Extended Trailer for Cloud Atlas Has Gotten Me Hooked!

I came across this beautiful and dynamic trailer today, for a movie called Cloud Atlas based on the novel of the same name.

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Favourite Songs I Heard for the First Time in 2009

What were your favourite pieces of music that you heard for the first time last year?

I don’t necessarily mean music that came out last year, just that you heard it for the first time last year because it was new to you. If you care to share, you can put it in the comments following the post. I’d love to know to expand my musical horizons.

Below are a list of favourite songs I heard for the first time in 2009, enough that would fit on CD were I to have made one. Most were from musicals as I really got into them in 2009 after my classic jazz year in 2008. A few were one-off takes on television events, though, so I’ll start with one that was both. It was available on YouTube like most of my selections so I have included the videos to have the music right here for you. I also linked the songs to blog posts I did inspired by them, where I did one.

Someone Like You

from Jekyll & Hyde
Linda Eder & Frank Wildhorn on 2000 PBS Special
Linda Eder delivers a loving performance of this gorgeous song with touching lyrics, accompanied by husband Frank Wildhorn, who had composed the song. (blog post)

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If You Were Gay

from Avenue Q
Rick Lyon and John Tartaglia

Love and humour, not just in song but also video spoof. (blog post)

The Internet is for Porn

from Avenue Q
Stephanie D’Abruzzo, Rick Lyon & the Guys
Possibly the funniest song I have ever heard! (blog post)

Mix Tape

from Avenue Q
Stephanie D’Abruzzo and John Tartaglia

A song that dragged my emotions up and down, enhanced by Stephanie’s nuances of acting while singing this song. (blog post)

As Long as You’re Mine

from Wicked
Idina Menzel and Norbert Leo Butz
An often overlooked song from Wicked that I only heard once I saw the musical, rather than hearing the more popular songs from it. However, I loved it immediately, especially the soft-spoken ending.

Academy Awards 2009 Introduction

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway
This number was both brilliant and unexpected in being clever, funny and spectacularly performed. My intro to the full talents of Hugh Jackman. (blog post)

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Monologue Song

from Saturday Night Live November 7, 2009
Taylor Swift

How to trash everybody you want to with class and humour while being really cute about it. (blog post)

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Dark Eyes

by Bob Dylan
Judy Collins
Judy Collins gives this sad Dylan song a haunting rendition. (blog post)

Better Angels

Lesley Gore
The original It’s My Party girl seriously grows up with this beautiful tune I first heard on CSI Miami (compilation video of episode shown below).

I Got a Feeling

Black Eyed Peas
Just an awesome dance song, ’nuff said cause I’m getting dancing! Best 2009 song in my opinion. (I chose the flash mob version shown on Oprah for the video cause it’s also so awesome!)

Wake-up

The Arcade Fire
I heard this song via the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are and thought they had made a pretty good choice for a theme song.

The Closest Thing to Crazy

by Mike Batt
Katie Melua
Pretty much describes what feeling in love feels like to me. (blog post)

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

Gayla Peevey
I heard it on a Telus commercial and loved it immediately, a bit surprised I had never heard this 1950s seasonal classic until now. (blog post)

You’ve Gotta Have a Gimmick

from There’s No Business Like Show Business
Bernadette Peters, Julia McKenzie, Ruthie Henshall
This is probably the ultimate example of my claim that girls have all the fun songs in musicals, and the video only emphasizes the point.

Married

from Cabaret
Ron Rifkin, Michelle Pawk
A charming little song about marriage. A compact version is shown below.

Mystery

performed on the show Inside the Actor’s Studio
Hugh Laurie
A hilarious and charming example of how lyric writing sometimes feels like to me, trying to find desperate rhymes and more desperate words that conform with desperate rhymes. (blog post)

Love, Look in my Window

from Hello Dolly!
Ethel Merman

There isn’t a video for this one but the piece was written for Ethel Merman when she joined Hello Dolly! If you hear her perform it with the emotions she does, you’ll know why it was written for her. I can hardly keep from crying at points in it. Probably good I don’t have the music for that reason!

