Experimental Film

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Toon Category: Shorts
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The color of infinity?

Strong Sad and The Cheat make a video for They Might Be Giants.

Cast (in order of appearance): Strong Sad, Tentacle Skull, They Might Be Giants, The Cheat, Gavin, It's a lion!, Homestar Runner, Strong Bad, Strong Mad

Places: The Field, Bathroom of the Brothers Strong, The Athletic Field

Date: Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Running Time: 3:00

Page Title: So a guy walks up to an ATM...

DVD: Everything Else, Volume 1

Contents

[edit] Lyrics

The color of infinity inside an empty glass
I'm squinting my eye and turning off
And on and on and off the light

It's for this experimental film
Which nobody knows about
And which I'm still figuring out
What's going to go in my experimental film?

Yeah—you're all gonna be in this experimental film
And even though I can't explain it
I already know how great it's

I already know the ending it's
The part that makes your face implode
I don't know what makes your face implode
But that's the way the movie ends

And in my experimental film
Which nobody knows about
But which I'm still figuring out
Your face implodes in my experimental film

Yeah—you're all gonna be in this experimental film
And even though I can't explain it
I already know how great it's
Even though I can't explain it
I already know how great it's

The color of infinity inside an empty glass
It's for this experimental film
Which nobody knows about
And which I'm still figuring out
What's going to go in my experimental film?

Yeah—you're all gonna be in this experimental film
And even though I can't explain it
I already know how great it's gonna—
Yeah—you're gonna be in this experimental film
And even though I can't explain it
I already know how great it's
Even though I can't explain it
I already know how great it's

[edit] Easter Eggs

  • You can click on "Directed by Strong Sad & The Cheat" before the video starts to get a commentary by Homestar Runner characters.

[edit] Commentary Transcript

(Commentary by: Strong Sad, The Cheat, Strong Bad, Homestar Runner)

STRONG SAD: Oh, hello, this is Strong Sad...

THE CHEAT: {The Cheat noises}

STRONG SAD: ...and we're the co-directors of this video.

THE CHEAT: Meh!

STRONG SAD: Uh, so my portion of this video details the life of a very lonely individual named Rondell who can't deal with the decisions of day-to-day life.

STRONG BAD: We interrupt this whining to bring you this important headline: "World bored to death by Strong Sad commentary."

STRONG SAD: Agh, what are you doing here? You're hardly even in this video!

STRONG BAD: Yeah, well, I woulda been the one directing it if weren't for those Super Giant guys.

STRONG SAD: That's not what they're called.

STRONG BAD: Whatever they're called, that one right there with the glasses, he started talking all these vocabulary words at me and confusin' me and the next thing I know, I was relegated to this crappy bit part. {Referring to the top of two heads (one is wearing glasses, likely They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh)}

STRONG SAD: Hey, "relegated" sounds like a vocabulary word.

STRONG BAD: I'll relegate your face to a...bloody pulp!

THE CHEAT: {Coffee was being hit with a drumstick} {The Cheat noises}

STRONG SAD: Oh, that part represented hitting coffee with a drumstick. Okay.

"Aah! More like our 'I'll murder you in a back alley' host."

STRONG BAD: {upon seeing a picture captioned "our gracious host"} Aah! More like our "I'll murder you in a back alley" host.

STRONG SAD: Uh, so this next part {referring to tiny The Cheats erupting from cracks in Rondell's hands} is an allusion to one of my very favorite experimental films called—

STRONG BAD: Boring Johnny and the Get Bored Crew.

STRONG SAD: {exasperated} Will you quit it with the "boring" comments?

STRONG BAD: Look, if it weren't for that tentacle skull riding the old-timey bike, this video would have nothin'!

THE CHEAT: {The Cheat noises}

STRONG SAD: Oh, yeah, the first question on that pop quiz was, "Are you all going to be in my experimental film?" {Referring to Pop Quiz in clip}

STRONG BAD: {the tentacle skull is seen in ink on lined paper} Oh, look, there he is! Keep on old-timey bikin', tentacle-skull. {Gavin is seen} Hey, is that Gavin? I didn't know he was in this video. He's got, like, as much screen time as I do!

HOMESTAR RUNNER: Hey guys, is this the Super Giants video?

STRONG SAD: That's not what they're—

STRONG BAD: Yes. But they cut us out of it.

HOMESTAR RUNNER: Oh, weird—then why'd they bother getting somebody who looks just like me? {Seeing himself in the clip}

STRONG BAD: No, that is you, I just mean they mostly—

HOMESTAR RUNNER: {Seeing Strong Bad and Strong Mad in the clip} And that guy looks just like you! And that big guy {referring to Strong Mad} looks just like Coach Z!

