Friday, April 11, 2008

The Last Post

Wow. The end. I'll never post here again. (But I will try and keep the clips as current as I can.)

Before I post the clip, I'd like to thank a few people.

First, I'd like to thank the people who knew me before MeTube was a twinkle in my eye, who came by on a regular basis. That means you, Jim & Steph in Maine, Zach and Heather in DCish, Mike Daisey in NYC, Paul in NJ, and John in LA.

Next, I'd like to thank those who met me through MeTube. It's nice discovering all those out there who have a similar way of thinking. So thanks to Millie Wink (who still kept watching even after the offensive stuff), Sam L., The Great White Dope (who made me understand how important it was to credit your sources), and Deputy Dog (who doubled my traffic when he recommended me on his web site).

Most especially, I'd like to thank Jason Soto. He said to me (I'm paraphrasing through Elvis in "Suspicious Minds"), "Let's don't let a good thing die." So he'll be taking over the MeTube mantle. I give you MeTube: The Next Generation. Jason has my confidence, and I look forward to seeing what he'll do.

UPDATE: I have gone on to start another blog, similar to MeTube, except it's geared toward pop culture that touches on Maine, however tangentially. If you're interested, check it out here.

Now, let's go on to the final clip.

I weighed a lot of options for this. I would like to post the last scene in WKRP, to mirror my posting a scene from the pilot on my first post, but this is one of those shows that keeps getting pulled from YouTube, so forget that.

I thought of posting other sitcom final scenes (Newhart, Cheers, M*A*S*H), but that's speaking more for them and not for me.

I already posted the Saw Doctors' "I'll Be On My Way" back in January. (What an awesome song that is.)

But to be honest, there was one clip I've had in mind for months, and nothing could have possibly proved itself better. It's the final moments of Dr. Strangelove, where Vera Lynn sings "We'll Meet Again."

Take care, God bless, and I truly do look forward to some sunny day.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Last Guest

Johnny Carson's final Tonight Show was just a bunch of clips and him saying goodbye to Ed, Doc & America. It was the episode before, the last one with guests, that meant something. Robin Williams was one of the guests, but the other, the one the night belonged to, was Bette Midler. She performed a parody of "You Made Me Love You," and later she closed the night with a beautiful rendition of "One For My Baby (and One More For The Road)." She later won an Emmy for Outstanding Performance in a Variety Program for this.

For pianist Marc Shaiman's memories of that night, click here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Last Laugh

Before I knew Statler and Waldorf were hotels, I knew them as the two old codgers on The Muppet Show. As a kid I loved them for their "Ahhhh-ha-ha-ha-ha" laughs; when I got older, I loved them for their smart aleck heckling. Never was it greater than when they tore Milton Berle a new one.

Anyway, you'll remember that every show came to a close with one final zinger from the two of them. Here's five and a half minutes of them.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Last Lecture

There's a book coming out today from Randy Pausch called The Last Lecture. It's a tradition at some colleges and universities to have professors give a lecture and imagine it to be their last. In Pausch's case, when he was asked to do so, that wasn't such a hypothetical - he'd just been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The resultant talk has become semilegendary. YouTube has a 75-minute version here, but Oprah used her Oprah powers and got him to squash it down to ten minutes. The points, and they're powerful, wonderful points, come across just fine.

Please don't skip this just because it's an extended clip. Take the time. You'll not be sorry.

Monday, April 07, 2008

MeTube Extra: I knew this was going to happen

No sooner do I announce my impending departure than I find a bunch of videos that I simply can't keep to myself.

First, here's one I've been hoping to find for a long time. Woody Allen, early in his career, did some work for Allen Funt's Candid Camera program. Here he dictates a love letter to an unsuspecting secretary.

One more Sesame Street bit I (L is for) love, love, love.

And then there's Steve Riks. He's a UK comedian got hundreds of clips on YouTube where he does impressions of various musicians. His McCartney and Freddy Mercury are pretty awesome, but here I'd like to just focus on his Lennon...

...and his Bowie.

Like I said, his Lennon and his Bowie.

Clinton's final days

When President Clinton was coming to the end of his time in the White House, he made this short film, which was shown at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

Believe it or not, there were some people who griped about this, saying the leader of the free world shouldn't be spending his workdays filming comedy. I think some people are paid not to have a sense of humor.

Fun fact: Clinton ad-libbed the part where he watches the clothes go round.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Best of MeTube 2

Last year I posted my favorite clips from the previous twelve months. I'm not going to make it to the two year mark, but I still came up with ten favorites since that posting.

