Vintage 16mm Stop-Motion – A Pleasantly Strange World

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Before digital everything a number of families, and creative sorts, purchased the old 16-or-8mm camera to film those ‘special moments’ of a day in the life. The imaginative kids quickly figured out the magic of the frame and would often take their little action figures and toys and experiment with their own kind of film-making. The above 16mm Kodachrome stop-motion test print for Camel cigarettes is pretty raw – but every person who remembers the joys of 16-or-8mm film will quickly recall that pleasantly strange world that would come alive with the passing of each frame.

If you’re curious to read more about this particular print click here to get the scoop at Cartoon Research.

The M65 – Not The Spiral Galaxy, The Atomic Cannon

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Operation Upshot-Knothole – 25 May 1953

The M65 Atomic Cannon, often called Atomic Annie, was a towed artillery piece built by the United States and capable of firing a nuclear device. It was developed in the early 1950s, at the beginning of the Cold War, and fielded by 1953 in Europe and Korea.

On May 25, 1953 at 8:30am, the Atomic Cannon was tested at Nevada Test Site (specifically Frenchman Flat) as part of the Upshot-Knothole series of nuclear tests. The test — codenamed Grable — was attended by then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Arthur W. Radford and Secretary of Defense Charles Erwin Wilson; it resulted in the successful detonation of a 15 kt shell (W9 warhead) at a range of 7 miles. This was the first and only nuclear shell to be fired from a cannon.

The Grable mushroom cloud with the Atomic Cannon in the foreground.

The Grable mushroom cloud with the Atomic Cannon in the foreground. (Photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration/Nevada Field Office)

After the successful test, there were at least 20 of the cannons manufactured at Watervliet and Watertown Arsenals, at a cost of $800,000 each. They were deployed overseas to Europe and Korea, often continuously shifted around to avoid being detected and targeted by opposing forces. Due to the size of the apparatus, their limited range, the development of nuclear shells compatible with existing artillery pieces (the W48 for the 155mm and the W33 for the 203mm), and the development of rocket and missile based nuclear artillery, the M65 was effectively obsolete soon after it was deployed. However, it remained a prestige weapon and was not retired until 1963.

Of the twenty M65s produced, at least eight survive on display.

A Musical Interlude

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Just a musical interlude to let the fine readers of Atomic Flash Deluxe know that it’s still in operation. So much to explore and various projects to work on, but this lovely corner of the web is still very much in line for some new posts. Thanks for your patience.

The dreamy video above features the Francy Boland Orchestra playing an ethereal lounge version of Claudia.

LSD: A Trip Down Memory Lane

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LSD25 Manufactured by Sandoz Laboratories - Basel, Switzerland

LSD25 Manufactured by Sandoz Laboratories – Basel, Switzerland

Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life.  ~~Steve Jobs

In 1956 this unnamed American housewife took LSD at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Los Angeles. This woman’s husband was an employee at the hospital and referred her to this study, which was reportedly done for a television program on mental health issues.

When Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman first synthesized LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) at the Sandoz laboratories in Basel, Switzerland on November 16, 1938, he felt that the compound wasn’t useful for the project at hand. He set it aside in the slush-pile. Five years later, April 16, 1943, Hoffman felt compelled to take another look at his abandoned discovery. John Beresford writes:

Hofmann is not sure – the chemist in the old Sandoz lab had what he called a “Vorgefühl.” The usual English word for this is “presentiment,” but the German word suggests something stronger than the laid-back “presentiment.” Something was telling Hofmann to retrace his steps and perform a new synthesis of the discarded molecule, LSD-25. It had to be that molecule and not one of the others consigned to the “useless” pile…

Hofmann does not remember what he was doing when the “presentiment” came over him. He won’t say if it came in a dream, or if he was in a state of unusual lucidity. One is free to speculate that the “instruction” to re-synthesize LSD came from a spiritual power which intervenes in the affairs of man to restore order when the danger of disorder has become too great. The reckless act of science in Chicago in December, 1942 (the first successful nuclear chain reaction – ed.) was remedied in Basel four months later, with Albert Hofmann chosen as the instrument to perform the cure.

 Before LSD, After LSD -  Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist (1906-2008)

Before LSD, After LSD – Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist (1906-2008)

Whatever the case, while re-synthesizing the LSD, Hofmann accidentally absorbed a small amount of the drug through his fingertips and discovered its powerful effects.

…affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After about two hours this condition faded away.

Three days later (April 19) Hofmann decided to intentionally take an experimental dose in order to delve deeper into the true effects of LSD. He (wrongly) determined that ingesting 0.25 milligrams (250 micrograms) would be a threshold dose – in actuality a threshold dose is 20 micrograms. Needless to say, Hoffman went a pretty massive trip. Within an hour he began to experience sudden and intense changes to his perception. He asked his lab assistant to accompany him home and, as it was wartime and cars were not an option, the two set out for their destination on bicycles.