STRONG BAD: Now this part accurately represents what it feels like to watch this video. {Ticking clock shown}

STRONG SAD: {exasperated} Ohhh! This next part {the film shows Rondell's face, then begins to shake, and the image disappears as if burning, revealing animated Rondell} is all about Rondell's transformation into a new man.

HOMESTAR RUNNER: I thought you said that was just an accident that happened because you loaded the film wrong.

STRONG SAD: {embarrassed} Uhh, why don't you shut up, Homestar?

HOMESTAR RUNNER: I dunno... 'cause I guess I got a lot of stuff to say.

STRONG BAD: {when he, Strong Mad and Homestar are seen dancing} Check out my dance! Ooh, ah, ooh side-swipe! {The Cheat joins in} Ooh, ah, ooh side-swipe! {Homestar joins in} Ooh, ah, ooh side-swipe! Ooh, ah, ooh side-swipe!

STRONG SAD: Ahhh, this is the worst commentary ever!

STRONG BAD: That's what I've been saying this whole time!

HOMESTAR RUNNER: Yeah, me too. Worst... commissary... ever.

STRONG SAD: {during the portion where components of the film are seen pogoing} At this point reality and fantasy have collided and everybody... pogos.

THE CHEAT: {as an animated Rondell walks up to an animated ATM} {The Cheat noises}

STRONG SAD: {angry} What do you mean you tried to be as dumpy-accurate as possible?

STRONG BAD: {as Strong Bad is seen dancing, with the words "Real Smooth Moves" is seen above him} Let's talk about how "Real Smooth Moves" is like the best band name ever. The old Supreme Giants boys could take a cue from that one.

HOMESTAR RUNNER: {as a muffin on a table is seen} I'm gonna take a cue from that kitchen table and go get me a blueb'ry muffin!

STRONG SAD: Ohh, what a disaster. I hope I still get paid.

[edit] Fun Facts

[edit] Explanations

  • This toon was made for the second single from They Might Be Giants' tenth studio album The Spine. The song is called Experimental Film. In 2014, the song was added to Pandora, a website that allows for personal radios.
  • The two head-tops belong to They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh and John Linnell. The one on the left is Flansburgh, as he has black hair and wears glasses, and the one on the right is Linnell.
  • The answers for the "pop quiz" refer to the cotton gin, an invention that revolutionized the cotton-growing industry; Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, the town where General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses Grant at the end of the American Civil War; and the former all-time career record for home runs in Major League Baseball (755), held by baseball player Hank Aaron at the time of this video. According to Strong Sad, the first question was "Are you all going to be in my experimental film?"
  • The Tentacle-Skull can be seen riding a penny-farthing bicycle.

[edit] Trivia

  • This toon was originally posted on The Brothers Chaps' other domain, thoraxcorp.com, but was quickly taken down.
  • This toon was released at approximately midnight Eastern Time on 13 July 2004—the release date of The Spine.
  • The joystick Homestar is using is for an Atari 2600.
  • According to this Wired interview, TMBG were going to make a separate video for the MTV crowd. Choice quote: "I feel like if MTV and Homestar collided, the world might explode." However, the H*R music video did air on MTV.
  • Despite "resolving not to feel so bad about wanting to hit Homestar so much" (see Strong Sad's Lament), the commentary shows the first time that Strong Sad has stood up to Homestar. As expected, Homestar doesn't take him very seriously.
  • The first frame of the actual song is labeled "viderostart" internally (this label is used by the commentary scripts).

[edit] Remarks

  • The first line of the song is "The color of infinity inside an empty glass." Strong Sad's glass is full.
  • Even though Strong Sad says in his blog that he can't jump, he jumps here, as well as in the email caffeine and in A Jumping Jack Contest.
  • For the shot of Strong Sad pointing the camera in the mirror at an angle to be possible, the view would have to be from a second camera filming this, or involve additional mirrors.
  • In the commentary, Strong Bad comments that Gavin got about as much screen time as he did; Strong Bad has about 10 seconds of screen time versus Gavin's 3 seconds.
  • The clock has six seconds between the three and the four.
  • The first time the crowd uses the cards to make a picture of the Coffee Cup, at the bottom right corner on the second square up, the rim of the cup is yellow instead of white like the rest of the cup.
  • "It's a lion" is in yet another TMBG video directed by The Brothers Chaps: 'Figure Eight'.

[edit] Goofs

Leg?
  • As Homestar prepares to run away from Strong Sad, his leg is disconnected from his body.

[edit] Glitches

  • Occasionally, when you click "Directed by Strong Sad and The Cheat" at the beginning for the commentary, it plays the normal video without commentary for a few seconds. It then goes back to the beginning and does the commentary.
  • When you click "Directed by Strong Sad and The Cheat", it will occasionally play the video with the quiet background music but no commentary.
  • Sometimes the commentary will stop after about half of Strong Bad's first line, while the rest of the music in the background stays quieted. This continues throughout the entire cartoon.

