Archive for You-Tube

A Most Extrordinary Muppet!

This one goes out to all the losers, the zeroes, and the underappreciated and disenfranchised everywhere.

Today,  I have seen the most extrordinary performance ever by one of Jim Henson’s “Muppets” that I have ever witnessed.

This performance wasn’t the work of Gonzo the Great; it wasn’t one of Ms. Piggy’s infamous tirades; it wasn’t Fozzy’s comedic genius;  it wasn’t even an example of Kermit the Frog’s own fomidible talent.

No … this amazing performance was put fourth by none other than the single-most put-down, pathetic, and under-rated creature on the entire Muppets cast.

This incredible multi-song line-up was fronted and performed … by Beaker.

“BEAKER?” you might ask in disbelief.  And, you would be right in assuming that the poor thing couldn’t carry a tune to save his life…or even speak except in unintelligible squeeks and meeps.  As the assistant to the Muppets’ resident mad-scientist, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker fits a doubly low role as the butt of all jokes and the subject of the good scientist’s “experiments.”  In short, Beaker is an unmitigated, unabashed, and un-salvagable ZERO.

But Beaker has hidden talent … Beaker can Lip-sync!  And in that performance, for at least one night, Beaker shines!  And yes, my friends, Beaker brought the house down.  And he looked GOOD doing it!

See for yourself:

Beaker on YouTube

In all, Beaker went on to perform at least half a dozen songs, lip-syncing everything from Abba’s “Mama Mia” to Guns ‘n Roses’ “Mr Brownstone” to U2’s “With Or Without You” … even Metallica’s “Master of Puppets”! … all while looking good doing it.  I mean, in “Yellow”, he’s convincing!

This is from The Muppet Show’s ultimate looser!  I would never have expected Beaker to be the star of any Muppets number, let alone the lead in an entire night’s musical lineup!

Of course, now I must also confess to you that each of these numbers was edited–put together from bits of Muppet Show recordings–by the users of You-Tube and other video-sharing websites.  (The footage was mostly from the UK version of “The Muppet Show” episode 424,  which aired February 1980).  Unfortunately, Beaker never performed these songs on the show–and that’s a pity, because these videos show Jim Henson’s most lovable looser in a mode that really is anything but pathetic.  I think the producers ought to consider using this “mode” for him by adding it to his repitoire.  Imagine the delight and wonder for fans everywhere as they discover an area in which Beaker is actually good.

And, you know … this has a symbolic meaning for anyone who is downtrodden, rejected by society, and considered dumb or simple or slow … in short, for every looser, nerd, and zero of any sort … here is a symbol for you!

Being one of those downtrodden outcasts myself, I know how important this is.

You see, for  every one of us who is cast off by society–whether because we lack social skills, or because we studder or have another speach impediment, or due to mental illness or physical imfirmity–for whatever reason “they,” the powers that make themselves the gods of the social world, choose to reject us and call us “Zeros,” we have a symbol.

With Beaker here, we have a symbolic representation of a universal truth: that every one of us has something special–some hidden talent or gift–something that somewhere, somehow, in some special circumstance, we, too will shine!

And it’s true … every one of us does have a gift.  We now know Beaker’s–he’s a lip-syncing savant … a star performer of the highest caliber–in his own special way.

Each of us is special in our own way, too … the loosers … the zeros … the nerds … the freaks … and the retards.  Every single one is special, too.

Here’s to you, Beaker, from all of us … losers and zeros every one.  Thank you!  And thanks to those who’ve edited your follies into films laden with possibilities … and a promise for the rest of us.

Yes, look at the stars … see how they shine for you, Beaker.  They’re shining for us all … for the losers, and even those that aren’t.

Stay Yellow.

SASS has Spoken.

— the SASS Man

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Wow, I Hit the Big Time!

I just hit the top page of GOOGLE!  I did it with a search for “Eva Cassidy Fact Fable“–which, incidently, was my way of trying to find a video that my employer, Fact & Fable Productions, made as a tribute to Eva Cassidy, using their autumn footage and Eva’s song “Autumn Leaves.”  I put the song up on YouTube, and it has since begun to circumnavigate the virtual globe.

I embedded that YouTube video of “Autumn Leaves” in one of my posts, and Google picked it up.  Now, here’s the interresting part: there are multiple places where a person could find “Autumn Leaves”.  (Our version … done by Fact & Fable Productions, I mean).  Fact & Fable Productions is one of them, in fact … we put up a post on the Fact & Fable News Blog with the same information.  However, it was this very blog that Google caught, and presented to you at the top of the search engine listing.

Now … I doubt I’m considered a popular blog.  In fact, Fact & Fable Productions has a page rank of 2, and my measly little blog doesn’t even rate on Google’s bandwidth yet.  And still it was my copy, my embedded version of Autumn Leaves that Google presented to the world when I searched for it.  Not the F&F News Blog … not even the video on YouTube itself!  Me.

