Watch Johnny Carson joke about the toilet paper shortage

No, that isn't a deepfake. In 1973, the stock market crashed and an Arab oil embargo resulted in a gas crisis. With that as the context, a (false) rumor of a toilet paper shortage emerged and spread like wildfire via news outlets before it was further fueled by Johnny Carson (who later apologized). It's a fascinating story of shortage psychology and panic buying. From Priceonomics:

In November of 1973, several news agencies reported a tissue shortage in Japan. Initially, the release went unnoticed and nobody seemed to put much stock in it -- save for one Harold V. Froelich. Froelich, a 41-year-old Republican congressman, presided over a heavily-forested district in Wisconsin and had recently been receiving complaints from constituents about a reduced stream of pulp paper. On November 16th, he released his own press statement -- “The Government Printing Office is facing a serious shortage of paper” -- to little fanfare.

However, a few weeks later, Froelich uncovered a document that indicated the government’s National Buying Center had fallen far short of securing bids to provide toilet paper for its troops and bureaucrats. On December 11, he issued another, more serious press release: “The U.S. may face a serious shortage of toilet paper within a few months...we hope we don’t have to ration toilet tissue...a toilet paper shortage is no laughing matter. It is a problem that will potentially touch every American.”

In the climate of shortages, oil scares, and economic duress, Froelich’s claim was absorbed without an iota of doubt, and the media ran wild with it.

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An oral history of The Office

Andy Greene literally wrote the book on The Office. His book The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History is released today! Vulture has an excerpt from the book telling the behind-the-scenes story of "Stress Relief," the two-part "fire drill" episode. Here's a snip:

Ben Silverman [producer]: The fire drill was insanity. Greg and I talked about it and were like, “Okay, let’s make this one hundred percent like a movie, like a stunt. When it happens, how do people not change the channel?”

Kate Flannery, actor: That scene was a big deal. It was so fun, but I also knew that it was expensive, so it’s like, “Don’t fuck this up.” It was definitely like a little nerve-wracking because you just didn’t want to be the one that messed it up for everybody else.

Anthony Farrell, writer: Greg was like, “It’s the Super Bowl episode. We need it to be big and crazy and wild and this is the first thing they’re gonna see, so we want people to stick around.” He said to me and [fellow writer] Ryan Koh and some of the writers’ assistants, “You guys work on this cold open.” We knew it would start with Dwight setting off the fire alarm and Greg was in a place where he was like, “We need it to be bigger and crazier.” So we just started adding all sorts of crazy shit happening with the mayhem and the melee, like them using the photocopier as a battering ram and cats falling out of the ceiling.

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Watch 80 joyous minutes of newly discovered Seinfeld bloopers

At r/Seinfeld, MrJonLott writes:

At the Raynham flea market 2 years ago I found a DVD with 80 minutes of previously unseen Seinfeld bloopers. These are different from the official DVD bloopers, which are already on YouTube. This DVD was in a bootleg case with a bootleg design, and a simple unvarnished disc inside. I ripped the footage from the DVD and uploaded it raw to YouTube. Forgive the video quality; the DVD has low-grade video.

The DVD was produced in 2000, which makes me think it's a bootleg of a blooper DVD made for the cast and crew of Seinfeld in 1998 or 1999, to be shared in the days before internet. There is nothing else on the disc.

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Dallas theme tune had French lyrics

Dallas, the prime-time soap opera that ran from 1978-1991 and 2012-2014, is as famous for its catchy theme tune as for J.R. Ewing's machinations. In France, I today learned, that theme tune was modified so that it could include lyrics.

Dallas, ton univers impitoyable dallas, glorifie la loi du plus fort dallas, et sous ton soleil implacable dallas, tu ne redoutes que la mort

Dallas, patrie du dollar du pétrole dallas, tu ne connais pas la pitié dallas, le revolver est ton idole dallas, tu te raccroches à ton passé

Dallas, malheur à celui qui n’a pas compris dallas, un jour il y perdra la vie dallas, ton univers impitoyable dallas, glorifie la loi du plus fort

Dallas, malheur à celui qui n’a pas compris dallas, un jour il y perdra la vie dallas, ton univers impitoyable dallas, glorifie la loi du plus fort

Dallas, malheur à celui qui n’a pas compris dallas, un jour il y perdra la vie dallas, ton univers impitoyable

Below, see it being "performed".

