Monday, March 30, 2009

Decoy’s Completely Biased Non-Definitive Guide To Music

Mazzy Star - So Tonight That I Might See (1993)

Mazzy Star are one of those bands that have a shadowy little corner of music history all to themselves. I imagine they’re still recruiting fans with their slow, sexy, scuzzed-up sound. They were never a popular band as such, but they were a serious cult band. And those bands just keep growing in status long after their official life is over. They were a little bit Velvet Underground, a little bit country, a little bit bluesy, a little bit folkie, a little bit gothic, a little bit psychedelic. But they blurred it all in to their own mix with songs of defeat and regret. They sounded loose and sad and listless and scarred. They sounded dreamily distant yet nakedly intimate. Out on the horizon, and under the bed-sheets. They sounded depressed but full of love. And it seemed perfectly fitting the singers name should be Hope. Because Hope Sandoval was the perfect siren for these songs—all she needed was a tambourine and a whisper, and you were hypnotised. And David Roback had the perfect plaintive guitar style. It was a seamless blend that chased away the light and revelled in the darkness that housed songs like: “Mary of Silence”, “Five String Serenade” and “Blue Light”. They enjoyed some success with the single “Fade Into You”, and it’s a great opener and sets the tone for the rest of the album—sleepy and stark and dusty and droney. And their shy influence is still recognisable in the music of Cat Power, Smog, Feist, Sparklehorse, and many other contemporary folkies, downtempo electronica and lo-fi indie rockers. Their albums are still great to listen to because their playing was timeless and seemed to exist outside the grunge parameters of the early 90s. They may have used feedback and distorted guitars, but in a totally different way to, say, Sonic Youth or Pearl Jam. And yet it was an album you frequently spotted in the collections of many grunge fans. Who would’ve thought that sunny California could produce a band that solemnly serenaded late night excursions into the jet-black void?

William Orbit - Hello Waveforms (2006)

I’m not a real big Madonna fan, and one of William Orbit’s big claims to fame is his involvement with her acclaimed 1998 album Ray of Light. And long before that, he was quietly producing a series of albums that were plotting icy courses through the techno-whiteout of minimal 80s ambient electronica. I’d never heard of him when I came across this album, but I liked the cover, so I gave it a listen. And I’m glad I did, because this album has become one of my favourites when I’m in the mood for some mood music. It reminded me of Air, in their Moon Safari era. From the first song, “Sea Green”, this album sets a tone of synthetic tranquillity and spacey ambience, which I’m a sucker for. And things just kept getting better with the delicate twinkling of “Humming Chorus” and the faux-theremin weave of “Surfin’”. By the time it got to “You Know Too Much About Flying Saucers” with its ticking starbursts of guitar and vibes trailing through a cosy cosmos, I was proclaiming this one of the best albums I’d heard in years (NB: I’m always doing that though). Then came “Spiral” with the first (and pretty much last) taste of vocals on the album. The vocals are supplied by Kenna and the Sugababes and they marry beautifully—never breaking the stride of the album. The lyrics are nothing special, but you don’t really listen to the words. When the chorus comes: ‘Nothing’s really sane but everything’s amazing’, things could be getting a bit new-agey, but when Kenna sings: ‘Oh, the ground beneath us trembles and we fall’, the melody is enough to lift you away from any silly notions like definitive meaning - who cares what they’re going on about, lets go visit Jupiter! The earthiness of hearing voices actually punctuates the album nicely in the middle, and you soon go back into orbit (I guess, literally) to enjoy the rest of the ride with the primarily instrumental “Who Owns the Octopus?”. And it’s nice to hear the odd voice (whether real or vocoder) throughout the remaining songs with “Oooh’s” and “Aaah’s” reminding you this is, and you are, still human after all.

Grace Jones - Nightclubbing (1981)

