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Month: February 2014

February 28: Three “Let It Go” Parodies (out of many)

Yesterday’s parodies of Bohemian Rhapsody have inspired me to post the reason why I think Frozen will take at least one Oscar come Sunday. Let’s face it – there are few songs from movies that achieve such lofty status in such a short period of time. The Disney movie hit screens on November 27, 2013. Since then, there have been (as of this writing) some 213,000 parodies of the song Let It Go, written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, performed by Idina Menzel. If that’s not a guarantee of success for Original Song, I don’t know what is.

I already mentioned Let It Go once, but once clearly wasn’t enough. I guess I can’t let it go. And, as I said yesterday, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Here are three parodies for your Feel Good Friday pleasure:

First, there’s the tip of the hat to Batman’s Mr. Freeze. (Vocals not ideal, but then I don’t think of “Ahnold” as a particularly musical actor.)

Then there’s the literal version, which ought to get a lot more exposure than it has, because it is, in fact, awesome. High notes and all.

And finally, Cincinnati WKRC Traffic Man Bob Herzog’s exquisitely performed Traffic Man parody, which leads to the inevitable “I wish winter would end” feeling I’ve got, knowing there’s yet another winter storm on the way.

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February 27: Queen (and others) ~ Bohemian Rhapsody

Throwback Thursday isn’t just for the original clip. Sometimes, it’s for the original clip and all the things it inspires.

The original, ground-breaking Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen was released in 1975 as part of the album A Night at the Opera. Since then, it has achieved stratospheric status as the UK’s third best-selling single of all time. The work is amazing, considering the analog nature of the recording and the process of assembly. (Click the link for a detailed description of the entire studio and post-production work that went into the final project.)

As imitation is considered the sincerest form of flattery, this song has plenty to recommend it, from Wayne’s World

…through parodies (including the Muppets version) to mash-ups with Gershwin…

Freddie Mercury’s inspired combination of ballad, guitar solo, opera and hard rock has inspired these artists as well. Every one of these is a viral video. Dang, but I miss Freddie. Gone WAY too soon.

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February 26: Hollywood Movie Dance Tribute ~ We Can Dance and We Can Neutron Dance

It’s almost time for the Oscars and it’s finally time to post these two “That’s Entertainment” style videos, produced by Robert Jones as loving tributes to dance in the movies. I think there are some key clips Robert missed in these first two takes, and he acknowledges as much in a comment on the second video:

Ive [sic] got about 250 movies/clips that involve dancing and between the two dance tributes I’ve used less than half.  There are so many movies I wanted to work into this one.  A video like this is very time consuming.  I’d love to make another one though.  It’s a lot of fun.

I sure hope he does, because I love the work he did on these two:

and…

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February 25: Doctor Who ~ “Take On Me” and Classic Comic Relief: “Lauren Cooper and Doctor Who clash in class”

This brilliant music video tribute to the Doctor in all his forms is a fabulous mash-up of a-ha’s “Take On Me” video and clips in the style of the video taken from the series. I’ve been holding on to these for a while, so here’s your Twofer plus bonus tracks for today.

For reference, here’s the original video, by a-ha. You can really see how the style translates in color:

But wait! There’s more!

And I’m warning you now – swallow before you watch either of these. Yeah, they’re long, but the payoff is SOOO worth it.

There’s too many ways I could tag this. Leaving off at 12…

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February 24: Rochester: A City of Quality

No, it’s not an Earth shattering representation of history. The city’s fallen on hard times, thanks to a bunch of bad corporate choices and a whole mess of stupid educational choices, but this was my home for the first 21 years of my life and there’s a lot to be said for revisiting history as it was 50 years ago, when I was born.

Midtown Plaza is gone. The clock that was its centerpiece was relocated and a great deal of downtown is a ghost town. And yet…

And yet. U of R is still there. Eastman School of Music is there. Strong Museum of Play is there.

I’ve been away since 1986, though I return occasionally. I still think of the clock in the middle of Midtown Plaza and the monorail that took you through Santa’s mountain with all the fake glittery snow. Light Impressions was one of my favorite places to hang out. Got my first Sandra Boynton things at Scrantoms. Cathay Pagoda was an amazing Chinese restaurant in the center of downtown.

Memory is a way to travel through time and space. So are movies like these.

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February 23: IF ONLY FOR A SECOND // Mimi Foundation // EN

This video is for all my family and friends, past, present and future, for whom cancer is personal. In fact, I suspect the video is for everyone. I don’t think I know anyone…ANYONE…who hasn’t been touched by cancer, either because they have had it themselves, or because they know or knew someone who did.

