Posts Tagged With: mashups

Doctor Who does Kraftwerk

Picture the scene. The corridor was only painted an hour ago, but Edward is currently running up and down the same bit of it over and over again. His somewhat prodigious older brother is trying to solve a mathematical puzzle, while the others run away from poorly rendered monsters and I contend with a dangerous predator that unfortunately resembles a cute furry animal. Our house is basically a 1981 Doctor Who set.

In the meantime, for no reason other than their current omnipresence on my iPod playlists (plus this), here are some hastily assembled Doctor Who / Kraftwerk mashups. Some are better than others, but all are mine.

(I really didn’t intend for that last one to show the regeneration cycle from the War Doctor through to the Eleventh, but it just sort of happened that way. Happy accident.)

 

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The Grail of Holiness

As is customary with my video postings, I suggest you watch this first. Then we’ll talk. Go on, I can wait. Or you can just watch it and ignore the commentary below; I’m good with that.

Emily and I are halfway through the Key to Time series. Thus far we’ve seen Ian Cuthbertson set up a con for a despotic military tyrant, and we’ve watched Bruce Purchase bellow at the Doctor. Last weekend we got to ‘The Stones of Blood’, in which the Doctor visits the Rollright Stones and bumps into an elderly (but feisty) archaeologist and fends off an ancient demonic entity, while Mary Tamm falls off a cliff.

If you’ve not seen ‘Stones…’ I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a scene later on set on board a spacecraft in which the Doctor and Romana bump into Tinkerbell and one of the other fairies. Said fairies – actually justice machines acting as a kind of disembodied judge, jury and executioner – are there to provide a comic relief of sorts, although there is a sinister undercurrent to their banter. They play a crucial role in the story, but it is in the first encounter with the Doctor and Romana that the seeds of this video were sown. Because as we watched the two Time Lords sneaking away up the corridor, leaving the two Justice Machines talking to thin air until they realise what’s happened, I instantly recalled the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when the three-headed knight turns to devour a now absent Sir Robin, only to declare “He’s buggered off!”. (I found out later that Gareth had exactly the same thought.)

It’s one of my favourite lines in the film, along with Tim the Enchanter and the oft-quoted “You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you”. But Saturday night saw my head in a flurry, joining dots and making connections. Sleep was slow to come and broken. Because this needed to be done, but why stop there? There are other Doctor Who / Monty Python mashups, of course. Someone has rather cleverly stuck a ring mod on John Cleese’s French Knight and then pasted the .wav files into ‘Dalek’. It works rather well. But something told me that Classic Who would work best here, so that’s where we started.

The first problem you have is the sheer wealth of material. There are certain characters and scenes that cry out to be included, and as much as the Knights Who Say Ni irritate me (when you have a friend who does the entire scene over and over, on busses and at parties and in the pub, it tends to lose its appeal) they had to go in. So, too, did the flying rabbit. But when it comes to matching this up with Doctor Who there’s an abundance of exterior shots on bleak moors and masked characters who can be easily redubbed. So I stuck with what I knew best, which was Baker.

The rabbit scene that opens was about the first thing I did. Both this and the Camelot ‘model’ near the end were almost afterthoughts designed to vary the routine a bit – three minutes of redubbed characters can get a bit tedious, even if they’re all from Monty Python. Frustrations kicked in when I was doing the guards outside Swamp Castle – considering how much running there is in Doctor Who, it was almost impossible to find one of Tom Baker running towards the camera in an exterior setting, with the exception of the shot in ‘Terror of the Zygons’, which wasn’t really long enough and which in any case I’d already used. So you have a bit from ‘The Deadly Assassin’ instead, and I suppose it works well enough.

