My Pink Star Trek Uniform for the Halifax Pride Parade 2012

Recently, I was privileged to be able to participate in the Halifax Natal Day Parade. I was with a float representing Hal-Con, Halifax’sΒ sci-fi,fantasy & gaming convention run completely by much-too-dedicated volunteers. We had a truck and a whole bunch of people in cosplays of various style, including sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, anime, board and video games, and some original characters. For the occasion, I made a pink “Pride in Star Trek” (The Next Generation) uniform, as shown below.

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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)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Upload of this video sometimes seems a bit slow so please be patient.

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)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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!

My Video for The Lies of Handsome Men, sung by Margaret Whiting

Jack Wrangler & Margaret Whiting

Jan 2011 update:
Margaret Whiting passed away on Jan 10, 2011. It is sad, of course, but what a legacy she left us with, including the song in the video below written by Francesca Blumenthal in 1986. Rest in peace, Margaret.

At this time in 2009, I started building this blog as part of my year to learn about social media. In 2010, I am learning about multi-media and this is my first video. I should point out that like my study of social media, it’s about knowing its capabilities and potential more than the technical stuff, though a lot can be learned by doing hands-on technical stuff. It’s too bad all too many “boss” types in the world never really learn the details of things they “manage” from doing to appreciate the challenges and power of those things.

I used Windows Movie Maker to make this video, with its rather limited capabilities and features. I know it’s not a great video editing program, but I’ll get around to one soon enough. I created the images from Photoshop actions I made to save a lot of time and repetitive effort.

The idea for this video first came to me in the middle of 2009 when I wanted to social media share the 1986 song The Lies of Handsome Men, written by Francesca Blumenthal, sung by 1940s crooner Margaret Whiting in 1990 when she was 66! Thank you to Francesca for correcting my mistake in a comment below. What a beautiful song this is and I hope you’ve got more such songs in your repertoire, past and future!

In my opinion, Margaret’s version is the definitive version of the song. I haven’t heard anybody else sing it like it, and I love it when I find definitive versions of songs that just blow the rest of the versions away. What made the difference for me, as I later found out through research, was that Margaret had been involved in acting and she used those acting skills to put just a little more intonation and feeling into the song. I listened and I really believed she meant everything she said. Mind you, the way she ended up with a former gay porn star 20 years her junior while in her 50s for 33 years of her life (see notes near the end of the notes before the video), she’s a mighty fine actress to have convinced me she believed those lies when she obviously brushed them aside!

Usually, I can find what I want in music online on YouTube. However, there was no version of this song I could find anywhere to share so I penned it down as an idea for a video in 2010 when I would be focusing on learning multi-media. I thought of it as a simple project, to create a slide show video where the images would be male movie stars and musicians of an era past, in black and white.

Images were mostly from an amazing site of black and white movie portraits called Dr Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans. Portraits were so beautiful and noble back in those days! Order of the portrait tied the images to something in the lyrics as much as possible, albeit sometimes rather vague and sometimes without connection because it isn’t easy to have a limited collection to suit any old set of lyrics, you know! Names of subjects are at the bottom of this post.

I wanted to use past celebrities’ B&W portraits because they were more true to the song’s age and feel, as well as avoid all the people today created out of hype with faults yet to be found. The stars in the past have had their good and bad days and have their legacies pretty much written so they are more “timeless” since public opinion won’t likely change much on them any more.

Had I thought of this video in December, I might have gone after the images of the women of Tiger Woods. Hahaha!

But I can still dedicate it to them, can I not?

Alas, they ain’t got nothing on Margaret! On her fourth marriage, Margaret married a gay porn star 20 years her junior in the late Jack Wrangler (neΓ© John Stillman), who eventually also came to do straight porn.

Ooops. Bad pun intended! πŸ˜‰

According to Jack, this was how they met.

In 1976, Jack Wrangler met celebrated 1940s pop singer and film actress Margaret Whiting when she attended one of his one-man erotic shows in New York. As he later recalled, “I was with my manager when I looked over at Margaret, who was surrounded by five guys at a booth. ‘There she was with the hair, the furs and the big gestures. I thought, ‘Boy, now that’s New York! That’s glamour!’ I had to meet her.” A relationship developed. He was 33; she was 55. When Wrangler confided to Whiting that he was gay, her response was “only around the edges, dear.” The couple has never married. As Whiting told People magazine in 1987, “There’s no point in us getting married. We’re not having kids.”

Remember, Margaret Whiting made her debut as a crooner in the 1940s! Those women of Tiger Woods ain’t got nothin’ on her!

Margaret is still alive so far as I know. Jack passed away in April 2009 from emphysema after 40 years of smoking. Their picture together is the slide in the video.

