Welcome to the home of the post-post modern artist, writer, and video maker the Obscure.
Wipe your shoes, clear your mind, and play nice with the other children.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Twin Beaks

As sure as the sun will rise, when a popular series reaches Netflix, each and every one of your stupid little friends and their stupid little dogs is watching it obsessively. They tweet spoilers, update their Facebooks about how they are skipping work/class to have a Netflix marathon, and ask what episode you are on.

I know because I am one of them.

It happened when Netflix got The Walking Dead, Portlandia, and Game of Thrones. Now, it is happening with David Lynch's surreal murder mystery Twin Peaks. For those of you who don't remember the series's initial run in the early 90s, Twin Peaks was a surprise phenomenon that had everyone wondering who killed Laura Palmer... as well as wondering: "what the hell drugs taking going on midget giant horse owl, wut?" Needless to say, the show was popular and is now seeing a resurgence thanks to DVD and streaming releases (finally).

This brings me to Sesame Street... weird transition, right? Well, Sesame Street has always been one for parodying and referencing media way over the average toddler's head, but the parent's were in the room, so may as well make them laugh, too. I recently rediscovered an old sketch from the recurring "Monsterpiece Theater" bit, an age-inappropriate joke in itself. In this skit, Cookie Monster plays Kyle Mcclaughlin's FBI agent Cooper as he investigates the town of "Twin Beaks" to figure out where the town got it's name. The clip is below, pending copyright yadda-yadda...

Having watched the series, I can now catch the references such as the tape recorder, the reference to Diane, and the "Log-Bird." I'm genuinely surprised the writers of this script went into that much detail. Now, even though kids wouldn't understand these in-jokes, they would still (being avid TV watchers) know OF Twin Peaks. They would know that it's a show about an investigator in a strange small town just as they would at least KNOW OF Masterpiece Theater. Thus proves my point, we don't give kids enough credit for what they do know.

And by the way, Sesame Street hasn't changed it's formula much. There is a recent sketch called "True Mud." Guess what that's a parody of.

PS: Apparently there is also an episode of Darkwing Duck called "Twin Beaks" which also contains references to the show. Damn, Twin Peaks took a hold on people's imaginations back then, eh?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"The Mysterious World" Outtake Explained

Go and enjoy The Mysterious World is Your Oyster" now on Reviewtopia. Join Arthur C Clarke as he goes in search of the legendary me: the Obscure.

Having rewatched this episode, I noticed something I had forgotten about. At the end of the video, after the credits, I included a strange outtake in which I listen to the radio. Most people think it's funny and all, but probably don't know what's going on. So I'll explain it!

The radio I was using is an old piece I used in the days before satellite radio or Internet stations. You know, when FM stations didn't suck. It broke years ago and hadn't worked since, until I turned the dial during filming and the thing came to life. You can see my genuine surprise as an announcer radiates clearly through the speaker. And wouldn't you know it? It's a Christian broadcasting station. Well of course it is! God forbid (literally) that I get a decent pirate radio station or something cool. I decide to listen to this strange station and not stop the camera. A guy comes on the station who claims to be meteorologist Mike Buresh, but as a Jacksonville native, I can tell you that was not Mike Buresh. It was a doppelganger apparently. Towards the end of the clip, I am about to comment about how strange it is that this radio station should come through so clearly when others won't, but I am interrupted by terrible stock music, so I do the most practical thing: I punch the radio in the face. And no, that is not the radio from The Brave Little Toaster (future episode). I just thought I'd clarify exactly what was happening in that clip. You know, suck the mystery out of it.

TRIVIA: In the take I did use in the episode, you can hear a weird static-filled, distorted noise in the background. Oddity-buffs (or readers of Cracked.com) will recognize that as one of the legendary broadcasts of the Backwards Music Station. Just a little Easter egg for those of you paying attention to the details.
PS. Now the radio really is broken and won't turn on... oops.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pick of the Now: The Thunderbolt Kid

As I approach my ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY UNSPECIAL, I am reminded of some of the works and people that inspired me to do my thing. I could ramble on and on about any number of comedians or comedy teams that inspired all us Internet funny-people, but I decided to go with something more unknown: "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid."
Written by travel writer Bill Bryson and published in 2006, TLATOTTB (say that five times fast) is an autobiography recounting the author's younger days in Des Moines, Iowa. We don't get a bitter, self-congratulating heroic epic bragging about a hard upbringing in a shotgun neighborhood. Lord knows we get enough of that phony abalone (I was going to say bologna, but abalone is far more delicious). It's as refreshing as an abalone to read something a bit more positive but still honest and real. I for instance don't look at my upbringing as either stupendously great or stupendously stupid, but rather I see it for what it was: a mix of the good and the bad. That's the tone set here. Bryson riffs on 60s Midwestern society for the sake of parody and not animosity. He makes fun of his parents not to belittle them, but to mock his own childish mindset. Above all, he brings back his alter-ego, the Thunderbolt Kid, a super-powered alien prince sent to Earth to live among humans. I'm pretty sure Bill is actually an alien. How else would he be able to write about nearly everything?

Many of the chapters deal with a different aspect of Bryson's childhood, and much of it is told through a child's eyes, thereby forcing the reader to return to a youthful state of mind. It's this kind of nostalgia that brought about the series Memory Lane. I myself remember so many toys, games, movies, and aspects of life in my decade that few people outside of my generation will understand (AOL, anyone?). If you read any one part of this book, read Bryson's description about model airplanes. That chapter alone inspired the episodes "We All Scream for Yellow #5" and "Top 5 Obnoxious Toys." I just wanted to be a guy sitting back and recounting days long passed, cracking a few jokes, and looking at the things that made us the people we are today.

Then I discovered that people on the Internet had been doing this for years already. Damn... Oh well, this book is certainly worth a look. Here's an animated excerpt narrated by BB himself.