Friday, July 30, 2010

Creating Television Show Credits

It’s not often one can boast that a video shoot went 100% perfect. But that’s exactly what happened when we set off to create our very own faux Saturday Night Live opening credits montage…

Over the years, we’ve leaned a lot on our friends and family to help us make our video productions that much better. Through acting, writing, catering and more, we certainly would never have had the success we enjoy without them. So when we finally hit the big time and won some video contests (and more importantly money), we decided one thing we had to do was throw an “appreciation party” for everyone who ever had anything to do with any of our shoots over the years.

We knew we wanted to shoot something new for the party, as we were pretty sure our friends were sick of watching the same old films we always trotted out whenever they were around. The problem was – what to shoot? Our requirements were vague but necessary – it needed to be clever but quick; cool looking but easy to shoot.

Not exactly the easiest thing to pull off.

But then, in a stroke of fate and possibly a lot of beers, we happened to catch a recent Tim & Eric show where they spoofed the opening of Saturday Night Live. We figured if they could do it, we could too.

First, here’s a look at the Saturday Night Live opening:

And now, here’s a look at our finished product:

So…how did we do it?

We struck out on a Tuesday night onto the streets of Philadelphia with a Canon 7d, one lens (the Canon EFS 18-135 MM) a few costume changes (consisting of different hats), and some hazy ideas of some locales where we wanted to shoot. You might notice that nowhere in that list does it mention lighting or even a tripod. That’s mostly because we’re lazy/stupid/insert your own adjective.

Obviously aware we had only the artificial light of the city, we decided to stay close to streetlights and other broadly lit areas. Of course, as you can see in the video, that plan was soon discarded and we veered off course into dimly lit alleyways and poorly lit bars. Shooting at an ISO of 3200 let us get away with doing stuff like that. We’re happy to report the 7D not only met all the challenges we gave it, it captured the exact look and feel of what we were going for.

What the Canon 7d also allowed us to do was travel light and move quickly through various locations in the city. We felt we needed a variety of locations to capture the essence of the opening credits, and the 7d made it all possible. What probably would have taken a couple days to shoot with more equipment, took us a little over three hours. And that includes dinner in a Chinese restaurant/drug den.

Post production was all done in Final Cut, and the graphics really add to the authenticity of the original credits. I can’t say enough about how the 7d performed.

Post Script…

In a stroke of bizarre fate, we found ourselves at the NAB Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, picking up an award for one of our films (and getting to meet Jason Reitman). However, that wasn’t the biggest thrill of the weekend for us, as we also got to meet (name of guy), the director of the Saturday Night Live credits and digital shorts. I can’t even begin to imagine the odds of that happening. Anyway, not only did we get to pick his brain about techie stuff, we also got to show him the actual credits, which I honestly believe he got a kick out of.

New Between Two Ferns

Perhaps not the funniest one, it still made me laugh. Especially the end gag, so stay with it!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I'm certainly not posting this because of the song, rather the idea and execution of what happens when you shoot a flamethrower at a fire extinguisher. That, and the fact it's shot in slow motion.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Alex Trebek is a Smarmy Bastard

And this video collection has nothing to do with Will Ferrell!

You Can Have Your Sundance...

...Give me the Toronto Film Festival every day of the week.

The lineup (or partial lineup) has been released. While there are certainly some bigger names premiering, it seems like this is a down year for films. Here's a quick list of things I wouldn't mind seeing, if, you know, I was going to be there.

The Town (directed by Ben Affleck)
Buried (though I'm not sure I could sit through it)
Cirkus ("sexy new girlfriends" are all the rage)
Stone (De Niro and Edward Norton!)

Secrets of Reality Television

It's not All the President's Men, or The Pentagon Papers. In fact, it's not even revealing too much more than you already suspected. Still, coming from an "insider" of reality television, it's interesting to read how blunt reality television is. Not that it's fake, just that it's all about manipulation. Manipulation of the show, of the people on it, and of the audience.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Weather Photos

I'm a sucker for extreme weather, and the Big Picture is the digital crack feeding my addiction today. How would you like to have been in the hail storm that caused all that damage?

That's a lot of Ants...

I wouldn't recommend reading this article if you are at all squeamish about getting squeamish when you see a bug inside your house.