Seems Margaret didn’t believe in the lies of handsome men if she convinced Jack to be her mate despite his openly gay declaration. πŸ˜‰

Here is the video below. Please give constructive criticisms if you can afford the time. Thank you.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.1

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LYRICS

I believe in star signs
And I believe in film romances
I believe in in fantasy
And I believe with just one glance he’s
Crazy for my eyes
‘Cause I believe the lies
Of handsome men

I believe in witchcraft
And I believe in Cinderella
I believe in gypsies
And I believe I cast a spell that
Sends him to the skies
‘Cause I believe the lies
Of handsome men

Somewhere in a corner of my mind
I’m not a fool, completely blind
But even though he’s hooked me on his line
I find the pleasure has been mine

I believe in love songs,
They seem to know just what I’m feeling
I believe in Prince Charming
I never guess he’s double dealing
How my spirits rise
Believing in the lies
Of handsome men

Sometimes in a dark and quiet place
The truth and I meet face to face
And even if his Highness disappears
I keep some lovely souvenirs

So I believe in heroes
And I expect that happy ending
Wishing on some rainbow
I pretend he’s not pretending
Someday I’ll get wise
But right now I need the lies
Of handsome men

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STARRING
(in order of appearance, group by song verses)

Margaret Whiting

Bing Crosby, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Duke Ellington, Paul Newman, Basil Rathbone, Tony Curtis

Lex Barker, Gene Kelly, Rudolph Valentino, Cary Grant, Louis Armstrong, Robert Young, Elvis Presley

Rock Hudson, Humphrey Bogart, Ray Charles, Henry Fonda, Warner Baxter, John Wayne

Frank Sinatra, Gary Cooper, Rudolph Valentino, Rudolph and wife Natacha Rambova, Clark Gable, John Garrick, Ronald Reagan

Ralph Bellamy, Robert Montgomery, Buster Crabbe

Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Vincent Price, Sidney Poitier, Laurence Olivier, Johnny Mack Brown, Errol Flynn, Claude Rains

Muhammad Ali, Gene Autry, Fred Astaire, Joel McCrea, Vic Damone, Gregory Peck, Clint Eastwood

Jack Wrangler and Margaret Whiting

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Video and Analysis of Usain Bolt’s 9.58s World Record Breaking 100m in Berlin

usain_bolt_3

Also see Usain break the 200m world record days later in 19.19s.

BERLIN (Aug 16 2009) β€” At the IAAF Championships in Berlin, Jamaican super sprinter Usain Bolt destroyed his own 100m world record set at the Beijing Olympics last year by 0.11 seconds with just 41 strides. He lowered the record from 9.69 seconds to a remarkable 9.58 seconds and stunned the Berlin crowd in attendance because the 100m records is supposed to be broken in hundredths of a second, not tenths of a second! I don’t doubt he also stunned the rest of the world, whether or not you had high expectations for the guy.

Interestingly enough, Usain’s coach, Glenn Mills, predicted in January 2009 that Usain could run the 100m in 9.58 second (Daily Mail UK)

“I’ve heard my coach (Glen Mills) talk of 9.58 seconds (in the 100m),” said Bolt. “He also said it could be possible for me to go under 19 seconds in the 200m.”

Don’t expect that record to last too long, though, unless Usain gets injured or something. Usain still took time to look over to the clock at the left before finishing instead of going full tilt to the finish line. Check the video above. As well, these athletes peak between 26 to 33 years old. Usain will turn 23 on Aug 21. He also ran this race near sea level (about 40m above in Berlin). At altitude where the air is a bit thinner, and with a tail wind instead of a head wind (2.0m/s legal), who knows what he could do??? Incredible!

I’ll tell you one thing. There’s a lot of hype about a lot of people, but this guy lives up to it!

Congratulations, Usain! Now let’s get to that sub-19 200m your coach was talking about for the birthday present! πŸ™‚

Defending world champion Tyson Gay of the United States came a distant second in a fast 9.71 seconds, lowering the American record from 9.77 seconds. It was the first time Usain and Tyson had met in a 100m race in over a year and this was possibly the most anticipated 100m final since 1988 Summer Olympics when Carl Lewis and the now disgraced Ben Johnson went head-to-head. Asafa Powell was third.

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Position Lane Bib Athlete Country Mark
React
1 4 656 Usain Bolt JAM 9.58 (WR) 0.146
2 5 1183 Tyson Gay USA 9.71 (NR) 0.144
3 6 665 Asafa Powell JAM 9.84 (SB) 0.134
4 3 111 Daniel Bailey ANT 9.93 0.129
5 8 1116 Richard Thompson TRI 9.93 (SB) 0.119
6 1 492 Dwain Chambers GBR 10.00 (SB) 0.123
7 2 1110 Marc Burns TRI 10.00 (SB) 0.165
8 7 1215 Darvis Patton USA 10.34 0.149

Wind = 0.9 m/s (legal) β€” NR = New Record β€” SB = Season Best

Other notes:
In the semi-finals, Usain ran a “casual” 9.89… and I mean casual. He looked like he was jogging it in, and that’s no exaggeration. By contrast, Tyson Gay ran a huge effort full of tension in semi-final 2 only to win it in 9.93 seconds. Usain Bolt only takes 40-41 strides to cover the 100m, with a stride length of about 2.7 to 3 metres (9-10 feeth) in full flight mid-race. That would be mid-race because he hasn’t ran full flight across the finish time in a big race for a while, I don’t imagine. Usain is 6’5″, very tall by sprinting standard, but with his high turnover that he can put to his huge stride length, there’s not anybody who can come close to matching what he can do right now. Might he change the profile of athletes to be recruited and/or developed for sprinting in the future? The short height profile seems to have maxxed out.