At first Hofmann experienced extreme hallucinations and feelings of anxiety and paranoia. But then:

…little by little I could begin to enjoy the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind my closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux …

April 19 wold become what is known as Bicycle Day in psychedelic communities and celebrated as the day of discovery for LSD.

LSD blotter paper depicting Albert Hoffman on Bicycle Day

LSD blotter paper depicting Albert Hoffman on Bicycle Day

After sharing this information with colleagues, as well as the experience, LSD-25 became the focus for all kinds of mind-centered experiments. Was it useful as a tool in psychiatry? Could the CIA use it as a pharmaceutical in Mind Control (MK-ULTRA)? Could LSD be used to treat alcoholism and/or autism?

In 1955 a former OSS operative and then Federal Bureau of Narcotics agent named George Hunter White teamed up with the CIA to run what was known as Operation Midnight Climax – a brothel was set up on Chestnut street in the San Francisco Bay area and unsuspecting Johns behavior was observed after they were secretly dosed. Several significant operational techniques were developed in this theater, including extensive research into sexual blackmail, surveillance technology, and the possible use of mind-altering drugs in field operations. This operation was carried out for a decade, 1955-1965. Many suspect that this is how LSD became introduced to civilians on the street and became a catalyst for the psychedelic anti-war culture of the 1960s.

Psychedelic Eye

A whole lot more could be written about the 1960s LSD experience such as the colorful characters, the gurus, the communities, etc., but that’s beyond the scope of this post. Covered here was a short trip down memory lane to the beginnings of a drug that appeared at the dawn of the nuclear age – a time when splitting an atom could blow the world away, and sipping down a molecule could blow the mind away. LSD became illegal in California on October 6, 1966. Other U.S. states and the rest of the world followed with the ban. Like the atom bomb, LSD has faded from social consciousness, but also like the atom bomb, LSD still lurks in the background. Time will tell if another moment will come when they explode back to the front of public awareness.

Happy Intergalactic Thanksgiving and…Please Don’t Eat The Planet

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Warm greetings to all on this day when tradition reminds us to take time out and celebrate the good things/people in our lives. Thanks for taking time to visit this tiny space on the world-wide-web to recall the stuffs of yesteryear. While it seems that all things change – sometimes quite remarkably – some things will always stay the same: like the human needs of food, shelter, and love. Folks who have any or all of these things should treasure them, but also take a moment to think of those who do not.

Then watch this way neato Thanksgiving cartoon.  *heh*

Check Out The ‘Sexy Spectacle Trends’ Of The 1950s

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Today women can wear glasses proudly thanks to the color and subtlety of modern design.

In some of today’s fashion circles vintage is in. 1950s-60s eye wear is particularly popular, either as wearables or simply as collectables. Images and advertising that feature the legendary ‘cat eye’ look are sometimes reposted and reblogged hundreds of times on sites like Pinterest and Tumblr.

This 1960 Ray Ban advert is particularly popular:

Ray Ban - How to enjoy the sun...in style

Ray Ban’s color and modern design, 1960

Below are two entertaining videos from the British Pathé vintage fashion collection that showcase some of the fantastic designs introduced during the 1950s. The first is a tutorial demonstrating ‘how glasses can be fashionable and glamourous, (with) tips on choosing the right pair of specs in terms of frame colour and shape for a woman’s face.’ The second takes the viewer into a class for models at the Lucy Clayton school where they are learning about the available styles and designs of glasses and how to wear them. It’s all great fun.

Salvador Dali – The Dream Designer (Spellbound, 1945)

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Who better to design a dream sequence for a 1945 Hitchcock psycho-thriller than Salvador Dali? Eyes, curtains, scissors, playing cards (some of them blank), a man with no face, a man falling off of a building, a man hiding behind a chimney and dropping a wheel, and wings – psychoanalytic cues all and fab fodder for Dali’s surrealistic vision.

Still From the Dali Dream Sequence - Spellbound, 1945

Still From the Dali Dream Sequence – Spellbound, 1945 (via Unkee E. on flickr)

Below is a video of the scene featuring Gregory Peck as Dr. Anthony Edwardes/John Ballantyne, Ingrid Bergman as Dr. Constance Peterson, and Michael Chekhov as Dr. Brulov. Dr. Peterson and Dr. Brulov are attempting to assist Ballantyne in recovering his lost memory by interpreting a dream that haunts him.

Spellbound is a film that could well be termed an endorsement on the healing virtues of psychoanalysis. While some aspects of the methods seem outdated for today, Hitchcock’s use of this makes for an abosrbing story. If you would like to watch the film in its entirety you can find it on YouTube here.