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Masterpiece Youtube: “Queen of the Ice,” Julie Brown

First of all, thank you to everyone who viewed, read, and commented on yesterday’s blog. It was my most viewed blog to date, with 113 visitors and 210 views, personal records for me, including my first visitors from Nebraska (howdy!), Hawaii (aloha!), and Croatia (dobrodosli!)  Hope you continue to hang out and enjoy. And as always, if you have any ideas of current events you’d like my opinion on, stories you’d like to hear, or a new feature, just let me know!

In honor of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia (which apparently start in a few hours, at least in Russian time), I’d like to call your attention to something a friend of mine (well, okay, I don’t actually know her, but we’re friends on Facebook and responded to a comment I wrote her once) posted on Facebook. On your mark, get set…

That’s So Jacob Presents: Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 11: “Queen of the Ice,” Julie Brown, 1994.

Said friend was indeed the Great and Wonderful Julie Brown, who reminded us all of this glorious moment in her career, or at least the glitziest. One of the most underrated comediennes of all time, Julie Brown was unleashed upon the world as a VJ on MTV, hosting her show Just Say Julie, and leading the cast of an unfortunately-cancelled sketch comedy show called The Edge which featured her alongside the likes of Tom Kenny, Jill Talley, and oh yeah, some other chick named Jennifer Aniston. She’s been pretty dormant over the past decade or so, but has come back with a bang. Most of her earlier work is still hanging out on YouTube, and it’s still funny even though the 1990s are not even a twinkle of an eye to today’s teenagers. I had originally planned on doing one huge salute/tribute dedicated to Miss Brown, but since she started it, I’m just going to roll with it.

This song comes from a parody film called National Lampoon’s Attack of the 5 Ft 2 In Women which satirizes the stories of everyone’s favorite penis-chopper Lorena Bobbitt and everyone’s favorite Olympic ice skater rivals, Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. If you don’t know either of those stories, stop reading, click over to Wikipedia, and come back when you’re done. I’ll wait.

Okay, so now that we’ve established the situations, on to the video. We open on Tonya Hardly (played by Brown herself) gliding around her attic in a snazzy black and white sweater and early-90s white floofy scrunchie…oh wait, that’s actually supposed to be her hair. Flash over to the Nancy Kerrigan character being pursued by Tonya in a fit of rage and a dress that could turn Medusa into stone (bonus points to those of you who get that reference!). Her anger-fueled, acid-trip tune turns deadly when she pulls out her “little hammer,” something that I initially thought was just an unusual rhyme, only to realize about fifty re-watches later that it’s a cultural reference to the Olympics in Lillehammer. I’m not quite sure what the significance of the parrot lady is, but Julie Brown’s finest moment in the video is when she bites her lip and takes aim with her gun. Pure, unadulterated, early 90s vengeance. The music turns sweet again as she scrolls through a list of her “idols,” other infamous ladies from the early 1990s. Then, here comes a wrestler with a wheelbarrow of money, for no apparent reason, and then Brown skates around some more, dances a bit on the podium under the American flag, and ends with a triumphant slap to Nancy’s face.

What did I learn from this video? Skating and shooting are two activities that go well together. Skating in the fog is fun and mystical. The girl who plays Nancy has a weird-shaped face. But the most important lesson of all is that Julie Brown is so talented that she can make the world fall in love with Trailer Park Tonya all over again (like they say in those commercials on PBS about the technicolor Shirley Temple Collection).

But seriously, folks…skate at your own risk.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube has been brought to you by Winter. Winter: When you go outside and the snot freezes inside your nostrils, that means it’s working.

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Masterpiece Youtube: “Winter Song,” Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson

That’s So Jacob presents: Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 6: “Winter Song,” Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, 2008

I never thought I could ever feel this cold in my life. Never in two years of living in Massachusetts did it ever drop this low on the thermometer. It’s in the single digits here in Wisconsin, but it feels like negative double.