Actually, I came up with more, but some links are no longer live, while others are in constant danger of coming down. So these are my top ten favorites that I hope will stay on YouTube for a long time to come. (The future will show us how ridiculous that last sentence turns out to be.)

10. The top 10 WTF moments in Mystery Science Theater 3000.

9. One of the "Two Girls, One Cup" reactions.

8. The incredibly filthy Ed McMahon.

7. "Thriller" a cappella.

6. The Police via A Charlie Brown Christmas.

5. The Saul Bass Star Wars credits.

4. Fenway Park sings the National Anthem.

3. "The Laws Have Changed" video by the New Pornographers.

2. The final scene from My So-Called Life.

1. Perry Como - Still Alive.

Bubbling under: Woody Allen in Play It Again, Sam...

and "When Your Mind's Made Up" from Once.

Cheating? Hell yeah! Whattaya gonna do, fire me?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

I drop a bomb on you

This is the final week I'll be running MeTube. My last entry will be on Friday, April 11.

I'm going to move up to Maine and live in an Airstream trailer and write a novel. I'll be living off the grid - no phone, no electricity, and no Internet. I'll drive into town once a week or so to check emails and such, but the days of carousing among the clips are coming to a close.

Also, to be honest, not having the means to surf the nets will provide me with some much needed discipline. If I learned one thing from my unexpected forced withdrawl last month, it's that I can get a lot done when I can focus.

So any more dubbed clips of FDR swearing...

...or X-rated trailers created by the makers of Scooby-Doo...

...or oddly compelling clips my friends send me (thanks once again to Paul in NJ)...

...or even clips of people licking their own elbows (you'd be amazed how many there are)...

...will have to come to you from somewhere else.

I've got a great bunch of final clips lined up for this week, so let's go out with a bang. Thank you all so much for stopping by, and now, let the wild rumpus start!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Sesame Street favorites

You know, I've posted a veritable ton of clips from Sesame Street on this blog, and they're all pretty darn great. But, as Johnny Depp says in Chocolat, not my favorite.

Herewith my top five all time Sesame Street clips.

Number 5: Ernie and Bert play "What Happened Here?"

Number 4: E & B again, this time going over why there's a cookie on the table. I've been known to say, "Why is that, I ask foolishly." No one's ever spotted the source before, though.

Number 3: I'm a dog, I'm a workin' dog, I'm a hardworkin' dog. How can you not love that guitar?

Number 2: The Great Cookie Thief. Cookie Monster's shrug at 1:29 is a thing of beauty.

And far and away number 1: Cowboy X. Yiiiiippeeeeeee!

Tomorrow: a very important announcement...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The blind leading the blind

Happy birthday to my mom up in Maine! To celebrate, I'm dedicating these clips to her.

First we have the final scene in the 1970 TV movie Jane Eyre, where Jane (Susannah York) reunites with a blinded Mr. Rochester (George C. Scott). That megaromantic score is by John Williams.

Now Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. Mom loves this scene; she would have me cue it up on the videotape on such a regular basis that I can still recite 90 percent of the dialogue from memory.

Lots of great character actors in this, led by the very young Philip Seymour Hoffman, hiding in Big Daddy's pocket.

Since that clip is ten minutes long, here's something much shorter - every "Hoo-ah!" in the movie.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Th-th-th-th-that's awesome, folks

One of the features of YouTube that I'm quite fond of is their "Related Videos" column. The "If you liked this, try this" approach has landed me a lot of great finds that I likely would never have come across otherwise. This was especially true for tonight's entry.

Here a number of great Looney Tunes moments are set to "Dancing in the Dark" by Bruce Springsteen. The too-perfect visual for "I check my look in the mirror" made me laugh out loud.

But here's the thing - great as this is, I only found it because it was in the "Related Videos" file. It was connected to this piece of genius - a pairing of What's Opera, Doc? with "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Considering these are the two greatest opera spoofs of the 20th century (sorry, Marx Brothers fans), I'm amazed nobody thought of combining these before.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Coming soon to DVD

Happy April Fool's Day (shoe's untied! Bwahaha!), everyone. Today I'd like to take a look at a few of the DVDs that are being released this month. Anything to get the hype rolling.

Juno is due out soon, as is There Will Be Blood, but I don't think those guys need the hype. So I'll throw my inconsiderable weight behind these four - Walk Hard, a faux-Johnny Cash story, due out on the 8th...

...Lars and the Real Girl, about a man and his artificial gal pal, coming out on the 15th...

...and two, count 'em, two movies with the fan-tan-tastic Philip Seymour Hoffman - Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (4/15)...

...and The Savages, the week after that.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Beer - it's what's for dinner

I'll confess to being a little dry tonight in the idea department, but even so it wasn't too hard to track down something good. Namely, vintage animated beer commercials.

