Intl. Notebook Jun 29 2016
STATE OF AROUSA
She's a real Bettie—no mistake about it.


This tattered but still attractive Lebanese magazine is called Al Arousa, which means “the bride,” we think, and it dates from 1957. The seller says that's Spanish actress Isabel Mestres on the front cover, which shows what he knows—the star of this photo-illustration is obviously American model Bettie Page. There she is wearing the same ensemble at right.
 
Page used the outfit in a burlesque loop known on the internet as simply, “Harem,” which features her being introduced by an emcee and doing a little hip swaying on a sound stage. It's a short, non-nude performance—two facts that may disappoint some—but if you want to check it out try here. We're thrilled to have come across this magazine cover, and we'll mark it down as our second best Bettie Page discovery.

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Intl. Notebook Jun 28 2016
IDOLO WORSHIP
A Schell of her former self.


Above is our second issue of Colleción Idolos de Cine, this one featuring Austrian born actress Maria Schell. Not well known now, Schell was an acclaimed figure who won best actress at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival for Die Letzte Brücke and won the Volpi Cup for best actress at the 1956 Venice Film Festival for GervaiseAs we mentioned before, we found these obscure Idolos magazines in Barcelona a while back and grabbed six. You can see the previous issue we posted here.

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Intl. Notebook Jun 24 2016
WHEN PIGS FRY
Wow, something smells amazing.


This photo shows the debris cloud of the nuclear test Priscilla, which was part of the series of tests codenamed Operation Plumbbob, conducted during the summer and autumn of 1957 at the Nevada Test Site. For this particular blast, more than seven hundred pigs were garbed in suits made of different materials to test various means of protecting living tissue from thermal radiation. Guess what? It didn't work. The pigs survived, but with third-degree burns over 80% of their bodies, making for one of the cruelest, but undoubtedly most mouth-watering nuclear tests in history. 

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Intl. Notebook May 26 2016
CINEMONDE VERITE
Lifestyles of the French and famous.


Does this image of Karin Dor look familiar? Possibly because it’s the same one we used in a femme fatale post on her late last year. It was made to promote the film You Only Live Twice, and appeared in many places, here for example on the cover of the French magazine Cinémonde. Focusing pretty much exclusively on movies and movie stars, Cinémonde launched in 1928 and lasted until 1971, with seven years of dormancy from 1940 to 1946, and another two in 1969 and 1970. The examples you see here are all from the mid- to late-1960s, when director Maurice Bessy moved toward less conservative graphics than in the past. Generally Cinémonde cover stars were women, often French, but every once in a while a guy made the cut, such as the fronts with Marlon Brando and Gérard Philipe below. We’ll get to the interiors of Cinémonde a bit later.

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Intl. Notebook May 6 2016
NEW NUDES ARE OLD NUDES
French photographer earns raves for fresh look at the nude form... except for one little thing.


Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to be impressed by those who do. Especially when it comes to art. The very nice image above was shot by Parisian photographer Dani Olivier. He has published three photo books, exhibited his pieces all over France, as well as in galleries in such places as Kiev, Moscow, and Los Angeles, and describes his work as an effort to create nude portraits “that [haven't] been shot before.” Ah, but they have been shot before, Dani, they surely have, and by one of your countrymen, no less—Fernand Fonssagrives, as we discussed here.

The photo we posted back in 2012 was one from the Fonssagrives canon that had never been seen online before, which makes it worth a gander, but for those disinclined to click over there, an example of Fonssagrives' work from 1956 appears below. Very similar, no? We have a feeling Olivier would exclaim, “But Fonssagrives' light is dots, while mine is sperm, you idiot!” Well, dots, sperm—maybe Fonssagrives' is sperm too, but seen head-on.

There's no doubting Olivier's light patterns are more varied and detailed, however Fonssagrives might have gone in a similarly precise direction had he possessed similarly superior projection technology. In any case, we love Dani Olivier’s work. But the quote about its originality caught our eye, as well as the fact that none of the articles we checked on him mentioned Fonssagrives, so we were pretty much compelled to bring up the old master, who certainly deserves his just due.

