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Month: September 2013

September 30: “One Woman A Cappella Disney Medley pt. 2” by @heathertraska

And here we end September – and the current playlist – with Heather Traska’s tribute to the villains of Disney. This one’s not quite as viral as yesterday’s clip, but then, yesterday’s clip is also two years older.

October and November are up next, followed by the Musical Advent Calendar I published in Facebook last year. Check the main page of my blog for the complete playlists so far. (August/September will be up shortly.)

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September 29: “One Woman A Cappella Disney Medley” by @heathertraska

The last two videos of September are Disney compilations by Heather Traska. In the grand scheme of self-promotion, you can put this stuff out there, but unless you’re good or you do something special, the chances are, you’re not going to get noticed. This first video has over 2 million hits. Hope that it leads this 19-year-old college student to some sort of fame or fortune, or at least to something she’ll find rewarding in her life.

Seems like a great way to start.

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September 28: 100 years of fashion in 100 seconds

There are lots of ways to show how we’ve changed in 100 years, but I don’t know a lot of them that are more fun to watch. 100 seconds of history. Not too shabby.

We’re almost done with September, and the last two days are up for another single singer medley. As we move into October, I’m giving the blog over to the Fourth playlist, which covers both October and November. Three short months and we’ll be done for this year, but I don’t think I’ll be done with the blog.

Between music and dance, I could cover a whole additional year, and in that year, what else will become viral? Who knows?

Enjoy your beautiful autumn days.

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September 26: The TOUGHEST Bridge In The World Compilation Video – Rocky Theme

This schadenfreude moment brought to you by a 100 year old railroad trestle bridge, located at the corner of Gregson and Peabody streets in Durham, North Carolina!

No, really. 11′ 8″ means 11′ 8″ and if your rig is taller than that at any point (including air compressors), you’re just asking for a big repair bill.

Let’s hear it for http://11foot8.com/. Thanks for sharing the wealth. And the comedy.

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September 24: Top Gear : Jeremy drives the smallest car in the world at the BBC – Top Gear – autos

I will admit – being resistant to the lure of network and cable television thanks to a severe lack of available income, I haven’t invested a lot of time watching the popular TV series, and I’ve skipped Top Gear as a result, so I didn’t see this segment until it appeared on my feed under “Hey, check this out – it’s awesome!” (Which, by the way, is how I’ve found most of the links I’ve included in this blog.)

I have to admit, given my current living situation (in an apartment with limited parking), this is awfully appealing. Even the Smart car is larger than this thing.

Fun to watch. Over 7 million people agree with me.

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September 22: Gratitude: Louie Schwartzberg at TEDxSF

This piece serves as an excellent segue from full-length features to amazing or nifty things about our world. We end and start the week with a snippet from a TED talk. What is a TED talk?

This: http://www.ted.com/. Their tag line: “Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.”

If this is your first encounter with the concept, don’t let it be your last. There’s a stunning amount of material on the site, only a fraction of which is on YouTube. If you’ve been following along this year, I don’t think it will take you long to figure out why I selected this piece.

No matter what, this week’s subtitle is “Things that make you go WHOA!!”

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September 21: Imagine – From Pencils To Pixels (2003)

Dang it! Another with embedding disabled. Curse you, YouTube!

Anyway…

An embarrassingly long time ago, I attended a Smithsonian program highlighting John Lasseter’s role with P*I*X*A*R, The company was just starting to come into its own, with Toy Story it’s first full-length release. Since my first encounter with the art of computer animation through Animation Festivals in the early and mid 1980s, I’ve remained a staunch fan, even when the stories weren’t as good as I thought they ought to be. *cough*Cars 2*cough*

Lasseter said something during the event that has stuck with me. The stories they produce aren’t written with an audience in particular in mind. They’re written to entertain themselves. The idea is simple – if I like it, chances are, other people will like it, too. And it works. The majority of short and full-length features have a major thing going for them – they speak loudly to adults as much as kids.

In this age of reality TV, it’s a wonder movies still exist at all. Thanks to the talented folks at P*I*X*A*R, the art of animation has improved dramatically. Brave was a spectacular departure from the buddy films and gives every Disney princess a run for her money.

The full-length feature here talks about giving line character. The “pencil test” is a form of rough animation that is one level up from storyboarding – rough cut animated cells that give a sense of the action without fully fleshed out art. In a lot of ways, I prefer these to the final full-color versions.

Click the link to watch the piece.

For added information about P*I*X*A*R, see these two additional pieces. The first is an interview of P*I*X*A*R founders:

The second, made with an Apple Mac ][, includes Lasseter as “Coach.” I wonder if the original story line came from him.

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September 19: Koyaanisqatsi and Home

I started out hoping to embed the movie “Home,” but embedding is disabled. And the full-length version of Koyannisqatsi is not available online. So here are two movies that should be EASY for people to see, made more difficult by the distribution companies

No matter. Take this to heart, especially now, with the flooding in Colorado, a hard push to allow the Keystone XL project and fracking: We are risking the only home we have. Unless you have access to your own private greenhouse, your ability to feed yourself and your family is in jeopardy. And no, I’m not exaggerating.

I watched Koyaanisqatsi when it originally circulated in 1982 and I was floored, not just by the soundtrack from Phillip Glass, but by the visuals. Life out of balance indeed. The Blu-ray version is coming this winter. If you haven’t seen the whole movie, I suggest it’s worth the time.

