Sunday, December 31, 2006

Mac Magic

My friend John in LA was born on the last day of the '60s, which makes him 37 today. John, your package is going to be a little late this year, but this post is dedicated to you - hope that'll tide you over...

In addition to being a great writer, teacher and raconteur (not to mention knowing the chart position of any song from the first half of the '80s), John's the one who taught me that Fleetwood Mac aren't just a band - they're a way of life. So here are a couple of Mac-related clips that, I think, are a perfect way to see 2006 out and welcome 2007 in.

First we have FM Mark I performing - all right, synching to - "Albatross."

I love how complete this song feels. All the guitarists (Peter Green, Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer) get to shine, but each solo is a part of the whole, not an opportunity to show off. The song influenced John Lennon when he wrote "Sun King" for Abbey Road.

Speaking of Abbey Road...

Lindsey Buckingham had to fill three pairs of shoes (four if you count Bob Welch), and he did so with incredibly cerebral, intricate playing. This is him on a year-end wrap-up, playing a cover of "Here Comes the Sun" in honor of the recently deceased George Harrison. I wouldn't go so far as to say he makes the song his, but he definitely puts his own stamp on it.

That concludes the first six months of this blog. As Peter Jennings says at the end of this, thank you very much and happy new year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

You are a fluke of the universe

We are, of course, coming up on the very end of the year, and I thought it'd be nice to slow down and do a little deep thinking.

You don't have to be familiar with the poem "Desiderata" to appreciate this. Written by Tony Hendra in his National Lampoon days, it appeared on the Radio Dinner LP, which has been criminally out of print for too long.

Friday, December 29, 2006

My new all-time favorite ad

For years and years, whenever anyone asked what my favorite TV commercial was (which happens less often than you'd think), I'd say that it was the Nissan GI Joe / "You Really Got Me" ad.

But another has taken its place.

I don't speak Hungarian, so I don't have a clue what they're saying, but the bizarro fastballs just keep coming. Bouncy music! Susan Sarandon lookalikes! Vanishing clothing! Mustaches! Bibs! Chipmunk vocals! Sizzling fat! Finger licking! And when it's over, I've got to see it again!

I'm serious - if Jimmy Dean Sausages did a tribute to / ripoff of this ad, they'd be the talk of the nation inside of two weeks.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Back to Sesame Street

My friend Paul from New Jersey got me the Sesame Street Old School DVD for Christmas - how awesome is that? - so here are a couple animated clips from the show to thank him.

The YouTube comments for this make a valid point - what's the educational value here? Were there any kids under the mistaken assumption that caterpillars wear brown boots?

By contrast, here's a clip with a lesson, and that lesson is: don't take LSD.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

O Holy Night

I got out of work early today, which means I'm going home tonight, which means I won't be around for a few days, so I thought I'd better post my final Xmas post now.

Aretha Franklin and Billy Preston duetting on "O Holy Night."

You're rarin' to go already, aren't you? This is one of the more beautiful carols out there, and it really gives a good singer room to let go. And saying Aretha is a good singer is like saying Beethoven was a guy who wrote music. Billy's playing makes it even better.

There's no embedding link, so to see it, you're going to have to click here.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

Pine for Jennifer

In the space of four years, WKRP in Cincinnati had two Christmas episodes. One was the old reliable Scrooge parody. Here's the other, in three chunks; Jennifer's the only one with the Christmas spirit, and the only one with no Christmas plans.

Part 1...

Part 2...

Part 3.

Good news - they're releasing season 1 of WKRP on DVD this April. Yep, they've gotten around those confounded music rights one way or another and will pass the good times on to us. What a fine Christmas present.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I'm trying to rig up these lights!

From yesterday's "Twelve Days of Christmas," we're moving on to "Twelve Pains of Christmas" by Bob Rivers. This is one of my favorite Christmas songs ever; the Woodyesque "Hangovizz" makes me smile, and the building furor of the lights guy never stops making me laugh. I also like how this reeks of N'Yawk/Joisey. "Say-ehlvation Aumy," "Gotta make 'em dinnah," "terlet paper"... It's a dialectologist's dream.

I've got two different animated takes on the song, both of them beautifully edited to the beats. One is an anime one.

I'm so ignorant on anime that the only character I recognize is a vague Robin, and that can't be right. I guess I'm more old school. To that end, here's a Nightmare Before Christmas version.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Thank God I'm A Christmas Boy

John Denver and the Muppets. Was a human ever better at working with felt? I love his whispering Fozzie's cue to him around 2:09.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Hate Christmas

Christmas Eve on Sesame Street was a big favorite in our family when I was a kid, and it holds up well today. You've got old school Muppets and humans (hi, Mr. Looper!), you've got Bert singing "Make the yuletide gay," you've got cuteness and tears and smiles. Best of all, you've got some great original songs.

Somebody JUST posted the entire show in seven good-sized chunks, but I thought I'd start you off with just a taste and you can check out the rest if you're so inclined. So here's Oscar the Grouch delivering a song only he could deliver with this much panache.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Free Yer Mind & Yer Ass Will Follow, Charlie Brown

A Charlie Brown Christmas has been going strong for 40-plus years and shows no signs of slowing down. This is due in no small part to Linus's monologue from the King James Bible (Luke 2:8-14, for those of you keeping track at home).

Schulz had to fight network executives to keep this in, and I think we're all grateful that he succeeded.

But not as grateful as we all should be to the guys who put together this mashup of A Charlie Brown Christmas with the OutKast song "Hey Ya!" (Tip o' the blog to The Great White Dope for tipping me off.)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

David Bowie Sells Out *snort*

Of course I can't leave the every-nine-posts tradition to die, so here's a marvy water ad by David Bowie and friends.

