Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sweet. S-W-E-E-T. Sweet.

It's National Spelling Bee time again, and I thought it would be fun to revisit some old favorite moments from NSBs past. Forgive me if you've seen these before, but hell, I've never posted them.

Here's a kid who decides this is the perfect time to break out his imitation of Napoleon Dynamite.

Here's one who blacks out, then gets up and nails the word.

And here's the 1997 winner realizing she's about to be the 1997 winner.

Tune in tomorrow for an even more special announcement than the one that started this month...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Happy happy houses, happy hey

Back in my college days, I was a regular at the local art house cinema, which showed animation festivals several times a year. One year they had this one, called "The Billy Nayer Show" in the program.

I was the one laughing through the length of the closing credits. I don't know if it was the randomness of the lyrics, or the last few lines' revelation, but this just killed me.

Also, the style of animation's pretty cool.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Last year, when Gerald Ford died, he was 93 years old. Which means he was three years older than John F. Kennedy would be today.

There was no question whatsoever what should mark this occasion - the sweet and wholesome and perhaps most famous version of "Happy Birthday" ever sung.

Monday, May 28, 2007

We secretly replaced this ad with INSANITY!

Folger's commercials have been pretty good quality over the years - they put the phrase "we secretly replaced" into the lexicon, and the brought us the Swedish pitchwoman supreme, Mrs. Olson, who talked about Folger's being "monten gron, de riches', mos' aromatic kind uff coffee." (Actually, she was from Stanton, Iowa. Read more about her here.)

Even in their early ads, they showed vision - watch this one with an eye out for its film noiriness. (And how about that turnstile!)

But you know what happens. You get older, you try something different to stay on top. And what the Folger's people tried...

You know what, I don't think any description I could give could do this justice. Just watch it and thank the deity of your choice that nobody involved is you.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Show Dote'n' Show Be Doh

Last night I had what's known in the business as "some enchanted evening," involving Pirates 2, rum and Coke, and Footloose. At the end of the evening, I got in the car to drive home, turned on the radio, and within a minute got to hear this classic from the Five Satins.

It's always been one of my favorite slow songs ever, and it was such a treat to have it come on just then. It even refers to "that night in May." I don't know how Mr. and Mrs. Tom W. Bread in the audience here felt about it, but judging by Mrs. Bread's dreamy expression, it worked its magic on her very nicely.

Kudos once more to YouTube for making clips like this available to over-the-moon guys like me.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

One for the graduates

This weekend marks graduation weekend for a lot of colleges and universities, so I thought it would be fun to play a portion of Seth McFarland's address at Harvard last year. Seth, of course, is the creator of Family Guy, and he gave much of his speech in character - or, really, characters. This is the Stewie portion of the program, given between the Peter and the Quagmire portions.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Best. Stunt. Ever.

It's been a long time since I let one short clip stand on its own, and I suppose I could have posted a few other Bollywood moments I found to go along with this. But really, this deserves a place in the sun.

It's a stunt from an unknown Indian film, and I one hundred percent guarantee it will leave you with your mouth open.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Happy Birthday Bob Dylan

In '66, Bob Dylan released Blonde on Blonde, one of the greatest double albums ever made. And speaking of '66, that's how old he is today.

There's a few imitations of Bob on YouTube, from the somewhat bizarre (and completely senseless if you've never heard of Andy's Gang)... this surprisingly valid sendup - you'll never hear "Home on the Range" the same way again.

But to really pay respect to Bob you've got to go right to the source. So here's his video for "Series of Dreams," from the first Bootleg Series box set. It captures him through the decades as best as a video can, with visuals almost as riveting and compelling as the song.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Here's to the crazy ones

I'm going to be spending the next few days visiting my folks, which means no new posts until Thursday. And when I return, I'll be moving away from Star Wars for a while. This'll be the last one for the month.

It's not that I've run out - there's the "Copacabana"/"Star Wars Cantina" song, the Brokeback Mountain parodies, the Donny and Marie Show take (I dare you to track that one down), Admiral Ackbar watching Sonny at the tollbooth in The Godfather and saying, "It's a trap!", and thousands more. It's just that the 30th anniversary proper is on Friday the 25th, and several days off takes away from the steam of the leadup. I've also got a lot of non-Lucasian clips I'm rarin' to post. Plus, as old juror number 8 says in Twelve Angry Men, "I think the point is made."

So I'm going to close with this, a mashup of the soundtrack to Apple's award winning "Think Different" ad and shots from all the Star Wars films. I think it's a nice way to go out. Hope you enjoyed...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

George Lucas in Love

I couldn't not post this...

Back in the pre-YouTube days, people were paying money to order this nine-minute masterpiece off of Amazon. It moves Shakespeare in Love to the 20th century, and it gives a wholly believeable look at how Lucas (and Martin Hynes deserves some kind of medal in the part) wrote what he knew.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Yub Nub

The Ewok song at the end of Return of the Jedi was replaced in the rerelease by some warmed-over Yanni wannabe. This made no sense to me, on account of the original song's catchiness and sense of triumph. Now it's "We just defeated the Evil Empire and freed a galaxy - let's listen to some Earthfart Tranquility!"