Here's a Claymation one for Ballantine beer.

This one has bears having a pie fight for God knows what reason.

Best of all, here are Bob and Ray doing one of their Bert & Harry Piel ads for Piels beer. This was a campaign that actually put Piels out of business - so many loved the ads that they tried the beer, and unfortunately the beer was pretty lousy.

Bonus! If it's modern funny beer ads you want, here are the folks at Red Stripe (who make the best beer ads in the world hands down) topping themselves with an infomercial.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Big O

My college roommate once said about Roy Orbison, "His eyes were too close together and he sounded like a wounded deer."

Let's just say we differed. On the part about the wounded deer, anyway. Here's a rare clip of him lip-synching "Only the Lonely," shadeless and looking pretty uncomfortable.

Here he is in better form, doing "It's Over."

A quarter century after he recorded "Crying," his voice was no less amazing when he performed it; this is from the famous Black & White Night concert.

And call me silly, but I got a big kick out of this video for "In Dreams" performed by sock puppets.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Joe Raposo, genius

Joe Raposo's best known for his work with Sesame Street, having composed "Sing (Sing a Song)" and "Bein' Green." He's done some other pretty great stuff, too (including the Three's Company theme and four songs on Ol' Blue Eyes is Back; the record company talked Sinatra out of recording an entire album of Raposo songs).

But you all know me; I've got to focus on the kiddie stuff.

A couple of big favorites of mine are "Take a Bweaf" and "There's a Bird On Me."

He performed the vocals for more than a few of the Sesame Street songs, in a really nice tenor voice; this is him singing "Trying and Trying Again" and "Somebody Come and Play."

And here's the man himself acting out a battle with the letters "UN." I'd say his gift for physical comedy is on a par with that of his songwriting.

Friday, March 28, 2008

John Cale's got a secret

I've got a bunch of Lou Reed-related clips here on MeTube, but alas, the attention I've paid to Velvet Underground cofounder John Cale has been sadly lacking. Well, no more. (Thanks to Paul in New Jersey for introducing me to this.)

In 1963, four years before VU & Nico was released, Cale appeared on the game show I've Got a Secret. His secret: he was one of five pianists who'd performed a piano piece three lines long 840 times, in a concert that lasted over eighteen hours. After the panel attempted to guess his secret, Cale performed that piece.

It's ten minutes long and, to my mind, pretty fascinating. I hope you agree.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Loud and long and clear

Don't you love a good contagious laugh? I like to think I've got one myself. I remember once in college, I was having lunch in the cafeteria and started laughing at something, and two girls got up and moved to another table. That's how contagious I was.

Anyway, here are a couple of great ones. Dustin Hoffman and a reporter explore the word "cut."

And a religious TV show host nonverbally expresses his opinion of a singing caller.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fatthew Sweet

I have about ten Matthew Sweet albums, and his 1991 masterpiece Girlfriend holds a permanent place in my top 15. Saw him live once, and I was surprised at how solidly he was built. Like a linebacker, I remember thinking.

But Matthew, come on, what happened to you? To quote Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, David Crosby thinks you've let yourself go.

I mean, here he is making his television debut on Letterman, playing a storming "Girlfriend," with the late Robert Quine playing one hell of a lead guitar.

Now here he is 16ish years later, duetting with once and future Bangle Susanna Hoffs on a cover of the Beatles' "Rain."

Seriously, I see him in this and I worry for his health. The music's still pretty great and Hoffs looks glorious, but I just keep looking at Matthew and wincing. I hope he's not ruined or anything...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

For all you artists and tradespeople

At last, I'm back in Holyoke, home of high speed internet, and I can make high-class updates to the blog. Better yet, I can check my email for ideas.

This one comes to me from my friend Allison in Nashville. It's a Canadian couple named Fred and Sharon Spencer, advertising their video company, and it has to be seen to be disbelieved.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Erin Still Go Bragh

This is the post I would have made last week, on St. Patrick's Day. (For more St. Patty's fun, click here.)

I have here a couple of songs performed by the Irish for your enjoyment. First we have the chalk 'n' cheese pairing of Sinead O'Connor and Shane McGowan doing "Haunted."

And now, my favorite song from the movie The Commitments, "Dark End of the Street." Most unbelievable fact of all time: Andrew Strong was 16 years old when he sang this. Keep an eye out for the guitarist - that's Glen Hansard, the star of Once.

Finally, a joke:

Q. What did St. Patrick say while he was driving the snakes out of Ireland?
A. (mime holding a steering wheel, look over left shoulder) "Ye alroight beck there, lads?"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is risen!

