Thursday, January 31, 2008

Have a laugh with Harrison

Harrison Ford's not generally thought of as the warm and cuddly sort, which Conan O'Brien asked him about...

In fact, it seems to me he's got a pretty decent sense of humor. Particularly seeing as how he agreed to take part in this. (The embedded link isn't working - try this one.)

Bonus! I refuse to wait ten and a half months to show this clip of Darth Vader getting his Christmas wish.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jealous Guy Times Two

John Lennon's song "Jealous Guy," from his Imagine album, is one of his most popular solo songs, even going top 40 in 1988 during the "Oh no he di-int, Albert Goldman!" days. While I liked it well enough, I always thought it could have been done better. Come to find out, I wasn't the only one who felt that way.

Roxy Music did a cover as a tribute to Lennon shortly after his death, going to number 1 in the UK (their only #1). As with so much of later Roxy Music, there's a smooth sophistication that works well, and Bryan Ferry is able to look and sound appropriately hangdog.

What I never realized was that the song could use a little crunch. Thank God Lou Reed found the need and filled it. This is from October 2001, in a John's birthday/9/11 tribute, and considering how few covers Lou's done, it's great to see him take a near-standard and make it all his own.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's the little things

Lev Yilmaz is a cartoonist who created the series "Tales of Mere Existence," which talks about the little things in life that don't get talked about. He's got a whole channel's worth of stuff on YouTube that's all worth watching.

But this is the one that stays with me. It's called "I'm not going to think about her," and the way it dwells on the individual details that everyone knows even though they're specific to one person. As Holden Caulfield would say, it kills me.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I went scouting for birthdays today and found that Mikhail Baryshnikov is celebrating number 60. I lit up; I just knew there would be good stuff of Misha kicking around YouTube. And boy, was I right.

In 1969, a good five years before he defected, he danced a little Don Quixote.

Look at this clip from him in Giselle in 1977. The fluidity, the air he catches - wow.

Finally, his duet in 1985's White Nights with Gregory Hines. I recommend turning the volume off so you can enjoy this without listening to warmed-over "Danger Zone" type music.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Blind, but oh, what vision

You know what's fun? There are a ton of Jose Feliciano clips on YouTube, footage of him playing over five decades, and he sounds just as fantastic in the recent clips as he does in the old ones.

I tend to find the old ones more fascinating, though, so here he is doing a couple of duets. First, his performance of "Maria Christina" with Dusty Springfield in 1967.

And as if that wasn't enough of a throwback, watch him and Bing Crosby get together a year later to perform "Mama Don't Allow." And listen to him turn the guitar into any instrument he wants - including drums!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The ugly side of show biz

This is the most offensive clip I've ever posted. And I posted "You'll Come One Day."

Howard Stern had Gilbert Gottfried on as a guest one day, and asked him if he'd heard Ed McMahon's new audio book. He then played a number of clips of Ed reading aloud. The clips were, how you say, tampered with, and made Ed sound... well, "sick" isn't a bad way to describe it. Gilbert proves to be a great audience - his laughter is a perfect seasoning.

I'm going to say it again. This is thoroughly offensive, with language that would shatter nuns at twenty paces. Don't play near the kids. I personally use headphones. And my stomach hurts from laughing.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Norm makes talk show hosts laugh hard

Some people think Norm Macdonald is a riot. Some don't. I do. So do late night talk show hosts. That mix of his who-cares delivery and his sacred-cows-make-the-best-burgers approach are pretty much comedy gold.

Here he is interrupting Conan O'Brien's somewhat bland interview of Courtney Thorne-Smith with some slams on Carrot Top that has Conan whirling in his chair.

Here he is telling a "Scrabble at a bed & breakfast" story to David Letterman.

Here's the best one. Two days after crocodile hunter Steve Irwin died, and between mocking Joe Camel and Canadian foreign minister Peter McKay, Macdonald says some lines that have Jon Stewart audibly cringing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Boom... ba ba boom... ba ba boom...

Aside from having the best opening bass line of any TV theme song in history, Barney Miller (season 2 now available on DVD) was hailed as being one of the most accurate police shows by actual policemen. It focused less on the action and crimesolving and more on the squad room tedium. And oh, it was so well written. I guarantee there are people who remember where they were the first time they heard an accidentally stoned Yemana say, "What do you say we guys go down to the beach, and shoot some clams?"

