Although spring doesn’t officially start for a few more weeks, I’ve decided to utilize this week’s Net Worth to take care of some spring cleaning.
Here are a few entertaining morsels I’ve happened across recently while trawling the Internet. Amusing as they are, they weren’t quite juicy enough by themselves to support an entire column. But in small doses they yield many delights.
• Our 44th president is a man who has made his reputation on inspiration. Consequently, some of his supporters have been inspired to present their admiration through art. The site Bad Paintings of Barack Obama culls together works ranging from the amateurish to the hideous. But before you start analyzing the politics of such art, just consider this: There is no site devoted to bad paintings of George Bush or John McCain.
• Posted Monday on YouTube, the latest OK Go video has already accumulated nearly 3 million hits. The band earned its reputation for the enormously popular “treadmill video” for its song “Here It Goes Again.” Now the group has taken that concept to the next level with “This Too Shall Pass." In one unbroken camera shot, the band becomes intermingled with an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine — a series of complex devices used to perform a simple task. The pop act employed a team of engineers from Syyn Labs, who spent months converting a two-story warehouse in Los Angeles into a labyrinthine set. What was the most difficult aspect to pull off? Coordinating the various machines — pianos dropping, sledgehammers swinging, bowling balls rolling? The camera maneuvering around these objects? Matching the song to the action? It’s all amazing. And not one bit of it is CGI.
• On the other end of the entertainment spectrum is the unintentionally diverting Awkward Yearbook Signatures. “Every year, thousands of things get written in people's yearbooks. Some of them are heartfelt and will stand the test of time. Most of them are not,” the site explains. Take this pearl extracted from a recent posting: “You are the man. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in my life is when you went crazy and chased Cristina on the way home from the bus with the broken beer bottle. That was pretty smooth. And another thing. You’re smart.”
— Granite Hills High School, El Cajon, CA, 1999
• Until this year’s release of the revelatory “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” Wes Anderson was tied with Joel Schumacher as my least favorite living filmmaker. Somehow the whole meaningless mess of condescending hipsterism that encompasses his movies is perfectly captured in “Wes Anderson Spider-Man." Jeff Loveness created this video parody based around the notion of Anderson being recruited to reboot the Spider-Man franchise. The result is a snapshot trailer of a beret-wearing Peter Parker, as played by “Rushmore” star Jason Schwartzman, moving from one mundane conversation to another, punctuated by weepy indie rock. Perfect.
• Now that “The Tonight Show” has reinstated its inferior host, the Internet is the lone place to enjoy the comedy of Conan O’Brien on a nightly basis. One of his spectacular remote bits called “Dinner with Jordan” features the simple premise of O’Brien joining associate producer Jordan Schlansky for an Italian meal. It’s basically a series of conversations in which the implacable know-it-all Schlansky gets on the nerves of O’Brien. As the comedian downs more wine, his “aw shucks” demeanor slowly erodes, and he gets increasingly more nasty toward the undeniably annoying producer. “I promise you this,” a slurring O’Brien whispers. “I will not kill you myself. But I will have you killed.”
— Entertainment editor Jon Niccum explores facets of pop culture that have established a unique niche on the Internet. He can be reached at 832-7178.