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I Need 2 Go 2 NY CT 2 C Avenue Q

avenueq1I owe this post to my friend Holly Bartlett, who told me about the 2003 Tony Award Musical of the Year called Avenue Q. The musical’s content that is talked about here, though, has serious potentially offensive content so this is your one and only warning. If you don’t have an edgy sense of humour, please don’t read on. There are plenty of other good things to read about on this blog.

I’ve liked Broadway and musicals for a long time now, but I was and still am quite “old skool” at it, loving the Rodgers & Hammerstein stuff. I have heard of, and love, some more modern stuff like Chicago, Wicked and Jekyll & Hyde. However, I need to pay closer attention to what Broadway is putting out each year if they’ve got stuff which doesn’t get a lot of attention as some of their other shows, but still is great, like Avenue Q.

Avenue Q is a modern Sesame Street parody of similar characters trying to find a purpose in life when things aren’t going so well in adulthood after college. I can’t write a better plot summary than Wikipedia so I won’t try, but I like the description by one of its actors of “Sesame Street done South Park“. The show features a neat visual of real characters and puppets with their masters visible, something I’d like to try and learn one day for fun, and some seriously edgy humour and content.

Below is a medley of some songs in it, played for the Queen of England at the Royal Variety Performance, no less! That’s the one contestants on Britain’s Got Talent were vying to be a part of. So despite Avenue Q‘s potentially offensive content, the Royals proved they could handle it. Good on them!


The actual full musical has swearing in it, all kinds of soft and hard innuendos, even nude puppet sex! Other than songs like It Sucks to Be Me [lyrics] shown as part of a medley above, you also have songs (links are to lyrics) like

With a list of songs with titles like that, and others, better lyrics and even better music, who could resist seeing a show like this?

Ah, but it gets better with the Web and user-generated content. The Sesame Street parody has generated a whole bunch of parody Sesame Street videos of this musical, like the one below which I found just hilarious! The music is the actual music from the musical. Someone just adapted video for it from Sesame Street clips.


There are also versions with everything from Sponge Bob to The Mutant Teenage Ninja Turtles to Disney cartoons! A whole night’s worth of humour from clicking on video responses to each of these videos!

And then there’s If You Were Gay with Bert and Ernie, my favourite characters on Sesame Street who were parodied to be gay in 1997. Avenue Q ran with this to put it into its story with its equivalent characters to Ernie and Bert. So someone then had to have made the parody video with the original music and Sesame Street video clips of Bert and Ernie.


Other songs have parody videos, too!

But in all fairness to Avenue Q, it addresses many tough issues of today like homosexuality, pornography and racism.


If you can’t stomach edgy humour and content, then this show would not be for you. You would not be normal in this, though, because this show is the 21st longest running show in Broadway history at the time of this writing (Jun 11 2009).

As for me, I have never visited New York City, but this might be enough impetus to get me there for a visit and viewing! Before I go, though, I’ve saved the best number, in my humble opinion, for last. Mix Tape isn’t outrageous or anything, aside from a few words, but it is funny. The best part of it is how well it was sung on the recording, shown in the “video” below. There’s actually no “video”, just an image, so read on and listen for all the little things mentioned to listen for.

Julie Atherton, played Kate Monster and sang Mix Tape. She also plays a very different character of Lucy the Slut in the same show (see London performance 2nd from top). But for Mix Tape, Julie had my emotions like a yo-yo on a string with all the nuances she puts into singing the lyrics that also goes up and down emotionally like a roller coaster. Julie acts the song through her singing, basically. All the little gasps, squeaks, sighs, inflections and such not written into the score, and especially how giddily she said he likes me! at the end. Credits to the songwriter/s as well for such a great tune, but I’ve heard so many bad renditions on YouTube, and in singing songs otherwise, that the performer gets huge kudos here. It might possibly the best example of how to perform a song I have ever heard! I mean that for all those nuances, not some booming grand voice sort of best sung description, but that’s the tougher accolades to be getting, in my books. If you were to ask me how I liked that recording, I’d say I love it! pretty much the way Julie squeaks he likes me! at the end of the song! πŸ™‚

Post-scriptum:

It is almost a year later from when I first posted this, now May 31 2010, and how things have changed. Sadly, it’s not been for the good, but I want to make mention as a dedication. I did just get to see Avenue Q a week ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I watched it in memory of my friend Holly who had since passed away. I will always remember her for introducing me to this play, among many other reasons. Then, just a few days ago, Gary Coleman died on May 28. The show just wouldn’t be the same knowing he isn’t in the real world any more. I wonder how they’re handling the situation, but I’m glad I got to see Avenue Q without this circumstance surrounding it as it wouldn’t have felt the same for me.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.3

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