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Items: Video

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Links to a bunch of cool online video items, for your delectation and enjoyment. Some of these require Flash; some require Windows Media Player (which is freely available for Mac as well as Windows); some probably require other media players.

  • "China opens panda 'kindergarten'"; report from Reuters. The most striking thing about this, to me, besides the impossible levels of cuteness, is that the pandas in the context of human play structures look a little like Ewoks or Fuzzies or other small furry sentient sf aliens.
  • What happens when you drive a car behind a 747 with its engines on full power?
  • Hot cowboys on ice skates. Definitely the best homoerotic ice-skating video I've seen lately. I wouldn't presume to guess whether the skaters are actually cowboys, nor whether they're actually gay, but they do wear cowboy hats and don't seem to mind dancing with each other (the second half has more of the dancing-together stuff than the first half). Sort of like Brokeback Mountain meets the Chippendales on ice. Sort of.
  • Back in 2003, I posted an entry that linked to the now-famous Honda ad "Cog," a sort of homage to the Rube Goldbergian short movie "The Way Things Go." Both of those movies involved actual things in the real world interacting with each other. The new movie clikclak, by contrast, is done entirely in computer graphics, which makes it in some ways less technically impressive; on the other hand, it's lovely and funny and sad, and it's as much about language and communication as about things bumping into other things. Available in both French and English; you'll see when you watch it why that's impressive.
  • Brief video of a really cool way to fold a shirt.
  • Will Wright, the creator of Sim City and The Sims, spoke in 2005 at the Game Developer's Conference about his astonishing new game, Spore. That video is 35 minutes long, but if you like this kind of thing it's totally worth watching the whole thing. (Sadly, it ends in midsentence.) If you would rather just read about the game, see Wikipedia's Spore article, but one of the great things about the video is that every time you think it can't go one more step, it does. The game is scheduled to be released later this year, and I imagine some gamers will never leave their homes again. Also, if next year's WorldCon has a best videogame category, I predict this will win it.
  • Comedian/juggler Chris Bliss has a great, crowd-pleasing video of his finale, which involves juggling to a Beatles song. (Click the "Live In Concert" link on that page.) He's juggling only three balls, and many of the moves are pretty basic, but he does it with a lot of style--it's part dance, part conducting, part quasi-percussion--and doesn't drop a ball the whole time. World-class juggler Jason Garfield has a rant about how awful it is that Bliss gets such acclaim for doing such easy tricks, and to prove his point, Garfield created a video of his own much harder routine to the same audio track (including the audience applause from Bliss's routine). It seems to me that Garfield's quasi-hidden agenda is that he wants juggling to be taken seriously as an athletic event, and he hates jugglers who do flashy crowd-pleasing stuff that isn't as hard as the stuff Garfield likes to do; fair enough, but I enjoyed Bliss's routine more than Garfield's. Garfield's is more athletic, but Bliss's is more entertaining.

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Thus proving again that it's not what you do, it's how you do it. Bliss looks like he's having fun; he's interacting with his audience. I enjoyed both routines, for different reasons, but Garfield's is more meditative/focused/internal. Bliss, in other words, is playing rock and roll. Garfield is a violin soloist.


The juggling routines are quite the contrast. Garfield hits it on the nose when he says Bliss looks like Leslie Nielsen, but doesn't seem to understand that that's a big part of what makes Bliss' routine fun. Bliss is hamming it up, which is what a comedy audience wants and why simple moves come across as impressive. I want to see a good performance, but I also want to see a performer stretching himself. Bliss makes it look like he's at the edge of his ability. Garfield makes it look too easy, which is impressive but not as fun.

I also think Bliss did a better job of choreographing to the music than Garfield. A lot of the music and rhythm is simple, but Garfield wants to show off his skill rather than go with the music. It means that Garfield can't provide as much contrast in the drum solos.

Have you seen the bouncing soldiers video at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4396069753768297433&q=snoken? It's still gorgeous music, even without the superballs.


I recognize the skating cowboys. They are US and Canadian pro figure skaters on the Stars on Ice tour. The woman at the begining is Jamie Sale (of the 2002 Olympic Pairs gold medal scandal) and her husband is one of the skaters. As far as I know, all of these guys are straight (one was even made over on Queer Eye), but clearly comfortable with expressions of sexuality. See this website for a documented discussion of gay figure skating and why its not easy to be out in this sport.

http://www.plover.com/rainbowice/indexri.html

Jed Classic


Garfield does some astonishing juggling in that video clip, and it would look even better if he were using white balls under better lighting. But he shouldn't be surprised that people like Bliss's routine. One of the first things I realized when I learned juggling was that what's hard to do is not the same as what looks good. A shower is harder to do than a cascade, but looks easier; reversing it so your non-dominant hand does the throws is harder still, but looks just the same. Only another juggler would be impressed by it. Similarly, after a certain point, adding more balls increases the difficulty far more than it increases the visual appeal.



Wow. The SPORE video blew me away. Thanks so much for the link.


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