But since we can't abandon the Christmas week theme either, here's his "Little Drummer Boy / Peace on Earth" duet with Bing Crosby. This came out in 1977, after Bing died; his last words were "Great game of golf, fellers." Not that you asked...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Week at MeTube

You can imagine how many Christmas videos there are on YouTube. The word "Christmas" brings up almost 54,000; "Xmas," over 10,000 more. I can't cover it all in seven days, but I can at least give you a fair taste.

We'll start off slow, with a sentimental Saw Doctors song, "Going Home This Christmas."

The Saw Doctors are an Irish rock band with an extremely devoted fanbase; I myself saw them live six times. They can get a little mawkish, and they're not the same now that they're down to two core members, but this is a nice little ditty that just happens to describe my situation.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


My friend Paul in New Jersey tipped me off about this clip. The Blue Man Group is in the midst of performing when someone in the audience calls for "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

You only think you can guess the rest.

The sound's way out of synch, but it's no trouble following what happens.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


I have to admit I'm a big fan of Glen Quagmire, the character on Family Guy who can't not be rude, crude and lewd. Just one look at his half-lidded smile and I'm ready to laugh. Then he talks and that's usually the end of it for me.

Here's my favorite bit of his from this season.

Here's some more of his greatest hits. My personal favorite is at 3:12-3:27.

Allll riiiiight.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Chappy Chanukah

Technically it doesn't start till sundown, but I want to wish some of my best friends the very best, and treat all of you to this, broadcast live on the local news circa 1979. I remember seeing it on a Dick Clark blooper program and was quite happy to run across it again.

I like how the camera tries to make things okay by putting the kid out of the frame, and how the kid is having none of that.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Braveheart, my ass!"

Good news for Red Sox Nation - as I type this, Daisuke Matsuzaka has reached a preliminary pact to pitch for Boston for six years, the prime of his pitching career. After last year's semi-disappointing finish, I'm already geared up for '07. Just for the sake of comparision, here's maybe the highlight of the '06 season for me.

Watch more MySpace videos on AOL Video

During a mid-August game against Detroit, NESN announcers Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy were joined for one inning by the stars of Rescue Me, Denis Leary and Lenny Clarke. This was right after Mel Gibson's arrest and drunken anti-Semetic ranting. So when Leary found out that Kevin Youkilis, first baseman, Greek God of Walks, was in fact Jewish, he had all the ingredients he needed, and he turned out a performance that had Orsillo and Remy gasping for air, they were laughing so hard. Even the fact that the Sox wound up losing couldn't wreck this game.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Whoo whoo!

My friend John in LA hipped me to yet another one of those Internet things that millions of people loved before I'd even heard of it.

It's a local news report out of Oakland, and it stars Bubb Rubb and Li'l Sis.

Check out Li'l Sis's driving skills as they head off into the sunset.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Now That's What I Call Music - The Mesozoic Era

This ad was the K-Tel equivalent of "From you, all right? I learned it from watching you!" Which is to say everybody knew the opening exchange in the ad, knew the inflection, and could get a good laugh just by saying it. Any context would do. I was once in a radio comedy troupe, and one sketch involved selling a polka record. We absolutely quoted this ad.

As an added bonus, here's an '70s K-Tel ad.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The '70s Strike Again

I'm thinking this happened in '75 or '76. Don Rickles is doing his usual schtick and breaks into a song called "I'm a Nice Guy." Then Mr. I Shot Shane, Jack Palance, walks in to take a verse. Then sexist tennis player Bobby Riggs. Then tyrannical director Otto Preminger. And then it gets weird.

Seriously, was there something in the flouride in the water back then?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Jason Alexander Sells Out *snort*

Before he embodied George Costanza in Seinfeld... before he slapped Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman... Jason Alexander was a mainstay in advertisements. I always thought it was a crime that he didn't win an Emmy for his Seinfeld work, and I'm delighted to say his talent shone through a long time before his scalp did, whether he was advertising Lipton Soup Mix...

...getting money the Western Union way...

...or keeping the hot side hot and the cool side cool with McDonald's.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A reading from the book of David

I've seen David Sedaris read three times; twice, I acted in an official capacity, selling books and such like, so I got to talk with him. No surprises; he's an extremely nice guy. After one gig I went out and got him a strawberry yogurt; the next day I got a thank-you note he'd typed at his hotel room.

I think he's gotten better with every book; Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is not only very funny, it's truly moving in many places.

Here he is on Letterman, reading his essay about the Stadium Pal. If you're not familiar, it's... well, just watch.

Friday, December 08, 2006

26 years ago today

Today's the anniversary of John Lennon's death.

I may have noted before that he's my favorite of the Fab Four, for his wit, his efforts at overcoming his faults (which he did have, don't forget), his kindnesses (the moment in the Imagine documentary where he invites an unbalanced homeless man into his house really did a number on me), and of course his music.

I remember my mom reading the Time magazine with him on the cover, under the headline "The Day The Music Died." I'm glad I wasn't a more devoted fan at the time; I don't know how I would've handled it.

Hopefully better than Paul did...

Okay, granted, it'd be torture to face to press and answer stupid questions after the person who's meant the most in your life was torn from you, but you've got to admit, it should be easy to do better than this. The last comment still haunts Paul to this day, only recently falling to second place on his list of regretted utterances (just behind saying "I do" to Heather Mills).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Happy Birthday Tom Waits

57 years ago today, Thomas Alan Waits was born - according to a set of liner notes, in the back of a cab, but I can't confirm that. He went on to a very idiosyncratic career, and God love him for it.

What's unusual about his music is that he took such a hard left turn in midstream. He started out doing the hip nightclub jazzman thing - here's a good example of that from the parody talk show, Fernwood 2Nite, with Martin Mull and Fred Willard.

