago, and I was reminiscing with my childhood friend about hearing Led Zeppelin for the first time on his 8-track player when we were kids. Not only was it the most 'bad-ass' guitar I'd ever heard, but the 8-track format seemed really cool. My dad was a recording engineer at the time, making records for classical musician Anthony Newman, folk singer Bill Crofut, and dj Don Imus (I know, it sounds like the set-up to a classic joke!). Because of the attention to quality and reel-to-reel in the house, the 8-track never really took off at home. But looking back at the music being put out during the 8-track's lifespan, roughly 1965-1982, those self-contained tape cartridges start to become interesting as artifacts. Luckily, fellow music fan Bucks Burnett thought so, too, and has started the Eight-track Museum!

Located in Dallas, Texas, the museum spotlights the history of the 8-track. The foundation of the collection formed when he was gathering all of the Beatles-related releases and began to pick up tapes from other artists cheaply at tag sales and flea markets. The museum also includes the history of audio formats, spanning from the earliest Edison cylinder players to the modern iPod. Images of his 8-track shelves reveal a celebration of many genres, with artists like Frank Sinatra, The Clash, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, and Gary Numan. A second museum has opened in Roxbury, New York. Burnett has gathered great support from many musicians, including the Talking Heads. In fact, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz (as Tom Tom Club) made a limited-edition 8-track on Burnett's label and had their release party at the museum. Burnett is now working on a documentary film project about the 8-track, called Spinal Tape. Burnett was just featured in a lengthy article and interview at Collector's Weekly. You can check it out here

For Spy Vibers interested in collecting 8-tracks, I suggest starting with the most common soundtracks, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, and The Spy Who Loved Me. If you really get interested in old formats, you might also explore the many reel-to-reel editions of 007 soundtracks and instrumental compilations. The mini tape boxes are beautiful! Iamges of the James Bond 8-tracks above are from the the excellent site, 007 Collector

December 19, 2012


There has been a lot of buzz among the retro spy community that Our Man Flint with James Coburn is getting the Blu-ray treatment. Screen Archives Entertainment will release the film on January 15th in high definition Blu-ray. The edition will include many extras like the celebrated commentary track by Cinema Retro's Lee Pfeiffer and a new documentary feature. SAE is now taking pre-orders. Only 3,000 copies will be made. These limited-edition releases tend to move quickly, so don't miss this window to make your order. Details on their site here.

December 17, 2012


Forty-nine years ago today on December 17th, 1963, the British Invasion of America had its first spark. The Beatles' I Want To Hold Your Hand had its debut airplay on American radio! Two months before their TV appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1964, a young teen named Marsha Albert sent a request to WWDC disc jockey, Carroll James, to play something by the group. Their new single I Want to Hold Your Hand/This Boy had been out on UK Parlophone since November 29th. James got a hold of the record from a BOAC flight attendant and I Want To Hold Your Hand was broadcast -nine days before its US Capital release on December 26th. After little success with their initial singles released in the US and Canada, the British Invasion had finally begun! Here are The Beatles performing their North American breakthrough hit live in Washington on February 11th, 1964. Note Paul McCartney's gratitude to the audience (at 3:10) for making I Want To Hold Your Hand a hit and "starting this thing off." If blogger isn't loading the video, please click the YouTube icon to view on YouTube.

During this period The Beatles were also gaining traction in Canada. Capital released Beatlemania! With The Beatles on November 25, 1963. By December 16th, the day before the DC broadcast, the album was at number 5. Like Meet The Beatles in the US, the album soon hit number 1 on the charts. The album art was adorned by critical reviews, like "The Beatles have created a teen-age cult more frenetic than anything the bobbysoxers dreamed of in the heyday of Frank Sinatra. Four pop idols for the price of one." Note that I Want to Hold Your Hand and I Saw Her Standing There were not released on LP in Canada until the Long Tall Sally album in May, 1964.

