Kid tested, mustache approved! The UHF art and movie screening Kickstarter!

UHF FINAL KS CROP

Should I keep my different projects separate?  Should I keep the Franks and Beans blog un-despoiled by non F&B items?  Here’s an idea, faithful reader: why don’t you watch your stinkin’ mouth?

Ugh, that was harsh.  I’m sorry, guys.  This is an especially egregious error as I am trying to raise a little bit of money to show “Weird Al” Yankovic’s 1989 cult classic film “UHF” at a local theater on May 31st of the year.  What was I thinking?  Please, forgive me.

Here’s the details: I recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help offset the licensing and rental fees associated with the screening.  The film will screen at Latrobe 30 Theatre & Cafe, and it will take place the same day as Al’s Greensburg, PA “Mandatory Fun” tour date.  The theater is fewer than 10 miles from the concert venue, so I’m hoping that fans and those attending the concert will want to see the movie earlier in the day.

Weird Al UHF Kickstarter rewards

I’ve got a whole lot of rewards to offer up to anyone who pledges, from 11×17 prints, to pins, to shirts, to a gigantic, movie poster-sized print that is the official image of the campaign and screening:

Weird Al UHF Kickstarter movie poster

You can even get tickets to the show if you live in the area (or feel like a road trip), though you don’t have to attend the movie to get the other items!

I just announced that anyone who pledges at the $10 level or higher will get a Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies inspired sticker at no extra charge!

Weird Al UHF Kickstarter sticker

So if you enjoy Franks and Beans, you’re a fan of Weird Al, or if you’re just a nice person who would feel bad if this dang thing doesn’t succeed, I hope you’ll click the following link to read more about this UHF movie screening Kickstarter project: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jeffmcclelland/uhf-movie-screening/

Even if you can’t pledge anything, I hope you’ll decide to share this project with people that you know.

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Blog 45 – Why So Misleading?

Why So Misleading screen shot 01

You wanna know how I got this internet show? My friend, had a camera, and a computer. And one night, he goes off crazier than usual. I write a script to defend myself. He likes it. Just. A little. Bit. So, me watching, he puts together a set, laughing while he does it. He turns to me and says, “Why so misleading?” Turns the camera on. “WHY SO MISLEADING?” He points the camera at my face… “Let’s put a smile on the faces of audiences everywhere.” And…

And the rest, my friends, was HOLLYWOOD MAGIC.

Welcome to the blog for the video for the show for the computer, this one titled “Why So Misleading”.  If you didn’t notice, this episode marks the second Christmas episode in Franks and Beans lore, the other being “The Gift” way back at the beginning.  And while “The Gift” was fairly slow moving (I like to think of it as “understated”), this episode features a number of interesting tidbits that I would talk about if only I had the online space in which to do so.

Oh, right.  Moving on, then.

Why So Misleading screen shot 02

Our 43rd episode revolves around two separate soundtracks, at least one of which is easily recognizable.  Both Larry and I were (and are) fairly taken by the newest Batman movie trilogy, and it’d be a tough sell to claim that “The Dark Knight” weren’t the best of the three.  One of the things that stands out about the film is, of course, the ominous music that plays every time something truly awful was about to happen.

This, of course, speaks to a larger convention of music in films, and the almost hypnotic power that music holds over audiences, to the point where it’s almost become a parody of itself every time a hopeful or sinister tune plays.  Well, I guess we’re parodying it now, so you’ll just have to find some new tropes, movies.

The joke in this episode, then, revolves around the scene playing out in the exact opposite manner in which the music might indicate.  The Dark Knight music that lends an eerie tone to anything it touches?  It’s just me wishing Larry a Merry Christmas.  That happy “Peter and the Wolf” music near the end?  I GET A FRIGGIN’ KNIFE TO THE CHEST!

Why So Misleading screen shot 03

Perhaps I even die.  Perhaps.

Some notes from this episode:

– Larry is reading some pretty interesting material, in a manner that is not at all promotional or obvious, at the beginning of the episode.  What could it be?  Oh, it’s none other than Teddy and the Yeti #1 from Wagon Wheel Comics, probably still available for sale from fine online retailers!  We must have been reading it and enjoying it right before this was filmed.  What a fun story.

– If I get one, then Larry gets one: the gift I give to Larry is none other than a Dukes of Hazzard DVD.  True story: I actually did get this for Larry for Christmas this year.  Also true: Larry hated it.

– The happy music you hear at the end of the episode is from “Weird Al” Yankovic’s collaboration with Wendy Carlos in the semi-obscure album “Peter & the Wolf: Carnival of the Animals part II”:

Weird Al Peter & the Wolf

 

I got the synthetic orchestra album for my birthday a long time ago.  I’ve actually listened to it straight through a couple times.  It’s pretty strange and very different from any other album from Weird Al.  Anyway, it has some pretty light and airy stuff on it, which I thought would be perfect for the sequence of me getting stabbed in the chest (and let’s not forget…I might actually be dead).