[edit] Inside References

  • Just before Homestar appears, the crowd flips the cards to a picture of an olive on a toothpick. This was the eye from the Homestar Jr. in Where's The Cheat?
  • When the people in the grandstands flip the scenery cards to the mountain scene, it slightly resembles Main Page 2.
  • "Our gracious host" bears a striking resemblance to Monte Negro in Malloween Commercial.
  • Strong Sad, Strong Bad, and Homestar proclaim that this is the worst commentary ever.
    • Strong Bad also claims that "Real Smooth Moves" is the best band name ever in both commentaries.

[edit] They Might Be Giants References

  • United States presidents are a common theme in TMBG's work; they have no fewer than five songs about U.S. presidents and frequently mention presidents in songs and on stage. Their old website is also presidentially themed.
  • Skulls (e.g. the Tentacle Skull seen riding the bicycle) are another frequent TMBG theme. In addition to being mentioned in several of their songs, it appears on the cover of their Back to Skull EP and on the back of their John Henry album. The skull might also be the Skullivan, as mentioned in the companion EP for The Spine, The Spine Surfs Alone.
  • Coffee is yet another common theme in the work of TMBG. The earliest videos and promotional matierials from the '80s show TMBG with cups of coffee. In the film Gigantic, TMBG confesses that they are insanely dependent on coffee.
  • In the commentary, both Strong Bad and Homestar get TMBG's name totally wrong (both "Super Giants" and "Supreme Giants" are mentioned). This is, of course, not the first time this has happened. In fact, one of their early EPs included an answering machine message in which two people discuss "There Must Be Giants" and "There May Be Giants" and appear to be confused about the whole experience. Similarly, they are introduced as "They Must Be Giants" on their live album Severe Tire Damage.
  • The finger that comes up at one point might be a reference to the thumb on the cover of TMBG's "Dial-a-Song" album, or perhaps the close-up of a cartoon finger pressing an elevator button in the video for "(She Was a) Hotel Detective".
  • This is not the first time TMBG have worked with Flash accompaniment. Their children's album, "No!" (2002), was an enhanced CD, with 13 of the 17 songs having Flash animation complementing the music.
  • Strong Sad falling through the spiral of presidents could be a poke at the lyrics in Spiraling Shape. Example: "...And clawing at nothing you drop through the void..."
  • The "forest and mountains" backdrop in this toon was also used in TMBG's music video for Birdhouse in your Soul.
  • In the commentary, Strong Bad reveals how "the one in the glasses" confused him with large vocabulary words. John Flansburgh is notorious for having a large vocabulary.
  • The "time lapsed sped-up" scene of the table in which the skull enters and leaves the frame in the background is a reference to a similar scene in the video for the song "Ana Ng", in which John Flansburgh stands still while John Linnell moves in the background.

[edit] Real-World References

  • The page title is a reference to a stand-up cliché of beginning jokes with the line "so a guy walks into a bar..."
  • Strong Sad meeting the Grim Reaper through split screens is a reference to Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal.
  • The scene with the film apparently burning (the one that Homestar credits to Strong Sad loading the film wrong) is a reference to Bergman's Persona.
  • Much of the imagery, and especially the scenes of Strong Sad watching film sprocket holds go by, is likely a reference to one of the first great experimental films, The Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov, which has a section in which the sides of the film are exposed, and the characters look outside their own frame/world at the holes running by.
  • Ants (actually little The Cheats) crawling out of holes in Strong Sad's hands is a reference to Luis Buñuel's Un Chien Andalou ("An Andalusian Dog") co-directed by famous surrealist painter Salvador Dalí.
  • Strong Sad shaving himself is a reference to Jørgen Leth's short film Det perfekte menneske ("The Perfect Human").
  • In the commentary, Strong Bad interrupts Strong Sad with the phrase "Boring Johnny and the Get Bored Crew". This is most likely a reference to the hip hop group "Doug E. Fresh And The Get Fresh Crew".
  • Homestar can be found playing a game much like Space Invaders, only with presidents instead of aliens, as well as a dollar sign instead of a tank.
  • The swinging lightbulb is from the famous penultimate scene in Hitchcock's Psycho, where Vera Miles finds Norman Bates' partially-preserved dead mother in the fruit cellar. The oscillating shadows that result are re-created in various places in the video/animation.
  • Another Hitchcock film nod is made to Vertigo, when Strong Sad falls out of the film and into a descending spiral of presidential faces.
  • When Homestar is agreeing with Strong Bad, he says "Worst commissary ever." A Commissary is a name used for a cafeteria located at a film studio.

