Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides and writes for This American Life, The Atlantic, Breakfast on Mars, and The Magazine. You can follow him at chrishiggins.com.
The first full-length color movie (Becky Sharp) was released in 1935. But thirteen years earlier, Kodak made a short film test, photographing actresses vamping for the camera -- in color. It's a fascinating look into the fashion (at least the movie fashion) of 1922, and the lack of audio makes me wonder what the women are saying (any lip-readers out there?). Most curious are the poses being struck -- the woman around 2 minutes in (Mae Murray, I think) has a variety of strange poses in her repertoire,... READ ON
I'm a big fan of AMC's Mad Men. I've been watching it faithfully since its debut. But one thing has been bugging me since the third season -- the "next on" segments at the end of each episode reveal virtually nothing about the plot of the next episode. They're a kind of dada art in which the producers of the show show clips of unrelated dialogue; even if you know exactly what's going on with the show, they don't show enough actual interaction to figure out what the next episode is about. It's almost as... READ ON
I saw Scott Pilgrim last week and thought it was a fun romp. In the video below, YouTube user AEmovieguy has combined the audio of the Scott Pilgrim trailer with video from the three Matrix movies. Note that this is probably only funny if you've seen the real Scott Pilgrim trailer or the whole movie. Here's what the creator has to say:
Once upon a time, while serving as battery fodder for machines who've imprisoned the human race to a cyber reality, Scott Neo Pilgrim met his dreamgirl, Ramona... READ ON
In 1996, MECC released Oregon Trail II, an updated version of the classic Oregon Trail computer game. In the new version, a historian added various details, and some attention was given to women and minorities (who were, if I recall correctly, completely absent from the early versions of the game). The video below was included on a "Collector's Edition" release of Oregon Trail II, and it's part documentary, part promo for the new game. It's worth a look, as it recounts 25 years of Oregon Trail gaming... READ ON
In this video, filmmaker Ann Prum describes how she and her team made a Nature documentary about hummingbirds using high-speed HD cameras and specialized lenses. It's exquisite footage, and reveals surprising truths about the hummingbirds -- like what goes on when one encounters another at a flower (hummingbird fight!), and how scientists study hummingbirds both in the wild and captivity. For example, did you know that hummingbirds catch and eat insects for protein? And did you know it's insanely hard... READ ON
The axolotl is a Mexican salamander with remarkable regenerative properties. As Wikipedia says:
The feature of the salamander that attracts most attention is its healing ability: the axolotl does not heal by scarring and is capable of the regeneration of entire lost appendages in a period of months, and, in certain cases, more vital structures. Some have indeed been found restoring the less vital parts of their brains. They can also readily accept transplants from other individuals, including eyes... READ ON
It recently came to my attention that Christopher Walken has a history of doing spoken-word pieces, just reading stuff that sounds weird when he reads it (perhaps everything sounds weird when Walkenized...). The most recent Walken buzz blowing up on the web is a video of his reading of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" (see below on this post). But I thought I'd take us back a few years to some of his earlier performances. Enjoy!
"Three Little Pigs"
"Hello children. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll... READ ON
In 1979, Steve Martin appeared in his first starring movie role. He played Navin R. Johnson in The Jerk, directed by Carl Reiner. This movie has a special place in my heart, probably because it was one of the few VHS tapes my family owned when I was a kid. I've seen it a zillion times. Here are some of my favorite clips, though, to be honest, pretty much the whole movie is one long favorite clip. Note: a few of these clips have mildly salty language.
"I Slit the Sheet, the Sheet I Slit, and on the... READ ON
So how's this for awesome: in 1933, animator Roland Crandall singlehandedly animated a seven-minute Betty Boop cartoon (a version of Snow White) in only six months. In 1994, animators voted the piece #19 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of All Time. Wikipedia says (emphasis added):
Crandall received the opportunity to make Snow White on his own as a reward for his several years of devotion to the Fleischer studio, and the resulting film is considered both his masterwork and an important milestone of The... READ ON
Here's a delightful video to fill three minutes of your day: Words by Will Hoffman and Daniel Mercadante. In it, a series of words (play, blow, break, split, tear, run, fly,ï»¿ fall, light, space) are visually represented in different ways, each leading into the next. It's a sort of visual homonym, and a game in which you try to figure out which word is the current one. Nerdy and fun:
See also: this episode of RadioLab, entitled "Words."
(Via the MaximumFun.org... READ ON