Then, in the early 80s, he got married, switched labels and turned out some abrasive, yet somehow soulful, music that was wholly different from what he'd done before, but still entirely Tom Waits. Here's his video for the atypically melodic "Downtown Train," made famous by Rod Stewart's inferior cover.

I prefer the earlier phase to the later one, but hey, de gustibus non est disputandum...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Have THIS your way

Did we all enjoy the WC Fields interlude? Good. Now let's move on to something faaaaaar more juvenile.

The joke pretty much gives itself away in the first ten seconds, but that doesn't make the rest of it any less funny. My personal favorite comes at :45.

Funnily enough, I was always a McDonald's kid growing up. I don't think it had anything to do with Happy Meal quality or movie tie-ins; it's just where our family always went. Oh, except one time we went to Burger King and both my sisters got really sick after eating their onion rings.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sit down, Mr. Muckle!

I didn't see It's a Gift, WC Fields's 1934 masterpiece, until I was in college, but it was worth the wait. One scene in particular left me with tears in my eyes, over and over again.

Fields plays Harold Bisonette ("Bee-son-ay!"), a store owner, and one day...

One of the things I love about this is how politically incorrect it is. We're laughing at a blind and practically deaf man, for heaven's sake. And he's about as unlovable as you can get. I don't know what makes me laugh harder, his question at 2:12 or his action at 4:19.

If you've never watched this in its entirety, do. There's a porch scene that'll have you saying, "Vegetable gentleman?" for days.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Honest John

Here's WC Fields in the movie Six of a Kind, explaining how he came to acquire the nickname "Honest John."

I once saw John Cleese give a lecture where he talked about Fields's genius and showed this clip, obviously the result of long hours of rehearsal. The projectionist screwed things up and showed it without any sound. And it was still very, very funny.

Tomorrow: my all-time favorite clip of WC Fields.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Godfrey Daniel, he's good

W.C. Fields began his vaudeville career as a juggler, and got so good he did indeed perform for royalty and heads of state. He only phased the juggling out because the comedy was even better.

Thank the Lord he had a portion of his routine committed to celluloid - in this case, 1934's The Old Fashioned Way.

We're going to be seeing more of WC in the days ahead, you and I. I'd put all the bits here now, but they take up a little too much time. Besides, I want to build up at least a little suspense...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dirty Dancing: The Harding Years

You'll be glad to know that the folks who made the silent Top Gun didn't rest on those awesome laurels. Here they set their sights on Johnny, Baby, and "the Senator."

Here's a tip: get ready to pause it at 2:40.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Electric Company Sell Out *snort*

The Best of the Electric Company Volume 2 just came out on DVD, and it's number one on my Christmas wish list. Really, the extent to which that show honed my humor as well as my reading skills can't be overestimated.

After the show ended, I saw members of the cast in a few commercials. Jimmy Boyd appeared in an IGA spot, Judy Graubert shilled for Miracle Whip ("Tomato, tomato, tomato..."), and Luis Avalos got to deliver the punchline as a detective in a Kentucky Fried Chicken ad ("His wife'll kill him if he doesn't eat right!")

Here are a couple more, sort of before my time...

Skip Hinnant, the bank teller here, would go on to play Fargo North, Decoder. He was also the voice for Fritz the Cat (it's great fun to hear him say "Go @#$% yourself"), and Schroeder in the original Broadway production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Who knows what happened to Morgan Freeman. But I love how he crosses Easy Reader with the Witchita Lineman here.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

All hail John Moschitta Jr.

I went looking for this last night, found it relatively easily, and watched it for the first time in a good two decades. When it was over I had to stifle the urge to applaud.

John Moschitta Jr. was spotted on an episode of That's Incredible! and hired to portray Mr. Spleen (yes, they gave him a name) for Federal Express. He's in the Guinness Book of World Records for talking 586 words per minute.

Watch his eyes; dead and unblinking, they're almost funnier than his speaking. And speaking of speaking, let's have a shout-out for Mr. "Well sir I think on my feet I'm good with figures and I have a sharp mind" at :07-:08.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Indescribably Bad Leroy Brown

What was it about the '70s that produced so very many bad variety hours? Pink Lady & Jeff, The Brady Bunch Hour, Donny and Marie - I even remember watching an episode of the Hudson Brothers' Bonkers!, with special guest Florence Henderson.

Here's Paul Lynde, the best center square occupant Hollywood Squares will ever have, as the title character in "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown."

That whirring sound you hear is Jim Croce spinning violently, counterclockwise, in his grave.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Corky fights the power

Happy birthday to my brother Josh, who's not only a fantastic musician, but an expert mimic of everyone from the Subaru dealer across the river to my uncle Tommy. One of his greatest imitations is of Chris Burke, who played Corky in Life Goes On, so I thought he'd like to see this.

Unfortunately, we don't actually hear Corky in this LGO clip, but if you're familiar with his antics, I'm betting you'll get a big charge out of this.

Monday, November 27, 2006

And now a smoke from our sponsor

Never mind the first 40 seconds of this clip. We're all about the last minute and change.

What we see is Marshall Dillon gunsmokin' away. What we hear is Bill Hicks, lightly edited in order to match up with the mouth movements. And very well at that.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I'm of the opinion that Don McLean's song "Vincent," from the American Pie album, is one of the best examples of pop music lyrics as poetry. I'll go so far as to say there are recognized poets who couldn't bring across the pain and beauty that well.

So of course I went looking for clips of it on YouTube, and there were a few. Then I found a clip of Chet Atkins performing it on guitar, and found that to be equally stunning.

What's it going to be, Patrick? Don McLean's version? Or Chet Atkins?

I choose... I choose... Both!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Remember, kids, only dopes use dope

Back in 1974, Geraldo Rivera was filmed smoking pot under medical supervision. Who knows if this was his first time or not, but I don't think the characters in Reefer Madness got affected as fast as he did.

