Thursday, August 26, 2010

Atlantis Rising, or Ritual Androgyny in the Strangest Places (REPOST)

Has it really been five months? I'm reposting this since I wanted to post part 3 and realized absolutely no one would remember what the hell I was talking about. I had planned to clear out the queue this summer, but it's been so hectic, symbol-wise.

Strangely enough it was an airing of Transformers 2 last night that brought this series back to mind, as well as the usual memetic background noise. I will also be returning to the Transformers issue as well, seeing as my second viewing of the film revealed a much, much different- and considerably darker and heavier- film than the one I saw last year. "More than meets the eye" indeed...

Before the long-running sitcom Happy Days gave us the term "jump the shark" it was one of the biggest hits on TV, offering nostalgic comfort food to a nation scarred by the convulsions of the Sixties, Viet Nam and Watergate. Its humor was extremely mild and gentle, revolving around a middle class, Midwestern family in the placid Eisenhower years.

It starred Ron Howard, the carrot-topped moppet of The Andy Griffith Show and now one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. It was also the last place you'd expect to find crypto-Masonic initiations, ritual androgyny and candlelit rooms filled with robe-clad secret societies. Well, at least back then.

In the first season episode, 'The Deadly Dares', Richie and Potsie strike out at a dance, then watch in horror as a paunchy schlub (played by an actor who looks around 40) picks up a hot blonde who is taken in by the allure of the schlub's Demons jacket (the Demons being a school fraternity with secret society pretensions). Interesting placement of schlub's head there, no?

Fonzie is an inactive member of the Demons and sponsors Richie and Potsie for membership. The Demons accept them, but first the two must undergo an series of hazing rites, most of which are cringe-inducingly lame. Mind you, this is a show that went out of its way to be inoffensive.

Which makes this scene all the more interesting: Richie and Potsie have to dress in drag and attend a sock hop. They can't leave until someone asks them to dance. Fonzie unwittingly slow dances with Richie and seems to be extremely aroused by his pal. Shades of Jimmy Olsen, which makes sense given Fonzie's later superhero persona. Every Hercules needs a Hylas, right?

'The Deadly Dares'- like the rest of the Happy Days series- won't be remembered as a masterpiece of comedy. The series was a palliative- a soothing balm for a wounded nation trying to relive those halcyon days when America was the only industrial power that wasn't crippled by the wars. In the context of the series, the episode is an aberration. In the context of Ron Howard's career, it seems downright prophetic.

After leaving Happy Days, Howard tried his hand as a director, working on low -budget fare for producer Roger Corman. His first two features were Grand Theft Auto (1977) and Cotton Candy (1978). In the context of this story, however, his third gig as a director is more telling.

Through the Magic Pyramid was a 1981 made-for-TV movie about a young boy named Bobby Tuttle who travels back in time through a magic pyramid and engages in all sorts of wacky hijinks with a young King Tut, the great restorer of the Horus throne. Pyramid starred Chris Barnes, best known for his portrayal of the foul-mouthed Tanner Boyle from the Bad News Bears movies. Pyramid also starred Vic Tayback as Horemheb, but the less said about that the better.

But Howard’s first big hit was Splash, in which Howard began a long and successful collaboration with Tom Hanks (their most recent pairing is the Illuminati-themed Angels & Demons). Splash is a spin on The Little Mermaid, in which Daryl Hannah plays a mermaid who comes to live on the surface world (note that Daryl is traditionally a man's name).

And of course, Tom Hanks is no stranger to androgyny himself (ritual or otherwise), having made his bones as a crossdresser in Bosom Buddies. All of which gives 'The Deadly Dares' a distinct taste of meta- almost as if we're witnessing some kind of initiation with these roles themselves, outside of the interior narrative. Speaking of Superman, I can't help but remember that Terrence Stamp's 90s comeback was kicked off by Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, a film that also launched the careers of Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce (all of whom made for extremely unconvincing drag queens).

The mermaid was an important symbol to the Alchemists, who called her the ‘Siren of the Philosophers.’ More importantly, the Siren also brings us straight back to our old friends Oannes and the Nommo...the Sirians, in other words.

We'd meet those folks in Howard's next hit, Cocoon. A film which is also a lot deeper, subversive and symbolically loaded than it's usually given credit for- and which seems to be a kind of sub rosa sequel to Splash.