This music video is a quaint animation piece I’d expect more from someone like Zooey Deschanel. But it’s from Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson. Bareilles is known for her one mega-hit (or meta-hit), “Love Song,” which come about presumably after a producer told her to write a love song and she turned the tables with a “fuck you I’m going platinum.” At the time, Michaelson’s career hadn’t really taken off yet, but she’s picked up plenty of steam in the past five years.

The lyrics of the song are rather simple, and the story it tells is of two young girls in a snowy environment. An old-timey cuckoo bird brings us to a cute little cabin with two girls with hearts on their cheeks. They are presumably sisters, although one’s a brunetter and one’s a redhead. Their cabin is adorable, but oh so very isolated. They go and pick up small objects from the ground, and then WHOA THEY’RE FLYIN’ ON A LEAF. And then it dumps them conveniently next to their cabin, using their dresses as parachutes, as I’m sure no dress in the world does. Their home is full of old, dead plants. They go to bed, and the next morning they drag a huge sled out to play with and go on an epic sledding adventure. Far from home,the girls keep walking on their search for something. It gets dark. All seems hopeless until a ray of sunlight peeks through and a flower blooms. The scenery changes, the snow melts, and things bloom. They run, and even though they just took a several second long sleigh ride quite a distance away, somehow they’re merely feet from home. They get home, and seeing their former snow fortress transform into a lovely little blue bungalow. Brunette jumps in the air, and despite the fact that the weather has now greatly improved, they run inside their house, but not a moment too soon as a tree bursts through from beneath their foundation, and now they live in a treehouse. I hope they zoned for that.

In short, this video is a flashback to simpler days when gathering fallen hearts, having awesome leaf and sleigh rides and attempting to grow plants was all there was to do in the world. The isolation is countered by the sweetness and homeyness of the cozy cabin in the woods, a place I’d love to escape to, snow or not. For some reason, I can’t deal with the cold but I spent all day gazing at a snowfall instead of doing work, which was probably not a great idea, but it just felt peaceful to me. To me, falling snow doesn’t mean shoveling, falling, and driving in it – it means hot chocolate, fuzzy pajamas, and bracing walks to town in awe of the beautiful, even blankets of snow covering the earth. Everyone in Houston said I was crazy for choosing Wisconsin and its snow over Texas, but all in all the cold eventually goes away and spring will come, more beautiful than ever. Until then, you can be warm and enjoy the snow anyway. Plus I’ve got plenty to entertain myself with in my own apartment.

The story of the song’s inception is an even better story – apparently it was crowd-sourced by Twitter. I don’t have a Twitter account but I’d make one if I could get Sara Bareilles to write me a love song out of it.

Oh, right, she won’t.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube has been brought to you by procrastination. Procrastination: Make Big Things Go Farther Away and Become Scarier, and Small Things Become Bigger, More Immediate, and More Comforting.

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Masterpiece YouTube: “Im Telech,” The Idan Raichel Project

That’s So Jacob Presents: Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 4: “Im Telech,” The Idan Raichel Project, 2002.

This video and song have been around for a long time, but it was one of the first music videos I remember watching and having appreciation for. Not only is the song awesome, but the story of the video works as well.  The Idan Raichel Project is a magical supergroup of Israeli-Ethiopian cultural fusion music that makes use of instruments both traditional and non-traditional, and the results range from sweet and gentle to stark and haunting. In 2006, I got to see them perform live at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, which was kind of cool. I went with my entire Hebrew class, including the professor, so it was a little awkward, but I enjoyed it and I rarely enjoy concerts of this nature. This group just stands out – regardless of the fact that they’re Israeli (which is awesome), they know how to perform and do it well.

We open on a cave painting of a line of people, with one person clearly missing. A woman who is next to that empty space goes searching for a person to fill it. She crosses through wide mesas, herds of cattle, and open desert, constantly searching. Upon encountering some musicians (also cave paintings), she remembers a man, and keeps walking. The sun is beating down on her, and as the shadowy eagles close in above her, the screen fades to black. She appears to us as if falling down a hole, then on her feet battling a stiff wind against some fluttering leaves, Just when she kneels down out of pain, suffering, and disappointment, the man she’s been imagining materializes before her to lift her up. They embrace, and their bodies become one single white butterfly, flying off into the blackness. The scene then goes back to the original cave painting tableau, where the woman is without him. A single tear floats down her face, remembering the happy time she once had, before zooming out to show us the full painting, with the human chain still broken.