In fact, if you can't read this paragraph:

The Lord God first divided the darkness from the light. Then he divided the heavens from the earth and the earth from the sea. Evolution did the rest: It divided the earth between humans and ants, and in so doing created another fundamental dichotomy. There are billions of humans on earth, and trillions upon trillions of ants — an estimated 1.6 million for every human being. If the earth were a scale, and all the humans were placed on one side and all the ants on the other, it would not budge. Ants have answered the ever-expanding human biomass with an ever-expanding biomass of their own, so that the planet is poised, teetering between its two most successful civilizations — each of which is social, aggressive, expansionist, and well suited for war.
Without involuntarily scratching parts of your body, then I definitely recommend skipping this one. Unless you enjoy terrifying yourself. You've been warned.

The Themes of Dr. Who

I'm a sucker for the opening song of Dr. Who. I think it's because it sets such a creepy mood; of course then you start watching the show and get so completely confused you forget it, but whatever. I've watched many Tom Baker episodes and that's it - so I wouldn't call myself a huge fan of Dr. Who...more like a huge fan of the concept of Dr. Who. If that makes sense. Anyway, enjoy the theme songs from every era of the show.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Mel Gibson Theory

By now, I'm going to assume you've heard, if not the actual audio, at least the story of Mel Gibson and his seemingly career destroying phone calls to his ex-wife.

Disturbing, and reprehensible, we've come to a point where the tapes have reach a level of macabre humor. While it's difficult to justify laughing at what the tapes could be implying (and what Mel's ex-wife is suggesting) it's hard not to hear at least some of the phrases and lines and not chuckle.

Now...I'm not saying that Mel didn't simply go insane. It's obviously the most logical conclusion.

However, what if...

What if, and yes I know this is crazy, but what if, this is a crazy publicity stunt for Mel's new movie, The Beaver?

I know that sounds insane, but first check out what The Beaver is supposedly about...

IT'S ABOUT Walter Black, a depressed toy manufacturer, loses his family and his business. But then Walter tries on a hand puppet — a chatty British rodent called ''The Beaver'' — and his personality is transformed. It's all good at first, but things turn ugly when the puppet won't let go.
I haven't read the script, so I don't know what "things turn ugly" necessarily means, but I don't think it would bee too much of a jump to suggest the puppet says things that people want to say but normally don't. Kinda like some certain audio tapes?

Also, if you've heard the tapes, you've heard Mel at times out of breath, excited, screamy and downright insane. While his ex-wife seems strangely non-emotional, even detached. Obviously, she knows she's taping the conversations and remaining unemotional in this instance keeps her looking like the sane one. But again, what if she's reading from a script, setting up Mel's crazy lines.

Because, honestly, some of the lines are insane. Almost too insane. As if they quite possibly could have been scripted.

Yes, I know that these are not flattering, and some of the content would probably, even if it came out that the whole thing is fake, would still turn a lot of people off, but just think for a moment...if this was some sort of marketing plan for The Beaver...mission accomplished, right?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Saturday Night Live Movie that Never Was

I'm a Saturday Night Live apologist. No, I'm not going to tell you that they never make a mistake, or a bad show, but I will say I find it funnier than the majority. I think it's an easy target these days (it all goes in cycles of course - I'm guessing we're on the cusp of reporters and blogs declaring it funny again). Comedy is an insanely subjective thing, which makes it obviously one of the more difficult things to make successful with a broad audience. That SNL has done it for so long (mostly) is a major feat.

So when the AV Club sent me over to this unproduced SNL sketch movie script, I was certainly intrigued. And the pedigree of writers who worked on it certainly lent credibility to the whole thing.

I'll stop spewing now. Here's a recap of what could have been. I laughed a number of times just reading it. Too bad it shall never see the light of day.

Nothing is What it Seems

While this article seems like nothing more than a ploy to writing about conspiracies (because seriously, the JFK assassination conspiracy was pretty big before the Internet) I'm still a sucker of conspiracies. And of course, it's fun to read...

But the goldmine of posts like this, by larger, more popular websites such as Salon is the comments. That's where the more "colorful" things seem to rise. Stuff like this...

lightweight airhead writes article about things its never thought thru.

The Zapruder footage of the assassination has been endlessly scrutinized on Internet forums, where discussions continue about noise on the grassy knoll and the president's movement after he was shot.

The Zapruder film clearly shows a round coming in and hitting Kennedy from a different direction than the Book Depository.
From that fact we must conclude that either Oswald was not the only shooter or maybe he wasn't a shooter at all.

Government experts, academics and the world of science unanimously agree that it is all pernicious nonsense;and the 9/11 Commission report provides detailed explanations for why such theories could never be true.

It is quite clear that a top of a tower cannot crash through eighty five floors, pulverising them as it falls and arrive at the ground in the same free fall time as would a top that fell with nothing below it.
Therefore given that irrefutable fact we are obliged to consider explosives must have been involved in order to supply the extra energy to do the extra work.