UPDATE: Kirk Ultra checks in with this absolutely mind-boggling video, replete with Alien Isis and anthropomorphic Anubis. Here's the lowdown from
Inspired by the hit ABC-TV series Happy Days, this cartoon has Fonzie and the rest of the gang (Richie, Ralph, and the Fonz's dog Mr. Cool) spread cool fun as they travel in a time machine to different times and places throughout history. Their guide is Cupcake, a young futuristic girl who pilots the machine, which they repaired for her following her unscheduled landing in Milwaukee in 1957. The original cast members voiced their own characters. Voices included: Fonzie (Henry Winkler), Richie (Ron Howard), Ralph Malph (Don Most), Cupcake (DeeDee Conn), and Mr. Cool (Frank Welker). The cartoon began on November 8, 1980 and ran until September 18, 1982.
Moral of the story- There is often semiotic treasure in the worst pop culture trash, if you know where to look for it. Yeoman's work, Kirk.

NOTE: Kirk also reminds us that UFO/alien-themed Mork and Mindy was a Happy Days spinoff, though I'm still debating whether it's worth including in the series. Maybe I'll have to watch the episode where Richie meets Mork again. We will glance over Lady in the Water again...


  1. I've lately seen parallels between SPLASH and H. P. Lovecraft's THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH which Stuart Gordon adapted to film as DAGON.

    I wonder if Gordon was thinking of the ending of SPLASH when Hanks' hero joins Hannah's mermaid at the bottom of the ocean when he basically had the same thing happen in DAGON.

  2. Also, interesting you mention Hylas who was stolen from Heracles by aquatic nymphs during the Argosy and would apparently spend eternity with them as he was never found.

  3. Tasty syncs, Anony. I'm still in nose to the grindstone mode, so I may not be able to catch up on comments until week's end. But keep them coming, I read every one of 'em!

  4. Speaking of androgyny...I ran across this: today in my virtual travels. I also saw a reference to there being 17 involved with that Ohio militia, and multiple references to 33 year old criminals (in the news today).

    I loved the movie Splash as a kid. I must've seen it a hundred times back when HBO used to show the same movies over and over and over again.

  5. Did you know The Fonz had an animated spin off series that was all about flying around in UFOs and time traveling?

    Here's the wikipedia link:

    And as a bonus, here's the Fonz meeting Mork :)

    Cool post!

  6. Don't forget Irish actor Cillian Murphy, who wuzz the morally bankrupt psychiatric warden of the Gotham loonie bin whose alter ego wuzz Scarecrow in Batman Begins, whose weapon wuzz that aerosol hallucinogen that held gotham's hallucinating populace hostage, BUT, who was also the trans beauty, Kitty Braden in gay director Neil Jordan's treatment of the Patrick McCabe tragi-comic novel, Breakfast On Pluto, quite the transgendered twisteroonie & lots of good fun. Cheers ~ Anadæ in the Old Dominion (•8-D

  7. No Effing way! I've been working on an Atlantis post for a week, featuring Ron Howard, Cocoon, "Light Beings", and the whole crowd. Now I'm grumpy.

  8. Mork from Ork was muy subversive when I was a kid.

  9. Anony- Yeah, I'm thinking there's a lot of Splash in Dagon as well.

    Mir- I wonder if Daryl Hannah is one of them. It's odd how that androgynous chick look was so big in the 80s- Kelly McGillis, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah, Pat Benatar- even their names are androgynous!

    Kirk- You get star of the day, sir!

    Anadae- You know, we have that on DVD but haven't watched it yet. I'll take your recommendation under advisement.

    Michael- Put it up! We can do some interblog synergizing. I won't have part two up until later on in the week.

    Anony644- I guess subversive is one way to put it. TV was so teeth-grindingly awful in the late 70s.

  10. "I guess subversive is one way to put it. TV was so teeth-grindingly awful in the late 70s."

    Come on, the implications far outweighed the show. Mork and Mindy have sex, Mork lays an egg and Jonathan Winters pops out as their child aging backwards.

    Totally bad peyote craziness in that show.

  11. Wolfman Jack adds a lot to the mix.

  12. This SO WEIRD! The Fonz was just in my city last weekend! Talk about synchronicity. FYI, he was charging 20 bucks for pictures lol what a joke.

  13. And just before Happy Days came that other big nostalgia trip American Graffiti, which preceded some interesting career moves by several persons involved with it...

