Thursday, August 31, 2006

Let it floooooowwww

Today's the day MTV has their awards, and even though I've never seen a show myself, I still have a favorite clip to share.

Jim Carrey accepted his Truman Show award as a damn dirty hippie. The reason Courtney Love is whooping it up so much (well, one reason, anyway): before the show, he'd gone up to her and asked for a light, and she never once recognized him.

Watch out for the language at 3:17.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

John Waters: Don't smoke (yeah right)

Here's another nonsmoking clip to match the Plympton of a few days ago...

John Waters simply cannot not be subversive. Thank God. He might be the only person I know of who can make smoking look, not fun, but delicious.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We're talking one-room schoolhouse old school

For a song with no chorus, "Cars" by Gary Numan is catchier than flypaper. And for a song released in 1979 that's dominated by synthesizers, it still sounds like it could be huge if it debuted in the public consciousness the day after tomorrow.

You'd expect such a groundbreaking song to have a groundbreaking video. And you would be... um...

Somehow it's better than a lot of what followed, don't you think? My favorite part comes around 2:45 when he looks like a Ken doll with an invisible jetpack gliding over the keys.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bob Dylan Sells Out *snort*

Over the years, His Royal Bobness must have gotten hundreds upon hundreds of offers to sell his songs to Madison Avenue. One can imagine Just For Men haircoloring making good use of "My Back Pages," with its refrain, "Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."

Of course, Dylan turned them down. But not for the high minded reasons we all assumed. It turned out he was just waiting for the right company to offer.

How do we know this? Because he came right out and said what he'd sell out for. Thirty-eight years earlier.

Kudos for whoever dug up the press conference after the ad came out. And more kudos for whoever convinced Vincent Price to appear in the ad.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

More Darth Vader

Here's some clips from the Holy Trilogy, with the soundtrack wiped and replaced by the complete Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a Half Century. I can't say it's funnier than the cartoon, but I can admit to smiling a few times.

Now, if you don't have eight-plus minutes to spare, here's something three-quarters of a minute long, with the absolutely inspired title, "Darth Vader being a smartass."

Interestingly, I think this runs contrary to my comment last week, and is actually funnier on the second viewing than the first. Why? Well, I'd suggest it has to do with the timing. It's so well done, you have a greater sense of appreciation for it; the timing becomes a greater joke than the joke itself.

Isn't that interesting? Or do I analyze comedy too much? Oh, well - you can't spell "analyze" without the first four letters.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Mind if I don't smoke?

The first time I saw this was at the local art-house cinema, and I think it might have been the hardest I'd laughed at the movies to that point. Since then, I've seen Jackass, and this just doesn't slay me the way it used to. Sad, really.

But it still makes me smile. And if it helps you take your last puff, my smile will be that much bigger.

Incidentally, I never smoked until my early thirties, when I took a long drag during a drunken bout of Truth or Dare. Never smoked since then. Couldn't even tell you the brand. Kinda takes the fun out of it, huh?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Can I get a hell yeah, yeah, yeah

This is quite clever. It's a video for "Encore," a song from the Grey Album, which is a remix by DJ Danger Mouse, currently of Gnarls Barkley fame, of the Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album. The video source: the legendary Hard Day's Night.

If I had to pick a favorite moment, it'd be at 1:33 when Ringo turns DJ.

I have to say, it's a shame the Beatles won't let their work be sampled. Sure, you run the risk of a "Super Freak"/"Can't Touch This" bit of thievery, but there's also the chance of genius, like what the Beastie Boys did to/for/with the Beatles on "The Sounds of Science." Copyright laws be damned, I think it's fine to sample - as long as you respect the source. As Dylan sang, "To live outside the law, you must be honest."

I guess you can't count on every sampler being so creative, and that it's easier to just say no to everybody. Still, I'd like to hear more transformed Beatle music. I'm hoping for an imminent release of the soundtrack for that Cirque du Soliel show, just to see what can be done to/for/with some of the best music of the 20th century.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Let's go camping

Remember Madame, the marionette? Here she is with Bea Arthur, lusting after Rock Hudson.

Isn't it something how expressive a puppet can be without moving facial features? Isn't it something how many people didn't realize why Rock Hudson would never take advantage of a woman? Isn't it something how similar their voices are?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Just a flesh wound? Highly illogical.