This video contains many messages, and I don’t know if the ending is supposed to be sad, because she is still alone, or happy, because she at least had one moment, one opportunity of love, a memory that she can carry with her forever. It’s drawn compellingly and simply, and shows a journey that is both wonderful and heartbreaking. To me, it means that if you love someone, you shouldn’t let them go, and that there is someone out there for everyone. I can’t tell if she has a smile or a frown in the last frame, but in the end, her hand is empty, forever waiting for him to come and fill that gap.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube has been brought to you by loneliness, procrastination, and dirty gym clothes.

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Masterpiece Youtube: “Stuck,” Stacie Orrico

That’s So Jacob Presents: Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 2: “Stuck,” Stacie Orrico, 2003.

This surprisingly complex bubblegum pop song has quite a compelling video. It was made in 2003 by a relatively unknown Stacie Orrico (who is still relatively unknown). She released three albums in total in the 2000s. As she preferred a Christian gospel style rather than a pop style, her moment in the spotlight in the pop music scene was short. These days, according to Wikipedia, she is “living in New York and taking acting classes.”

The video starts with her in bed, pushing the button on the alarm clock. From the first note, we know we’re in for a ride. She’s got a Minnie Mouse on her night stand, so she clearly means business. She writes “STUCK” in the mirror with her lipstick, and takes the bus to school, where she apparently walks around a track in a circle with a large group of some oddly dressed students and the occasional teacher. The girls all have heavy Gothic makeup and many guys and girls are in argyle. For some reason, I like to think that this is what school is like in Canada. She also sings in a cute outfit on a bench in a baseball field while wearing white sneakers that miraculously manage to stay squeaky-clean even though you know there’s got to be mud around there somewhere. Then, more students, including a guy with a neck brace, a guy in a penguin hoodie, a guy in green between two Goth-looking blonds (popular girls, maybe?) in tartans. Then, back on the bus, he draws a heart on the window and she puts a notebook in front of it. Sweet. The guys (including the main guy) are playing basketball and looking pretty dorky. The Goth girl in pink leans ladylike yet bitchy against her locker while Stacie and the guys pass by. Then, she closes her eyes and we’re at a school dance. She looks in, the guy she likes is dancing with another girl – MISTAKE ALERT: In one shot she is wearing pearls, in the next, she isn’t – so she ducks back out, and for some reason there is lightning in the room. She has lots of blue eye shadow and laments in front of an awesomely-painted wall. After some more being angsty on a bus, she watches herself get rejected on a dating show. That’s gotta suck. But enough of that, the buses get to school and she comes face-to-face with her man, who she gives the cold-shoulder to before walking away angstily – MISTAKE ALERT #2: Stacie’s scarf goes from done to undone in every other shot – while said man gets taunting facial expressions by his argyle-clad friends. The end.

Moral of the story: Don’t reject an adorable brunette with a boyish taste in clothing for a Goth cheerleader chick, because she will then embarrass you in front of your friends.

I like this song because it’s relatively easy to sing, upbeat, jazzy and sassy. It’s also a song that’s okay for both boys and girls to sing since it doesn’t reference gender. I like singing this song at karaoke because it’s one of those songs that either a) impresses the pants off my friends, or b) they go, “oh yeah, I remember that song…why didn’t I think of picking that one?” I like the video because Stacie’s gorgeous, there are so many fun colors and articles of clothing, and all of the other kids at the high school look so quirky and out-of-place yet Stacie, the normal-looking girl, is on the outs. Overall, it’s a great music video that takes you through the story via song.

This has been Masterpiece YouTube, Episode 2: “Stuck,” Stacie Orrico.