Happy Easter, all a y'all - let's celebrate with a little three-part harmony.

These are the Roches - sisters Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy - performing the Hallelujah Chorus. Just try not to be uplifted.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

No mass communication

Well, it turned out that the house I was caring for had some cable issues, which meant no internet for me for two weeks. Not knowing what emails were waiting for me was torture, but not near as much as being away from MeTube and its faithful readers (that's you).

Well, I'm back, but in a somewhat limited capacity. I'm typing this from a dialup connection that takes forever and won't let me see the clips (or, for that matter, my emails). Fortunately, I take good notes, so I know just what I want to post.

And today, I want to post what I would have posted yesterday, Good Friday (I didn't eat my last two slices of BBQ chicken pizza in observation). Namely, the 1973 movie version of "Jesus Christ Superstar."

I recommend going to YouTube and checking out the Japanese stage version. I'd link to it, but this relic of a computer won't let me. I wouldn't be surprised if this only runs on direct current...

Anyway, enjoy, look for another post tomorrow, and by gum it's good to be back.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I'd love a bite of your sandwich

I'm going to spend many of the next 24 hours driving up to Mount Desert Island, where I'll be housesitting for the next two weeks. I'm told the house is all wired up for the Internet, so I'm bringing the computer with me in order to keep MeTube going. But just in case I can't do a timely update, I'm putting a longish one up here today.

This is an episode of Fishing With John, a very, very deadpan look at fishing in various spots around the world with actor/musician John Lurie and a different guest star every show. Unlike most of these sorts of shows, we get a lot of the dead-air moments. I suspect the show prefers these times to the times they actually catch something.

This show's guest is Tom Waits, so you know we're talking classic. It's a half hour long, in three parts.

Friday, March 07, 2008


Tor Johnson was a professional wrestler (stage name: The Super Swedish Angel) and the inspiration for a hugely popular Halloween mask. He's probably best known for his roles in the movies of Ed Wood; here he emotes in the trailer for Bride of the Monster.

Somebody out there had the common decency to post a clip of him on You Bet Your Life, then had the wit to title the clip "You Bet Tor Life." Listen to the crowd react as he walks in. Needless to say, Groucho runs verbal rings around poor Tor.

And now, as the great man once said, "Time for go to bed."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Other Elvis

He looks like Buddy Holly after drinking a can of STP oil treatment. - Dave Marsh

The reason why most rock critics love Elvis Costello is that most rock critics look like Elvis Costello. - David Lee Roth

My ultimate vocation in life is to be an irritant, someone who disrupts the daily drag of life just enough to leave the victim thinking there's maybe more to it all than the mere hum-drum quality of existence. - Elvis Costello

The former Declan Patrick McManus is one of the great rock lyricists, in the sense that his lyrics are crammed with wit and wordplay. I mean, look at the chorus from "New Amsterdam":

New Amsterdam it's become much too much
Till I have the possession of everything she touches
Till I step on the brakes to get out of her clutches
Till I speak double dutch to a real double duchess

Top that, Paul McCartney.

My personal favorites of his are, in chronological order, "Pump It Up," which in this video inspires him to dance like he's got two left feet, both of them clubs.

"Love For Tender," which has the best slam-to-a-close ending in his catalog (though this video mutes it just a touch).

"Almost Blue" didn't have a performance video on YouTube, but I don't think anyone will mind looking at pictures of Audrey Hepburn for a few minutes while it plays.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

And that's just for openers

Saul Bass (1920-1996) was a graphic designer who created some of the most famous opening credit sequences in movie history. Probably his best known was Psycho.

I loved this one, for Walk on the Wild Side; how is it possible for a cat to take direction this well?

Anatomy of a Murder and The Man with the Golden Arm shared a similar look; jazz score and abstract cutouts.

Which leads to the raison d'etre for this entry - someone posted a reimagination of Star Wars's opening if Bass had been at the controls.

Amazingly, some commenters are griping about this - misspellings, too-fast music, what's with Max Rebo? Come on, people, just sit back and enjoy the brilliance.

PS - Thanks to Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule for the tip.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Cussin' cartoons

"Not For Air" is a segment on the Adult Swim part of the Cartoon Network, where bleeps are not-so-randomly assigned to make it look like the cartoons are swearing a blue streak. Here are a few of them - the Batman & Robin one is far and away the best.

Which isn't to say that cartoons aren't known to swear every now and then...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Bork bork bork!

There are enough Swedish Chef clips on YouTube to make up a full course meal. Let's start with the turtle soup...

Then on to the spaghetti...

...and meatballs...