Of course, there's someone out there who gets affected even faster. And believe it or not, it's even funnier when he does.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Romany term meaning "I awake"

That's the official definiton of Django. It's also the name that Jean Baptiste "Django" Reinhardt was best known by.

Despite being able to work only two fingers on his fret hand, Django is considered one of the best jazz guitarists of all time. Here he is performing "J'Attenndrai"("I Will Wait") with his quintet. Nice work, eh?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

“Oh My God, They’re Turkeys!”

I’m off to the boonies for a few days, meaning no entries until Thanksgiving’s over. So I’ll leave you with the ending of the great WKRP in Cincinnati episode, “Turkeys Away,” which among other things is famous for having one of the greatest last lines in sitcom history.

Happy turkey to all, and to all a good night.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Matt Leblanc Sells Out *snort*

This commercial was so pervasive in the '80s that when I read that our favorite dumb Friend was in a ketchup commercial, I didn't even have to think to remember it. Note Jon Astley's "Jane's Getting Serious" in the background.

Incidentally, if you're wondering what exactly a sellout is, here's Mick Jones of the Clash to explain it all for you. (The embedding has been disabled, so you'll have to click here.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My all time favorite movie trailer

The documentary Comedian, starring Jerry Seinfeld going back to his standup roots, had a trailer with absolutely no footage from the movie. It starred Hal Douglas, best known as the "In a World Guy" because he said that in so many trailers, recording a voiceover for the Comedian trailer. Things break down quite quickly.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Bobby Byrd: "What you gonna play now?"
James Brown: "Bobby... I don't know. But whatever I play, it's got to be
-- James Brown, "Make It Funky"

Friday, November 17, 2006


Today there's a movie getting a limited release, going wide later next week, called Bobby. It's an Altmanesque film about a number of characters around the Ambassador Hotel on the night Robert Kennedy was shot. He's one of my heroes - I chose my confirmation name, Francis, in part because that was his middle name. Were he alive, he would be turning 81 on Monday - 12 years younger than Gerald Ford.

Two months before he died, Kennedy spoke in Indianapolis. Upon his arrival, he learned that Martin Luther King had been killed, and many told him it was too dangerous for him to make his planned appearance in the heart of the ghetto. He went ahead, leaving his police escort behind, and broke the news to the crowd.

Just try and imagine Bush quoting Aeschylus off the cuff like that.

At 3:50 they show some still photos and play an audio of his own shooting. Me, I turn the clip off before that point. You're welcome to do so, too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hey hey hey, vote for Pedro today

One more from the creator of "You'll Come One Day" and "This Place Sucks." This time, he combines audio from Napoleon Dynamite with images from Fat Albert.

I think this is actually the weakest of the three, as it's nothing much beyond talking heads. That said, Fat Albert's expression at 2:19 is lovely.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Battle of the PBS Stars

Longtime readers will remember my earlier posting of Mister Rogers testifying before Congress. Here he is doing something a bit less, um, dignified, courtesy of SCTV.

I actually saw this when I was a kid. My sisters & I watched my dad changing the channels, and he landed on PBS just as they were showing this. We kids absolutely lost it, especially at the moment that occurs here at 2:12. A quarter century or so's gone by, and it's still a riot to me.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Just a couple of dummies

Ventriolquism's the name of the game today, gang. First, here's a TV ad for the film Magic, starring Anthony Hopkins, based on the book by William Goldman.

Sorry to unsettle you like that. One of the fascinating things about this shows up in the YouTube comments section: it seems dozens, if not thousands, of impressionable kids saw this ad and had nightmares, enough so that the ad got pulled on account of the number of complaints.

Now, to lighten the mood considerably, here are Chuck and Bob from the old TV show Soap.

Jay Johnson not only doesn't move his lips, he creates a genuine character. Where is he now? He's currently on Broadway doing a one-man-many-dummies show. Go, Jay!

Monday, November 13, 2006


I probably should have posted this a couple weeks ago, during my runup to Halloween, on account of the number of people out there who are terrified of these sartorially challenged, frozen expressioned, highly unfunny folk. The only reason I didn't was, I forgot. Anyway, here they are being instructed on how to invade a retirement home.

Check out the clown at 1:48 crossing Emmett Kelly makeup with Flavor Flav styling. And as far as I'm concerned, the old man's expression at 2:09 is right on the money.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

What the movies mean to us

There was a time when I would see at least two movies a week. Not always at the theatre, of course (though there were weeks when that was the case), but you could count on me to make the most of every opportunity.

Nowadays I seem to have neither the time nor the money, nor the burning inclination. Half Nelson came and went, as did The Illusionist, without me ever getting past, "Geez, I should see that." I'm not a member at any local video stores, and I'm not signed up for Netflix. Believe me, when you find yourself thinking, "Hey, I could use that $5.99 a month," you're in no shape to spend money on two hours of just sitting there.

So it's nice to watch this reminder of how great movies are, not just for entertainment, but for the psyche.

This was first shown the start of the 2002 Oscar broadcast. Errol Morris, the director, interviewed a combination of famous and unknown. I was especially happy to see Iggy Pop (at 1:46), Tom Brady (2:04), Lou Reed (2:59), and what may or may not be Tim Curry (3:37). But just look at the evident joy in people's eyes and voices as they talk about their favorites. It means something, doesn't it? And it's nice to think about that on a Sunday morning like this.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Jodie Foster Sells Out *snort*

Man: "Would you rather write the Great American Novel or sleep with Jodie Foster?"
Crowd of men & women: "SLEEP WITH JODIE!"

--Some cartoon I once read

Those Japanese ads have been pretty damn good to me lately. Here she is, two-time Oscar winning muse of would-be assassins everywhere, pushing cosmetics and looking lovely doing it.

