Friday, December 28, 2007

A Sonny and Cher Christmas

From 1976:
Sonny, Cher, Chastity, Bernadette Peters, Captain Kangaroo.

And Shields and Yarnell for, as they say, the win!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Talkin' 'Bout Mill Valley

Thanks to the record collection of Robert Emmett at KFJC, I knew that in the 1970s, a chorus of kids recorded a song entitled "Mill Valley," which extolled the virutes of living in that Marin County town.

I knew it was a catchy tune. In college, I heard it once, and could not get it out of my head.

What I didn't know (until tonight, thank you former KALX DJ "The In-Crowd") is that:
a) the song, by Miss Abrams and the Strawberry Point 4th Grade Class, charted as a single in 1970;
b) which led to an album;
c) which Varese Sarabande re-released as a CD in 2000 with extra tracks;
d) it's available as MP3 downloads from Amazon, and
e) there's a music video. The video, a lovely time capsule from 1970, was directed by a local filmmaker with experience (he'd just done a musical called Finian's Rainbow). Francis something.

Photo by Annie Leibowitz.
Miss Abrams is still around, and still writing music.


Trailer for Columbia Pictures' Jason and the Argonauts, filmed in the miracle of Dynarama!

Trailer for Hallmark Entertainment's made-for-TV movie Jason and the Argonauts. Despite the presence of Dennis Hopper, Frank Langella, and Derek Jacobi, no one remembers this.

Trailer for Mary Zimmerman's Argonautika, which just closed at The Berkeley Rep. (If link is down, try YouTube link)

Mary Zimmerman on Jason and the Argonauts, courtesy of McCarter Theatre Center and the Shakespeare Theater Company.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Spherical Panoramas

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Photographer Carel Struycken creates beautiful QuicktimeVR panoramic images, mostly from sites around California.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Faces in Places

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Blog cataloguing favorite images from the "Faces in Places" Flickr group.

Monday, December 17, 2007

We Need A Little Christmas

My office "Hall-iday" party is Thursday, and once again the staff talent show is the main entertainment. This year, I'm flying solo, as my partner-in-crime has moved off to Oregon. (Last year he was newly gone, but I had time to write a five person sketch riffing on his departure).

So, as part of my preparation for said solo act, I was scanning YouTube for ideas for choreography to fill a sixteen second instrumental break in the karaoke track of Jerry Herman's "We Need a Little Christmas."

While watching Angela Lansbury, Lucille Ball, Mitzi Gaynor, the Purdue University Glee Club, various amateur dance and holiday recitals, and even the Sims(!), I discovered that the instrumental break is a feature for radio (and, apparently karaoke). Most of the live shows skip right past it.

Then I found this homemade music video of the song, done by a local teenager, and starring her family.

And while the actors are self-conscious, the whole thing is done with love.

Way more sincere than the Purdue Glee Club.

I'm crossing my fingers that when our boys are teenagers, they have the chutzpah to do this un-ironically.

Note: There are plenty of jaw-droppingly unintentionally hilarious choreographed dances to this song on YouTube, which, out of respect for this family's efforts, I'll leave you to find on your own.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Recipe for Making Deirdre Laugh

Alec Baldwin
Ana Gasteyer
Molly Shannon

Saturday Night Live, from 1998.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

24: The unaired 1994 pilot

Kind of an obscure premise, executed brilliantly (and with terrific production values).

Jack Bauer and CTU reimagined in the not-so-distant past.

via Paul Burd, via Steve Garfield, but also apparently featured in TV guide.

Holiday Guide 2007: Entertaining - Cookies (

I was looking for an Washington Post article covering a White House press briefing which announced that the country's drug interdiction policy for the past 7 years has been a success. I couldn't find it from the front page. But then this caught my eye, and you know me, given a chance to click on something equally interesting, I'll lose all memory of the first thing I was trying to look up.

So. Twenty six different cookies for the holidays. Twenty six more ideas to propose.

Not that I have high hopes.

L wants to make more sugar cookies with sprinkles. R agrees. We suggest other favorites from our childhood (peanut butter cookies with hershey's kisses, green corn flake wreaths), but they're not interested.

A cookie made with crushed candy canes appeals to them.

Whatever. I need to find out really soon if carmel covered chocolate chip dulce de leche oatmeal cookies are all that-- or too much-- and if the vegan Rumnog Pecan Cookies will come out if I sub in real milk and butter, and --only because I live in Berkeley (this cookie sounds a little too snobbish and not all that tasty-- John Scharffenberger's Chocolate shortbread with Cacao Nibs

Hey. Who put the Quinoa Cheese Cracker in the mix? That's clearly an oversized cracker.

Also, on the same page: edible gingerbread Christmas ornaments.

(Note: I had to allow popups to get the recipes to appear)

The traditional phonograph record management pattern

NEWSWEEK CHINA profiles internet troubador Jonathan Coulton. Friend and collaborator John Hodgman wishes to read said article, pastes text into the Altavista internet translation engine, posts resultant text on his blog.

In the (translated into Chinese, and then back to English) words of Coulton himself:
"Now arrived for a crucial time, we all should self-examine really needs the record company. We are glad with the traditional phonograph record management pattern which rottenly deteriorates to say very much goodbye."


How To Hide An Airplane Factory

Think or Thwim posts a collection of WWII-era photos showing how the Army Core of Engineers disguised a Lockheed airplane factory from the air using camouflage netting, fake houses, and trompe l'oeil.

Of course, the Japanese air force never did quite make it to Burbank. But if they HAD, they would so have been fooled.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Endangered Machinery

Missed this when BoingBoing originally posted it in late August.

