Wednesday, October 31, 2007

MeTube Extra: Two more Halloween hits

I wasn't planning to do this, but I know that the nine-minute-plus cartoon below might be too long for quick enjoyment. Plus I saw these over at Barstool Sports and I just had to share. (I'm guessing there's not too much overlap in our audiences.)

Less than half a minute combined, these two clips teach the same valuable lesson: don't scare a man who's learned how to defend himself without thinking.

This cartoon scares the shit out of me

I first saw The Sandman as part of an animation festival. Paul Berry, the animator, would later go on to work on The Nightmare Before Christmas and James & the Giant Peach, but passed on in 2001 at the too-young age of 40. This is his masterpiece, based on the story "Der Sandmann" by E.T.A. Hoffmann.

The less you know going in the better, so I'll just let it play now. Make sure and watch it through the closing credits. Unless you're scared. Buck buck buck-kaw!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bummer of a birthmark, Hal

Back in 1994, I joined millions of Americans in eagerly sitting down in front of my TV to watch Tales of the Far Side, a Halloween special featuring the work of the brilliant cartoonist, Gary Larson. His very askew humor (this entry's title was spoken by one deer to another, who had a target shape on his body) and his genuinely funny art (I loved the way the fat ladies would make dents in their sides when the put their fists on their hips) made me certain I was about to see something great.

I have to say, I didn't expect what I got - nearly wordless vignettes strung together, with characters being killed, repeatedly. There was nothing wa-hah-hacky about this show. The scene with the wolves in the second clip below, in fact, is genuinely moving.

Here are three excerpts from a most unusual animated special.

Tommorow: the scariest cartoon I've ever seen.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Forgive me a little joy. My Red Sox just won the World Series.

I've been a huge fan of Mike Lowell for the past two years (read this to understand one of the reasons why), so I was really happy to see him win the Most Valuable Player award. Here's a video celebrating Lowell to the tune of the Dropkick Murphys's "Shipping Up To Boston." And slipping in a few phobic digs at A-Rod besides.

That shot near the beginning of the Red Sox bullpen (a.k.a. "The Black Pearl") playing the bottles has been a favorite part of the season for me. They stare straight ahead, expressionless, and bang out the rhythms. Here's a better version with sound, plus a fan's very true take on it.

Oh, and don't forget to pick up your free taco at Taco Bell between 2 and 5PM on Tuesday.

Congratulations, Red Sox, and thank you so much for the memories.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fine and Mellow

It's a slow, cold Sunday, and I've been looking to put up this clip for a while. Today, I dare say, is the day.

This is Billie Holiday performing "Fine and Mellow" on the 1957 TV special The Sound of Jazz. Lester "Prez" Young takes the second sax solo, one of the loveliest in music. Within two years both Holiday and Young would be dead; she of cirrhosis of the liver, he of cancer.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Quicker than the eye

Ricky Jay has built himself a fair career as both a writer (Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women) and a character actor, but it practically goes without saying that he'll be best remembered as a master of sleight of hand with a deck of cards. YouTube has all kinds of clips of him doing what he does best that'll make your jaw drop.

This is him doing a "is this your card" trick with multiple audience members.

And here he is flummoxing America's favorite triangle head, Arsenio Hall.

One of the commenters pointed out that with 2:30 left to go, you can see Jay switch cards. I watched it a good half dozen times, I can see how he did it, but the smoothness with which he accomplishes this just makes it all the more astonishing for me.

Friday, October 26, 2007

This one's for the lay-days

Tonight I'm going to a Halloween party. I'm wearing sandals, white jeans, a Hawaiian shirt, gold chain, aviator sunglasses, plenty of mousse, and a light dusting of powdered sugar around the nostrils and going as a '70s LA cokehead.

There may be a number of people who are also attending a gathering this weekend and are in need of something to wear. Well, if you're a woman, help is on the way...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

William Castle Rocks

William Castle was a man who created gimmicks to bring people to see his B-movies. From skeletons flying overhead to the Coward's Corner, Castle knew how to fill those seats. Here's a trailer for a documentary about him.

