Saturday, June 30, 2007

Groucho and Jacko

Jack Benny and Groucho Marx are two of my favorite comedians of all time. They first knew each other from the vaudeville circuit; Groucho (then known as Julius Marx) would get Benny (then known as violinist Benjamin Kublesky) laughing so hard they'd have to hold up the show and wait for him to calm down.

Four decades or so later, they were performing together on TV.

Jack's doing everything he can to win some money, including wearing a disguise that fools absolutely no one. His look of despondence at Groucho's final question is so wonderful - almost as wonderful as Groucho's look of glee as he asks that question. And you'll note that Groucho can still get Jack to break character with almost no effort.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Paging Rube Goldberg

Rube Goldberg, for those not in the know, was a Pulitzer Prizewinning cartoonist who is today best known for his cartoons showing convoluted ways to perform simple tasks like opening doors or wiping a mouth with a napkin. To this day people still design contraptions that do this. Then they film them. And that's where we come in.

You may well have already seen this Honda ad, which took 600 takes or so to get right. It's not that it was so complicated, but Garrison Keillor kept screwing up the last line. (Kidding.)

Have you seen this one? A guy in an office spent the whole night putting this together.

There's more of these clips - I just picked the relatively short ones...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

No Barney for us!

Ah, 1970's educational television. Nostalgia or no, I can't help thinking how much better it is than the tripe that gets put out nowadays. By now you all know how fond I am of Sesame Street and Electric Company, but there were others out there as well. Here are a few samples (with nary a Wiggle in sight).

There was Mulligan's Stew, which spent half an hour on eating properly...

The Letter People, introducing us to 26 good friends (there's plenty to choose from on YouTube, but I decided to go with that hippie Mr. H and his Horrible Hair)...

Zoom, with a bunch of Boston kids having far more fun that YOU ever do...

And of course, 3-2-1 Contact, which taught us all about science and gave us the original Bloodhound Gang.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Don't call me Shirley, either

I love the fact that somebody took the time to put this clip together...

When the seminal comedy Airplane! came out in 1980, many people recognized it as a spoof of Airport and other such disaster movies. What they may not have known is how closely it resembled one movie in particular - Zero Hour!, which came out in 1957. The ZAZ team bought the rights to that movie and used way more of the screenplay than you might think.

How much more? See for yourself. (And after all these years, the "get a hold of yourself *slap*" scene still cracks me up.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

RemDawg gets down

One of the bummer things about major league baseball and NESN is that they're very vigilant about getting Red Sox clips taken down from YouTube. This means that I can't keep current the post where Denis Leary visits the announcer's booth and goes off on Mel Gibson (though you can see it here), and I didn't even try posting the clip where Manny Ramirez gives his teammate Julian Tavarez a head rub (have a look at that here). But the following clip has been around for a couple months, so I'm going to guess it'll stay here for a while.

Jerry Remy played second base for the Red Sox in the late '70s and early '80s, and has turned a very deep knowledge of the game into a fine career as the color commentator for Sox games on the New England Sports Network. He's got a thick Bahstin accent ("Tigizz" for "Tigers" is a favorite), and at least twice a month he and Don Orsillo, the play by play man, go on laughing jags that are always, always funny.

Here's Jerry, unafraid to look ridiculous, getting even the semi-bland Tom Caron to lose his breath from laughter.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Short Attention Span Theatre 3

Yes! It's time once again to cram as many fun clips as possible into one minute, give or take! This time around, that consists of...

another classic commercial from the folks at Red Stripe...

arguably the best line in Dr. Strangelove...

one of those Smokey the Bear PSAs that used to scare the shit out of me...

an unexpected opinion from a very attractive movie critic...

a super-slomo raspberry...

Admiral Ackbar performing an excerpt from The Vagina Monologues...

and an acknowledgment of existence from Jeff Spicoli.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday funnies

This is kind of fun. It's a dynamic presentation of four of the duller comic strip characters out there, teaming up to become a super fighting force. As far as I'm concerned, any chance to see Mark Trail in action is totally worth the while. Hope you agree...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Lady and the Tramp

The AFI released the results of their 100 Best American Films poll this week. Citizen Kane's still #1, of course, and there wasn't too much movement in the top 10 from the last poll, ten or so years ago. But below that, a lot of films took huge leaps. Dr. Zhivago fell off the charts from #39; Nashville jumped on to #59. Raging Bull rose 20 spots to #4; The Searchers went from #96 to #12. I find those reflections on shifting tastes way more interesting that what does or doesn't make the lest.

