Mystery of creepy 1970s Sesame Street clip solved

I didn't truly appreciate what a miracle is YouTube til I realized how many half-remembered Sesame Street sketches, songs and puppet shows from my grainy, nostalgic childhood could be found there. Some of them seem quite odd in retrospect, and there are folks out there dedicated to tracking down the oddest.

Jon Armond and friends had some lingering memories of a 1970s song-animation where the cracks on a girl's wall come to life and become her friends -- Crack Camel, Crack Monkey and Crack Hen.

It all goes a bit creepy when they meet Master Crack, a large, monstrous face-like cluster in a corner of the room, plaster crumbling from the maws of his eyes. Who thought this would be a good idea to show children?

To find the "Master Crack" clip, Armond went on a veritable quest, recorded in this audio documentary. If Serial was just about trying to find weird old children's show clips from the 70s I'd be so hooked.

Anyone remember an old Sesame clip that was just the stop-motion transmutation of a sandbox into a desert scene, accompanied by gentle music? I think two toy rhinos were placed into it at the end. If you know that one and can find it, Tweet me (@leighalexander)!

[h/t Laughingsquid]

Laura Poitras's Citizenfour: the real story of Edward Snowden

The award-winning, fearless filmmaker's documentary on her work with Snowden premiered yesterday, and it's full of bombshells.

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Rare footage of the 1914 Martian conflict

The History Channel's created a bizarre secret history of a war against Martian invaders that's an allegory for WWI. The accompanying video has a spooky resonance and plausibility that is not to be missed.

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Video: "How Ballet Shoes Get Made"

I'm proud of my wife and daughter who are both beginning ballet students. They'll enjoy this documentary about the making of ballet shoes! (via Digg)

Documentary about people and vultures

Help fund Requiem For A Bird, an artistic documentary about Mumbai's Parsi people who ritualistically gift their dead to vultures whose population there has been decimated as a consequence of an anti-inflammatory drug previously given to cattle.

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Why did the 9/11 'falling man' image disappear?

fallingman

At Design Observer, a fascinating piece on how photographer Richard Drew's iconic, disturbing image of a man falling to his death from the World Trade Center on 911 has been erased from public view.

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New film about Kurt Cobain death conspiracy

Last week was the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's suicide. Soaked In Bleach is a new film mixing historical footage and interviews with dramatizations that dredges up the tired old conspiracy theory that Cobain didn't kill himself, but was murdered by a hit man. Hired by who? One guess. Of course one of stars, at least of the trailer, is the detective Tom Grant who was retained by Love and later claimed that she had paid a hitman to off her hubby. If all this sounds familiar, you must have seen Nick Broomfield's 1998 documentary "Kurt & Courtney."

Terms and Conditions May Apply documentary screening this Sunday with Reddit AMA and panel

Cullen writes, "There is is a special screening this Sunday 11/17 at 5PM Eastern by Demand Progress of Terms And Conditions May Apply, a New York TImes Critic's Pick documentary about how governments and corporations are tracking your every online move. The first 3000 people to visit the online screening can watch the film for free. Afterward, there will be a Reddit AMA that focuses on the issues raised by the film, including how to rein in the NSA's surveillance. The film's director, Cullen Hoback, will be joined by several privacy experts including the ACLU's Ben Wizner, who's responsible for coordinating Edward Snowden's legal defense in the US."

Antibiotic resistance: Watch a documentary tonight, join in a live chat tomorrow

Tonight at 10:00 Eastern/9:00 Central, PBS Frontline will air a documentary about the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. I got a chance to see a preview of the show, and it's definitely interesting, including details I wasn't previously aware of, despite having written about this topic before. Particularly interesting: An emphasis on naturally occurring gene transfer between different species of bacteria, which is allowing antibiotic resistance to spread at an alarmingly quick rate. I had also not realized that antibiotic-resistant bacteria probably kill more Americans every year than AIDS — "probably", because nobody is required to actually track and report this stuff. Your local hospital could be in the midst of a serious outbreak of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and, unless they choose to voluntarily release that information, you might never know.

Whether or not you get a chance to watch the documentary tonight, we hope you'll join us here tomorrow for a live chat session with the producers and a doctor who specializes in treating patients with antibiotic-resistant infections. That starts at noon Eastern/11:00 central, and will be moderated by either me or Rob. We've got some questions we're looking forward to addressing with the panel, and we hope you'll bring in some great questions, too. The first half of the chat will focus on the documentary. The second half will be aimed more at a practical understanding of what you can actually do to protect yourself, your family, and your community.

Spirit Level documentary: how economic inequality is bad for the world

Here's a 2-minute preview of "The Spirit Level," a documentary based on the the bestselling book about the way that income equality is better for society, and how 30 years of economic policy has made everything much, much worse. The doc is funded by a successful Kickstarter, but they're still looking for pre-orders.

