Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Open wide and say AAUUUGHH!

I'm going to the dentist today. I'm not too nervous about it - six months ago I went for the first time in two years, and passed with flying enamel. Still, there's enough squirmy edginess that I need a look at how bad it could be.

And what better place to look than Little Shop of Horrors? (Actually, there is a better place, but I'll save that for the next dental trip.)

The 1960 version, filmed in two days, featured this turn by a pre-fame, pre-bald, post-scenery-chewing Jack Nicholson.

In the 1986 musical, the role was taken by Bill Murray, who, rumor has it, ad-libbed all his dialogue. When that results in the best scene in the movie, who am I to carp?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Words worth a thousand pictures

This has been making its way around the blogs; I first saw it on my friend Mike's blog.

Jarratt Moody, a student at the Savannah College of Arts and Design, had a "motion enhanced typography" assignment; take an audio clip and enhance it by only using words. He chose a minute from Pulp Fiction. This is the result.

People are either loving it or going out of their way to say it's nothing special (most of the latter weighing in on a graphic design blog). I think it's great - the power and intensity come across beautifully.

Now, here's where it gets interesting.

This was posted on YouTube back in May of last year. Nine months before Moody's clip.

Parallel thinking? Or theft?

I'm going on record as saying I don't think there was any copying or plagiarizing going on here. There's plenty of difference between the two clips. But I do find it remarkable that both people chose exactly the same sound bite. And I'd like to see either one of them tackle Joe Pesci's "How am I funny to you?" scene in Goodfellas.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Martin Scorsese Sells Out *snort*

I just got back from an Oscar party, where it was a real treat to watch Martin Scorsese finally get his Oscar for Best Director. So it's a day for feeling the Marty love.

Here he is doing commercials with American Express, both as actor...

...and as director.

And what the hell - here's how Sesame Street might look if he got his hands on it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The quiet Beatle

I take horrible notes. My plan was to celebrate George Harrison's birthday with this clip, but for some reason I wrote down that his birthday was the 25th, when in fact it's the 24th. Sorry 'bout that.

Still and all, it's a neat little clip - George taking time out from the White Album sessions to come to the USA and tell the Smothers Brothers to keep fighting the good fight against censorship. And this was in '68, when he was between mustaches and had pretty much left his gawkiness behind - I say he never looked better.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Death of a Fuckin' Salesman

Bum: "Can you spare a quarter?"
Theatergoer: "'Neither a borrower nor a lender be.' William Shakespeare."
Bum: "'Fuck you, asshole.' David Mamet."

This is a video that compiles all the obscenities in Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet's take on desperate real-estate salesmen. There are other YouTube videos that do this for other obscenity-laden films, but this one's different.

This one is a quiz.

Does Kevin Spacey swear more than Al Pacino? Does Jack Lemmon swear more than either of them? It's a tough choice, but it's fun learning the answer.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Beam them all up

All right, class - multiple choice time: Who does the best Shatner?

Kevin Pollak...

Joe Elaski...

or Frank Caliendo?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Let's All Go to Confession

We're all familiar with the famous snipe "Let's All Go to the Lobby."

Which makes this effort (brought to you by the same folks who made the "Where's the Beef" ads) resonate a little longer. Whether we want it to or not.

Useless trivia time: this tune comes from the song "We Won't Be Home Until Morning."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I'll bet my life - and I'll win, too

Groucho Marx regularly got the best of the contestants on You Bet Your Life. "You're a model?" he asked one of them once. "What do you model - clay?"

But every now and then one would come along that would throw him for a loop. Like this spinster from Suffield, Connecticut.

Or this guy. His size, voice, mannerisms, and eyes completely unnerve Groucho, which is great, because (Groucho being Groucho) his reaction is to make even more jokes. This clip never stops being funny for me.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

All in all is all we all are

Here's another birthday boy, only he's no longer around for it...

Kurt Cobain would be forty years old today. Here he is performing an early version of "All Apologies," my personal favorite Nirvana song, at the 1992 Reading festival; note the line "All my words are gray," which would later get changed to "Everyone is gay." I actually prefer it the first way - more poetic, less my-we're-outrageous.

His smile and "thanks" at the beginning is just so nice.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy birthday to me

Smokey Robinson, Justine Bateman, Benicio Del Toro and I all just got a little bit older today. Huzzah!

Think I'll celebrate by posting the Beatles birthday song.

Of course, they've got another one they're known for...

