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?