Skip to content

Month: January 2014

January 31: Eric and the Dread Gazebo / Geek and Gamer Girls Song

Did you know Dungeons & Dragons turned 40 this year? Do you know how I know it? Because back when the world was new, before the dark ships came, I played AD&D. (That’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, for the uninitiated.)

That’s not how I heard about The Gazebo, though. I heard the story when I started playing an RPG (that’s Role Play Game) several years ago. The Dread Gazebo came up in conversation and folks retold the story as if sharing a modern Mystery Play.

But until a friend posted a link to this audio (yes, sometimes YouTube is audio-only, but it’s SOOOO worth the listen), I had no idea anyone had dramatized the story. So now I’m sharing. And this is your spit-take warning because it’s possibly the silliest story you’ll hear all day, if not all week.

So why did I know about this? Because Geek and Gamer Girls are EVERYWHERE!

Comments closed

January 30: Apple Macintosh Ad – Aired during the 1984 Super Bowl

In a few days a large percentage of the US will plop down in front of their televisions and watch either a game involving an odd-shaped ball that gets tossed between two teams or every single commercial that comes between tossing and running after said ball.

When did commercials during the Super Bowl become a thing? Well, Wikipedia has an answer for that.

Ironically, until I went to find the answer to my question, I didn’t know there was a link to the description of the very short clip below. But there it is.

I know where I’ll be this coming Sunday. Where will you be? Watching the Super Bowl or the commercials?

Comments closed

January 29: Choreography by Balanchine. Prodigal Son (Parts 1-4)

Today’s highlight, a 1979 performance of George Balanchine’s ballet, “Prodigal Son” in four parts, features Mikhail Baryshnikov in the title role.

My first exposure to his work, in the 1977 film The Turning Point, made me a lifelong fan. I was privileged to see his work live in 2003, when he performed at the Festival of the Arts in Columbia, MD.

I believe this is the first time I’m featuring Baryshnikov’s work, but I guarantee it won’t be the last. His diversity of style, classical and modern, and his on-screen presence places him at the top for his generation of ballet dancers, and in my opinion one of the best ever. Watch for future career highlights throughout the year.

Comments closed

January 28, 2014: A special tribute to Pete Seeger…

When I went to bed last night, a rumor was circulating on Facebook that Pete Seeger had died. I went where I usually go, out to the larger Internet, to substantiate the rumor, and I couldn’t find anything to prove it was true, so I went to sleep. This morning, Morning Edition confirmed what a sizeable chunk of my FB Friends now know is true.

Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94

My father is largely responsible for my introduction to folk music. Without his reel to reel tape recorder, I wouldn’t have known about Pete, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Phil Ochs, Peter, Paul and Mary, Woody Guthrie or any of the other musicians who made up the fabric of my early childhood.

search for Pete Seeger on You Tube generates hundreds, if not thousands of links to his work. For me, a visit to the Hudson Valley as a young child (in Woodstock, after THE concert) landed my closest association with the man as I recall sitting on his lap. I also remember watching his series Rainbow Quest on PBS, when they broadcast the series in 1967-68.

[Full movie requires rental from YouTube or other site.]

Last year, I made a point of attending the Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival and I got to thank him again, in person. Didn’t have enough time to say it more than once, but I noticed he was all over that festival. I saw Toshi, once, while we were waiting for the Richie Havens memorial to begin, and I knew then that she was quite ill, but I also saw that he stayed with her until that concert started. Their devotion to each other, for just shy of 70 years, was inspirational.

He remained active right up through this year, but was too ill to attend a parade he helped organize:

Seeger’s dream for King comes true in Beacon; activist had to cancel appearance

So, in the spirit of Twofer Tuesday, in this special edition, have a second cut, with Buffy Sainte-Marie, who I also saw last summer at the festival. Explore the clips on YouTube. And take comfort that the folk movement isn’t dead so long as we pass our values on to the generations to come. After all, that’s how the music remains with us. Pass it on.

1 Comment

January 28: Billy Joel ~ “Piano Man” and “New York State of Mind” (two versions)

Sometimes these things just write themselves. Billy Joel is coming to a Stadium near me this summer and I have a bucket list item to check off. Planning for tickets in the cheap seats. Hoping the fates are kind…

This special Twofer Tuesday includes time travel. Two of my favorite tracks, the first in two time periods.

