Posts Tagged ‘video’

Dear die-hard dilettantes,

Some of you know that I’m a teaching fellow this semester for a popular course at Harvard called, “Gender and Performance,” taught by the extraordinary Professor Robin Bernstein. This week’s all about Bertolt Brecht, an artist I’ve had a love-hate relationship with ever since my freshman year encounter with Mother Courage.

Lotte LenyaI’m a bigger fan of The Threepenny Opera, the operetta Brecht wrote with Kurt Weill in the late 1920s. You can get a taste with this clip from this 1966 TV broadcast of Lotte Lenya recreating her role as Pirate Jenny from the 1954 off-Broadway production, with a translation by one of my all-time favorite queer, Jewish socialists, Marc Blitzstein (you can hear songs from his Brecht-inspired Cradle Will Rock on the Internet Archive). Feel the alienation!

The Lenya clip comes from the spectacular website BlueGobo.com, which recovers videos of musicals from the 1930s to the present, as were broadcast to national audiences on the Tony Awards and other TV specials. Where else would you find a clip of the great Zero Mostel performing “If I Were a Rich Man” from Bock and Harnick’s Fiddler on the Roof? Or any clip at all from their lesser-known Fiorello! about the rise of, yes, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

DeLariaTwo more favorites: Chita Rivera singing “All That Jazz” on Sammy Davis Jr.’s variety show (you’ve never seen jazz hands like these, people!). And lesbian comic Lea DeLaria performing “I Can Cook Too” from the underappreciated Bernstein, Comden, and Green musical On the Town.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, for now.

Musically yours,


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Dear snooze-button specialists,

Eating may be one of the more delightful ways to delay work. People who don’t spend their lives in libraries and classrooms for a living might, in fact, be surprised at how many lunches, teatimes, coffee breaks, iced coffee breaks, brownie breaks, suppers, dinners, desserts, and happy hours you can fit into a single day—not to mention those golden moments when you discover free leftovers from a talk or workshop you didn’t attend.

SupergoopOf course, eating well requires work all its own. Thankfully, the A.V. Geeks have posted countless classic (and by classic, I mean truly awful) educational films on their website, including several specifically related to food. Like the Prelinger Archive, the A.V. Geeks specialize in ephemeral films, though their collection weighs a little more heavily towards the 1960s and 1970s (Duke has them to thank for digitizing their Ad Views archive). Many of their films are also available for purchase on DVD, which may explain why the site is so poorly indexed.

Nonetheless, for the devoted delinquent like myself, a quick scan for films of the 1970s reveals such gems as “Soopergoop,” where an animated cat reveals the manipulative techniques of advertising execs looking to sell a new cereal. Or there’s “Munchers: A Fable,” a claymation pic about tooth decay with a psychedelic soundtrack and a black devil named “Jack Sweet.”

BarbecueSpeaking of psychedelic, don’t miss the kids getting down in “Story of a Peanut Butter Sandwich.” And last but not least, there’s a public service announcement about “National Barbecue Month,” where a bunch of teens in cowboy hats learn the joys of a well-cooked steak.

Onto the day! Isn’t it lunchtime yet?

Hungrily yours,


P.S. I couldn’t resist highlighting one more video: Believe it or not, my health teacher in eighth grade actually showed us this frightening 1979 film about male puberty, “Am I Normal?“—poorly timed erections and carefully coiffed hair included.

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Dear compatriots in soporific studies,

One drawback to working from home is that the couch always looks far more attractive than the computer screen. I find myself contemplating this dilemma today on the arrival of our long-awaited sofa, named by its manufacturers “Rachel,” not to mention our new platform bed, named “Elan.” That’s right, Rachel and Elan–what a lovely Jewish couple!

So in honor of the marriage of Rachel and Elan, I thought I’d point you today to a trio of films on home improvement, from the always astonishing Prelinger Archive–an online collection of ephemeral films.

In the first, from 1940, “Let Yourself Go,” we get a tour of a mattress store–a kind of proto-Sleepy’s–where everyday people try to find the secret to a good night’s rest. One man, for instance, has “been fighting his pillow for years,” the narrator says. “So far he’s lost every round.”

Let Yourself Go

In the second, from 1958, “Something New From Something Old,” a young couple named “Jack and Jill” turn their sad NYC tenement apartment into a luxurious haven, all to the tune of “Almost Like Falling in Love.”

Somethign New

But lest you remain unconvinced the importance of domestic improvement, watch this harrowing film from 1954, “The House in the Middle,” which shows how houses in various states of repair and disrepair would hold up under atomic attack. Because when the bomb drops, you’ll want your paint job to remain unblemished.

House in the Middle

Happy homemaking to all!

Yours in domestic bliss,


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Dear readers,

Who, or what, is the Lazy Scholar, you ask? I’ve been mulling for a few months now the idea of starting blog devoted to the ideal of scholarly sloth–doing as much research as humanly possible without actually leaving your computer. In all seriousness, I think that web archives are an incredible resource for  scholars and teachers–particularly as it grows increasingly difficult to pry computers out of the hands of most  undergraduates (and many graduate students, too). So, on with the entry:

Some of you may already have come across Duke Libraries’ impressive digital collection, though I hadn’t until a few weeks ago. Among the newest gems rests their “AdViews” collection, an iTunes-powered menagerie of TV commercials from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Among my favorites, these creepy Corn Flakes ads (link will launch in iTunes) and these minstrel-y Honeycomb ads (“Come to the Honeycomb Hideout!”). You should also check out their highlights.

Sugar Coated Corn Flaked

For those studying the years before the baby boom, there’s also their fabulous Emergence of Advertising in America, with illustrated ads from 1850 to 1920. The broadsides section not only includes ads for hardware (NAILS!) and railroad shows (GIRAFFES!), but also some placed by detective agencies (WANTED FOR RAPE!


This is only a small glimpse of their resources on advertising–and an even smaller glimpse of Duke’s overall digital resources. If anyone else skims the collection (or has used it before), it would be great to highlight some of their other collections. But for now, I’m back to work. And by work, I mean surfing the internet for other distractions.

Lazily yours,


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