Podcast: Sarah Lamm, director of "Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox"


Sarah Lamm is the director of the documentary "Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox," which examines the Bronner family and their counter-culturally iconic soap. She talks about the original Dr. Bronner, who created his famous soap in a tenement apartment after being briefly committed to a mental institution. The soap's text-dense label includes wisdom from Ghandi, Jesus and Olympic champion Mark Spitz. Sarah also discusses the second and third generations of the family, who've built the soap into an international force and more recently into a leader in the field of sustainable business practices.

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Interview: Robert Jackson, The Art of the American Snapshot 1888 - 1978.


The Art of the American Snapshot 1888 – 1978” is currently running in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, until 31st December 2007. The exhibition features photos from the collection of Robert E. Jackson from Seattle, one of the country’s premier snapshot collectors. I spoke to Robert about the exhibition and all things ‘snapshotty’ – here’s what he had to say.

EMcD: How would you define a snapshot?

RJ: The snapshot can be defined as a democratic photographic phenomena arising out of the technological advances in the mechanics of camera processing. This produced a product which allowed the amateur to take photos with some of the same degree of ease and sophistication as found in professional photography at a cost which was affordable. The act of taking a snapshot is personal response to a moment involving telling a story using the camera as a surrogate for memory.

EMcD: How did you go about accumulating these photographs over the years?

RJ: My interest in snapshots grew out of an earlier interest in paper ephemera. I liked the content of the snapshots--the tricks, the odd poses and costumes, the small jewel-like nature of the medium. And probably most importantly snapshots were inexpensive relative to other types of photographic mediums, and they were plentiful which meant I could build a collection with some ease. One can collect fingers obscuring the lens, photo emulsion mistakes, gay interest photographs, badly tinted photos, photos where faces have been scratched out, photos of pit bulls, photographer shadows, the notations on the backs of photos. Also this most democratic of photographic mediums could have only been built using the internet and most specifically Ebay which allowed me to network with dealers and be exposed to items from around the United States and often the world on a daily basis.

EMcD: You've assembled a huge array of photos spanning a 90 year period in American history. What themes does the exhibition explore?

RJ:The exhibition explores the creativity of the snapshooter and how cultural influences impacted the ways in which the photographer interacted with the times as well as with friends and family. The personal, intimate nature of the snapshot and the often voyeuristic impulses of the snapshooter are highlighted through the portrayal of sleeping photos throughout the time period. The issue of remembrance, narrative, and rituals within the snapshot genre are shown via the presentation, through the decades, of birthday cakes.

EMcD: What impact did the introduction of easily accessible photography have on life in America during the period examined?

RJ: It provided the general population an affordable means to create a narrative of their life. Their ability to record the world around them and to interact, via taking a picture, in the historical and familial events by which they were surrounded allowed for the preservation of a slice of American life which we now can experience and attempt to understand from a sociological and aesthetic vantage point.

EMcD: Since 1978 technology has improved dramatically and the way we now view images has totally changed. Does the fact that we now view many of our photos via computers and not captured as actual physical prints ruin the concept of the snapshot?

RJ: Technology has not necessarily improved in relation to the creation of the snapshot, but rather has changed, and via such change has impacted our way of thinking about the taking and making of a snapshot. Once the price decreases and the ease of taking and editing a snapshot increases, photos which don’t fit within the accepted canon of what a “good” snapshot should be are often eliminated (in that sense one could say something has been “ruined”). Thus the manner in which we interact with our snapshots, our memory, has changed. Snapshots are not viewed anymore as private documents, but rather are viewed as something to exhibit in the public sphere via websites such as Flickr.

As part of the exhibition, the documentary “Other People’s Pictures” will screen on November the 21st and 23rd at 1.00pm in the Gallery. The 53 minute piece tracks nine collectors as they hunt for images of people they do not know. Co-producer of the documentary Lorca Shepperd was a previous guest on TSOYA.
Listen to the interview with Lorca Shepperd

Jim Henson "Time Piece"


A remarkable short from Jim Henson. Contains some elements that are kind nsfw, but not super nsfw.

via ze frank

Bill Weber's top ten comedy duos...


Our old pal Bill Weber is a film writer for the online magazine Stylus, and he just compiled a very interesting guide to the top ten comedy duos of all time. You can find the full list, with thoughtful and insightful commentary, here, but I've reproduced the ranking below. I'm happy somebody else is prepared to defend Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan. I loved that movie.

Laurel & Hardy in Sons of the Desert (1933)
Loy & Powell in The Thin Man (1934)
Olsen & Johnson in Hellzapoppin’ (1941)
Hope & Crosby in Road to Utopia (1946)
Abbott & Costello in Meet Frankenstein (1948)
Martin & Lewis in Living It Up (1954)
Cook & Moore in Bedazzled (1967)
Allen & Keaton in Sleeper (1973)
Arkin & Falk in The In-Laws (1979)
Chan & Wilson in Shanghai Noon (2000)

Bill seems to be making an argument for the comic duos of bygone days... what are some of your favorites? I might nominate Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, off the top of my head.

Podcast: TSOYA Classic: Good Friends and Great Times.

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We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Classics.

On this week's show Good Friends and Great Times we're joined by guests comedian Doug Benson and author James Frey.

Doug Benson, a stand-up comedian, was part of the writing team who created and performed in the off-Broadway comedy show The Marijuana-Logues. Doug is a real movie lover, so coming up on the show Doug brings us a summer movie preview including his opinion on “Star Wars” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”. There’s also a discussion on taxidermy squirrels!

We also talk to James Frey, award winning author of "My Friend Leonard", a memoir based on his friendship with a mobster Leonard, whom he met in a rehab clinic.

Please share your thoughts on the show in the comments section!

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Mr. Littlejeans


Orson Welles turns the tables on Dick Cavett

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This, I believe, is what is known in the business as "a hoot and a half."

Also: Orson on Winston Churchill, on a cockatoo and on La Grande Illusion.

Mel Brooks' "The Critic"


Mel Brooks won an Oscar for this short, his first film, in the early 1960s. HILARIOUS.

Via Metafilter

Have Netflix? Watch A Thousand Clowns


My favorite movie (well, one of my three favorite movies), "A Thousand Clowns," has been out of print since the early 90s. It never came out on DVD.

HOWEVER, astute Max Funster Carol noticed that for some reason, it IS available on Netflix "Instant Viewing."

So, if you have Netflix and a PC, you can watch the movie by clicking here, then clicking on "Play." I urge you to do so.

Woody Allen Shot A Moose


Here's a TV clip of Woody Allen's legendary moose routine. A perfect example of Allen's standup -- carefully crafted, strong authorial vision, clearly the work of a guy who wrote 1000 gags a week for a living. It's amazing to me how completely dated this is, yet how fresh and funny it remains. It's dated 1965.

(Via JumboDump)

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