(but go easy on the hot sauce)...

And for dessert - donuts!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Street Hassling

Lou Reed, birthday boy, is now 66. I've backed off a touch on my days of worship, but he's still a key figure in my life.

This is "Street Hassle," as performed by him and his band in 1980. The studio version has cellos and some spoken words from Bruce Springsteen (read Rolling Stone's take on it here); this version doesn't, but it still has one of the greatest arrangements any two-chord rock 'n' roll song could ask for, along with some of the most wrenching writing of Lou's career.

It's eleven minutes long, set up in three movements. Here's part 1:

And, after a mean pinball and an introduction to the band, here are parts 2 and 3.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The greatest of E's

What is it about this, the most common of letters, that brought out some of my favorite animation on Sesame Street?

There's this lovely work, with a sitar and an undeniably druggy feel.

There's the one with the saw and a guy who I think inspired Shane McGowan to go toothless.

One that falls apart on the lead character in a somewhat bizarre and thoroughly unexpected fashion.

One that just might cause nightmares, if you're on the sensitive side.

And one so random I defy you to watch it without laughing.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Science of Rapping, and Vice Versa

One more rap post for the road.

One of the other artists John introduced me to was MC Hawking. Using a text-to-speech program, his raps are basically gangsta physics. Nerdcore, they call it on Wikipedia.

From his greatest hits album, A Brief History of Rhyme, here's "Entropy," which explains the measure of uniformity of the distribution of energy in a way even I can almost understand, sampling Naughty by Nature in the process. It even edits out the bad language, so feel free to show it to the kids.

By the way, for the record, Stephen Hawking is a fan.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Steely samples

I'll confess to not being well versed in rap. I have nothing against it, and have liked a lot of what I've heard - it's just not my particular bag, so I don't hear a lot of it. In fact, about the only exposure I get comes from mixes from my friend John in LA.

This year, he sent me a mix that included Kanye West's song "Champion." This was the first time I heard it, and I think John put it on in part because he knows I'm a Steely Dan fan, and this is based around a sample from their song "Kid Charlemagne."

Before this, the only Dan sample I knew of was in De La Soul's "Eye Know," which along with a loop or two from "Peg" also has Otis Redding and the Mad Lads featured therein.

But it turns out they've been sampled a lot. A little research revealed two samples from "Black Cow," off Aja. One was in Tatyana Ali's "Daydreamin'"...

The other: Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz, in "Deja Vu."

Unfortunately, Tariq and Gunz didn't clear the sample before release, so they wound up being sued and having to pay the Dan around a hundred thousand dollars. But judging by this clip, I don't think Becker and Fagen had any hard feelings.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

You're the man now, Vader!

On the off chance you're not already familiar with it, is a webpage where people create (usually brief) content - a series of photos, say, or a film or music loop - out of previously created art. I'm making it sound a bit highfalutin - it makes fun of pop culture and much in it.

They've got a channel on YouTube featuring some of their greatest hits, several of which I've posted here. Today I thought I'd focus on a few of their Darth Vader bits.

Here he's a magician. Look at and listen to Luke in the crowd.

Pat Sajak is wowed by his Wheel of Fortune playing ability.

And then there's the roller coaster.

Finally, he orders his Chia Pet to do its thing. Make sure and watch it all the way to the end.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Those thrilling days of yesteryear

Dan Rather once said, "An intellectual snob is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture and not think of The Lone Ranger." I guess I'm no intellectual snob. Really, did a piece of classical music ever become so tightly entwined with any other fictional character?

Clayton Moore, who played the Lone Ranger, is unique among TV stars in his desire to be as much like his character in real life as he was onscreen, living by the Lone Ranger creed and rarely appearing in public without a mask. Even when doing this ad for Cheerios (and where can you find a cereal these days that will send you a gun for a couple boxtops and four bits?), he talked only of gun safety, nothing about those tasty whole grain oats.

Finally, here's a fantastic story actor/radio personality Jay Thomas told on Letterman about his encounter with that masked man early in Thomas's career.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Spot the Oscar nominee

Well, the Oscars are over and done and were quite rewarding (no pun intended). I thought I'd share an early appearance by one of the nominees in earlier years.

This is a little puff piece on Ernie Anderson, who was the voice for ABC for years - my guess is you'll recognize that voice the moment you hear it.

That kid playing basketball with him about 3:20 in? That's Paul Thomas Anderson, who was a double nominee last night (losing to those ear-tuggin' Coen brothers both times).

Is it me or does it seem like Ernie's wife, who dwells on his inability to discipline and the joy she gets from shutting him off, has a few issues she can't quite keep under wraps?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

And a few of the nominees are...