His best known gimmick was for The Tingler, where selected seats were literally electrified. Here's the trailer for that.

If you've got the time, you should really read this salute by John Waters, from his book Crackpot. Among other things, it tells about the time a mischievous film projectionist made use of the electrified seats from The Tingler during a screening of The Nun's Story.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What's a good indie wedding song?

My friend John in LA is going to his brother's wedding in the not too distant future, and he sent me an email last night asking a favor. His brother was originally planning to have the first dance song be "California Stars" by Billy Bragg and Wilco.

Unfortunately, a buddy got married and used it first, and he doesn't want to follow in someone else's footsteps here. (Totally understandable, right?) So John asked me if I had any suggestions for something else, something "in the same vibe and feel."

I had a bunch of suggestions, my personal favorite being Nick Cave's "The Ship Song."

The jury's still very much out, though, and I wanted to throw this out to my readers. If anyone's got any good ideas for a first-dance song that's gentle, but has a little swing and pep, I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Petite peepers

I wrote a story for my fiction workshop that had a character telling the story about the time he tackled a man fleeing the police. As the cops were taking him away, one of them said, "Let's go, short eyes." The storyteller realized from this that he had just helped them catch a child molester.

One workshop member said something to the effect that the only way he could know arcane prison slang like that was if he himself had been a child molester. This got kicked around for a couple of minutes, with me sitting their thinking, Um, I wrote this, you realize. Finally, the teacher came right out and said this was starting to get weird and she wanted to emphasize that in no way was anyone saying... She didn't actually finish the sentence, but everyone was on board with what she meant, and we moved on.

Nobody actually asked me where I had learned this phrase; if they had, I could have told them I had two sources. One was the play "Short Eyes," written by Miguel Pinero, which was made into a movie, starring a young Bruce Davison and featuring the film debut of an even younger Luis Guzman. It's a pretty intense work, about a pedophile who finds that prisoners mete out even tougher justice than society.

The other was from the old Doctor Demento favorite "Kinko the Kid-Lovin' Clown" by Ogden Edsl. They're better known for their song "Dead Puppies," which I never found funny as it's too "oh my aren't I outrageous" for my tastes. "Kinko" has that quality too, but somehow the excessive innocence / excessive creepiness works to greater effect there.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A drinking song & a drunk song

Well, the Red Sox are going to be representing the American League in the World Series. Can I just say, "WOO HOO!!!"

No, I can't - I've got to actually post some video clips, don't I?

Well, here are a couple song from the '40s that I thought might be a fun way to celebrate.

First we have the Maine Stein Song. The University of Maine is the only school that (a) has a drinking song for its school song, and (b) has seen their school song reach number one on the hit parade (thank you, Rudy Vallee.) Here it's paired up with Georgia Tech's.

Ah, but once Demon Rum has you in its clutches, you wind up singing a little more like this.

Oh, well - as long as everyone's happy.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Five down, 64 to go

The Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs is going to go down as one of the greatest achievements in the history of rock music. Stephin Merritt composed 69 songs in dozens of styles, played dozens of instruments, employed four other vocalists, wrote the most creative lyrics since Stephen Sondheim, and came up with a work that's great not just in size, but in quality. No matter what your age or your tastes, you're guaranteed to love L-U-V more than one of these songs.

It's an album whose fans are extremely devoted - YouTube has an awful lot of homemade videos for them, and it's funny how many of them have responses saying this is their favorite of the 69. I thought I'd post my favorite songs here; if the video's good too, that's just an added bonus.

I've already posted one for "The Book of Love," so that's out for now. My other favorites include "I Don't Want To Get Over You,"...

"All My Little Words,"...

"Long Forgotten Fairytale,"...

and "The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side."

Wanna go for a riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

How mighty is this mouse?

