Muppet Video Week

If you’ve been forwarded a strange trailer for the fictional film “Green With Envy” this week, don’t worry; it’s just a teaser trailer for the upcoming movie, The Muppets.

Jason Segel is behind the script and stars in the movie alongside Amy Adams. Noticeably absent from the trailer?: Statler & Waldorf providing a final, biting commentary on how terrible the trailer is. (Hint: it isn’t).

Also making their way around the intertubes this week is a two-part interview of Andy Samberg conducted by none other than Sesame Street resident (and serial co-habitator) Bert. The videos were posted to YouTube from the official Sesame Street account but I can’t really see a child enjoying these as comedy, but maybe I didn’t really understand the parody of Kermit the Frog interviewing “Miami Mice” either.

Conversations with Bert: Andy Samberg, Part 1:

Conversations with Bert: Andy Samberg, Part 2:

Whatever the case may be, I think the videos definitely appeal to parents who either currently watch Sesame Street with their kids (or DVR it) or who will potentially do so in the future. I’m in the latter camp and I’m wondering what’s taken me so long.

Either way, enjoy the videos. They may not be the joint Elmo/Ricky Gervais interview from a few years back, but what is?

I think it shows the enduring popularity of the characters Henson created and the ingenuity of the rights holders (CPB & Disney) to use the internet in novel ways.

Enjoy the videos and I hope to see you at the theatre this Thanksgiving!

Telling Stories

In which I show you some videos

As someone with the twin loves of This American Life and trying to become a better writer, I love the fact that I just rediscovered Ira Glass’ Storytelling video(s) today.

Here there are if you haven’t seen them before:

Part 1: On the basics …

Part 2: On finding great stories …

Part 3: On good taste …

Part 4: On two common pitfalls …

In which I link to some things that make writing easier

If you’re reading this blog for more than the first time or if you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m trying to become a writer. Or become a better writer. Depends upon the day.

First, if you’re an aspiring writer and you haven’t already tried it, join right now and start writing.

Every day.
750 words.
Do it.

Second, if you’re more the type who wants to curate stories – to tell stories using perspectives/voices that aren’t your own (and you like journalism) – you should give Storify a try. It was down earlier, but hopefully it’s all better now.

In which I tell you all about Chuck Wendig’s blog (and link there 3 times)

I’ve also been doing a bunch of writing driven mostly by a blog written by Chuck Wendig. Hopefully you’ve seen some of my flash fiction challenge entries, but Chuck’s blog is where those all started.

Here come the three things:

So I don’t know if I’ve done a particularly good job of telling a story through my YouTube embeds and list of links. Talking about process is usually a great way to kill your momentum and make you rethink all the fixes to your problems. You know, that thing you called process?

Anyhow, here’s hoping we all become better writers in the process of writing.

Happy Tuesday!

Cee Lo, Muppets & Gwyneth at the Grammys

Either the Grammy folks have seen fit to keep the full performances off of YouTube or I’m just that bad at searching/finding them. In any case, here’s an excerpt of Cee Lo Green performing “Forget You” along with Muppets and Gwyneth Paltrow.

At the time of our time-shifted viewing it was agreed that Gwyneth’s shoes were a bit out of place amongst the Elton John-esque outfit Cee Lo was sporting and the Muppets. She was a tad bit under-dressed, don’t you think?

Another important point is that the backing band were Muppets and not The Muppets. Better discussion of the distinction (or nitpickery) is here.

From the Henson Company via MTV News:

MTV News got some inside information about the performance just days before Cee Lo, Paltrow and their puppet posse worked the stage. Jim Henson Company CEO Brian Henson said the set was inspired by the marionette mob’s recent theater turn.

“We have a live theater show in New York called ‘Stuffed and Unstrung,’ and we’ve taken a bunch of the characters from that cast and made them into a band and backup singers for Cee Lo,” Henson said of the fuzzy puppets from the made-for-grown-ups improv show. “He’ll be backed by puppets who will make up a very weird and cool band.”