December 15, 2012


Spy Vibe has covered the space-age fashion of the 1960s extensively in its first three years. It's a topic dear to my heart, and evidentially to our readers, as well. Our post, Mods to Moongirls, has been visited over 35,000 times. Designers like Cardin, Rabanne, and Courreges are local heroes. As Victoria & Albert curator, Jane Pavitt, has discussed in her writing, much of the inspiration for the moon-look came from the styles developed by NASA, and spoke of modernism and the growing cultural anxieties over radiation. The fashion designers were early adopters of cutting-edge materials from the science sector, and masses of slender baby boomers cut the modern look in their new synthetics. Looking back at some of the images by Richard Avedon, we can also find examples of true NASA style being adopted by the mavens of high fashion and pop culture. Here are just a few examples from Avedon that include Jean Shrimpton and Paul McCartney. 

The reflective surface of the Gemini suits had both an athletic and fetish quality that reminds me of this quote by artist, Andy Warhol: “It was a perfect time to think silver. Silver was the future. It was spacey. Astronauts wore silver suits. And their equipment was silver, too. And silver was also the past. The Silver Screen. Hollywood actresses photographed in silver sets. And maybe more than anything else, silver was narcissism. Mirrors were backed with silver.” –Andy Warhol

Over ten years after the Gemini silver suit, designers kept its retro chic look alive for James Bond's mission in space in Moonraker. James Coburn as Derek Flint images below from Hello Spaceman here (check it out for some fun Doctor Who images with the Cybermen!).

December 13, 2012


For some years now, James Bond fans have been raving about Charles Helfenstain's book, The Making of On Her Majesty's Secret Service. If you haven't seen it, imagine a reference guide the size of the Boston phone book, filled with images and information about every aspect of the film. It's essential reading for any Bond scholar. Well, Helfenstein has done it again, and this time he's focused on Timothy Dalton's 007 debut, The Living Daylights!

From Amazon: "For the 25th anniversary of the most successful film franchise in history, Cubby Broccoli's Eon Productions launched James Bond in a bold new direction with a spectacular globe-trotting adventure that showcased incredible stunts, gorgeous cinematography, and a smoldering romance set amongst elegant old world Europe and breathtaking vistas of Africa. Go behind the scenes with the cast and crew, and see how veteran director John Glen put together a mammoth effort to take the series back to its thriller origins, rooted by the casting of Timothy Dalton, a noted stage actor and fan of Ian Fleming's novels. Follow the complete history of the film, from the origins of Fleming's short story, through early drafts of the script (where James Bond was a brash young Lieutenant in the Royal Navy), through Pierce Brosnan securing the role then losing it, Dalton's last minute casting, pre-production, shooting, post-production, to the release and marketing of the film. Based on years of research, cast and crew interviews, access to original scripts, storyboards, production memos, call sheets, props, and more, this fascinating look behind the scenes features hundreds of never before published photographs, including a detailed look at deleted scenes." More info about The Making of The Living Daylights here.

December 9, 2012


If James Bond went green and took a vacation, he might choose this concept motorhome. Solar-powered, the front end detaches into a mini motor that any day tripper would be sure to fancy. This image has generated a lot of interest on-line from modernists hoping to see the design come into production. For now, however, it appears to be only a model- no doubt designed by a fan of the transforming vehicles of Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. From Off Grid Living.

December 8, 2012


Peter Travers at Rolling Stone has posted an in-depth ranking of every James Bond film, from the best to the worst. Check it out and see if you agree. Details here.

December 1, 2012


Looking for something MOD this season? The Criterion Collection recently released the long out-of-print Quadrophenia on remastered Blu-ray and DVD. This cult classic based on the Who album, and starring Sting, is now on sale at Amazon for $17.99 (down from $39.99). Details here.

November 29, 2012


Here's an interesting Channel 4UK news video that pays tribute to the launch of James Bond and The Beatles in 1962, and offers a discussion with journalists about the cultural context of Britain's turning point. Must see! George Harrison lost today in 2001. See our post from yesterday with George and his 1964 Aston Martin DB5.