This kills me. A family gathering with people participating to various degrees. From the guy who gets down while remaining seated to the crazy uncle with the bad mustache to the guy hustling to turn off the stereo so they don't start playing "Yes I'm lonely / wanna die," this has everything. Fellini couldn't have done a better job at mise-en-scene.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Pistol Pete

I'm not much of a basketball person, but I thought I'd take this weekend of the NBA All-Star game to post a highlight reel that knocked me out.

Pete Maravich holds the record for most points scored in college; he racked up 3,667 in three years, an average of around 44 points a game - and that's before the three-pointer was invented. He went on to play 10 years in the NBA, and was recently named on of the NBA's 50 greatest players of all time. He did all this with only one coronary artery, a rare defect that led to his death at age 40 (most people with this defect rarely make it out of their teens).

Two biographies about Maravich have recently been released; I'm guessing these six and a half minutes will make you want to read them.

It's at about the two minute mark, where "La Grange" kicks in, that this really gets rolling. Passes behind the back, through the legs, no looking... I guarantee at least three "oh wow" moments. Particularly watch for the pass he makes about 25 seconds from the end of this.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

There's pain in this heart

Let's recap. We started this week with a proposal, then moved on to a romantic song, a romantic poem, and a clip from Love Story. Then we had a bizarre computer-voiced cat expressing his love to perfect strangers. Then a fast-food ad, with any sense of romance punctured by my commentary.

And how am I choosing to close this week-long sapfest?

With a clip from Jackass Number Two.

Lesson learned: It's not called Valentine's Week for a reason.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A doomed relationship

Back in the early '80s, Pepsi bought out a number of fast food joints and made theirs the only drink available. Among these was Burger King.

To advertise this, BK had this ad, featuring Elizabeth Shue before she fell for Daniel-san, and Andrew McCarthy before he was a major appliance. You've got to love Andrew agreeing with Elizabeth's sentiments about him.

How sweet. Of course, like half of today's marriages, it wouldn't last. But we've got our memories...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Are we connecting?

Here's one of the odder valentines you'll ever see, featuring Otto the cat, Walter Benjamin, and the opening credits to Perfect Strangers.

This is one of those clips you just get out of the way and show.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bing bong bong bing bing

What can you say about a twenty-five year old girl who died?

Well, that Ali MacGraw was in her early thirties when she portrayed her, for one thing...

When Love Story came out in 1970, it was huge. HUGE. Both the hardcover and the paperback were number one on the Times bestseller list at the same time. It brought the phrase "Love means never having to say you're sorry" and all its permutations into the lexicon. It inspired Roger Ebert to coin the term Ali MacGraw Disease: "A movie illness in which only symptom is that the sufferer grows more beautiful as death approaches." And it's singlehandedly responsible for making "Jennifer" the most popular girl's name of the '70s.

Here's a clip from the film of Ryan & Ali romping in Harvard Yard. What with the huge snowfall we're getting today, I felt it appropriate.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"Permanently" by Kenneth Koch

If Kenneth Koch (pronounced "Coke") never wrote anything besides "Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams" (a response to Williams's "This Is Just to Say"), he'd still be one of my favorite poets. He brought both humor and pain together in a way that really gets me where I live.

Here's an affecting video someone made with a portion of his poem "Permanently," set to Debussy. To read the poem in its entirety, go here.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Book of Love

Whoever put this video together deserves a medal.

These are images from '70s love manuals paired to the Magnetic Fields song "The Book of Love," not to be confused with the "Oh I wonder wonder who-o-o-o who (bum)" song. The song comes from the 69 Love Songs album, three CDs of music from every possible genre that fit at least two definitions of the word "genius." And Peter Gabriel's cover version has the distinction of singlehandedly making the Richard Gere / Jennifer Lopez film Shall We Dance worth your while.

As to the images... well, they don't make 'em like they used to, do they?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pop that question

God knows why, but I like Valentine's Day. Personally, the most exciting February 14 I ever had was the one when I bought my car (the wreck of the old '97 Escort - 10 years, 112,000 miles and still going strong!), but I enjoy when others use it in a romantic fashion. So I'm going to be putting up a keg o' treacle this week, in honor of St. V.

Starting with this ad that appeared on Veronica Mars...

...and the reaction of the target audience.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Michael Jackson Sells Out *snort*

Been a while, hasn't it? Well, let's set the wayback machine to 1973ish, when Michael and his four siblings were shilling for Alpha-Bits.

We'll start with Michael eating a dog, to the horror and disgust of his brothers.

In this one Michael pulls an absolutely brilliant trick to make his brothers say yes, and then roars with delight.