    And I vaguely remember some line from Apollo 13 about playing Strauss (for obvious reasons). Interesting, in connection with the name of one of the cardinals that would appear in Angels and Demons. Please see this comment from a while back.

    Also starring in Cocoon... the mother of David Bowman (and Jean-Luc Picard). There's the obvious Strauss connection with the former, of course, but don't forget these connections as well:

    Strauss' Enoch Arden, with Patrick Stewart as narrator. (Compare Enoch Arden with the plot of Cast Away, and things get even stranger...)

    Q, played by John de Lancie, whose father inspired Strauss to write an oboe concerto.


  14. another feast in the 'food for thought' department.not that i would expect any less.
    sitting here ruminating on the 'initiatory' aspects of the post. it occurred to me that all true initiations are conducted by the subconscious self of the initiate; that behaviours such as cross dressing,investigation of gender etc., are the outer manifestation of the psychological readiness; and 'signal' to the sub conscious hierophant. it follows that organised ritual initiation (freemasonry etc.)(film and tv?) is an attempt to force (subvert?) this process.
    i would contend that all the blood oaths and secrecy are now unnecessary, as the suitably primed individual has always been able to trigger the process if prepared to do the necessary work, and enter into the communication with the personal archetypes. whilst laboring to make these longwinded points i am being bombarded with seemingly sub conscious referral to the film "summer of '42"; which was a staple of late night tv here in oztralia during the mid to late '70s. i will have to try and have another look, now that i have eyes to see.cheers dannyboy

  15. It's not even the least bit surprising anymore...
    I was walking home today (as I just left my truck at the mechanic's) and on the way I hear sirens blaring. This at first didn't seem unusual cuz I seem to hear them more and more these days (everything is an "emergency"). All of the sudden I hear this wailing, and at first I had no idea what the hell it was. Then I realized it was DOGS HOWLING with the sirens. I wondered if they did this all the time and sympathized with the neighbors because, like I said, you hear sirens alot. The sirens got louder and then stopped, and when I got to the street the firetrucks were parked right in front of the house where I assumed the dogs were howling from. Were the dogs directing the sirens? Was their owner dying (no fire)? I watched emts walk to the house, but because I'm not a nosy person I continued on. Strange... Fast forward like two hours and I'm reading Secret Sun where Chris is reposting a five month old post (that I'm reading a day late) which mentions SIRENS AND SIRIUS. And I'm positive 99% of the people who go to this site know that Sirius was called... the Dog Star! Like, Wowsers!!! So now my mind is racing trying to figure out reasons for this. Clearly this isn't just "coincidence", but clearly it's not something deliberate (or is it?). As we all know, there's kind of a mild debate on this site of whether these images and events we observe are deliberately being thrust upon us or subconciously acted out on the world stage or in media. I've tended to think it's deliberate but now I'm starting to question some of that. But then again, Does It Really Matter?? If it's deliberate then we're being desensitized and if it's subconscious then we're showing ourselves so we can come to certain realizations. Most likely it's a little of both. But what are we being shown or desensitized to? Well, that's clearly up for debate and I could extend this post for who knows how long with my opinion, but I'll keep it(relatively) short. One thing is for sure: SOMETHING is on the horizon... Maybe there is a reason for all the Sirens.

  16. I'm confused-- isn't this an old post?

  17. I had intended to mention the first time this was posted that the name referenced in "The Magic Pyramid" video, Tuttle, was the same name that the movie "Brazil" centered around. I decided not to comment, since it seemed unimportant. But now that you have reposted at the same time that Red Ice has new radio show focusing on Brazil, the timing seems right.

  18. Always enjoy your blog Chris. I have noticed for years the number of female actresses given male character names in film. One day I will sit down and write it up. In the meantime I am glad to hear your comments on it.
    Mike W

  19. This post is quite interesting as I must confess an attraction to women with shaved heads and sci-fi has had its share of them. The thing is that I find bald women very beautiful.

  20. One fascinating thing i discovered: Shannon Dorey ( voiced by a slightly androgynous lesbian in "Finding Nemo"...hooboy...) writes of the Sirian Nummo, that they are hermaphroditic androgynous mermaid-like beings.
    Not to forget the remake of She Creature in which the Mermaid/Sea Monster is sexually compatible with human WOMEN and feeds on human men.
    All blessings of Blue Star Kachina and Mother Ocean.