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Friday, January 29, 2010

Video of the day

They did it! They cured AIDS! What better way to start your weekend!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

RIP J.D. Salinger

Being illiterate, I have no idea who this guy was or what his impact was on society, so I decided we'd just wing it and hope we got something right.

J.D. Salinger, originally born Futenburg von Noostmeyer, was a quiet child. He loved colors and sounds, like most robots do. After years living in a fishbowl he decided he wanted to grow hands and be an artist. But then he decided that he liked art that contained little squiggly letter-looking things that when placed together in a certain order made other pieces of art called "words."

Salinger quickly took to his art form, creating words all over the place. Word sandwiches, word hats, word cars, and even word money. But not everyone like Salinger's wordiness. One man, in particular, hated them so much that he challenged Salinger to a knife fight. That man was Ghandi.

After losing an arm in that famous Ghandi-knife-fight, Salinger quit writing and took on the only profession he could possibly do from that point on: baseball catcher. Using the yet-to-be-born Jim Abbot as his inspiration, Salinger would catch a ball, drop the glove, pick the ball up from the glove on the ground and throw it back. Things went on like this for some time, until Salinger's arm grew so large that he didn't need to use a bat when he stepped to the plate to hit. That's how big his arm was. Think about it. That's a huge arm. Anyway, one day, while playing catcher for the great Dizzy Flatbottom, he caught a ball and threw it back. But Salinger didn't realize his strength, so the ball soared over Dizzy's head, over the infield, over the outfield, and into a field of rye that was growing behind the stadium. Because Salinger was black, and times were different, the team made him go get the ball and then threatened to not give him dinner. Salinger left the stadium and entered the field of rye where he was never seen or heard from again. That is, until 1951 when he published his autobiography, The Catcher in the Rye*.

Another fun thing to note: the internet is completely factual.

*while I realize that books are supposed to be underlined, Blogger has no underline function and I'm too lazy to look up the HTML.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Obama to America: Let Them Watch Lost

When Obama announced a few months ago that he'd be giving the State of the Union address on February 2, nerds everywhere went up in arms at the prospect of the season premiere of Lost being pushed back a week. So much so, China has already threatened brute force and it's driven our president to take up smoking and narcolepsy (as shown above). Since then, and with heavy pressure from the producers^, his administration has changed their plan and will now speak this evening instead of next Wednesday as originally planned. Analysts agree with Obama's decision citing irreconcilable differences between the people of Oceanic flight 815 and "the others."

"This decision couldn't have come soon enough. We've had enough of the fighting. Enough polar bears and...quite frankly, not enough naked Kate. Things need to change."

Delaying the broadcast would be a major blow to Obama's legacy, something not worth risking as his approval rating is lower than it's ever been. This, of course, made some major waves with American Idol fans who contended that, "their show is more American" and "How can you take my dreams away from me for some silly speech?" Indeed, it's proving harder and harder to please everyone, but the Obamas are doing the best they can.

Barack, along with wife Michelle, are long time fans of both shows, but complained that "there's just too much good TV on right now, we had to postpone something. Between Jersey Shore reruns and Chelsea Lately, our tivo is all but full! And since this is Simon's last season on Idol, the longer we get to keep him, the better. I think any red blooded American would agree with me there. Except the Native Americans, they don't count. They never have."

He later went on to add, "Besides, who knows what this Benjamin is really up to. We need a resolve with the Dharma Initiative, and we need to know what that swirling black electro-cloud is before it falls into the wrong hands. Also, where are the black cast members?*"

Analysts agree with Obama's rationale here. The thought of such a plot device in the hands of terrorists could be catastrophic to say the least. A top white-house official chimed in under conditions of anonymity. "The focus really isn't on Kate and Sawyer anymore, though Sawyer is cut from stone and chiseled to perfection...I'm sorry, I've lost my train of thought, what were we discussing?"

One thing is certain however: The president doesn't run the television industry, it runs him. So for all you political hopefuls out there, keep in mind that you're always going to be less significant than the season premiere of a show that makes almost no sense. Presidents may come and go, but TV? That's forever, man.

^Legend has it, the producers of Lost were born out of immaculate conception.

*No, seriously, where are the black cast members? Michael hasn't been seen in ages. If he has, it's been all recycled footage like some Heath Ledger movie one would try to piece together from an incomplete performance.