Okay, that might work better in context. But this bit stands up okay on its own.

And here's a great outtake from the final night of shooting the third season. Long hours and lack of sleep make everyone pretty giddy, and who knows when and how a rubber chicken can come in handy?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This wasn't supposed to happen

Count me among the many who were deeply troubled to hear of Heath Ledger's passing. This was someone who was truly emerging as, not a star, but an actor, a route that always gets more respect from me. I thought his work as a cowboy who couldn't express himself with words in Brokeback Mountain was an incredible feat, and the clips I've seen of his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight gave me reason to look forward to this coming July.

Rather than show a clip of him from either of those two movies, though, I'm going to show him in 10 Things I Hate About You. It's not a Dramatic Achievement by any means, but at least it'll leave you with a smile on your face.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bud & Shelly, sittin' in a tree

I think another Fitzgerald-related entry is in order today.

"Bernice Bobs Her Hair" was published by the Saturday Evening Post in 1920, when Fitzgerald was just twenty-three. It's about an ugly duckling who learns to be socially confident, to the point that her cousin, who had schooled her in the ways of social success, grows jealous and cuts her down. But revenge is had. It's a good story, and has a sentence that ends "...not!" some seventy-odd years before "Wayne's World."

In 1976 it was made into a TV movie, with Shelly Duvall as the ugly duckling and But Cort as the cousin's suitor who finds himself more and more taken with Bernice. The two of them had worked before, in Brewster McCloud; here, they're less odd eggs and really quite charming together.

Kinda weird to see Harold with curls, isn't it?

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Unknown Comic

Murray Langston made a career out of telling rapid-fire bad jokes behind the cover of a brown paper bag. His greatest fame came from his frequent appearances on The Gong Show, where he would riff for a minute and then insult host Chuck Barris. To wit...

The beauty of the act is, he never looked older as the years passed. And the jokes are, to me, still just as inexplicably funny as can be. Here he is in the '90s.

If you've got the time, read this interview with Langston. His story about laughing at a furious Frank Sinatra is fantastic.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Want you to know

I'm just back from a daylong trip to New York City. There's a friend of mine there who's quite special to me. For reasons way too extensive to chronicle here, we can only be good friends. So I wanted to send this video out to her and then go to bed and get some sleep.

This is Freelance Hellraiser's "Want You To Know." Send it to the one you love today.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lynch and Obsession

The previous post shows highlights of David Lynch's directing career; what gets me about them is how I just can't look away. Clients should be salivating over the chance to work with him.

In 1988, post-Blue Velvet and pre-Twin Peaks, he did some work with Calvin Klein's Obsession fragrance that just blows me out of the water.

The premise: four ads, with four different authors' words read over them. Sadly, I can't find the Flaubert ad, but I'm not complaining at being stuck with D.H. Lawrence...

...Ernest Hemingway...

...and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Wow, huh?

Brought to you by David Lynch

A long time ago, I began a series of celebrities-and-commercials entries with one by David Lynch. I haven't done any in a while, but Lynch has fortunately kept up the good work.

A lot of good work.

See, he's directed way more commercials than I ever would have guessed. The products range from perfume... cars... PlayStation... pregnancy tests... a damn fine cup of coffee with Agent Cooper.

There's more, but they deserve their own posting...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Siamese elephants

This may be the most famous outtake in television history. As a kid, I saw an edited version on bloopers programs at least three times.

Tim Conway cracks up Carol Burnett, Vicki Lawrence, and Penis van Lesbian by going off script and telling a couple of shaggy elephant jokes. Vicki winds up getting the last and biggest laugh. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I shoulda yelled "Two!"

America hasn't cornered the market on newscasters cracking up (evidence to the contrary): here's an Australian news team that can't keep a straight face at the shenanigans of a kangaroo on a golf course.

Obvious but true dept.: The guy who dubbed in the sound effects deserves a raise.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Goddamn songs

God bless. God damn.
- James Thurber's final words

Today there are two collections by the group the Eels being released, one a best-of, the other a B-sides & rarities. Both of them have versions of "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues" on it. Call me silly and slap me hard, but I think it's the best song to prominently feature the word "goddamn" in music history, and that includes "Life in the Fast Lane" by the Eagles. In a free society this would have been number one for three weeks on the charts.

