News of the Week, from North Korea, The Land of the Lost, and the 1970s

A Look Back at a Favorite Film of the ’70s

One of our writers watched Oh, God! recently, after not having seen the film since its first run in theaters, back in the mid/late-‘70s. One might recall that the film starred a frequently naked John Denver as a reluctant prophet, chosen by God, played by vaudevillian and national treasure, George Burns. 

“On second viewing,” our writer tells us, “my favorite part was the disclaimer at the end of the credits that all the characters in the movie are fictional.”

Leave it to a Burbank lawyer with some template disclosure language to resolve one of humanity’s great mysteries. 

“That settles that, I guess,” he tells us. 

You can watch it on Tubi, where it is classified as a “Cult Classic,” which is appropriate given the subject. 

Still Proud of their Accomplishments After All These Years

So nice to see that former child actors Wesley Eure and Kathy Coleman seem so proud of their work on Land of the Lost, the landmark kids’ sci-fi show that was great for two years, and ran for three, from 1974 to 1976. This week, they sent a toy Sleestak on a journey around the world. There’s probably some money to be made from conventions, but their enthusiasm seems sincere. 

And say what you will about the Kroft shows (Lidsville, for example), and LOTL’s cut rate special effects, but the science fiction show, about a father and his two kids (played by Eure and Coleman), who find themselves trapped in an alternate universe inhabited by dinosaurs, the primate-like Pakuni, and aggressive humanoid/lizard creatures (the aforementioned Sleestak), featured contributions from several well-respected science fiction writers. As Steven S. Drachman wrote some time ago, in the once-great Audere Magazine

When I was a kid, I watched Land of the Lost, and my dad watched it with me. This was a show about a father and his two kids (later an uncle) who wind up in a weird primitive alternate two-mooned world populated by dinosaurs and two types of humanoids, the reptilian Sleestak and the lovable chimplike Pakuni. The show ran from 1974 to 1977, and it was shot on cheap-looking videotape and blue-screened backgrounds, but the stories were great. It was later rebooted for television in 1991, and as a movie in 2009. The new TV version was more lavishly shot on film and starred a famous movie actor, Timothy Bottoms. The movie was funny (at least, I thought so), and starred Will Ferrell.

But it was that first series that I loved, and still love.

Watching it back then, as a kid, I was used to TV and movie aliens speaking gibberish and assumed this was the case with the Pakuni, Chaka and his two dads, Ta and Sa. After a couple of episodes, though, my father said he thought the TV Pakuni were speaking an “actual” (though made-up) sort-of language. So he paid close attention, and pretty soon he could speak passable Pakuni. He had a knack for languages, and he liked to fool around with them. He learned Esperanto, which is pretty useless, and also Hawaiian, but Pakuni was probably the most useless language he ever mastered. Still, he enjoyed calling his kids to dinner in Pakuni. He didn’t have the benefit of a Pakuni-to-English dictionary, but one exists now.

I’ve told this story from time to time, but I have recently learned that Pakuni was the first “conlang” (consistent though made-up language) ever to appear in a film or TV show, developed by a linguist at UCLA, which made the show a trailblazer in at least one way. It was also the first show that featured two dads, even if they were chimplike aliens.

Klingons did appear in Star Trek in the ‘sixties, but back then they spoke only gibberish.

LOTL was more groundbreaking than you knew at the time, when you were a kid.

The News from North Korea

There is always a lot of terrible news about North Korea in the press, stuff about nuclear weapons, the nation’s involvement in the 10/7 attack, its assistance to Russia in the war on Ukraine, as well as internal human rights issues (the latter of which is subject to debate, given the closed nature of the nation.) 

But this week, North Korea was in the news because of a catchy music video called “Friendly Father,” about the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-Un, which has gone viral on Tik-Tok

We like the tune and the arrangement, but we’re also kind of fascinated by the really extreme levels of joy that all the dancers and other participants in the video are required to show. 

We can say with confidence that none of us have ever in any of our lives felt this energetically exuberantly joyful, nor could we even fake it this convincingly. 

You should definitely watch it. 

A kind of a final punchline to this video, after all the massive joy displayed by the happy population, is the final still-frame image of President Kim scowling; the look on this face says, “I hate my fucking excuse for a shitty life.” 

He is the only unhappy person in all of North Korea.

We don’t blame him. You wouldn’t want to change places with him and have to go to sleep in your palace wondering when the assassins will finally manage to poison you. 

More on Anti-Zionism

We published an article last week advising liberal “Zionists” to stop using the word, because no one really understands it anymore. 

Shortly afterwards, we saw this quote from a college student, which appeared in The Forward, who has been participating in the protests: 

“I wouldn’t consider myself a Zionist,” he said. “At the same time, I wouldn’t say I’m completely anti-Zionist, I do think that there should be a Jewish homeland.” 

Well, support for a Jewish homeland is Zionism. One rabbi advised us that there is a difference between support for homeland itself and support for Jewish return to that homeland (only the latter would be Zionism), but it’s hard to see what support for a homeland would be absent support for return. And so, when someone says he believes in a Jewish homeland but that he’s not a Zionist, it’s clear that definitions are a big problem here. 

If we talked about ideas, rather than which team we’re on, things might be less contentious.

^^^

Content by Oblivioni Magazine. 

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