The scene in the dungeon with the sinister monks is from ‘The Masque of Mandragora’, and actually consists of two separate episodes – Hieronymous never addresses Sarah Jane in this manner, but the ‘sacrifice’ exchange was just too good to leave out. Similarly, I’ve wanted to do something with Magnus Greel ever since I first saw ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang’ a few years back, and both this and the ‘Stones of Blood’ interrogation were drawn up in a similar manner. Less is more here, which is why they’re all quite short. The whole thing could easily have been double its current length, but I’m trying to reign it in, because it’s easier to hold people’s attention when you’re not waffling (a lesson I really should learn when I’m writing).

And the song at the end? I needed something to finish, but really didn’t want to include the whole thing, so you get a heavily edited version. It draws on the really quite brilliant Star Trek version as its inspiration, although I wasn’t nearly so clever (on purpose; jump cuts would have thrown off the pace).

There is a better version of this waiting to be made – one that includes more Classic Doctors, more appropriate footage and some expanded dialogue. One day I may even do it myself. But this came together in a day, allowing for appropriate screen breaks and childcare duties, and that works in its favour. Ni!

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The Paranoid Android Invasion

Today, I will mostly be carrying a towel.

SJ has blogged elsewhere about her love for Douglas Adams, and a better introduction to the series you could not wish for, so I suggest you open up that post in a separate window and read it after you’ve finished with this one. In the meantime, to celebrate 25 May, I bring you this.

I first read The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy as a teenager. At the time I don’t think I realised what I had. Here was the satirical science novel to end all satirical science novels and all I could think about was how it related to the Discworld, in which I was ensconced, if that’s the right word. I enjoyed the adventures of Arthur and Ford but was far more interested in Death and his granddaughter Susan. Then I went to university and immersed myself in James Joyce and Virginia Woolf because we were supposed to. Then I grew up, and stopped reading the classics precisely because that’s what I’d been told to read for the past thirteen years, and ever since then I’ve read little except comic books, music biographies and science fiction (and Dan Brown). Sci-fi aside, my world is one great big ocean of trash lit, and I love it.

I first saw the series years ago, but I can’t remember at what point I figured out that Marvin the Paranoid Android was ripe for a smash-and-grab redub. I was probably showering or driving. Nonetheless, some sort of mashup seemed inevitable. Marvin is a work of unparalleled genius, the sort of chap you’d be happy to have along for the ride purely for comic relief and so long as you can mute him, voiced to perfection by Stephen Moore (who also turned up in Doctor Who some years later, playing an elderly Silurian in the otherwise forgettable ‘Cold Blood’). He remains so popular years after the fact because there is something inherently British in his misery; he’s like the pensioners I encountered on the bus after days of continuous rain who were complaining about the heat. Marvin is never satisfied with his lot, and we love him for it.

Earlier this year, Emily and I watched ‘The Robots of Death’, which also features robots getting slightly miserable. D84 lacks Marvin’s sour perspective, but does have one of the most fragile voices ever to grace artificial intelligence, practically shedding tears when he laments of his failure, before gasping “Goodbye…my…friend”, with pauses that would have impressed even Harold Pinter, as he (metaphorically) breathes his last. He also gets one of the story’s funniest scenes (along with Borg’s reaction to the Doctor’s offer of a jelly baby), when Leela takes him for an attacker and hurls a spare appendage from a previous assassin in his direction, causing D84 to respond with “Please do not throw hands at me”. It’s a masterful performance from Gregory de Polnay, to the extent that I was hesitant to mess with it, but in terms of redubbing Marvin, it seemed an obvious choice.

Stephen Moore provided the definitive Marvin, of course, but not the only one. Emily and I met at the cinema, some ten years ago now, and for a while we marked the occasion with annual visits to the same cinema, every May bank holiday. In spring 2005, when she was thick with pregnancy, we saw the remake of Hitchhiker’s – hopelessly miscast and structurally uneven, the net result was a film so bad it made Douglas Adams seem dull, which I’d hitherto thought impossible. It’s so atrocious that no one seems to even care that it’s on YouTube as a full-length stream. The best thing about it, of course, is Alan Rickman, who brings a sardonic whine to Marvin that suits him well, particularly in his new, squat form.