Monday, January 25, 2010

More Bad News For Actors

Earlier today, Yahoo News reported that one of Picasso's paintings on display at the Met suffered a 6 inch vertical tear when an art student fell into the piece. While initial reports claimed she was trying to reenact a scene from What Dreams May Come, still others believe it's the first in a series of post-modern terrorist attacks. We here at Great Scott could not reach any of the top ranking Al Queda officials for commentary, but their motives are clear: be weary at the academy awards this season. Don't buy your dress at Target*, try and thank God AND Allah when you win, and remember that trophies don't make you a better person...ahem, Sean Penn.

On a more serious note however, whoever this woman was that accidentally fell into the painting, save that behavior for the Van Gogh museum in Amersterdam! At least then people will know why it happened, and you can blame space cakes and society's general malaise for your terrible balance.

Interesting question: I wonder if they serve cake in space. I'll call NASA this afternoon.

*get it? Target? Yeah, I know you did. But beating the joke here makes it less funny, and that's how I roll.

Friday, January 22, 2010

So Long, Old Friend

Great Scott was troubled to unearth this photo from the future, showing Conan as a homeless vagrant with his pal Mankey the Monkey. The photo was taken just 10 minutes after Conan wrapped what many critics believe will be his last episode of The Tonight Show, before it gets begrudgingly handed back to Dimples McChinny. While we here had no previous beef with Dimples, having worked with him very closely for about a year, we can't say we agree with his move this time.

So since today will probably be the last day many of us ever watch the tonight show again, I'd like to take a moment of silence for our fallen comedy hero, Conan Obrien. May he move on to bigger and better things away from the Peacock of Ineptitude.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In Honor Of Our Namesake

We've got a lot of plans for 2010 here at Great Scott! (including a fancy new header!), but we thought first and foremost that we should explain our sites' namesake and history. Great Scott!, aside from including our editor's first name, also happens to be the hyberbolic explicative delivered by Doc in the Back To The Future franchise. He used the phrase several times, but it's probably most iconic in the first film. Great Scott, the author, happens to love movies (and wish they were better these days!). He puts the first Back To The Future film on his top ten of all time list. Probably top five as well, but we'd hate to start that conversation again. Once you get him going, he won't shut up!). The point is, he loves the movie. But more on that in a moment.

This blog was started in 2004 as a class assignment. It used to be called Scott's Blizzog (hey, it was 2004, lay off him). He was a senior in college, and his 101 Comm teacher (rough senior year, I know) made blogging a part of the curriculum. So he blogged. And he quite took to it. Students read it, a lot of students talked about it, and he had his own little niche. That quickly dissipated after college, so he expanded. The editor over at Passion of the Weiss (a prominent LA based music and entertainment blog) gave him a chance. In fact, you can still read all his archived pieces and peep his bio there as well. It was in those days that Passion's editor Jeff coined the name for Scott's column. He too is a lover of all things Back To The Future.

Flash forward to 2010 and here we are. You didn't miss much in between. But we did change our name. And we never really explained why. So now, without further ado, here is everything you need to know about Emmett "Doc" Brown, the legend who bestowed the name upon this very site for your enjoyment and pleasure:

The character was born in the early 1920s, although the animated series and novelization disagree as to the exact year. He refers to himself as a "student of all sciences", and is shown to be a passionate inventor. Scientists are his role models, as evidenced by the names of his pet dogs (Copernicus in 1955, and Einstein in 1985) and the portraits of Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein found in his laboratory (which were on a wall in his home in 1955), and his favourite author is Jules Verne.

Doc can be absent-minded at times, and despite being seen around Hill Valley, the setting for all three films, he is regarded by many of the residents as strange, eccentric, or crazy. He often enunciates his words with wide-eyed expressions and broad gestures ("Great Scott!" being one of the character's well-known catchphrases), and tends to use large words or phrases over short ones: for instance, referring to a dance as a "rhythmic ceremonial ritual" in the first film.

The only friends the character is shown to have are his dogs, Marty, and Marty's girlfriend Jennifer. The films do not depict how Doc originally met Marty, although after the events of the first film they meet in 1955, before Marty is born. Doc keeps this secret from Marty until the latter's return from 1955 to 1985.

Doc has been involved in illegal and criminal enterprises within the scope of the films—albeit as a means to obtain items he could not purchase legally—but shows naïveté over the repercussions of his actions, excitedly telling Marty how he cheated Libyan terrorists out of stolen plutonium, saying "they wanted me to build them a bomb, so I took their plutonium and, in turn, gave them a shoddy bomb casing full of used pinball machine parts!"