What could possibly be more exciting to an Internet geek than something which combines Star Trek with Monty Python and the Holy Grail and does it flawlessly?

How would I know? I'm not an Internet geek.

However. I can report that this is a mighty good larf.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

This is just plain wrong

Okay. There's a good chance you'll be upset or disturbed by this one.

This is an audio excerpt from the movie Happiness, where the father is reassuring his son that there's nothing wrong with him even if he's never ejaculated, grafted onto an Ernie & Bert sketch from Sesame Street.

That's it. I've given away the surprise entirely. Eighty-three seconds and it's over. If you think it'll offend you, then it will. If you don't, go ahead and play it. I wash my hands of the whole matter.

Monday, August 21, 2006

John Belushi IS Joe Cocker

This appeared on the third episode on Saturday Night Live; by this point Belushi had been imitating Cocker for five years and could probably do this routine in his sleep. It's on his Best-of; one night I was playing it for a housemate and she said, "It's so obvious that he's lip-synching." It was pretty cool telling her that he wasn't.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Vader Sessions

This clip's been seen well over half a million times on YouTube alone, so I apologize if it's familiar. It's a bunch of Star Wars moments, with all of Darth Vader's dialogue replaced by other James Earl Jones lines from other movies. Personally, I only recognized the two Field of Dreams lines, but maybe you'll spot some others...

There's laughs from non sequiturs and laughs from surprisingly appropriate lines - I think my favorite replacement lines come from the Leia torture scene and the scene immediately following.

But my favorite part, far and away, runs from 7:25-8:00 or so. I'll try and explain why without giving anything away.

I think comedy consists of being surprised by the familiar. Take something you know and put it in an entirely different context, and there's a shock of realization that triggers laughter. (That's why comedy records are never as funny after the first time - you know what's coming and how it's coming.) The more familiar the topics, and the greater the leap from one to the other, the greater the shock and, therefore, the funnier it is.

In the bit I'm talking about here, Vader's doing something we've all done, hearing the same thing we hear when we do it, and winding up with the most mundane thing imaginable - so much so that it's nearly incomprehensible to hear it in this setting. We know Star Wars, we know the sound in question, but we don't, can't, know the two of them together. The incongruity is explosive; hence, so is the laughter.

Class dismissed.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Stones Sell Out *snort*

Time once again for another episode in our Sellout Series. Today's entry: the Rolling Stones, with an original song recorded for a Rice Krispies ad.

I have to say, this flat out rocks, especially when Keith's guitar kicks in halfway through. At some point, you have to wonder when the line's crossed and selling out turns into buying in.

Friday, August 18, 2006


We haven't had enough cable access talent show entrants on this site, have we? I'll fix that...

Apparently this clip is well-known in certain circles - the ever-so-barely-reliable Wikipedia has an entry on John Daker here - but that's no reason not to send the ripples out just a little further.

For the record, my favorite facial expression comes along at 1:18.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Cadillac of Worms

After I expressed frustration yesterday at selected clips becoming unavailable, imagine my delight today to find that someone's posting WKRP clips again. YouTube can giveth just as well as it can taketh away.

This one was a longtime fave of mine. Howard Hesseman's facial expressions toward the end just kill me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Bill Hicks

Tonight I was shopping around YouTube for more clips for this blog (yes, there is a fair bit of research involved in bringing my thoughts to you, the viewer), and I discovered that the guy who supplied both the "drunk Andy Griffith" clip and the Woody/Billy exchange (which I posted just three days ago) had his account suspended, making his clips no longer available. So I hope you saw them, because the odds of seeing them again aren't too great.

With the gratification these clips offer being a little too instant for my liking, I find myself reluctant to post certain ones, as I'm secure in the knowledge that they won't be around for long. A great example is Warner Brothers cartoons - I had planned to post two of the most politically incorrect ones ever made, only to find they're not available anymore. Since they might sneak back on again, I'll withhold the titles, but it's a shame they can't be shared...

Another good example is the comedy of Bill Hicks. I've seen a lot of his clips on YouTube, and I've seen a lot of them disappear. But I decided to myself, the hell with it. If one person gets to see him who might not have otherwise, it was worth that brief shining moment.

So hear he is, the greatest comedian of the last quarter century, appearing on the Dennis Miller Show, doing some quality (if cleaned-up) work and taking an inadvertent swipe at Denis Leary at the end.