One of the biggest leaps was City Lights, Charlie Chaplin's masterpiece, moving from #76 to #11. This has one of the most moving endings of any movie ever; I've watched it any number of times, and the room always gets really dusty in the last two minutes.

A loose recap: Chaplin, as the Tramp, falls in love with a blind flower girl, who thinks he's a rich benefactor. He promises to get her money so she can have an operation that will allow her to regain her sight, which he manages to do (you really have to see the film to find out how). He tells her he's going away on a trip, then gets put in jail for months.

After he's released, this is what happens.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Animated handectomy

The comic strip "Maakies" by Tony Millionaire doesn't make it into too many family newspapers, what with its jokes about suicide, STDs, and drinking beyond excess. It's worth finding the alternative weeklies that carry it, or the beautifully designed books about it - amidst all the horrid circumstances there's some wonderful artwork, and there's a sense of the way comics looked in the 1920s about it that's pretty compelling. Though you kind of forget that when you get punchlines like, "Say Tommy, when you masturbate, what do you do with the cum?" (If you're intrigued and want more, go here.)

There were some animated shorts made of the strip that semi-bowdlerize it, and lose a lot of their punch in the process. But this one has a line that's so unexpected it kills me (it's when the guy's rowing the boat).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

And the living is easy

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, gang! Sure, the days start getting shorter, but it's time for heat waves, hot dogs, tasty waves and a cool buzz.

To get you in the mood for something bracing and refreshing for the upcoming heat, here's a superslow-motion shot of a guy getting a water balloon to the face.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Two days after James Paul McCartney came into the world, Brian Douglas Wilson touched down. I'm in the school that thinks Paul was a supremely talented craftsman and Brian was an out and out genius.

Brian's candle burned at both ends, and nowadays he occasionally appears in concerts that one critic said seem "like a musical adaptation of Flowers for Algernon." But I want to focus on his lovely light.

Here he and the Beach Boys perform the Four Freshmen song "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring," which Brian arranged after hearing it on the radio. He could pick out the four voices and copy that arrangement, all by ear. And he was deaf in one ear. Tell me that's not amazing.

Incidentally, the song was written by Bobby Troup, who also wrote "Route 66" and appeared on the TV show Emergency! with his wife, Julie London. And how appropriate to post this on the last day of spring. But above all, happy birthday, Brian.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ain't No Sunshine Times Two

Bill Withers's song "Ain't No Sunshine" has been called a perfect song, and I'm guessing there are few musicians who would disagree. It's been covered a lot, by everyone from Michael Jackson to Kenny Rogers. Here are two of those covers. I like to think of them as "the wrong way" and "the right way."

First, here's Sting, with an oooo-aren't-we-jazzmasters version that couldn't be more earnest if it went to camp. The 'stache ain't helping matters, either.

From the first seconds of Freddie King's clip, you know that this is something different, and not just because of how he wears his guitar strap. This goes right for the gut, and it nails it. I don't even miss the "I know, I know, I know" part. This, my friends, is how to cover a song.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sir Paul's 65th

Finally, Paul McCartney's old enough to collect Social Security. Which I'm sure not even an expensive divorce has rendered necessary, but it must be nice to have that to fall back on...

As you can imagine, there are hundreds of thousands of clips I could put here, but I went with something simple - a video to the Wings song "Heart of the Country." Basically, if "Rocky Raccoon" was a little more candy-ass, it would sound like this.

But I've got to say, I like it - that wordless scat break, flawlessly mirrored by the acoustic, gets me every time. And it's nice to see him romping with Linda, the punchline for the incredibly cruel riddle "What do you call a dog with wings?", and feel the cozy domestic love.

By the way, he's not the only genius bass player to be born in June '42, as we will soon see...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A third-rate burglary attempt

I realized, just twelve or so hours ago, that today marks the 35th anniversary of the burglary of Watergate. I think the subsequent events were arguably America's finest hour - they proved that a system set up nearly two hundred years prior worked, and they showed what happens when people don't stop asking questions. One way or another, those people, and those questions, have to be answered.

So let's take a look at Walter Cronkite devoting a good five minutes of the evening news to the event. Marvel at the candidates being given longer than 10 seconds to talk. Chuckle at Uncle Walter's reference to frogs. Also note the "gasoline company saves the environment" ad.

