Great Love Songs #1 to #7 for February Facebook Meme

In late January, I proposed a Facebook meme to share a love song a day for February that contains Valentine’s Day. Here are the first seven songs of my list and some short commentary with each.

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Obama’s Barackets Beating 96.5% of over 4.5 Million Brackets on ESPN 2010 March Madness Challenge After Round 1

President Barack Obama

Please click here to see President Obama’s 2010 Barackets, and get analysis after Round 2

After Round 1 of the 2010 NCAA March Madness Tournament, President Barack Obama’s ESPN Barackets is beating 96.5% of over 4.5 million entries!

See Obama’s 2010 March Madness Brackets here.

See Obama’s rationale in his picks via the ESPN video here.

Obama got 25 of 32 games correct for 250 points since each game in this round was worth 10 points. Three top entries were tied at a remarkable 310 points or 31 of 32 correct! There is no rewards for upsets in the ESPN system so these brackets encouraged going with the favourites rather than picking upsets. That left the President at a rank of 160,151 or sitting in the 96.6th percentile. That means he is ahead of 96.5% of the entries of over 4.5 million entries!

An analogy for that statistic would be the Prez is beating 29 out of every 30 entrants, sitting in 2nd place in such a sample. With over 4.5 million entries, that’s far more than a big enough sample to safely declare the President ahead of 96.5% of all bracket entries out there. He knew his basketball in Round 1, unlike last year when he admitted he got killed in the early rounds.

However, Obama could be in a lot of trouble for the next rounds, each of which is also worth 320 points.

That’s because Obama has already lost one of his Elite Eight teams in Georgetown. That’s 40 points he won’t be getting in that round for sure. I wonder if that were a political pick because Georgetown is, of course, in Washington DC. There weren’t too many Chicago or Illinois teams that stood much of a chance this year to go far.

Obama has also already lost two of his Sweet Sixteen teams with Georgetown and Marquette. That’s another 40 points he won’t be getting in that round.

ESPN lists Obama’s potential points remaining (PPR) at 1,520 after Round 1.

Of course, other people will have likely lost some of those teams already as well. The fact most of them lost more teams this first round only suggest they have a greater chance of losing more teams in the later rounds already than Obama. However, that’s not necessarily true.

My ESPN brackets are sitting at 210 points, or 2,978,307 or ahead of a very lousy 37.6 percent of the entries. Basically, I’m in 6th place out of every 8 people! OUCH! Yet, because I haven’t lost any Elite Eight teams, and the same Georgetown pick as Obama for the Sweet Sixteen, my potential points remaining is 1,580. That could make up the 40 points different the President has on me after Round 1. So despite being over 2.8 million spots back of da Prez right now, I could still end up putting the slamma jamma on Obama!

All that said, the President is doing relatively well among ESPN’s featured brackets.

Obama is first among them after Round 1. In fact, he’s cleaning house… including dunking on LeBron James!

I guess in America, it’s da Prez that rules, not the King. They got rid of him a long time ago! ๐Ÿ™‚

You can look at each featured bracket’s potential points remaining if you’d like by clicking on the links above.

How are you doing after the first round if you played? How many games did you get right?

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Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 5.8

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 (neรฉ John Stillman), who eventually also came to do straight porn.

Ooops. Bad pun intended! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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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Someone Should Write a Wolverine Musical

If you’re not aware, Hugh Jackman is an incredibly talented actor with skills beyond acting like real singing and dancing skills. He has starred in musicals such as Oklahoma! (video) and The Boy from Oz (video from 2004 Tony Awards). However, my favourite example can be seen in hisย 2009 Oscars opening that he gave while hosting because he goes through so many characters, in musical format rather than their regular movie format (starting at 2:00 in video).

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Hugh Jackman as Wolverine

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine

Currently, Hugh Jackman is arguably most well-known for his role as the X-men mutant Wolverine. The character was so well played and so loved by fans from original X-men trilogy of movies that it got its own movie, just released at time of posting. It’s a part Hugh played so stunningly it will be hard to imagine anyone else doing it. He really owns that role.

In terms of character, Wolverine is a rough on the edges, fearsome sort of character with many animal instincts and behaviours true to his name. It is quite the antithesis to anything most people associate with the fine art form of musical theatre. It is precisely because of this polarity that Hugh Jackman is truly able to show how talented an actor he is. He can really cover both ends of the acting spectrum well, finesse to rough, animal to human, action, drama, song, dance, and everything in between. Ironically, though, despite the respect he gets and deserves for this, there has also been jokes about him starring in a musical called Wolverine. Seems the people who joke about it thinks that if such a musical were made, it’d have Wolverine making a mockery of himself. However,ย  I beg to differ.

I think superhero comic book stories are very well suited to musical theatre! For one thing, where can you write in more drama than in a superhero comic book story? It’s like exaggerated fiction given super powers, where the heroes and villains are both larger than grand! With comic book stories, every subplot can be epic! In fact, you can probably make every musical number epic if you had a writers talented enough to write that many memorable numbers in a musical. That’s because you can expand every type of human emotion, ritual, value and such beyond the boundaries of what humans, society, the natural world and universe, can be expected to do in regular fiction or nonfiction.

For many, the doubts over a comic book superhero musical are really over the stage and musical theatre’s form to convincingly portray the supernatural elements and serious intense drama in comic books. That is, can the stage suit the comics rather than the comics suit the stage? Well, I say an equally convincing yes. There have been very dramatic and serious musicals portraying thriller and horror type stories that did not exactly extract laughs or make a mockery out of their heroes and villains, with technology nothing like they have for the theatre stage today. The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera is no mockery of a character even on a musical stage. The story of the demon barber Sweeney Todd has also been adapted into a musical of the same name. It was a musical thriller, no less, and won a Tony Award in 1979, no less. The famous story of Jekyll & Hyde has also been well adapted to theatre, with two songs that could well have been in a superhero comic book musical.ย This is the Moment primes for the ultimate of ultimate moments, well sung below by Robert Cuccioli.

Meanwhile, Someone Like You is about as nice a love by chance song as you’ll find. Linda Eder, who sang it on Broadway as part of the Jekyll & Hyde production, sings it below with her real life husband and the song’s writer, Frank Wildhorse, in a PBS Special. This is real life love and magic in music.

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What exists with Hugh Jackman being such a great screen and musical actor, with a comic superhero part he’s made his own, is an opportunity for a superhero comic book that might not ever occur any time soon. To that realization, I’m really hoping someone will work on a Wolverine musical. It shouldn’t be the kinds of “jokes” you see below, which I love as humour, but in which I also see the potential for what could be. The first is of some guy spoofing Wolverine in a musical, but has some more serious moments.

The second is Hugh Jackman, himself, doing Wolverine the musical with action figures in an interview (3:50 into the video)! I can’t believe hardly anyone has seen this video (under 1000 at time of posting)! Sure, he’s humouring the reporter but it seems to me he’s game, and that’s not the type of material I’m thinking about. And hey, if Hugh’s game, I say what are we waiting for?

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 10.1