November 27, 2012


A very cool 1965 photo of George Harrison with his Aston Martin by Henry Grossman has become available through the Rock Paper Photo fine art gallery. A small selection of Grossman's 6000+ portfolio of Beatles images is on exhibit at the Mach Shau Gallery in London. Harrison's 1964 DB5 was recently sold at auction to a collector in Texas for over a half-million dollars. Baby, you can drive my car indeed!

November 26, 2012


Caterina Caselli had a career as an actress and singer in Italy in the 1960s before becoming a record producer and owner of her own company. Back in 1967, she was belting out pop tunes on the TV studio stage with a host of very energetic Go Go Dancers. Here she is hosting a tribute to The Beatles! Thanks to my fellow Agent J at the Jhalal Drut blog for putting this on my radar. 

November 25, 2012


Sean Lennon is well known for his artful blend of sensitive melodies and rocking collaborations with Cibo Matto, Ghost of the Saber Tooth Tiger, and Plastic Ono Band with mom, Yoko Ono. Last year Lennon channeled the 1960s vibe of Serge Gainsbourg with a cover of Comic Strip, which he promoted with a video in the style of William Klein's Mr. Freedom. Back in his home studio, Sean has been working on lesser-known film projects. A production of the Murakami Ryu novel, Coin Locker Babies, has been in development for many years and he composed the soundtrack for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in 2009. The lo-fi Mr. Freedom vibe continued this year with the quirky, super-hero rom/com, Alter Egos.  Lennon composed the score and appears in the film as a super-villain named Electric Death. The soundtrack offers a cocktail of hip contemporary grooves and retro cool. Check out the making of the beautiful tune, My Hero, below. The new Alter Egos album is now available on CD and vinyl from his record company, Chimera Music, and as a digital download from iTunes and Amazon. The record will hit stores on January 15th. 

Check out our recent posts, including Neil Armstrong: One Last StepNew Beatles ReleasesInterview with Playboy Bunny Deana, and our series, For Your Shelf Only, where guests share stories about collecting and show us some of their treasures. Series links: Jon GilbertRaymond BensonJeremy DunsPeter LorenzDavid FosterRob MallowsRoger LangleyCraig ArthurFleming ShortMatt Sherman. Check out my books Counting Sheep and Mort Walker Conversations. Info about my re-mix and film for Yoko Ono at my website here.

November 23, 2012


The new Amazon editions of the original Ian Fleming 007 novels are currently on sale during their Black Friday events. During the sale, Spy Vibers can pick up 4 titles for the price of 3. The sale is listed in the Black Friday book deals and I gather that the sale price will appear during check-out. Individual titles are listed for around $7.00 each. See the novels here.

November 22, 2012


Spy Vibers have a chance to pick up the It Takes a Thief box set for only $44.99 from Amazon (there was a lightning sale this morning for $22 that I missed). More info at Amazon. Other 1960s spy sets are on sale, as well. A search by title will find various seasons of Mission Impossible and Wild Wild West for as low as $15. The Prisoner and Danger Man sets are also marked down to around $30. Look for deals on The Protectors, and the Spy Collection Megaset (only $19.95). Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol will have a lightning sale tonight at 8:20 (pacific). The fantastic BBC mini-series Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Blu-ray edition is currently around $21.00.

November 21, 2012


A 2012 take on the scuba girl-assasin from Deadlier Than the Male? The September issue of inStyle features a beautiful series of portraits by Horst Diekgerdes of some of the leading ladies from the 007 movies. The collection of images include actresses Berenice Marlohe (with spear gun below), Michelle Yoe, Maud Adams, Olga Kurylenko, Carey Lowell, Talisa Soto, Tanya Roberts, Britt Ekland, Jane Seymour, Teri Hatcher, and Caterina Murino. You can see many photo projects by the artist at his official website. Younger SpyVibers should be advised that the body of work does include some artful nudes. The Bond Women series can be seen at Fashion Scans Remastered here

November 20, 2012


Hoping to revamp your secret lair over the holidays? Design Within Reach is currently running a Herman Miller sale. Spy Vibe recommends designs by Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi, and George Nelson. Sale ends December 10th. Details here.