There are some technical issues with this episode that keep it from being as good as it can be: sound being one of them (which is unfortunately not something new), and the fact that we should have made the knife more clear at the end.  I think that most people get the point (pun!) when they see me clutching the knife, but a close up or, heaven forbid, a clearer shot wouldn’t have killed us, either (obvious pun!!).  Overall, though, I enjoy the way that we incorporated music into the episode and I think that this turned out to be a pretty solid episode, front to back.  And Larry makes his bid for a catch phrase at the end with his very convincing “Today has been so misleading!”

Why So Misleading screen shot 04

 

Our wonderful “NO!” ending makes its return…for the 43rd time…with a bit of auto-tune.  We also used some auto-tune (I figured out how to make it work in Garage Band…which I’m pretty sure that I now forget how to do) for the episode “Perfect”, which featured quite a bit of singing, but it didn’t come across nearly as well as it did here.  I guess there’s nothing inherently funny about the auto-tune process, but I’ll take it if I can get it.  Obviously, I couldn’t let Larry steal all of the spotlight this time around (because I’m a terrible friend), so I stuck my head in there at the last second.  Classy.

Blog 43 – Chariots of Mire

Chariots of Mire screenshotIn nine years, I will be 41 years old.  Perhaps at that time, a time at which I will most certainly be evaluating my life (41 seems to be a good age to do that, as opposed to 32, when I pay attention to nothing except basic emotions like hungry and sad), I will come back to SuperYouTube and watch Franks and Beans episode 41, “Chariots of Mire”.  I wonder what type of reaction I will have to this, an episode that features a number of common F&B tropes.  Perhaps I will remark at the already dated cultural references, or note the effort we made for special effects.  Maybe I’ll look back and say, hey, I still have a little bit of hair here, and punch a window.

In any case, “Chariots of Mire” does in fact show off some of the best of Franks and Beans.  If you watch this episode and hate it, well, then chances are you might not like too many other episodes.  Except for “Mailbag/Bloopers” or “The Sandwich”, which lots of people like.  Whatever.  What I’m trying to say is that this episode of the show features a lot of things that I like: physical comedy, irreverence, quick timing and callbacks to previous jokes.  And shouting.

Let’s tackle the first topic.  Did you see what I did there?  I used the word “tackle” in reference to a scene in which I bowl over a wagon full of, well, leaves and things.  Wow.  In filming this, I learned that it is really hard to purposely fall over things.  This is why, no matter how many times we tried (and we did several takes), I still braced myself before ultimately tumbling over.

Our music for this episode is, of course, the classic “Chariots of Fire”, which has been used for comedic effect to the point that it’s almost certainly used for that purpose more than it is in a serious manner.  It’s also very tough to find without a laugh track when you’re searching the Internet for a sample.  Music tends to add something intangible to a video, something that can’t be recreated with just ambient sound, and this is an extreme example of it.  And it gave me the opportunity to add in two more Franks and Beans favorites: word parodies and running.  I really do run a lot in this show.

Larry in bed, and the implication that he sleeps fully clothed (and later, the line “let’s go!”), is a reference to our sort-of popular (it depends on how you define “popular”) first episode, “High School”.  The reference to Avril Lavigne was about as random as they come…I wanted to think of a pseudo-celebrity that neither Larry nor I particularly liked, and her name was one of the few I thought up and was considering.  Plus “Avril Lavigne” sounds funny to say.  Also, here’s a funny “Weird Al” Yankovic video featuring Ms. Lavigne:

I enjoy that this episode, in contrast to basically everything before or after, features a fairly honest critique of Avril Lavigne.  She wasn’t really relevant at the time we filmed this episode, and she REALLY isn’t relevant now, but seriously, what was up with her image?  She’s a preppy blonde Canadian (hi, Lauren) who suddenly pains her fingernails black and wears socks on her arms and now she’s punk?  Come on, Michael.

The Oreo callback is one of my favorite sequences of the entire show.  “Hey, last cookie!” is a fairly generic line, but the callback to the “Chariots” music, the quick pace and Larry’s disinterested reply really makes is work for me.

Our “NO!” ending is a pretty good one, if you can make out what the heck I’m saying.  Basically, Larry is waking people up, and I’m not happy about it.  It may not seem like much, but I do get to say the line “for crap’s sake!”, which makes it all worth while.

Blog 21 – Is It Cold in Here?

Originally Published 12.14.08

Franks and Beans makes its glorious return with episode 19, “Is it Cold in Here?”, the first of what hopefully will be a long, universe-altering sting of episodes over the next few months (or whatever).  As you might have noticed, we do tend to go through phases where certain blocks of episodes share a particular theme, and this is no different.  This is in no ways intentional – I guess I like to come up with different variations of similar topics.  Whereas previous episodes centered around singing and music, these new episodes have food as a main prop.  And where terrible violence plays an important role in episodes past, the current batch features…well, more violence.  I guess that says something about me and my writing style.  Or just about me.  Hey, did I mention that this episode has an oven in it?