The character begins the trilogy somewhat innocent and very enthusiastic over the possible applications of his discovery, and actively tries to alter the past or future of various principal characters, in efforts to improve their lives. However, events throughout the story, particularly in the second film, bring him to the conclusion that time travel should not be used because of the hazards involved, and that the time machine should be destroyed. In the third film, after realizing he has unwittingly altered history by preventing the death of Clara Clayton in 1885, Doc expresses regret for inventing the time machine at all, remarking that it has "caused nothing but disaster."

For a more in depth look, here's some history behind the actual phrase "Great Scott!" itself:

The expression is of uncertain origin. It is believed to date back at least as far as the American Civil War, and may refer to the commander‑in‑chief of the U.S. Army, General Winfield Scott. The general, known to his troops as Old Fuss and Feathers, weighed 300 pounds (21 stone or 136 kg) in his later years and was too fat to ride a horse.[1] A May 1861 edition of the New York Times carried the sentence:

These gathering hosts of loyal freemen, under the command of the great SCOTT.

In an 1871 issue of Galaxy magazine, there is:

"Great—Scott!" he gasped in his stupefaction, using the name of the then commander-in-chief for an oath, as officers sometimes did in those days.

The phrase also appears in the 3 May 1864 diary entry by Private Robert Knox Sneden (later published as Eye of the Storm: a Civil War Odyssey):

‘Great Scott,’ who would have thought that this would be the destiny of the Union Volunteer in 1861–2 while marching down Broadway to the tune of ‘John Brown’s Body’.

Another possible origin is people seeking to emulate the German Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha altered and anglicized "Grüß Gott!", or "God bless!" into "Great Scott!". The etymologist and author John Ciardi once believed this, but later recanted in a radio broadcast in 1985. Despite that recantation, the expression is likely to be a minced oath: a mild substitute for invoking the name of God; very possibly derived from the phrase "[by the] grace of God".

Exciting stuff, huh, Doc? Well you know what, nobody asked you anyway. Jerk.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Relative Strangers- The Movie That Maybe Was

When I first saw this, I thought it was a parody of a movie. Maybe a SNL short or something. Turns out, it's not. It's a very real and presumably very terrible movie. I think the trailer speaks for itself, but I had to share this, cause I'm guessing many of you have never seen it before. I hadn't either, but I feel my life has more meaning now that I have,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Video from Chad, Matt and Rob

Our friends at Chad, Matt and Rob, so...Chad, Matt and Rob I guess, have come back with another excellent choose your own adventure video! Click to enjoy!

On a personal note, big thanks to everyone for all the birthday wishes. Great Scott turned 28 this weekend, and he was happy to have you all here with him to celebrate. Here's to hoping that his 28th year is the one where he saves the world!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lucas Held's International House of Relax is one of my favorite sites. Not just because we are friends, but because he's always up on current events. Like the sloppiness of the Neo-Nazi movement, an issue that touches all of us.

For more hilarious non sequiturs, head over to his site now! Do it!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One Too Many Mornings trailer

My friends, and the creative team behind One Too Many Mornings finally released their pre-sundance trailer! Head over to their site to learn more about the film, or better yet- head to park city for the premiere! But hurry, their first showing is already sold out.

Kudos, One Too Many Mornings team!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Yonder Mountain String Band on NPR

All Things Considered covers YMSB and the release of their most recent studio effort The Show.

Friday, January 08, 2010

mistakes in advertising

Why do I have a feeling that this won't be her last song?

Miley/Hannah/Jekyl/Hyde is back. Or wait, who is it again? A Transformer? She's got so many identities at this point I've gone cross-eyed. Let's just call her Disney Female Superstar #X814D3F. In any event, some brainiac got the idea to cast her in The Last Song, the third in a series of gut-wrenching chick flicks that is sure to leave you out 20 bucks and wanting your 2 hours back. So basically, it's like Church. Worse yet, this won't be her last song! Not even close! She's really young and chances are she'll release music until Disney has squeezed out every last drop of her mind-grapes.

I wonder how much they had to pay Greg Kinnear for him to take the part? He seems like a reasonable guy, so I'm guessing something like infinity-billion dollars.

