A. B. Richard in JESUSLAND!

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Vacation? I don’t need no steenking vacation! Too charged up to quit, I guess; finished one column and firmed up the other, and since I’m not going to bed anytime soon, and Gnat has control of the TV I might as well peck out something. The vacation starts soon. Honest.

There’s always something thrilling about stumbling across a big-budget late-60s sci-fi movie I’ve never heard of before: how did I miss this? And then comes the moment when your heart, she sinks. The other night the TiVo hovered up something called “Countdown” – promising opening, with grand shots of NASA launch towers and huge satellite dishes. James Caan and Robert by-God Duvall as astronauts and - Whoa! - Ted Knight as a NASA functionary? This is going to be great! Who directed?

Aw, crap.

Not my go-to guy for this sort of stuff, you know? The sound went out of sync after a while, and I passed. But the other night TiVo tried again, and gave me a glorious HD version of “Journey to the Far Side of the Sun,” a movie whose name seemed cobbled together from three other movies I’d already seen. But I knew the moment I heard the score that it was going to suck steel kumquats through a garden hose, because I knew that style of music. The swooping strings, the echoey effects, the excitement that covered up the utter lack of melody – it could only be one composer, and that could only mean one producer.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Barry Gray. And we all know who gives us Barry Gray. Brit-flick crapmeister non pareil, Albion's answer to Irwin Allen: Gerry Anderson.

That’s the “Space 1999 theme.” Gray did one thing right: The UFO theme is a nice tight piece of work with the Grooviest Organ in the Solar System. You cannot help but do some spaz-dance to that, and yes that is my gift to you today; it'll be gone tomorrow, so enjoy while you can. And it almost makes up for this, which is perhaps the most perfect distillation of what it means to be a nine-year old boy in 1969. I imagine Gerry Anderson listening to the theme for the first time, frowning slightly, and saying “look, it’s a song about a Supercar. Shouldn’t there be whistling?” And so whistling there was.

I watched part of “Journey,” which has that odd Gerry Anderson quality: it connects with your inner 11 year old, but even he knows there’s something off about it. Something not quite right. It’s sci-fi done by someone whose apparent love of the genre is matched only by his fundamental misunderstanding of it. It’s like watching someone pour out their love in pig Latin. The technical details are hilarious – it’s set in the near future when cars are about six inches tall and the doors of major office buildings slide open a la Trek, but the computers use magnetic tape and the secretaries bang out memos on white Selectrics. The opening credits are priceless for the era: exciting, artistic shots of dot-matrix printers and tractor-fed paper. It’s like a movie about 2049 whose opening credits feature sexy sinuous USB cables.

Okay, everyone’s upstairs and in bed, so I’m heading back to work. This was not the update I’d planned; I’ll leave that for tomorrow. NOTE: I’ve been alerted to some problems with ordering the book from Amazon – their servers have been seizing up, which is doubleplus ungood for all concerned. You can well imagine the huddled eggheads sweating bright beads of mercury as they attempt to fix this one, because it’s not just a revenue killer. It’s a brand killer. The first thing I did when I realized that Amazon’s dilithium matrix couldna stand the strain, captain, was to sign up with Barnes and Noble for their associates program. I love Amazon and all that, but business is business. That’s the unusual thing about the new economy: deep brand loyalty and brand identification is no longer synonymous with long-term relationships. I can love ‘em to death and leave them tomorrow, if that’s the way it goes. See also, Target, Entertainment Weekly, and various websites I won’t mention.

Because I suppose I could be one of them tomorrow, myself.

Okay, here’s something from the Jetsam Cove unpublished archives. Presented without comment. (coff.) Unconscious humor, indeed.

Wonder whatever became of that illustrator.