Category: MP3

MP3 of the Week: Lyrical Palindrome

     I know almost nothing about this song, besides the fact that it is a lyrical palindrome (Not a musical palindrome, as I initially typed. I’m sure that some composer must have explored palindromic music, and if you are better informed than I in this department, I encourage you to enlighten me). It comes from a compilation of two-minute songs that a previous band of mine participated in: ‘I Am Shorter Than You Are Taller Than Am I,’ which appears to be available via the Kelp Records page. The liner notes reveal only that Big Fish Eat Little Fish was a band from Ottawa, Canada. As always, I THIRST for further examples of palindromic lyrics / music.

Big Fish Eat Little Fish – ‘Word Awk’
From: I Am Shorter Than You Are Taller Than Am I


     Another great example pointed to in the comments is ‘Bob‘ by Weird Al Yankovic, suggested by Andy Baio. I should probably clarify and say that the lyrics to this example are palindromes in the classic sense, whereas I was describing the lyrics of the Big Fish Eat Little Fish song as palindromic. If one were to write the lyrics out, they wouldn’t be a palindrome, per se. This is making no sense. Perhaps an illustration is in order:

     A bit of the lyrics to Yankovic’s ‘Bob:’

I, man, am regal – a German am I
Never odd or even
If I had a hi-fi
Madam, I’m Adam
Too hot to hoot
No lemons, no melon
Too bad I hid a boot
Lisa Bonet ate no basil
Warsaw was raw
Was it a car or a cat I saw?

     Each line is a palindrome. In the case of the lyrics to ‘Word Awk:’

Ment Face De Self Such With Live You Can How
Space My In Self Your Cing For
By Place Word Awk Such In Me Put You
Lone A Me Leave But
Ly Lite Po This You Tell To How Know Don’t
Don’t Know How To Tell You This Politely
But Leave Me Alone
You Put Me In Such Awkward Place
By Forcing Yourself In My Space
How Can You Live With Such Self-Defacement?

     The lyrics are palindromic in a broader way, in the sense that the entire song is the palindrome, as opposed to being made up of a series of palindromes. So you see, if one were to treat each WORD in ‘Word Awk’ as a LETTER, THEN it would be…(Head Explodes).

     Another of the links posted in the comments references a book I’m trying to read right now: Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. This is a good book to read if you like music, math, and art; and don’t mind your head exploding occaisionally.

MP3 of the Week: Andy Thompson – LP of my Eye

     Andy Thompson is an insanely talented pop mastermind who used to live in Ann Arbor and recorded the last Pop Project album for a pittance. He now lives in Minneapolis, where he writes songs, symphonies, and plays live. This is an older song about loving the shit out of vinyl. He recorded it himself, and played every note you hear. He writes on the sleeve – “Please excuse the midi drums.”

Andy Thompson – ‘LP of My Eye’
From: LP of My Eye Mini-CD (2002)

[audio:Andy Thompson – LP of My Eye.mp3]

MP3's of the week: Musical 'mistakes' / scoldings

     For people who are obsessed with music and the process by which it is recorded, filesharing is the greatest thing ever, as it offers easy access to session tapes. Session tapes, for the uninitiated, are generally recordings of a band working in the studio, complete with mistakes, between song banter, conversation, and tomfoolery. After downloading many such sessions, I’ve noticed that some people choose to edit out all the ‘superfluous’ conversation, neatly isolating each take into its own track. This drives me crazy, because one of the reasons I love sessions so much is for the banter, which often reveals unseen dynamics to the inner workings of a band.

     My favorite example of such an outtake consists of Mickey Dolenz hellaciously scolding Peter Tork for screwing up a take in the midst of the recording sessions for the Monkees’ ‘Headquarters’ album, but there are tons of other examples. In the outtakes from the Rolling Stones’ ‘Beggers Banquet’ album, there’s a clip of Mick Jagger expressing his impatience with the speed at which Charlie Watts was learning ‘Sympathy For the Devil.’

