SMOKE BREAK #1115 | A Fascinating Short Video Essay On How The World Went Digital

(via) It’s a very odd thing to stop and consider how we’ve lived through a transition in civilisation that was as big (if not bigger) than that which followed the invention of the printing press. We’re too immersed in how we’re personally doing making the switch to digital to really consider or appreciate the root mechanics that made the advancement possible. This superb six minute film from Delve is required watching for anyone wanting to take such a contemplative breather…

It was the change that no-one saw coming: the idea that we could take a book, a painting or a song and send it through cables and wires and even thin air to the other end of the world – and it would be identical on the other side. But this idea underpins everything about the Information Age we live in. How did we make such a mind bending transition into the digital world? And how does it work? It turns out it’s all based on a concept that is surprisingly beautiful in its simplicity. This short video essay explores what that idea is and tells you about the man who figured it all out.

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SMOKE BREAK #1114 | “Gunfighter” Short Puts Tired Wild West Clichés In Crosshairs

(NSFW Language) Nick Offerman plays a disembodied, omnipotent, and (presumably) much-mustachioed Voice in a short comedy film that sees a typical Wild West gunfighter face off against a saloon brimming with seemingly predictable characters. Hilarity ensues, et cetera.

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SMOKE BREAK #1113 | On The Hard-Fought Technological War Between Betamax & VHS

(via) Engineering wonk Bill Hammack is fascinated by the old fight to the death between Betamax and VHS, the two main commercial formats for video recording/playback in the 1970s and 1980s.

“In 1976 Sony introduced the Betamax video cassette recorder. It catalyzed the “ondemand” of today by allowing users to record television shows, and the machine ignited the first “new media”; intellectual property battles. In only a decade this revolutionary machine disappeared, beaten by JVC’s version of the cassette recorder. This video tells the story of why Betamax failed.”

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SMOKE BREAK #1112 | Ace Flair Bartender Dresses Up Like Bruce Lee, Does His Thing

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(via) Taiwanese barman Po Sheng Hsu channels his inner Bruce Lee (complete with yellow jumpsuit) to flaunt his flair bartending skills. “But I just wanted a beer…”

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SMOKE BREAK #1111 | A Supercut Of Every Slow Motion Shot By Director Wes Anderson

(via) Haitian cinephile Alejandro Prullansky gives us WES, a delightful compilation of every slow motion shot by film director Wes Anderson, all set to New Slang by The Shins.

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SMOKE BREAK #1110 | New Doc Film On The Phenomenon Of ‘Westernized’ Chinese Food

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(via) Brooklyn-based filmmaker Ian Cheney premiered his latest work, The Search For General Tso, last month at the Tribeca Film Festival. Through the prisms of old and modern menus found in myriad malls, delivery joints and Chinatowns, the new documentary examines the history and cultural/culinary phenomenon of Westernized Chinese food, specifically the origins of the ubiquitous American favourite: General Tso’s Chicken. Watch the trailer above…

Anchoring the film is an upbeat quest, through small towns and big cities across America and beyond, to understand the origins and popularity of Chinese American food and its top-selling dish. Who was General Tso? And why do nearly fifty thousand restaurants serve deep-fried chicken bearing his name? Using this Americanized dish and its mysterious mastermind as a lens onto a larger story of immigration, adaptation, and innovation, the film follows a lighthearted journey, grounded in cultural and culinary history, through restaurants, Chinatowns, and the American imagination. Visits to present-day Chinese restaurants spark forays into the past, guided by chefs, scholars, and the occasional opinionated customer. The film’s lively soundtrack and shadow-puppet animations contribute both whimsy and momentum, as viewers find they’re on a search to answer a deeper question: how did America’s Chinese food become so… American?

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SMOKE BREAK #1109 | Furious Austrian Dairy Farmer Declares War Against Red Bull

(Language NSFW) An Austrian farmer named Petutschnig Hons saw red when a “show-off” came to his farm to complain about the price of milk with a can of Red Bull in his hand. He got so angry, in fact, that he produced a video rant that ends with him destroying a can of Red Bull with a sledgehammer. Money quote: “Where are your wings, you dirty fucking stupid can?”

