Seven Simple Ways Pinterest Could REALLY Improve Itself

7 Ways PinterestPinterest was an phenomenal idea of a social media website, carried out on a mediocre platform that is poorly executed and maintained, sometimes even pathetically. It has some growth and usage now, sure, but it seems Pinterest is already resting on its laurels and thinking it’s always going to be this way if its latest lack lustre update is any indicator. Here are seven simple and feasible suggestions on what Pinterest could really do if it wants to improve itself. These should be options a user could enable, rather than something forced on the user.

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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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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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A Dong Supermarket, Porn Starlet Tiffany Mynx and Adding Twitter to the Male Genitalia Lexicon

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Happy April Fool’s Day everyone! The stories in this post are real, though, not jokes. I’m just offering up some humour for the entry on this day of laughs and good fun. No feelings hurt here and hopefully nobody else’s feeling will get hurt, either.

A Dong Supermarket sign, taken by me during my visit there in Mar 2009

A Dong Supermarket sign, taken by me during my visit there in Mar 2009

The first is one of many examples of poorly named stores due to disregard for linguistic transfer. In this case, it’s a Vietnamese grocery store at 9221 Bolsa Avenue in Westminster, Orange County, California called A Dong Supermarket… where they sell literal rather than metaphorical meat and vegetables. πŸ™‚

I had a good LOL as my aunt drove me and others to this place, which she referred to by the Vietnamese name of Sieu Thi A Dong, something read very differently in Vietnamese than in English. I had no idea the sign in the picture was the one I would see but when I saw it, the camera had to come out to capture it for a blog post one day.

The fact this sort of stuff still happens doesn’t surprise me because this store catered to mostly Asian people from who I saw there on a couple of visits. They don’t need to worry about the impression their name in English gives, which, as is typical of many Vietnamese names, phonetically “translates” very poorly in English. In this case, A Dong Supermarket phonetically “translates” to a great name for a “male brothel”, if there were such a thing. And there might be! This was Southern California, after all, and Porn Valley [properly known as San Fernando Valley] was not far away.

As an aside… why do they call brothels that anyway? Shouldn’t they call it sistels or mothels or something of the sort? You go to whorehouses to find whores, so shouldn’t you find brothers in brothels? Well, you’d find a lot of brothers (as in men, not black men). You just wouldn’t likely be looking for brothers in brothels the way you’d be looking for whores in whorehouses… unless you were maybe in San Francisco. And that’d be just cool with me, ya know? I’m just talking on probability.

Screen capture of email stating Tiffany Mynx was following me on Twitter

Screen capture of email stating Tiffany Mynx was following me on Twitter (click to enlarge).

Now, while we’re stooping this low and talking about sex and porn, an interesting thing happened to me just yesterday. I got home to find an email to say that XXX porn starlet Tiffany Mynx had decided to follow me on Twitter!

And it was real, too! Which is more than I can say for some of her body parts… though I’m only assuming since I haven’t checked or had a close look or anything. Wefollow.com verified the Tiffany Mynx on Twitter link I got to be the real one.

Um, WTF??? No pun intended.

You know, I have Twitter just to know the technology. I don’t publicly post it anywhere or tell other people about it or anything. I follow all of four friends on it and have all of six followers. The two extra followers are people I don’t know who probably won’t be following me long as I’m not very interesting on Twitter. However, they fall into that same unknown followers group that’s an allowable feature of Twitter which I’ll be talking about here with Tiffany as an example. Note to clarify, though, that my two unknown followers aren’t porn starlets like Tiffany. Well, let’s hope they aren’t cause that’s going to be some therapy their grandchildren or great grandchildren are going to need! πŸ™‚

Now, I’ve been spammed before on Twitter, with people signing up to follow me when “they” were really a spam channel. I’ve had others follow me from wherever they found me, only to lose interest and disconnect, or perhaps seeing that I didn’t return the favour to follow them, which is quite cool with me. That’s the difference between Twitter and Facebook, is that people don’t have to “accept” you like they have to accept your friend request on Facebook. You can just sign up to stalk people on Twitter!

But the difference between those who I didn’t know who had signed up to follow me before and Tiffany here was length… as in how long they followed me before giving up. I was at work so I only saw the email of Tiffany following me after I got home some 8 hours later, according to the time of the email in the screen capture above. Apparently, by then, she had come and left.

Tiffany Mynx Twitter Profile Pic (Mar 31 2009)

Tiffany Mynx Twitter Profile Pic (Mar 31 2009)

Just 8 hours? How shallow can one get with Twitter? I mean, was she expecting a response in 2 minutes or something?

With Twitter, somewhere, you can dig up people to “follow”, in hopes they’d follow you to build your virtual clique. However, can someone be so judgmental so as to put a clock on it such that in less than 8 hours, if the one followed hadn’t returned the favour, that person would get dropped?

Geez! High school was never that bad, you know!

Yes, I know. It was probably marketing and Tiffany’s not that shallow. That’s fine. Let’s not start making unfair accusations here. But that was still an awful short response time window. Patience, Tiffany’s marketing team! Patience! Quickies may be good in porn, but not in most situations in real life!

Fortunately for me, Tiffany’s quick pull out resolved one dilemma, whether or not I’d have to reciprocate… as in follow Tiffany… as on Twitter, not to Vegas. I can still follow Tiffany if I so wish. That’s one of the things that’s big about Twitter, which I will blog soon enough to give my perspective on, is the thrill to snoop, although I think there are some things much deeper than that.

For now, though, I’ll just add this story to my book of tall tale lores I can tell by careful manipulation of claims, that I once had a porn starlet follow me on Twitter! Should fit nicely beside the 24 marathons I have completed thus far. And should the grandkids ask why she didn’t stay long, I’ll just tell them I guess my twitter wasn’t long enough for her liking.:-)

"Let's add twitter to the male genitalia lexicon!!!"

“Let’s add twitter to the male genitalia lexicon!!!”

A self-deprecating joke just to be fair to dish it out and take some. But truth be known, my twitter’s got a LOT more character than you can’t sum up in 140 characters! πŸ˜‰

Hmmm. There’s an idea! Why don’t we add twitter to the lexicon for male genitalia?

We’ve already got chicken, bird, birdie, cock and all those fowl sounding names that has no reference to length β€” a characteristic often associated with Twitter and penises. So, yeah, why not twitter as a male genitalia synonym?

Hey, honey! 140 characters ain’t long enough to hold my twitter!

Hope you had a great April Fool’s Day and that this added a smile or laugh to your day!

Flesch-Kincaid (Flesh-Kinky?) Grade Reading Level: 6.8