What Lyric Writing Sometimes Feels Like, Demonstrated by Hugh Laurie

house_hugh_laurie-711333This is Hugh Laurie of( Dr. Gregory) House M.D. fame, singing a comedic song, Mystery, during a June 2006 appearance on Inside the Actor’s Studio. The song was originally from the show A Bit of Fry and Laurie.

I’m not posting this for performance, or lyrics or musicality. Rather, I’m posting it because the way Hugh put a little acting into all the little spots in the song as if he were improvising. At various points, he pretends to struggle to come up with a rhyme, the idea for the next verse, how to manipulate a word to rhyme, making up new words, squeezing in entire phrases, etc.

What all that feels like is the struggle, and mystery, of lyric writing for songwriting. The various methods, successes and failures of “creativity” to find that elusive lyric, sometimes forced and sometimes “enlightened”, are demonstrated well, I thought. The song is simple enough you can just sit and dissect the lyrics, which are included under the video below. The tune and musical chord progressions are nice and simple, too.

Besides that, I’m not sure I can say much about the “mystery” of lyric writing. It just kind of feels this way, if you’ve never experienced it yourself.

If you have, I’d love to hear your descriptions of it. Thanks!

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Mystery
All my life has been a mystery
You and I were never ever meant to be
That’s why I call my love for you a mystery

Different country
You and I have always lived in a different country
And I know that airline tickets don’t grow on a tree
So what kept us apart is plain (plane?) for me to see
That much at least is not really a mystery

Estuary
I live in a houseboat on an estuary
Which is handy for my work with the Port Authority
But I know you would have found it insanitary
Insanitary

Hated me
I’d be foolish to ignore the possibility
That if we’d ever actually met, you might have really taken a violent dislike to me
Still, that’s not the only problem that I can see

Dead since 1993
You’ve been dead now . . . wait a minute, let me see…
Fourteen years come next Jan-uary
As a human being you are history

So why do I still long for you?
Why is my love so strong for you?
Why did I write this song for you?
Well, I guess it’s just a mystery

Just a mystery
Mystery!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.9

Ten Tips To Better Tweeting

Twitter Logos

If your ADHD from Twitter has progressed beyond reading paragraphs, here are the ten tips to better personal tweeting in point form, without elaboration so you’ll have to figure it out:

  • Tweet in the third person
  • Be positive
  • Practice humour
  • Two tweet jokes
  • Don’t advertise
  • Ask questions
  • Gigantic concepts and miniscule details
  • Nothing like feelings
  • Use interesting words
  • WTF

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I’ve been looking into a lot of tweets for a few months now and, to be frank, there wasn’t all that much to keep my interest. People and their lives just aren’t that interesting from what comes across. Even the people you think would be interesting aren’t that interesting. Or is it because they don’t know how to convey it? And if they’re like that, think of what the more “normal” people tweet. Yeah, you know the ones I’m talking about. Many of your friends, my friends, me, and very possibly you.

But if you need to tweet, at least put some effort into all that phoniness associated with Twittering, would you? Use it to improve your writing skills, story telling skills, sense of humour. Use it as motivation to actually do something interesting with your life so you could tweet it without having to try any of those other things. Use it to spread good energy. There’s a lot of potential in tweeting for real life skills improvements and value, if only people would embrace the thought rather than drown in all this shallowness associated with tweeting. You don’t have to “fake” your tweets in doing all this. Just show a little flair people maybe don’t see much of from you, or at least not on the text side.

To help these boring tweeters you know improve their tweets, I have created ten tips for better tweeting. These aren’t meant to be the greatest or best tips or anything, in no particular order. They are just ten I came up with which I know helps. However, let’s start with a tip zero, which is getting over denial. You can’t solve a problem till you admit you have it. That’s why you’re going to send this to somebody, post it to their Facebook wall or something, right? I’m posting it to my own!

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TWEET IN THE THIRD PERSON. There is so much “me” culture in Twitter it’s sickening. Talk about yourself in the third person the way someone would read that tweet. Ban the “I” word. Starting with a verb is also a good thing because it’s action-oriented.

Tweeterbird is singing the sweetest song heard.

I’m singing the sweetest song heard just sounds a lot vainer.