First:

(with Time Travel edition):

and Second:

Comments closed

January 27: ASK A SLAVE Ep 2: Abolitioning

And we’re back with Lizzie Mae, once again, as she tackles the question of Abolition from her own unique perspective.

We’re entering Black History Month in short order. I figure some reminding is in order, while we remember why slavery’s end and equal rights are important.

Remember: The questions are real (and shameful). The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Comments closed

January 26: Spacedrum solo by Yuki Koshimoto

After spending a whole day glued to the internet, watching with horror as the story unfolded in Columbia, Maryland, near where I live and attend classes, I’ve realized I’ve been holding my spiritual breath. Our idea of conflict resolution should never, ever include the use of firearms, and yet, it happens all too often in this country. We have forgotten how to be human when we resort to taking life by force.

I think it’s important to take a break for beauty, so we can remember that this is what we can achieve when we let go of the anger, the fear, the jealousy and all the other  stresses that conspire to make our lives hell.

This Sunday, as we remember three people in Columbia who ceased to be, and those who were injured in body and spirit as a result of this horrible, violent, American-made act, listen to Yuki Koshimoto’s Spacedrum and reflect on the beauty of nature. Remember that we lose people daily, all over the world, to everyday acts of human violence.

Fear and anger drive our actions far, far too often.

Comments closed

January 25: Pale Blue Dot (Original – HD)

This week my Facebook feed included a reminder for a friend’s birthday. Normally, that wouldn’t be too terribly odd. I have over 650 “friends” on FB, and I get almost daily reminders that it’s someone’s birthday. But last year, Craig died suddenly, unexpectedly, just a few days after we saw him and his wife at the local planetarium. He was hosting a family science event on “Fibs” (the Fibonacci Sequence, to be specific) and was truly excited about leading the event. His enthusiasm for science and teaching was boundless.

When this video wandered past my feed a few months back, I added it to the list, but I wasn’t sure when I’d get to it. Between Craig Levin’s birthday and the local supernova, I think I found my answer. If you don’t know who Carl Sagan was, or why this video is important, now’s a great time to gain a little perspective about Earth in relation to the rest of the universe.

Whenever I look up these days, I think of Craig. He had a magic gift for seeing the importance in things, and it saddens me to know he was gone too soon. And then I think about the cool stuff he shared and I know he’d have loved this clip. So, on his behalf, a rare dedication to someone I knew and remember fondly.

Comments closed

January 24: Frozen (Idina Menzel) ~ Let It Go (Three versions)

If you’re paying attention to the news, you know the northeast is in a cold snap the likes of which we haven’t seen in 20 years. Don’t go all “Global Warming, huh?” on me, because I’ll quote you all sorts of reasons why climate change is real. And that’s not the point of this post.

No, you’re getting Let It Go for Feel Good Friday this week, because it’s stuck firmly in my head, thanks to the supreme talents of Idina Menzel and song writing team Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Tony Award®-winner Robert Lopez.

Seriously. 52 million views since Disney published the clip on December 6, 2013!

But why three? Well, I could have chosen more – folks are posting their own renditions of the song, mash-ups with Wicked (Defying Gravity chief among them), and more. It appears this one struck a chord in ways I haven’t seen since Beauty and the Beast hit the screens in 1991.

So, here’s the original:

And then the same clip, in 25 languages (perfectly timed):

And finally, in the best Disney parody I’ve heard in a while, [NOT safe for work or younger kids but oh, so funny], a tip of the hat to all of us who wish with all our hearts we *could* hit those high notes the way Ms. Menzel does:

Stay warm out there!

1 Comment

January 23: Art of Noise ~ Close (To the Edit): Versions 1 and 2

Released on May 1, 1984, this wild performance art piece directed by Zbigniew Rybczyński sums up the surreal aspects of music video. From the Wikipedia entry for the song, there’s this:

“I thought it was a fun video,” Anne Dudley said, “but some people thought it was unnecessarily violent. It was banned in New Zealand as encouraging violence towards children. Nothing could have been further from our minds.” The video later won the MTV Video Music Awards for Most Experimental Video and the Best Editing in 1985.