Paula Bosse translates and offers context.

Dallas, your ruthless world, Dallas, where might is right, Dallas, and under your relentless sun, Dallas, only death is feared.

Dallas, home of the oil dollar, Dallas, you do not know pity; Dallas, the revolver is your idol, Dallas, you cling to the past.

Dallas, woe to him who does not understand, Dallas, one day he will lose his life. Dallas, your ruthless world, Dallas, where might is right.

BONUS: Below, enjoy the disco remix of the original and correct Dallas theme. Read the rest

Survivor contestant kicked off show after headbutting opponent

A contestant on the Romanian edition of Survivor lost a challenge, became angry, then punched and headbutted another contestant, apparently breaking his nose. Read the rest

Glamour and glitter, fashion and fame

Jem may have indeed been both her name and excitement, but the Misfits' songs were better. Read the rest

Yes, Sam Elliott recites "Old Town Road" in this very funny Super Bowl teaser commercial

Sam Elliott had the horses in the back with a wrangler on his booty before Lil Nas X was even in diapers.

(Adweek) Read the rest

You can watch over 270 episodes of the Dick Cavett show online

One of the treats of being sick as a kid was staying home from school and being able to watch The Dick Cavett Show. He was a talk show host unlike any other, with a gentle, intelligent demeanor free of snark, smugness, or sarcasm. Josh Jones of Open Culture wrote a nice piece about Cavett, and include links to selected episodes of his show.

Born in Nebraska in 1937, “the only persona [Cavett] bothered to, or needed to, develop for working on camera was of a boy from Nebraska dazzled by the bright lights of New York,” as Clive James writes in an appreciation of the TV host. As he interviewed the biggest stars of late sixties, seventies, and eighties on the long-running Dick Cavett Show, Cavett’s easygoing Midwestern demeanor disarmed both his guests and audiences. He kept them engaged with his erudition, quick wit, and breadth of cultural knowledge.

Watch Cavett handle a cagey, combative Marlon Brando in 1973, making him open up a bit:

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Jazz great Jack Sheldon, the voice of Schoolhouse Rock!, RIP

Jazz trumpeter Jack Sheldon, singer of the Schoolhouse Rock! classics "I'm Just a Bill" and "Conjunction Junction," has died at age 88. With roots in the 1950s West Coast and bebop jazz scene, Sheldon became the longtime musical director of the Merv Griffin Show. In 1973, he became an ongoing contributor to Schoolhouse Rock!, voicing many of the series' most popular tunes.

(CNN)

image: "Jack Sheldon at Palo Alto CA Jazz Festival September 26, 1987" by Brian McMillen (CC BY-SA 4.0) Read the rest

Watch Laurie Anderson's fantastic "What You Mean We?" (1986) from PBS's Alive from Off Center

Alive From Off Center was PBS's pioneering TV series that featured experimental video and performance pieces by artists like Ann Magnuson, the Brothers Quay, Jonathan Demme, Bill Irwin, and Laure Anderson. For me, the program, which aired between 1985 and 1996, was a wonderful introduction to many avant-garde artists and filmmakers. Above is Laurie Anderson's "What You Mean We?" that first aired on September 6, 1986.

Here's a New York Times article about the episode from the time: "TV: Laurie Anderson Performs"

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

Puppeteer Caroll Spinney (Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch), RIP

Legendary puppeteer Carroll Spinney, who brought Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to life on Sesame Street, died today. He was 85. Here's the New York Times obituary. And from the Sesame Workshop:

Caroll was an artistic genius whose kind and loving view of the world helped shape and define Sesame Street from its earliest days in 1969 through five decades, and his legacy here at Sesame Workshop and in the cultural firmament will be unending. His enormous talent and outsized heart were perfectly suited to playing the larger-than-life yellow bird who brought joy to generations of children and countless fans of all ages around the world, and his lovably cantankerous grouch gave us all permission to be cranky once in a while.