Tonight's Oscar night, and while I'm not as intensely into it as I used to be (see all the nominees, watch Barbara Walters beforehand), it's still something I get into. I'll be looking forward to see who wins - excuse me, who the Oscar is awarded to - this year, as it's one of the strongest collections of nominees in years.

Just a few of the great performances here: Philip Seymour Hoffman going ballistic in Charlie Wilson's War...

Javier Bardem chillingly making a man choose heads or tails in No Country For Old Men...

And George Clooney facing off with Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mick Jagger in "The Nightingale"

We had an awful lot of snow in my neck of the woods - couldn't even make it all the way into the driveway. I'm guessing some of you are going to be kind of stuck indoors yourself this weekend, so I thought I'd put up a long one here.

This is Faerie Tale Theatre, a children's show created, produced, and hosted by Shelley Duvall from 1982 to 1987. It retold old tales for kids, with a sly wit for the adults ("it's hard to stay anonymous when your face is on all the money"), and some real talent at work - would you believe both Francis Ford Coppola and Tim Burton directed episodes?

In this episode, Mick Jagger plays Asian royalty. I think I'll stop the description there. (Except to say, keep an eye out for a bewigged Bud Cort of Harold and Maude fame.)

It's seven parts long and goes on for almost an hour, so sit back, relax, and please don't throw any popcorn at the ushers.

Friday, February 22, 2008

And there's a law in New York State

This is my all-time favorite stand-up comedy routine, one which I can perform at the drop of a drunken hat. It's Woody Allen's "The Moose," performed here as I first heard it, on the album Standup Comic. The jokes, the pacing, the buildup - it's a masterpiece.

Now this is him doing the same routine in England in 1965, the same year as the above performance.

It's interesting - to me, at least - to hear the slight differences in emphasis, pacing, word choices. It seems more deliberate - I don't know if it's because of the different venue, different country or what. I'm so conditioned to the first one that I can't help but prefer it, but I wonder if an unbiased listener might get more of a kick from the latter. Your thoughts?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ronald McDonald over the years

When McDonald's first brought in a clown to promote their vittles, he looked nothing whatsoever like he would later.

Here he is in his more traditional form, doing battle with Grimace, who was once evil and had four arms, if you can believe that. (Note the young Jodie Foster.)

Grimace later became a lovably dopey good guy. Here's one from my younger days, when he lost his voice. The doctor part of this still makes me laugh.

This may be my favorite of the ads, as Ronald does his level best to stay fah-resh.

Maybe it was better in its original Chinese.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"My name is Abbie. I am an orphan of America."

Today marks the 38th anniversary of the day the Chicago Seven were sentenced. The OJ Simpson trial may have been the best legal soap opera of the 20th century, but the Chicago conspiracy trial of 1969-70 was the best legal theater. When I was in high school I read The Tales of Hoffman, a collection of highlights from trial transcripts, and I still remember how amazed I was at the attitudes everyone had - judge, lawyers, defendants, even the spectators constantly interrupting with shouts of "Right on!"

Here's one exchange from memory, between attorney William Kunstler and a government witness:

"When you said the defendants announced they were going to open up a whole can of worms on the city of Chicago, were any of them holding a can opener in their hand?"
"No, sir."
"Thank you. No further questions."

The trials weren't filmed, but that didn't stop moviemakers. There were dramatic performances of those transcripts done at the time, preserved on film and recently released on DVD.

There's also a documentary that mixes news footage with animation, going into limited release at the end of the month.

Looks cool, doesn't it? Well, get this - there's a movie version in preproduction, written by Aaron Sorkin, directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Sasha "Borat" Cohen as Abbie Hoffman. Who in real life faced off against Judge Julius Hoffman. Who also faced off against Kunstler, who will be played by (wait for it) Philip Seymour Hoffman. To my mind, this is a great argument for living.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A little bit older, a little bit slower

Today's my birthday.

In honor of my reaching 37 on 2/19, I'm posting two clips wholly unrelated to each other and barely related to me. One is of the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where they talk about systems of government, strictly for :29 to :33.

The other is a cover of the Tom Waits song "2:19." Even though it relates to the time and not the date. Trust me, this is better than all the "February 19" entries.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Boxcutta style!

I'm going off to Maine for a couple of days; my dad's turning 68 and my mom's getting ordained. (I'm betting that sentence hasn't been spoken too many times in this world's history.) So as per usual, I'll leave you with a long one that'll hopefully keep you busy for a while, maybe longer.