I love the song and the artistry of the video, so it made the cut early on. It’s one of the videos I used to wait for on MTV, back when it was still about music and not reality junk.

I didn’t realize until I started creating my Music Video playlist that there was a second version of this video, but there was. And here it is. (Actually, there are three, but I like these two the best.)

No, it doesn’t make any more sense than the first version, but that’s okay, because ART.

Comments closed

January 22: Zach Sherwin ~ “Goose MCs” (5th Anniversary of the Miracle on the Hudson)

Dancing Wednesday just got a whole lot more surreal.

Okay. Really? YouTube has EVERYTHING, including “A hip-hop ballet honoring Capt. Chesley Sullenberger and the fifth anniversary of the Miracle on the Hudson.”

I swear. That’s what the clip says. You’ll find the complete lyrics on the video page.

I’ll probably resort to the classics again next week, but with a continuing accumulation of snow that’s cancelling school a second day in  a row, I have every right to be amused and I just love to share.

Comments closed

January 21: Kate Bush and Noel Fielding ~ “Wuthering Heights”

Okay, so technically this isn’t a Twofer Tuesday in the traditional (?) sense, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want.

Back when Saturday Night Live was a new thing, they featured Kate Bush doing both Wuthering Heights and another song from The Kick Inside. The first version is the one I remember from that introduction to her music. (I have all her albums and I’ve snagged more of her videos for featuring this year.)

So when someone started circulating the parody Noel Fielding did for Comic Relief, I was surprised to discover the second version of the music video was also on YouTube, and darned if he wasn’t dead-on accurate.

Here’s Kate’s version (Number Two):

And here’s Noel’s. I’d put the coffee mug down if I were you:

Comments closed

January 20 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day): PBS American Experience ~ Citizen King

Citizen King is a two-hour biography of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. produced by WGBH for the PBS series American Experience in honor of Dr. King’s 75th birthday. The original movie aired January 19, 2004. Clicking the link above will bring you to the web page devoted to the movie, including a timeline, teaching materials and more.

The fact is, Citizen King centers around Dr. King, and on what he achieved in just 39 short years. I think it’s a good but incomplete picture. Before you watch the movie, though, I strongly suggest reading this Blog entry from the Daily Kos.

My birth year, 1963, was a turning point in the Civil Rights movement. I grew up in Rochester, NY and had little experience with the southern states until I moved to Maryland in 1986, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have experience with racism. The question is the degree.

I have tried to honor Dr. King’s messages and am glad to have a platform for sharing these important words, so that those who might learn more can remember that we are not done with the search for justice and equality for everyone, but need to work every day to achieve Dr. King’s goal:

We are not so far removed from those days in the 1960s. Not all of us are ready to join hands, though we are much closer than we were.

… when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

I believe we aren’t done with the work and we aren’t all free. Not yet.

On this rare occasion, I’m providing a link to the entire YouTube playlist, so you can watch all 13 parts in sequence if you wish. Each part is roughly nine minutes long. Click the link below to go straight to YouTube to watch.

Citizen King (Parts 1-13) on YouTube on History Monday.

Or you can watch each segment here, on WordPress:

Comments closed

January 19: Touch Wood

On some Sunday mornings, I forget (sort of on purpose) to turn off my alarm so I can tune in to Krista Tippett’s morning meditation. The show, which used to be called Speaking of Faith and is now On Being, has made my Unitarian Universalist exploration of life a lot more interesting over time.

I was wondering whether to post one of the video links I have stored up for Sunday, but I thought I’d wander off for a little inspiration and it didn’t take me long to discover this blog post. I remembered seeing the commercial when it made the rounds a few years ago, but apparently that predated my blog because it’s not included in last year’s entries, though I can’t imagine why.

So, with that hat tip, here’s some stunning beauty for your Sunday.

To see a little of what went into the production of this commercial, watch this:

Comments closed

January 18: Casting a Fire Ant Colony with Molten Aluminum (Cast #043)

Kids, don’t try this at home. For that matter, the same goes for adults.

For those who object to the destruction of the colony, let me just say that fire ants are an invasive species. Wikipedia has this to say about the ones infesting the southern US:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates more than US$5 billion is spent annually on medical treatment, damage, and control in RIFA-infested areas. Further, the ants cause approximately US$750 million in damage to agricultural assets, including veterinary bills and livestock loss, as well as crop loss.[44]

On the whole, I’d rather see art than poison as a result of their eradication. Considering over 23 million viewers have watched (fascinated? horrified?), there must be something to the method in this madness.