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Intl. Notebook May 4 2016
DANCERS GOTTA DANCE
It's a hard job but they make it look easy.


What better way to complement the collection of paperback covers above than with photos of actual dancers doing what they do best—making their strenuous and often unglamorous work look easy and fun? We present assorted burlesque dancers, showgirls, and strippers from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, both onstage and off, photographed in such hot spots as London, Paris, Tokyo, Rome, New Orleans, and of course New York City. Among the performers: La Savona, Lilly Christine, Lynne O'Neill, the gorgeous Misty Ayres, Patti Cross, Tina Marshall, Carol Doda, Nejla Ates, Lili St. Cyr, Wildcat Frenchie, and more. If you like these, check out our previous set of dancers here. 

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Intl. Notebook Apr 21 2016
SHIP SHAPE
Enterprise goes into dry dock for repairs.


The eleven-foot model of the U.S.S. Enterprise used to shoot television's Star Trek that has been housed in Washington, D.C.'s Smithsonian Institution since 1974 is receiving an overdue restoration. The Smithsonian requested photos from fans or studio staff who could help them return the metal ship to its exact condition from August 1967, when the episode “The Trouble with Tribbles” aired. Why that episode? We don't know. In any case, the Enterprise has been modified eight times over the years, and the museum was looking specifically for interior photos or shots of the ship disassembled so they could see how the interior structure was originally arranged. Photos emerged and the Smithsonian is now busily at work rehabbing the starship to its full luster. Since the original framework was wood, the two engines tend to sag over time, so one change being made is to reinforce the interior with a metal collar designed to keep the engines properly aligned. Repainting the exterior is also on the agenda. When finished the Enterprise will be displayed in the museum's new Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall, which opens in July. The timing is of course no coincidence. This year—September 8 to be exact—will mark the 50-year anniversary of the Star Trek's premiere on NBC. 

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Intl. Notebook Apr 19 2016
SOUND A WARNING
If you're hearing this it's already too late.

This curious photo shows a bit of pulp-era technology—the acoustic mirror or acoustic locator. It was used to detect the approach of aircraft. The examples above and below are from Japan, Finland, Russia, Sweden, and other countries, and date from the 1930s to the eve of World War II, when they were replaced by radar systems. Apparently, these worked quite well, picking up engine noise from miles away. But as aircraft became speedier the effective range of the devices decreased—enemy planes would reach the site where a mirror was located within a minute or two of being detected. At such speeds, a spotter with a good pair of binoculars and decent visibility would see the planes the same time a mirror heard them. But before airspeeds increased these were the surest way to detect an oncoming aerial attack or reconnaissance flight, particularly at night. In addition to portable mirrors, some countries used cast concrete to construct massive versions that had a twenty-mile range. Great Britain built the last set of these in 1943 when fears surfaced that the Germans had developed a means to jam radar. Built to endure weather and time, some survive and have become tourist attractions. We have ten more crazy acoustic mirror designs below for your enjoyment.

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Intl. Notebook Mar 24 2016
PERFECT CYCLE
McQueen's love affair with speed continues unabated.


Above are a few very rare promotional photos of American actor Steve McQueen motoring about on a Suzuki T20 racing motorcycle during a break in filming The Sand Pebbles in Taiwan. This guy just loved bombing around in fast machines, as we've documented here and here. These particular images were made in 1966 and appeared in the Japanese film Screen in 1967. 

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Intl. Notebook Mar 16 2016
ENDLESS LOVECRAFT
Newly unearthed manuscript by horror master set to be auctioned in Chicago.


A newly discovered manuscript written by otherworldly horror writer H.P. Lovecraft has been found in a collection of magic memorabilia in Chicago. The 31-page piece, titled "The Cancer of Superstition," is said to have been originally commissioned by Harry Houdini in 1926. Houdini died that year and the project fell by the wayside, but the typewritten pages were conserved by Houdini's widow Bess, and her manager, Edward Saint. The sheaf of pages will be auctioned April 9th, with bids starting at $13,000 and a final price estimated to reach $25,000 to $40,000—a pittance considering Lovecraft's fans will probably pay plenty to buy anything published bearing the icon's name.