     The banter doesn’t necessarily have to be quite so heated to be entertaining. My opinion of Ryan Adams aside, I have to give him credit for including a bit of friendly studio squabbling as the first track on his ‘Heartbreaker’ album. In it, he and fellow musician David Rawlings can be heard arguing which Morrissey album ‘Suedehead’ appears on (Anyone who has more than a few morrissey CD’s knows that tracks frequently showed up on more than one release).
In addition to the ‘scoldings’ and banter that I so deeply crave, I am also a huge fan of ‘happy accidents’ that occur and end up being released. A great example of this is the end of the Archers Of Loaf song ‘Bathroom,’ released commercially on their collection of odds and ends, ‘The Speed of Cattle.’ At the end of the take, the drums abruptly cut out and the rest of the band comes to a halt. The resultant exchange is priceless, especially if you’re a drummer. Another commercially released example is the Whiskeytown song ‘Bar Lights’ which ends with Ryan Adams explaining through laughter that he flubbed the lyric and broke a string in the same moment. Turn up your volume for the choice bit of posturing at the end.

     I’m convinced that there are tons of these moments lurking about in the useless knowledge section of people’s brains. It is in the interest of expanding my library of audio joy that I solicit your favorite bits of studio exchange and happy accident-ry. Since most of these bits are pretty short, I’ll volunteer to host MP3’s of pretty much any that get suggested. My goal is to put together an entire mix CD of these moments, and give it a dopey title like ‘WHOOOPS’ or something equally lame.

     MP3’s of all the moments mentioned above are included below. I’ve also posted MP3’s of several of the bits suggested in the comments. I’m working on rounding up the others. Woo.

The Monkees – Mickey Scolds Peter
From: Headquarters Sessions


The Rolling Stones – Mick Scolds Charlie
From: Beggar’s Banquet Sessions


Archers Of Loaf – Excerpt from ‘Bathroom’
From: The Speed of Cattle (1996)


Ryan Adams – ‘Argument with David Rawlings Concerning Morrissey’
From: Heartbreaker (2000)


Whiskeytown – Excerpt from ‘Bar Lights’
From: Pneumonia (2001)


Led Zeppelin – Excerpt from ‘Black Country Woman’
From: Physical Graffiti (1975)


The Velvet Underground – ‘Temptation Inside Your Heart’
From: Peel Slowly and See (1995)


Morrissey – Excerpt from ‘I Know Very Well How I Got My Note Wrong’
From: ? (19??)


Don & Dewey – ‘Justine’
From: Jungle Hop (19??)


Modest Mouse – Excerpt from ‘Bukowski’
From: Good News For People Who Love Bad News (2004)


Beck – Excerpt from ‘Truckdrivin’ Neighbors Downstairs’
From: Mellow Gold (1994)


The Pixies – ‘You Fuckin’ DIE!’
From: Surfer Rosa (1988)


Bob Dylan – ‘Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream’
From: Bringing it All Back Home


Elvis Presley – ‘Hot Damn Tamale’
From: ???


Love – ‘Your Mind and We Belong Together’
From: Forever Changes Reissue


John Cale – ‘Big Apple Express’
From: Inside the Dream Syndicate, Vol. 3


MP3's of the week: Advertising Pop Trifecta

     A Beatle, a Monkee, and Harry Nilsson.

     My friend Zach Curd recently unearthed this bit of trivia on one of his frequent excursions into internetland – Beatles drummer Ringo Starr was hired as a spokesman for Japanese leisure suit company Simple Life in the mid-1970’s. Four television commercials were filmed, and at least two jingles were recorded. Singing backup vocals on the jingles: Davy Jones of the Monkees and pop mastermind Harry Nilsson.

     Obviously, this is the best thing ever. Mr. Curd quickly consulted the filesharing networks and managed to turn up two of the jingles, and one of the actual commercials. I present them here for posterity, and in the hopes that the other commercials, in which Ringo is said to encounter “unusual creatures while wearing his Simple Life suit and lip-synching,” will turn up.

Ringo Starr – ‘I Love My Suit’
From: ‘Simple Life’ Leisure Suits Advertisement (197?)

[audio:Ringo Starr – I Love My Suit.mp3]

Ringo Starr – ‘Simple Life’
From: ‘Simple Life’ Leisure Suits Advertisement (197?)

[audio:Ringo Starr – Simple Life.mp3]

     My pick of the two jingles is the Nilssonian ‘I Love My Suit.’ As always, I have included the lyrics below for your perusal.

I love my suit
(He loves his suit)
It keeps me warm
(It keeps him warm)
It feels so good, it makes me smile, it fits my form
I love my suit
(He loves his suit)
It looks so good
(It looks so good)
If I could wear it all the time you know I would
Well I’d wear it on the beach
and I’d wear it in the shower
I’d wear it every day and every minute of every hour
I love my suit
(Fade out)

     Below is a selection of the television ads that featured the jingles, wrested from the clutches of youtube.