This wasn't her first ad, of course. A quarter century earlier, she did some fine work for Small Shots.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Little Bike Music

Recognize the guy on the left?

Twenty-two year old Frank Zappa, sans facial hair, appeared on The Steve Allen Show in 1963, claiming he could play the bicycle. I think he just used that as a hook to get himself on TV, then work his real musical havoc/magic, but hey, whatever works.

What surprises me about these clips is how much Steve Allen gets into it. Here's a guy who gave dramatic readings of "Be-Bop-a-Lula" and made Elvis sing "Hound Dog" to a bassett on a stool, and here he is really enjoying himself and the "music." My respect for the man just went up a couple notches.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It actually rhymes with "vogue"

The Moog synthesizer has a rich history in music. Who among hasn't sung the "ooo-EEE-ooo-EEE" part of Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Lucky Man" in the privacy of our cars?

From Bach (thank you, Wendy Carlos) to the Beatles (Abbey Road's crawlin' with it), the synth became so key (pun) so fast that it's amazing they didn't use it in a beer commercial.

Oh, wait...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What do you make?

I'm preparing to apply for a teaching position next year, and the process is interesting - I've got ideas for poetry classes that I never would have guessed I could come up with. (Hope I get the app in on time.)

Here's a great monologue on teaching by Taylor Mali.

He's a teacher and slam poet; his poem "Like Lily Like Wilson" is in The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. He went to Bowdoin College for his undergrad years, but that's neither here nor there. He's a man who makes teaching look like the noblest endeavor and the greatest thing alive. Three very inspiring minutes here, people.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Don't forget to vote

If you don't know where your voting place is, find out here.

In honor of election day, here's a song about all the Presidents by Jonathan Coulton. It's both silly and informative, and the picture used to describe a liar in Nixon's entry makes me laugh every time.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The most realistic chase scene ever filmed

This is from The Professionals, a kind of British Starsky & Hutch.

I've often wondered why we don't see these results more often. The pulse-pounding music, the heart-grabbing downshifting, the climactic production of firearms... all for this. Let's give them a great big hand.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The most adorable child in public TV history

I don't think anybody who watched Sesame Street in the '70s didn't love John-John. Here he's counting to 20 with Harry Monster, and his big voice and little embarrassment are both just sooooo sweet.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Pal Foot Foot

There's bad.

There's horrible.

And then there's the Shaggs, who turn bad so far inside out it just might be good again.

To sum this up, three New Hampshire girls were formed into a band by their father and put in a studio "to get them while they're hot" - never mind the fact that they could barely play. A decade later, their album, Philosophy of the World, was rediscovered, and their unnervingly primitive playing became the stuff of cult legend.

Here's their signature song, "My Pal Foot Foot," with appropriately bad animation.

Friday, November 03, 2006

A True Love of Mine

It makes me feel good to watch this.

Lots of people were surprised when Johnny Cash invited Bob Dylan to be on his show back in 1969. How could this country giant deign to dirty his hands in rock and roll?

But Cash and Dylan had had a good relationship. When Dylan went electric and folk fans raised a ruckus, Cash wrote an open letter to the folk magazine Broadside that ended, "Shut up and let him sing!" There's footage of them singing backstage in '66 on Scorsese's No Direction Home documentary. And Cash wrote the liner notes for Dylan's Nashville Skyline (won a Grammy for 'em, too), the album that showcases their duet on "Girl from the North Country."

I just love watching them play the same chords together. Cash looks like a big brother. And the way they laugh at the end. It's nice, that's all.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Andy Warhol Sells Out *snort*

Andy Warhol may not have created all the art he's credited with creating, and he may have turned into more of a celebrity-artist than an artist-celebrity, but I sure did enjoy him. I remember the day he died; the local classic rock radio station played "Andy Warhol" by David Bowie, something I've never heard on the radio before or since. My sister, a huge Bowie fan, was all excited, clapping and singing along. Then the DJ came on to explain why they'd played it. Sad times.

This is an ad he did in the '60s, in a campaign that gave birth to the phrase "When you got it, flaunt it." That's boxer Sonny Liston on the right.

George Lois, whose firm created the ads, later revealed that Andy whispered his lines, so someone else dubbed them in later. If you want to hear his actual voice, here he is saying "Red, green, blue, ultramarine, beautiful" in Japanese.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I say, pip pip, Maverick

I don't suppose you've ever wondered what Top Gun would have been like as a silent movie. What? You have? Well, wonder no more, chaps & chapettes -

Well, even Jerry Bruckheimer had to start somewhere, didn't he?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The REAL Shining Trailer

Everybody and his mother has seen the parody trailer of The Shining (if you're not everybody or his mother, watch it here), but who among us has seen the real McCoy?

The music (Wendy Carlos, I believe) combines sickly fly buzzing with increasingly tense strings to set a mood like nobody's business. And then...

I've read that Kubrick shot this specifically for the trailer, and it played so well he worked to incorporate it into the film. The MPAA nixed this trailer at first, but Kubrick insisted that this was just rusty water, and they actually bought it.

NOTE: Viacom asked YouTube to take down all their product, meaning no more South Park, Daily Show, or Colbert Report for the forseeable future. That knocks out a good half-dozen clips in this blog and has me worried for its future. Well, I'll just have to do the best I can for as long as I can.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I submit that this is not scary

According to the person who posted this, the footage here could not be used in a Great Britian car ad because you can see a white mist around the front of the car when it emerges from behind the trees, and it turned out there'd been a fatal accident there and the mist is actually a ghost.

Scary? I don't think so. It'll startle the heck out of you, even when you know what to expect, but that doesn't make it scary.

Tomorrow's entry... now that'll be scary.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Terrifying Julie Andrews

Christopher Plummer once said, "Working with Julie Andrews is like getting hit over the head with a valentine."