But you can’t use the film, because it’s covered in score, so I went back to the classic series. This involved watching it again (along with Emily, who was seeing it for the first time – I really should have done a Wife In Space type thing) and ripping out the dialogue later. Then I basically put the thing together over the course of one very long evening, surviving on coffee and M&Ms (and coming up with the idea, just now, for coffee-flavoured M&Ms, which I know would be a work of genius).

The first time I viewed the rough cut, it was a disaster. It didn’t gel at all. Then I added a single sound effect – the drone-like hum that you can hear throughout – and something clicked. The only thing I wish I’d changed is a contraction of the opening credits, because while it feels more episode-like as a result, you need to get in quick if you’re going to hook an audience, and I worry about wandering attention spans. The ending, of course, also differs from ‘The Robots of Death’ because I couldn’t bring myself to let Marvin / D84 stay dead, which is why he pops up just before the Doctor and Leela leave in the TARDIS.

One thing that came out of this was the decision that from this point forward, Gareth would be the arbiter of quality before I went public with anything. He it was who suggested that the ‘Don’t Splink!’ video I produced a while back would arguably work better without the tacked-on coda, and I also wish I’d listened to him about the Yoho Ahoy! redub, which seems a little messy with Cybermen that don’t really fit. When I showed him the first (and now deleted) version of this, his reaction was that it would be improved if Dask or Leela sounded more like Frankie and Benjy. (And yes, I know that video is from the film, but I couldn’t find an appropriate TV series equivalent.) Dask couldn’t be touched without also tainting the score, but I did manage to rework Leela (although, as Gareth then pointed out, “It’s now rather hard to work out what she’s actually saying!”. I should have included subtitles.

For the benefit of younger or non-UK readers, the “You Have Been Watching” credit style is a gimmick of Jimmy Perry and David Croft, two British sitcom giants. It might have worked better with applause. But you spend all your time looking back at these things and working out ways to improve them, and there has to be a point at which you stop, and admit that what you’ve done is good enough. There is, I’m convinced, a far more coherent version of this that could be made using Marvin’s dialogue from the radio series – a series which encompasses the later books – but I do not think this will be produced by me. What I’ve done is probably good enough, and I am happy to make the expanded version Somebody Else’s Problem.

Now, where did I put that towel…?

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Is this thing on?

Here we go.

I got the idea for this during a conversation with Gareth. We were talking, I think, about the prospect of two Doctors appearing together in the Anniversary Special in November. I cannot believe how many people are still convinced that the Tenth Doctor will actually have to be the Metacrisis Doctor in order for this episode to work. There is nothing in the script – nothing – that says two Doctors can’t cross timelines and meet up once in a while. But two’s never enough for us lot, is it? Why not three? Why not four? Five?

Actually, if we’re talking Doctor numbers, why not Four, Five, Six, Seven and Eight, all of whom are still available? Well, most of them are too old. Sorry, I know that people are upset at their lack of involvement in the BBC special, but I genuinely don’t believe that any of this is posturing on Moffat’s part. Just think about it for a second. Can you really see Tom Baker popping on that wig and scarf and climbing into the TARDIS again at his time of life? I mean honestly? The apparent ageing of the Fifth Doctor was just about forgivable given the explanation provided in ‘Time Crash’. McCoy’s still pretty sprightly (he’d have to be, to drive a chariot pulled by rabbits) and Colin Baker lost about two stone in the jungle, but squeezing them back into those costumes – even if you’re going down the “Ooh, temporal anomaly” route to explain the wrinkles – is beyond the skill of the BBC wardrobe department. I’m not being mean, here, honestly. But when they digitally de-aged Jeff Daniels for Tron: Legacy it just looked creepy. Let Four through Eight handle the Big Finish stuff instead, of which I am assured there is plenty. They can all still do it (the Sixth Doctor, in particular, is a revelation, and not of the Dalek kind) and – let’s be honest – after the mess that was last Saturday’s episode I can’t help thinking that they should stay away from Moffat’s vanity project purely on the grounds of artistic integrity.