(Download as .avi)

     Related: In the first episode of the Monkees TV series, one of the Monkees (Mike?) can be seen throwing darts at a photo of the Beatles. Does anyone know of a source for this image online, or have the DVD’s from which to grab an image?

MP3's of the Week – The Tribute Montage

     I’m in the process of moving this week, hence the silence. In the meantime, please enjoy this recording of Canadian harmony group The Sands of Time The Tokens and Steve Sawyer paying tribute to the Beach Boys (by lyrically name-checking just about every hit they had). The label for the 45 reads: “Dedicated to the Beach Boys With Love.”

     This seems to be the thing to do when you can’t pick just one song by an artist to cover, as
‘Tribute to the Beach Boys 1976’ is similar in both sentiment and execution to Harry Nilsson’s assemblage of bits of Beatles tunes: ‘You Can’t Do That,’ taken from his 1967 album ‘Pandemonium Shadow Show.’ I’ve included an MP3 of that song below, as well.

Tokens – ‘Tribute to the Beach Boys ’76’
From: 45 rpm single (1976)

[audio:Tokens – Tribute To The Beach Boys 1976.mp3]

Harry Nilsson – ‘You Can’t Do That’
From: Pandemonium Shadow Show (1967)

[audio:Harry Nilsson – You Cant Do That.mp3]

     AMG had this to say about the Sands Of Time:

     “Eric Baragar, Tim Campbell, Michael Goettler and Steve Smith organized the Sands of Time in 1966 in Ontario, Canada. The band recorded only one popular single, 1970’s “I’ve Got a Feeling,” and broke up in the early ’70s, but re-formed with vocalist Don Thompson (from Noah) as Bentwood Rocker.”

     Those who are interested can find futher information on the band here, and an official site detailing their 2001 reunion here. Information on all things Harry Nilsson can be found here.

      Also of interest is Rob Grayson’s assembly of bits of every Beatles song in alphabetical order [via]. As usual, if you know of similar tribute montages, let me know in the comments.

UPDATE: I had originally credited “Tribute To The Beach Boys 1976” to the Sands of Time, but I have since been contacted by members of the band to let me know it wasn’t them. I’ve also heard fro Steve Sawyer, who sang lead on the recording:

my name is Steve Sawyer and I sang the lead as well as wrote the song “tribute to the beachboys 76.” The facts about the group that you have listed is incorrect, it was actually The Tokens of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” fame and myself. I did an album in the earlier 70s called “The Chespeake Jukebox Band” which is about to be reissued by Revola Records.”

MP3 of the week: Counting Songs

     Hot on the heels of Entertainment Weekly’s assertion in 100 pt. type that the lyrical aspect of songwriting is without merit (“DUMBER! Must make the public DUMBER!”), I’ve become obsessed with a specific lyrical technique: pop songs that artfully employ counting as a device within the framwork of some sort of narrative. Ideally this will involve dopey exploitation of the homonyms of ‘one,’ ‘two,’ ‘four,’ and ‘eight’ – not just counting for the sake of counting.


     A good example of what I’m talking about is a ridiculously rare Harry Nilsson song called “Countin’.” As far as I can tell, the only extant recording is from a session in which he demoed a handful of songs for the the members of the Monkees. The verses of the song cover the numbers one through ten in ascending order, a different way each time.

Harry Nilsson – ‘Countin’
From: Monkees Session (196?)


One coke, two straws
Three O’clock I’m gonna walk You home
For you I’ll carry books
Five blocks isn’t very long
Six days a week I do without you
Seven days a week I need you
Eight o’clock, we had a date
9:10 on the street I wasn’t late

Two honks three miles to a movie show
Four hours once a week
Five bucks isn’t much you know but
Six days a week I do without you
Seven days a week I need you
Eight o’clock, we had a date
9:10 on the street I wasn’t late

Countin’ the hours that we’re apart
With every beat of my heart

One kiss too much
Three times we’ve said goodnight
I’d do anything for
Just to spend five minutes more, cause
Six days a week I do without you
Seven days a week I need you
Eight o’clock, we had a date
9:10 on the street I wasn’t late”

     Upon completing the song, Nillson can be heard explaining: “Y’know, Cute.” He later described the session from which this song was taken as follows:

     “So I sang seven, eight or nine songs, and Michael Nesmith said, ‘Man, where the fuck did you come from? You just sat down there and blew our minds like that. We’ve been looking for songs, and you just sat down and played an album for us. Shit! Goddammit!’ He threw something on the floor. And he went and got Micky Dolenz and he said to him, ‘Would you listen to this man? Listen to that!’ Micky gave a surprised laugh, and Davy Jones started laughing over one song, and it was like the three of them were just out of their tree. Only Peter Tork couldn’t give a shit.”

