Jesse Thorn's blog

Quick Change


Browsing through the New York Times today, I noticed that the 1990 Bill Murray vehicle "Quick Change" is coming out on DVD. It's a truly underappreciated film (so is "The Man Who Knew Too Little," by the way), and I had no idea he co-directed it.

Early in the film, there's a scene where Murray is holding up a bank dressed as a clown. The elderly security guard looks at him and asks, "What the heck kind of clown are you?"

Murray pauses, gives a perfect hangdog look, and says, "The crying on the inside kind, I guess."

Perfect moment.

One of "Big Time" Gene O'Neill's favorites.

Quick Change

To date, Bill Murray's only credit as a director (shared with the writer Howard Franklin) is on this modest but delightful comedy from 1990. It finds Mr. Murray as a disaffected New York City civil servant who hatches a complicated scheme to rob a Park Avenue bank (it involves a clown costume and a vest of dynamite) only to find his escape plans seriously frustrated by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, a situation with which every New Yorker can identify. Accompanied by his co-conspirators, Geena Davis and Randy Quaid, Mr. Murray tries every trick in the book to get to Kennedy Airport in time to catch his plane and is finally reduced to taking a bus, piloted by Philip Bosco, that goes (and here is the important nuance) near there.

"Quick Change" is a crisp, efficient and subtly subversive film that makes you wish Mr. Murray would get back in the driver's seat instead of drifting through another lazy celebrity roast like "Broken Flowers." Mr. Murray has always been a comedian with something more, a secret reserve of melancholy that sets him widely apart from his fellow "Saturday Night Live" alumni. "Quick Change" just hints at the angst eating at his character, and that's enough to lift it to another level. Warner Home Video, $14.98, R. Link (requires registration, I say use

Bathroom Monkey


A big part of my interest in comedy today comes from the Saturday Night Live that I watched as an adolescent. When I was about ten, my dad inherited some stuff from a family friend who passed on. Besides the 1977 Chevy Nova (metallic brown), we got a big black and white TV that ended up in my room. I watched SNL almost every week from about 1991 to 1994 or so. This sketch, with Janeane Garofolo, was one of my all-time favorites, and certainly my favorite fake commercial. "When my monkey's cleaning power is all used up..."

I rode the Disneyland monorail!


I have a soft spot in my heart for Disneyland... I'm not an obsessive like some, but my paternal grandparents lived in Orange County, so I went every other year or so as a kid. I've always been coaster-phobic, too, and Disneyland is a great theme park if you don't like roller coasters.

My two favorite attractions, as a kid, were Captain Eo and the submarines. Both of those are gone now, replaced by "Honey I Shrunk the Audience" and, eventually, a Finding Nemo ride. Thankfully, Star Tours is still there, and it still features the voice of Paul Reubens, aka Pee-Wee Herman. The combination of Star Wars and Pee-Wee was enough to send me into space as a kid, with or without the ride itself.

There are two things I've always wanted to do at Disneyland, though, but have never done. One of them is to visit the secret dining club. Jordan Morris, "Boy Detective" grew up in Orange County, and had never been until college, when he dated a lady whose grandfather was a bigwig at Kodak. He said it's as great as you might imagine. He went to the bathroom, and they refolded his napkin while he was gone. Someday I'll get in there. Someday.

My other Disneyland dream is to ride the Monorail. It used to be that in order to ride the Monorail, you had to stay at the Disneyland Resort. Now, my family had very little money when I was a kid, and I certainly wasn't staying at the Disneyland Resort. More like my grandparent's living room, or maybe the Motel Six in Mission Viejo. So all I could do was admire the monorail from afar.

But I just went to Disneyland with my sweetheart and her family this weekend, and I've got great news... anybody can ride it now!

Well, anyone can make the short, one-way trip from Tommorowland to "Downtown Disney," they Disney mega-mall between Disneyland and California Adventure. But dammit, I rode the thing! MAXIMUM FUN.

What does it say about me that my favorite part of a three-day vacation was a five minute trip on a forty five year old monorail? Well, anyway...

Louis CK Contest Winner


I literally drew them out of a hat... one that actually looked exactly like the one to the left. Congrats to Jeremy.

For those of you who aren't Jeremy, buy yourself tickets. Trust me, Louie CK is worth every penny. I'll be at Wendesday's show with the lady friend, say hi. Thursday, the very funny Tony Camin will be the featured (middle) act. He's one of the quickest comics in the business, a really funny guy.

If you don't live in the Bay Area, don't despair! You can head over to Louie's website and check out his podcast.

Fun with the Heartmaker


Just in time for not just in time for Valentines, the Acme Heartmaker.

By the way, if you live in the Bay Area or Santa Cruz, I need a lot of boxes of conversation hearts... if your local Safeway or Walgreens or whatever has any left, tell me! I have a special plan for them. Right now at Walgreens they're 13 cents a box (I just bought out the Walgreens next to my job).

I guess Marine Sciences *are* the strength of UCSC...


High-tech tags on marine animals yield valuable data for biologists and oceanographers

Researchers are enlisting seals, sea lions, tunas, and sharks to serve as ocean sensors, outfitting these top predators with electronic tags that gather detailed reports on oceanographic conditions and, in many cases, transmit the data via satellite. The data are proving useful to both biologists and oceanographers, yielding new information about the migrations and behavior of the animals and about the environments in which they live.

via BoingBoing

To be honest, this kind of reminds me of the time I convinced a Santa Cruz local browsing in the "Cars" section of Borders that the Pope was doing dolphin language research in order to convince dolphins to convert to Catholicism. He (the guy) agreed that a war between dolphins and whales might be imminent. Download the interview to find out if he felt nukes were approrpiate.

J. Edgar Hoover Loves Lucy


Welcome to the fold, Walla Walla!


Knock on wood, but it looks like KWCW in Walla Walla, Washington will be adding The Sound of Young America in the coming weeks. They've carried some of our special programming through PRX, and I'm really excited to get on board. They're part of Whitman College, and they like our show, so there you have it.

If you'd like your local public, community, or even pirate radio station to carry The Sound, just email or call them and ask for it. It's free to them, so no excuses.

This goes double if you live in Kalamazoo, Michigan, or Osh-Kosh, Wisconsin.

Can You Feel It

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The Jacksons - Can You Feel It
Official Music Video of The New Sincerity

In this video, the Jacksons use magic to create THE ENTIRE WORLD. Then they go around spreading joy (in the form of joy dust) to children and adults of every race color and creed. They also fly through space on wings of song, traverse great Tron-like grids of nothingness, and do cool dance moves. When you think that this video was made in the very first days of music video... stunning.

2006 826 Valencia Comedy Benefit


An Evening of a Thousand Scowls, 826 Valencia's Fourth Annual Comedy Night
April 1, 2006
FEATURING: Sarah Silverman, Jimmy Kimmel, Patton Oswalt,
Zach Galifianakis, and Al Madrigal

Every year, 826 Valencia, the literacy arm of McSweeney's puts on a benefit comedy show. Every year, it is a great comedy show. I'm only about 75-80% behind 826 Valencia, but I'm 100% behind this show if you live within two hours of San Francisco. I mean, even a psuedo-vanity charity is dramatically better than the people who own a local comedy club. Sorry to see no local comics in the lineup (well, Al is a SF native, but he lives in LA), but still, kind of a murderer's row nonetheless. All but Kimmel have been on TSOYA.

More info
Tickets and info about 826 Valencia

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