Henson said the idea to sing with the puppets came from Cee Lo, who approached the Henson Company with a concept of what he wanted to do. “We had never worked with him before, and he’s just a fabulous guy,” Henson said. “I think he’s a lifelong fan of the Muppets, and he had a pretty good idea of what he wanted.”

Some of the Muppets looked like those used in the Puppet Up! improv shows that eventually became ‘Stuffed and Unstrung’, so it’s nice to see that fact confirmed.

Related: Know Your Meme

Anyhow, whether you’d describe them as The Muppets or merely just plain ole Muppets, the performance was a ton of fun. Cee Lo and Gwyneth were good too, though I’d rank Gwyneth’s Glee performance and Cee Lo’s explicit version higher up, it was still a ton of fun.

Gwyneth on Glee:

Cee Lo Explicit:

Happy Valentine’s Day!

UPDATE: Here’s video of Elton John’s appearance on The Muppet Show singing Crocodile Rock:

End of Summer Jams

The hit of the last fortnight has been Cee-Lo Green’s “Fuck You” (both the text-only version and the newer official version).

The hummable (if not singable) nature of the song and the amazing videos (as different as they are) got me thinking about another great tune with a stunning video: Her Morning Elegance by Oren Lavie. If you haven’t seen already (or it’s been a while and you want a refresher) here you go:

Petapixel posted an amazing “making of” video today that shows just how the process of creating the video came to be. Check it out:

There’s even a traveling art exhibit of the stills that make up the stop motion video OR you could own a piece of creative and buy one of the photos yourself for $250.

Anyhow, the Cee-Lo stuff (despite the completely opposite sentiment and presentation) got me thinking of Oren Lavie.

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Nausicaä Remembered

Based on a one-off tweet from Roger Ebert the other day – one which led to his blog on the Chicago Sun-Times site – I completely jumped down the early adolescent memory rabbit hole.

You owe it to yourself to watch the video and read the essay re-printed there so I won’t steal it’s thunder.

For the uninitiated, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was Hayao Miyazaki’s first feature film and if you haven’t experienced it (or his other works), you’re missing out. As Mr. Ebert says in his tweet, “Some people haven’t seen a Miyazaki film. They should start here.”

Several of Miyazaki’s films are on Google Video and here’s an embed of Nausicaä to make it easier for you:

I first saw a snippet of the movie at a comic convention where it was playing from a tattered VHS along side a similar quality copy of the Dolph Lundgren Punisher movie. One of the two left a lasting impression on me.

Later during that same timeframe (middle school is, thankfully, a blur) I caught the bastardized international version on HBO. I was struck by the glider Nausicaä flew and the goliath “Ohm” creatures.

Watching it again as an adult – with the new voice talent for its re-release – I realize how brilliant and beautiful the story is. Miyazaki isn’t just an amazing animator or brilliant inventor of worlds, he tells very deep, emotional stories too, ones that transcend his chosen medium.

I’ve been going on ad nauseam about the movie to Jenn the past couple of days and I would really like Raelyn to watch it if we can track down a copy somewhere. I’d rather see it together on a bigger screen instead of a laptop, but I’ll take what I can get.

We’ve already watched Spirited Away together and, though she didn’t quite get what it was about, the fact that it was something the two of us shared together as father and daughter was really special. Plus, I like the fact that Miyazaki’s heroes tend to be heroines and that they show much more than just the courage and bravery of standard male heroic characters.

I want Raelyn to learn those lessons but also appreciate cartoons as an art form and not just a distraction (though we both enjoy Phineas & Ferb and Spongebob Squarepants, much to the consternation of her mother).

Seeing the movie reminded me of the wonder of animation and the power of childhood memories. Spirited Away hits more of the notes of the movement of child to adulthood, but something about Nausicaä really sticks with me. Maybe it’s the earnestness and conviction of the titular character. Maybe it’s just a damn fine film.

Either way, enjoy!