ALL IN A LATHER: The Ritual Of Straight Razor Shaving Revealed!

This piece was originally published September 13th, 2013. Shaving IconIt’s something I choose to do everyday, and yet, it is also something that everyday fills me with reluctance, dread and contempt — shaving my face.

There once was a time of youth where I could not wait for the day I could imitate my father who, his entire life spent beardless, would repeat his daily and seemingly magical ritual using strange instruments and groovy concoctions.

Tools and mixtures that belonged to a craft that had also been fueled by years of seeing the practice worked in popular culture, from Bugs Bunny to The Three StoogesThe Flintstones to I Love Lucy, my pop culture references on shaving were long and deeply ingrained.

For me, the fine art of shaving would at one time seem as desirous as that scene in Mario Bava’s Danger Diabolik, where the anti-hero Diabolik swims around atop his bed with his girlfriend in a pool of cash.

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A memorable scene from Danger Diabolik, somehow worked into this piece on shaving.

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Sadly, the reality of years of shaving have never been so sweet, happy, nor fun. In fact, it has been one of the daily chores of my life that has led me to seek out ways to get a better, less painful and more efficient shave.

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The author as a young shaver. Continue reading, please click here…

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KNOCK IT OFF! a.k.a. The Wonderful World of Unlicensed Toys

This piece was originally published August 12th, 2013.

tumblr_mzta9fviFZ1qm348ao1_400For years I have been obsessed with knock off, unlicensed merchandise—famous brands, or characters, that are designed and sold with a seemingly complete disregard for anything, other than to cash in on something that has been proved to be a commercial success.

Or, as they are technically termed, Counterfeit Consumer Goods.

While the spectrum of pirated or unlicensed items can reach far into the areas of cigarettes, wine, fashion (fake Coach handbags), electronics (fake iPads) and all types of entertainment media (like that pile of DVD’s on the table at a flea market which has films just released to the theater!) it is for toys that I have a particular fondness. When you research counterfeit food and cigarettes, believe me, it gets scary.

Given any chance, I will happily scoop one up should I see a bogus toy for sale somewhere. Seeking out phony Godzillas has always been a dream knock-off toy for me, and I have collected some good ones of the great monster over the years.

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Knock-off Godzilla, sans fins, is still pretty cool.

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With many of these toys, attention to details are usually thrown out the window, as is any semblance of keeping the individual universes separate. Long before crossovers in comic book storylines, fake toys were mixing it up in gigantic, head-scratching way.

Here then, are some of the goofier finds that you, dear reader, can seek out and add to your collection.
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THE MUSEUM OF BAD ART

This piece was originally published May 20th, 2013.

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“An artist is somebody who produces things that people don’t need to have.”

— Andy Warhol

 

“Most people in America think Art is a man’s name.”

— Andy Warhol

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You’ve heard of Night Gallery? The Rod Serling television series that was his brilliant follow up to The Twilight Zone and featured a gallery of horrific and nightmarish paintings tied into each episodes’ plot that still resound with an eerie intensity with viewers decades after the show’s original airing.

Well this is more a case of welcome to a world of art that one might say is best viewed with the lights out at night…

 

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John Currin’s 1991 painting Bea Arthur Naked recently sold for 1.9 million dollars at Christie’s auction house.

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Presidential Candidates Endorsed By The Mystery Box

This piece was originally published November 5th, 2012.

Like many a good upstanding citizen of pop trash culture, Friday night monster movies and Saturday morning cartoons, it has always been a bit of a task for me to embrace most political candidates, yet for my entire life, ever since I was eligible, I have taken part in voting at every election.

I guess I watched Robert Redford in The Candidate a few too many times, so between that film and the fact that the majority of politicians that I have known personally have been sketchy, self serving egomaniacs out to fill their own slimy pockets, sort of makes one a bit suspicious and cynical of the whole process in general.

Still, as I write this on the eve of the next American Presidential election, I will vote and hope for the best, and wish that perhaps the winner will be a person that, if I were given the opportunity, is a person you could sit down with over a beer to talk about which Funkadelic or Rolling Stones album is best.

In keeping with the spirit of the great MAD Magazine, here then from Mystery Box H.Q. are my own “usual gang of idiots” picking some candidates we wished had won in the past or in tomorrow’s election…

Horror Host Legend Zacherley

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JOHN ENTWISTLE: Halloween’s Favorite Bass Player

This piece was originally published October 22nd, 2012.

John Entwistle was the legendary and highly influential bass player for The Who.