Mock log-line: A star quarterback turned lame-o shows up to his homecoming game only to throw the winning touchdown pass AND sing at halftime for millions of screaming fans. Women swoon for him, but it's the deaf-mute with a heart of gold (played by Cyrus) that wins his heart in the end.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Phish NYE: The Beastmasters

Our friends over at Coventry Phish Blog ran an excellent piece about Phish NYE. Check it before you wreck it:

I never wrote a recap of New Year's Eve due to a couple of contributing factors; lack of time and bad notes. The primary factor was lack of time because I fled Miami in the wee hours of January 1st and I slept like 24 out of the next 36 hours when I returned to LA trying to recover for the four-day bender (and you can make an argument that I've been on a nine-week bender starting with Festival 8).

When I finally sobered up on Jan 3rd, the events of 12/31/09 seemed like a dream. I looked at the pictures. I read the setlist. I talked with my friends but the evening seemed like a dream. That's the other reason I failed to write something concrete -- I took horrible notes. I'm an avid note-taker and utilize Twitter as an electronic notebook and I also scribble down little nuggets, quotes, thoughts in my Moleskine notebook. However, on New Year's Eve I reached a state of inebriation where I was unable to record the events surrounding me. My notebook was sparse and soaked by sweat and champagne. I couldn't tweet because my palms were sweaty and my fingers were shaking like a Parkinson's patient after they ripped a rail of blow. Everytime I looked at my Blackberry, I became disoreinted and it became hard to focus. Sort of like when you are in a dream and try to read a sign, newspaper, or book -- for some reason the letters/words get jumbled and you're unable to make anything out. Well, that's how I felt most of the first and second sets on NYE. I had a tough time reading my Blackberry.

I was plastered after eating two doses of some of the cleanest liquid sunshine I had ever ingested. I could barely stand up let alone jot down any sort of coherent thoughts. As my buddy said, "I'm so fuckin' happy you took two." ...


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Phish in the age of 3.0

2009, the year that marked Phish's return from a five-year hiatus, has come and gone. The end result? Phish is back! The band performed some 48 shows over five distinct periods: their official reunion at the Hampton Colisseum, an early summer tour, a late summer tour, Festival 8, a fall tour, and the new years run in Miami just last week. According to this also marked Phish's most diverse year in all of their 26 so far with over 244 unique songs played in 2009. And while the band has always prided themselves on the diversity of their set lists, I think it goes a little deeper in the age of Phish 3.0. Unlike years past where a die-hard fan could determine the band's mood based on the length of their jams and how they segued from one song to the next, 2009 was completely unique. Song choice played a much larger role for the group than it ever has, and the jamming, while still prevalent, became more concise. While many could contend that this marks the end of the Phish "we all know and love," I would argue against that. The band is communicating in a new way while still using the same language, it just may take a more active listener to appreciate it.

We all know Phish has always had a secret language in their music. From elements as simple as the "Wilson" or "Hood" chant to more complex ideas like the band-audience chess games or big ball jam, there's been no shortage of interactive communication. While many of these zany rituals have all but disappeared today, the fans still have their own show traditions they follow. Glow stick wars still happen every time "Harry Hood" is played, and people still dress as their favorite songs in hopes that one day Phish will grant them their request*. Parke Puterbaugh explored it even further in his 2009 book PHiSH: the biography commenting:

At a 1992 show in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Phish clued their audience in on the secret language and taught them cues created specifically for the fans. The best-known of these involved a snatch of The Simpsons theme song, at which point the crowd loudly responded "d'oh!" like Homer Simpson. Upon hearing a riff from the Byrds' "Turn! Turn! Turn!" the crowd members were expected to turn around. The point of all this seeming nonsense was to deepen the band's relationship with the audience and confound the uninitiated. The sharing of secret language encouraged audience members to become more than casual fans. They were now band-schooled and ritually involved in the enterprise, conferring a certain element of "membership" upon them while confusing newbies and non-initiates who popped into shows out of curiosity.

The problem in 2009, however, was reconnecting with their audience after the break, while at the same time trying to initiate a new group of fans (and a new album) all at once. So realistically speaking, even if the band had wanted to do a 60-minute Runaway Jim, they would run the risk of alienating their new audience members, while at the same time losing the attention of the faithful^. This, in turn, gave them a chance to cultivate the jams inside their new songs, with Backwards Down The Number Line (BDTNL) becoming the song they felt most comfortable with as the year progressed. BDTNL culminated in a 13 minute jam at Festival 8 which many argued was the best jam of their new material they had heard all year long.