The most recent addition on our list, the "Birther" conspiracy claims that Barack Obama is not eligible for the presidency because he was not born in the United States.

That is an oft repeated strawman argument. The fact is no one knows officially which address he was born at. Whether he was adopted, and if he was how come he came back to using the name Obama? That the answers to those rather basic questions remain unknown

This was signed written by a commenter calling him/herself ParisHilton'sChiHuaHua. So you know it's reputable.

Bill Murray speaks...

I'll link to anything Bill Murray is involved in...which is why you're getting this interview. Stay for the Garfiled explanation. Brilliant.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Juggalos...Mount Up!

I tapped out by the 21 second mark. If you make it further, you're a better (worse) person than I...

Websites That Just MIssed

During the dotcom boom, it seemed that just about anyone with a computer and a half-baked idea could secure some funding and put together a website. That these websites had no business model, or any reason to really exist, didn't seem to bother anyone - until of course people started realizing getting on the Internet wasn't like simply finding buried treasure.

Still, back in the day, there were good ideas. Unfortunately, they too got swallowed up. Here's a look at some of the best.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead was a comic book (or, possibly a graphic novel series - I'm not sure what the difference is these days) about the zombie apocalypse. Gory, gruesome and a bit bleak (unlike all those G rated happy zombie apocalypse stories!) it of course is now being turned into a television series for AMC.

Enjoy a look at the cast here. Supposedly, it's going to stay true to the tone of the book, though I'm not sure how that would be possible on a standard cable channel. Let's just say I wouldn't get too attached to any of the characters.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I'm a sucker for a good moonshine story...

I'm a sucker for a good moonshine story...

"He was a short, skinny fella, who always wore his hat—that was kind of his claim to fame, his hat that he always wore. And his bib overalls—he always wore bib overalls. Even when he came to federal court, he was wearing bib overalls. He was a friendly fellow, and of course every time you would talk to him, he would say, 'Ray, I’ve run my last run of moonshine, I'm not gonna do it anymore, I'm just getting too old to be doing this stuff.' And so that's what he'd say every time! But he'd tell me that, and he'd let everybody know, but his cellphone number was very available—he'd give it to people to call to order some moonshine. And one of the stories that came out in his federal court case was that he had met up with a fellow and sold him 50 gallons of moonshine, because there was a discounted rate…he had ended up selling 50 gallons to this undercover agent, helped him load it and everything.

I can only aspire one day to have the number of a moonshiner in my phone that I can call at any time for delivery. (From Mother Jones)

From the Mind of M Night Shyamalan

Though not directed by M Night Shyamalan, the movie Devil is certainly being promoted heavily as though it has been. Not sure if that's a good thing or not these days.

Anyway, take a look at the trailer here. Personally, I hated it. I don't understand the upside down cityscapes at the beginning (most of the action seems to take place in an elevator, which has never made me feel discombobulated. Claustrophobic, sure). And I thought it gave away too much of the movie. I understand that's a common complaint for trailers these days, but this one really went too far. This plot begs for a "less is more" approach. It's one thing to give away a lot of big action pieces in a trailer to get people pumped up; it's another to go all out on what you're trying to market as a psychological thriller. Or what could have been a psychological thriller.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Pure Bacon Burger

I'll admit it, the idea of a burger made completely of bacon never crossed my mind, and I'm usually on the cutting edge of bacon related food products. So kudos to the author here. Of course, I'm guessing eating one of these might kill you, so in the end I don't know who loses. I also wondered about the greasiness of the raw patty, which the author discusses here:

I wanted to cook the burger under the broiler, as I did with the bacon-wrapped burger last week, on a rack set over a Pyrex dish to allow the rendered fat to drain. Having read about the difficulties people making such burgers have had keeping them together, I decided to add one large egg to the food processor along with the 19 slices of bacon. I ground the bacon and the egg together, then, using my hands, pulled the mixture out and used a hamburger press to make a burger. It is possible that my hands have been greasier at some point in my life, but if so I have (fortunately) forgotten it. I was not quite prepared for the raw burger to look like pure fat, and I must admit that it didn’t look very appealing. But it was for science, so I soldiered on!

Am I thinking about trying it? Absolutely. But probably not when my wife is around to chastise me for eating 19 pieces of bacon at once. Of course, that leaves me with a small problem of not having anyone to be around to call the ambulance.

