And We’re Back – Questions Worth Asking

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How “Little Shop of Horrors” would have ended if Disney hadn’t forced a change

If you’ve ever had me for class, you know that as much of a Disney fan as I can be (Love Big Hero Six and Wreck It Ralph), I really hate what the studio has done to some classic stories.  (Don’t get me started on why I hate the Disney version of The Little Mermaid!)

Among the stories I think Disney has ruined is the wonderful man-eating-plant-horror-musical Little Shop of Horrors.  The play version is clearly a comic tragedy that ends with everyone dying and the hero Seymour learning the consequences of the sin of hubris. But in the Disney movie, Seymour kills the plant and everyone lives happily ever after. And the whole point of the story is lost.

But it didn’t have to be that way!

Director Frank Oz originally shot the movie with a version of the play’s ending. And here it is – with an extended dream sequence of one of my favorite songs from the movie:

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TBT – Siskel & Ebert talk about the movies

This is a reposting (with slight editing) of a post from four years ago.  Hard for me to come to terms with the fact that this presentation is from 20 years ago!

My JMC 406 commentary class is going to be talking about writing critical reviews over the next week or two.  Here are a couple of  readings and great talk by movie critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert for my students.  But for all of you thinking about reviewing, these materials are all great.  (And, please, take the time to watch the C-SPAN video of Siskel and Ebert talking to National Press Club back in 1995.  Get passed the complaints about Sen. Bob Dole and get to where they talk about what makes movies good or bad.)

Siskel & Ebert at the National Press Club

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Movie Links for my Media Literacy Students

We’ve been talking about the movies this week in my media literacy class, and I’ve shown a range of video clips, but there are even more clips that I haven’t had time to show.  So here are links to a host of links on the movies for you:

And finally

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Columnists for your reading pleasure

Here are links to a number of columnists and columnist index pages from newspapers around the country for my JMC 406 commentary writing students, and anyone else who’s interested.  It has previously been published here in somewhat different form.

National Columnists

Commentary from newspapers around the United States:

Commentary from Nebraska newspapers:
Note: Many of the posts here are letters to the editor.  They are interesting, but they are not newspaper columns. If you use this link, check what you are reading carefully.

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Apple’s big announcement – oh yeah, and the Apple Watch

Everyone in the tech press is spending enormous numbers of electrons on the new Apple watch announced today.  Except it was really announced several months ago.  It will talk to your iPhone, it will track your activity, it will help you navigate, it will….

…run at most 18 hours before it needs to be hooked up to a charger, when it’s new, before the battery starts its slow march toward death.

And the price?  Any where from $350 for the entry-level Sport model all the way up to $10,000+ for the 18k gold Edition model.  Yes, more than $10,000 for a gold electronic device that will be obsolete in two years. (Buzz is that maybe the high-end watch is a great idea.  We’ll see.)

Apple Watches

Now I realize that I’m not anywhere near Apple’s target market for fancy/schmancy Edition watch. And I realize that I’m an incurable Apple fan boy.  But I have to admit that the Apple Watch loses me. I’m far more interested in the new Pebble Time smart watch that uses an eInk display that isn’t nearly as cool looking as the Apple display, but has the capability of running for up to a week between charges. (Only a lack of money is keeping me from pre-ordering the new Pebble.)

I’m sure Apple will sell a boatload of their watches (along with their new-and-improved laptops), but the thing that really struck me coming out of announcement was that HBO will be available without a cable subscription through the Apple TV streaming box. (Apple will reportedly have it as an exclusive for three months, then other providers will be able to sell it.)

I doubt that cable companies will ever be forced by the federal government to start selling al a carte cable channels (nor should they, in my view), but people who want to pick and choose a few select cable favorites are getting pretty close to being able to do that with streaming.  And in the long run, I think that’s going to be the big change that today brings (in part) to the media world landscape.


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Music for a Busy Day

Way too much to cover in class today to play all the music history videos I had scheduled, so here they are for your viewing and listening enjoyment.  Go from Elvis to Lennon & McCartney to Lennon and Maisy. This is a repost from March 6, 2014.

Here’s a collection of videos to take you through the early days of rock ‘n’ roll along with a few other choice bits of music.

Young Elvis Presley doing a live version of “Lawdy, Miss Clawdy” possibly from 1956.

Chuck Berry doing “Maybelline,” his adaptation of the fiddle tune “Ida Red.”

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles singing “What’s So Good About Goodbye.”

The single was from Hitsville U.S.A., which later became Motown.

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, 1964.

An early video of The Who performing “The Kids Are Alright.”

Was there ever a better rock drummer than Keith Moon?

The Beatles, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The Sugar Hill Gang doing “Rapper’s Delight.

Some old school bboying.

The opening of the Style Wars hip hop documentary

George Straight singling “What’s Going On In Your World” from 1989

and finally….

Lennon and Maisy doing their cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girl Friend.”

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Having fun with remixes

One of my favorite days of the semester in my media literacy class is when we start talking about remix culture.  Two of the central things we do is look at Girl Talk’s album All Day and the film Girl Walk / All Day that was based on it.

To launch our discussion, we started off with the first episode of Kirby Ferguson’s documentary series Everything is a Remix

Part 1: The Song Remains the Same

We followed that up with a discussion of D.J. Danger Mouse’s remix classic The Grey Album that mashes up Jay Z.’s Black Album (with his blessing) and The Beatles’ White Album (emphatically without their publisher’s blessing).

Moving on from there, we looked at the massive mashup that is Girl Talk’s album All Day, that features more than 400 samples in the 70+ minute long album. (You can get a great look at the complexity of this remix with the moving bar graph of the samples located here.)

Finally, we closed out today by seeing a couple segments from the Kickstarter supported dance film  Girl Walk / All Day. The first clip sets up the basic plot of the film (such as it is) and the second one presents one of the best musical/dance combinations of the film.

Girl Walk // All Day: Chapter 1 from Girl Walk // All Day on Vimeo.

This is Chapter 3 – It Goes Like This

I want to say that I also learn something new every time I teach this class.  I’ve been showing the series Everything is a Remix now for several years, but it just really registered on me that remixing is obviously a part of Truth 4 – Nothing’s New: Everything that happens in the past will happen again.

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Editorializing on the Cover of the NY Post

Say what you like about the New York Post, they have done some magnificent photo illustrations over the years on their cover as editorial commentary.  I don’t often agree with the Post, but they do great covers.

Obama and “Islamic Terrorism”



I calling UN ambassadors “weasels” during debate about Iraq war















Post looks at criticism of Veep Dick Cheney after he shot friend in the face:


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Some great blogs from my students

This last week my blogging and commentary student Austin Koeller wrote a state editorial I was pretty happy with.  He argued that U.S. Senator Deb Fischer was betraying her conservative supporters in north central Nebraska by supporting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.  Austin argued not that the pipeline itself was bad, but rather that it was wrong for a conservative senator to support the state helping a foreign oil company take land for the pipelines construction through the use of eminent domain. His editorial got shared by the progressive activist group Bold Nebraska, and the link to his posting of it has now been shared on Facebook more than 1,000 times.  That’s how you know your writing has struck a nerve.

But Austin isn’t the only student in my class doing some interesting writing.  Here are links to several recent blog posts worth your time from my class:

And finally, this isn’t from my class, but what a great editorial from the Frederick News-Post on “Kirby Delauter.

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