Friday, November 30, 2007

Thoughtful Fifties Music

For some strange reason I'm in a '50s kind of mood at the moment, so I thought I'd share a few favorites of mine from the era. They all have a kind of pensiveness about them; one's peppy and two are slow.

This is Clyde McPhatter, the first of the many great Drifters vocalists, on his solo hit "A Lover's Question." Not a high-octane video, but that audio's wonderful.

Here are the Flamingos doing a lip-synch to "I Only Have Eyes For You." It looks like they're doing it a good fifteen years after the fact.

Finally, here's the scene from Badlands, the wonderful debut picture of Terrence Malick's, where Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek are on the run from the law, drifting apart, and they hear Nat King Cole's "A Blossom Fell," and it lets them be close one last time.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hee-hee-heere's Tom with the weather

Local news has some fascinating things about it. (No, really, stay with me on this.) One of the most fascinating is the number of mistakes that make it on the air - there's a reason these folks aren't on network - and how the reaction isn't horror, but a giddy sort of schoolkid excitement, like they just got away with something.

YouTube is loaded with all sorts of goofs from the six o'clock news; here are a few favorites. There's the anchors who get into a giggle fit at a runway model's tumble. Listen as one starts to apologize and the other interrupts him so they can see it again.

There's the one who inadvertently starts a catfight.

Another giggle fit during a report on vasectomies, with absolutely brilliant camera work.

And finally, here's my favorite, one the poster titled "The Most Perfect Technical Glitch."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Josh

My brother turns 33 today, in honor of Larry Bird, Rolling Rock, and Mick Jagger when he recorded Black and Blue. Two of his favorite things are the band the Minutemen and the TV show Jackass. That makes today's video clip a natural - an acoustic version of "Corona," which originally appeared on the album Double Nickels on the Dime and later became the Jackass theme song.

For a taste of their studio stuff, here's their video for "This Ain't No Picnic," in which they play to a really tough crowd - namely, Ronald Reagan with bombs.

If you like what you see, you're in luck - there's a whole documentary on the band.

Anyway, happy happy, little bruddah.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Yksi, kaksi, kolme, nelja

Today I discovered a blog that links to mine. Now that's always a treat, but this one was extra-special - it's in Finnish. Speaking as a quarter-Finn myself, it's nice to be embraced by the land of my ancestors, where we know it's pronounced sow-na, not sawn-a, and where you don't want anyone calling you "paska housut" (pronounced "buska ho-so"; definition available on request).

So I've got to say hello to my neighbors to the north with a couple of Finnish video clips. But they've got to have American appeal. Hmmm, what to do...

Well, you can't go wrong with disco. If you're not up on your steps, here's a quick lesson...

And if you are, here's a stompin' cover of "YMCA." What sisu!

Monday, November 26, 2007

This makes me laugh harder than it should

Here's the old favorite from Dr. Demento, and when I say old I'm talking 1946. And every time they show that quarter-second shot leading into the chorus, I crack up.

I swear to God, comedy wouldn't be comedy without timing.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

This blog should be played LOUD

Well, I enjoyed my Thanksgiving, and I hope you all enjoyed yours.

Thirty-one years ago today was another very special Thanksgiving - the famous Last Waltz concert was held in San Francisco. The Band, performing for the final time with their classic five-man lineup, had the mother of all going-away parties, with guests ranging from Neil Diamond to Neil Young and pretty much everyone in between. Best of all, it was captured for all time in a documentary directed by Martin Scorsese.

If you've not seen this, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. I'm so crazy about this movie I literally took a two hundred mile bus ride to see it on the big screen. (Okay, I was supposed to see it with someone, but she never showed. Nevertheless, I don't consider it a loss. THAT'S how crazy I am about this movie.)

Here's the very beginning, where we meet the Band members as they stomp through their closing number, a cover of Marvin Gaye's "Don't Do It."

And here they are doing "Mystery Train" with Paul Butterfield on harmonica.

Great story here - the lighting board blew a fuse, and the only light working was the spotlight on Butterfield. So one of the great effects in the show was a one hundred percent accident.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Muppets Galore

So I'm going to be getting into the fourth Thursday of November by taking off until Sunday. Of course, I don't want to leave you in the lurch too badly, so I'm going to load up a ton of Muppet-type clips. (Really, it's been far too long.) Hopefully they'll keep you from suffering too much withdrawl.

From Sesame Street, here's a personal fave, "Some Of Us Are Here."

Next, some disco, with Cookie Monster channeling Isaac Hayes and George Clinton.

And now, Pigs In Space, between servings of cosmic slop (hi Sam!) with John Cleese. Note the parrot reference.

Followed by Veterinarian's Hospital, featuring Christopher Reeve.

Now for a couple mashups - here are our felt friends acting out the sound to the trailer for House of 1000 Corpses.

And Beaker emotes "Yellow."

Finally, if you click here, here, and here, you can watch a complete episode of The Muppet Show with Milton Berle. I picked this one solely for the way Statler and Waldorf heckle Berle to powder.

