I’ve talked before about how one of my dream jobs is having a curation-based TV show a-la Night Flight. Of course, there are not exactly a whole lot of opportunities for such a thing, so I’ve decided to do it myself. This is the first episode of Kittysneezes TV, a roughly two-hour program of short films, music videos and more. You can watch the full thing below, and I’ve included notes for many of the clips—but there are some surprises in the playlist too. Also, all Kittysneezes TV bumpers are by Jeremiah Aulwurm, host of Headclog in the Operator, except the Videodrome/CIVIC-TV one, which is by Lee Hughey of Owl-Stretching Time.
Kittysneezes TV Notes
The Wizard of Speed and Time
This is a brilliant short film by Mike Jittlov, an amazing special effects artist who worked for Disney before having a falling out with them. The first time I saw this film was on a rerun of a Wonderful World of Disney episode on KVOS-TV Bellingham that looked at special effects in film in a promotional tie-in with The Black Hole. I have still never seen The Black Hole, so that part didn’t work on me. But the Jittlov piece is amazing.
About 10 years later, he made a feature-length version of this film, which is also enjoyable and impressive. It’s also a bit of a soapbox for Jittlov’s libertarian politics. Jittlov, as it turns out, is not a fan of taxes and unions. Though the short is the masterpiece, the feature is worth watching if this gave you a taste for more. The feature version is a lightly fictionalized version of the making of this original short, and it’s goofy and fun, and if anything, the politics highlight what a one-man show the film is. It’s pure Jittlov.
He Was Once
I could have sworn I’d written about Mary Hestand’s riff on Davey and Goliath before, but apparently I haven’t. Crazy! The film, produced by Todd Haynes, is a parable about believing children, mixed with disturbing dream sequences, clay facial appliances, and a dog that’s a footstool. That said, I’m going to include a content warning for child abuse—though no children are actually abused in this film, it does depict the Davey character (played by an adult) being beaten with a belt by his father (played by an actual child). (This is the only piece in this program that I think requires a content warning—initially I didn’t think it needed one, but during an early screening of it, a friend of mine had a bad time with this short for that reason.)
Grace Jones: A One-Man Show
This is a 40-minute live show/video compilation/special starring Grace Jones circa 1982. Beautifully shot, the film is a celebration of Jones’ art. The film was originally released as a VHS; this is a slightly-shorter edit that trims 10 minutes off the original runtime.
An earlier version of this program included “A Little Night Music”, a TV special meant to promote M’s The Official Secrets Act album consisting of promo videos from both that album and the previous, New York London Paris Munich—but not M’s biggest hit, “Pop Muzik.” While I love M, I have to admit that on the first screening, this did not play well with the audience. It ends up being a little bit of a slog unless you’re a huge M fan like I am. And, to be perfectly frank, while some videos here are great, there are others that are… less so, like the ramshackle “That’s The Way the Money Goes.” For the curious, check out the special below:
Steamed Hams, Inc.
All right, I’ll admit it, the memeification of the “Skinner and the Superintendent” sketch in The Simpsons‘ “22 Short Films About Springfield” is one of my favorite things. And this edit of the sketch to fit the music of Gorillaz’ “Feel Good, Inc.” is one of the very best.
Kure Kure Takora Episode 132
This episode, according to Google Translate, is “Seppuku Incident,” and though “seppuku” is ritual suicide, I don’t think this one needs a content warning. Not just because Kure Kure Takora is a kids’ show, but also because it doesn’t get nearly that far. Though in unsubtitled Japanese, you can follow the story relatively easily—it’s not that complex. Though you might need to know the characters’ relationships for it to make sense. The lead is Kure Kure Takora, a greedy octopus. His best friend is Tombo, a giant squash. He fights against the Sheriff Badger whose ally is the dragon, and Takora’s girlfriend is the narwhal. Obviously.
Neil Cicierega’s comedy troupe, Guaranteed* Video (originally the New Kids on the Rock) are delightful. If you somehow don’t know Cicierega’s name from the Mouth Sounds trilogy, you know his work if you’ve been on the internet, from Animutations, to Lemon Demon, to The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, to just about a billion other things. This is a hilarious short film complete with ’80s style end-credits rap. It’s silly, it’s fun, it’s Neil. (And Ryan and Kevin.)
Mrs. Smith – The Bob Ross Technique
I’m mostly leaving out notes on music videos here, but Mrs. Smith is amazing. A performance artist who can shred on the guitar, the Mrs. Smith EP is great for metal fans and, well, just about anyone else. The video shows off her amazing chops and also is a tribute to everyone’s favorite PBS painter, Bob Ross.
Drugs: Killers or Dillers?
A very early short film, dating to 1972, by Matt Groening and Tim Smith. Yes, the Simpsons Matt Groening. No, not the Cardiacs’ Tim Smith. The short is a hilarious spoof of mental hygiene films about the dangers of drugs, taken to its logical extremes. Though made while they were teenagers, the film is way funnier than anything I ever made as a teenager, and for that, I hate them.