I discovered Kung Faux during a late-night/early-morning channel surf at a dying party. The host was passed out, and my friend Jarrett and I stumbled across this. Picture What's Up Tiger Lily dubbed by hip-hoppers and strained through a video game and you'll get the idea. It was like we'd found Aladdin's lamp in a junkshop - totally unexpected, and the more you watch what it's doing, the more excited you get. Here's a brief clip to give you a sense.

There are a few episodes on YouTube, but I'll start you off with the one that caught my eyes; if you like it, there's more where that came from. Go here, here, and here.

Throw dem bows!

Friday, February 15, 2008


Over at the Agony Booth forum, the topic of great animated films was raised. One person posted a link to something I'd never heard of; I followed it, and I was knocked out.

Ladislas Starevich was a Russian stop-motion animator who got his start in the 1910s by taking dead beetles, removing their legs and mandibles, and reattaching them with wax, thus turning them into puppets. He would go on to work in France, where he created Le Roman de Renard (The Tale of the Fox). Here, a tomcat serenades his lady love.

Check out that last shot, where she sighs, and remind yourself this is stop-motion animation.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Likin' King

Last year I tried to devote a week of MeTube to Valentine's Day and found myself getting tired enough of it that the last clip was the one from Jackass Two when the guys are reading a valentine and wind up with a boxing glove to the head.

But the irrepressible hopeless/hopeful romantic in me can't be denied one more chance to celebrate it.

I'll do it with this video, which someone put together using parts of The Lion King and the XTC song "I'd Like That."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Digits getting down

Some dancing writ small for you today. First we have some fingers dancing to Janet Jackson. And you know somebody out there is wishing they could have those boots.

These fingers have more basic, um, tipwear I guess is the word, but they also have much, much flashier moves.

Finally, a bit from the movie The Groove Tube. Believe it or not, this clip is not appropriate for work.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cartoons for adults

In the '60s and '70s, animated cartoons were on the wane. Theaters no longer showed the shorts before the feature presentation, and the TV cartoons were cost-cutting affairs that had no sense of art and less of story.

That's when Ralph Bakshi arrived, determined to show a new way. His cartoons were definitely not aimed at the kiddies, not just in their images, but their sensibilities as well. They could be crude, but highly personal as well. They were controversial, but highly praised too. They fired the imaginations of thousands, and their influence can't be overestimated.

His first film, Fritz the Cat, was the first X-rated animated film. There are a good few bits of it on YouTube, but I'm putting up this one, even though little happens in it, because I'm just such a sucker for the Bo Diddley beat.

This is the trailer for Heavy Traffic, a look at inner-city life that mixed live-action footage with animation. It's one of his best.

He would do a lot of work with rotoscoping, a process of animation traced over live-action for a realistic look, making this sweet little scene in American Pop possible.

And then there's his take on Lord of the Rings, but that's another story for another day.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Funniest fight scenes

There's two kinds of funny. There's intentionally funny and there's unintentionally funny. Both have their proponents, but as long as they bring about laughter, they're both winners in my book. It's kind of like a family talent show where they have to give everyone prizes. (Or maybe I'm just tired and rambling.)

Anyway, there eleventy jillion fights on YouTube, so don't take my singling out these two as the funniest as gospel ("What! He didn't even mention King Arthur and the Black Knight?!"). They just float my boat o' jocularity, whether they mean to (as in this clip of Val Kilmer duking it out underwater in Top Secret)...

Or not, as in Don Niam and John Miller's pas de deux in Cui hua kuang mo, aka Undefeatable.

From the cutlery-moistening at the start to the bad-and-I-do-mean-BAD puns at the end, this has everything you need to make your jaw hit the floor.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bullet. Tracer Bullet.

Calvin & Hobbes, the best comic strip of the past quarter century, had occasions when Calvin would take on the character of Tracer Bullet, private eye. It gave artist Bill Watterson the opportunity to do great work with his art (lots of shadows and Dutch angles) and fine passes at doing hard-boiled narration.

Watterson, of course, isn't one to permit animation of his creations, for which he has been both blessed and cursed. (Confidentially, I bless.) But that's no reason for fans not to take a whack at reenacting the strips. Here are two flatteringly devotional videos which do just that.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Bleeping Muppets

Question: What's cruder than a Muppet swearing?

Answer: A Muppet not swearing.

Friday, February 08, 2008

It ain't John Philip Sousa

The University of Arizona marching band, known as the Pride of Arizona, does their marching-band thing with bands like Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Talking Heads, and the Beatles. And they do it very well.

Here's a taste of their tribute to Led Zeppelin.

