Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Piano Improvisor Merton + Random Webcam Chatroom = Viral Hit!



People go onto anonymous webcam chatrooms for a variety of reasons. Loneliness. Boredom. Sexual exploration. But to be serenaded by a hooded improvising piano-player was not one of them, until now.

Merton (not his real name) is now an Internet phenom. His video was seen over 4 million times in less than a week! On his Youtube channel, Merton wrote a note saying he was not Ben Folds, a semi-famous male piano player from Atlanta (of the band Ben Folds Five). As Merton's video became more popular though, some media insisted Merton and Ben Folds were the same guy. Playing up the joke, Ben Folds recorded his own "Ode to Merton" video in front of a 2000 member live audience, complete with hoodie and glasses.



Here is the very first interview with Merton on Mashable.

I love the combination of improvisational music performance and the randomness of the participants, with all of us watching. It's a bit like those old "You're on Candid Camera" TV shows, where a set of actors and a camera crew do things in front of unsuspecting people. Only now, none of the parties has to go anywhere in particular. Both sides of the chat could be anywhere, and the audience could also be anywhere. Imagine if two improv pianists in front of live audiences from random places in the world encountered each other on Chatroullette?

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Save the Poor Health Insurance Companies!


Awwww... There, there monstrous corporate entities -- it'll be all right in the end. Don't worry.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

First-Person Shooter Disease



Hard-core gamers, this could happen to you!

via Jeff Pidgeon

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Video: Saturday Night Live's prophetic sketch about the Credit Crisis



Only problem is... our entire world economy is now built on buying bets on people buying things they cannot afford. No wonder so many religions were against usury.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Comic: Federal Government Bailing Out The Federal Government

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Saturday Night Live: Sarah Palin


At last, something about this election that made me laugh.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Quote of the Day: Kant on the Essence of Humor

The essence of humor is a strained expectation dissolving into nothing.
--Kant

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mystery Science Theatre 3K for Films You Have or Rent!

It was certainly bound to happen. Remember Mystery Science 3000? An early 90s cable TV show with the combination of bad movies with comedic commentary, featuring silhouettes of the commentators sitting in front.

Now, a website called Rifftrax by some of the original cast of this show offers downloadable synchronized files to play along with popular movies you might already own, or have rented from sites like Netflix. Some even feature special commentator guests like Weird Al Yankovic.

Seems like this concept could increase rentals of less popular, even god-awful movies out there on DVD. I wonder if other meta-content sites like this will emerge and catch on.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Facebook Begs For Attention


See? I'm glad it's not just me. Facebook is cool in a way, but also annoying. Facebookworms collect and share new applications (I think "toy" is a better word -- application implies you're getting something usseful done) every few hours it seems like. Come on! Nobody has time to use hundreds of these on each of their friends! Time to manage your Zombie, Vampyre, and Jedi hordes, to accumulate TV Trivia points, to build entourages, to send Eggs, stock rooms full of gifts, to poke and superpoke all your friends on a regular basis. The only one you'd have time to do is NOT fill out the Where I've Been? widget because you won't have time to go anywhere anymore.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

More Puppet Up! Live Shows in Los Angeles

As I've blogged about before, Puppet Up! is a live improv show with puppets, produced by the Jim Henson Company. Go see it!

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Maybe There's a Compromise?

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Interesting Chinese & Japanese Signage Examples

I was strolling along in Kyoto, looking for temples and a ramen place when I encountered this ominous sign:

Poor kiddies! Look out! There's a giant hand demon with long black fingernails right above you! The sign seems to suggest threats like this can be prevented.

(UPDATE: Actually, this is a sign with a serious message. According to my friend Sam, it's a campaign alerting parents to "Protect your children from strangers." Sad that this is a problem in Kyoto, which felt very safe to me.)

Given this sign found in its pricey but good subway system, Kyoto is home to many Ewoks:

Did not see any riding the train, however. To be honest, I don't know if this is Japanese for "love" or "hate" or "honk for". So it could be this is signage from bitter Stormtroopers now living in Japan.