As a typical 80s kid, when I think of Grace Jones I think of the films A View to a Kill and Conan the Destroyer, and I remember thinking she was somewhere between sexy and scary. (Some 80s kids may even remember Vamp, but maybe not as many.) She was a striking presence on the screen, and she made a cool Bond villain and a cool sidekick to Arnie. But before her venture into film, she was making strides into the burgeoning disco scene in New York with albums like Portfolio (1977), Fame (1978) and Muse (1979). Despite a cult following among the gay community and the discophiles, the Jamaican model turned singer couldn’t really find a wider market for her brand of dance music. Her voice didn’t really suit straight disco. Then in 1980 she teamed up with (Island Records founder) Chris Blackwell and produced Warm Leatherette, which was a step in a new direction. Taking inspiration from New York’s new wave scene, and the flexibility of reggae, she channelled covers of songs by Roxy Music, Smokey Robinson, The Pretenders and Tom Petty with a sharp androgynous clamour that made people stop and take notice. This was weird, but kinda cool. And when she followed up with Nightclubbing, it finally showcased her strengths and skills as a vocalist and performer. This is a great record. “Walking in the Rain” comes creeping out of the silence, walking you down the dark wet streets of some desolate sci-fi burg, where people who look like Grace populate the local haunts and sell mysteries by the pound. I saw the clip of this song on Rage in the wee-hours one night, and I’ve been hooked on her music ever since. I couldn’t take my eyes or ears off her. The album is full of 80s synthesisers and robotic neo-disco beats, and its amazing how the phrasing of her deep voice sits on top and makes it all sound fresh and contemporary. The moment she sings a note - there is instant atmosphere. She leads you through these strange cyber-noir narratives like a private-dick reporting on her cases. It’s no wonder Roman Polanski used - her moody re-imagining of Ástor Piazzolla’s Argetinian classic - “I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango)” in the film Frantic, because it sounds like a cinematic thriller in itself. With the brave invention and impressive performances Grace Jones found a musical identity that was, and remains, completely original.

By Decoy Spoon

If you want to hear/see any of the music reviewed by Decoy, visit the GritHouse – the GritFX YouTube Channel – and check out Decoy’s Playlist of music videos.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I Am The Lizard King!

Camera Critters
"I Am The Lizard King!" is this week's "Camera Critters" post. If you want to participate, click on the image above.

So there he was. Basking in the sunlight, a typical garden skink, no more than twenty centimetres in length. I ran inside to get the camera and when I got back to the garden, he hadn’t moved. But I only had one chance to take a shot – as soon as the shutter stirred the little lizard scurried away into the bushes.

Jonesy, my oldest cat, sat nearby the whole time, watching me in bewilderment. It wasn’t until the skink moved after I took the photograph that Jonesy finally realised what was going on. He leapt into the garden and spent the next two hours fossicking for the lizard. He never caught it.

Later, I returned outside and found Jonesy asleep in the garden bed. He seemed exhausted. I keep telling him to let the ecology do its thing – that all little creatures have a purpose. But he just can’t help himself with those lizards.

Click on the image for a larger version.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Smokin’ Aces (2007)
Ryan Reynolds, Jeremy Piven, Ray Liotta, Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys, Andy Garcia, Jason Bateman, Peter Berg, Nestor Carbonell, Taraji P. Henson, Matthew Fox.
Written & Directed by Joe Carnahan.

Buddy “Aces” Israel (Piven) is a Las Vegas performer, now holed up in a Lake Tahoe hotel penthouse surrounded by hookers and cocaine. Having split a Vegas crime family in two when he decided to begin his own capers, Israel has acquired a sizable bounty on his head due to his knowledge of the Mob’s inner-workings. As his lawyer negotiates terms with the FBI, a gaggle of low-life’s descend on Israel’s hotel to blow his brains out and collect the reward. Caught in the middle are two agents (Reynolds and Liotta) who have no idea of the tumult to which they are about to become a part. Smokin’ Aces is another one of those Pulp Fiction-esque multiple character and plenty of guns and ammo kinds of thing – enjoyable to a point, yet ultimately derivative and forgettable. It suffers from overlength, a ridiculous ending and some annoyingly overblown characterisations, yet having said that, some of the performances are genuinely great (Bateman is hilarious) and the script, for the most part, is rather taut and amusing. So there is much to admire in Smokin’ Aces, but I dare say it wouldn’t win a hand against its influences.

Die Hard 4.0 (2008)
Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Maggie Q and Kevin Smith.
Written by Mark Bomback.
Directed by Len Wiseman.

Ahh, John McClane. If there are terrorists about, he’s the guy you call. Even if you don’t call him, you can bet you’ll find him in the thick of the action by default. So when an older, but no less ass-kickin’ McClane is assigned one night to transport a young computer hacker named Matthew Farrell (Long) across town, bad guys are naturally waiting in the darkness to take them down. Before long, it is revealed that a disgruntled former employee of the NSA is using his knowledge to stage a ‘fire sale’, whereby all industry connected by computer is seized and under his control. Farrell is marked for he knows the score, and it’s now up to this young sidekick and the grizzled McClane to put a stop to the dastardly plan. OK, so we didn’t need another Die Hard film, and the Australian distributors needn’t have changed the name either from the superior US title Live Free Or Die Hard (what were they thinking?). But who cares? This is the kind of escapism that Hollywood does so well. A decent supporting cast lends plentiful villainy and humour, the action scenes are wonderfully handled by director Wiseman (Underworld) and whilst credibility slips on occasion, it’s tough not to enjoy watching Willis in the character he has, since 1988, totally owned.