     Another good example of what I’m talking about is the song ‘3 Small Words,’ recorded for 2001’s Josie and the Pussycats movie (The vocalist is Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo). I don’t own the CD so I’m not sure who the songwriting credit goes to, but it could be any combination of Adam Duritz (Counting Crows), Jason Falkner (Jellyfish), Jane Wiedlen (Go Go’s), Anna Waronker (That Dog), and Babyface, as they were all involved with the soundtrack work in some capacity. The chorus descends from six to one as follows:

It took six whole hours
And five long days
For all your lies to come undone
And those three small words
Were way too late
‘Cause you can’t see that I’m the one


     A slightly less clever subset of this sort of trickery can be seen in songs like Elvis Costello’s ‘Every Day I Write the Book.’

“Chapter One we didn’t really get along
Chapter Two I think I fell in love with you
You said you’d stand by me in the middle of Chapter Three
But you were up to your old tricks in Chapters Four, Five and Six”

     …or in Goldfinger’s cringe-worthy wholesale co-opting of ‘Every Day I Write the Book,’ “Counting the Days” (Which borders on counting for the sake of counting):

Still counting the days I’ve been without you 1, 2, 3, 4…
Still counting the days that you’ve been gone.

Day one, was no fun.
Day two, i hated you.
By day three I wish you’d come right back to me.
Day four, five and six, well I guess you just don’t give a shit.
Day seven, this is hell. this is hell.
I gotta get away, and find something to do.
But everything I hear, everything I see, reminds me of you.

So: any other examples?

MP3 of the week: Todd Rundgren – ‘Cool Jerk’

Todd Rundgren – ‘Cool Jerk’
From: A Wizard, A True Star (1973)

     After having Todd Rundgren’s ‘A Wizard, A True Star’ recommended to me twice for wildly differing reasons, I finally bought it this weekend. The second side features a ten-minute medley of covers that concludes with this frenetic rendition of ‘Cool Jerk’ in off-kilter 7/4 time, cut from the same cloth as Devo’s take on the Rolling Stone’s ‘Satisfaction.’ The first 20 seconds or so of the MP3 feature the more stereotypically Rundgren-ian arrangement and production of ‘La La Means I Love You,’ which precedes ‘Cool Jerk’ in the medley.

Mp3 of the Week: 'Diary of a Lovesong'

A Perfect Circle – ‘Diary of a Lovesong’
From: Live MP3 (2000)


     I’d forgotten this combination of Ozzy’s ‘Diary of a Madman’ (verses) and The Cure’s ‘Lovesong’ (chorus) even existed until I found it on an old CD full of mp3’s. As you’ll recall from my 2003 Xmas mix, I’m a sucker for songs that are melded together. This is a live version – I’m pretty sure they never recorded this, but I could be wrong. See if you can pick out the tasteful improvisation that replaces the line ‘Diary of a Madman.’

MP3(s) of the week: Otto Preminger Presents

     Have you ever stumbled upon references to someone or something so frequently that you feel like you’re unable to avoid it / them? I don’t mean in the ‘hype’ sort of way, where you’re bombarded by advertising – I mean the sort of situation where you keep finding tangential references to something when looking for something else. This is my problem with film director Otto Preminger. He haunts me.

     Well, maybe not haunts me, but he seems to come up way more than someone I know absolutely nothing about should. So I decided to find out a bit about Otto Preminger, via the unrelated paths that have led me to him. I’m now well aware that there are other things that Preminger is better known for – he was nominated for an Academy Award for directing ‘Anatomy of a Murder’ in 1959, and famously turned down the opportunity to direct ‘The Godfather’ – but I’m more interested in following these unrelated tangents.