Then there was this sign in Hong Kong:


How can I do that? My half drunk bottle of Watson's Water is considered a terrorist weapon on local and domestic flights these days. Although I can (and have) certainly brought quite a bit of junk home. Wrinkled subway maps. Museum & zoo tickets.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Quote of the Day


Renato Cruz, a Brazilian blogger, captured this intriguing sign in Shenzhen, China.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Conan O'Brien visits Industrial Light & Magic


Late night talk show host Conan O'Brien got much of the same tour as I did when he visited ILM. He also tried out their amazing motion capture system. Check it out!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Dilbert on Naming a Product

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Nichols & May: A Dentist In Love



Brother Henry found this video of Mike Nichols and Elaine May, the famous comedy duo of the 1950s. Here they are as dentist and patient, brilliantly performed through body language, pacing, writing, and voice. Each went on to be film directors; Nichols directed the classic The Graduate and more recently The Closer. May directed the movie synonymous with box office failures, Ishtar.

You can find their work on CD too.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Parody: What if the Beatles were Irish?



I laugh hysterically when I watch this. John O'Lennon, Paul McCartney, George O'Harrison and Ringo.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

"Baby Got Back" as a folk song video



Jonathan Coulton created this folk-songy cover of Sir Mix-a-lot's "Baby Got Back" song. Now, someone has mashed-up the two back together as a video. Brilliant! Surreal! Makes you realize just how silly most popular music is.

From BoingBoing.

UPDATE: Hmm, the Copyright Police struck and this is no longer available on YouTube.

BUTT, I just realized that I've seen Jon Coulton live without realizing it. He was playing guitar at a John Hodgman (PC guy in those Apple commercials) book-signing in Hollywood last year. And, he's featured in a recent The Show with ZeFrank episode.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fun with Phone Automation Systems

A recent conversation with the US Postal Service's automated phone system:

USPSAPS: Hello, and welcome to the US Postal Service's Automated Phone System. Please choose... (two second pause) I'm sorry, I could not understand you. Please choose from the following (two second pause) I'm sorry I could not understand you. Please choose from the following options. Press 1 to track a package. Press 2 to ...

ME: (Press 1)

USPSAPS: Please enter your tracking number

ME: (Press 20 numbers)

USPSAPS: I heard ... (20 numbers) Is this correct?

ME: ("May I help you?"/sarcastic) Yessssss?

USPSAPS: I'm sorry, I could not understand you. Please say "Yes" or "No."

ME: (normally) Yes.

USPSAPS: I'm sorry, I could not understand you. Please say "Yes" or "No."

ME: No.

USPSAPS: I'm sorry, I could not understand you. Please say "Yes" or "No."

ME: (slowly) Y e s.

USPSAPS: I'm sorry, I could not understand you. Please say "Yes" or "No."

ME: (angrily) YES!

USPSAPS: I'm sorry, I could not understand you. Please say "Yes" or "No."

ME: (Press 0)

USPSAPS: I'm sorry, zero is not a valid option. Please say "Yes" or "No."

ME: (Wall E Gator) Yay-es!

USPSAPS: I'm sorry, I could not understand you. Please say "Yes" or "No."

ME: (like BIT from Tron) yes.

USPSAPS: I'm sorry, I could not understand you. Please say "Yes" or "No."

ME: (opera choir) Yesss!

USPSAPS: I'm sorry, I could not understand you. Please say "Yes" or "No."

ME: (demonic) YESSS!

USPSAPS: I'm sorry, I could not understand you. Please say "Yes" or "No."

ME: (Igor) (breathing) Yessssh mashter

USPSAPS: I'm sorry, I could not understand you. Please say "Yes" or "No."

ME: (German) Ja!

USPSAPS: I'm sorry, I could not understand you. Please say "Yes" or "No."

ME: *click*

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posted by Brian at 2:33 PM 2 comments links to this post

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Medieval Helpdesk Session


A monk learns how to use the new-fangled text storage technology, the "book" that is making his earlier parchment scroll obsolete.

From BoingBoing

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Uncertain about Uncertainty Principle Computer

Unintentionally funny quote from article about a Canadian company that claims to have created a Quantum Computing device:
[D-Wave Chief Executive Herb Martin] said all the evidence the company has indicates that the device is performing quantum computations, but he acknowledged there is some uncertainty.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pachelbel Rant


Over a million views of this so far. Have you seen it?
I have, and now Pacelbel's Canon is stuck in my head too!

From memepool

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Star Wars, Silent Film-style

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Frosty & Steve Podcast



My friends over at Swazzle have started a video podcast for the Holidays, called Frosty & Steve, featuring our favorite snowman and his sidekick snowball. Each episode counts down the twelve days of Christmas with a special guest.