In the late '80s, Ralph Bakshi, famous for helming adult animated features throughout the '70s (Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, the execrable Lord of the Rings), was invited to revive the Mighty Mouse franchise for Saturday morning cartoons. Many media watchdogs watched the show like hawks (mix that metaphor!), pouncing on footage of Mighty Mouse sniffing a ground-up flower and insisting that he was actually sniffing cocaine, and what about our children, and yammer yammer yammer. This wild fuss combined with poor ratings to result in the show being canceled after a mere two seasons.

Its influence has lasted, though, in no small part because it was clearly aimed at adults and not children. Also, many of the writers and animators would go on to fame and fortune of their own, most notably John Kricfalusi, creator of Ren & Stimpy.

Here's one of their efforts - "Don't Touch That Dial," where they repeatedly bite, chew, and spit out the hand that feeds them. If you like this, go to YouTube and type "mighty mouse bakshi" for more.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Celebrities Tell Dirty Jokes Too

Everyone's heard dirty jokes. Everyone's heard celebrities. But not everyone's heard celebrities telling dirty jokes. Why is this?

What's fun about these clips is the way these non-comedians take such pleasure in the telling. I'd heard all four of these jokes before, so the way they're spun out is the real treat for me.

For your pleasure, we have fantasy writer Terry Pratchett...

...actress LeeLee "Don't Call Me Helen Hunt Jr." Sobieski... Dustin Hoffman, who's thoroughly enjoying the joke-telling process....

...and the one and only Sir James Paul McCartney.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Let's talk about Fred Willard

One of my favorite comedians out there is Fred Willard. His characters, oblivious in their fatuousness, constantly deliver lines you can tell they don't think are anything unusual, when in fact they're hilarious.

There's quite a bit of Fred on YouTube; I even found a bit with him on the original Get Smart TV show. But for the sake of brevity, I'll just give you a few here. There's this bit from A Mighty Wind... excerpt from The Stu Osborn Show...

..."Tragg's Trough," from The Tim and Eric Awesome Show...

...and a bit from David Letterman, where he tells a joke that David apparently never heard before.

Say - that gives me an idea for tomorrow's entry.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Champ, champ!

Last Sunday, the New England Patriots continued their dominance of the NFL, beating the Dallas Cowboys by three touchdowns. At the press conference, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady fielded the media's questions with grace and aplomb.

Little did they know that among the questioners was 1920's Reporter Guy.

Apparently, radio station 1310 in Dallas has a recurring character who goes to sports press conferences and asks questions with as many slang terms from the roaring twenties as possible. He's done it before with quarterback Vince Young...

...and hockey player Sidney Crosby.

Some of the New England blogs are objecting - sanctity, revoke his credentials, etc. - but I've got to say, this is the hardest I've ever laughed while watching a sports press conference. And I've seen Jim Mora's "Playoffs??" rant.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Roastmaster General

Jeffrey Ross has a reputation for being the go-to guy at roasts. Over the years he's roasted everybody, whether you've never heard of them...

...or whether they're famous. Two of his secrets: the subject of the roast is far from the only target, and he will stop at nothing. Nothing. Witness his line about Shaquille O'Neal at the (NSFW) Emmitt Smith roast. Don't worry, you'll know it when you hear it.

Finally, here's a couple of quiet minutes where he talks about a mistake he made in one of his standup appearances.

Monday, October 15, 2007

White on white

Ever hear the term "evil albino plot device"?

Albinos have been portrayed negatively in fiction and film so often that people fear it engenders discrimination against them. Not all of them are biased, but really - when your community has been portrayed by both Gary Busey (Mr. Joshua in Lethal Weapon) and his son Jake (Joseph in Contact), that's two strikes against you right there.

Here's an example of anti-albinism, although this is SO over the top you have to wonder if anyone can really take it seriously. It's from The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, starring Paul Newman in the title role and Stacy Keach as Bad Bob the Albino.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"This is madness!" "This is Quahog!"

"The title 300 comes from, 'How gay is this movie on a scale of 1 to 10?'" - Sarah Silverman

Seems that Family Guy clips are now off limits to YouTube these days, thanks to claims put in by 20th Century Fox. Shame.