That leaves us with Eccleston.

I’ve talked about my conspiracy theories surrounding this quite recently, so we won’t dwell on it now. In any event it occurred to me that if we’re going to have Eccleston show up again in New Who it’s going to be through surviving footage. I’m sure the BBC have something fleeting and anti-climatic planned, so I have beaten them to it and pasted Eccleston in myself. His low episode count meant there wasn’t a lot of appropriate screen material, and I figured the best way to make it work was have three different Doctors in three different locations, all chatting on Skype. And so for the Ninth, his episode-closing confrontation with the Daleks (ooh, I’m getting goosebumps again) was an obvious starting point. Obvious too was the Tenth Doctor’s lengthy to-camera monologue in ‘Blink’, containing as it does all manner of asides and quizzical looks, and no extra-diegetic sound. For the Eleventh, it gets harder – but I remembered thinking last autumn that ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’ was top-heavy with people staring at screens for no really good reason, and as it turned out there was quite a bit of usable footage.

I put this together over two evenings. The biggest problem is the inconsistency in sound textures, jumping from the grainy whirr of videotape to synthesised choral chants to Murray Gold’s lush orchestration for parts of ‘Dinosaurs’, but not having access to the original masters that was something I simply couldn’t help. Some of the dialogue I wanted to use was clearly delivered to other parties on screen – for example, when the Ninth Doctor says “I’m coming to get you” we can see the Daleks in the background watching him, and while I could have just used the audio it felt a bit like cheating, so I kept such occurrences to a minimum. Editing, too, took some time, in order to pace things appropriately and make sure it stayed in flow – even now there are ways I’m sure I could improve it to the extent that I’m quite hesitant about watching the thing again. But as a concept I think it works (just) and hangs together (also just). And it was fun finding the common threads and having Ten and Eleven engage in sufficient tomfoolery to wind up the ever-serious Nine, who becomes increasingly annoyed (and my goodness, didn’t Eccleston spend an awful lot of that scene just STARING?).

Gareth has suggested another version with McCoy bellowing “UNLIMITED RICE PUDDING”, and at some point I will go back to ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ and then make that. And throw in a bit of Troughton for good measure. In the meantime, this may be the closest we get to having Eccleston back in Who, at least until he caves in and signs up for Big Finish. Which, of course, would be Fantastic.

Note: the first version of this article, published 29 April 2013, stated that McCoy bellowed “INFINITE RICE PUDDING”, when the actual quote was “UNLIMITED RICE PUDDING!”. This has now been changed.

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Portal: The Movie

Ah, that got your attention, didn’t it?

Listen: if you’ve been around here for a while, you’ll know about this already, because I blogged about it back in October. But you won’t have seen this version.

I love The Trailer Mash. The quality varies – some of the submissions are wonderful, others simply aren’t very good at all – but the breadth and depth of imagination is something to behold. It’s good to have so many recut films together in one place, even if their interface could probably do with a bit of a revamp (comments interface, anyone?). Submission is simplicity itself and the one time I’ve had to submit a support query they’ve been courteous, prompt and attentive.

But mostly I love it because it’s a chance to showcase my work in a different forum where people will, at least, watch it, even if they don’t always like it. Trying to compete on YouTube is like shouting into a thermonuclear blast: there’s just so much stuff that you have to be rich or lucky (or very, very talented) to get noticed. I am none of the above. So every little helps.

This is fine except when you’ve created something – as I’ve done more than once – that works as a theatrical cut but which is utterly unsuitable. So it’s back to the editing suite. Last year I recut Darth Gene into a two-minute trailer that I think arguably improves on my original, and last night I finished a two minute trailer for the Portal 2 / Flight of the Navigator movie, purely for the sake of Trailer Mash hosting. But there’s a lesson in creativity as well, because such creations are an exercise in restraint: I am someone who will typically do more than is needed, and whose work could occasionally do with trimming, and so it’s nice to have to focus on the best of what you have. At a literary level, I suppose it’s like trying to squash a novella into short story length, or even something shorter – say, the confines of a five hundred word essay competition.