I really like the snowy textures on the characters! See how they made the puppets on Sean's blog, puppet101.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

3-D vs. 2-D Penguin Face Off

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Darth Vader with Multiple Personality Disorder



We, the Stokes Brothers (Brian, Colin, and Henry), used to riff inside the Star Wars universe, making up sketches and mash-ups on the spot during road trips. Now, some savvy folks are continuing (and going way beyond) the tradition, enhanced with affordable video/audio editing software and YouTube.

Take for example, this mash-up of Darth Vader Star Wars footage with various audio clips from other James Earl Jones movies.
Baseball...

Thanks to Colin Stokes for the link!

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Monday, July 31, 2006

Music Video: New Friend Request



Rap + MySpace = Hilarious. Click 'Approve'!

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Comic Strip: Defending the Embryos

From salon.com:

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Tick on DVD!


The Tick was a great Saturday morning cartoon series back in 1995 (yeesh!) about the insane, but nye-invulnerable superhero, The Tick, and his side-kick, Arthur. Ben Edlund made this comic and TV series long before Power-puff Girls and other superhero spoofs (Mystery Men) became popular. The show became an inferior live-action show with Patrick Warburton, which ended up on DVD. Fans have had to settle for home-taped VHS copies (from either the FOX Kids, or Comedy Central showings) or bootlegs at Comic Con to get the animated version.

No longer! Season 1 (well, all but 1 episode) is available August 29th!

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The Daily Show: John Hodgman explains why the Internet is not a Big Truck



Mr. Hodgman is becoming much more visible now -- you may recognize him from Apple Macintosh advertisements where he plays the PC user. But before that, he wrote a funny book called The Areas of My Expertise and read from it at a local bookstore, where I got to chat with him briefly and have him sign my copy. (He wrote "To a Man who Keeps His Secrets," when I could not for legal reasons reveal the villains on the next Spider-man movie.)

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Puppet Up! Puppets at the Improv



My friends Sean & Patrick from Swazzle have been attending a very special improv class at the Henson lot, taught by The Groundlings, and Muppeteer Victor Yerrid. (Patrick invited me to participate in two of the "beginner" classes) This past week, they (and the whole troupe including Brian Henson) performed at the Hollywood Improv.

I had been there a few years ago to see some of the cast of Whose Line Is It Anyway? (Ryan Stiles, Drew Carey). This was similar, though with small flat-screen monitors everywhere for the puppeteers to use while performing, and large ones for the audience. There's definitely an added level of hilarity when you add puppets -- people laugh as soon as, say, a crab and an aardvark, or a valley girl and three aliens, appear on the screen. Not that Ryan Stiles or Colin Mochrie couldn't inspire outbursts of laughter with their physical and vocal mimicry, but seeing them as stylized puppets takes it to another level. For most people, puppetry is a novelty and video puppetry (ala Muppetry) even more so.

This went above-and-beyond just puppets and "adult situations" though. Anybody can swear and move a puppet around. These performers can act, switch characters on the fly, and make you believe that a bunch of foam dolls are really living things. The results were extremely funny. Tyler Bunch made up an hysterically dumb super-hero (at a homeless shelter) on the spot. Julianne Beuscher, the lone female performer, killed with everyone of her characters, whether a valley girl in post-Apocalyptic Australia, a Philippino girl suffering from overly tight panties, or a mouse torn between her beaver lover and a dream of cutting nosehair (he finds it hurts too much). Victor Yerrid and a Middle Eastern-sounding aardvark wanting to get his "ears" enlarged. Both Sean and Patrick held their own as nerdy guys, Haliburton phone operating rabbits, boardgaming crabs, and inconsiderate alien neighbors. There were no bombs in either show Saturday night, which I thought was amazing.

In July, the Puppet Up! folks plan to do this again as a live taping. Part of the troupe is off to Edinburgh to perform in a festival. Who knows? This could end up as a TV show (preferably on cable)

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posted by Brian at 3:49 PM 1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Debilitating Effects of Youth!

Hilarious advertisement for Time, from Defective Yeti:
Parents! Is your son or daughter between 12 and 17 years of age and exhibiting one or more of the following symptoms?

* Listlessness
* Apathy
* Mood Swings
* Idealism
* Hyperactivity
* Malaise
* Irritability
* Egomania

If so, your child may be suffering from the debilitating effects of Youth.

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Surreal Audiobook

If you have iTunes, go to the Music Store, click on Audiobooks and find Languages, then Vocabulearn as Author/Narrator.

