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YouTube is my Pensieve

It’s amazing the pieces of one’s childhood one can reconstruct using YouTube. Surely, I’m the 9,081,726,354th (and if somebody wants to tell me what’s interesting about that number, you’ll get a classic Marvel No-Prize from me) person to post this out of nostalgia:

But then, surely, there are the things of which you only have vague memories, haven’t seen it in years, have never heard anybody else ever mention it, it’s never come out on DVD, you question whether or not it even existed or if you just imagined it, etc.

We got cable when I was probably about five (c. 1981-1982), and I remember this short film that I saw on HBO numerous times. The main image that I remember is this mass of magnetic tape chasing somebody around an office building, and eventually consuming him. Over the years I’ve inquired here and there on the internet to see if anybody knew anything about it; nothing. One or two people thought they remembered seeing part of the film, but had no further information. Well, I finally found it last night. I give you 1975’s “Recorded Live”:

Oh, the mustache. Man.

Two interesting names in the end credits: George Winston and Ben Burtt, Jr. The former is the pianist; the latter would go on to become George Lucas’ main sound effects guy (and creator of the lightsaber noise).

Something else I saw on cable a lot as a little kid was an animated movie called “The Mouse and His Child.” I remember parts of it really messing with my head, particularly a sequence where there’s a can of dogfood with a highly recursive label, and the titular characters are trying to figure out where it ends. It has evidently never been released on DVD, I’ve never met anybody else who remembers it, but here’s the whole thing (and it’s well-worth the watch if you’ve got 77 minutes to spare):

“Will that be cash, or –”

“TREACLE BRITTLE!” (smash to head)

Finally (for now), in the late 1980s, the church my mother and I attended for awhile used to show this movie every so often to the junior high kids. The protagonist is a schlub of a guy who leads a very humdrum life (no doubt today he would be played by either Philip Seymour Hoffman or Paul Giamatti) in a very ugly, grey and industrial city. One day a gospel group simply appears in front of him, singing music that makes him happy in a way he’s clearly never experienced before. They disappear, leaving a box behind. He lifts the lid of the box, and their music comes out. He then walks around with the box up to his ear, listening to it wherever he goes, but he doesn’t want anybody else to hear it. One night, the band appears to him again when he’s in bed, and they tell him, “You’re supposed to share it!” To his terror, they start a song, waking up his family. They rush in, wondering what’s going on, and then find themselves infected by the music as well. When he realizes that it’s a good thing for him to let others hear the music of the box, he starts going everywhere with the lid open, and there’s a closing montage of him doing so. The last shot is of him standing on the roof of a tall building, holding the box open for the whole city to hear.

Same deal — I never knew what it was called, never heard of it again after we stopped going to that church, never met anybody who knew anything about it. The images from it have nonetheless stuck with me over the years. I finally found it, and turns out it is called, prosaically enough, “Music Box.” Here is the beginning:

There’s that ‘stache again. Were there special steroids one could feed facial hair follicles in those days?

The whole thing may be found here. It’s just a tick under half an hour.

I will say that whenever the topic of evangelism comes up, the images that come to mind are from this movie. Not the, um, special white tuxedos with fluttering wings, but rather that keeping what we have to ourselves out of fear is missing the point, and that we can shout it from the rooftops in such a way that will be more than just us making pests of ourselves. Let’s not keep our lights under bushels, in other words.

Anyway — watch and enjoy.

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6 Responses to “YouTube is my Pensieve”


  1. 1 Anna 15 March 2008 at 7:05 pm

    So, I googled that number to see if I can figure out why it is significant, and this post is the #2 hit that came up. Congrats.

  2. 2 Richard Barrett 15 March 2008 at 7:30 pm

    I’m number two! I’m number two!

  3. 3 Jonathan 17 March 2008 at 7:09 am

    You put the numbers 0-5 in sequential order, only separated by one number each, then rebounded at 4 and went in the opposite direction until you got to 9 (…?)

  4. 5 Richard Barrett 17 March 2008 at 7:15 am

    Basically right. To put it another way, I start at opposite extremes of the 0-9 set, and then work my way in. 9-0, 8-1, 7-2, 6-3, etc. There is also the property that all of these pairs have 9 as their sum.

    Richard


  1. 1 Secunda Pars,The Overlake years « Leitourgeia kai Qurbana: Contra den Zeitgeist Trackback on 1 February 2012 at 11:39 pm

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