SpiritLevelDoc

Doc about Louisiana atheist seeks funding

Bill sez, "Husband-and-wife Berkeley filmmakers Jason Cohn and Camille Servan-Schreiber won a Peabody award for their documentary about design pioneers Charles and Ray Eames, 'Eames: The Architect and the Painter.' Now they want to make a film about Jerry DeWitt, a former Pentecostal preacher who went public about his loss of faith, then lost his wife, yet remains in a town described by its mayor as 'the buckle of the Bible Belt.' Robert Worth profiled DeWitt's pain in the Sunday NY Times Magazine last August - whereupon Jason and Camille headed to rural Louisiana to interview him. As their Kickstarter page shows, they need to raise $30,000 in order to convince bigger funders that the project is viable. Sam 'End of Faith' Harris donated this week, and they're more than halfway to the goal." Cory

Yuck! NYC fourth grader sneaks camera into school, makes documentary about gross cafeteria food

Here's a clip from an upcoming documentary by a fourth grader who snuck a camera into school to document his horrible school lunches and the vast distance between the food that the school claims to serve and food he and his friends end up eating.

Zachary is a fourth grader at a large New York City public elementary school. Each day he reads the Department of Education lunch menu online to see what is being served. The menu describes delicious and nutritious cuisine that reads as if it came from the finest restaurants. However, when Zachary gets to school, he finds a very different reality. Armed with a concealed video camera and a healthy dose of rebellious courage, Zachary embarks on a six month covert mission to collect video footage of his lunch and expose the truth about the City's school food service program.

Yuck: A 4th Grader's Short Documentary About School Lunch (via Reddit)

Documentary on activist who taught people to make solar cottage industries in 16 countries

Gmoke sez, "Richard Komp has taught people how to make solar as a cottage industry in at least 16 different countries over the last few years. There's a documentary called "Burning in the Sun" about his work in Mali and he's even got an Introduction to Photovoltaics series on YouTube. Reports from his 25 international trips available here"

Solar as a Cottage Industry

Kickstarting a deep-sea documentary on the nuclear wrecks of the Bikini Atoll

Steven Boyett sez, "Wreck diver and videographer Adrian Smith has launched a Kickstarter project to fund an expedition to document the forgotten wrecks sunken by the Bikini Atoll atomic explosion in 1946. No video record exists of these historic wrecks (many of them captured German and Japanese warships), and they are quickly eroding."

The naval vessels exposed to close-range atomic blast at Bikini Atoll represent the three major Pacific combatants of World War II. They are the only vessels ever sunk through the detonation of atomic weapons. These unique ships and submarines lie almost two hundred feet underwater, and are rapidly deteriorating. No comprehensive visual record exists to document their current state or unique reactions to their exposure to close-range atomic detonation. Soon it will be too late.

The ships themselves lie in waters from 40 ft (12 m) to 185 ft (56 m), deep but diveable with the correct equipment and training.

The “Baker” blast at Bikini Atoll was global front-page news when it occurred — so well-known that a French designer scandalized the world by introducing a line of two-piece swimsuits a mere four days after the Baker blast. The name of this new fashion? The bikini.

The Atomic Armada - The Forgotten Wrecks of Bikini Atoll by Adrian Smith (Thanks, Steven!)

Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse

Chloe from Portland's Reading Frenzy sez,

Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse is the a documentary about a teenage boy who finds himself through punk rock, zines, and comics and loses himself to schizophrenia. Although he was able to manage his illness with medication, live independently, and make a life for himself -- a success story within the mental health community -- his story ends in tragedy. Six years ago he was confronted and apprehended by Portland Police, tackled, beaten and tased, refused medical treatment, and ultimately died in police custody. He had committed no crime other than to run when ordered to stop.

This is an important story to our local community (Portland, Oregon) because of James' early involvement in the punk scene, the fact that he was connected to so many people who have gone on to be successful musicians (Greg Sage), artists (Mike King), writers (Monica Drake), and filmmakers (Steve Doughton), and that he was a downtown Portland fixture for decades (also a Reading Frenzy customer). But his story has broader implications around the issues of police brutality and corruption, civil rights, and mental health issues. Of course it is especially near and dear to my heart because James found a vital outlet for his ideas and creativity through zines and comics.

Brian Lindstrom is a Portland filmmaker who has a number of compelling works under his belt. Lindstrom has created a very human portrait of James Chasse, someone the police and the media thought they could sum up in a few words and dismiss. He allows everyone -- family, friends, witnesses, and experts -- to speak for themselves, while he explores every angle of James' life and death. Any attempt to reason this tragedy away or blame the victim is almost effortlessly vaporized by the truth.

Chloe adds, "Also wanted to make sure you got the link for the free download of the zine we put out a few years ago. It's a nice supplement to the film.

Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse (Thanks, Chloe!)