Shoot ‘Em Up (2008)
Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Stephen McHattie.
Written & Directed by Michael Davis.

The enigmatic Mr Smith (Owen) saves an infant after her mother is gunned down. Mr Smith (not to be confused with the Brad Pitt character of the same name) obviously has some experience with guns, and when he takes it on the lam from a ruthless thug named Hertz (Giamatti) with the baby and a lactating hooker named Donna (Bellucci) in tow, he has plenty of opportunity to showcase his talent. With these two lead actors and Monica’s breasts, you’d think that this would be a winning combination. And you’d be right…and wrong. For this silly movie is not only aware of its audaciously indulgent nature, it revels in it with crazy gunfight after crazy gunfight. But too much rollercoaster and not enough ferris wheel can make one giddy. Giamatti serves up his most outrageous performance to date, chewing the scenery and stealing the show. Owen gives us his brooding Sin City thing and Bellucci has nothing to do except look sexy (which would, frankly, usually be enough).


(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and posts weekly film reviews on this blog.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Idology T-Shirts – the Unofficial Idol Fan T-Shirt Store!

I have been busy working with Idol Man (not his real name) over the last few weeks designing merchandise for Idology T-Shirtsthe Unofficial Idol Fan T-Shirt Store. I have created, along with Idol Man, well over fifty designs for T-Shirts, bags and flair. These are now available for purchase from the store, with more designs to become available in the coming weeks. So if you are an American Idol fanatic, you are going to want to get your hands on this stuff (even if I do say so myself). You won’t find a larger range of Idol fan gear anywhere on the internet – a bold statement to be sure, but one that (I think) is actually true!

Below are some designs that I helped put together:

Sarver Flavor
Grab some Sarver Flavor...Traditional Homemade Recipe...Product of Texas...Quality Guaranteed!

Allison: Rocker Girl
Allison - Rocker Girl..! Show your support with this grungy design.

Ryan: Host With The Most


If you’re an American Idol Fan, don’t forget to visit Idology T-Shirts.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Days!!

Camera Critters
"Happy Days!" is this week's "Camera Critters" post. If you want to participate, click on the image above.

For anyone who read my Camera Critter post "Fare ye well, young Frederick…" you will know about Fred and how we had to surrender him to the RSPCA. I have missed the little guy immensely. However, the absolute positive result is watching Ella and Jonesy comfortable in their environment once again.

After a decent play, Jonesy has crashed out on the grass (he's the blur in the background), however Ella still wants to play and scans the garden beds for any sign of movement! I thought that this sight just had to be captured for posterity....

After a few shutter clicks, Jonesy became aware of the attention that Ella was apparently being showered with and slowly got to his feet and came over to me. At this point, David then demanded the camera to capture some beauty shots of our little "precious".

Click on the image for a larger version.

Update on the Latest GritFX Competition Winner...

On the 2nd of March, Wayne John was announced as the winner of "Guess the Number of Jelly Beans in the Jar" competition with a guess of 834 - one off the exact number! Wayne has since selected his prize and has posted a contest thankyou video which we'd like to share with you all.

Visit Blogger Help and Assistance to read Wayne's post.

And here is an embedded video file:

Wayne chose the "Agent Provocateur" design.

Note: At one point in the video, Wayne pulls out the Cafepress flyer... to be clear, Cafepress are just a Print-On-Demand (POD) supplier we (GritFX) use for our Mother Store* which offers all of our designs on various shirts.

Our Sister Store is operated through another POD - Zazzle - and has a selection of designs available on a retro apparel range.

There's a love-hate relationship here... any POD we use profits from any one of our shirt sales, yet we wouldn't be able to offer what we do without them! Our long term goal is to have complete control and do our own screen printing.

* UPDATE: GritFX have since re-evaluated our relationship with Cafepress and no longer use them as our primary print-on-demand supplier.