[edit] Fast Forward

[edit] DVD Version

  • The DVD version features two commentaries by Strong Sad, The Cheat, Strong Bad, and Homestar Runner. The first is available on the website and is transcribed above. The second is transcribed below. To access them, switch your DVD player's audio language selection while watching.

[edit] Commentary Transcript

(Commentary by: Strong Sad, The Cheat, Strong Bad, Homestar Runner)

STRONG SAD: Uh, hello. This is Strong Sad.

THE CHEAT: {The Cheat noises}

STRONG SAD: And that's The Cheat, and we're gonna talk about this video. Oh, geez, it's already started. So the guys approached me to do a video for "Experimental Film", so I shot my own experimental film but the, uh, the glasses guy said that it was too much of a total drag, so they brought The Cheat on board to, as they said, "make it quit sucking," which I guess is an industry term, I dunno...

THE CHEAT: {The Cheat noises}

STRONG SAD: Uh, The Cheat wants you to know that he did this part. I think they probably figured that out. {The images of John Flansburgh and John Linnell's heads appear.} There he is! That glasses guy. You really dig those extreme climates, huh? The desert, the arctic, {As this is said, the scene shifts to the arctic.} football stadiums... So this scene is dealing with man's indecision and apathy.

THE CHEAT: {The Cheat noises}

STRONG SAD: Oh, that scene was dealing with hitting coffee with a drumstick, eh?

THE CHEAT: {The Cheat noise}

STRONG SAD: {"Our Gracious Host" appears.} Okay, The Cheat, come clean. Who is that creepy guy in the picture frame?

THE CHEAT: {The Cheat noises}

STRONG SAD: Who's Stephan?

THE CHEAT: {The Cheat noises}

STRONG SAD: Well, I can see he's "Our gracious host"! But what does he have to do with anything?

THE CHEAT: {The Cheat noises}

STRONG SAD: Okay, whatever keeps you off the streets. {The Pop Quiz appears.} Let's see, those questions were, "How many home runs did Hank Aaron have?", "Where did Lee surrender to Grant?", "What did Eli Whitney invent?", and "Are you going to be in my experimental film?" What class is that for?!

STRONG BAD: Oh, hello there, chumps!

STRONG SAD: What are you guys doing here?!

STRONG BAD: I'm here to save this commentary from a death worse than... Strong Sad commentary.

HOMESTAR RUNNER: And I'm just here ridin' all y'all's coat tails.

STRONG SAD: Well, maybe you could tell me how you got that video game to come up on the ATM!

HOMESTAR RUNNER: Maybe I'm some type of magic video game man. Maybe you should start dealing with that, Strong Sad.

STRONG BAD: Man, I wish I grabbed some of that black-and-white cash!

STRONG SAD: That was Monopoly money!

STRONG BAD: Yeah, but, I'm gonna... {coughs} uh, sneeze. Yeah, black-and-white Monopoly money! That stuff is priceless! I'd be livin' on Baltic Avenue!

STRONG SAD: Well, this part's all about rebirth and new life...

STRONG BAD: Yeah, yeah, whatever. This part comin' up here is all about my new dance, The Side-swipe! {The dancing scene with Homestar, Strong Bad, and Strong Mad appears.} Check it out! Mm! Ah! Ooh side-swipe!

HOMESTAR RUNNER: Hey, Strong Sad.

STRONG SAD: What?!

HOMESTAR RUNNER: Hey, Strong Sad.

STRONG SAD: What?!

HOMESTAR RUNNER: Umm... it's a lion. {As he says this, "It's a lion" appears in the football stands.}

THE CHEAT: {A somewhat lengthy set of The Cheat noises}

STRONG BAD: Ah, that was very insightful, The Cheat!

STRONG SAD: Yeah, yeah, totally!

STRONG BAD: All right, so what kinda soup was that? Like, tomato-basil or some kind of bisque?

THE CHEAT: {The Cheat noises}

STRONG BAD: Ooh! Mulligatawny!

STRONG SAD: Can we talk about something artistic?

STRONG BAD: No, but we can talk about how "Real Smooth Moves" is, like, the best band name I ever heard. These Super Giant guys should change their name from "Super Giant" to "Real Smooth Moves." That's a band name!

STRONG SAD: Oh, I'm out of here! Hope I still get paid.

THE CHEAT: {The Cheat noises}

[edit] Fun Facts

  • Monopoly is a board game published by Parker Brothers. The game is named after and themed to the economic concept of monopoly, the domination of a market by a single entity.
    • Baltic Avenue is one of the most inexpensive sections of the game that can be bought.
  • Mulligatawny is a curry-flavored soup of Anglo-Indian origin. It is sometimes incorrectly regarded as the national soup of India. However it is also consumed in Sri Lanka.

[edit] See Also

  • The visuals that occur during the Experimental Film.

[edit] External Links

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