Shorts That Don't Suck, Vol. III: Arty Edition

For those of you who've been waiting breathlessly for my third installment of "Shorts" (the first two are here and here), sorry it's been so long! (It takes us awhile to find enough non-sucky shorts to fill a whole post!) This time we'll be featuring films of a different breed: a foreign film, some music-based work and some concentrated weirdness by David Lynch, all of which is awesome.

And hey, before we get started (speaking of awesome!), I wanted to draw your attention to the still above: it's a sneak-preview of the eponymous, geeky hero from my latest in-the-works floss short! Why am I so excited? Because it's entirely new territory for me -- not only is it fully animated, but we're making it using cutting-edge performance capture technology! (You know, like Beowulf. But with a slightly lower budget.) Anyway, we'll keep you up to date as it nears completion; we're working hard on it even as I type. (Well, maybe not as I type. But in all likelihood, after I type.)

Now, without further ado, some awesome shorts that aren't still works-in-progress.

I'll Wait for the Next One (J'Attendrai Le Suivant)
In this Oscar-nominated short, a lonely woman finds love on the subway ... or does she? (It's arty 'cause it's French!)

Ever since this Scandinavian kid got featured on YouTube a few weeks ago (when Michel Gondry was guest-curating the front page -- quite an honor!), he's been blowing up! He can play neither the drums nor the piano, but with the magic of editing, he makes himself sound like a pro.

Lost Book Found
Normally I abhor that genre of filmmaking known as "video art" (it feels too academic; it doesn't move me), but I find this excerpt from video art master Jem Cohen's film Lost Book Found totally engrossing, hypnotic and mysterious. (And it has a story, which sets it apart from video art.) At ten minutes, it's the longest clip here, but if you've got the time I think you'll find it rewarding and fascinating.

Radiohead: Faust Arp
I don't know if you've heard Radiohead's new album In Rainbows (it's amazing), but this is more or less a home movie of singer Thom Yorke and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Greenwood (who was ROBBED for not getting an Oscar nomination for the There Will Be Blood score, by the way) playing the strange, haunting track "Faust Arp" on a Scottish hilltop at dusk. A unique, intimate way to experience the song -- even with the sound of whipping wind getting in the microphone as they play. I can't believe this can only been watched 50,000 times on YouTube! (PS, ignore the nonsensical first 40 seconds of this clip, which includes one NSFW swear word.)

Insane David Lynch Cigarette Commercial
A nice palate-cleanser. Interpretations are welcome; your guess is as good as mine!

Win a Trip to Any National Park By Instagramming Your Travels

If you're planning out your summer vacation, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary. Every time you share your travels on Instagram, you can increase your chances of winning a VIP trip for two to the national park of your choice.

The National Park Foundation is hosting its "Pic Your Park" sweepstakes now through September 28. To participate, post your selfies from visits to National Park System (NPS) properties on Instagram using the hashtag #PicYourParkContest and a geotag of the location. Making the trek to multiple parks increases your points, with less-visited parks in the system having the highest value. During certain months, the point values of some sites are doubled. You can find a list of participating properties and a schedule of boost periods here.

Following the contest run, the National Park Foundation will decide a winner based on most points earned. The grand prize is a three-day, two-night trip for the winner and a guest to any NPS property within the contiguous U.S. Round-trip airfare and hotel lodging are included. The reward also comes with a 30-day lease of a car from Subaru, the contest's sponsor.

The contest is already underway, with a leader board on the website keeping track of the competition. If you're looking to catch up, this national parks road trip route isn't a bad place to start.

15 Dad Facts for Father's Day

Gather 'round the grill and toast Dad for Father's Day—the national holiday so awesome that Americans have celebrated it for more than a century. Here are 15 Dad facts you can wow him with today.

1. Halsey Taylor invented the drinking fountain in 1912 as a tribute to his father, who succumbed to typhoid fever after drinking from a contaminated public water supply in 1896.

2. George Washington, the celebrated father of our country, had no children of his own. A 2004 study suggested that a type of tuberculosis that Washington contracted in childhood may have rendered him sterile. He did adopt the two children from Martha Custis's first marriage.

3. In Thailand, the king's birthday also serves as National Father's Day. The celebration includes fireworks, speeches, and acts of charity and honor—the most distinct being the donation of blood and the liberation of captive animals.

4. In 1950, after a Washington Post music critic gave Harry Truman's daughter Margaret's concert a negative review, the president came out swinging: "Some day I hope to meet you," he wrote. "When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!"

5. A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh for his son, Christopher Robin. Pooh was based on Robin's teddy bear, Edward, a gift Christopher had received for his first birthday, and on their father/son visits to the London Zoo, where the bear named Winnie was Christopher's favorite. Pooh comes from the name of Christopher's pet swan.

6. Kurt Vonnegut was (for a short time) Geraldo Rivera's father-in-law. Rivera's marriage to Edith Vonnegut ended in 1974 because of his womanizing. Her ever-protective father was quoted as saying, "If I see Gerry again, I'll spit in his face." He also included an unflattering character named Jerry Rivers (a chauffeur) in a few of his books.

7. Andre Agassi's father represented Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics as a boxer.

8. Charlemagne, the 8th-century king of the Franks, united much of Western Europe through military campaigns and has been called the "king and father of Europe" [PDF]. Charlemagne was also a devoted dad to about 18 children, and today, most Europeans may be able to claim Charlemagne as their ancestor.

9. The voice of Papa Smurf, Don Messick, also provided the voice of Scooby-Doo, Ranger Smith on Yogi Bear, and Astro and RUDI on The Jetsons.

10. In 2001, Yuri Usachev, cosmonaut and commander of the International Space Station, received a talking picture frame from his 12-year-old daughter while in orbit. The gift was made possible by RadioShack, which filmed the presentation of the gift for a TV commercial.

11. The only father-daughter collaboration to hit the top spot on the Billboard pop music chart was the 1967 hit single "Something Stupid" by Frank & Nancy Sinatra.

12. In the underwater world of the seahorse, it's the male that gets to carry the eggs and birth the babies.

13. If show creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz had gotten his way, Gene Hackman would have portrayed the role of father Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch.

14. The Stevie Wonder song "Isn't She Lovely" is about his newborn daughter, Aisha. If you listen closely, you can hear Aisha crying during the song.

15. Dick Hoyt has pushed and pulled his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, through hundreds of marathons and triathlons. Rick cannot speak, but using a custom-designed computer he has been able to communicate. They ran their first five-mile race together when Rick was in high school. When they were done, Rick sent his father this message: "Dad, when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"


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