Thursday, October 27, 2011

Garry Shandling Breaking the Fourth Wall on 'SNL'

So I was watching this old episode of SNL, from May of '87, back when It's Garry Shandling's Show was still running on Showtime. (My dad was a fan of the show in those years, by the way, making Shandling's show the first quality TV I was ever even exposed to. I was almost ten years old by then. The kids today have no idea how lucky they are.) Shandling flagrantly, and repeatedly, broke the fourth wall in his show, and not in ways that were always gimmicky and excessive. Usually it was fresh and imaginative, and this was when the greatest precedent for the practice was Woody's classroom flashback in Annie Hall (admittedly a good one). I wasn't expecting Shandling to break the fourth wall on SNL, which goes to show just how dense I can sometimes be, in spite of all my culture-consumption and SNL-analysis over the years--or is that because of them? Anyway, he broke the fourth wall---he broke it all the way down. And it was triumphant. It was Garry Shandling's show, even if it wasn't It's Garry Shandling's Show

The Unscientific Magic of Brooks DNA

"Is Brooks DNA Magic or is it Science?" the promo posters ask. To call it either is probably giving this shoe technology too much credit. Does it really memorize your own foot's particular structure and shape, and then does this information significantly enhance your running experience? Probably not, on both counts. But I can tell you, having used it, that it's a shoe, and that it works as a shoe just fine. And I can tell you, too, that the shoe has the coolest promo posters by far. You may say that that means nothing, but a world where that means nothing is no world I want to live in. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

'Winnebago Man': Where is He Now, and Where Was He Then?

Most YouTube heroes whose antics have gone viral are from the immediate present and all too easily located, but the Winnebago Man made his masterpiece in the eighties. Documentarian Ben Steinbauer chose to try and track him down, and bring along his camera for making a movie based on what he found. What he found was the Winnebago Man, and what he made was a masterpiece of his own. Jack Rebney is still the cranky guy who'd done all that yelling between takes of that vintage RV commercial, but he's older now, which has done nothing to mitigate his crankiness. "If you piss me off," he tells Steinbauer at one point, "that reaction will be something you will not forget." Steinbauer's movie isn't just about some guy from a funny video gone viral. Steinbauer is savvy and sophisticated enough to make it about the very nature of these videos--about why they catch on, and what's appropriate to laugh at. Then it's about looking for the old man, and finding him (along with members of the crew who'd witnessed him that day), and what happens when one's vision begins to go, and when one learns to accept and then embrace one's strange fame.