Who doesn’t love a cute sloth? Here’s a little collection of the cutest sloths I could find on the internet:
The pressure for people to lose weight is timeless, but the methods people use to do it vary from decade to decade and from the reasonable to the ridiculous. Here are three of my favorite methods for weight-loss from the decade that gave us Twiggy, sauna suits, and amphetamine fetishism.
The sleep cure
This is a favorite of mine because it plays a minor part of the plot of one of my favorite novels, Valley of the Dolls. The idea behind the treatment is that you’re given drugs to sedate you into a deep sleep that lasts a week, during which time you’re given enough food to sustain you but not enough to cause you to gain weight. At the end of the week you’re meant to awake refreshed and a little bit lighter. In Valley of the Dolls, Jennifer North undergoes the sleep cure and loses 12 pounds over the course of 8 days.
The Trim Twist
Do you like dancing? Do you want to lose weight? You might think you can simply combine your love of dance with your desire to shed a few pounds but you’d be wrong! This is the 1960s and you have to wear a cute outfit, do your hair, and use a special piece of exercise equipment to do the twist. Trust us, you need this 10″x9″ piece of pastel styrene or you won’t get anything done.
This is a bit of a cheat because diet food isn’t limited to the 1960s, but the decade did have an influx of specially marketed diet food that I find quite interesting. For example, sacharine, an artificial sweetener discovered in the 1800s, began showing up in everything during this time, particularly diet soft drinks. The forerunner of the SlimFast shake, known as the Metrecal Diet Shake, also hit the market in the early 1960s and in Betty Friedan’s 1963 book The Feminine Mystique she notes that “[women] ate a chalk called Metrecal, instead of food, to shrink to the size of thin young models.” Sounds delicious.
I had fun putting together the posts about five films that scared me as a child and my top 5 horror films so I figured it would be just as fun to end the month with my top five strange movies. Let’s now go where many, many confused people have gone before…
If you talk to me for more than 30 minutes at a time the odds are good I’ll start talking about The Monkees so of course I have to include their feature film in this list. Now, their TV show was a little out there to begin with and only got stranger as it went into its second season, but in Head it’s like all of the crazy or funny ideas from the series were force-fed bad acid and shoved under a spotlight. That’s my favorite thing about the movie– it’s got the familiar elements working together but they’re all somehow out of sync, like when your favorite cartoon show changes voice actors mid-season. Plus it has a cameo appearance by Frank Zappa, which makes everything more awesome.
2. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
I love a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously while pretending it does. It’s a difficult thing to pull off but Beyond the Valley of the Dolls does it perfectly (and with a script by Roger Ebert and direction by Russ Meyer how could it not?). This is not just a parody of the whole scene portrayed in Valley of the Dolls, it’s what Valley of the dolls should have been– real sex, drugs, and rock n roll instead of hinting at the seedy side of the glamorous life. The Carrie Nations, the band at the center of the film, rock my little world, but some of my favorite moments are the ones like the clip above where the music is comedic and the drug taking is self-consciously over the top.
3. A Clockwork Orange
I saw this for the first time when I was a freshman in high school and I do think it helped shape me into the weird woman I’ve become. Not only does the language of the source book (the made-up teenage slang called nadsat) get used to its fullest extent but it’s coupled with the severe angles and unsettling visuals of Stanley Kubrick’s direction. The film’s premise is that a methodically violent young man is made harmless through a treatment in which he is taught to associate violence with nausea. Of course, as you’d expect, the treatment has horrible consequences. This movie also introduced me to the classical synth music of Wendy (Walter) Carlos, which is reason enough to look into the film. Above is the opening scene of the movie. Even a decade after I first heard those opening words I still know them by heart.
Tommy is another interest of mine that finds its roots in my early teen years (somewhere in the portfolio I submitted to art college my senior year of high school is a self portrait to represent each song off the album…yep). I grew up loving musicals and Tommy does, at least song-wise, follow the conventions of telling a story through music. The movie, however, is bizarre beyond anything you can imagine. One of the best things about this movie is that not only do members of The Who star in it but it also has a surprising amount of famous co-stars and cameo appearances (Tina Turner as the Acid Queen being my favorite). Still, nothing beats Anne Margaret’s performance as Tommy’s mother (see above).
5. Brain Candy
I’ll grant you that Brain Candy is not as strange as the other films on this list but it’s made by The Kids in the Hall so you know there will be some unsettling, bizarre parts throughout. The Kids play scientists who develop a drug that essentially makes depressed people happy again. The problem is that eventually they become literally frozen in their happiest moment. If you’re a die-hard Kids in the Hall fan and you haven’t seen Brain Candy please give it a try. If you’re new to the Kids in the Hall but like strange movies, this is a fair introduction to their style. My favorite part is when the cats fall on Kevin McDonald’s head but since that’s not on youtube, enjoy Scott Thompson’s revelation about his sexual orientation.
Now! please tell me what your favorite strange movies are.