Still, there are more specific instances that seem to fit the notion that the band's set list was the largest factor in determining the mood of the band that night. Take the June 16 show in St. Louis, Missouri for example. This show was Phish's smallest show in years. It was also a small indoor show, unlike virtually every other that summer. Many heads agree that this was the weakest show of Phish 3.0 thus far. The band may have recognized the off-night as well, because the encore was nothing short of redeeming. They began with an acapella rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. After the tune, Page even added a "play ball," as a nod to one of America's greatest baseball towns, a direct communication with the audience who lapped it up as expected. They then proceeded to bust out McGrupp And The Watchful Hosemasters, a song that had not been played since 2003, some 46 shows and one hiatus previously. Finally, they closed with While My Guitar Gently Weeps, another rarity for fans, and one of the only Beatles covers Phish keeps in their repertoire today.

Later that summer, the band took on Hartford, Connecticut, and a similar yet different event occurred. Phish has always loved Hartford, and as one could surmise, past set lists have always reflected that. The band was also 2 dates away from completing their first summer tour in 6 years at that point, so it goes without saying that they were relaxed and in a good mood. The events that followed however, no one could have guessed. After the crowd erupted at the mention of Icculus's name in the first set Forbins > Mockingbird (the only one of the year), the band rewarded them in the second set with their first performance of Icculus since 1999:

Phish then took on Festival 8, and the 5th official musical costume of their career**. As far as a mood being dictated by song choice goes, the veil was paper thin here. "Loving Cup" has been a Phish staple since 1993, and the Stones had been a major influence on the group, especially Trey and Page, as noted in the Phishbill handed out before the show:

"The part where Jagger sings, 'On stage the band has got problems/They're a bag of nerves on first nights' - I definitely relate to that," McConnell admits. "I feel like I've had emotional relationships with these songs my whole life, even if I didn't always know what Jagger was saying."

Indeed, the same metaphor can be translated from Phish's relationship with Exile on Main Street to the audience's relationship with Phish. The '09 Halloween show served as an indulgent night for the group, but also for the audience. The band was playing the songs they loved that affected them in their youth. In turn, they were bestowing the same thing upon their audience, letting their fans live through the last vestiges of Phish's youth.

Fall tour was no surprise either. Many argue that Cincinnati now serves as an archetype of what Phish 3.0 can be. A 2-night greatest-hits clinic in a city that Trey commented "we wish we could spend a week in," the show was filled with songs that have been played hundreds of times at this point, but all with a new found fervor and enthusiasm. While the rest of fall tour was energetic and diverse as well, there was substance to what the band did in Cincy. They proved that the same songs they had always been doing still had as much life as any rarity or new cut off Joy.

The year culminated at the end of their run in Miami last week as Phish played "Loving Cup" as their final encore of the year, cementing Festival 8 in my mind as their favorite memory of the year. Not to say that the new years run wasn't without it's diverse set lists as well. Corrina and Tela made their first appearances of the year, as did a handful of other songs with them, successfully making this Phish's most diverse year to date.

Now that it's all said and done though, we can reflect back on the year that was. Loving Cup certainly serves as a metaphor for the year, and I think it's safe to say that the band will be hard pressed to deliver anything like the year that was 2009 again. I highly doubt we'll see another musical costume in the future, however. If we do, expect it to be another nod to both the band's roots and their legions of dedicated fans, who will follow them from phish to Phish 3.0 and on and on in successive upgrades to come. That still begs one enormous question however: what will 2010 bring us?

*My fall 2009 "I Demand a Demand" poster was not noticed, but then the band went and played it in Miami anyway, the first performance since November 14, 1996 (392 shows prior).

^I, for one, am always in favor of a 60 minute Runaway Jim. But it's not for everyone, even the most ardent fan can tire of a jam if they aren't in the mood to hear it.

**Though it is rarely included in the collection of "musical costumes," Phish covered Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon in 1998 a mere 2 days after they had covered The Velvet Underground's Loaded.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Oh Yeah!

History doesn't get much funnier (more racist, absurd, unbelievable) than this. Enjoy.

(big thanks to Andrew P. for finding this one)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Phish Miami New Years Gag Video

Some of the band's hijinx from Miami. Looks like it was a hoot.