Enjoy it while it lasts. I know I did!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Just an old sweet song

I've got a kind of odd relationship with the Band. I respect them and think they're incredibly talented, but I just don't care all that much for their first two albums, Music from Big Pink and The Band, both widely acknowledged masterpieces. I don't own any of their other studio works, and since I don't like their best ones, I'm in no hurry to.

I am, however, crazy about The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese's documentary about their last concert. I've heard all the complaints - too much Robbie Robertson, it was pure luck that they got any Muddy Waters, what's Neil Diamond doing there - and it doesn't matter to me. There's some incredible performances - Van Morrison's "Caravan" may be my favorite, but not by much - and as a snapshot of a dying scene, it's worth its weight in gold. The 4-CD box set rules, too.

One thing that does trouble me about it, though, is the lack of concert footage of Richard Manuel. The Band's pianist and second drummer, his voice may have been the best of the three vocalists - soulful and haunted, whether it was a fast or slow number.

Fortunately, the Band appeared on Saturday Night Live a month before the Last Waltz, and Manuel performed "Georgia On My Mind." Here it is. Prepare to be blown away.

Monday, August 14, 2006

David Byrnes, Byrnes, Byrnes

When Stop Making Sense was released in 1984, the promotional materials included bandleader David Byrne being interviewed by several different people - all of them David Byrne in various disguises.

But hey - don't take my word for it...

It's clear Byrne had a good enough sense of the media that he would know just what he would be asked, and just what answers would go over well. My favorite question comes at 2:50; what's yours?

Have a good week, and never underestimate the power of a good hairdo.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

For your Sunday pleasure

Here's ten minutes of a really interesting interview from 1969.

One our left, Woody Allen.

And on our right, Billy Graham.

It's a fascinating little debate - they may disagree, but there is respect, and some good laughs besides.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

"It's sort of like the granddaddy of beatboxing, done by crackers."

That's a pretty fair description I read of "eephing," an Appalachian vocal technique first performed in the early 1900s, if not before. NPR did a neat little piece about it earlier this spring. The acknowledged master of the genre (it says so on Wikipedia) was Jimmie Riddle; here he is doing his thing on Hee Haw, with Jackie Phelps on hambone.

A warning. This clip is only 11 seconds long, but you're going to want to see it over and over and wish you had the capability to make a remix with it.

Friday, August 11, 2006

And it burns, burns, burns

Johnny Cash's TV show only lasted a couple of years, but that was long enough for him to get some memorable performances from some great performers. Here's Ray Charles in 1970, taking the mariachi out of "Ring of Fire" and pouring in a whole lot of blues. The way he ends the song is a revelation.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Lou Reed Sells Out *snort*

You do a commercial, you're off the artistic roll call forever. Everything you say is suspect, and every word that comes out of your mouth is now like a turd falling into my drink. -- Bill Hicks

I have never seen [Jaws 4], but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built and it is terrific. -- Michael Caine

Welcome to the second of an ongoing series of big artists who decided to channel their creativity toward the art of the shill. Today's subject: Lou Reed, watching the wheels go round and making the art go Honda.

A tip of the hat to Zach in DCish for bringing this clip to my attention. To me, nothing says "tires" like a song about sadomasochism. Seriously, surrealism just doesn't work for me in advertisements. If you're going to try and sell me something I don't want, the least you can do is not fuck with my head.

See, this is how to do it. Cool song, the city captured in a couple dozen shots, and a Lou quote that fairly screams, "Okay, so I'm reduced to selling scooters - I'm still Lou Reed, and that's more than you've ever done, so shut up."

Attitude. Look for it at a Honda dealer near you.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

In 1969, the US Senate held a hearing regarding the funding of the newly founded Corporation for Public Broadcasting. They were in danger of getting their proposed budget slashed drastically. Fortunately, they had a secret weapon - a man not widely known at the time, whose name was Fred Rogers.

Senator John Pastore, who chaired the committee, had a reputation as a gruff, crusty man, and as Mr. Rogers makes his statement, it's a wonder to watch the shell fall off the senator and reveal the tenderness inside.

Why did I just get a sudden craving for crab meat?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

R.I.P Rock Heroes

This has not been a good year for rock musicians, in terms of death.

Last week we lost Arthur Lee, leader of Love. If you're not familiar with Forever Changes, their 1967 album, it's worth your while - if Sgt. Pepper was the lighter side of acid, Forever Changes got the darker side. Lee was lead singer and main composer, though Bryan McLean deserves more than a nod for his "Alone Again Or."