Speaking of things that generate relative amounts of heat, we begin this episode with the image of a sleeping Jeff, only – and get this – I’m NOT sleeping: I’m only PRETENDING to sleep.  I only mention this because of my award-worthy performance as “guy sleeping on the couch”.  Did you see that sudden jerking as I fake-awake?  The sleep-induced rubbing of the face?  The stumbling throughout the living room, as if I was truly groggy from an impromptu nap?  That’s called acting, folks, and it’s not something you can learn.  You either have it or you don’t.

What I’m saying is, I tried.

Moving along, I’d like to take a moment and talk about the writing process on Franks and Beans for a few seconds, and what Larry and I each bring to the process.  I find, the longer that we work together on this project, that we are both comfortable with different aspects of the production as a whole, and that includes the writing portion.  I am the type of person who needs a quiet room with no distractions, time to prepare, think, write and rewrite.  This is when, I think, I am at my funniest.  I have my moments, but as a whole I’m not a spontaneously funny guy.  Larry, on the other hand, doesn’t add much to the initial scripting process, but he always manages to catch things during the filming process that I’d never think of, and this episode is a good example of that.

In any given episode – at least after we had gotten a few of them under our belts – you’ll find obvious and not-so-obvious nods to previous jokes.  I’m a fan of these, whether they work well in the context of the next episode or not, as long as they don’t ruin the show we’re working on at the moment.  Larry, as he enters the house after I’ve managed to crawl into the oven, takes his jacket off and throws it over the railing that leads downstairs, a fairly obvious reference to our very first episode, “High School”.  This gem of an easter egg was added at the last moment at the behest of Larry – it’s something that I’m often too absorbed to think of during filming, but it’s a testament to what Larry always seems to catch.

Larry can also be seen putting on a sweater as he comes to check on his ill-fated pizza a little later on – he thought that this would be “the obvious thing to do” if he were cold.  The distinction between this calm rationale and my character’s deadly impulsiveness is one of the factors that drives this episode, and was also a brainchild of Larry’s, for which I must respond…have more children, Larry.  In your brain.

In regards to the visual effect of me putting myself in a warm oven (one of my mother’s worst nightmares, let me tell you), I’m reminded of the DVD commentary on “The Weird Al Show”.  If you don’t remember this program, don’t worry – it was a one season, 13-episode bust, but as I am a collector of everything “Weird Al” Yankovic, I own it and love it (the commentary is, in all seriousness, worth buying the box set for, though).  During the commentary, Al and his various guests discuss the problems they had with CBS during filming, especially when it came down to “imitateable behavior” on the show.  That is, they were strongly discouraged from showing things like someone smashing plates on their head or shaving their eyebrows, as children watching the program (this was Saturday-morning fare) might be encouraged to duplicate the stunts.  This served as an endless headache for those working on the show, though they usually managed to find a way to sneak a few undesirable clips in during any given episode.

It is with this mindset that I watch “Is it Cold in Here?”.  Though Franks and Beans is listed under “clean comedy” in the Funny or Die rank and file, and I generally feel that it lives up to that billing, I don’t intend it for a younger audience – if nothing else, I can imagine my parents catching me watching sometime similar 15 years ago and taking away my internet privileges (did we have the internet back then?).  But even so, I still chuckle to imagine the reaction we’d get if this episode were played on television with children anywhere in a 50-foot radius.  I sometimes fret about playing the “Milkshake” song or wearing Steelers gear in an episode, but showing me willingly entering an oven would probably get us sued faster than either of those infringements.

This episode – 19 episodes in, at that – features a first here on Franks and Beans: we actually have our first production-inspired purchase on display.  If you couldn’t guess, it’s the sad-looking pizza that Larry so gracefully slides out onto the oven tray.  On my way to Larry’s house – er, the studio – in the morning, I get a call.  “You should go ahead and buy a pizza,” Larry suggested, as it was an integral prop for the upcoming episode.  If the pizza looks like it cost a dollar fifty, that’s because it did – I bought the cheapest pizza that I possibly could.  We ate the pizza (surprisingly good, all things considered) but saved the box, knowing that a moment such as that should be saved for posterity.  We’re thinking of putting it up on eBay.  Really.  Eventually.

Another exciting feature to this episode hasn’t actually been seen yet.  That’s because in just another week or so from this posting, we’ll release the special, extra-featureish EXTENDED EDITION for your viewing pleasure.  The ending you see here is exactly what we had in mind for “Is it Cold in Here?”, but this new addition just adds a little more oomph, I think.  Look for that soon.

Finally, we come to the ever-present “NO!” ending, in which we see Larry dressed up as a character from the best movie I’ve ever seen EVER, The Dark Knight.  Rest assured, Larry didn’t concoct this getup just for F&B, but it certainly serves its purpose.  Here’s a fun fact for you fans out there – Larry is a maniac when it comes to Halloween costumes and costume parties (hence the earlier Hulk Hogan ending), and this selection stacks up there with the best of them…though He-Man might still be my favorite.