Could it be that he meant to say... SLEDGEHAMMER?

Here are a couple of whole new looks at her signature films - the eerie Sound of Music...

and the chilling Mary Poppins.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


We've got a holiday coming up, and I've got quite a few clips with a scary theme to them. Let's get this going with some Silence of the Lambs, the scariest movie ever to win a Best Picture Oscar (but only because Prince of Tides didn't win).

This is the outtake reel. That's Tracey Walter at the beginning with the glove trouble; he's the guy who said "John Wayne was a fag" in Repo Man. And isn't Jodie's blooper at the end the sweetest?

And now for something completely different.

This is a video by a band named the Greenskeepers. It made me go out and get their CD. Not many videos can make that claim. Of course, now I feel just a little unclean.

Trivia time: the prisoner who yells, "Miggs! You stupid fuck!" is the same guy who played Chef Brockett on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Jim Henson's Organized Mind

One of my first posts for this blog involved the Sesame Street bit "Now then. A count of ten." Of course, since kids are such a demanding audience, Jim Henson had to try it out on another audience first. Like, say, The Tonight Show, where he was still known as Jim Jenson.

There's nudity, but it's art so it's okay.

The blip 'n' bloop music's by Raymond Scott, who wrote the "Powerhouse" theme that appeared in every Warner Brothers cartoon that had something resembling a factory production line.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tell me this doesn't look fantastic

The legendary 1972 movie The Thing With Two Heads, starring Ray Milland and Rosey Grier, tells the deeply moving story of... well, to quote the poster, "They transplanted a white bigot's head on a soul brother's body!"

I actually saw a clip of this in It Came From Hollywood, a compilation of some of the worst of the silver screen. It showed Lila (Chelsea Brown) seeing her boyfriend for the first time post-transplant. The first thing she said to him: "You get into more shit..." The second: "So, um... do you have two of anything else?"

Snakes on a Plane has NOTHING on this.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

20 years ago today

On October 25, 1986, New England had its heart stepped on once again.

Of course, true Red Sox fans know that relief pitchers Calvin Schiraldi and Bob Stanley deserve the goat horns way more than first baseman Bill Buckner did, but a lot of people felt otherwise. Some handled it differently than others. Here's how the late, great Hunter S. Thompson dealt with the issue.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Nicolas Cage Sells Out *snort*

I don't know if anyone's noticed, but I've always posted my Sells Out series exactly nine days apart from each other. Today's the first time I'm breaking that habit, on account of there's an anniversary I'm planning to note tomorrow.

Plus the fact that I just couldn't hold off on this one second longer.

Watch Nicolas Cage's mind get absolutely blown when he meets a set of triplets in this Japanese ad.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Let's Go Fly a Kite

It's been a while since I posted anything related to Sesame Street, hasn't it? Well, I'll fix that. Here's one of my favorites from my younger years.

In under a hundred seconds, we learn about cooperation and racial harmony, without the benefit of words. And wouldn't you love to know who the guitarist is?

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Sometimes all a guy wants is to be silly.

Don't turn it off before you see the squirrel at 1:35.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

"I don't have to unpack my bags, do I?"

This is pretty exciting, as far as I'm concerned.

One of the things I've been checking YouTube for semiregularly, ever since I came to it, was An American Family. Considered the first reality program, AAF followed the family of William C. Loud for nine months in 1971 and wound up with 300 hours of footage, whittled down to twelve one-hour programs that aired in 1973. The Loud family (I know at least two bands named after them) came apart at the seams over the course of the show, which introduced the world to Lance Loud, one of the first openly gay people ever seen on television.

It's been hard to see since (confounded music rights); once again, God bless YouTube for giving it a forum, and many thanks to "subcin," the guy who posted it. I recommend watching the other excerpts posted as well.

This is the most famous scene of the series. Bill Loud's come home from a business trip, with no idea that his wife is about to let him know she wants a divorce.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tall as a shotgun and just as noisy

There's a new movie out about Truman Capote; the New Yorker says, "Don't not not see it." Which makes perfect sense - so many won't consider going because they "already saw it" last year, with Philip Seymour Hoffman's take. But I think it'll be another neat look at Truman, through the prism of fame.

I went through my Capote phase a few years ago, reading everything he did over the course of a few months. It's a procedure I recommend to anyone. "A Christmas Memory" is beautiful, and his day with Marilyn Monroe, from Music for Chameleons, couldn't be more perfect.

Anyway, here's the man himself being country when country wasn't cool, along with Dean Martin, Jimmy Stewart, and Jack Benny. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What's Michael J. Fox like?

Someone was kind enough to send me this video of Tom Wilson - not the creator of Ziggy, but the actor best (only?) known as Biff in Back to the Future. Now he's doing standup and has written a song about the travails of his life.

As a companion piece, I'd like to offer Crispin Glover, George McFly himself, covering the Michael Jackson song "Ben," the best love song ever written to a rat. Lip-synching optional. Twisted bizarreness mandatory.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My favorite Beatles song

Everybody's born knowing all the Beatles lyrics instinctively. They're passed into the fetus subconsciously along with all the amniotic stuff. Fact, they should be called "The Fetals." - John Hannah, in Sliding Doors

Everybody has a favorite Beatles song, or should. I'm going to hold forth for a bit on mine.

"Rain" was recorded during the Revolver sessions and released as the B-side to "Paperback Writer" in 1966. To start with, it was innovative, and not just with the backward vocals at the end; they played their instruments fast during the recording, then slowed the tape down to give it a thicker, more "ploddy" feel.

Ringo never played better in his life. He drives this song like he does no other, and there's no telling what he's going to do next. Paul's bass sound is huge in this, and he's just started his supermelodic phase. George gets an Eastern droning sound with his guitar that fits the mood perfectly.