Anyway, here's a couple clips of the song. First, one sung by a drunk lady on the bus. The old lady sitting next to her is semi-priceless.

Now for something a little more polished. Complete with English lyrics if you want to sing along. Too bad that facial hair is probably fake.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Brought to you by the letter R and the number 2

Star Wars had to make an appearance on Sesame Street, didn't it? If there were two things that kids loved more in 1977, I can't imagine what they are. So here are everyone's favorite droids, talking about Artoo's newfound love.

Thirty years later, Artoo mailboxes sprung up around the country. So it looks like there was a happy ending after all. (Insert cruddy laugh here.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Feel the Force at your local PTA meeting

Christopher Knight wanted a seat on the Rockingham County school board. He wanted to get his message out to as many people as he could. It was time to advertise.

Here's what he came up with.

Sadly, he didn't win. Even more sadly, he didn't think of calling himself Christopher "Jedi" Knight.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Banjo. Accordion. Just Accept It.

There's an old joke: "What's the definition of perfect pitch? When you throw a banjo in a dumpster and it lands right on the accordion."

Aw, hell, they're not that bad. And as if you couldn't guess, I've got the proof right here.

First, John Williams's main theme, seen over half a million times on YouTube already...

...and now a medley of multiple themes, seen less than two thousand times.

Now why is that? Is the banjo that much cheerier than the accordion? Is the theme that much better known? Is the clip that much shorter? Well, at any rate, good on them.

Oh, wait, one more joke: what's the difference between a (banjo)(accordion) player driving down the road and a frog driving down the road? There's a slight chance that the frog might be going to a gig. Thank you! I'll be here all week!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Trooper Clerks

Once more into the breach, dear friends...

Kevin Smith has so much Star Wars worship in his movies that he had to get a shout-out this month, but rather than take the obvious approach of showing clips from his films, I thought I'd show a tribute he wishes he could have done.

Here we have a shot-for-shot remake of the Clerks trailer, with everyone wearing stormtrooper gear. It's quite well done, really.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Let's take a brief respite from the Star Wars shenanigans (how many of you just thought "Oh, thank God," I wonder?) to pay tribute this second Sunday in May to our moms.

I'll start with a brief clip of some unknown crashing What's My Line? the night Milton Berle was the mystery guest...

...and close with Anderson Cooper interviewing his own mother, Gloria Vanderbilt.

She's sharp as a tack, isn't she? I couldn't believe how much this reminded me of the Mike Nichols / Elaine May routine I posted here last month. It's uncanny.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Here's a lengthy mashup of Star Wars and Goodfellas.

The guy who made this has the Scorsese rhythms down perfectly. It's great when "Jump Into the Fire" by Nilsson shows up with these images. Frankly, this may be the first of these mashups that made me want to watch the source material more than the SW films.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Return of the Jedi: Yea or Nay?

Return of the Jedi is commonly seen as the weakest of the original Star Wars trilogy - "just a bunch of Muppets," as Dante puts it in Clerks. But let's not forget that that doesn't make it indefensible.

This is an interesting clip from a 1983 episode of Nightline, where Ted Koppel moderates a discussion between John Simon and Siskel & Ebert.

Simon has some valid points, but he's such a joyless reprobate that he makes it hard for us to wallow in the displeasure with him. Likewise, Siskel & Ebert are so good at communicating the sheer fun of the film that it's easy to root them on.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Little Lando Love

Billy Dee Williams has appeared in more than a few good movies - the original Brian's Song, Lady Sings the Blues, and Batman among them - but we'll always remember him as Lando Calrissian, the modern-day Judas Iscariot who got the chance to redeem himself and made the most of it. (And can I just say that his may be the best made-up name in the saga? Opposing viewpoints welcome...)

How do we reward him? By making a clip of a blatantly phony Lando lip-synching "Let's Get It On." But then, if it wasn't so phony, it wouldn't be so funny.

Just remember - if the Falcon's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hello Dantooine! Hello Dantooine!

You have no idea how many YouTube videos there are where someone does something with a Darth Vader mask on. From hitting a drive-thru to salsa dancing to reenacting the Numa Numa dance, there's something for everyone. But for this post I'll just focus on what happens when a Vader wannabe is also a musical prodigy.

Here's a Vader playing violin in Vancouver, with one of the friendliest "You're welcomes" you'll ever hear.

Then we have one bulling his way through "Blackbird" by the Beatles.

Best of all, a Guinness lovin' Darth puffing the pipes.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Greedo Does NOT Shoot First

Movie Theater Memory #1: I attended opening night of the revamped Star Wars in '97. When Han faced off against Greedo, we all waited for his sneaky shooting under the table - only to see Greedo take a shot at him first, somehow missing despite being two feet away and BEING A FRIGGING BOUNTY HUNTER. I can tell you that there were no boos - just confusion. Greedo wasn't the only one who didn't see this coming and didn't like it.