If you liked that, parts 2 and 3 can be found here and here.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Great Lost Albums 2

One of the first mix tapes my friend Paul from NJ made for me included the song "Alimony" by an Australian band called the Hummingbirds. It was energetic jangle-pop with three-part male-female harmonies, which of course meant I had to run out and buy loveBUZZ, the cassette it was on. It was an excellent investment, in no small part because it wound up going out of print so fast. Years later, flipping through a used-CD rack in Portland, Maine, I found a copy of it and about leapt out of my skin, and not just because it only cost $3.99.

"Alimony" isn't on YouTube, but there were two other good songs available: the leadoff track, "Blush"...

And another single, "Word Gets Around."

Lousy videos, great songs. And their Greatest Hits CD is available as an import.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Rappin' Reagan

Heh, heh. You know something? He DID say "Well" a lot! - Homer Simpson

Today's the anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth, and it got me to remembering. When he was running the show, rap was starting to make its inroads into society, but it was still seen as more of a novelty than anything else. And we all know how much a good novelty brings out the novelty songwriters. This resulted in a veritable plethora of Reagan imitators stuttering rhymes to a heavy beat. Let's watch a few of 'em, what do you say?

Then there's this one. "See the Light / Feel the Heat" was the first rap song where the entire vocal was sampled.

There's a 12-inch version on YouTube as well, but I think you've heard enough, don't you?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

He ain't misbehavin'

Here's a fantastic story I came across on Wikipedia:

Fats Waller was in Chicago in 1926 and, upon leaving the building where he was performing, he was kidnapped by four men, who bundled him into a car and drove off. The car later pulled up outside the Hawthorne Inn, owned by infamous gangster Al Capone. Fats was ordered inside the building, where he found a party in full swing. With a gun against his back, Waller was pushed towards a piano, whereupon the gangsters demanded he start playing. A terrified Waller suddenly realized he was the "surprise guest" at Al Capone's birthday party. Soon comforted by the fact that he wouldn't die, Waller played, according to rumor, for three days. When he left the Hawthorne Inn, he was very drunk, extremely tired, and had earned thousands of dollars in cash given to him by Capone himself and by party-goers as tips.

What kind of pianist would be in such high demand? Why, the one who wrote "Ain't Misbehavin'"...

"Your Feet's Too Big" (as a size 14, I can relate)...

And "This Joint Is Jumpin'."

For all his playing, writing, and singing skills, what's going to stay with me longest is his mugging. Al Pacino wishes he could chew this much scenery.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Speaking as a New England Patriots fan

PS - It's not all bad news - Will Ferrell's Bud Light ad was the best commercial I've seen in a long time.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Get your kicks in Times Square

I was introduced to this clip by Mike Daisey's blog. A breakdancer gets an unexpected partner, and the result is rather painful.

This is one of those clips that's been around a long time and has inspired a lot of parodies. I quite liked this one, which turns it into a video game. Keep an eye on the strength meters.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Super Bill

Today is, of course, Groundhog Day, and that's also, of course, the title of a movie starring Bill Murray. So of course, the obvious move would be to post a clip of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Which of course is why I'm not going to.

Instead, I'll post a couple of Bill Murray / Super Bowl related clips, as the big game's tomorrow (and I'm scheduled to work, consarn it). Here he is last year, trying to score tickets to the big game from the head of CBS as Dave Letterman eggs him on.

But this is even cooler, as well as being 31 years older. Bill joins Christopher Guest in some humor with a few sports immortals.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The fattest and the tallest

When I was a kid, I used to buy the new Guinness Book of World Records every year. This isn't the glossy hardcover with loads of color pictures they sell nowadays, but the mass market paperback crammed with black and white photos and all kinds of records. My favorite chapter was always the first, on human achievement - the woman who lived to the age of 114 ("She never wore glasses"), the guy who held his breath underwater for over 13 minutes ("He hyperventilated with oxygen for 30 minutes before his descent"), and the fat twins on their motorcycles.

For years the record for the fattest human was held by Robert Earl Hughes ("He was buried in a coffin the size of a piano case"). Nowadays he's been passed by about half a dozen others, but he was still a not-insignificant 1,069 pounds at his peak. Here he is a svelte 720. Watching this, I get the sense that he's really sweet.

And then there's Robert Wadlow, who reached 8 feet, 11.1 inches (and 491 pounds, if you're curious). My grandfather actually grew up in the same Illinois town and remembered him at the movie theater, draping his legs over two rows of chairs. It was remarkable for me to see this footage of him walking and hear him talking, in a voice that sounds slowed down to 16. (Note to kids: That's a reference to a "phonograph.")

The picture at 1:05 was in the Guiness book, accompanied by a caption that closed with the unforgettable bone-dry aside, "Robert is the one wearing glasses."