But of course, it's okay to put up clips that aren't directly taken from the episodes, i.e. that have been, shall we say, touched up in one form or another.

Which means this favorite is still up and should remain so for some time.

Bonus cartoon/300 fun - especially appealing to me, as you'll see.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bend over and say "Ah"

I gave a reading last night that went really well, and I thought it would be fun to post another writer's work. The first one I thought of? David Sedaris.

Nothing to see here - just listen for nine minutes. Among other things, it made me feel better about my not-so-great dental time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Young Blue Eyes

I can't believe I've had this blog going for well over a year and I haven't featured Frank Sinatra yet. Somebody slap me.

Well, it was worth the wait, on account of I was hoping to run across this short for some time and now I have.

Sinatra came out against anti-Semitism at the end of World War II, singing the at-the-time daring anthem "The House I Live In." This won a special Oscar in 1946.

This goes on for ten minutes. If you don't have the time, here's a three-minute take on "Stardust" from a couple years earlier. You can see why the bobbysoxers went nuts.

And just for fun, here's one minute of Sinatra and Groucho Marx duetting on "It's Only Money" and looking for all the world like they're running through town. Let's see Industrial Light and Magic top this!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Beats pickin' cotton & waitin' to be forgotten

Do you have a favorite song on a record you want to post on YouTube, but it doesn't have a video? Well, don't let that stop you - just videotape the playing record and post that!

There are a lot of people who do just this, and God love 'em for it - there's no way humanly possible that I ever would have learned about the Popular Five's "Baby I Got It" if someone didn't take this route.

This type of "video" reminds me of the Replacements' song "Bastards of Young." It's nothing but a speaker for almost four minutes. Not only does it force you to listen to those great lyrics, it effortlessly makes any other artists who attempt to Produce a Visual Statement look close to ridiculous.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Free your talkbox and your ass will follow

Peter Frampton did more to popularize the talk box than anybody, thanks to his extended use of it on "Show Me The Way" and "Do You Feel Like We Do" on Frampton Comes Alive. (Incidentally, am I the only one who's convinced that he's saying "I want to fuck you" and not "I want to thank you"?)

But for sheer brilliance, nobody can top what Stevie Wonder did with it - and four years before Frampton, no less.

Awesome as those clips are, they're nothing compared to this one,where he jams on "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." Seriously, if you're about to watch this, I hope you've put on yo yo yo yo yo boogie shoes.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Two boxes of voice

Mel Blanc did a lot of voices in his lifetime. I've seen him doing them in old interviews, and even though I know who he is and what he does, I still can't help thinking, "Wow, he does an excellent imitation of Bugs Bunny."

But I've never seen him doing them like this. This is apparently a genuine video of his larynx as he vocalizes. I have no idea if the larynx looks enormous compared to others or what, but it's got a little bit of creepy fascination to it.

But nowhere near as much as this. This guy has a few videos up on YouTube explaining what it's like to have an artificial voicebox. No video, just audio, but they're quite interesting listens. In no small part because the guy's got a pretty good sense of humor.

Monday, October 08, 2007

What's the opposite of Christopher Reeve?

Most people made the awesome discovery that Christopher Walken is a hell of a song and dance man with the video to Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice."

Or was it Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax"?

Well, at any rate, this was far from the first time he'd flashed his footstompin' chops. Here he is in 1981, blowing away Bernadette Peters and every other viewer of Pennies from Heaven.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Cash in the Temple on a Sunday

I'm exhausted, so rather than keep myself up past midnight I'm posting Sunday's entry a few hours early.

I recently bought The Best of the Johnny Cash Show on DVD, and I'm mighty glad I did. There are so wonderful performances on there - you may remember the rendition Ray Charles gave "Ring of Fire," but the two discs are just jam packed with highlights, both from Johnny and his guests. To whet your appetite a little more, here are two Cash performances that really hit me.