Check out previous competition winners on the GritFX Website.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Decoy’s Completely Biased Non-Definitive Guide To Music

Sade - The Best of Sade (1994)

Best Ofs can be strange things. Sometimes they’re a great way of road-testing an artist/band. Sometimes the hits are all you want. Other times you’d be better served avoiding them altogether, and seeking out a particular album. Some bands are defined by their hits (eg: Abba), while others are completely misrepresented by them (eg: Genesis). Whatever the case, this was the first thing I ever got of hers/theirs (Sade is the band, Sade Adu is the singer), so I’m recommending it, because it made me eventually seek out their studio albums. And you know what? They’re all great. But really, all you need is the Best Of. Sade’s greatest quality is their consistency. Their stuff all sounds the same. And that’s a good thing. It sounds like one big fluid song. Don’t get me wrong, there is variety in their music. I mean, what do you call their music? Soul, R&B, Latin, Funk, Soft Rock? Easy Listening? Quiet Storm? (Is that really a genre?) I don’t know, but they manage to take a formula that you’d think could be a bit generic and make it sound interesting, and uniquely their own. So I’m fine with calling it Jazz. Because Sade Adu sings the way Miles Davis played his horn. Believe it. Pure, direct, soulful, unadorned, exacting, heart wrenching. She avoids the overdone vocal gymnastics that is industry standard these days and keeps things lean and understated. And the band skillfully create ‘moods’ more than ‘songs’ for her to float through. “Pearls” is a good example of this. The strings and (Angelo Badalamenti-esque) keyboards dawn over silence, and her vocal is so measured, simply serving the melody and the narrative, that when she hits the lyric ‘She lives in a world she didn’t choose/And it hurts like brand new shoes’, it’s a truly moving moment. And their music is full of these letter-perfect moments. Songs like: “Jezebel”, “Like a Tattoo”, “Cherish the Day”, “Paradise” and “Love is Stronger than Pride” are truly captivating. Great late night music. (Great day time music too.)

Boards of Canada - The Campfire Headphase (2005)

Scottish brothers Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin had been producing electronic music together since the late 80s before signing to the Warp label and releasing their (un)official debut Music Has The Right To Children in 1998. And they took the electronic music world by storm. Part electronica, part ambient, part post-rock; they appealed to many pockets of music fans with their signature retro-contemporary sound. The eagerly awaited follow-up Geogaddi (2002) - an epic album of 23 shrouded songs - darkened up the proceedings and stretched the electronic boundaries even further. People were on the net publishing their detailed analyses of this loaded work. Backmasking; the Occult; Branch Davidians; numerology; humans Vs God Vs nature - it certainly stirred up the fanbase. Three years later they gave us this, their 3rd album, The Campfire Headphase. The album was another underground event in the electronica sphere. The mysterious brothers - who rarely perform shows or give interviews - produced another aural feast that is simply stunning to listen to. Their electronic brew of styles induces a sort of synesthesia that slows time as the music pours over you, and by the time you’re 3 or 4 songs into it, you’re happily immersed. It has that power. Best to just sit back and enjoy the ride. All their albums get better with every listen. They’re like sonic adventures. You find new details in the far reaches of their songs. As if they’re somehow recording the internal soundtrack to their childhood memories, half of it seems real, and the other half is imagined. Also, the song “Dayvan Cowboy” became the first BoC song to spawn a film-clip. And it’s great - merging footage of Joseph Kittinger’s incredible plummet through the atmosphere, and then morphing out of the ocean as a big wave surfer. This perfectly suited the spacey yet earthly nature of this majestic music.

Check it out in Decoy’s Playlist at The GritHouse.

The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers (1976)

One, two, three, four, five, six…’ This is one of my favourite albums. Jonathan Richman is - I think, still - supremely underrated as a precursor to punk and the post-punk/indie scene that emerged throughout the 80s. He was writing and recording these songs as far back as 1971 before they saw the light of day in 1976 when the band was already dissolving (keyboardist Jerry Harrison would go on to ply his skills on guitar in Talking Heads; other band members went on to form/play with Real Kids and The Cars). Jonathan Richman’s ability to knock out these songs with a loose lazy humour made it seem kinda rudimentary and throw-away, (which it kinda is), but there is much passion to be found here. The classic opener “Roadrunner”, bursts out of the starting blocks, displaying his love of The Velvet Underground, and his attempt at writing a “Sister Ray” dirge. And “Pablo Picasso” is another great example of Richman’s droll sense of humour and singular lyricism ‘He could walk down the street and girls could not resist to stare and so, Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole’. “Old World” is one of my big faves, with lyrics like: ‘I wanna keep my place in the old world/And keep my place in the arcane/Coz I, still have parents/And I still love the old world’. There was nothing pretentious. This was just a kid from Boston who wanted to rock-out like his heroes The Velvet Underground and make some noise and have some fun. So he wrote songs about what he knew - and his lyrics just shine in songs like: “I’m Straight”, “Government Center”, “Dignified and Old”. Another fave is “Girlfriend” which begins with: ‘If I were to walk through the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston/Well first I’d go to the room where they keep the Cezanne/But if I had by my side a girlfriend/Well then I could look through the paintings/I could look right through them/Because I’d have found something that I understand/I understand a girlfriend’, and the innocence that pours out may be ironic but its a heartfelt irony, and typified with the chorus of ‘That’s a girlfriend/That’s a G-i-r-l-f-r-e-n/That’s a girlfriend/That’s something I understand’. I find it hard to talk about this album without gushing superlatives, but if you haven’t heard this album, all I can say is: Go get it. This is a life-changer. You’ll wanna start your own band - all it takes is a couple of chords and a Jonathan Richman. The chords are the easy part - finding another Jonathan Richman is the hard part. He’s a one off.