Finally, the five of them sail the skies on a viking ship, heading for the land of milk and honey - all the better to eat their good nutritious breakfast.

And that's no jive!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Y'know what, Stuart? I like you!

The Dead Milkmen's best-known song is "Punk Rock Girl," but a good number of their songs matched and even exceeded that peak. One of my favorites was "Stuart," from the same album that housed "Punk Rock Girl," Beelzebubba (my copy had a sticker with an endorsement from Detroit Tiger infielder Jim Walewander). It's basically a rant by an ignorant trailer park resident.

There are two videos of people lip-synching this up on YouTube, and I thought you'd like to do a little comparing and contrasting.

This guy takes a laid-back approach, of a fella sittin' on the porch and shootin' the shit...

...wheras this one is kinda manic and includes some pacing around shots that gives the whole thing a little more variety.

Both equally valid interpretations. Saaaaaaa-lute!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cute cute in a stupid-ass way

Scott Walker was an American who was huge in England, doing some of his best work singing the songs of a Belgian who lived in France. That'll mix anybody up, but some great work came from it. Marc Almond, of "Tainted Love" fame, said that Walker could have sung "Three Blind Mice" and make it sound like the only song in the world.

This is a very bleached out version of him performing Jacques Brel's "Jackie." Watching it, you can imagine a young David Bowie absolutely transfixed. Either that or frantically taking notes.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I'm too sexy for this blog

Right Said Fred had exactly one hit song, but it's still resonating with us today. It's a perfect novelty - it's got lyrics that are easily memorable, easily adapted, and idealize what we want to be. Plus it's exactly the right length. Can you think of a song that ended better?

It's also the soundtrack to an awful lot of fan vids. It's great fun matching image to lyric, and any number of subjects have gotten the treatment. Sadly, the Jon Stewart / Stephen Colbert version was pulled from YouTube (trust me, it was fantastic), but there are loads more, starring everyone from Homer Simpson to Harry Potter.

Here are a couple I fancy: wunza Pirates of the Carribean tribute...

...and wunza look at the lads from Liverpool. Watch out for John flashing you 1:38 in.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mick Jagger, drunk off his ass

How rare is this footage of the Stones? Put it this way: Keith Richards is the sober one.

This comes from Charlie Is My Darling, a documentary of the Stones touring Ireland. There's some more great stuff from it on YouTube, but I just love this for Mick's slurring Elvis and imitating the guitar riff from the Beatles' "I Feel Fine." We're really not so different, he and I.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Short Attention Span Theatre

Here's something I've been wanting to put together for some time - a series of clips no longer than fifteen seconds, taking only a minute or so to watch all together.

Here's a beyond strange Japanese ad... out-of-it-dude on the street interview...

...a FedEx truck a-rockin'...

...a goalie making an unexpected stop...

...and finally, ape versus helicopter (thanks so much to The Great White Dope).

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cat Herding

It's Super Bowl Sunday, but with my Patriots out, I could give two hoots about the game, so I'm just going to be watching it for the commercials.

There was a time when you could count on the commercials being better than the game. Nowadays you know there'll be four or five incongruous celebrity appearances and that Budweiser will win the USA Today "best ad" poll, and predictability is never fun. But you still come away from the game with a favorite.

Here's my all-time favorite Super Bowl ad.

Technically, this ad's a failure because I come away from it not knowing anything about the company or what they're selling. Realistically, though, it's genius. I mean, come on - taking a lint roller to your sling? You can't tell me that's not funny.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Old Negro Space Program

Since this is African American History Month, and since Ken Burns is gearing up for another major documentary release this year (about World War II), it's time to show how he would have addressed the story of black astronauts.

This goes on a little over ten minutes, but it's Saturday and you're entitled to a good long laugh.

Friday, February 02, 2007

siht fo ekam ot tahw wonk t'nod I

Here's a bit that came from The Electric Company, my favorite TV show as a child. I can vouch for its authenticity... forwards. But slowed down and backwards? Hmmmmm.

I mean, I suppose it's quite possibly, maybe even probably, the real McCoy, but it'd also be quite easy to say any old thing and then claim it came from this. I need a second opinion, I guess is what I'm saying.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I look up and see the sky

When you have a blog of YouTube clips and you need to make an entry, but you don't have too much to say, you can always go back to Sesame Street.

This is "Up and Down," by a rough-draft Cookie Monster and a Henson-voiced Harry Monster, who has an awfully disturbing nose here. The song's a great one - I've also got a couple rockin' versions by the Donner Party and the Mr. T Experience.