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sometimes humans are wonderful
July 29, 2010 12:57 AM   Subscribe

Imitating a xylophone.
posted by flapjax at midnite (28 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ok, I want the clapping machine, because I've been doing that for years.

My favorite, though, is still pitch-bending it to become a dripping sink effect. (Mouth the syllable "wa".)
posted by darksasami at 1:10 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I was in my backyard, entertaining a friend with my hands."

The "wonderful" tag has been well and truly earned today, my friends.
posted by EmGeeJay at 1:14 AM on July 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


just going by what he said I believe he's actually imitating a zillophone
posted by tuck_nroll at 1:22 AM on July 29, 2010


Well, he sure ain't just whistling Dixie.
posted by loquacious at 1:40 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh the fun they could have with this over at 4Chan...
posted by Mokusatsu at 1:51 AM on July 29, 2010


Oh the fun they could have with this over at 4Chan...

Um, I believe the term the kids are using nowadays is lulz...
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:27 AM on July 29, 2010


But who was this man? Why don't we know his name?

I'm dismayed by the all too easy disregard of personal identity conveyed by these so-called "YouTube videos". We've all become nameless content creators, indeed, almost faceless creators except for those that need faces, or at least mouths, to make the video in the first place.

Where is the back story? Where is the explanation for why a man might want to imitate a xylophone with his mouth?

These details are lost to us. We enjoy the apparently frivolous product of what must have been many hours of practice on the part of this unusually talented soul, and then we forget about him. Perhaps mouth-xylophone doesn't seem important enough. Perhaps you have decided that an ability to imitate a xylophone with the mouth is not an ability that you must revere.

But you might be wrong.

The oddest talents, the most unusual preoccupations, are the ones that we must hold in highest reverence, because nobody knows what skills might be needed in the future. These YouTube videos of bizarre feats are like the seed-banks for a tomorrow where any potential human accomplishment might instruct us to survive some current reality.

It's like the letter X. This letter almost never comes up in ordinary writing, but when it does it lends exceptional focus to a word. What would SEX be without X? Probably just SE. Along with workhouse letters like E, A, T, O, I, N we need letters that are rare, unusual, different, bizarre, strange, weird, or some other synonym. We need the exceptional to understand the ordinary.

From now on, in my book, X will always stand for Xylophone.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:43 AM on July 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


Fabulous comment twoleftfeet. Right up through the somewhat tongue-in-cheek ruminations on the 24th letter of our noble alphabet.

Where is the back story? Where is the explanation for why a man might want to imitate a xylophone with his mouth?

Wish it were available to us. Maybe it is, somewhere, we just haven't found it yet. But it's worth keeping in mind that many, many musicians of the past share his fate: we have fragments here, bits there... a few 78rpm sides from, say, a Geeshie Wiley or a Washington Phillips, and often we know little more about them than their names and the serial number of the record they made. A case like this one, a novelty performer who just happened to catch the ear of some newsreel photographer with some time and a roll of film to spare, hell, we know even less. But such are the random ways of media history. there just ain't a backstory for everything, and, who knows, maybe that7s not an altogether bad thing. We must consider ourselves fortunate to have just these pieces of driftwood that make it to our shore.

Perhaps in the end we are all nameless content creators., and who the hell will care what our names were, anyway? Well, we all just do what we can. Some of us imitate xylophones.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:18 AM on July 29, 2010


This post automatically made me think of Bob Blackman for some reason.
posted by Jofus at 4:31 AM on July 29, 2010


I happen to know that the greatest entertainer of all time was not Michael Jackson but rather A. Robins, The Banana Man , who could pull large objects out of his pants while doing a quick-change from man to woman.

If skills like that have been forgotten, there is no hope for simple musicians, or for content creators in general.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:33 AM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The voiceover that chimes in at the end makes it look like this is an excerpt from a fascinating infomercial.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 4:57 AM on July 29, 2010


About five years ago, I was in my back yard entertaining a friend with my hands.

