Hot Business Idea: Piñatas of Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi and Other Hated Dictators

Does anybody currently make piñatas of hated dictators like Hosni Mubarak and Muammar al-Gaddafi?

Piñatas are brightly-colored decorations made from a cardboard shape covered with papier-mâché, in case you don’t know what one is. Inside are candies or little gifts which children can get by beating the piñata with a big stick until the piñata breaks open, usually while blind-folded. Each kid takes his/her turn until the piñatas is completely opened up and nothing remains inside.

It’s something I imagine a lot of people like to do to those dictators!

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Halifax Skating Oval Could Be Kept for 50 Cents to $2 per Use (A Cost-Benefit Analysis)

Halifax Skating Oval

For about $1 of tax per person per year, or a $2 (toonie) charge per use, the Halifax Skating Oval can be sustained, at the highest cost estimates. It could be as low as 50 cents per use. I’m not encouraging this, but if paying for use of the Oval were a last resort, it could be very affordable and definitely worth its value!

There’s a big debate on whether or not to keep the Canada Winter Games Skating Oval on the Halifax Commons (CBC, Jan 4 2011). A lot of the public is enjoying the facility, but the worry is the cost of maintaining the Oval after the Canada Games are over. The hope is that business support can be found to pay the costs, rather than increasing taxes or having to charge skaters. However, that’s a political solution. This analysis looks at the business case of keeping the oval if the public had to pay for it.

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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!

Schedule and Links for Tunes at Noon 2009 in Halifax, with Christina Martin Opening Review

Tunes at Noon takes place every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from Noon to 1:00 pm in Grand Parade in Halifax, till August 28, 2009. The schedule of performers include:

July 15 – Christina Martin (folk/rock)
July 16 –­ Rebekah Higgs (folk-electric)
July 17 ­– Pink Thunder (pop/rock)
July 22 ­– Ian Sherwood (rock/jazz/folk) / Steven Bowers (folk rock)
July 23 ­– The SideCats (roots/world/jazz/blues)
July 24 ­– Marimba Stew (percussive groove)
July 29 ­– Shannon Quinn (celtic)
July 30 ­– Shan Arsenault (jazz)
July 31 ­– Around Town Band (rock) / The Repercussionists (rock) [great name!]
August 5 –­ Fullhouse (Latin)
August 6 ­– Dave Carroll (folk/pop), of Sons of Maxwell and United Breaks Guitar viral video fame!
August 7 ­– The Strangeboys (bluegrass)
August 12 –­ Ryan Cook (country)
August 13 ­– Grassmarket (folk/bluegrass) [nice name]
August 14 ­– Telfer (pop/funk)
August 19 ­– Mary Stewart (pop/folk) / Crissi Cochrane, aka Save September (folk)
August 20 ­– David Myles (folk)
August 21 ­– Ruth Minnikin and her Bandwagon (Americana/folk)
August 26 ­– Kim Wempe (folk/jazz) / Norma MacDonald (pop/folk)
August 27 ­– Mike Trask (rock)
August 28 ­– Kev Corbett (folk)

Christina Martin, photo by Aaron McKenzie Fraser

Christina Martin, photo by Aaron McKenzie Fraser

Summer 2009 unofficially arrived in Halifax today with the first Tunes at Noon 2009 concert, featuring Halifax’s own little dynamo, Christina Martin. Well, I shouldn’t call anybody little being at 5’2.625″ and 108 lbs. But Christina comes with an energetic and vibrant repertoire from some solid award winning recordings. Even with just one acoustic guitar amped up slightly and playing solo, the set was great!

I’ve been meaning to go see Christina play for a while now, more than just a few songs here and there where I’ve only managed to see her thus far. My stars just hadn’t aligned. They weren’t today, either, but I fixed that. On my way home to visiting Mom’s Vietnamese cooking during her last days here, I delayed it when I saw Christina playing at Grand Parade.

“That’s right, I held off Mom’s Vietnamese cuisine for Christina Martin’s music!”

I stayed to watch Christina’s set till the end, with intent of then going home and packing the lunch to take back to eat at my desk after the concert. I even called Mom to join me, but she was out so she didn’t know I was playing hooky with her cooking. So please, don’t anybody tell my Mom! 🙂

Instead of me trying to describe Christina’s music, though, nothing speaks for it like the music itself so I have included three videos below. They are songs from Christina’s sophomore album, Two Hearts, which won her 2009 East Coast Music Award (ECMA) Pop Recording of the Year and two 2008 Music Nova Scotia Awards: Female Artist Recording of the Year & Pop/Rock Artist/Group Recording of the Year. The Tunes at Noon series schedule follows the videos, with links to all the bands for you to preview their music. I hope to attend as many as possible and review some of my favourite ones on the blog. We’ve got a lot of great musical talent in Nova Scotia who deserve a lot more profile than they get. There’s also a lot of diversity in flavour. So if you can come down to watch, or click through on the links above to hear their music and spread the word, I’m sure they’d appreciate it!

The first of Christina’s featured song is the title track from Christina’s sophomore album, Two Hearts. It is my favourite song of hers, and this is the official video.

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The second is a live performance of Cut It Out from Christina’s Two Hearts CD release party at the FRED Whet Salon in Halifax.

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Finally, Christina acoustically performs You Come Home at the 2008 Nova Scotia Music Week Gala Show.

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Tunes at Noon is presented by Councillor Dawn Sloane, the Downtown Halifax Business Commission and the Halifax Regional Municipality. Music Nova Scotia, C100 radio, The Coast and The Centre for Arts and Technology are also supporters.

You know, as I write this, I want to be out there someday performing. Being a singer/songwriter myself (my MySpace page), I don’t devote a lot of time to it due to the many other things I do. These people here have worked hard to get where they are today. Maybe seeing enough of them will motivate me to put on a much bigger effort and make that dream happen. Should do it soon while Dawn Sloane is still my city councillor, though, to increase my chances. 😉

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.2

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