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SMOKE BREAK #1108 | Making Assumptions About ‘Foreigners’ In Japanese Restaurants

(via) But We’re Speaking Japanese! – a skit by Ken Tanaka (and friends) – makes fun of the bewildered fashion in which service staff in Japan can sometimes treat ethnic Japanese people who don’t speak Japanese and non-Japanese who speak fluent Japanese. It works works both ways

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SMOKE BREAK #1107 | Short Film On What Inspires & Motivates Very Creative People

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(via) This 12 minute video by London’s Liberatum brings together some of the world’s top creative individuals – architects, artists, curators, directors, actors, photographers, designers, composers, etc – to talk about the fuel and maintenance of their individual creative engines.

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SMOKE BREAK #1106 | The Most Epic Used Volvo Station Wagon To Ever Go Up For Sale

We’ve owned one of these Volvo 240 station wagons. The magic is real, and so is the ghost in the back seat. Money quote: “This car is equipped with both an inside and an outside…”

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SMOKE BREAK #1105 | Animator Recalls Her Grandmother Through Her Possessions

When Welsh animator Gemma Green Hope’s grandmother passed away, she created a superb memorial by way of this animated treatment of her Gan-Gan’s possessions.

My grandmother Elizabeth (or Gan-Gan as I called her) was a force of nature; she was wonderful. As a child she seemed to me like a visitor from another time or place. Her tiny terraced house in Bideford was full of treasures; hundreds of books, a medusa’s head, Peter the Great’s ivory letter opener, the caul of her mother tied up in blue ribbon, a tile stolen from the Alhambra, a silk blouse embroidered by nuns, deadly poison, beautiful Pre-Raphaelite artworks, a knife carved from the wood of HMS Victory, Granny Green’s pince-nez, and diaries full of stories from a hard life well-lived. After her death in 2010, I helped my father and uncle sort through some of her possessions. I inherited some of her clothes to wear, books to read, a bicycle to ride. But how do you make sense of all the other things that someone leaves behind, the things nobody sees, boxes full of photographs, and bits of string? I used these objects alongside images and memories of my own to make this short animation, which I dedicate to her memory.

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SMOKE BREAK #1104 | Indian Boy Dreams Of Becoming A “Master Chef” In Short Film

From award-winning Indian director Ritesh Batra comes a great little short film called The Master Chef. “Akhil, a young shoeshine boy, dreams of becoming a gourmet chef when he has a chance encounter with India’s most popular TV cuisiner…” Enjoy.

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SMOKE BREAK #1103 | The Opening Credits Of Forrest Gump Directed By Wes Anderson

Filmmaker Louis Paquet put together this short detailing what the opening credits of Forrest Gump would look like if the film had been directed by Wes Anderson instead of Robert Zemeckis. Naturally, it opens with a box of chocolates and closes with a feather.

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SMOKE BREAK #1102 | When Kermit The Frog & Fozzie Bear Got Seriously Existential

(via) Puppeteers Jim Henson and Frank Oz (playing Kermit The Frog and Fozzie Bear) improvise like the geniuses they were during this 1979 camera test for The Muppet Movie.

Kermit: “Well Fozzie, the thing of it is though you’re not a real bear. You’re not a real natural bear. I mean, you’re talking about a bear in its natural habitat…What do you have, you have sort of a fake fur. You’ve got foam rubber. You’ve got foam rubber and fake fur. You’re an artificial bear. Have you ever seen a bear with a magenta nose?”

Fozzie: “I got news for you kid. You have to hurt me, I’m going to have to hurt you. Are you ready for this? Are you ready? You got a wire on your arm. It’s only for movement. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I believe in you. I do understand that I am not a real bear but I know what I am. I am what I am. But I’m a real puppet. I’m happy with my lot in life.”

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