Comedy and Cinema - the Past 30 Years

Comedy is obviously a very subjective concept. What's funny to you may be painfully unfunny to me (I'm looking in your direction According to Jim) and vice versa (I'm looking in your direction sweet, lovable Get a Life). But I'm willing to bet in the last 30 years at least one of the directors interviewed for this piece by GQ has made you laugh. And that's a powerful thing.

The New Drug Traffic

Submarines are the latest rage in the trafficking of cocaine in the United States!

Unlike previous known "cocaine subs," which could dip only just below the surface, the illegal craft appears capable of diving as deep as 65 feet (20 meters).

Seized before its maiden voyage, the 98-foot-long (30-meter-long) fiberglass sub was big enough to hold six to ten tons of cocaine and six crew members. The remote swamp camp where it was built was outfitted for up to 50 workers, though only 1 was present at the time of the raid.

While I certainly don't condone the illegal smuggling of dangerous drugs across our borders (I'll leave that up to the government!) I have to applaud the ingenuity of the traffickers in this case.

Please enjoy a slide show of these awesome submarines. Also, if you're a punk/garage band looking for a name, and don't settle on Cocaine Submarine, then I'm sorry, you shouldn't be making music. Also, I demand a cut.

Best Simpsons Ever

There's no shortage of "Best Simpsons' Episodes" lists on the Internet. So here's the latest. Of course, I don't give much credence to it simply for the fact that they didn't include the Scorpio episode or the Poochy episode ("Catch you later Mrs. S"), but your opinion might vary.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jewel Punks Karaoke

To be honest, I think if this had been me, I would have just ripped my nose and wig off during the second song...

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Case of the Missing Hollywood Actors.

A list of actors who have seemingly dropped of the face of the Earth. Don't read it to find out where they are/what happened to them - because aside from a one or two, the article doesn't plum to those depths) read it just to see if your guesses of who was on the list were correct.

Gaming the Game Show

If you follow game shows, then you're probably more than a little familiar with the Press Your Luck scandal. Michael Larson, a contestant, basically figured out the pattern of the board and won a whole bunch of money...

But did you know there was a Price is Right scandal?

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Strange, Sordid World of Professional Eating

The July 4th Nathan's Hotdog eating contest is always good to watch for a moment or two, to wonder aloud to your friends how these people can gorge themselves on hotdogs, and how others can find enjoyment by watching it all in person.

This year saw some controversy as Tackeru Kobayashi was not only banned from competing, but also arrested for protesting his banning.

So apparently professional eating is a lot more serious than we give it credit for. So much so that Mayor Bloomberg of New York weighed in on the competition...

While the U.S. immigration service gave Kobayashi his special visa, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg all but endorsed Kobayashi's chief rival at last week's "weighing-in ceremony" for the hot-dog contest. Standing beside MLE star Joey Chestnut, Bloomberg hailed the contest as "the World Cup of eating up," dismissed Kobayashi as a coward for not participating, and saluted Chestnut for "eating an amazing 68 dogs … in just 10 minutes."

Legos for Adults

If you always liked Legos, but thought there was never enough violence to come out of them, then you'll love this...

Max Brooks - Author of World War Z

Author Max Brooks, was interviewed over at the A.V. Club. Surprising thing I learned? He's the son of Mel Brooks!

Seriously though, if you haven't read World War Z, I can't recommend it enough.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

LSD and Hollywood

Looks like it's drug day here at The Popcorn Trick... Vanity Fair has a cool article about LSD and how it helped out stars of the fifties, including Cary Grant, and Esther Williams. In fact, Williams apparently had an amazing trip that she remembers to this day...

But the evening wasn’t over for Esther. After she had said good night to her parents, she went to her bedroom, undressed, and washed. When she looked in the mirror, “I was startled by a split image: One half of my face, the right half, was me; the other half was the face of a sixteen-year-old boy. The left side of my upper body was flat and muscular.… I reached up with my boy’s large, clumsy hand to touch my right breast and felt my penis stirring. It was a hermaphroditic phantasm.” Esther has no recollection of how long she stood there, but there was no question that now “I understood perfectly: when Stanton had died, I had taken him into my life so completely that he became a part of me.”

LSD certainly is nothing if not controversial. Of course, I'm not sure it's this bad...


I'll be honest, I'm no saint. I've tried nitrous a few times at concerts. It's a crazy, gone-all-too-soon high that can get your head spinning and your mouth giggling. My nitrous huffing began and ended over 15 years ago, seemingly before the racket became a huge business.