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BE POSITIVE! You’d be surprised how human negativity spread among people by any means, and how it builds up through self-affirmation like a tweet. If you need to self-affirm, do it in a way that doesn’t spread to everyone else! Also, telling the same message without the negativity is not only a challenge, it’s a nice way to look at the same problem through a better lens.

Tricycle got a flat tire today but still had three left (optional: If two out of three ain’t bad, then three out of four can’t be, either).

I don’t know about you, but I get a very different reaction seeing that rather than something like Can’t believe I got f#&$ing flat tire today!

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PRACTICE HUMOUR. Humour can be the easiest way out of being negative, but it can also be the hardest thing to try to find something funny out of a bad incident. Just try writing something funny. It doesn’t have to be what you’re doing, just maybe what’s on your mind, or what came into your mind as you tried to think of something funny. You could develop your written sense of humour this way. You can think up things until you’re ready to tweet it. People might know that, but so what? You’re putting an effort into it… which is more than they can say of their tweets. Whether the attempt elicits a groan, smile or laugh, people will at least have a reaction, which is more than they can say of most tweets.

Punster‘s body is like Iraq after a 23 mile run… full of free radicals causing lots of pain and suffering.

If someone doesn’t get it, it might intrigue them enough to ask you about it rather than reading about your body hurting after such a long marathon training run if you plainly tweeted it that way.

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TWO TWEET JOKES. Good jokes are often set’em up, knock’em down affairs. Not these long drawn out stories. So find some and share them. Ask something in the morning. Let your followers think, or just plant the thought in the back of their heads so when they get the punchline later in the day, they’ll remember and get it, have a good laugh and release. Tension and release is something quite often referred to in music, but this is the same idea. Your followers can try to finish your jokes , and they might (which means you’ve engaged them), but you ultimately hold the answer for all your other followers who will be waiting for it.

NovaScotian How many Newfies does it take to have an orgy?
NovaScotian Just one, though more than two hands would make it a better orgy.

Don’t ask. I just made it up on the spot. If you also find you don’t have enough jokes, well, take it as a sign to get some more for the next party you attend.

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DON’T ADVERTISE. If you’re trying to sell something, chances are your friends already know about it. I don’t care whether that’s Avon or chocolate or otherwise, aside from the occasional special event, I’d tolerate one tweet about it. Any more and I’m buzzing you out for good! You didn’t get into Twitter for commercials, do you think they did?

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ASK QUESTIONS. If you learn something new, share it by asking a question? You can ask with the answer in the question, or create suspense by asking the question and answering later. The latter is good for when the question is too long.

Socialstudies Did you know ears makes noises of its own, albeit at a level only detectable by supersensitive microphones?

Socialstudies Do you know what the NSFM policy for Internet posting is?
Socialstudies Not Safe For Mom. Don’t post anything not safe if Mom ever saw it.

If you’re ever short on ideas, may I introduce you to the Social Studies column in the Canadian national newspaper, the Globe & Mail. It is written by Michael Kesterton and is exactly what it says it is, a daily miscellany of information. It is my favourite week daily reading by far and has been for many years! The username is fictitious. Questions about details in your life could also be fun, although it might sound vain after a while. Still, imagine if you did one of those 25 Things about You Facebook memes one tweet at a time!

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GIGANTIC CONCEPTS & miniscule details. Can you think big? Can you think philosophically? Give your followers something to ponder for a while? Or give them a chance to be smart and tweet back an answer. But maybe you’re one of those types who has an eye, ear or other awarenessfor detail. Can you describe it?

Burncock If a tweet goes unread, does anybody hear?
RockingRobin
is listening to old skool tweeting of nightingales. Tweet! Tweet!

The first is actually a very practical rather than useless philosophical question. The username is not meant to be offensive, but is a play on the spelling of Bruce Cockburn‘s (pronounced KO-burn) last name. He is the writer of the referenced phrase, If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear? from the song If a Tree Falls, in 1989. I’ve been fortunate to have met Bruce in the summer of 2008 and he’s a very nice and candid guy. The second is a nice thought to me rummaging through hundreds of techno-tweets.