By Decoy Spoon

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Salvador (1986)
James Woods, Jim Belushi, Michael Murphy, Elpedia Carrillo & John Savage.
Written by Oliver Stone & Richard Boyle.
Directed by Oliver Stone.

Richard Boyle (Woods) is a sleazy, unemployed photojournalist who, with nothing to lose, heads to El Salvador in Central America with his best friend Dr Rock (Belushi) in tow. It is 1980, and El Salvador is in the grip of a vicious civil war that has claimed the lives of many thousands of civilians through US-aligned death squads. This is the perfect setting for the indulgent Boyle – a chance to redeem his career and in the process, save his own soul. Followed in the same year by Platoon, Stone’s Salvador packs a wallop, hurtling the viewer into the chaos of a country torn apart by bloodshed. It is also a deeply affecting personal drama, anchored by an astounding performance from Woods and afforded equally impressive support from Belushi. Based on the true story of co-writer Boyle’s experiences in Central America, this intelligent and gripping film is as pertinent today as it was in its year of release. One of Stone’s best films that sits proudly alongside the director’s masterpiece JFK.

Midnight Run (1988)
Robert DeNiro, Charles Grodin, Yaphet Kotto, Dennis Farina, John Aston & Joe Pantoliano.
Written by George Gallo.
Directed by Martin Brest.

When an embezzling Mob accountant (Grodin) skips bail, it’s up to a foul-mouthed, chain-smoking bounty hunter (DeNiro) to find him and transport him from New York to LA. But that ain’t as easy as it sounds. With two idiotic Mob cronies, the FBI and a fellow bounty hunter hot on their trail, the mismatched pair must essentially join forces to make it to California alive. This crackerjack action comedy was one of the funniest films of the decade, combining hilarious dialogue with rough and tumble action scenes. Following on from the success of 1984’s Beverly Hills Cop, director Martin Brest delivers one of his best films with the superlative casting of the two leads providing much of the films’ joy. Featuring a talented supporting cast including the brilliant character actor Kotto and Beverly’s own Ashton, Midnight Run is two hours of pure escapist fun.

Koyaanisqatsi (1983)
Directed by Godfrey Reggio.

If you have never seen Koyaanisqatsi, you have missed one of the most unique film experiences in cinema history. Once you see Koyaanisqatsi, you will never view the world the same again. It is nigh on impossible to describe this film - there is no plot and no characters. It spans the United States providing astounding images of nature juxtaposed with the industrial world. Shot almost thirty years ago, its imagery oftentimes belongs to a disappeared era, yet the raw powers of the visuals are overwhelmingly relevant no matter how you slice it. From the sheer beauty of the sky and ocean, to the dilapidated shells of inner city slums, Koyaanisqatsi sweeps across vistas in a ninety-minute ode to a ‘life out of balance’, all set to a magical score by composer Philip Glass. Imitated by the inferior Baraka (1993), Koyaanisqatsi is an almost psychedelic trip through nature and a powerful treatise on humanity’s inability to successfully co-exist with its surroundings.


(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and posts weekly film reviews on this blog.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

One More Patsy For The Road?

In the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in the early hours of June 6th 1968, Robert F Kennedy was shot and killed. Kennedy had just delivered a victory speech after having won the Democratic presidential primary in California, and moving with a throng of well-wishers, security and hotel staff, was confronted by his alleged assassin, a young Palestinian-American named Sirhan Sirhan. Although Sirhan confessed to the crime, he could remember no details of the event even when subjected to hypnosis. Recent information by a number of online researchers has raised some serious questions as to the validity of Sirhans’ guilt.