Home, one of many, many environmentally conscious films to come in recent times, gives you a little more perspective on where you are. If we screw up this place, we still have to live here, unless we suddenly decide that suicide is legal and okay. For the vast majority of us, going somewhere pleasant to escape the nastiness simply won’t be possible. And water contamination can only be reduced so far. No matter what you believe about where you’ll go from here after death, your human goal is to stay here as long as possible.

That could be a long, long time. Watch this.

Home – Full-length film

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September 18: Life In A Day

Need a little perspective in your life? Feeling run down or under life’s thumb?

This amazing film was edited from a crowd-sourced selection of 80,000 submissions amounting to 4,500 hours of footage from 192 countries. That it is only 95 minutes long says as much about the editor as it does about what was submitted.

It serves as part of my inspiration for this blog. As much as possible, I am pulling material from YouTube. It’s there because someone thought it was interesting enough to share. In this case, over seven million viewers have watched at least some portion of this film. It’s a slice of life, from a single day (July 24, 2010) as experienced around the world.

Is it earth-shattering? No. Action packed? Yes. Violent? Sometimes. (If you haven’t watched, take note that some of the scenes are graphic and depict animal slaughter.)

More information about the film’s creation and creators is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_in_a_Day_(2011_film)

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September 17: Sita Sings the Blues

This ground-breaking animated feature, not just for the material or style of the storytelling, but for the way its originator has decided to share – by instant public domain – her work with us. The website (http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/) has a lot to say about how we reach out and share our creative works with others. Aside from the brilliant artistry, enjoy this fresh take on non-commercial art and (if you enjoy it) consider supporting the artist through the methods she suggests on her site.

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September 16: The Thief and the Cobbler

The Thief and the Cobbler (renamed Arabian Knight by a certain movie production and distribution company with a rodent as a mascot) was visually stunning but had a troubled history. I was surprised to discover the original cut (cobbled together from cutting room footage and raw sketches where the actual footage is missing).

It’s an ugly story, but a real one, of studio greed and production values. Much as I love Jonathan Winters, he wasn’t necessary to the tale. But these are some of the hazards to be expected when a work of art is presented for commercial gain. Someone’s bound to lose in the end.

Whether you’ve seen the original movie release or not, take the time to watch this version. You won’t regret it.

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September 15: The General

Time for a major change-up in theme, again.

While searching for material to highlight, I’ve discovered a wealth of cinema – full length movies – on YouTube. These aren’t your First Run favorites. Rather, they are groundbreaking, silent era, modern animation, thought-provoking documentary or fascinating takes on real world life.

We start with Buster Keaton’s 1926 classic, The General.

I was tempted to feature Chaplin’s The Gold Rush (1925) or Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last (1923), but this one caught my attention first.

I’m studying film and what makes it so effective as a medium. Netflix has a lot of what I’m watching, but not all. And the wonder of YouTube is that it takes the whole process and puts it in your hands. As we’ll see later this week, some of the results of that control are simply amazing.

If you’ve never taken the time to watch a silent classic, here’s a great place to start. In fact, make the time to watch all three. They’re among my favorites.

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September 14: Four GoPro Hula Hoop Videos

I’ve run out of MUMMENSCHANZ clips to share, but that’s not all there is to offer this week. Just in time for cooler fall weather to settle into the northern states, a reminder of summer…Here are FOUR different videos, posted on four different YouTube accounts, that highlight what it’s like to be the Hula Hoop.

WARNING: If you have trouble with motion sickness, watching this on a full screen may induce ickiness. (That’s a technical term, you know.)

It also shows that no matter what you might think, being original on YouTube is a LOT harder these days.

I don’t know who introduced me to the concept (saw this first on Facebook, I think), but with so much material and so little time left between now and December 1, I’m doing what I can to get the most out of this year of entries. Means you get half a week compressed into a single day. Posted in order of “hits” from most to least.

Starting tomorrow, we take a much different path. Have a great Saturday!


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September 13: MUMMENSCHANZ 4

I wish this segment of highlights could go on longer, but alas, the available material on YouTube is limited to what I’ve already included here, and this last piece.

I found these clips originally because I was looking to see if MUMMENSCHANZ was still performing here in the US. Apparently I just missed them, but I don’t think they travel to where I am. I suppose I’m lucky that I saw their work (twice, I think) while I was still in Rochester, in addition to the Broadway show.

I recall my grandfather being mystified by their performance. He liked the musical Peter Pan much more, because (as I recall) there was a story associated with the show. There are stories associated with MUMMENSCHANZ’s vignettes, too. They’re just a whole lot more abstract.

At any rate, enjoy.

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September 12: MUMMENSCHANZ 3

Returning to the world of MUMMENSCHANZ today and tomorrow,

These vignettes work best because they reach in and touch our deepest human emotions, even though they only hint at or mimic the human form. The messages stick – happiness, triumph, surprise and sadness. You don’t need words to express these feelings.  In a lot of ways, mime is the purest form of storytelling because without words, it becomes a universal communication tool; language that is capable of crossing borders and cultures.

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September 11 (Patriot Day): Faith Restored In Humanity

This video includes many of the clips I’ve already highlighted, but by compiling these clips and adding background music, the creator conveys a message about the human condition and our ability to express compassion.

Out of all the videos and stories about today’s anniversary, this speaks loudest to me and should to you as well, because humans were killed and injured in the fall, but oh, so much more damage has been done to our faith and society than can be encompassed in a single video on the incident.

Heavy material on a heavy memorial day.

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