"Fatty whippets!" yell the balloon man's eight or nine dealers, holding balloon clusters high in the air. Some of the dealers are locals, contracted out for the night, while the rest hail from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. When a police car is seen from a distance, a trio of spotters yells, "Six-Up"—a warning to keep cool. Selling nitrous oxide for the purpose of getting high is illegal, but the club's bouncers don't seem to mind the huffing. "The security here is cool," says a dealer named Chrystal, a single mother who is dating the Boston capo, whom we'll call Dmitri.

Pretty sure my purchase in no way supported the Nitrous Mafia, but who knows?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cool Advertising

I'm a sucker for good advertising. And I never really understand why more companies don't take chances with their advertising. I think we've come to the point of oversaturation in the advertising marketplace, and if you don't create an ad that stands above the clutter, it will get lost.

RIP Wimbledon 2010

As we slowly recover from the hangover that is Wimbledon (congratulations, Rafa and Nadal), here's a look back at the British fortnight, and a reminder that things are just a little different at the prestigious tennis tournament.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

An Oldie But a Goodie

I'm sure most of you have seen the Green Team video over at Funny or Die, but I'm putting it up again, for old times sakes. Also, because I really enjoy the phrase "murder boner."

Gallagher Changes His Act

According to this article from Salon, the fun-loving, smashing-fruit comedian we all know and love has tweaked his act a bit... and he might not be so fun loving.

Relating the tale of the 63-year-old comedian's recent sold-out performance at Washington's Admiral Theater, writer Lindy West goes from snarky young critic expecting fogy gags to horrified silent witness to pure unbridled lunacy. Turns out Gallagher's current act, while still relying on hammering random stuff like water chestnuts (which Gallagher puzzlingly refers to as "China people and queers") is a hate-strewn celebration of the "Anglo-Saxon Viking" and his assertion that "I am powerful, I'm an American and I'm gonna speak my mind." Look out, United States.

Thankfully, we have Youtube, that will archive the brilliance of Gallagher.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wu-Tang Kung Fu Movie

I have no idea how real this is. I have no idea if it would ever be released. I do know I orgasmed 4 times watching it.

Love Shack - Or, The Downside to Owning Property

I love McSweeney's. Articles like this are the reason why.

Larry King Rides Off Into the Sunset

So Larry King is retiring after around 2 million years of being the host of his own show on CNN. Over at Salon, they have a rundown and favorite moments of his show, as a tribute. Which is good, but not great. So I've decided to do my own tribute.

You see, about 10 years ago, for whatever reason, my friends and I began writing fake Larry King articles to each other. (Yes, I know it's trendy these days to have done this, but you have to believe me when I say we were on board with this before many of the mimics. Like 90% of the rest of the Internet too. Twitter? I had that idea in middle school. Ask me about it and I'll write 5000 words about it).


I've decided to revisit those parodies one last time, in honor of Mr. King's sailing into retirement. But with a twist.

I've also included one of King's original articles. Have fun trying to figure out which one is the real one and which one is the awesome one (i.e. mine). Enjoy!

  • Whatever it takes, the Dodgers should sign Manny Ramirez or face the wrath of King!
  • I don’t know about you, but I think our election campaigns are TOO SHORT!
  • When I put my Citicorp card in the ATM, will money come out?
  • If anybody has seen Joe Biden, ask him to give me a call!
  • Will double breasted suits ever come back?
  • Milk is a movie you should not miss, if only for the performance of Sean Penn...
  • Will the Lakers ever lose again?
  • Has Michael Connelly ever written a bad sentence?
  • I wonder if Native Americans celebrate Thanksgiving – or even if they should?
  • Why does it take so long for the recount in Minnesota?
  • There are 3 guarantees in life: death, taxes and Don Rickles' new book will be funny...
  • In this economic crisis, is anyone making money?
  • The NY Jets story this year is one of football’s most thrilling and entertaining
  • Raising young boys at my age is wonderful, but rather tiring!

I've gotta admit, when I get called for jury duty I'm secretly excited.
For my money, American singers start and end with Mr. Mel Torme.
Call me old fashioned but I miss the days when you had to dial a phone.
Anyone else think we should start calling Bill Clinton The Silver Fox?
Sometimes, when I need to relieve some stress, I'll kill a homeless person.
You know who doesn't get enough credit? Delta Burke!
If I had to name my favorite television detective, I'd say it's Rick Simon.
Nothing beats a good ol' fashioned train ride.
You might not believe this, but I think Major League 2 is better than the original.
I've masturbated in over 75% of the rooms in the White House.
Why hasn't anyone invented ketchup and mustard in the same bottle?
If it were socially acceptable, I think I'd wear a suit made of human skin.
Nothing beats the smell of bacon in the morning.

(Larry King's article courtesy of Larry King Live blog.)