It’s all about control, in a place where we have none. For all the talk of cures and prevention, there is still the simple truth that there’s a great deal we still don’t know about how our bodies change and degrade. But there are some things we can still do, to defy the changes, to take us out of ourselves. If only for a second. And that’s precisely what this project is all about.

We reveal our spirituality in our ability to rise above it all. At over 15 million hits, it’s clear that this viral video, a neat embodiment of that spiritual essence, has struck a chord.

For more information about the project, visit their website:  http://www.mimi-foundation.org/en/ifonlyforasecond.html

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February 22: Smarter Every Day ~ COLD HARD SCIENCE. The Physics of Skating on Ice (With SlowMo) – 110

I featured Smarter Every Day last week, and I’ll do it again throughout this year, because I think their stuff is really nifty. This piece just happens to be cogent, considering the Winter Olympics.

So how does this stuff actually work, with ice? Haven’t you wondered? I know I have.

Check it out!


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=&w=560&h=315]

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February 21: Paulette Huntinova ~ 1988 Paul Hunt gymnastics comedy floor exercise and comedy beam routine

Yes, yes. Winter Olympics. I know. And I’m pretty sure I could have found something for the winter version, but this hit my feed a month ago and I don’t want to wait any longer.

Remember, with things posted on Friday in particular, if you don’t swallow, you can’t blame me for failing to warn you.

Clowns come in all forms. They’re highly skilled artists. Don’t try this at home. Unless, you know, you’re a clown. And you know what you’re doing.

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February 20: A Tribute to Shirley Temple Black

I wanted to include something to recognize my connection to Shirley Temple Black, in light of her death on February 10th of this year. This is the first chance I’ve had to include a few links to her life and work.

You can certainly go search YouTube for more, but I’ll tell you I’ve had a thing for Shirley Temple’s work ever since my sitter first wrapped my curly hair in vertical ringlets at a very tender age. I wanted dance lessons like crazy, I thought I could sing just like Shirley. I’m certain I wasn’t alone. Long, long after she stopped making movies, I was a staunch fan. I knew this song by heart, but it wasn’t the only one I could sing (in my own, off-key way):

In later years, after she ended her movie career at the top of her game, Shirley Temple Black became a diplomat, serving in a variety of locations. She also became one of the first public figures to highlight breast cancer, when she was diagnosed with the disease in 1972. She received lifetime recognition through both the Screen Actors Guild and the Kennedy Center Honors.

In the long, long list of child stars, Shirley Temple’s early works remain a sweet, sunny reminder of childhood’s best moments, even if her own life wasn’t among the fairy tales with which she became associated later in life.  This biopic from 2001 tells a lot of her story. In a lot of ways, she led the way through a minefield for child stars, and she did it with poise and grace. I’m glad to have experienced her work.

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February 19: A tribute to Devo (RIP, Bob Casale, 1952-2014)

Ordinarily, it’s Wednesday and I’d be featuring a video (or more) on the subject of dance. Not today. I almost — *almost* featured a trio of Devo songs for Twofer Tuesday, but I hesitated. Yesterday, I heard that Bob Casale, one of Devo’s founding members, died suddenly of heart failure.

This has already been a hard year, with losing Pete Seeger and Shirley Temple Black among others, but they were both in advanced years. 61 (Casale’s age) is no longer as hugely distant as it once was.

Devo’s music had a major influence on my life, from taste in music to the realization that being different isn’t a bad thing. We’re Through Being Cool could be considered an anthem for some of the counterculture who thought of Devo as inspirational music.

Their brand of nerd rock predated “Weird Al’s” career by a solid four years. He eventually featured their music styling in an original tribute, Dare to be Stupid.

How do these music videos qualify for Dancing Wednesday? Well, if you’d seen me while I was an undergrad at SUNY New Paltz, in the local New Wave club, you wouldn’t have to ask.

The group is probably best known for the song “Whip It” —

— but there are others that I consider to worth including in this list. They follow, in no particular order. If you’re just discovering their music for the first time, I hope you can appreciate the influence they brought to music, especially during New Wave, and beyond as well.

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February 18: The Police ~ “Canary in a Coal Mine” and “Wrapped Around Your Finger”

I’m in a Police/Sting kind of mood today. You get the benefits as a result. I like the first song, just because. It’s got a beat I can dance to. I give it an eight and a half.


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=&w=560&h=315]

The second song has that eerie “I know something you don’t know” sort of feel to it, on top of the minor key thing, and then there’s the whole story song thing. It hits me on multiple levels. Plus? Candles. Everywhere.


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=&w=560&h=315]

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February 17 (President’s Day): National Geographic’s Expedition Week ~ The Real George Washington

Today is President’s Day in the United States. Based on George Washington’s birthday, it’s a holiday for many, and now celebrates our presidents in general, though it falls between Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays on the calendar each year.

