Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Awesomes Part 1

You'd think this kind of super hero comedy would have been done to death with Mystery Men, The Incredibles, Kickass, and shit, I know I'm forgetting some. But this animated series voiced by Seth Myers with other SNL alums seems pretty fresh and funny so far.

Monday, February 24, 2014

365 Days of Penises (Broken Link Fixed)

Uh... no comment? No, wait. Okay, remember the dick drawings at the end of Superbad?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mae West: "Light My Fire"

 Mae West covers the Doors, and it's not just a novelty! Mae West is often thought of a ground-breaking icon of female sexuality, and she was certainly that, but she was also a feminist icon who wrote her own plays, and, in My Little Chickadee (1940), wielded a gun as credibly as Clint Eastwood. I've found some beautiful prints of Mae West's early comedies on YouTube, and I'll be posting them as featured embeds as soon as I can get a look at them, but you shouldn't have to wait for me.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Colbert Report: Daft Punk'd (and related link)

When I named this blog The Daily Embed, I knew there would be days when it just wasn't going to happen.  This week, there have been three in a row.

I've been sick for about a week now, with my worst cold in years, and unable to feel inspired enough to come up with a decent embed out of all the the billions of videos on YouTube, Vimeo and whatever, but on Friday night I found a link to a fantastic music video featuring S F Bay area duo Pomplamoose, doing a mashup of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and...

(...something else. I'm not going to pretend to know what's happening in music these days.  It's not just that I'm older than the music biz's demographic.  It's also that I've been on the internet for ten years, following my nose, and my nose is pretty random.   So I've been more aware of Rebecca Black's Friday than Kanye West's Stronger, or anything else by Kanye West ever did other than butt in on Taylor Swift at the VMAs.  Here's what I think, and when you get to know me, you can disagree if youlike:  What I lack in knowledge, I make up in taste.   Or not.  Warning:  I love Rebecca Black's Friday!)

Pamplamoose, who everyone else has probably already heard of, produced this incredible music video, which has shattered my notions of video art, and made me realize that everything I've tried to do up to now is not only derivative (I already knew that) but also outmoded and two-dimensional.   I shall muddle on.

I loved this so much I must have already retweeted it four times in the past 24 hours, plus it's trending all over the place, so I wanted to use something else for the main embed.  Interesting story, huh?

So anyway, here's Stephen Colbert's amazing celebrity-overloaded video performance of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky".  Colbert did this when Deft Punk bailed on him because of contractual bullshit with MTV Colbert's a pretty good dancer, better than I would have expected, and  It's been taken down from Comedy Central's site, so this low-res version is the best I can find.  You may want to download it.  I did.

Monday, February 17, 2014

MANOS: The Hands of Fate (1966), "the worst movie of all time" and related links to those who love it.

Sure, it's a piece of shit, but it's so much more than that!

 I have a nasty cold today, (2-18-2014) so you can consider this post a work in progess.

 There's a buttload of great Manos material on the web, and I'm going to take my time assembling what I manage to find.

 Before Manos, Ed Wood Jr's Plan Nine from Outer Space was the supposed "worst movie of all time". This was always a misnomer. In spite of a relentless incompetence that is downright childlike, Plan Nine has a transcendent energy that makes all those mistakes truly entertaining. There were scores of sci-fi horror movies in the fifties that would force you to sit through an hour of terrible dialogue leading to a climax you no longer cared about. Plan Nine had action-- not like DieHard had action, but it had a story that keeps moving forward.  It stumbles right along.

 Over the past two decades, MANOS: The Hand of Fate, the bizarre  story of a family on vacation that encounters an evil, supernatural cult,   has gradually claimed the title of the worst movie, and it's a lot closer to a bona fide contender. This time, there are long stretches with neither dialogue nor action, including endless shots of obscure locations shot from a moving car. What dialogue there is is obviously dubbed onto silent footage, often using different voice actors than those who appear on film. 

And yet, there is much that is distinctive and haunting about Manos: location shots that capture a time and place that's lost forever, rural Texas in the 60s, an odd and lovely jazz/bossa score performed by who knows who, a truly sexy and beautiful leading lady, and, most tragically, a supremely odd, not-exactly-bad performance from a promising young actor who died by his own hand before the film could play before any audience at all.

John Reynolds 1941-1966

 It was Mystery Science Theater 3000 that rescued this film from eternal obscurity in 1993, and it instantly became a fan favorite, and a ubiquitous cosplay subject at every convention. I remember seeing Manos for the first time on a Saturday afternoon in 1993. It may have been that same afternoon that Tom Neyman, one of the surviving stars, was amazed to see the film for the first time in almost 30 years.


But it was only during the last couple of years that Manos truly exploded on the web.  Here are some terrific links

Manos, the Hands of Felt
A reenacted version of Manos, starring adorable puppets.  Funded by kickstarter, the DVD was released to the public only last month.

Another kickstarter project, an attempt at restoration.  Still alive, and underway.

Debbie's MANOS
Jackey Raye Neyman-Jones played the little girl, Debbie.  Her father, Tom Neyman, played "The Master", and contributed much of the art for the movie.  She's an artist herself now, cuter at 50plus than at seven, and as dedicated to MANOS as any fan.  Her blog is an irresistible source of history, inside information, and terrific links.   

Entertainment Weekly: The Worst Movie of All Time
Article from June 6, 2006

Hotel Torgo (2004) from Charlemagne Films on Vimeo.
A documentary, told mostly from the point of view of an aging, grizzled cameraman.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dracula (1931) directed by Tod Browning, with Bela Lugosi andmusic by Philip Glass (2000)

Premiered February 14, 1931

 In 1930, Bela Lugosi was 48, and addicted to opiates. After Dracula, he became an old man fast.

 But here, he was still enough of the matinee idol he had been on the Hungarian stage to give his portrayal of Count Dracula a powerful attractiveness. Whatever else of the movie may seem dated, or stagey, (and there are some wonderfully effective scenes and images) Lugosi is simply gorgeous, sexy and creepy at once in a way that can still get under your skin after 83 years.

 When playing the role for the American stage, Lugosi still couldn't speak English, and so he learned his lines phonetically. This gave his famous accent a stilted, unnatural cadence that added immeasurably to his presence. He is the only classic vampire. Happy fucking Valentine's Day!

This version contains a musical soundtrack that was added in 2000, written by Philip Glass and performed by the Kronos Quartet.   The first sound horror movies used silence to build an eerie mood, which doesn't work as well with modern audiences.  The music is welcome, but by the end of the film's running time, a little silence would be okay.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How to make a Shirley Temple cocktail (non-alcoholic)

 I think I can remember being served a Shirley Temple cocktail at the Little Venice Restaurant in Binghamton. I think I was about seven, which would make the date c. 1965. It was pink, and had a cherry in it. It was delicious. It tasted exactly like you'd think a cocktail should taste, if you were seven years old and had never tasted alcohol. From Wikipedia
The cocktail may have been invented in the 1930s by a bartender at Chasen's, a restaurant in Beverly Hills, California, to serve then child actress Shirley Temple. Other claims to its origin, however, have been made.
I think there's a chance that serving non-alcoholic "mocktails" to children, a rite of childhood for baby-boomers and previous generations, may be going the way of candy cigarettes, (Oh yes! We used to have candy cigarettes!)  but I can't really speak from any knowledge.  As fond as I am of the memory of my first cocktail, I kind of hope so.  Initiating children into the culture of mixed drinks is a little fucked up.

The recipe in the video uses lemon-lime soda, but I think ginger ale (mentioned in the wikipedia articlke) is more traditional.