I feel so honored!  Thank you, Google!

SASS has Spoken.

p.s., Incidently, I’ve revisited this post, and my page still turns up at the second entry for the search.  However, now the YouTube page for it is at number one.  That makes alittle more sense now.  I still feel honored to be among such company.

 SASS has Spoken.  Again.

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The Great “Star Wars vs. Star Trek” Debate

I saw a video on YouTube today, showing an immagined confrontation between a Star Wars battle fleet, and the Starship Enterprise.  It’s called, simply, “Star Trek vs. Star Wars”, and I’ve embedded it here:

 

This seems like a pretty realistic comparison of the relative power levels between Star Wars technology and Star Trek.  Although a Super Star Destroyer is hundreds of times larger than the Enterprise, Star Wars is a Fusion-reactor level technology, whereas Star Trek is Matter-Antimatter.

Also, except for Hyperspace (where, incidentally, Star Wars ships fly essentially blind) and The Force, everything in Star Wars is limited to the speed of light, including that Megalaser.  However, Star trek’s sensors and comm operate at Subspace speeds, and the Enterprise can easily detect, evade, and/or outrun any laser- or particle-based weapon.

Still, with the ammount of power generated by that moon-sized fusion reactor, it was wise for the Enterprise to get outta dodge–even Star Trek shields couldn’t have taken that massive charge!

So … believable or not–and I think both series rely quite alot on our ability to suspend our disbelief–I think this little battle between good and evil makes sense.

Which brings me to another old Star Wars memory of mine, from back in the days when I played the Star Wars Role-playing game.  That was the original D-6 version originally published by West End Games.  I had a young Jedi-wannabe by the name of Marlin Lazon.  Back in the day, Biggs, Luke, and I were the Begger’s Canyon Trio.  We used to compete to see who was the hottest, fastest, CRAZIEST pilot on Tatoine!–at least, until Biggs left for the academy.   You know that reunion with Biggs and Luke in the movie?   That happend about half an hour before I got there and we celebrated old times with a little tete-a-tete.

Well, things change fast in the Star Wars Extended Universe.  While Luke’s family was purchasing a pair of used droids, me and the guys who would become my adventuring group came across information that the Empire was about to waylay Admiral Antillies and his diplomatic mission to Alderaan.  (We had no idea about any Death Star … that was Luke’s part of history.)  However, we quickly set out for Mos Eisley to smuggle the information to a place called Yavin, which our freighter contact told us could best make use of the information.

Walking into the Mos Eisley Cantina, the aforementioned freighter captain came face-to-blaster-barrel with a small-time bounty hunter named Gredo.  “Going somewhere, captain?” our gamemaster intoned, in a PERFECT imitation of the Star Wars character’s tone and inflection.  Complaining that he didn’t have the money, our captain suggested that he was only a small-time smuggler, and suggested Gredo might go after “one of the big guys?  Like Solo?”  Just then, into the bar walked Han Solo himself.  Gredo smiled, pulling the blaster out of the freighter captain’s face.  “Excuse me,” he said–also in the Star Wars “Gredo-talk”–and marched to his place in the cannon of Star Wars history.

Now, we all know the “story” of the confrontation between Gredo and Han (Yes, HAN FIRED FIRST!  In an era of charged-energy weapons, he would have been STUPID to let that bounty hunter live long enough to squeze the trigger first!)  And I’ll never forget the reunion of the Beggers’ Canyon Three–the last time I saw my friend Biggs alive.  Too bad I couldn’t have flown in Luke’s squadron; I’ll always wonder if Biggs would have survived.  But then, I was a Y-wing pilot, and flying in a different squadron–one of the squadrons George Lucas added for the Special Edition version.  In fact, you can actually hear my character in one of the Death Star scenes!  I swear, I spoke some of those exact phrases in the battle, years before the Special Edition film was made!  It was simply uncanny!  But what really holds this memory firmly in my mind, and what my fellow gamer will live with for the rest of the Extended Universe, is that it was his character that ultimately got poor Gredo killed.

We would go on to influence things in the background.  I and my collegues defeated a team of would-be sith, and destroyed an early version of the Sun-Crusher.  I found I could almost pass for a dark-sider, with my black-hulled astromech, simply by sitting in a scene and saying nothing … until I spoke softly and emotionlessly, “Shall I prepare your shuttle .. master?”  Even the “Sith-dudes” got chills!  Plus, I eventually started a collection of battle droids.  I discovered that R4 had enough internal memory to control about a dozen of those otherwise mindless blasters-with-feet, and could provide a good cover screen for a group of advancing Jedi and their supporters.