First we have "Sunday Morning Coming Down," which for all I know could be attributed to some of you today. The censors didn't want Johnny to sing the line "Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned." He refused to leave it out. Kris Kristofferson, the song's writer, said that by taking that stand, he validated the song as it was, and it wound up winning an award for Country Song of the Year. Thanks, Johnny. (To watch it, click here.)

Now here's Johnny explaining why he's "The Man in Black." This is less a song than a sermon, just as relevant today as it was over a third of a century ago. I swear, by the time he was done, there was a tear in this flinty eye.

Rah rah rah! We're going to smash the oiks!

Who would have thought that such a nice gentle song from Cliff Richard would become the theme song to one of the loudest, most violent, anarchic sitcoms ever created?

The Young Ones - Rik, Vyvyan, Neil, and Mike - were four students at Scumbag University sharing squalid housing and squabbling at the top of their lungs, with surrealism, puppets, random subliminal flashes, and Alexi Sayle popping in for good measure. Like all good British kult komedy klassix, it lasted twelve episodes and will hopefully live on forever.

Here are a couple of great moments from the "Bambi" episode. First there's this moment, where Vyvyan loses his head. Then there's the match between Oxbridge and Scumbag. Dig if you will the presence of Academy Award winner Emma Thompson.

Friday, October 05, 2007

High on Waltons Mountain

The Waltons showed '70s audiences life in the Virginia mountains forty years earlier in the Depression, when life was simpler and you could fill the tank with a gallon of gas. Originally a TV movie with Patricia Neal, it aired for nine years and won a boatload of Emmys.

Their opening credits used to take almost two minutes; watch them here. When they figured out they could get to commercial a lot faster with a shorter theme, they switched to the sepia snapshot look. (The original music wasn't really this fast; it's been compressed to allow for even more ads.)

The show centered around writer-wannabe John-Boy Walton, played by Richard Thomas. He had a mole and was wholesome. Though you wouldn't know it to watch him in this outtake.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

You plug 'em, we plant 'em

Back before Paul Lynde was yukkin' it up on Hollywood Squares (like so)...

...he appeared in a whole bunch of movies and TV shows. Perhaps his best known is his role as the father in Bye Bye Birdie, but I want to give some love to this scene from Send Me No Flowers. It's a 1964 film where Rock Hudson thinks he's going to die, but doesn't want anyone else to know, so he sets about planning everything, including his final resting place. That's where Lynde comes in, as a cemetery director who just loves his job.

Take note of the line that would raise eyebrows once Rock had been outed.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Almost golden

Jessica Savitch was a newscaster in the '70s - not an easy thing for women to be in those days (the Veronica Corningstone character in the Will Ferrell movie Anchorman: The Ron Burgundy Story was based on her and her struggles). She was very popular with the viewers, but very demanding behind the scenes.

She was equally demanding of herself, leading to stress and drugs. And on October 3, 1983, 24 years ago today, she had an absolute meltdown on camera. (Note the globe spinning the wrong way at the beginning.)

Three weeks later, Savitch was dead - she was in the back seat of a car that went off the road and into a canal, where she drowned. She was 36 years old.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Is it safe?

I have a few cavities. I don't like to call them cavities. I like to call them "places to put stuff." Do you know where I can store a pea? Yes, I have some locations available. - Mitch Hedberg

Last time I went to the dentist, I was told I had teeth like the Rock of Gibraltar. Well, over time there was some erosion, and tomorrow I have to go in for some, uh, storage removal.

Since the most famous dentist scene in film history (with the possible exception of the Little Shop of Horrors sequences) is from Marathon Man, I thought it best to show the trailer to that. I've never seen the film, but the book by William Goldman is terrific.

Or would you rather the entire drilling scene?

Monday, October 01, 2007

And it makes me wonder

Once upon a time there was a version of the theme song to Gilligan's Island set to the music of "Stairway to Heaven." And it was good.

Then lo, the scum descended, and they were called lawyers, and they did smite the artist with lawsuits. But the great Percy caught wind of all and said, I grant thee my permission.

And thus did the song survive to be sung to schoolchildren who knew not Dr. Demento. And it was awesome, dude.