According to Sirhans’ brother Munir, and consistent with the revelations of family members and friends of other supposed “patsies”, it was perplexing that Sirhan could even have committed the crime. When Sirhan’s family arrived in the United States from Palestine in 1957, Sirhan did his best to assimilate into society, becoming a conscientious student who dreamed of becoming a UN interpreter to promote world peace – a somewhat naïve dream in the face of world events at the time. However, as told by Munir, Sirhan also held a deep fascination with the occult, particularly hypnosis and mind control. In an interview for an article by Carl Kozlowski of the Pasadena Weekly in 2006, Munir stated it was his belief that Sirhan had fallen victim to the infamous MKULTRA program.

Throughout the 1950s and 60s, the CIA developed MKULTRA to study the effects of certain drugs and techniques to control the minds of ordinary civilians. The idea was to master the “art” of brainwashing and hence be able to direct mind-controlled slaves to do the Agency’s bidding. Agents scoured universities and other locales to recruit potential subjects, and some believe that Sirhan was one of those recruited. As Kozlowski points out in his article, the fact is not whether MKULTRA existed, but whether any successful methods or techniques were actually applied in an operational sense, in or outside the United States. Although officially closed down in the late 1960s, it has been suggested by some researchers that the program continued unofficially beneath the guise of other projects.

It was reported by at least four eyewitnesses in the Ambassador Hotel the night Kennedy was shot, that Sirhan had been standing in the kitchen with a woman “in a white dress with black polka dots”. One witness reported seeing Sirhan laughing and talking with this woman as Kennedy entered the kitchen. She then whispered something in his ear at which time Sirhans’ face turned blank, he approached Kennedy and fired his pistol. The woman moved away immediately. Sirhan was then tackled to the ground, Kennedy lay dying and the case seemed clear-cut. But from the actions of the woman reportedly seen, it appeared as though she had offered Sirhan a ‘trigger’ word or phrase, initiating the mind control. Whilst this may read like the bones of a Hollywood thriller, it would be remiss to not account for the factual existence of MKULTRA and its techniques and objectives.

It was alleged that Sirhan fired eight shots from a gun that could only hold five bullets, and it is extremely doubtful that he would have time to reload the pistol. However, this point is one of some conjecture, with different reports detailing differing specifics in regards the firearm. What is not in disagreement are the number of bullet holes found in the kitchen walls, ceiling and doorframes – 28 in total. Kennedy was struck three times, a fourth bullet grazed him, whilst six other people were also injured. The excessive number of bullet holes were never fully investigated by the LAPD and in addition, almost 3,000 photographs of the crime scene taken before and after the event (and perhaps during) were somehow lost or destroyed by the LAPD in the years before the mandated release of all information pertaining to the assassination in 1988. Like the assassination of his brother, some researchers envision a parallel here – that being a second or even third shooter involved, with Sirhan a manipulated, mind-controlled patsy.

The most damning evidence regarding a second gunman has been revealed by RFK’s autopsy report. The fatal wound came from a shot to the back of the head that displayed evidence of powder burns. This evidence and the trajectory suggested the gun had literally been pressed against the back of Kennedy’s head by someone perhaps crouched behind him. Two other wounds were also found in Kennedy’s back, with the same trajectory and powder burn evidence. Every eyewitness to the shooting has maintained that Sirhan approached and shot Kennedy from the front and from at least one foot away. However, there is no known photograph of the actual shooting which would no doubt paint a clear picture of the assassination.

In a failed attempt to win a new trial in the 1990s, Sirhans’ defense enlisted the help of the world’s leading authority on hypnosis, Dr Herbert Spiegel, but the psychiatrist was refused a new examination of Sirhan. In the original trial, Sirhans’ defense did not raise the subject of hypnosis even though a court-appointed psychiatrist had deemed him “highly hypnotisable”. According to Spiegel, at least 80% of the population can be hypnotised to some degree, and Sirhan was revealed to be in the top ten percent. Yet, his original trial team merely said he was “psychotic and schizophrenic” – a claim that was not accepted by the jury. But even under hypnosis, Sirhan could remember nothing prior to, during or after the assassination and this is a clear expression to some of the footprint of MKULTRA.

by Max Drake
(Freelance writer and artist for GritFX.)

Some researchers have gone so far as to name the perpetrators of the assassination of RFK, and a former CIA agent has identified (from available TV and other footage) three known agents inexplicably present at the Ambassador Hotel on the night of June 6th, 1968. Read more at:

For more on MKULTRA, read the book by John Marks:
The Search for the “Manchurian Candidate”

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy St. Patricks Day!