As for John, who wrote and sang lead, his lyrics get deeper the more you look at them; we're not talking about rain and sunshine here, folks. There are people trying to escape both the good and the bad in life, but there really is no good and bad. Life is life; go ahead and see it how you will, but remember it's all just your perceptions, not really how it is.

By the way, check out Paul's swollen upper lip and chipped tooth; he'd just been in a car accident. And yes, thank you very much, it is raining as I type this.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I Am Waiting

There's a new album out by Lindsey Buckingham, former Fleetwood Mac member and maybe the most underrated guitarist of any classic rock band. It's called Under the Skin; it's a good album, and it's got a cover of the Rolling Stones song "I Am Waiting," first heard on the album Aftermath, and later used to good effect in Rushmore.

Let's see the Stones perform it, or at least see Mick sing to a mimed backing track of it, back in 1966 on Ready Steady Go. Inexplicable that Mick doesn't appear until 1:10 in. And you've got to love those glasses Charlie's rocking.

Now for Linds. I'm not crazy about this homemade slideshow presentation by any means, but the music is really worth sharing and comparing. And okay, some of these pictures are pretty cool.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Bugs Bunny Sells Out *snort*

Time for another in a continuing series of the famous and rich giving up their street cred to be just a little bit richer, and don't we love 'em for it. Today's victim: a certain rabbit.

Bugs Bunny quite literally drank the Kool-Aid in the '60s, when it was associated with acid tests just as much as with Saturday mornings. Here he is doing the Kool-Aid Kool (though to me it looks more like the Monkey). I'm not sure I want to know how one drinks Kool-Aid "bunny-style."

And here he joins three quarters of the Monkees, for all of three seconds. As one commenter notes, he only acknowledges Davy and then disappears: "Even he was embarrassed to be associated with the Monkees by that point."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Who are those masked people?

Well, since you asked, it's the cast of 1965's Gumnaam.

This dynamic dance number was shown during the opening credits of Ghost World; its retro energy was a great gateway into a movie that had one distant but interested eye on nostalgia. It's also a pretty nice way to spend five and a half minutes on a Sunday, I think.

I learned about this clip via Jim Emerson's fine movie blog "Scanners"; for his far more informed take on it, click here.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Who was that masked man?

Well, since you asked, it's Lenny Bruce.

This is his famous "Thank You Mask Man" standup routine set to animation, with his blessing. Good stuff, if you can get past the swearing. And I know you guys - that won't be any trouble for you all, will it now?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Just Two Good Old Boys' Older Brothers

Did you know that The Dukes of Hazzard was a spinoff?

Yes indeed. Writer/director Gy Waldron took elements from his 1975 film Moonrunners (starring Robert Mitchum's son and Dean Martin's son in law, not to mention a grown-up Spanky from the Little Rascals) and used them in the creation of the TV show four years later. You'll meet Uncle Jesse and Roscoe Coltrane here, and that's still Waylon Jennings as the Balladeer.

Not here, but still interesting if you're a Dukes fan: Ben Jones, who'd go on to play Cooter in the TV show, played a federal agent in this. The part of Cooter was played by C. Pete Munro, who'd later go on to guest in Dukes and have a regular part in Enos, the Dukes spinoff starring Sonny Shroyer.

Yes, IMDb is a wonderful thing.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Aquaman's Oh Face

The guy who put together the tremendously disturbing "You'll Come One Day" is also responsible for this piece of brilliance, layering Office Space dialogue over Superfriends footage.

Once again, I have to give credit to him for matching the movements with the dialogue. Watch Batman clear his throat at 1:47, and his reaction of utter disgust at 2:29.

I should also note that there's a precedent for Superfriends dubbing. See if this doesn't take you back...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Soul Midget Number One

I have to confess that I had second thoughts about posting one of my Stephen Colbert entries, on account of it had been seen over a quarter million times and was probably old news. As it turns out, if Google's any indication, it's the most popular entry so far.

Now here's something that's been viewed almost two and a half million times, but which I only discovered two hours ago. All I can say is, boy, have I been missing out.

Fantastic as the dancing is, and the recumbent man, and the little fella's smile, the thing that gets me the most is the sound effect that ends the clip. It's so out of left field.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"Hey, I heard you missed us, we're back!"

You know how they say black and white filming gives a kind of timeless feel?

Well... not necessarily.

"Hot For Teacher" is pure unadulterated fun. The fact that VH have much better backup singing voices than backup dance moves shouldn't distract from the joy of sleaze on prominent display here.

And while we're on the subject, props aplenty to David Lee Roth. Just check out some of these quotes:

"I used to jog, but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass."
"I'm a family-oriented guy. I've personally started four or five this year already."
"When you can spell 'subpoena' without thinking about it, that's when you know you've made it."

Come on - are you going to tell me that's not funny?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Look Around You

I'm going to be in Maine for the next few days, where the only computer available to me has a dial-up connection and a time limit. So I'm taking a few days off from any postings.

But I'd hate for you loyal readers to have nothing to do for a while, so I'm going to put on an entire series. It'll take you about an hour and a quarter to watch the whole thing; if you parcel it out carefully, you'll have enough entertainment to last you until I get back.

Look Around You is a British parody of classroom videos, set during the early '80s. They're nine-minute shorts, give or take a minute, of straight-faced satire, and I find them incredibly funny - or, in British, bloody funny. Enjoy.

Part 1 - Maths

Part 2 - Water

Part 3 - Germs

Part 4 - Ghosts

Part 5 - Sulphur

Part 6 - Music

Part 7 - Iron

Part 8 - The Brain

Thursday, October 05, 2006

So White and Prince Chawmin'

Waaaay back in the day, I mentioned how I wanted to post a couple of Warner Brothers cartoons, but they'd both been yanked before I had the chance to do so. Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips, a portion of which I later posted here, was one of them. This is the other.