So enjoy the rest of your week, everyone, and I'll see you on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Easy" does it for me

Robert Altman died a year ago today. He'd been one of my favorite directors for almost two decades, and it was tough to let him go. All the things he's known for - overlapping dialogue, improvisation, curious moments of fun - appealed to me an awful lot. In his memory, here are a couple favorites.

First, the trailer for my personal favorite, The Long Goodbye, with Elliot Gould as Philip Marlowe, stuck in '70s LA. The title track's sung by the same guy who sings "Conjunction Junction."

Now the key scene in Altman's signature movie Nashville. Keith Carradine's performing a song, and three women think he's dedicating it to them - but a fourth, Lily Tomlin, knows it's aimed right at her. I recommend watching this full-screen, so you can see the emotional devastation move across her face.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Twenty-nine years ago today, the New York Giants were headed toward an upset win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles had no time-outs; all the Giants had to do was kneel down and let the clock run out. It was such a forgone conclusion that they'd won that the credits literally started rolling.

Here's the original network broadcast that shows what happened next.

Today, it's known as "The Miracle in the Meadowlands."

Here's the original broadcast of another famous fumble, known as "The Holy Roller." In this case it turned out well for the fumblers, the Oakland Raiders, and since they were clearly cheating, the NFL would change the rules about late game fumble recoveries before the next season.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Withnail & I, together again

Withnail and I is one of the great cult classics of the last 20 years, as well as being one of the most quotable. Just a few scenes to give you the flavor, on the off-chance you're unfamiliar: Withnail demanding to have some booze - twice...

...and at film's end, quoting Hamlet to the wolves.

The film's so special to so many that news that the two stars, Paul McGann and Richard E. Grant, were reuniting for a short film, their first time together in two decades, was a complete and unexpected thrill, the cult-movie equivalent of John and Paul going back to the studio together in 1990. The result, Always Crashing in the Same Car, was fascinating in part for the gentle McGann having the much darker role.

Here's the trailer for it. Enjoy with the Camberwell Carrot of your choice.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It's all in the voice

We all know that it's not just good singing that sets the good a cappella groups apart from the great ones. Nor is it the adventurous choice of songs or the exciting arrangements. No, the key final step is some fine choreography.

Here are a couple collegiate a cappella groups to illustrate. First, the UC-Berkeley Men's Octet performing "Bohemian Rhapsody."

And now, the BYU Vocal Point doing a version of "Thriller" with zombie lurches and headsnaps that I guarantee will make you smile. Particularly the one about 1:09 of the way in.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The dawn of (Letter)man

David Letterman wasn't always the brilliant talk show host he is today. He started off as a local weatherman before going to Hollywood to hone his acting chops.

Here he is doing light comedy with Michael Jackson. (Yes, you read that right.)

And this is him as an obnoxious self-help guru on Mork and Mindy.

That was a great find for me personally, because for years I've remembered this phrasing of "Sit down and shut up" and didn't know where it came from. Now I do. Thanks, YouTube! *grin*

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A world without writers

The writers strike in Hollywood's going strong, and we're being forced to imagine what might happen if people less facile with words were running the show.

My British friend Jamie sent me this clip, showing one possible answer...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Great Lost Albums

Pure by the Primitives was a cassette I picked up and bought on nothing more or less than a hunch. I'd never heard of them, never heard any of their songs - but there was something that compelled me to buy that tape. Usually this impulse buying is a huge mistake on my part, but this time it turned out beautifully.

The Primitives were basically one part Blondie, one part Jesus and Mary Chain. Their guitars could buzz, roar, and jangle, but the point of the band was the songs, with more hooks than a strip of Velcro and the sweetness of Tracy Tracy's vocals lilting above.

Here are a few videos of songs from the album to give you an idea. First, the best-known thanks to a later appearance in Dumb and Dumber, "Crash."

Next, an earlier single, "Thru the Flowers."

Finally, a pretty bad video for a pretty great kiss-off song, "Way Behind Me."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

There's always room for Jello

One more story about my thesis and then I'll shut up about it. In my introduction I talk about the importance of what if in my stories, how it opens up realms of possibilities. And I quote Jello Biafra, lead vocalist for the Dead Kennedys, talking about the time he ran for mayor of San Francisco in 1979. He was talking about signs he saw on his campaign stop, like "If he doesn't win I'll kill myself." Then he says his favorite sign just said "What if he wins?"

Here's local news coverage of the mayoral candidate cleaning up San Francisco.

And just because I'll take any excuse to show this, here's the DK cover of Elvis's "Viva Las Vegas." This is the aural equivalent of buying a spit, going to Graceland and sticking it into Elvis's coffin so you can know for an absolute fact that he's spinning in his grave.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My thesis is almost dung

I've written about 175 pages worth of short stories for my MFA degree, and I'm pretty happy with them. Before I turn them in, though, I'm going to proofread them. Otherwise, as slam poet supreme Taylor Mali tells us, something like this might happen.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

For the love of God, don't watch this

There's a video making its way around the net called "Two Girls, One Cup." I think it's disgusting. I don't know for sure, because I had to shut it off after thirty seconds and I'm sure more stuff happened after that, but I refuse to find out what.