There’s a lot of myth and mystery surrounding our first official president. This biography does some work to separate fact from fiction.

We depart slightly from Black History month, though in reality, it’s impossible to separate the two, as the president was also a slave holder. Take the time to learn a little more about George Washington.

[Unfortunately, only this preview remains on YouTube. The full documentary is gone. -BMD]

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February 16: Bishop John Shelby Spong ~ “The Church Doesn’t Like the People to Grow Up.”

I debated adding this clip to the blog, but I’ve decided it’s appropriate. Christianity gets a bad rap a lot of the time, because many people who claim to believe use their faith in ways that run counter to the concepts taught in the New Testament. I find it more than a little disturbing that so much of what is passed off as faith actually serves as an excuse for bigotry and exclusion, the exact opposite of what the New Testament says Jesus taught.

If people stopped cherry picking the text for the things they liked, I think they’d come to the conclusion that either the bible wasn’t what they thought it was or that the agendas of those who compiled and printed it were not the Christians they said they were.

I’m not Christian in any conceivable way, but I can still get the teachings. And this man speaks a great deal of truth. And after the horrible bill Kansas almost enacted against a portion of our population that could have taken them back before 1960, I think it’s the right thing to share today.

[The original clip is gone. This is a replacement. -BMD]

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February 14 (Valentine’s Day): Three clips for today!

Here are three clips that show what love looks like, though they’re not what you might think that at first. Oh, sure, there’s chocolates and hearts and stuff, but when the chocolates are gone and the cards disappear, it’s the thought that really counts.

First, a tip of the hat to the Seattle Seahawks for what sounded like a well-deserved rout, comes this fan-tastic clip that shows super fan Sophie Ayers receiving a gift from her favorite running back Thomas Rawls and how connected we are to our favorite people, and how awesome some of them can be in return. [The whole meeting was up on YouTube but is now gone. –BMD]

Second, a clip that shows our hearts can connect across species just as easily, as long as we remember that respect is a gift we can share with everyone, whether on two legs or four.

Finally, yes, there was a Coke commercial in the news. This isn’t it. Not because it’s not appropriate, but because I already featured it elsewhere. This one is more about the levels and depth of love. Yeah, it’s a commercial. That’s not the point.

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February 13: Danny Kaye ~ Symphony for Unstrung Tongue, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (1947)

This is the reason why I skipped Ben Stiller’s 2013 remake of the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” which was in turn based on a James Thurber short story. I just couldn’t bring myself to see the king of deadpan take the classic I adore and bend it to his will.

Danny Kaye didn’t read music. That never ever mattered. I don’t think there are many (any?) actors alive today who could actually do what he did in his movies.

No, the movie didn’t have that much to do with the original short story. And that’s okay. The new one didn’t, either. And that’s another story.

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February 12: Mikhail Baryshnikov & Gregory Hines ~ White Nights

We’re on the run up to the Academy Awards, and we’re in Russia right now for the Olympics. What better reason (aside from watching these two gifted dancers) do I need to feature this clip from White Nights? Why, none at all.

They made it look easy. I know better. 

Celebrating the return of my internet, thanks to that “other” monopoly that made the news last week. Enjoy the first of five posts in the same day.

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February 11: Indigo Girls ~ “Closer to Fine” and “Galileo”

I adore these two women, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, of Decatur, Georgia. They speak more truth in their raw lyrics and honest vocals than many performers. And of all the songs they’ve done in their careers, these two speak loudest to me. Fortunately, these links are coming from the Indigo Girls’ VEVO channel and they shouldn’t go away.

This one first…

And this one (my favorite) second…

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February 9: Pro Infirmis «Because who is perfect?»

This video caught my attention right after I assembled the last Sunday post, but I have been dealing with an extended internet outage – the latest in a series – that took my access down to a roller coaster of ups and downs that finally quit for good on Sunday, and I couldn’t post this entry.

So, these entries are going to be a little more irregular than they have been, at least until my new provider’s install package arrives.

But I digress.

We think of mannequins as body ideals. They are, in someone’s mind, a representation of an ideal that rarely fits with reality, but when bodies change because of muscular issues, accidents or genetics, we tend to think about the people who carry those shapes differently. No two people are identical. Even the identical twins I’ve known still have their own unique personalities, no matter how much they may look alike. Witness the differences even in conjoined twins and you can see what I mean.

Here, through the wonders of reconstruction, five people who don’t share the traits of the ideal can see themselves in a new way, and we can catch a glimpse of the ideal from the other side of the line.

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