Here's a *cough* live version of it from British TV.

That's not to say there aren't other good songs that give the word star billing, sung from artists ranging from Nina Simone to Joey Ramone. One that I like a lot is Jens Lenkman's "Black Cab." (Of course, that opening sample comes from the Left Banke's "I've Got Something On My Mind.")

Finally, here are the primal, impossibly young Replacements doing "God Damn Job," before Paul Westerberg was discovered to be a sensitive male.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MST3-Que el diablo?

There just hasn't been enough Mystery Science Theater 3000 on this blog, which is of course a damn shame. So here are a few minutes that are pretty funny - not so much for what the 'bots say and do, but because the movie their mocking just takes a left turn straight to What the Hellville.

First, the moment from Godzilla vs. Megalon that was immortalized in the opening credits for years.

Last, ten more similarly crazy-ass moments from the show - two from the between-movie sketches, eight from the movies themselves. All set to a little Allman Brothers.

For the uninitiated, the abbreviation in number 8 is short for "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Thunderbirds are go!

Thunderbirds was a British TV show in the mid-sixties that's become a cult favorite over here. What made it notable were its excellent special effects and miniatures work, its fantastic theme song, and its being filmed in Supermarionation. Yes, the actors were puppets on strings. Yes, this is where Team America: World Police found its inspiration.

And like all great cult favorites, it got wrapped up in a Tarantino tribute by some enterprising youngster out there.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Man That Got Away Times Two

Anyone who's not floored by Judy Garland's rendition of "The Man That Got Away" in the movie A Star is Born has lost their soul, and I feel sorry for them.

I wanted to feature Jeff Buckley's version in this twofer, but it's not on YouTube, so I went scouting for a few others. This was the one that impressed me the most - it just happens to be done by a Judy impersonator named Jim Bailey. I think it holds a single candle to the original, which of course is its intent.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Short Attention Span Theatre 6

Yes! It's time once again for Short Attention Span Theatre, where I keep the quick clips coming so fast you simply don't have time to turn away!

Today, in under a minute, for your viewing pleasure, we have a possible origin of a South Park catchphrase on MST3K...

...a bike accident, viewed by an unmoved cameraman...

...Elvis picking his nose...

...Corky taking a dart to the head, accompanied by Stevie Wonder...

...a slap...

...a classical Mr. T...

...Captain Jack-off Sparrow...

...and Peter Pansexual.

As always, refresh the browser if you lose the sound.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Jeff... ummmJEFF... Gooooldblum

With his gawky height, not-quite-empty eyes, and apparently random thought process, Jeff Goldblum has been one of the more fascinating Hollywoodians to watch for the past quarter century. The guy's got all kinds of presence, but he doesn't smolder so much as puzzle. Talking with him must be like driving past a setting where you know there'll be an accident in a few moments, but you don't know what kind of accident it'll be.

Here are a couple of clips from an interview with Conan O'Brien, whose reactions are no different from the rest of America's (except maybe funnier).

It's very easy to manipulate clips like this, you realize.

Finally, here's six seconds of him scatting.

Tomorrow: more similarly brief clips - and you know what that means!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Disney Vault

I was in Best Buy today and saw a bunch of videos under a threatening sign. "These movies will be going into the Disney Vault after January 31," it said.

Disney claims that by keeping these movies from being perenially available, it keeps the market under control and keeps things fresh for kids. The fact that it makes them big collector's items is just a happy accident. Yeah surrrrre.

Robert Smigel, creator of SNL's "TV's Funhouse," had a bull's-eye take on this. Not only does it mock the whole vault process, it also mocks the horrid sequels to classic movies. In this case, that would be Bambi.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

MeTube gets graphic

One of my hidden pleasures - so hidden I'm barely aware of it myself - is graphic design. I can't draw to save my life, but I'm very handy at making collages. I've got thousands of novels and short story collections, but one of my all time faves is Alan Fletcher's The Art of Looking Sideways. If you want to know what the sixties were about, you could do a lot worse than look at the covers George Lois designed for Esquire. So here are some graphic works I'm enamored of at this very moment.