1 Comment

January 17: Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase

In 1992, the film Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase won five awards for Best Animated Film, including the 1993 Oscar. The piece, animated using the blended clay technique, features highlights from the works of 35 artists, including Munch, Kahlo, Dali, Warhol, Picasso, Magritte and more.

I feel I should add a trigger warning – literal – as the Roy Lichtenstein includes a gun and I know several people on my flist are likely to need the heads up.

Art is on my mind tonight, as are the Academy Awards. It’s interesting how we define works as award-worthy, and how few of us actually receive the recognition we deserve, simply because of exposure. Sometimes it’s about luck. Sometimes it’s about quality. Occasionally, the two merge together and those who create the art get the recognition they deserve. It happens, all too infrequently.

The DAS Film Festival (which published the video) says this about its purpose:

Each month we’ll be webcasting a short film from 2-20 minutes long that relates in some way to Design, Architecture or Sustainability. And I have a feeling we’ll find common ground with art and science as well. In fact, I hope, over time, the films taken together will offer a kind of serendipity that is not always present in the on-line world. The design blog will have a similar spirit of curiosity.

Their goals aren’t that far away from mine. I just prefer a broader canvas on which to paint my portrait of the world.

Comments closed

January 16: Deliverance ~ “Dueling Banjos” and David Letterman ~ Steve Martin’s Dueling Banjos

I can’t resist banjo music and this song.  This creepy version, (clip from Deliverance) won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance (according to Wikipedia). The film also received a bunch of Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. Considering this year’s Academy Award nominations hit the street at 8:30am EST today, seems appropriate for Throwback Thursday.

But wait. There’s more. Thanks, Steve Martin! (No, not this one…)

Hey! You know the drill by now. Swallow first.

1 Comment

January 15: Jason Brown Free Skate 2014 US Figure Skating Championships

This isn’t an official video, so I have no idea how long it will stay up on YouTube, but it’s making the rounds on my Facebook feed and you really need to see it.

At its very best, figure skating is an art form as dramatic as anything you can put on stage, and at 19, Jason Brown is one of the very best I’ve ever seen. Even if you aren’t a fan, I am sure you can still appreciate the hard work that brought him to this moment on the ice.

I’m not generally a fan of sports (unless there’s a bat, floor exercises or ice involved) but I have a weakness for figure skating in particular, as well as dance, and Brown combines the athletic best of both.

Comments closed

January 14: The Bangles ~ “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Going Down To Liverpool”

I have a confession to make. Vevo is my favorite part of YouTube. It’s like staying up all night just to catch my favorite music video on MTV (back when MTV was, you know, Music Television), but without the Whitesnake and AC/DC videos in the way.

Seriously. I can find almost EVERYTHING I ever loved about the ’80s on Vev0, and you’re gonna get to watch them all year long. Twofer Tuesdays are especially cool because I don’t have to stick with the most played songs. I just have to find two that match (in whatever random way that fits, kind of like a video version of Apples to Apples.) But don’t be surprised if these disappear again off the playlist before the year is out. YouTube has a bad habit of making my favorite selections vanish into thin air.

With that in mind, here are two Bangles tunes. First one makes me smile, every time, especially when the cops are in the donut shops.

The second one? Has Leonard Nimoy. Seriously. How did I miss this the first time around? 1984 was never stranger than this. But wait, there’s more

Comments closed

January 13: Tax the Rich: An animated fairy tale

Originally posted on December 5, 2012, this short video hasn’t gotten nearly enough air time, and I think it’s important enough that I’m gong to share it under History. Today’s history lesson comes from Fred Glass for the California Federation of Teachers, narrated by Ed Asner (of Lou Grant and Mary Tyler Moore Show fame, among others).

The perils of a tax-free society have made the rounds recently, as the Tea Party fights harder than ever for deregulation and tries to shelter ever increasing amounts of funding from social programs. The cost is already profound, but it’s going to get a lot worse if we don’t find  way to loosen the grip of Corporate America.

Sorry – in a soapbox-y mood this week!

Comments closed