Of course you were.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:00 AM on July 29, 2010


OK, OK, twoleftfeet, I get it. You're just jerking my chain.

kinda suspected that all along, but figured I'd give you the benefit of the doubt...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:07 AM on July 29, 2010


I too want to know how the painting magically appears at 1:02 in the video.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:21 AM on July 29, 2010


I happen to know that the greatest entertainer of all time was not Michael Jackson but rather A. Robins, The Banana Man , who could pull large objects out of his pants while doing a quick-change from man to woman.

It's amazing how long a single, great act can take you in Vaudy-ville.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:37 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe because of the post above this, I immediately thought of D-Day's William Tell rendition.
posted by condour75 at 6:00 AM on July 29, 2010


I must say this made me smile.
posted by ob at 6:09 AM on July 29, 2010


OK, OK, twoleftfeet, I get it. You're just jerking my chain.

No, no, there was no chain jerking. I was trying to say that it's cool that people feel compelled to do things that are, for the most part, rather silly and pointless. Whenever somebody spends hours perfecting a craft, be it imitating a xylophone, making music, or pulling bananas out of ones pants (you gotta watch the Banana Man's act... go 4 minutes in) it's a good thing.

The stories in the history books, or in the news, are about big things - wars, murders, life, death - but I'm saying that it's more interesting that during all of this people still get excited by little things - xylophones, bananas, etc. - that there's a basic appreciation for something that isn't immediately tied to survival.

And I would never jerk your chain anyway, flapjax.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:55 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I'd like to see this here zilla-phone.
posted by grubi at 7:16 AM on July 29, 2010



It's amazing how long a single, great act can take you in Vaudy-ville.


There actually were two "The Banana Man". The original, Adolph Proper, died in 1950. Sam Levine took over after that.

(I am no expert. I have wikipedia.)

Two men, so many bananas. Or so the tagline would go.
posted by run"monty at 8:09 AM on July 29, 2010


He is handsome!! ......I wouldn't have minded him entertaining me with his hands!
posted by naplesyellow at 8:12 AM on July 29, 2010


There actually were two "The Banana Man".

Who knew a single act could carry two people (besides all those old hacks that stole each other's bits left and right)?!?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:22 AM on July 29, 2010


cute. In middle school I discovered that I could do something similar by flicking my cheeks (not those cheeks!), and I still can! Perhaps I should post a video of it to the YouTubes and become the laughing stock of the internet for a few days. :)
posted by luvcraft at 8:32 AM on July 29, 2010


When did people start talking like that? When and why did they stop? So awesome.

The mouth thing is pretty good, but I'd be more impressed if he were building an orphanage with his bare hands while playing a sweet, sweet lullaby for the children with two mallets against his abs xylophone.
posted by straight at 11:32 AM on July 29, 2010


When did people start talking like that? When and why did they stop? So awesome.

I was going to say the same thing. The "I'm being recorded" awkward nasality really sells this.

Also, I love the description of the video: "A man who can imitate a xylophone with his bare hands demonstrates the machine that allows him to do it faster." I was expecting him to then pull out a xylophone...
posted by DU at 11:57 AM on July 29, 2010


sometimes humans are wonderful

My remarkable musical friend (and occasional bandmate) Gene Nichols is wonderful. No particularly good videos of his ukulele orchestra exist online, but recently another member of our ensemble(s) pointed me to this series of videos where Gene — all the while dressed ridiculously as the mascot of the small university in Maine where he runs the music department — plays Baby Elephant Walk on his own odd xylophone (made of hubcaps), expresses his Feelings on his specially made bulb horn contraption, elegantly flies to the moon on the musical saw, and even interviews himself.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:51 PM on July 29, 2010


I'm not sure why, but this has caused me to giggle uncontrollably over and over again.

Thank you, flapjax. You have made my Friday morning, and possibly my weekend as well.
posted by kinnakeet at 4:58 AM on July 30, 2010


I've seen this before, and not on youtube. I recall that voice over at the end. It might have been some PBS thing I saw decades ago but the memory is dim. Now it's going to bug me forever.
posted by chairface at 7:39 PM on July 31, 2010


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