This one was tough. I don’t mean the original – I won’t go into the ins and outs of possibly the most coherent thing I’ve ever made, because that’s all in the other post – but recutting it was difficult. Most of the work had already been done and it was simply a matter of finding the best / most suitable material, but I had to chop out lines I really liked because they were slowing the pacing of the trailer. I went back and forth with ideas for backing music, but I think ‘Mr Blue Sky’ works quite well. There’s an annoying glitch at 0:31, and I HAVE NO IDEA WHY THIS IS. We’ll just have to live with it. (I take comfort in the fact that the whole of Wreck-It Ralph was essentially built around a glitch.)

The aforementioned Portal movie will never make it past the scripting stage – it would be a creative disaster, because they’d have to give a voice to Chell, which is like making Judge Dredd remove his helmet.  But in the meantime it would be nice to think that Wheatley lives on somewhere, and is carting back and forth across the galaxy, impersonating cows and listening to the Beach Boys. SPAAAAAAAAACE!

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The Nightmare Before the Christmas Special

My son, who is a big fan of Jack Skellington and his ghoulish friends, will appreciate this.

Burton_Doc

Thanks to the inimitable Ms Rose for sending it on!

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Spotted in the Look Out Discovery Centre

Seriously, it’s a mashup waiting to happen.

DavrosPyramid

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The Facebook of Boe

Right. Shameless plug day.

5-amp-uk-plug-2262-p

I’ve written at length about the various videos I’ve produced. The routine goes like this: I’ll upload something to YouTube, and then (unless it’s Dalek Zippy, which did quite well) it’ll sit there, fighting for traffic. Then I’ll plug it on Facebook and no one will bother watching it. At some point, when I feel the need, I’ll mention it in here, expanding on the creative process as I feel appropriate, mostly for the sake of having it written down somewhere.

The Facebook thing is probably what bothers me the most, because it’s the moment when you realise that most people are far less interested in what you do than you are yourself. I’ve spent years trying to restrict Facebook updates to solely when I have something interesting or amusing or at least creative to share. I manage an average of one or two posts per day on this basis, but I’ve never been one for the “still lying in bed eating toast” mundanities. It just doesn’t work for me. That’s one reason I don’t tweet. Never mind the fact that Emily gets a guaranteed twenty plus likes for anything she says (posting, as it stands, even more sparingly than I do, so there may be something in that); it can be a bit disheartening when you spend ages doctoring a photo and then upload it to find that many of your so-called friends simply couldn’t care less. If you mention food, on the other hand, in any capacity, then everyone is immediately interested.

I know it’s shallow to live your life according to the ‘like’ button. I really do. But who doesn’t want exposure? How many of us would genuinely curl up with embarrassment if we were freshly pressed, rather than jumping for joy? How many of you are, like me, logging on to your dashboard each morning to check the overnight stats? Maybe you have to actually be really established with thousands of followers before this stuff no longer matters. I live in hope of someone important stumbling across this blog and suggesting that I write a book and offering a decent commission. I know it doesn’t work like that – for every isolated success story there are a hundred thousand others where years of hard graft and self-publicising got the authors concerned precisely nowhere, but you still find yourself wanting the fairytale ending.

I try not to tailor my writing for an audience these days if I can help it. If you do that you lose who you are. But I have set up a Facebook page for the video editing. Initially it was just going to be a way of having everything together in one place, but it then occurred to me that there are people like me all over the internet – people shouting to be heard above a maelstrom of burping children and homophobic rants and cats falling off workbenches.

Not that I’d want to suggest that any of my work is Oscar-winning, or even particularly good. I just wish more people would watch it. And it would be nice to chat to others as well. I set up a page with the intention of attracting like-minded souls, and at time of writing it has precisely one ‘like’, which is as I expected. So I am – for probably the first and only time – going to mention it here. Facebook is awash with random pages that no one looks at, but if I can just get ooh…ten people together that’ll be a good start. That may even be enough. So if you’re interested, or if you know anyone who is, come and join us. You can even help me redecorate.