The Zombies

     My first exposure to Otto Preminger came with the Zombies box set: Zombie Heaven. The Zombies appeared in the 1967 Preminger film ‘Bunny Lake is Missing,’ and reworked the lyrics to one of their songs (‘Just Out of Reach’) for use as throw-away advertising. The song-by-song liner notes for the boxset are relatively brief when addressing this collaboration, noting that Preminger was present in the Studio for the session, and offering the following bit of useless trivia:

     “I remember doing that with Otto Preminger, and him saying “You can’t say ‘Clock,’ you have to say ‘clarrk,’ because Americans won’t understand it.” – Chris White

     I’ve posted the lyrics to ‘Come on Time’ below. If it seems a bit overly-obsessed with the ettiquette of theatre arrival, it’s because this was used as a marketing gimmick for the film – moviegoers were not to be admitted after a certain time. I’ve also posted an MP3 combining ‘Just Out of Reach’ and ‘Come on Time’ into one file, so you can listen along.

The Zombies – ‘Just Out of Reach / Come on Time’
From: Zombie Heaven (1997)


Come on time!Come on time for the show
The clock’ll tell you when to go
While the show’s on can you get in? (No!)

Come on time!

Otto Preminger Presents!
‘Bunny Lake is Missing’ – what suspense
Lawrence Olivier is immense!

Come on time!

Oh Yeah, The Zombies are there
(Thats us!) That’s Me / That’s Him / That’s He
We wanna go on record as sayin’
“How Great can a movie be?”

Carol Lynley is keen as a knife
Keir Dullea’ll give you the time of your life
Come with your girlfriend, or come with your wife but

Come on time!

(typically insane Rod Argent organ solo)

Oh Yeah, The Zombies are there
(Oh Yeah!) That’s us / That’s right / That’s paul
We wanna go on record as sayin’

“You’re sure to have a ball.”

Come on time for the show
The clock’ll tell you when to go
While the show’s on can you get in? (No!)

Come on time!

Please come on time.


     If you listen closely between the two songs on the mp3, you can hear singer Colin Blunstone being quizzed on his pronunciation of ‘Clock’ before beginning the final vocal take:

Unknown: Let’s hear it!

Blunstone: Clarrk!

     For some reason, the sasstastic delivery of the line “Otto Preminger… Presents!” in ‘Come on Time ‘ has stuck with me since I first heard it, so when I started seeing Preminger mentioned elsewhere it was the first thing I thought of.


     There’s a webpage dedicated to ‘Bunny Lake is Missing’ (“The best movie you’ll never see.”) here. It offers a nice summary of the plot:

     “Based on a novel by Marryam Modell (using the pen-name Evelyn Piper), Bunny Lake Is Missing is a rarely seen 1965 thriller directed by the acclaimed Otto Preminger. He was acknowledged as the first “indie” director and worked with sometimes controversial topics. His “Man With The Golden Arm” of 1956 starring Frank Sinatra was the first movie to be given an “X” certificate in the UK due to it’s subject matter of drug use by the main character. Bunny Lake is set in London where an American single mother (played by Carol Lynley) has arrived in town with her daughter. The basic premise of the film (without giving anything away) is that we never see her child (named Bunny Lake), even when she is supposedly dropped off at a nursery school, and when she goes missing we are left in some doubt as to whether she existed to start with. On a desperate search for the child, Lynley’s character comes across some truly weird characters on her travels around a bleak London. Shot entirely in black and white (and apparently less than 100 shots), the movie has a surreal feel to it at times with Preminger’s Hitchcock-like approach adding to the tension. A well-chosen cast including Laurence Olivier, Noel Coward and Keir Dullea strengthen what would otherwise still be a great movie. Olivier’s Police inspector suspects that the mother might not letting him know everything and so the movie builds towards a clever climax. “

     The chronology included with the boxset reveals that the Zombies shot for two full days on a soundstage with Preminger. The final cut of the film inludes them for just a few seconds – seen on a television screen in the background, behind actors delivering dialogue. A short description of the scene in question can be found here:

     “A British band by the name of The Zombies contributed a few tracks to the movie, one of which features in a way that is hard to describe but I’ll try anyway. Laurence Olivier’s character is standing in a pub talking when for no specific plot reason the camera pans up to a television above the bar where we then watch the band perform a track before the camera pans back to Olivier again. Whether or not this was an early attempt at cross-promotion I don’t know but The Zombies were actually given a “starring” credit on most of the posters for the movie. “

     ‘Bunny Lake is Missing has never been available on VHS or DVD. If Mr. internet is to be believed it last aired on television sometime in 2000. You can sign up here to be notified by Amazon if it’s ever offered. Also of note is the fact that Resse Witherspoon is actively developing a remake of this movie in which she plans to star. I can’t WAIT to see who takes the place of the Zombies.

