The Shining: happy version

Apparently this brilliant mock trailer for the “happy version” of The Shining has been on YouTube for 3 years, but I just discovered it in a post on Brand New, cited as an effective metaphor for the horrible decision of the merged United and Continental airlines to simply merge their logos as well.

Anyway… wow. This trailer really messed with my brain. Watch:

The most disturbing part for me was that for most of it, I believed it was a real trailer. I was too young when The Shining came out to be able to remember the marketing campaign for it, but I’ve seen enough late-’70s and early-’80s movie trailers as bonus features on DVDs to recognize the dippy narration as de rigeur for the era.

It wasn’t until I heard a brief snippet of my favorite piano motif from the soundtrack of The Shawshank Redemption that I realized it was fake… and then moments later, when “Solsbury Hill” (a song that at least existed when the movie was made) came in, the conceit went over the top — funny, but obvious.

Regardless, this is a brilliant piece of work. In addition to being hilarious, it shows how you can twist an assortment of brief clips from a movie to tell just about any story you want. (It also helps explain why trailers can be effective in selling tickets for a crap movie… which The Shining, of course, is not.)

The coup de grâce is the way the voiceover says “Shining” at the end.

You’ve been RickRoll’d

Sure, it’s a dead meme, but the RickRoll was one of the best ever. According to an article on Slashdot, YouTube apparently pulled the video (for some reason) yesterday, but quickly put it back up in response to popular outcry.

I’ve been RickRoll’d myself a few times, but typically never bothered to watch more than 3 or 4 seconds of the video after being lured in, despite the soft spot I have for Rick Astley ever since I heard a friend simultaneously impersonate him and Michael McDonald.

Today I actually watched almost the entire thing, and was left dumbstruck at just how plain awful it is. Back in the late ’80s, by the time this arrived on the scene, I was so steeped in MTV culture (item! did you know MTV once showed music videos on a regular basis? it’s true!) that my mind was impervious to awareness of such ridiculousness. My senses were deadened due to overexposure. But now that a couple of decades have passed, I can look back and recognize the horrors of acid washed jeans, unnecessary trench coats, poofed-up pompadours, bad dancing, incompetent lip syncing and… well… absolutely everything else the director somehow managed to cram into this 3 1/2 minutes of misery.

Nothing is real…

This fascinating video montage (apparently a promotional tool for Stargate Studios) shows just how much of what you see in outdoor scenes in movies and TV shows is really done with green screen. Surprising, amazing, and kind of disappointing. I’ll never believe anything I see on-screen again. (Not that I ever should have anyway.)

I think it would have been better with “Strawberry Fields Forever” as the soundtrack though, but I suppose they couldn’t get the rights. Maybe they should have used the “simulated live performances” from instead. (Source: LA Times)

Via, via that’s how it happened.

My favorite Super Bowl commercial

Super Bowl commercials tend to scream at you, both literally and metaphorically. So a quiet, subtle commercial like the one Google aired is easy to miss. (The Focus on the Family commercial, for all the fervor preceding it, was also easy to miss.)

Luckily I didn’t miss the Google commercial. It was simple, and simply brilliant. Maybe it’s because I have a life-changing event in my own past that is at least partially traceable to a Google search, but I think the message here is powerful and moving: in the Internet age, profound events in your life can stem from things you find online. And what better way to find things online than Google?

My favorite moments are “What are truffles?” followed by “Who is Truffaut?” and when the user changes “Long distance relationship advice” to “Jobs in Paris.” It’s silly, I know, but I start to tear up at that one.

Hey, I know that guy!

By now, especially if you ever watch sporting events (since it seems to be in heavy rotation during them), you’ve no doubt seen this clever American Express commercial:

I’ve enjoyed this commercial since I first saw it, I guess because I am always inclined to see faces in inanimate objects anyway (the front ends of cars are really like this for me), and it’s an inventive way to play up this idea.

The commercial is also memorable for the distinctive cello playing. That’s J.S. Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major for those in the know. (Me, I knew it was Bach, but I had to look up the rest.) But who played that cello piece so distinctively? A virtuoso, to be sure. Was it Yo-Yo Ma? Can you name another cello virtuoso?

Well, here’s a name for you to file away in your brain for later reference: Robert Burkhart. He’s been a part of the classical music scene in New York (and toured the world) for the past decade. But I’ll always know him as Bob — the high school orchestra director’s son and one of my most entertainingly eccentric friends in high school. Bob is a great guy and I am absolutely thrilled for him over his growing success in the music world. Way to go, Bob!

If you like what you hear, Bob recently released a CD with pianist Blair McMillen. I picked up two copies — one for myself and one for my parents. It’s called 20/21. Check it out!