And, unlike Darth Maul or Anakin Skywalker, I didn’t fight with multiple ‘saber blades.  I found an oversized energy crystal, and I built a massive two-handed saber with a blade that could extend from two meters to over three meters long!  The blade was ten centimeters across!  This was before the Wizards of the Coast D-20 version of the game that offered rules for that kind of thing!

Ah, the memories.  Sadly, that gaming group disbanded, and when I again joined a group that played Star Wars, it was the D-20 game, with a greatly reduced Force Powers system, and set nearly 20 years after the original trilogy.  I’m playing Marlin Lazon, Jr., the son of my original concept, and Gaath Dauk, a man who wants to rebuild the ancient Sith tradition, but without being rivals to the Jedi.  (Actually, Gaath’s signature phrase is, “Be GRATEFUL I am on your side!” to his two Jedi collegues.  “The only problem with the Jedi council is, they don’y even have a SITH!”)

It’s too bad, too.  We were already on our way to Bespin following a lead on information that the empire might be building another Death Star.  Had the original gaming group survived, you might have seen my character stalking through the Ewok Forest with Luke and Han in the Special Edition remake!  HONEST!  I really believe George Lucas had a spy monitoring our gaming group for ideas for his Star Wars remakes–after all, he DID put me in the battle of Yavin IV!

SASS has Spoken.

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Sunday, and a Terrible Premonition

I was listening to music today.  One of my favorite songs happens to be U2’s “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”, and it played.  But I’ve never really gotten into the story behind the song–how it came to be.  So I checked it out on Wikipedia.  Here is the Wikipedia article I read … it originally refers to two incidents in Northern Ireland, one in 1972, and another in 1920, both called “Bloody Sunday,” in which people were killed in clashes with British authorities over the status of Irish Autonomy.  The song tries link the sacrifices of these people to the death and resurrection of Jesus, which also took place on a Sunday.

But it was a specific version of the song that really caught my attention … and that Wikipedia article sealed the deal:  their song, written in the early 1980s, was bizarrely apocalyptic, a pseudo-prophetic riff that would explode right under the hands of Bono on a Sunday very much like those others … on November 8, 1987.  U2 was scheduled to play at Red Rocks in Denver, Colorado.  Back in Ireland, it was “Remembrance Day.”  In both places, it is a day Rock & Roll will never forget.

The foundation for the Remembrance Day Bombing lay in part of the factionalization of the IRA and other Irish revolutionary forces.    One such faction, the Provisional Irish Republican Army, a left-wing faction of the IRA, had intended the bombing as an apparent protest against the British government using Irish nationals as cannon fodder during war.  The bombing not only backfired, but it so marginalized the IRA even in the eyes of the Irish, that the “revolution” fizzled over the next few years to virtually nothing, and the rish have mostly enjoyed a lasting peace for many years.

But in November, 1987, all Bono knew was, the song that he’d been singing for half a decade was now front page news.  “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” was today, and he had a concert appearance that night.  Opening up before a massive crowd at Denver, Colorado’s “Red Rocks” ampitheatre, Bono introduced his and the Edge’s famous piece:

“Well here we are, the Irish in America
The Irish have been coming to america for years
Going back to the great famaine,
When the Irish were on the run from starvation
And a British government that couldn’t care less

Right up to today you know,
There are more Irish inmmigrants here in America today than ever
Some illegal, some legel
A lot of them are just running from, high unemployment

Some run from the troubles in Northern Ireland
From the hatred of the h-blocks, and torture
Others from wild acts of terrorism
Like we had today in a town called Inniskillin
Where 11 people lie dead many more injured
On a sunday bloody sunday…”

And then he went into the most powerful rendition of Sunday, Bloody Sunday ever recorded, a song that made it onto the Rattle And Hum album and CD, and has become a mainstay of classic rock on the airwaves ever since.  Who can forget Bono’s powerful, pleading, almost agonized scream of “Fuck the revolution!” or the cheer that arose from the crowd that gathered to hear that very song.  Fuck the revolution indeed.  These events were so powerful, and the performance so stunning, that Bono couldn’t bear to play the song again, and it would be another ten years before it began to reappeasr in their live performances.

Until I read that article in Wikipedia, I knew none of this.  I knew I had the lyrics from the Denver performance – I’d tucked these away in the Lyrics3 tag of my copy of the song, complete with the opening passage, which does not appear on the Rattle And Hum audio CD.  But I never knew how that the song had become so dramatically real, so spectacularly NOW for these people–until today.  Today, I listened to the song again, from a new perspective … and I wept.

And then I went looking for the video.  It’s not too hard to find–from Google I made my way to a link to the file using BitTorrent, and I started to download the DVD of Rattle And Hum–all 4.3 GB of it–but that wasn’t what I wanted.  I just wanted that 1987 performance of “Sunday, Bloody Sunday.”  But after a bit of searching, I found it on YouTube; and I embedded it here: 

In fact, after  little tweaking and digging throu my cache, I snatched it from YouTube, and tucked it away forever with the rest of my ill-begotten pirate gains.  (I won’t tell you how I did that, though, because, first of all, I support YouTube, and second, it’s illegal, wrong, and a pretty dirty thing to do when I can just embed the YouTube player right here, neh?  But if you know how to poke around in your browser’s temporary file storage, you probably don’t need me to help you steal streamed video content anyway.)