Oh, and here's a very brief dramatization of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein getting the story that would make their careers, as seen in All the President's Men.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I don't know art, but I know what I like

I went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, not to look at the Cezanne (though that was nice too), but to see the Edward Hopper exhibit. He's one of my favorite painters; his use of real and artificial light blows me away, and the way he can make two people so close to each other so remote from each other is something I really envy. He's great with moments; it's like his paintings aren't short stories, but the best sentences in those short stories.

Here's an eight and a half minute slide show of some of his best work, set to Benny Goodman's "Sing Sing Sing" (go, Krupa!), with a poem at the end. High culture - the MeTube way.

But that's not enough - I've also turned up another slide show (excuse the redundancies) set to the Velvet Underground...

...and a third, to the strains of Lucinda Williams.

Don't ask me to choose the best. Please.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Goodbye, Bob

Pets who don't want to be spayed or neutered are celebrating today as Bob Barker makes his final appearance on The Price Is Right. He's been hosting it almost as long as I've been alive, and it's going to be hard to imagine the landscape without him. Kind of like Queen Elizabeth II, if you think about it.

There are tons of Price is Right clips on YouTube (I've already featured one here), so I thought today I'd show a couple of Family Guy salutes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

For the Phairest

I saw Liz Phair in concert once. She was the opening act for Alanis Morissette, and a majority of the audience was high school girls. Liz put on a great 40 minute set. "This next one is kind of X-rated," she said at one point, and launched into "Flower," from her debut album Exile in Guyville. It was remarkable; the shock of her words came out in waves, washing over the crowd over and over again, overwhelming not with noise but with meaning. I wonder how many people's lives were altered that night.

This is a time-lapse video of an amaryllis growing to bloom. On the one hand, maybe a touch too literal, but on the other, just as hypnotic as the song itself.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

When the camera gets turned around

Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, probably best known for his lead performance in Brick (great movie, by the way), was accosted by a couple of paparazzi, and responded in a way that most people could only dream of - he takes out his own video camera and shoots back. Then he goes and engages the two of them in conversation, completely against their will. It's fascinating to watch him peeling away the evil shell and get close to humanity. (Bad language warning.)

This is a clip that's stayed with me long after my initial viewing; I'd be interested to hear what you think.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Be desireless. Be excellent. Be gone.

There's an indie romantic comedy made around the turn of the century called The Tao of Steve. It's about a philosophy student turned fat kindergarten teacher who has incredible success with the ladies. He explains how to a younger guy, but over the course of the movie he finds his ethos are pretty shallow when he wants to land the one he really loves.

It's got some great dialogue and a winning performance by Donal Logue as Dex, and I totally recommend it. I can't help but wonder, though, how many people walked out thinking, "Boy, he learned his lesson," and how many walked out thinking, "Man, I gotta learn those rules."

Anyway, watch the trailer and then put it on your Netflix list. Be ye guy or be ye girl, you'll not be sorry you saw it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Penguins are so sensitive

The Penguin Cafe Orchestra are usually found in the new age section of the music store, but that's more out of default than anything else. They're not quite new age, classical, folk, jazz, you name it - but you know you like it. I definitely recommend their greatest hits CD, Preludes, Airs & Yodels, for good thinking music.

This, I thought, would be a good way to start a Sunday. It's "Music for a Found Harmonium," which you may recognize from Napoleon Dynamite (it's played on an acoustic after the big dance scene).

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A wild and crazily talented guy

We all know Steve Martin's funny, and that he's an ace banjo player. But did you know he was also into magic? Here he is in his youth (brown hair!), when he was a writer for the Smothers Brothers.

And in later years as the Great Flydini.

On top of that, as Roy Blount Jr. so perfectly put it, he can dance like a son of a bitch. You've got to watch this duet with Gregory Hines to "Fit as a Fiddle and Ready for Love."

Friday, June 08, 2007

Free To Be... You And Me

You know, I was juuuuust a little too young to see the Emmy-winning TV special based on the album, put together by Marlo Thomas in her post-That Girl, pre-Mrs. Phil Donahue years. So it doesn't resonate that as strongly with me as it does with others.

I do remember checking the book out of the library, where the only bit that stood out was this one, voiced by Thomas and Mel Brooks. Even then, I was big into dialogue.