(If you needed any more incentive, guys, then how about this – if you visit this page, you will basically find out my real name. It’s not in black and white, but you can figure it out…)

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Flight of the Navigator: Portal 2 / Wheatley Edition

Let’s get this out of the way: Flight of the Navigator is mostly crap.

I don’t mean to urinate all over your eighties memories. Truly I don’t. I’m not one for nostalgia existing for its own sake but I recognise that certain things that have dated badly were very much products of their time, rendering their mockery superfluous. There is no merit in sneering at the apparent sexism in the works of Enid Blyton, for example, simply because (right or wrong) it was how most people thought back then. The same goes for Tintin and The Congo, a work that’s come in for its fair share of controversy over the last few years because it’s a still-very-famous example of the casually accepted racism of its time. Dumping on cultural attitudes or stylistic idiosyncrasies gets you lots of recommends over at the Guardian, but it’s not big or clever. That such attitudes are no longer as widely held ought to be enough without making all sorts of left-wing comments about language too far out from our times to be politically correct.

No, if you’re going to mock Blyton, mock her for her derivative and formulaic storytelling – as Joyce Grenfell memorably did – and look at the content, rather than the style. Because as far as style is concerned, Flight of the Navigator mostly holds up. The CG / stop motion effects used to portray the ship were quite astonishing in their day and still don’t look too bad some twenty-six years later. The puppet aliens are fun and convincing. And Alan Silvestri’s Synclavier-created score is frankly one of the best things he’s ever written, and still gets played in my car from time to time.

But the film itself? Gaah. It’s a third-rate mashup of serious and ‘fun’, where the tense, conspiracy theory first half degenerates into farce once David steps on board the ship. Structurally it’s about as robust as a play centre built by the Challenge Anneka team. There’s far too much preamble, and then once the ship actually takes off, there’s a lot of arguing, heaps of eighties slang (which is fine, really, it’s a product of its time), and dancing to the Beach Boys. That’s not to mention the dialogue – which sounds like it was written by a first-year undergrad on a Film Studies course – along with the frankly woeful performance of Joey Cramer. Paul Reubens does his best, hamming up the performance of Max the Robot with the silliness that the script deserves, but even the presence of Veronica Cartwright couldn’t save this turkey.

None of this matters when you’re a kid, of course, and even if the movie has dated badly, I’ll freely admit that as a boy it was one of my favourites, at least for a while. After wearing out our VHS tape in the late 1980s, I switched off from Flight of the Navigator until 2004, when Emily and I watched it one evening under the influence of a 70cl bottle of gin, which rendered it absolutely hilarious. Then we promptly forgot about it again, along with most of the other things that supposedly happened that night. But it was in the opening quarter of this year, when I was playing through Portal 2 with Joshua, that Disney’s playful romp once more permeated my consciousness. Because it occurred to me, exploring the corridors and test chambers and dark underbelly of Aperture Science, that Wheatley – the imbecilic (but lovable) robot that accompanies you throughout the first part of the game before [WHOPPING GREAT SPOILER] is an absolute dead ringer for Max. Well, sort of.

It’s more convincing when Max is flashing blue instead of red, and to be fair, there are only so many ways you can do spherical robots with big eyes before they all start to look the same, but you get the point. As far as the script is concerned, the presentation and characterisation of Wheatley is arguably Portal 2‘s high spot (along with all those wonderful monologues from Cave Johnson, of course). The humour in the game is about as subtle as a house brick, but if you’re not giggling away at the mashy spike plate, there’s something seriously wrong with you. Anyway, at some point or another – probably while I was driving or eating, that’s usually when I get my ideas – I must have thought “Ooh, Flight of the Navigator would be really interesting with Max’s voice taken out and Wheatley’s put in”.