And now, I’ve watched and listened to “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” more than a dozen times.  I’ve cried out with Bono when he screams “Fuck the revolution”; I’ve nodded in agreement when he says “Where’s the glory in” killing and injuring innocent people who’s only crime was to commemerate their participation in two world wars, and the sacrifices of their people.  And I have reaffirmed my own stance that there are good, valid reasons to fight–and there are plenty of reasons to fight and kill that are neither good nor valid.

When British oppression leads to harship and suffering, as it did in Ireland in the 1920s, anbd again in 1972, and also as it did on our own shores in the events leading up to July 4, 1776, fighting is probably good if it ends the oppression and the suffering.  But when violence begets only more suffering and death, whether from terrorism, poor coordination and planning, or just a false sense of what’s right and valid, then that violence is invalid and wrong.

In short, I’m talking here about the opression of the Palestinians by Israel, the war in Iraq, and the violence in Northern Ireland.  Next to nothing has come from the violence, and in each case, great strides have been achieved through negotiation and good faith cooperation.  As Bono sang, “No more – No more – Wipe your tears away.”  This violence has got to end.  Sunday, Bloody Sunday should ALWAYS be a memory–not some horrific pseudo-premonition, as this song ultimately became, under the tutelage of Edge, Bono, and the men of U2.  “Wipe your bloodshot eyes”–it’s time to end this.

SASS has Spoken.

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Something You Don’t See Everyday

“The boss said to change the sign – so I did”

So read a sign on Northwest Boulevard in Spokane – one of those signs with the individual plastic letters that have to be changed by hand. It seemed, at first glance, to be about the dumbest thing to put on a sign meant for public display; but it started me thinking. And, it made me remember that sign, and the garage and coffee stand that shared that particular parking area on the route from the outskirts into Downtown Spokane.

I actually remember seeing that same message before, on other signs at various locations through the years in this city of some 200,000. Four other times, if memory serves. And it’s not that the message was anything special – it wasn’t. It wasn’t even unique. But, it was surprising, unexpected. It falls securely into the category of “something you don’t see everyday.”

That’s what a good Marketing plan will do – it captures the attention and plants an idea in the mind, usually without the viewer even aware it’s happening. Take the example of recent commercials for Fanta. In them, we see a group of dancers arrayed in brightly-coloured dresses touting the multi-flavored drink. Afterward, we associate the colors on the cans with those girls – orange, and yellow, and red, and purple, and green … the color of orange flavor, grapefruit, strawberry, grape and lemon-lime. If the marketing has done its job, you taste the hint of grape whenever you see a purple dress.

Of course, they’re just ads, right? Well, actually, advertisement is just one part – and often an unnecessary part – of a good marketing plan. There’s much more to marketing than ads. Branding is equally important, and sometimes much more important. The special lettering used in the Coca-Cola brand is far more recognizable than any particular advertising campaign – even the 1970’s “Id Like To Buy The World A Coke” campaign. Many of us remember the song. But it’s only that logo that is exclusively tied to the product.

On the flip side, quality service and trust can often be more valuble than hundreds of ads. There’s a furniture store, for example, called “National Furniture” that has sat quietly in the same place on Spokane’s Division street for nearly a hundred years.  Just within my lifetime, a dozen furniture stores have come into existence – huge, nationwide chains, often spending hundreds of thousands on advertising.  And then, one by one, they die.

The trusted local guys continue on, and that is the power of marketing. Marketing doesn’t just make you want to buy a product, here…now…anywhere.  Marketing makes you remember a product, or a brand, or a name…permanently.  Once you’ve come to associate a certain idea with another–whatever the relationship–it’s very hard to break that connection; and that’s the function of marketing.

Here, for example, is a song that I will forever associate with a specific set of images. It’s called “Black Coffee” by The Commitments. Fact & Fable Productions made it into an advertisement for Fair Trade Coffee. See it here on YouTube:

Or, check out “Autumn Leaves”, sung by Eva Cassidy. Fact & Fable turned it into an unforgettable Music Video:

And finally, here’s one Fact & Fable Productions did for the Spokane Dance Company. They taught a broom to dance! See for yourself! (I’ll never look at a dust broom the same way again…):

Marketing is a far more complete and far-reaching concept than advertising. Advertising just scratches the surface of a broad field of business-building tools. It gives the marketer an overview strategy in building a company or a product, and ultimately a much more permanent one.

It gives you something you just don’t see anywhere else every day.

SASS has Spoken

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