Movie Theater Memory #2: I'm watching Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back in a sparsely populated theater. It contained the line "Making a Jay and Silent Bob movie is about as stupid as having Greedo shoot first." And I, completely involuntarily, jumped up and went, "YEAH!" Everybody turned around. Embarrassed the hell out of myself.

Anyway, here's the way it once was...

...the way it became after Lucas did his dirty work...

...and the way it would be in a perfect world.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Luke... Leia... Shoil?

One aspect of Star Wars that's passed into legend is the sheer volume of people who auditioned for parts. Among those turned down were Kurt Russell, William Katt, Amy Irving, and Karen Allen. Even Billy Dee Williams didn't pass his original test, for the part of Han Solo.

Here are a couple auditioners who did make the grade, both working with Harrison Ford: Mark Hamill...

...and Carrie Fisher.

Here's one who didn't: Cindy Williams, pre-Laverne & Shirley.

Finally, here's a funny look at other auditions, with Kevin Spacey yet again breaking out his killer Christopher Walken.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Mesa say "Hoo hoo!"

I once wrote a review for a book that said it was selling faster than a pile of "I Hate Jar Jar" bumper stickers. Three years later I wrote another one that modified it to "I Still Hate Jar Jar" bumper stickers. Everybody still got it.

There was never a more hated character in the Star Wars saga than Jar Jar Binks. I was about to say "more divisive," but I don't know of anyone who liked him. He was called everything from imbecilic to a racist caricature, and was pushed deep into the background for the following films.

But I now have one good thing to say about him: If he didn't exist, neither would this video.

This is "Daffy's Rhapsody," voiced by the brilliant Mel Blanc. Even with your eyes closed it's a fantastic piece, and while I'd understand if you want to keep your eyes closed as this plays, this one time you would be missing out.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

From the cutting room floor

If you've read the Star Wars novels, you'll know there are a number of scenes that were in the story that didn't make it onto the big screen. But that's not to say they weren't filmed...

When George Lucas was putting together the rerelease of Star Wars, he added a few of these, but not all of them. Here's a few of the things that got cut out of the picture.

That attractive woman who says Luke got too much sun is Koo Stark, who was an extra in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Imagine being involved in two of the biggest cult films of the '70s.

Friday, May 04, 2007


I was considering marking the anniversary of the Kent State shootings today, but not even learning that Chrissie Hynde was one of the protestors could make it a non-gloomy post.

Besides, something else is going on today that's making everything awesome - Spiderman 3 has arrived at a theater near me. They say this one cost a quarter of a billion dollars to make. You have to wonder why - particularly when there are so many good examples of how quality Spidey can be made with much less.

For instance, here he is on Family Guy...

...on Electric Company (with Morgan Freeman as the cop)... portrayed by Jack Black...

...and Sound of Music kid-grown-up Nicholas Hammond on the '70s TV version (LOVE that theme music).

And if all these clips took too long, here's the first movie in five (or so) seconds.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Stunts, porn and whistle tips, Star Wars style

One of the commenters on YouTube marveled how amazing it was that Star Wars will cut to anything. And it's true - given six and a half hours of footage (more if you throw in the prequels), you can make any soundtrack match the visuals, if you just choose the right ones.

To illustrate, here are two trailer soundtracks with SW visuals; one for Jackass Number Two...

...and one for Boogie Nights.

And because I can't hold off on posting this for one more day, here's my favorite, which'll only make sense if you're familiar with the story of Bubb Rubb and Li'l Sis.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

And many more...

Remember yesterday, when I said I wouldn't be doing Star Wars-related entries every single day on account of other occasions? Well, today's one of those occasions. Bear with me, all you people who have no reason to get excited about May 2.

What's so special about May 2? Well, aside from the fact that it only comes once a year, it's also my friend Paul in NJ's birthday. We met in college and have been friends for about half my life now; it's thanks to him that I know half the cool bands I know. From Questions of the Day ("if you could construct a supergroup, who would be in it?") to dating advice ("let her know that your stud name is Rrrrrick"), he's offered me everything a good friend should, and I'll always be glad we met.

Paul once told me his favorite two songs will always be his favorite two songs, for sentiment as much as quality. There weren't many good versions of number 1 ("Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" by Paul McCartney) on YouTube, so here's a passable number 2. Many happy returns, big guy.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A boy, a girl, and a universe

Thirty years ago this month, Star Wars was released, and the movies were never the same.

In honor of this anniversary (the pearl anniversary, in case you’re wondering), I’m going to be dedicating this month to Star Wars posts. They won’t take the entire month (though God knows they could), as I’ve got a few other occasions I want to note, but the vast majority will relate to Luke, D. Viddy, even Jar Jar. I’ve been planning this for months, picking and choosing some of my favorites, and unlike at least one character in every movie, I have a very good feeling about this.

We’ll start with the very first teaser trailer. Note that neither John Williams nor the special effects gang had gotten their mitts on this yet.