Camera Critters
"Happy St. Patricks Day!" is this week's "Camera Critters" post. If you want to participate, click on the image above.

I know it's a little early...
However, in a few days a number of people across the globe with Irish heritage will be donning green in the name of St. Patricks Day. So for all of you, here is a little piece of green from Down Under!

These tiny frogs were photographed on Dave's parents farm, 500km north of Sydney. A number of them showed their little faces after a nice rainfall. They were tiny, around the size of your thumb. I only had a standard lens with me, and this was pre-digital. I imagine the results would be a great deal better if I were to shoot them today, armed with my digital SLR. I still think that they are good enough to share in celebration of St. Pats. Day.

Before I leave you, I'd like to give a "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" shout out to one of our loyal readers (Shea) to pass onto his daughter - whose birthday is on St Patricks Day!!

Click on the image for a larger version.

Friday, March 13, 2009

American Idol T-Shirt Design

It's that time of year again - American Idol time!

This year a friend of mine decided to set up a T-Shirt shop completely dedicated to fan shirts for American Idol Season 8, Idology Tees. Last year I created a number of designs for David Cook fans - yes I'm a self confessed Cook fan - so this year my friend asked me if I could help him out with some new designs for the 2009 contestants.

After "COOK" took over my life for a chunk of last year, I hadn't planned on doing any designs this year. Last year I found myself rising before the sun to answer email enquiries with regards to the personalization offer we had running; which completely destroyed my sleeping habits!! But hey, I loved doing the COOK designs, so how could I say no to this request.

We've been working on the shop, and plan to grow the range as the show airs and as we have time to design - we have "day jobs" we can't quit!

Anyway, I wanted to share with you one of the designs that I created for the shop. Doing this one took me back to Uni where I had a completely open design brief!

If you're an Idol fan, please take the time to check out Idology Tees.

This friend of mine, who is going by the username "Idol Man" is also "blogging" about the show with a squidoo lens. I could be biased, but I like his point of view.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem (2007)
Steven Pasquale, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Robert Joy, Kristen Hager.
Written by Shane Salerno.
Directed by The Brothers Strause.

Oh, what could have been. The first film in this potentially never-ending series, Alien Vs Predator (2004), was brimming with great concepts, but was unfortunately undone by poor writing and an unqualified cast attempting to vitalise their underdeveloped roles. This sequel is simply a by-the-numbers cash-in, offering nothing more than yet another chance to lay eyes on two of the greatest screen monsters of modern cinema. But why bother? Why don’t we just watch James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) or John McTiernan’s Predator (1987) instead? Requiem follows on from the first film, where an Alien had gestated inside a Predator on board their spacecraft, forming a new species – the ludicrously titled Predalien. Crashing on Earth, the Predalien and its kin begin to devour the inhabitants of a small Colorado town, until a Predator warrior arrives to clean up the mess. Not much better in the writing department, this sequel limps along with the standard clichés and contempt for its audience. Eye candy is one thing, but if you can’t couple the visuals with a decent story then you are just wasting everyone’s time.

Transformers (2007)
Shia LeBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, & Jon Voight.
Written by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman.
Directed by Michael Bay.

Anyone going into a Michael Bay film knows what to expect – overblown trash. Crappy dialogue, caricatures instead of characters, explosions, gunfire, soaring Hollywood strings and as many helicopter and crane shots as you can squeeze into two hours. Transformers were toys I never possessed as a child. It all seemed a tad ridiculous, these organic robots that could morph into trucks and cars and who knows what else. The film itself is equally ridiculous with a convoluted story involving these robots and their dying planet, some energy cube called the “All Spark” and the usual fate of the world scenario. Throw in some human characters for the robots to converse with and you’ve got the most inane film experience since Armageddon. The film would be appealing to the sensibilities of small children yet seems too mature in its execution to be suitable for a child. It’s impossible to take this film seriously, and even though the actors all seem to understand this factor, the filmmakers themselves cannot help but demonstrate the opposite at times. Those who had Transformer toys alongside their Star Wars action figures back in the 1980s might find some worth here. Others beware.

Quantum of Solace (2008)
Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Gianni & Judi Dench.
Written by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade.
Directed by Marc Forster.