How disgusting is it? It's so disgusting that there are dozens of YouTube videos where people record themselves and others watching it for the first time and reacting.

Here are six. I could easily have put up a lot more.

If you want to see the original, you're going to have to be proactive and seek it out yourself. I'm not going to help you. Frankly, the imagination is a lot more fun.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Won't you please, please help me?

Did you know the second-best Beatles movie finally came out on DVD this week?

John said that Help! wasn't a Beatles film so much as a film with Beatles in it ("It was like having clams in a movie about frogs"), and he's right. But I actually get a bigger kick out of the musical performances here than the ones in Hard Day's Night, on account of they're more reminiscent of what bands would be doing on MTV twenty (twenty!) years later, i.e. "here we are, get used to us," leavened with a li'l wackiness.

Such as their take on "Another Girl." (I always loved the modulation to C major in the bridge.)

And "Ticket to Ride."

Incidentally, that's Paul playing lead guitar on both tracks.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Short Attention Span Theatre 5

Hey kids, it's that time again! You have the inclination but not the time to watch all these MeTube clips, and believe me, I feel your pain. So here are a whole bunch of them adding up to one minute, give or take.

I give you animated clips that look nothing like Sam Elliott...

...or Owen Wilson.

I give you an old woman throwing a solid punch.

I give you the Little Mermaid's bare hinder.

I give you a six-fingered woman. I think.

And I give you three clips from Kentucky Fried Movie.

You may have to hit "refresh" to see them all in one go. Just make sure you don't miss out on the last one...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Otis! My man!

You're not going to believe the energy in this clip. It's Otis Redding on Ready Steady Go!, singing a medley of "I Can't Turn You Loose," "Shake," and "Land of 1000 Dances." He's joined by Eric Burdon and Chris Farlowe, fair soul singers in their own right.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Everyone will be famous for 4.25 minutes

There's no two ways about it - you're either going to love this or hate this.

It's a short film made by and starring Andy Warhol. To say any more would, I think, detract from the point of watching it, so I'll just let you decide whether it's worth 250-some-odd seconds.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Let's mock Star Trek

I can't find the exact quote or the comedian who said it, but there's a great line about how a guy should be in bed that goes something like, "I figure if I can get the girl to sing the Star Trek theme, I'm doing my job." Well, here's a guy doing it down at the pub - singing the theme, that is.

Then there's this mashup of ST visuals to the Jefferson Airplane song "White Rabbit." Really quite brilliant.

And now for something completely juvenile.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ring of Fire Times Two

I've already showcased one excellent cover of the Johnny Cash classic "Ring of Fire," but I didn't think it would hurt to feature a couple more interesting ones.

First we have a live version by Social Distortion, who made the song (if not their own) all theirs for a while.

Then there's the Wall of Voodoo version. It's not quite "Mexican Radio," but it'll do nicely.

Or at least it would if it doesn't cut off with two minutes left in the clip. So to make it up for you, here are a couple of kids totally feelin' it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

High school is a battleground for your heart

I watched every episode of My So-Called Life save the pilot on its original 8pm Thursday time slot on ABC, absolutely loving the whole thing. I identified in an awfully big way with Brian Krakow (played by Devon Gummersall), who was a curly-haired smart kid harboring a gigantic crush. A stranger once told me I looked like Krakow, and I just glowed. I wrote ABC a letter begging them not to cancel the show. I planned a spec script where Brian's cool cousin breezes into town and Angela gets a crush on him and Brian can't understand why. And since I didn't have cable, I never saw a rerun, but despite being without it for over a decade, so much of it has stayed burned into my head.

Anyway, this week the complete series, all 19 episodes, was released on DVD, and I'm getting all caught up in it all over again. To give you just a little idea why, here are a few favorite clips.

First, the moment when Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) realizes he loves Angela Chase (sweet, sweet Claire Danes), prompted by a reading of Shakespeare's Sonnet 130.

And this is him acting on it. Never before has handholding been such an absolute apex.

Finally, the last few minutes from the last episode. Brian's done a Cyrano and written a love letter to Angela under Jordan's name, and she's found out.

Oh, did this kill me. The way she says "Brian?" The way Brian says "Hi" and the quickly corrects himself with the cooler "Hey." They got it. And boy, did they get me.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Ariel gets nas-tayyyyyy

This isn't safe for work, but what do you care? It's Saturday!

It's the Little Mermaid as you've never heard her before, channeling her inner Yoni Mitchell as she sings of her wish to have a little enchantment under the waistline.

Friday, November 02, 2007

You can never get enough Saber Dance

Here are nine young people doing a dance routine at varying speeds to Khachaturian's greatest hit.

I'm willing to bet good money that most if not all of the people we're seeing here are theatre students.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The front fell off

This is going to be a busy month for me, what with my thesis coming due in three weeks closely followed by Thanksgiving and Black Friday, pretty much in that order. So my comments may not be quite as thorough as they could be. But I'll still keep the clips a-comin' as quick as I can.

Here's an Australian comedy team, John Clarke and Bryan Dawe, doing a routine that's SO dry the YouTube commenters (not the brightest crayons in the box, granted) can't make up their minds on whether it's real or not.