First, there's this campaign for the most recent Douglas Coupland book, The Gum Thief. I'm on the fence about my feelings toward Coupland as a writer, but these three clips make me want to read the book desperately.

Now, you know how there was a documentary about the Helvetica font last year?

Well, it's not the movie font of choice - that would be Trajan.

May I suggest more usage of the Burn Out font?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Yoohoo, breakeroo!

When I was in second grade, my dad sent away for and received a two-record set called Road Music. It had a couple dozen country songs about 18-wheelers and the men who drive them. There were some pretty good songs on there, including "Six Days on the Road" by Dave Dudley and "Phantom 309" by Red Sovine, later covered by Tom Waits.

My favorite, thought, was "CB Savage" by Rod Hart. He did it in a voice that, to an seven year old, was about the funniest thing ever. So much so that I made plans to take the album to show and tell. My folks wouldn't permit it. No amount of tears could change their mind. But I couldn't get them to explain why.

Looking back now, it's fairly evident. For one, there's the sturdy lass on the cover, who my brother later admitted brought him into puberty. For the other, I now understand that silly voice in "CB Savage" a lot better than I once did.

Listen for yourself and see how naive a second grader can be.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Good news - I can laugh again

Well, we had ourselves a good little memorial for Doug, and a lot of the stories we remembered ended with everyone laughing. It's good to do that and mean it.

To celebrate, I think I'll put up two of my favorite commercials from Saturday Night Live. They seem to be a little more lax about taking these clips down, so hopefully you can see these for a while.

First is the parody of the '70s ad that showed a diamond cutter doing his work in the back of a moving car.

Then there's this one. You have got to give it up for Stevie Wonder to agree to do this sketch (and yes, that is Stevie Wonder and not Eddie Murphy doing Stevie Wonder).

Friday, January 04, 2008

Music for mourning

I'm going to be in Ithaca this weekend to celebrate my friend Doug's life, so you'll have to bear without me for a couple of days.

I've been listening to a lot of music to get me through (here's a good piece about those who do), works ranging from Mozart's "Lacrimosa" to Johnny Cash's "You'll Never Walk Alone."

It helps.

I asked my fellow posters at The Agony Booth what they would recommend and got a lot of thoughtful responses. My favorites so far have been Stevie Nicks's "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You"...

Willie Nelson's "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain" (wonderful solo in this)...

And George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass."

I put up Ween's cover because another friend recommended their song "Fancy Pants," claiming you couldn't not smile when you heard it. He may in fact be right.

See you in a couple days...

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Today I learned that my friend Doug Jones had been killed in a Los Angeles house fire the day after Christmas. He was smoking in bed. Eleven other residents were displaced, but his was the only death.

Doug was a good two decades older than I, but that was never an obstacle; he loved that I knew so much about books and old movies, and I loved listening to him talk about writing - he'd been nominated for a Pulitzer back in his reporting days.

He's the first good friend I've ever had die.

My first thought was to post a clip of someone saying Kaddish, and I found this.

But seeing as how Doug was Irish Catholic, that really didn't make much sense. So I decided to post the song that I want played at my funeral: "I'll Be On My Way" by the Saw Doctors. It's a celebratory song, and I think that's important - like they say in Brian's Song, it's not how he died that I'll remember, but rather, how he lived.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Johnny Loves Jazz

My friend Jarrett introduced me to Johnny Hartman's music a few years ago, playing me the album he recorded with John Coltrane. "Lush Life" did the job, and now I'm a fan for life. Well, not so much a fan as someone who can only stand back and shake his head in wonder.

Here he is performing "It Never Entered My Mind." As an added bonus, Sammy Davis introduces him. As a further added bonus, Sammy plays a nifty hand of vibes to start things off.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Lounging with Johnny Fever

There used to be a guy who'd post entire episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati on YouTube. Viacom would complain, and YouTube would shut down his channel, and he'd repost them under a different name, and I'd renew the links I'd made. Sadly, I think he's given up, as it's been a long time since I've seen a KRP show.

So as a thanks and a say hello / wave goodbye kind of thing, I'm posting the opening theme as performed by Richard Cheese.

Welcome to 2008, everybuggy.