Even though I have seen my fair share of James Bond films, I was never really a fan of 007. That all changed with the 2006 release of Casino Royale. The new Bond, played with vigour by Daniel Craig, was still his suave self, but he no longer seemed invincible and was even fallible. The new vision of Bond continues with Quantum of Solace, however the film is a royal mess. Feeling like a ‘bridging’ film to another sequel, Quantum is one action scene after another, held together by a tenuous plot. Beginning almost immediately after Casino finished, Bond is hell-bent on exposing the tentacles of a shadowy organization that has managed to elude the attention of MI6. He then joins forces with a mysterious woman who has her own agenda. This film is as slick as you would expect, but suffers from a supporting cast that have next to nothing to do. Kurylenko is a dull Bond girl and her predecessor Eva Green is sorely missed here. There are many questions that will no doubt be answered by a third film, but Quantum of Solace fails to shake or stir.


(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and posts weekly film reviews on this blog.)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fare ye well, young Frederick…

Camera Critters
"Fare ye well, young Frederick" is this week's "Camera Critters" post. If you want to participate, click on the image above.

For the last three months, a stray cat has been loitering around the studio. Being out in a rural area, I see stray cats from time to time, mostly feral and scavenging for food. But this little guy, affectionately named “Fred” (or “Freddy” or “Frederick” or “Federico” – however the mood struck me), was recognisably different from the rest. He didn’t seem as mangy as the standard feral and my suspicion was that he was dumped out here as a young kitten and forced to fend for himself.

He was quickly shown the lay of the land by our oldest cat, Jonesy. This lad is a big puss, and even though he is incredibly generous with his territory, Jonesy still likes to make it clear who is the boss. So Fred never became hostile towards my two cats because of his fracas with the Jones, and settled into a mutually considerate existence on the back deck. But whilst he may have been friendly with Jonesy, my little girl Ella never cared for Fred and would avoid any areas where he lay. I also think that perhaps Jonesy was merely tolerating Fred…

It took me some time to arrive at the point where Fred would trust me enough to allow me to handle him. When I finally did, the affection he displayed towards a simple stroke of the back was extremely touching. He had obviously never felt the kind hand of a human. Soon though, he became exceedingly demanding, clawing at the back door for his breakfast and dinner. I think he learnt some bad habits from Jonesy!

To cut a long story short, I had to make a tough decision and surrender him to the RSPCA. The bottom line was that Jonesy and Ella have a special bond that was disrupted by the introduction of Fred, and my consideration had to lie with my two beloved babies. Since Fred departed last week, Ella has been much happier and she and Jonesy have begun to play again – something they hadn’t really done during the past three months. Hopefully, Fred will find a new home with loving ‘parents’ who will give him all the affection he craves.

Click on the image for a larger version.

Monday, March 2, 2009

GritFX Competition Winner... of "Guess the Number of Jelly Beans in the Jar"

Wayne John, author of Blogger Help and Assistance is the winner of the "Guess the Number of Jelly Beans in the Jar" competition with a guess of 834 - one off the exact number - congratulations Wayne!

Wayne chose the "Agent Provocateur" design.

(We hope to get a photo of him in it to share with you all...)

333 - Shea - The Hidden World
1,000 - Bill Donovan - Ink Stained Hands
834 - Wayne John - Blogger Help And Assistance
150 - Jim (aka The Movie Whore) - The Movie Whore
647 - Morgan Cote (Fan on Facebook)
582 - Mitsy Parton (Fan on Facebook)
476 - Lisa Bemmes (Fan on Facebook)
821 - Jody M Jordan (Fan on Facebook)
777 - Tara Pannone Hage (Fan on Facebook)
659 - Colleen Sutcliffe (Fan on Facebook)
783 - Becky Hahn (Fan on Facebook)
263 - Chelsea Weaver (Fan on Facebook)
217 - Adam Roland Evan Roberts (Fan on Facebook)
565 - Chelsey Wells (Fan on Facebook)
869 - Sherrie Hunt - E-Motion Blog + E-Motion Cards Website
720 - Shannon Orell-Bast (Fan on Facebook)
820 - Dawn Haskew Leach (Fan on Facebook)
1,000 - Charlie Johnson - Graphic Design Blog
565 - Pam - Fun T-shirts
825 - Jack Webb (c/o Felicity) (Fan on Facebook)
350 - Rachy - Views of a new libertarian socialist + Other Thoughts
789 - Dona Rintelman (Fan on Facebook)
836 - Brian Vare (Fan on Facebook)
570 - Vasile Bell - bElLdEbLuE BB

Details on our next competition will be posted soon.

All GritFX blog members and GritFX Facebook fans can enter our competitions.
Check out previous competition winners on the GritFX Website.