Harry Nilsson

     For the past year or so I’ve been on a big Harry Nilsson kick. Nilsson is the guy behind ‘The Point,’ the ‘Popeye’ soundtrack, and several other ridiculously great pop songs. It was recently pointed out to me by one Mr. Zachary ‘Jack’ Curd that Nilsson had done a soundtrack in which he sang the credits. Needless to say I had to hear this.

     I soon determined that the song came from an Ill-fated 1965 film called ‘Skidoo,’ directed by… Otto Preminger. Looking back at the lyrics to the Zombies song, it seems that Preminger made a habit of getting his films’ credits set to music (If you know of any other examples, please let me know). The really great thing about the Nilsson-penned ‘Cast & Crew’ is that it appears as the OPENING credits and encompasses ALL credits, including such benign information as the film stock, the legal disclaimers, and so on.

     Some choice bits of the lyrics:

“Music and Lyrics by nilsson who also played a tower guard…” [Crediting the song to himself within the song! I guess that’s not all that uncommon, actually. Nevermind.]

“Photgraphed in panovision and technicolor…”

“Copyright MCMLXVIII by Sigma productions incorporated, the reciept’s on file…”

“The story, the charcters, and the incidents are fictitious, ho hum, etc. etc…”

     If you know of any other instances of the credits to a film being sung, I need to know about it.

     In an appropriately bizarre move, Nilsson performed the song live during one of his rare television appearances, on “Playboy After Dark” in 1968. Nilsson had this to say about the song:

     “It just happens that in writing that particular thing it was really a lot of work so it stayed with me longer because it was four minutes of peoples’ names and their jobs. So it was trying to write a melody to encompass the names and the jobs to make it come out rhythmically and in rhyme. You know, it was a very difficult thing so you spend a lot of time with it. And I became very familar with the cast and crew of the movie.”

     Harry also performed “Good Old Desk” on the show and told Hugh Hefner that the meaning of the song was in its initials – “GOD.” Nilsson later said:

     “I bullshitted him. I thought it was funny.”

     You can download an MP3 of Nilsson’s ‘The Cast and Crew’ below:

Harry Nilsson – ‘The Cast and Crew’
From: Skidoo / The Point! (2000)


     Skidoo was Groucho Marx’s last film (He plays God). It looks as though it’s become a bit of a cult classic in the ‘It’s so bad you have to see it’ sort of way. Skimming the IMDB listing yields this choice user review:

     “I went to see this after hearing a lot of hype about how it was one of the most unimaginable oddities in all movie-dom…and anticipation like that can often ruin a movie for you. I had, after all, read all the comments here on IMDB and already knew that Groucho Marx was going to play God, Carol Channing was going to take her clothes off, and Harry Nilsson was going to sing the entire credits. You’d think that the shock of the viewing experience might be compromised by that kind of foreknowledge.”

     “But no. Hearing that this movie exists is one thing, but the true surreality of its existence can only really be appreciated once you’ve actually SEEN all these actors actually performing this script, putting in various degrees of professional effort to bring to life the tale of ‘Skidoo.’ The credit song is doubly stunning in that it calls our attention to the names of all the many REAL LIVE PEOPLE who for some reason collaborated to produce this film. To be told that there is a movie in which Austin Pendleton talks Jackie Gleason through an acid trip is merely amusing; but to actually witness Gleason’s bulging eyes as he reacts to a hallucination of Groucho’s head sprouting from a giant screw – for this there is no substitute.”

     “Read all the other comments, read anything you can find on this monstrosity, and you’ll still be only half-prepared for what you’re going to see. The only two other films I can think of that so exceeded even their own outrageous hype were Blood Freak and Godmonster of Indian Flats. But, hey, those were low-budget obscurities. Skidoo was a HUGE production – and, unfortunately, I can’t imagine this is EVER going to be released on DVD, VHS, CD, cassette, or eight-track, because I can’t imagine the Preminger estate wanting any trace of Skidoo to surface ever again.”

     “Carol Channing in bra and tights. Groucho Marx on a wood screw. Dancing garbage cans. Sure, sure, sure. You’ve heard the stories. But there’s sooooo much more….”