Listen to Chinese Level 1.

Strangely, only Chinese Level one gets an oddly seductive, bassy masculine voice taking turns with an older chinese woman, and Vivaldi music in the background.

It feels like something out of The Electric Company.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

John Hodgman’s dead-on synopsis of The Muppet Movie

From his book, The Areas of My Expertise:
This was a movie about puppets who go to Hollywood to become stars. As they travel, they frequently consult the script of the movie in order to know what to do next. When they reach Hollywood, they begin making a movie about the movie the viewer has just been watching. The puppets build plywood simulacra of props that, earlier in the film, were presented as real. Then the roof of the soundstage smashes in and a powerful rainbow shines down and obliterates everything, including a plywood imitation of the fake rainbow that had appeared in the first scene. The frog and bear and pig simulations panic as the fake/real and real/fake worlds nearly destroy each other. The puppets then look directly into the camera and instruct the viewer that “life’s like a movie: write your own ending.”

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Kids In The Hall Live!

Just like their old live shows in Toronto back in the 1980's, before their famous TV show on HBO, the Canadian comedy troupe Kids In the Hall performed live last night to a standing-room only crowd at the Steve Allen Theatre here in Hollywood. The tickets went on sale on the Internet at midnight a few weeks ago, and were sold out within minutes! I got lucky and snagged two of them.

Here I am with my friend Amie and Dave Foley. We met Julie (who worked with Dave back on Newsradio) and she introduced us to their friend Maura Tierney (Newsradio, E.R.). What a great night!

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Can you help this Cylon?

The new Battlestar Galactica series is a lot better than I expected it to be. Poor old-school Cylon...

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Earth to Fundamentalist Muslims: CHILL

Ok fine, a newspaper published an insulting cartoon about your prophet. The newspaper has apologized.

YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY RIGHT TO TORCH INNOCENT DANISH OR OTHER PEOPLE. PERIOD.

No, Syria. No, Iran. No, Lebanon. Denmark itself does not need to apologize. It is you who must apologize to the world for your inability to take offense in an adult manner.

What kind of god is Allah who gets offended by cartoons so much that he allows you to kill indescriminately? Come on.

Iran and Syria, this is the 21st century. Banning countries goods that make fun of your religion is so 1980's. Take an anger management class. All of you.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

MPAA FBI Warning Video Parody

This MPAA/FBI warning video is excellent, and scarily true.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Noo! Fox Dumps Arrested Development

My favorite show just got canned. Man, most of my favorite shows don't last to five seasons these days. Or they do and start sucking about then.

But the good news is David Cross (Tobias) is performing at the Largo near me.

Oh! I went to a taping of a Seth Green pilot called Four Kings, created by the guys who made Will & Grace. Once past the security guards and PA's, you're greeted by an easily amused host with a microphone, who's job it is to both keep us awake with candy during the down-time, and also to nag us about laughing louder ("Giving the love"). You see the show playing on TV monitors above you, pretty much as the way you would at home -- except that the laughter is your own! Then you look down and watch a crowded play going on, only it's way over-lit, and they keep stopping and starting. Two mike booms stalk whomever's speaking. There's a quartet of cameras that look more like robots with people mounted atop them, an army of prop folks, and a throng of men in suits who aren't accountants or lawyers -- they're the writers and script coordinators, ready with back-up funny lines in case we don't laugh hard enough.

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posted by Brian at 8:53 AM 2 comments links to this post

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Penguins & Intelligent Design: Part II

My friend Nick Foster, who saw March of the Penguins with me and heard me say "This movie is probably the best evidence AGAINST Intelligent Design" just found this article.
Apparently some religious conservatives see it as a case FOR Dntelligent Design, given that penguins are monagamous and loyal and persistent in face of overwhelming odds (just like Christians).

That's nice and all, but I still stand by my observation that it's not intelligent to Create a mating ritual involving a mass exodus to find food, when food is right underneath the ice. Humorous? Sadistic? But not particularly intelligent.

Interesting how these Bible-going folks missed ignored the bit about penguins have been doing this march for Millions of Years.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

English is broken, I tell you!

English is broken, I tell you!

Case in point:

(A person causes a problem and someone witnesses it).

Person 1: "Who is responsible for this mess?"

Person 2: "I am"

Person 1: "You are so irresponsible."

Thus, Person 1 is both responsible and irresponsible simultaneously!!

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