This story dusted off some nice memories for us and brought a smile to our faces because—as any Call of Cthulhu geek knows—the real-life pairing of Lovecraft and Houdini is like ice cream paired with caramel sauce, or a census-taker's liver with a fine Chianti. We'd go so far as to say that any Call of Cthulhu keeper worth the title incorporates Houdini into the game eventually. In our long-running C of C campaign—years before we had girlfriends and an inkling that there were equally sticky but much more enjoyable ways to spend a Saturday night—Houdini appeared in a session only to promptly have his head melted by an interdimensional horror.

There's some small question whether "The Cancer of Superstition" was written by Lovecraft, or if it was actually penned by fellow author C.M. Eddy and merely polished by Lovecraft, but we suspect doubts on that score will always remain. After years of doing this site and trying to track the original authors of numerous obscure novels we know some questions about the provenance of literature are destined never to be answered.

So get your bidding hats on. Since anyone out who's seriously into Lovecraft and Call of Cthulhu is a supernerd (we mean that affectionately, as former nerds ourselves), you've probably squirrelled away plenty of cash from your career in computer sciences or botany or something. Don't let the manuscript fall into the hands of some empty suit hedge fund manager from upper Manhattan. And for those of you who haven't read Lovecraft and have no idea what we're talking about, we highly recommend you give him a try if you feel like a little literary horror. Just don't read too much about Lovecraft as a person. Some of his views were even more terrifying than his stories.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 01
1941—NBC Airs First Official TV Commercial
NBC broadcasts the first TV commercial to be sanctioned by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC began licensing commercial television stations in May 1941, granting the first license to NBC. During a Dodgers-Phillies game broadcast July 1, NBC ran its first commercial, from Bulova, who paid $9 to advertise its watches.
1963—Kim Philby Named as Spy
The British Government admits that former high-ranking intelligence diplomat Kim Philby had worked as a Soviet agent. Philby was a member of the spy ring now known as the Cambridge Five, along with Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross. Of the five, Philby is believed to have been most successful in providing classified information to the Soviet Union. He defected to Russia, was feted as a hero and even given his commemorative stamp, before dying in 1988 at the age of seventy-six.
1997—Robert Mitchum Dies
American actor Robert Mitchum dies in his home in Santa Barbara, California. He had starred in films such as Out of the Past, Blood on the Moon, and Night of the Hunter, was called "the soul of film noir," and had a reputation for coolness that would go unmatched until Frank Sinatra arrived on the scene.
June 30
1908—Tunguska Explosion Occurs
Near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai in Russia, a large meteoroid or comet explodes at five to ten kilometers above the Earth's surface with a force of about twenty megatons of TNT. The explosion is a thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic blast, knocks over an estimated 80 million trees and generates a shock wave estimated to have been 5.0 on the Richter scale.
1971—Soviet Cosmonauts Perish
Soviet cosmonauts Vladislav Volkov, Georgi Dobrovolski and Viktor Patsayev, who served as the first crew of the world's first space station Salyut 1, die when their spacecraft Soyuz 11 depressurizes during preparations for re-entry. They are the only humans to die in space (as opposed to the upper atmosphere).
June 29
1914—Rasputin Survives Assassination Attempt
Former prostitute Jina Guseva attempts to assassinate Grigori Rasputin in his home town of Pokrovskoye, Siberia by stabbing him in the abdomen. According to reports, Guseva screamed "I have killed the Antichrist!" But Rasputin survived until being famously poisoned, shot, bludgeoned, and drowned in an icy river two years later.
1967—Jayne Mansfield Dies in Car Accident
American actress and sex symbol Jayne Mansfield dies in an automobile accident in Biloxi, Mississippi, when the car in which she is riding slams underneath the rear of a semi. Rumors that Mansfield were decapitated are technically untrue. In reality, her death certificate states that she suffered an avulsion of the cranium and brain, meaning she lost only the top of her head.

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