In 2018, Spinney retired from Sesame Street. Below is Sesame Workshop's video tribute to him and the following is from a New York Times profile from the time:

Although they had previously crossed paths in the 1960s, Spinney pinpointed a fateful encounter at a Salt Lake City puppeteers’ festival in 1969, when (Muppets creator Jim) Henson watched him try to perform a multimedia show that went gradually awry.

As Spinney recalled, Henson came to him afterward to say, “I liked what you were trying to do.”

Soon after, Henson invited Spinney to play two Muppet characters that were being developed for “Sesame Street,” which made its debut on public television later that year. One was Oscar, who was envisioned as a cranky, trash-loving purple character. (He was orange in his earliest appearances, before taking on his familiar green hue.)

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Watch this funny and curiously compelling Bad Lip Reading spin-off of Stranger Things

Given that by the time we see a new season of Stranger Things the kids will probably be in college, this will have to do! That's ok because, as Steve Harrington says, "Hair is here!"

In this week's episode, Mike investigates a crime, while Nancy wonders about the gift Steve gave her.

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The time Mikhail Gorbachev starred in a Pizza Hut commercial

In 1997, Mikhail Gorbachev, the final leader of the Soviet Union, needed some cash. So he made a Pizza Hut commercial. Of course there was more to the story than that, but not really so much. He reportedly received $1 million for the spot. "I thought that it is a people' s matter -- food," Gorbachev told the New York Times after the filming. "This is why if my name works for the benefit of consumers, to hell with it -- I can risk it." Over at Foreign Policy, Paul Musgrave tells the tale:

Gorbachev had suffered the same fate as many Soviet retirees, who had looked forward to generous pensions only to find themselves forced to hustle and scrape to get by as the Russian economy collapsed around them—shrinking by 30 percent between 1991 and 1998. The foundation, too, was tottering, with even Gorbachev’s significant lecture fees unable to sustain both his family and the foundation and its staff, let alone any projects he might want to pursue to leave a legacy. Even generous donations from Ted Turner only went so far.

Gorbachev was determined to stay in Russia and fight for reform, not to take up a life of well-compensated exile abroad. To do that, he would need money to fund his center, his staff, and his activities—urgently. As Gorbachev later told France 24 when asked about the ad, “I needed to finish the building. The workers started to leave—I needed to pay them...”

(After months of negotiations,) Gorbachev finally assented—with conditions.

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The Mandalorian: All the times they say 'bounty puck' and 'tracking fob' in the first episode on Disney+

Congratulations to Disney on the exciting new merchandising opportunity of bounty pucks.

I swear these are three different scenes:

And if bounty pucks don't prove popular, there's the less sophisticated tracking fob:

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Warrior nuns and body horror in the trailer for the BBC's "reinvention" of Dracula

The upcoming Dracula miniseries is written by Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat and sounds like it'll have us rooting for the sexy villain:

They’ve made him the hero of the show, the protagonist – though still just as nasty. He has no moral dilemmas, he just wants to eat people. A creature who has seen empires rise and fall, who has seen it all before and who likes humanity – they are his food source after all. And by now he’s become quite a connoisseur of humanity.

Here's the first trailer:

Dracula will premiere on BBC One in the UK and on Netflix outside of the UK and Ireland. "Episodes will be directed by Jonny Campbell, Damon Thomas and Paul McGuigan, whose impressive list of credits include Westworld, Killing Eve and Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, respectively." Read the rest

Interview with the real Joker

 

Above, a 1966 interview with the best of all Jokers, the inimitable Cesar Romero who camped it up for the Batman TV series (1966-1968) and subsequent theatrical film. Romero famously refused to shave his trademark mustache for the role so they just slathered the white greasepaint right over his whiskers. (Interview with Romero starts at about 3:36, but watch from the beginning to catch an interview with Julie "Catwoman" Newmar.)

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Supercut of Wilford Brimley saying "Diabeetus" contrasted against other people saying "Diabetes"

Behold the master in enunciation outclass the mediocrities that surround him.

Previously in Diabeetus: Cat resembling Wilford Brimley skilled in art of playing "death by diabeetus" Read the rest

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