This was this year’s Darth Gene, in that it took me an entire summer in between weeks away here and there. The longest and most laborious job was sifting through Wheatley’s dialogue – there is a ton of it, and I spent over a week (on and off) listening to over eight hundred voice files. There was a lot of expository narrative that was unsuitable – anything that mentioned GlaDOS or the portal guns had to go – but I wound up with enough usable material to have probably created this from scratch using entirely different dialogue. Because it was all ripped directly from the game it was easy to place, and all I then had to worry about doing was stitching up the audio with various engine sounds and bits of the score, which I was fortunate enough to have on MP3.  So it was a long job, but it hangs together much better than many of my other more recent efforts.

Because you’re all busy people, I should probably let you see the highlights version as well – it’s half the length, and lacks narrative cohesion, but it’s a decent selection of the best bits (of course it is. It wouldn’t be called ‘highlights’ if it wasn’t). Still – the full-length cut embedded above, if you have the time, is the video I originally intended to make (unlike the aforementioned Darth Gene, which is arguably better in its trailer format). I suppose the creation of this was therapy, in a way, in that it enabled me to exorcise a few demons, with some success – sadly it’s still not effective enough to exorcise the ghost of Joey Cramer slumping onto his arse in a hideously-decorated 1980s riverside property wailing “Please…where’s my mom and dad?”. But hey, it’ll do.

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On The Road Again

It’s been far too long since I posted a smallerpictures video.

When I was twenty years old, I got into Hospital Radio. There followed three not-so-glorious years of trailing round the Royal Berkshire Hospital orthopaedic wards meeting elderly ladies awaiting hip replacements and incapacitated bikers after work on a Friday, and then spending my Saturday mornings playing a curious mixture of Meat Loaf and Val Doonican on the request show. My co-host and I memorised the jingles and took it in turns to quote them aloud to each other while the microphone was off, which came in very handy on the day the cart machine broke and we managed to fulfil our quota of three an hour with a strictly a capella performance. I got to know the tricks, the techniques, the art of sequencing – which records to avoid (‘Spirit in the Sky’, ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’, ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’) and the ones that we’d basically worn out due to endless re-requests (‘Release Me’, ‘Danny Boy’, ‘Distant Drums’ and that bloody Titanic song). And I was living at home and had no social life to speak of, so it filled up the weekends.

It all ended in tears, with me no longer on speaking terms with the committee – there were faults on both sides, me being young and outspoken while they were apathetic and inept – but boy, did I listen to a lot of music during that run. And I associate Canned Heat with that time, having acquired this particular song on a driving compilation I’d bought while I was still a sixth former (and can no longer find, which is annoying because it was one of my better Various Artists collections), but finding it was a decent way to fill five minutes (extended version) while you went to the loo. And the first thing that occurred to me when I heard it was wait a minute, what’s Kermit the Frog doing singing this?

Soundalike gags are nothing new. There was speculation years ago that Kermit might actually have been Michael Stipe under an assumed name (it’s probably the other way round, actually, but you get the idea). And I remember hearing Macy Gray singing ‘I Try’ for the first time, and – well, have a listen.

You see what I mean, right?

YouTube has an amusing video that sequences images from ‘Going Up The Country’ – Canned Heat’s other household hit – to stills from Muppet films, shows and album covers. I managed to go one better and do a reasonable lipdub – the 1979 feature film, with its road trip theme, being an obvious choice. This was uncomplicated in approach, if fiddly in execution to actually put together: finding appropriate imagery from the film to go along with the psychedelic blues was fairly easy (there are some priceless visual gags, and I got lucky with Rowlf and his harmonica). For the vocals, it was just a question of going through and finding mouth movements that more or less tied in with Alan Wilson’s vocals, and then moving back and forth a microsecond for the best fit possible. (I’m still convinced that the upload is slightly out, although my original is in sync.)

Oh, and see The Muppets. It’s worth it for 80s Robot alone…

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