Before Entwistle, pop music fans of all different styles could care less about the bass as an instrument, often not paying that much attention to who was playing it or listening for its sound.

Playing the bass as a lead instrument with a full on volume, treble and bass attack, and with his very specific selection of type of bass, plus what strings and amplification to use, Entwistle brought an uncompromising new approach to the bass guitar.

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Will Ferrell’s Casa de Mi Padre: Muy Divertido Multiplicado Por Diez!

This piece was originally published April 9th, 2012.

Casa de mi Padre Post TemplateIn his earlier Saturday Night Live days, Will Ferrell was among my more disliked cast members.

I can recall those of us watching referring to him as “that annoying guy.”

The dreaded Spartan Cheerleaders sketches he used to do with Cheri Oteri, another cast member I was never too fond of, were overly long and never that funny. For myself, the continuing antics of “Craig and Arianna” brought the show to a stand-still, despite some great guest hosts (Robert Downey Jr., Jim Carrey) appearing in the sketches.

 

Ron Burgundy 

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Funny how my thinking about Will turned around about the time his bare naked ass was running down the street in a brilliant performance in Old School (2003). With Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (2004), Ferrell’s status as a comedy force was complete.
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THE DEMOULIN BROTHERS: Your Secret Society Superstore (In The 19th Century)

This piece was originally published March 12th, 2012.

Demoulin Brothers Post TemplateFraternal organizations (a.k.a. “Secret Societies” to many outsiders ) are as much a part of our modern cultural fabric as their names are familiar to us via parades, advertising, or perhaps a relative’s membership: Shriners, Freemasons, B’nai Brith. Elks, Kiwanis, Lion’s Club, Rotary International, Knight’s Of Columbus and The Loyal Order of Moose are but a few of the names you may have encountered driving past a “Temple” or seeing a sign mentioning a charity benefit “meat raffle.”

 

The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine a.k.a. Shriners

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The Independent Order Of Odd Fellows

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MAIL-ORDER MYSTERIES!

This piece was originally published January 3rd, 2012.

Count Dante Post TemplateIf you were a kid that grew up in the late ’50s, the ’60s, the ’70s or even well into the ’80s, and you’re reading this, I would say that there is a pretty good chance that you also sat for many hours in front of the television set watching cartoons, sitcoms and action/adventure series, listened to music, and spent considerable hours reading comic books (and MAD Magazine! ). 

All this pop culture most assuredly helped to formulate a generation or two that really saw their creative imaginations run wild, and their youthful desires and wishes expand beyond even that of their older siblings who were brought up in the first crazy period of teenage rebellion known as the earlier Rock and Roll generation.


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The Films Of GEORGE AND MIKE KUCHAR: The 8mm Mozarts

This piece was originally published September 12th, 2011.

Kuchar Brothers Post TemplateThe Kuchar Brothers were (along with Kenneth Anger) among the earliest originators and innovators of what we now know think of as independent film.

John Waters started making films because of them and calls them “The Warner Brothers of the Underground.”

David Lynch, Brian De Palma, Gus Van Sant, Guy Maddin, Buck Henry, Todd Solondz, Atom Egoyan are but a tiny few of the independent and otherwise film directors that name The Kuchars as their influence and inspirations.

Taking the small 8mm film camera and turning it from something that previously would be merely used for capturing family vacations and holiday gatherings, The Kuchars instead created their own brand of ambitious, mini Douglas Sirk and Tennessee Williams melodramas that were filtered through their own warped teenaged sensibilities with a decidedly crazed black humor that would be indicative of the fledgling cinema underground that they were helping to create.

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TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE: VOLUME ONE BY MICHAEL KUPPERMAN

This piece was originally published August 29th, 2011.

Thrizzle Post TemplateHere at The Mystery Box H.Q. I often enjoy pulling a release out of the past, just in case you might have missed it the first time around. Everyone tries to be on top of new releases, but often going back a bit has a multitude of rewards and can be a new discovery for someone who will then embrace it and in turn tell others how great it is.

Such is the case here…

When you come across a writer or a cartoonist’s work that has you laughing out loud to the point of shaking your head in disbelief that anything could be so astronomically funny, you just want to share it with the world.

Such is the case with Michael Kupperman, an American illustrator, cartoonist and writer that has written scripts for D.C. Comics, contributed to various anthologies such as McSweeney’s, has had work animated for Comedy Central’s TV Funhouse and has graced the pages of The Wall Street JournalThe N.Y. Times and The New Yorker, to name only a few of his many achievements.

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