Anyway, here they are performing their first hit, a cover of Burt Bacharach's "My Little Red Book."

And last month Syd Barrett passed on. There are those who think that Pink Floyd was never the same after their crazy diamond took his own route. Here's Syd & the boys doing "Arnold Layne."

But the one that hit me hardest was Grant McLennan. He was the co-founder of the Go-Betweens (with Robert Forster), and he wrote some wonderful songs with them, with a later project called Jack Frost, and on his own solo records. Only 48 when he died, he still had fresh irons in the fire, and there's no telling what he would have gone on to say.

Far and away the song of his that mattered the most to me was "Cattle and Cane," from the Go-Betweens' second album Before Hollywood. This is one of those songs that's sad, but in a strangely invigorating way. It's got an airy flow to it, and simple lyrics that I'll never get to the bottom of.

Gentlemen, may all of you be at peace.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Oh say, baby, can you see...

Any sports fans out there who don't know about Bill Simmons, you really should. Nicknamed "The Sports Guy," author of Now I Can Die In Peace (the best book about the Red Sox's rise to glory), he combines sports with pop culture better than anyone going today, plus he's the funniest sports writer out there. You can see why this guy would be up my alley, right? For some of his columns, click here.

Anyway, he was asked for his favorite renditions of the national anthem before sporting events, and this was his number one choice:

A year before his father shot him, Marvin Gaye appeared at the 1983 All Star Game and, with only a synth-drum track to back him up, gave the smoothest, sexiest performance of the Star Spangled Banner that's humanly possible. Really, when was the last time you wanted to move to the rhythm like this?

Or is that question too personal?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Gumby on MST3K

Seeing as how I'm a big fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and since I've spent the last couple Sundays paying tribute to Art Clokey's fine work, I thought I'd wrap up the troika this Sunday with a combo of the two. It's 6:16 long, but hey - it's Sunday, you've got time. And I can't think of any circumstances under which you won't be laughing at this.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

"You know, Jose Feliciano, you got no complaints."

Steve Buscemi said that in Fargo, as he and his date watched JF doing some laid back song. And it's the truth.

Watch this - Jose at 20, in 1966, two years before he hit the charts with "Light My Fire" - and see if you can spot the mistake he makes as he plays "Flight of the Bumblebee." If you've got more self-control than I do, watch it first, then look below for the answer.

Did you spot it?

At 1:04, he drops his guitar pick.

I didn't even notice until someone mentioned it in the comments section. Makes it all the more stunning, doesn't it?

Nope, no complaints from me...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Reunited and it feels so good

Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis had a very acrimonious splitting up, so much so that they stayed out of each other's way. At first one would bump into the other at a golf course or in Vegas, but by 1976 they hadn't seen or spoken to each other in fifteen years.

That fall, Frank Sinatra appeared on Lewis's telethon and brought a friend with him...

Lewis was addicted to Percodans at the time and has said this was one of only three things he remembered between 1973 and 1977.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Zinc Oxide and You

Here's two minutes from Kentucky Fried Movie, celebrating the films you used to watch in high school. From the first seconds, where the film sprocket holes have alignment trouble, to the chipper music, the stilted line reading, the way the announcer says "Yehhhs" at 1:35 and 1:48... This just NAILS it.

A parody is at its best when you can't tell it apart from the real McCoy. Watch and learn, boys, watch and learn.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Bruuuuuce Acouuuuuustic

In case my earlier posts on Devo , Victor Wooten and the Bangles didn't tip you off, I am something of a covers connoisseur. I love when artist B sees and expresses artist A's song in a wholly different way, one that artist A may never have considered.

But what happens when artist A and artist B are the same person?

Oh, I don't know... this, maybe?

How refreshing it is to hear this without a trace of jingoism. And to know that the artist means every word.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

David Lynch Sells Out (*snort*)

David Lynch making a TV ad? You'd think it would be bizarre, semi-otherworldy, probably have little to do with the product. And you'd be absolutely right.

I still remember where I was for the pilot episode of Twin Peaks - in the lounge of my freshman dorm, glued to the screen right through to the "A Lynch/Frost Production" logo. Like everyone else, I stopped watching when they revealed who killed Laura Palmer, but that first night was a wonder. Kind of fun to have this ad bring it all back.