All the References: Goodbye at the End of the World

We recently gave away a pair of autographed CDs over at the all-purpose geek-themed site Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together to people who correctly identified the most sci-fi and film references hidden in the animated video for our song Goodbye at the End of the World. But nobody was particularly close to getting all of them. There were a lot.

Now that the contest is over, it seemed like a good time to put together all the references in one place for those who might be interested. Let us know in the comments, on Facebook, or Twitter if one of your favorites made it into the background.

Robby the Robot, Forbidden Planet

Robby actually makes two appearances, one in small scale in the couple’s kitchen, and one in large scale in the museum. You can spot him in the background of each of these shots.

Robby at Home Robby in Museum

And for what it’s worth, in the museum shot you can also see the band’s old logo (itself an homage to the old RKO Studios logo) and the album cover against the wall.

Arthur Dent, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Although only the one shown above made it into the final video, the museum set has two exhibit halls, both named after characters from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Arthur Dent, and Ford Prefect.

Vampira

Vampira, the iconic late-night horror TV show host from the 1950s who was the model for Disney’s Maleficent and was immortalized in one of my favorite movies, Ed Wood, was a persona created by the Norwegian model Maila Nurmi. The “V.” on the character’s museum ID card is for “Vampira.” I have a distant personal connection to Maila Nurmi, in that when she passed away in 2008 I helped buy her a headstone.

ID Card

CRM-114, Dr. Strangelove and Others

Maila’s employee ID number is “CRM-114,” which is a designation that began life as the code device in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Kubrick himself went on to reference this number in several other films, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, and since then many, many filmmakers have hidden nods to it in their movies. Like, for instance, Doc Brown’s giant amplifier rig in Back to the Future.

CRM114

Speaking of…

The Time Machine, Back to the Future

Maila, or possibly her boyfriend Roger, drives the time machine, which is parked in the driveway.

Delorean

Tiptree Science Musuem, Alice Bradley Sheldon

Alice Bradley Sheldon was a gifted science fiction writer who had to work under a male pen name in the 1950s because of awful gender stereotypes, and that pen name was James Tiptree, Jr. I thought a sci-fi video with a kick-ass female hero should work at a place named after a real-life sci-fi female hero. You can listen to a great radio story about Alice Sheldon here.

Museum Sign

Gort’s, The Day the Earth Stood Still

In part, this video began with the idea “I wonder if I can make a giant robot step on a gas station?” Seemed a very 50s sci-fi thing to do. Like Robby the Robot, Gort is one of the signature robots of 1950s science fiction films, and appears in maybe the best genre movie of the era.

Gort

Bester Library, Alfred Bester

Alfred Bester wrote The Stars My Destination, which had a tremendous impact on me. As a matter of fact, as soon as I finished it, I put it down, picked up a guitar, and wrote the song “Gulliver Foyle,” the first track on the first Sci-Fi Romance album.

Bester Library

The library sits at the corner of…

Wm. Castle Blvd. and Harryhausen Drive

William Castle produced a number of great, schlocky B-movies, notably those with Vincent Price like The House on Haunted Hill, and maybe surprisingly, Rosemary’s Baby. Ray Harryhausen was a stop-motion animation master who brought hundreds of creatures to life and gave them personalities and soul you wouldn’t expect in films like 20 Million Miles to Earth.

Intersection

Karloff’s at Le Moulin, Frankenstein

At the end of Frankenstein, which inspired the Sci-Fi Romance song “Frankenstein’s Lament,” also from the first album, Boris Karloff’s monster gets torched inside a windmill. Like Le Moulin Rouge, which was a restaurant and named after a windmill, I went for a little obvious symbolism.

Karloffs

Karloff’s performance is particularly meaningful to me, and it also inspired our song “The Bride of Frankenstein, 1935” from our October EP.

Crane Shot, Citizen Kane

These last two are probably the most pretentious, but when am I ever going to get the chance to tip my cap to these films ever again in quite the same way? So when the camera swoops through the domed ceiling of the museum, this is where that came from.

Citizen Kane Shot

Final Shot, The Third Man

Like the stereotypical film school graduate I am, I love Orson Welles. But probably my favorite movie with him is one he didn’t direct, Carol Reed’s masterpiece The Third Man. I love it, and its final shot is, for me, one the most indelible ever.

third man

Third Man Shot

Since I animated this thing myself, I had nobody to tell me I couldn’t be as self-indulgent as I pleased.

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Horror Movies to Watch This October

It’s hard for me to believe that it was a year ago today that — without fully realizing what I was doing — I started work on the Sci-Fi Romance October EP. For those not familiar, every October I watch as many classic horror movies as I can cram into my eyeballs, and last year, over ten days I watched six movies, wrote a song about each, and recorded them on a nearly 30-year-old analogue four-track cassette recorder. We’re gearing up for the release of our next full-length album, so I won’t be spontaneously writing and recording songs this year, but I will be doing all the horror-movie-eyeball-cramming.