     This smoking Gun document, which details the FBI’s efforts to have a reference to the bureau removed from ‘Skiddo,’ describes Preminger as follows:

     “Preminger was involved in numerous communist front activities, particularly during the 1940’s. He has been described by informants as having communist sympathies. In 1960, considerable publicity was afforded the fact that he had hired Dalton Trumbo, a screenwriter whose name had appeared on the so-called Hollywood “Black list.”

     The rest of the document details Preminger’s refusal to remove the reference:

     “Mr. Preminger adamantly said that he would not delete the FBI reference from the sequence and would not substitute other material in lieu of the FBI reference. He said he felt that the FBI should see the humor in the sequence and should not view it as a damaging or ridiculing portrayal.”

     “Mr. Preminger said he is aware of the provisions of public law 670, that he has had the law researched, and that he is of the firm belief the public law is not applicable to the present situation. Mr. Preminger suggested he feels so certain that public law 670 does not apply to his portrayal of the FBI in the motion picture “Skidoo” that he would welcome a test of the law in this case if the Department of Justice was so inclined.”

     It turns out Preminger was pretty outspoken on fighting censorship (Among other things – on Marilyn Monroe, whom he directed: “A vacuum with nipples.”). Speaking at the Toronto film theatre in 1970, Preminger had this to say on the topic:

     “I originally was born in Vienna, and lived there a long time. In the United States, one of the most precious rights we have is the right of free expression. I have had trouble with censorship, with the small movie, THE MOON IS BLUE, because in 1953 people objected to the word “virgin,” which is hard to believe. I could have easily made a few cuts and compromised, but I feel that in our own fields, as motion picture directors, newspapermen, writers, whatever we are, we have not only the right, but the duty to defend this right of free expression; because if this right deteriorates, that is the first step to dictatorship, to totalitarian government, and no totalitarian government, whether on the Right or on the Left, could ever exist with its citizens having the right to speak freely. I think it is very important for us to fight for this right and that is why I have always fought censorship and won. There is no censorship in the United States. I hope it will stay like this. That is my answer to questions about censorship. My views have never changed.”

     It looks like you can buy a copy of Skiddo on DVD here ($20), along with all sorts of other rare video, such as a 5 1/2 hour workprint of ‘Apocalypse Now’; The Dirk Diggler Story – a precursor to Boogie Nights filmed by P.T. Anderson at age 17; and… er… Bunny Lake is Missing. So ignore what I said about it not being available anywhere. I don’t feel like going back and revising that paragraph.

Saul Bass

     Growing up with an unhealthy interest in neo-surf vinyl, I became well acquainted with the (really, really great) design work of Art Chantry. Chantry was the designer of choice for bands on Estrus records, an early ally of Sci-fi surf monoliths Man… or Astroman?, and he recently released a retrospective of his work titled ‘Some People Can’t Surf.’

     You can browse a gallery of his poster design here, and read a great rotodesign interview with him here.

     As I learned a bit more about design I also became obsessed with the work of Saul Bass, a graphic designer who was an obvious influence on Chantry.

     The font that this version of sports is an amalgamation of Bass typography called ‘Hitchcock’ – available in both mac and PC incarnations at The site is also home to quicktime movies of some of Bass’s best known title sequences and a gallery of his print work. Bass has done posters that probably know without knowing that they’re his work – West Side Story, Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo,’ and ‘The Man with the Golden Arm’ (Recently Co-opted by the White Stripes for their ‘Hardest Button to Button’ single) are all good examples. The Man With the Golden Arm is an Otto Preminger film – it turns out Bass worked on several Preminger productions.


     At any rate, one morning about a year ago, I was flipping through a stack of LP’s at a library sale and I found a soundtrack bearing the distinct Saul Bass visual signature. It was for a film called the Cardinal, and I ended up buying the LP just for the cover. A few months later, I ended up ‘borrowing’ the ‘THE’ for a T-shirt design. After scanning the cover and opening the results up in photoshop, I found myself cropping out the name of… Otto Preminger.

     There’s a gallery of the posters for Preminger’s films here. It’s interesting to look at how the typographical idea was maintained across languages:


     So: The Zombies, Saul Bass, Harry Nilsson, free speech – I suppose Otto Preminger is the human embodiment of a convergence of my tastes. I always sucked at writing conclusions.