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Nothing like feelings. Add some feelings to whatever it is you tweet to humanize the tweets. Like being positive, feelings are contagious so keep it to the good ones. Feelings can also liven what is otherwise a mundane tweet.

Gogetter is peeing with a passionne.

I would have enjoyed that tweet over one that said is peeing. Would you?

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USE INTERESTING WORDS. Why think big concepts and notice little details when you can conceptualize gigantic concepts and be aware of miniscule minutaie to expand yours and your followers’ lexicon?

Wordwatcher believes in kaizen, gestalt and arete rather than religion.

Kaizen (the art of constant self-improvement), gestalt (a total greater than the sum of its parts) and arete (excellence in the fulfillment of purpose of function) are three of my favourite words, as well as my spirituality.

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WTF TWEET. If you’re not familiar with the acronym WTF, it stands for What the f*ck and is used when you’re wanting to express that reaction and question in Internet or chat jargon. Every once in a while, throw one in out of the blue. See if anybody asks.

Machoman is putting on a tutu & prancing about… “I could have danced, all night, I could have danced, all night, and still, have begged, for more!”

I just used this one the other day. The reference was to little 10 year old Hollie Steel, by whom I was amazed and had blogged about recently.

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Got any interesting tweeting twips two share?

Please do in a comment below!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.7

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Embrace the Improv Mantra for a Better World

The best improvisation (improv) actors and actresses, like Canadian Mike Myers, but especially those in theater games, will tell you that it’s simple in a philosophical sense. You only had one rule and that rule was also the key to success.

You can’t deny another person’s reality, you can only build on it.

Mike Myers

Mike Myers

That is, whatever someone said or did, you have to accept it and build on it, not contradict it because it stops everything in its tracks. However, I would be willing to bet main reason most people have trouble doing improv is that it’s more natural for them to contradict than to accept. Most times we don’t get something, we stop to clarify if we say anything at all. Most times we don’t agree, we stop to assert ourselves if we say anything at all, which you have to in improv to avoid one person dominating the act. It’s just hard for a lot of us to obey that rule because contradiction is done so commonly these days that it is second nature to us, if not always but maybe not ever to the same extent today given people are given voice on so many medium. You have to act to act right, basically, and that acting to be something rather than believing it it so you do it second nature will give you away as a fraud or bad actor to an audience.

Not being well versed in improv theatre, when I heard Mike Mayers say the improv mantra on the Bravo channel a few Sundays ago during an episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio, I was blown away and thought wouldn’t that be a nice thing to embrace more often?

I didn’t think it was something to do all the time like the mantra. I love debate, but I also believe in giving things a chance and opening one’s mind, and this definitely allows that if I only would embrace it more often… as well as others around me.

Emily Levine

Emily Levine

Coincidentally, four days later, on TED.com, my favourite learning source these days, the video below was put up. It was of humorist, writer and trickster Emily Levine talking about a lot of things in her Theory of Everything, “intelligent comedy” format style. In this superbly philosophical and hilarious talk, she philosophized a thought similar to mine of said improv mantra being a great ethic for a society.

How these things played into my mind, I don’t know, but last week, I came up with the idea to try acting classes as my new thing to try this year. I looked up local acting classes and found one, Intro to Theatre Acting, which is improv style stuff, not scripted acting like on film.  Fortunately for me, it started yesterday so I didn’t have to wait long to get into things before my enthusiasm might have faded.

Then I came home and saw that WordPress.com came out with a great announcement of how to embed TED videos into your post easily. Thanks, WordPress folks, and keep up the phenomenal work! This TED news to WP was the trifecta of the perfect storm for me to create this post and share this very thought provoking and gut choking talk so I hope you will have a look, listen and enjoy.

Be warned, though! I’ve told you. This is intelligent humour! If you don’t think it’s funny, either check your intelligence, anatomy for a humour bone or both!

Check the TED.com category on my blog for other posts where I’ve shared my favourite TED videos with some blog material. Otherwise, see my full collection of TED videos I liked enough to share on my Vodspot vlog. Or just see what I’ve viewed recently (and others through this blog) via the Vodspot plugin WordPress allows at right.

Can you tell I LOVE TED? 🙂