I wanted to share my planned list of movies, in case anybody else wanted to celebrate the annual return of the best month, and wasn’t sure what to watch.

In no particular order:

  • The Masque of the Red Death
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • The Wicker Man (which I have in a collectible wicker box!)
  • The Tomb of Ligeia
  • The Haunted Palace (billed as an Edgar Allan Poe adaptation, this is actually one of the best H.P. Lovecraft adaptations out there)
  • House of Wax
  • The Invisible Man
  • The House on Haunted Hill
  • Twice-Told Tales
  • Cat People
  • Curse of the Demon
  • Burn Witch, Burn
  • Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein/Young Frankenstein
  • Black Sunday
  • Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell

That’s about one every other day. Between rehearsals and…you know, life…I may be able to keep that pace up.

My list is maybe a little Vincent Price-heavy, if there can be such a thing, but I’m…hopeful…I’ll survive. What are some of your favorites? What will you be watching?

Six Reasons Why Fall is Inarguably the Best Season

Today is the Autumnal Equinox, otherwise known as the first day of fall, otherwise known as the beginning of the best season.

This is not an opinion. Fall is the best season. There are plenty of reasons why, but here are a few off the top of my head:

1. The Halloween


It seems like Christmas should be everybody’s favorite holiday. You get presents, you know? But Christmas tipped into misery somewhere around the time A Charlie Brown Christmas came out. There are family issues, travel, Fox News stories about the War on Christmas, and just general existential mayhem. So in walked Halloween to take the throne for everybody’s favorite holiday. Sure, there are some awful, lingering issues with the “sexy” version of every conceivable costume out there (Sexy R2-D2? Are you goddamn kidding me?), but at the end of the day, we get to give candy to tiny humans dressed like monsters with gigantic smiles on their faces. What’s not to love?

2. The Horror Movies


You’re grown, Amazon exists, so you can watch horror movies whenever you want. But they feel better around Halloween. For years, a good friend and I did a “Tim Burton Halloween,” which began at a modern art museum with a Plan 9 from Outer Space/Ed Wood double feature. It was amazing. Then Burton made Planet of the Apes and that kind of took the shine off, so I started watching classic horror movies throughout the month of October. Roger Corman, Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, (and yes, some) Tim Burton, as well as less well-known icons like Val Lewton…this is a tradition I would recommend to anybody.

3. The Earth


Summers are getting hotter overall, and if you live in a city like Los Angeles, which was built before air conditioning, that means they are getting tangibly more miserable. Just ask the Pope. But in the fall, the weather cools down…eventually…and the leaves turn. Fall in the northeast United States with a cold Sam Adams Octoberfest on draft is about as good as it gets for me. Which brings me to…

4. The Beer


Fall is when the beers get darker. I’ve never gone in much for lighter beers, so I often give summer beers a pass. Lemon peel is fine and all, but we can do better. And we do. Every fall. Sam Adams Octoberfest on draft is a beer made for a chill in the air. Buffalo Bill’s Original Pumpkin Ale is a seasonal fixture and trumps every PSL that has ever been blended. Do some places take the pumpkin flavoring too far? Sure. But that doesn’t change the fact that the real thing is The Real Thing. Also, that abomination that is Daylight Savings Time gets shown the door, and the sun sets when it should.

5. The Serious Movies

 

I love the summer blockbuster — unequivocally, not at all knocking them — but I literally paced the floor this weekend trying to decide if I would go see a movie about a Boston gangster or a movie about chess. I have more DVDs on my shelf made by Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa than I have films made in the last 20 years. So when new movies get a little darker, a little more earthy, it’s of-a-piece with the weather, and with the clocks, and with my own emotional rhythms. It’s thoughtful and wonderful, and when I miss one of these more-thoughtful films, I feel a little, quietly sad. Which is very autumnal.

6. The Playoff Baseball

Deeply ingrained in my psyche is the sound of baseball announcers as the weather cools down. Every year I buy the MLB At Bat playoff subscription so I can listen to radio broadcasts of the playoff games. I don’t care who’s playing. It is the soundtrack to fall. One of these days, though, the World Series will end in November, and it will feel deeply wrong.

(bonus) 7. I keep putting out music in the fall


I knew, of course, that I wrote, recorded, and released our EP October in the fall of last year, but I’d forgotten until just this week that I released the first Sci-Fi Romance album in an October a few years ago. Also, just FYI, the first single from our new album will premiere in the next few, autumnal weeks. Keep your ears open…