This cartoon is the animated equivalent of Birth of a Nation. You can't get past the racism and sexism, but you also can't deny that it's energetic and fun; it's considered one of Robert Clampett's greatest, which by extension means one of the greatest of all animated cartoons.

And you've got to admit, the WWII-specific gag at 1:06 is a hoot.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dead Celebrities Sell Out *snort*

Today I'd like to delve into the use of celebrities in commercials where the celebrities in question have long since rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible.

The sight of Fred Astaire's talents being used to sell vacuum cleaners nauseated more than a few when Dirt Devil's ad campaign first appeared in 1997. There is certainly something reprehensible about cheaping what a famous person does, in the hopes that it will make someone want to spend money. Jack Kerouac wore khakis; shouldn't I?

But here's the dirty little secret - these ads are fun. Get past the salesmanship and what are you left with? A minute in the company of an old friend, in the prime of life, doing things s/he never got the opportunity to do. They're part of our world again, and it's good to have them back.

When someone means a lot to you, getting to see them one more time is always going to push your pleasure buttons. Since a two hour film is out of the question, we're glad to settle for sixty seconds - and the only films that long take place between part 1 and 2 of the show of your choice.

So let's let Audrey Hepburn dance to a song twenty-three years before Angus Young wrote it. She may not be where she expected to be, but she's with us, she's making us happy to see her again, and I think that should be enough.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hey You Guyyyyyys!

For no particular reason, I'm going to put up a double shot of Rita Moreno today.

Like most people my age, my first exposure to RM was on The Electric Company, where she played a number of characters, most memorably the spoiled Pandora and the Nazi director, forever scaring the cue-card holding Marcello (Morgan Freeman) half to death. Here she is performing the "Billy Lick a Lolly" song, which, as soon as you watch it, you're going to have stuck in your head for the rest of the day. You're welcome.

That's not all she did, of course - this is one of the few people to win an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony, and a Grammy. Here's a part of her Emmy-winning performance (1977: Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in Variety or Music) on The Muppet Show.

Sexy and funny at once. See the comments for Spanish translation.

Monday, October 02, 2006

That boy needs therapy

The Avalanches are a collective that create songs out of samples - not by repeating a bit from, say, "Every Breath You Take" over and over, but by pouring dozens if not hundreds of recorded moments in a grinder and bringing them together. You can tell that while it sounds random, a lot of thought went into it.

The same goes for their video.

This is "Frontier Psychiatrist" from their (to date only) album Since I Met You. I recognize the opening dialogue from the John Waters movie Polyester, and I know Pink Martini covers "Anna (El Negro Zumbon)," which is where the closing riff came from. But the stuff in the middle? Fuggedaboutit. Just keep an eye out for the turtle man.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Don't walk away

This morning it's quiet, except for the rain, heavy at times. It's the kind of day that puts you in a mood - not necessarily a bad one, just a deep pensiveness.

I'd like to put on "Atmosphere" by Joy Division as the soundtrack. So I will.

This was filmed in 1988, eight years after frontman Ian Curtis committed suicide. The director, Anton Corbijn, is scheduled to direct a feature film about Curtis. If it's anything like this video, it's going to be tremendous. So many of the shots in here - one jawa running to catch up to the other two, the band reflected in the puddle, the long final shot - evoke far more than they have any right to.

It's so nice to see genuine art every now and again.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The *&#@ Caddy

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis recorded a few radio spots for their movie The Caddy. They added a few extra special touches. Nowadays those touches are the only reason anyone remembers this movie. Even the fact that "That's Amore" debuted in this doesn't top the legendary status of these outtakes, nicely dubbed over an actual trailer here.

Enjoy this - it'll make you... well, just watch.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Da pain! Da pain!

Remember when Love Boat and Fantasy Island were on back to back? My folks wouldn't let us stay up for either one, so I never got the full impact, but the ads would always look so cool. I can still hear Ernie Anderson's voice saying, "Then the Loooove Boat saaails."

Of course, the most memorable character from either show has to be Tattoo, played by Herve Villechaize. He made the colossal mistake of thinking he was too big for the show and leaving, only to find there weren't too many roles out there for someone of his physical stature. This led to a downward spiral that ended in suicide in 1993.

But did you know he could sing?

Let's take a vote. Do you prefer his performance of "This Is All I Ask" on The Dinah Shore Show?

Or his performance of "Why Do People Have To Fight" on Mike Douglas?

'Stache or split screen? Either way, I like to think, we all win.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

And a hockey game broke out

Happy birthday dear Jim in Maine, the man who introduced me to Slap Shot my freshman year in college (and gleefully gave away the ending seconds before it happened). Here are a couple of hockey fights for you to enjoy.

The first is between the Bruins' Stan Jonathan and the Canadiens' Pierre Bouchard. Not only does Jonathan win handily, using both his right and his left quite well, the announcers treat it like it's a part of the game, not a disgrace. As the Slap Shot announcer says, "This is hockey!"

Or were you disappointed at how long the fight went on? Well, here's one that's considerably shorter.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Behind the scenes at MST3K

Mystery Science Theater 3000 has made me laugh for about a decade and a half now; I actually went to their 1996 convention in Minneapolis. One might well wonder, what made them laugh?

During the taping of the final episode, in which the movie Diabolik got riffed on, the editors sprung a montage of previous bad movie moments on the unsuspecting Mike, Crow, and Tom Servo.

You don't have to have seen the movies to enjoy the reactions (though this blog's readers might remember the Gumby episode). My favorite clip is at 2:35-2:39; I'm guessing it's Mike's favorite too, judging from his barely audible "Oh my gosh" and his contiuing laughter afterward.