I Don’t Know about You, but THIS is the Superhero Movie I’VE been Waiting for

I’m even okay with the ’60s Batman-style sound effects! Thanks, everyone I’ve ever known for telling me about this as soon as I got home.

Oh, and hey, as long as it’s Random Friday, I’ve got a question: I’m dying to find a reeeeeally old music video from the ’80s—maybe even pre-MTV. It had a funky, electronic song (possibly no words) with black and white, photocopy-style animation. There was a recurring assembly line motif with hamburgers and hands and that creepy masonic eye/pyramid thing. Really cool and jerky, almost like it was made by a robot Terry Gilliam. Does anyone remember this video? I’d love to find it out there somewhere but I don’t know anything about the director or even the musician(s) involved.

UPDATE: It was the experimental film “Machine Song” by Chel White. Thanks to music video master Alex de Campi for the answer!

As some of you might have guessed, based on past blog entries, music is very important to our whole family. Sky is going to Coachella this year with a friend of ours and I’m envious, but after Italy, I’m going to be too eager to get back to work on the book, so I’ve got to miss it yet again.

I love that my daughter has been listening to bands like Passion Pit, Hot Chip, and Vampire Weekend* (all at Coachella) while simultaneously getting into Bob Dylan and Bob Marley, on LP no less—and that I had nothing to do with those last two. Well, any of them technically, (though I did discover Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros before her).

I used music constantly while working on the first draft of the layouts for the new book. I had several different playlists for different kinds of scenes and I’d go for long walks trying to imagine sequences, while letting the music sustain the mood I was going for.

Recently though, I mentioned this to my Mom over the phone and she said she hoped I took the headphones off once in a while to listen to the sounds around me too. (Which is both reasonable, and exactly the kind of thing you count on a Mom to say.)

Funny thing is, though, I’ve discovered that music actually distracts me during those walks now that I’ve entered the rewriting stage of the layouts. Keeping a sustained mood through music actually makes it harder to step back and consider the structure of a scene or set of scenes in my head, and how to change them for the better, or to implement the suggestions of my panel of “kibitzers.”

That trance I needed to put myself in while conceiving sequences would now prevent me from evaluating those scenes objectively. More proof, if any was needed, that we need to appeal to different aspects of our creative personality at different stages of the creative process.

Hm. This post is like a Simpsons episode. One thing leads to another and…


See you Monday!

*Pop Quiz: If I added Peter Gabriel’s name to those three band names and asked you which of the four was not like the others, which would you pick and why?

Discussion (35)¬

  1. David Goldfarb says:

    I’d pick Peter Gabriel, because that’s a person’s name instead of a random-sounding phrase.

    If you were thinking of something else, I’m nowhere near hip enough to guess what it might be….

  2. Sevin says:

    I’m thinking that you might be talking about “Take on Me” by A-Ha… definitely comics related, black & white, and from the 80’s.

  3. Sevin says:

    Another early 80’s animated video is Kraftwerk’s Autobahn… Now that I watch it again, this one has a feel more like what you described. I remember this song well, I really liked it back when I heard it on the radio the first time, this song pushed me off the beaten path and got me to try music I’d never considered before.


    • Scott says:

      I love Kraftwerk and that’s actually a pretty cool video, but no this wasn’t a song I’d heard anywhere else.

      Still, that was fun. Thanks for the link!

  4. Joseph says:

    I would pick Peter Gabriel because his latest album features neither guitars nor drums and is entirely covers, whereas the other three bands latest albums have guitars, drums, and original songs. Flume is great.

    Scott, if you like all those bands you should stream 89.3 the Current from the Twin Cities in Minnesota. It plays all that kind of stuff (all four of those bands, Yeasayer, Mumford and Sons, the XX, Solid Gold, the Avett Brothers, Broken Bells, the Rural Alberta Advantage, Dessa, Phantogram, Dan Black, She & Him, and a lot of other stuff).


    • Scott says:

      Good observations, but no, it’s a bit more slam dunk than that.
      Oh, and thanks for the link. I’ll check out thecurrent and also suggest KCRW’s various online streams and archives.

  5. Was is “Close to the Edit” by The Art of Noise?

  6. Antoine says:

    Hmmm. Maybe a Thomas Dolby video?

    • Scott says:

      It actually surfaced on a Boston-based kid’s show which also had the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing in a Bowling Alley if that helps.

      Might’ve been on Night Flight, I suppose.

  7. todd! says:

    passion pit is the odd man out.
    vampire weekend name drops peter gabriel in two songs, and pg collaborated with hot chip on a cover of vampire weekend’s song “cape cod kwassa kwassa.”
    ps – my new seamonster record is out now 😉

  8. Stan Heller says:

    An idea I try to practice and teach is this:

    You can’t criticize and create at the same time.

    I know it sounds pretty obvious, but I’m constantly challenged with how hard it is to live it. The creative process is like jumping off a bridge- you can’t count how many feet ’til the bottom, you have to enjoy the ride and trust there is water deep enough to catch you on the other end.

  9. diane says:

    Obscure, odd video from the 80s, with an eye you say? Perhaps The Residents?

    They have so many it’s likely they have one with hands, hamburgers, and pyramids.. although the idea of their videos on a kids show is scary/ humorous.

  10. jazon says:

    I vaguely remember this video as well – I don’t think it was a Zappa song. I think I saw it on TeleTunes on channel 12 (a PBS station in Denver). Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  11. bigbigtruck says:

    The only video that springs to mind is “We’ll Be Right Back After This Word”, which was a combo of stop-motion, dissected old ads (and audio from old ads), and general creepiness. The music was sort of a Herbie Hancock/Art of Noise-style early 80’s synth knockoff.
    I’m pretty sure there was stock footage of food and assembly lines in this one – I know there were hands shown cooking, and a repeated shot of frying eggs, but I haven’t seen the video since 1986 or so.

    Other than that, all I can suggest is maybe video for a song by Was (Not Was) or something from Rocketship Animation or the Canadian Film Board library.

  12. Jason says:

    I’m thinking it might be “Two Triple Cheese” by Commando (or maybe Commander) Cody. I remember seeing it on some local PBS comedy show in the late ’70s or early ’80s.

  13. BigWords88 says:

    A-Ha – Take On Me. I think they were a Finnish band, and the video was done in the style of a British girls’ comic of the time.

    • Kim Scarborough says:

      C’mon, give Scott a *little* credit. That video’s about as obscure as Burger King.

      • BigWords88 says:

        Sorry. I’m (slightly) mitigate by two weeks without sleep, being doped up to the eyeballs, and seeing flashing lights around me every time I turn my head – making my brain disjointed from my body. I did go look at the video which answered the question, and it reminded me of how the world appeared to me in the middle of last week. Very cool video, BTW.

  14. Antoine says:

    Only song I know that is Industrial and has Hamburger in the title is Throbbing Gristle – Hamburger Lady. But I don’t remember seeing a video of that song

  15. I don’t think this is it, but I think it comes close to what you were describing, at least in style and tone. It’s a surreal little thing done in 1984 by the amazing Jim Blashfield called “Suspicious Circumstances”:


    I adore Blashfield’s work, always have, and the style you’re desicribing sounds just like the animation that made his name.

    If I’m right about the filmmaker’s name, at least you have that to go on now. Hope that helps.

  16. Jason says:

    Well darn it, see what I get for not paying attention to detail.

  17. Scott says:


  18. Well, I at least called where it was shown correctly.

  19. alcor805 says:

    Nice work. Impressive

  20. Mallinz says:

    Dude,there’s a Nigerian village called Zot.