Photographer Haiko Hebig captures incredible images of industrial decay. Aging equipment, outmoded machinery, abandoned sites.

Take a few minutes with this one. It's a big archive.

No prices, but supposedly prints and posters are available for sale...


Travel with Snoop Dogg in the video time machine

With production values, costumes, hairstyles, and video effects from the days before MTV, Snoop Dogg's latest music video sets a new standard in retro video awesomeness.

VHS tape wobble! Vocoder! Star filter! Diamond wipe! Chromakeyed space bed!

Credit to TSOYA for pointing the way to this, and to this actual 1980 video by The Jacksons (including Michael), in which the brothers band together to form all of creation (voiceover intro by Don LaFontaine FTW!):

Monday, December 10, 2007

Engineers of the future

Christa has spoken often of the aging workforce at Chevron, and the challenge the company has in encouraging and attracting young engineers (especially as science continues to lose traction in the American public school curriculum).

Perhaps Chevron could take a cue from Hydro, a Norwegian oil and gas concern, who is using television advertising to inspire the next generation of engineers.

Apes. In hats. On bikes.

Today's earworm is brought to you via daniel liss at

It's a mashup by go home productions of Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane" with the Chemical Brothers' "Galvanize", here used as the soundtrack to a creepy bicycle safety film from the Prelinger Archives featuring apes in hats.

(Or is it monkeys? They do have tails...)


For the mp3, visit go home productions and find GHP Complete CD8 "The Bootlegs".

"This is Your Story" - Your Show of Shows

My friend Kathy pointed me to this 11 minute sketch, a parody of "This is Your Life" featuring Carl Reiner as the host and Sid Caesar as the reluctant guest. Oh, and Howard Morris, whose emotional "Uncle Goopy" presages the anarchic brilliance of the Tim Kazurinsky "I Married a Monkey" sketches from SNL (which I'd like to link to, but aren't readily available online).
From the treasure trove of classic television moments atLikeTelevision

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Your the Comcast Photo Center Download Order

I do so much love when companies buy other companies, and don't rename the acquired company (because of perceived brand equity, or simply because they don't want to change the URL), but somehow deem it important that the parent company branding gains some visibility.

Tonight I paid a couple of nickels to download some photos from the online photo service Snapfish. Here is the header from the email I received from "Snapfish Service" as confirmation:

I will offer that the mindset that insists that "the Comcast Photo Center" will be an easy swap-out for all instances of the word "Snapfish" is the same mindset that insisted that the U.S. would be greeted liberators in Iraq.

Friday, December 07, 2007

100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers

A ten-minute long lightning round-style montage of movie quotes, each of which mentions a number, edited together in descending order from 100 to 1.

An interesting conceit, a riff on the AFI "Top 100" lists, that becomes astonishing by the time you get to the 70s, numbing by the 50s, then hilarious, then astonishing again. A true obsessive's accomplishment.

The complete list of movies is available here.

Via Laughing Squid, via Ze Frank.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

New Mac/PC ad: "Misprint"

The "Get a Mac" series of ads are also by TBWA\Chiat, aka Media Arts Lab. Per my comments to the previous post, I'm not much a fan of the Chiat style of ads that call attention to themselves, rather than to the product or brand. (I've also referred to this as "mascot advertising", elsewhere).

Partly because of the domineering influence of S. Jobs, and partly dumb luck, Chiat has had some amount of success in its Apple advertising. The iPod silhouettes are of course a mascot, but they are 1) iconic in their non-specificity (note that they change with each refresh of the campaign); and 2) representative of the actual product in relationship to the consumer, i.e. you + iPod = this dancer.

The dumb luck of course was in the original casting of obscure* author John Hodgman in the role of "PC" in the now long-running series of "PC vs. Mac" commercials. (The ads themselves also work both in that the mascots are stand-ins for products, and that they are engaged in an actual discussion about the value proposition for the consumer.)

The series would likely not have continued much past its original run without Hodgman (and, in my opinion, Justin Long, whose straight man has become increasingly understated almost to the point of motionlessness), who has leapt through hoop after comedy hoop without faltering. (The last round did begin to strain the limits--as writers attempted to communicate in 30 seconds the comedic impact of Vista users downgrading to XP.)

In this latest ad (launched last night), Hodgman nails the peeved eyeglass adjustment like a 1950s television comedy veteran.

Nails it.

*Remember that at the time he had contributed perhaps a handful of pieces to "This American Life", had written for McSweeney's and Men's Health magazine, and not a whole heck of a lot else. His casting came on the heels of his insanely successful book tour appearance on The Daily Show--before he was selling many actual books.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cutwater: "Pouring In"

Army/Navy game.
Commerical break.
Jeep commercial. Laugh out loud funny.
Checked YouTube: yup, it's a popular (146,000 views and counting). Getting buzz on AdWeek.

The commercial features Andy Kim's 1973 pop single "Rock Me Gently," a crop of CGI animals, and spot on comic timing.

I laugh every time I see it.

R has asked me not to laugh.

L keeps asking me why it's funny. And thanks to YouTube, I can pause, and go cut by cut to point out the visuals that take what could have been a cheese fest into brilliant comedy.

Spot produced by Cutwater, a brand new boutique creative firm in San Francisco (started by Chuck McBride (former Executive Creative Director at TBWA/Chiat/Day) which, thanks to McBride's credentials, stole the Jeep account away from some Detroit firm).

High res version available at Cutwater's website, if you can navigate through its ubercool interface. (Why do design firms always want to hide their work behind pages of flash animation?)

We now have (to Deirdre's dismay) added "Rock Me Gently" to the iPod to the kids' favorites playlist.