If this sends you into paroxysms of "OH MY GOD," there's all kinds of clips from the special on YouTube, including The Thing With Two Heads star Rosey Grier singing "It's Okay To Cry."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Are you not entertained, dude?

American Gladiators was a syndicated show in the early '90s that pitted your average Jo(e) Q. Hardbody against massive musclefolk, with bulging bloodvessels that made their arms look like Vermont roadmaps, in games of athletic prowess not seen since teachers started patrolling the schoolgrounds better at recess. Put ancient Rome in Spandex and hairspray and you'll get the idea.

This is from the first season, which was Malibu's only season on the show. What a shame. Please note his remarkable vocal resemblance to Steve-O from Jackass.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Weird Al

I was in elementary school in the early to mid eighties, so Weird Al Yankovic came along at just the right time for me. I'll admit to owning In 3-D on vinyl. But I can honestly say I never expected him to last into the next millennium. That's what he likes about those high school nerds - he gets older, and they stay the same age. Yes they do.

So here he is in his debut network TV performance on Tom Snyder's Tomorrow Show.

And here he is "interviewing" Keith Richards, which I think would be funny even without the trick editing - Keith is so quintessentially Keith.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

MeTube Extra: I'm Published!

Nothing big, I hasten to note, but still just as fun as when Maxim printed my letter to the editor ten years ago (I noted that Slap Shot, their choice for #1 guy movie, was written by a woman).

I found a clip on YouTube of Dave Roberts stealing second base. This is a big deal for two reasons:

1) It happened in the bottom of the ninth, in the 2004 American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. He was then singled home, and the Sox went on to win the game, the series, and the world championship. It's arguably the most important stolen base in history.

2) This footage was taken from the stands by a fan. It's a bit shaky and totally silent - as a commenter noted, it's like the Zapruder film, only with a happy ending. And it's really neat to see it from a completely new angle.

I forwarded the clip to Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy, and a few days later he posted it in his new column, along with my one sentence description. It's at number 7, if you want to read it here.

Of course, if you just want to see the magic moment, feast your eyes directly below.

How awesome is Jack Black?

There's a big division out there as to whether Jack Black is a waste of skin or genius incarnate. I fall closer to the latter camp.

Here are a couple of early incarnations. First, his appearance in a 1982 video game ad.

And here he is with John Cusack and Todd Louiso, his costars and coworkers in the High Fidelity record shop. This clip comes not from the movie or DVD extras, but from the movie's website; it's the three of them naming their top five songs to make love to.

I'm thinking Jack deviates a bit from the script at the end, which may account for it being the best part.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Disney Plus Avenue Q Equals Hijinx Aplenty

Here's another golden mashup, combining the song "The Internet Is For Porn" from the musical Avenue Q with some very well chosen clips from various Disney cartoons.

Incidentally, a big hello to all you folks who found this page by Googling "Disney" and "porn." Look around! It's fun!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Ticket to Ride Times Two

A little trivia about the Beatles song "Ticket to Ride":

*It's more Lennon than McCartney, but Paul was the one who came up with the lopsided drum pattern

*John would later claim that this was the first heavy metal record.

*It went to #1 in May of '65, replacing "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" and being replaced by "Help Me Rhonda."

Here are a couple of diametrically opposed covers; one's by Aleksey Igudesman and Richard Hyung-Ki Joo, from their show "A Little Nightmare Music" (thanks, Zach)...

...and one's by the seminal punk group Husker Du. You've got to wait a good six and a half minutes before the song starts, and I'll understand if you can't wait that long, but I love seeing and listening to Bob, Grant & Greg in their prime.

And what the hell - howzabout a rare vid of the Fabulous Foursome to top it off.

Friday, June 01, 2007


Believe it or not (and why wouldn't you), I've been doing this blog for eleven months now. That's 330 some-odd days and at least 500 video clips. I've had a ball with it and hope you have too. And I thought, wouldn't it be nice to give something back to my loyal viewers?

So I'm putting a little contest together. Send me a note naming your three favorite clips that I've posted here, and at the end of the month one random participant will be selected to receive a mix CD from me. I've got around 1200 CDs and eclectic enough taste that I can make something satisfactory for you, I dare say.

So send your lists of three to At the end of the month I'll post the top finishers and announce the winner, who'll get a note asking for some favorite songs to give me an idea of what they like, and a CD will follow. No cost to you. Cost of CD & mailing to me. Even our friends in foreign lands can participate.

Hopefully, your reaction to the notification of your winning will be something like this.