The lore of haunted television sets

We've posted previously about Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP), the weird sounds in electronic recordings that some paranormal researchers insist are actually voices of spirits. But I didn't realize that EVP is part of a larger genre of ghostly phenomena called Instrumental Transcommunication "said to occur on devices as varied as television sets, radios, computers, handheld devices such as ipods or iphones, and even fax machines," according to Mysterious Universe. In the 1970s and 1980s, one popular medium for these ghosts in the machine were television sets. (Remember Tobe Hooper's excellent 1982 film Poltergeist?) From Mysterious Universe:

Throughout the 1970s and 80s the ITC phenomenon as it relates to TV really got its roots, becoming quite popular with researchers of the weird, and there were numerous supposed video and audio recordings of these TV bound ghosts at the time. The investigators in these cases claimed that this phenomenon had even been documented with TVs that were turned off or completely unplugged.

One of the pioneers of using televisions to try and pick up signals from the dead was a German ITC researcher named Klaus Schreiber, who used an apparatus that he called the “Vidicomin,” which used a video camera aimed at a TV set that was switched on but not attached to an aerial, and the signal looped the output from the camera back into the TV. This loop was said to produce dramatic results, with various faces apparently blooming out from the white noise on sets, and on one occasion an actress from Austria named Romy Schneider supposedly clearly appeared on a TV in one such session years after her death.

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Hugo Gernsback's 1963 television eyeglasses anticipated virtual reality

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This oft-seen wonderfully weird photo depicts Hugo Gernsback wearing his "teleyeglasses" in 1963. Gersnback, an inventor of such innovations as a combination electric hair brush/comb and a battery-powered handheld illuminated mirror, is best known to science fiction fans as the founder of Amazing Stories magazine! Gernsback coined the term "science fiction" and the Hugo Awards are named in his honor. But back to the history of his teleyeglasses, as discussed in IEEE Spectrum:

A Life magazine profile of Gernsback in July 1963, when he was 78, described his “teleyeglasses”:

He now invents only in broad outline, leaving the actual mechanics of the thing to others. His television eyeglasses—a device for which he feels millions yearn—constitute a case in point. When the idea for this handy, pocket-size portable TV set occurred to him in 1936, he was forced to dismiss it as impractical. But a few weeks ago, feeling that the electronics industry was catching up with his New Deal-era concepts, he orders some of his employees to build a mock-up.

The teleyeglasses weighed about 140 grams and were built around small cathode-ray tubes that ran on low-voltage current from tiny batteries. (The user faced no danger of being electrocuted, Gernsback promised.) Because there was a separate screen for each eye, it could display stereoscopic images—much like today’s 3D virtual-reality glasses. Noting the massive V-type antenna protruding from the teleyeglasses, Life described the effect as “neo-Martian.”

"The Man Who Invented VR Goggles 50 Years Too Soon" (IEEE Spectrum) Read the rest

RIP Brady Bunch mom Florence Henderson

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Actress Florence Henderson, most famous as "iconic matriarch" Carol Brady and recent turns on Dancing with the Stars, is dead at 82.

"We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our dear mother Florence Henderson from Heart Failure," the Henderson family said in a statement. "On this day of thanks, our beloved mother was surrounded by her devoted children and dearest friends. We thank all of her fans for their many years of love and ask that we be allowed to grieve in private.

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Watch Lego Stranger Things

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More fun than the Lego Batman Movie?

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Interview with far-out music video artists from 1984

From a 1984 episode of the fantastic USA Network series Night Flight, an interview with pioneering digital video artists John Sanborn and Dean Winkler about their latest pieces, "Act III," with music by Philip Glass, and their music video for Adrian Belew's "Big Electric Cat." Watch them both below.

(r/ObscureMedia, thanks, UPSO!)

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The Netflix library has half the titles it did four years ago

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Consumer site Extreamist confirms what many suspected: Netflix has sharply reduced its streaming library titles by over 50% from an estimated 11,000 in 2012 to about 5,300 today. Read the rest

Check out Count Olaf in this teaser for the Netflix's forthcoming Lemony Snicket series

Premiering January 13, 2017, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" stars Neil Patrick Harris as the creepy Count Olaf.

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Antiques Roadshow, NSFW edition

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The popular and long-running British antiques-peeping program is broadening its horizons for a new generation of viewers. "These are quite collectible, you know." Read the rest

Stranger Things: A TV news report

Archival footage of Brenda Wood on 5 WIYZ reporting on the disappearance of Barbara Holland and a young girl stealing Eggos in Hawkins, Indiana.

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Watch Pee-wee Herman's Halloween appearances on David Letterman (1983 and 1984)

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Pee-wee's sage trick-or-treating advice: "Don't eat any apples you can shave with."

(/r/obscuremedia, thanks UPSO!)

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Great post-mortem on The Inbetweeners USA vs. UK

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The Inbetweeners is a great British comedy series that bombed when remade for an American audience. How can the same characters, plot lines, and jokes work so well in one case and fail in the other? YouTuber JackWolf dissects some examples, brilliantly explaining the essence of good comedic directing and editing. Read the rest

Watch Stranger Things, the 8-bit version

Directed by David Dutton, music by Henry Dutton. (8-Bit Cinema)

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Watch Batman documentary "Holy Batmania"

A 1989 documentary covering the birth of Batman through to the best on-screen Batman ever, Mr. Adam West.

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Stranger Things soundtrack on vinyl, and covers by Tangerine Dream

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Austin band Survive's masterful synth soundtrack to Stranger Things is available now digitally and at your local independent music shop on vinyl! Meanwhile, the surviving members of Tangerine Dream, a primary influence on Survivor's Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, released their own covers of the Stranger Things score! Listen to them below. And here's a bit from an excellent interview that Billboard's Gil Kaufman conducted with Dixon and Stein:

How did that main theme come to life?

It's an old demo Michael had, but it's nothing like what you hear... nowhere near as much of a piece of music as it is now. That was just some random thing that ended up in the library they had and when they found it they were like, 'what if this was the main title?' We thought it could be good, so we built it out. We've been wanting to get into music for TV and film for a long time, but we had no idea how. We've been passively creating libraries, weird droney noises... so we had this collection of songs that we were trying to figure out how present to people in film....

Without that previous (soundtrack) experience, how were you able to create music that spoke so deeply to the characters in the show?

They said our music was actually used to help cast the show. During the demo period they said, 'we know you can do dark and epic, but this is a show about a group of kids, so we need to show the producers that you can do the more lighthearted, sentimental stuff.' So a lot of the demos were like that.

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Watch all of the classic 1980s episodes of Ray Bradbury Theater free on YouTube

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The Ray Bradbury Theater was a far out 1980s television series with each episode written by Bradbury himself. With 65 suspenseful (and sometimes terrifying) episodes of dark science fiction/fantasy, The Ray Bradbury Theater shined the freaky flame of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits down the shadowy path of The X-Files and Stranger Things. And now you can watch all the episodes free on YouTube! Below are two to get you started: Marionettes, Inc. and The Playground:

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Bond villain style TV descends from a slot in ceiling

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Best comment: "Doesn't that really annoy the person on the second floor who was watching it?"

Hidden TV in ceiling

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TV news pioneer John McLaughlin dies at 89

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John McLaughlin has died, at 89. The host of a long-running political TV chat show was once a Jesuit priest, and also wrote speeches for President Richard M. Nixon. He was a conservative provocateur with a “pugnacious style” on his political chat show, and sometimes interrupted his guests or yelled “Wronnng!” in response to their commentary. Read the rest

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