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Life in a Minor Key Posts

May 10: Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey

So, normally this space is reserved for embedding YouTube video, but today I’m highlighting a show that you can watch on broadcast, cable, and streaming online.

When Carl Sagan’s original series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage originally aired on PBS, I was hooked. I already thought of the Strasenburgh Planetarium as my favorite place in the city, growing up in Rochester, but here was a trip to places unseen and science made so clear and easy to understand, I didn’t miss an episode, rewatched the series every time it aired, and eventually bought the DVDs.

Neil deGrasse Tyson returns to Sagan’s exploration of our universe, but adds dimension and knowledge gained since the original aired almost 35 years ago. His series should serve as inspiration for learning more about our world.

Sadly, there are places where the concepts he talks about are considered sacrilegious, and not everyone sees the broadcast.

If you’re in a place where censorship has taken away the free broadcast, there are other options. I watch the show on both Fox and on Hulu. You can also find it on National Geographic Channel and Netflix Streaming.

I encourage you to watch if you haven’t.

 

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May 9: 5th grade boys Synchronized Air Swimming Talent Show Skit W A Porter Elementary

It’s Feel Good Friday, and just like that, I’m back.

Really, though, this is an attempt at feeling better, knowing that there’s a whole lot of awful stuff going around today, especially in my personal Facebook feed.

It’s hard to think of a reason to smile, which is why these posts exist. Thanks for sticking around – classes are just about over for me and I’ll probably include a couple of my own pieces in the coming weeks, when I think about it.

Ephemeral as it is, YouTube has a wealth of information. This video’s making the rounds, but there’s only one original and it belongs to Margaret Hutto. (Hint: It’s the link below.) Accept no substitutions.

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April 8: A day late… Queen ~ Under Pressure (Performed by Annie Lennox & David Bowie, and also by the cast of “Smash”)

I know you folks have been waiting with baited breath (eww) for the next post in the series. I’m 20 days behind now, and I’ve decided that the better part of valor is to let those days go, and restart this week with the looser theme of “whatever makes me happy or think or smile” instead.

And on this day, seemingly random though it may be to most of you, I am picking from a different source. Queen’s song, with Bowie’s counterpoint, is a chilling reminder that there are people who find it hard to swim through the daily grind, who exist outside the bubble of happiness, or at least, can’t quite push themselves to one more day of the same. For whom joy and happiness remain permanently elusive.

I’m not inclined to drift that way because I quite firmly believe this is the place, and that there’s nothing on the other side to greet me if I cross over, but for some people, the pain of day to day living is simply unbearable.

We lost one of those people last night. The signs were there. Heck, some folks would say the signs have been there for a few weeks. But I missed the one key post, the warning. I sat up through a lot of last night, just feeling like I couldn’t go to sleep.

This morning, I knew what the signs were pointing to, too late to do anything but stare helplessly at the news.

Those cries for help? Take them seriously.

For my friends who are struggling every day, because the pain is so hard for them to bear.

I would post the original and leave it at that, but we don’t have rights to see it. Odds are excellent these will go away within the year, too.

and

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Just to let you know…

I’m not gone – four classes that are top-heavy with projects have eaten my free time and I do this for love, not money. I’ll be back this weekend, I hope, and I’ll catch everything up from the 10th. Thanks for bearing with me!

 

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March 12: Paula Abdul ~ “Opposites Attract”

Okay, so this is another throwback (might be that way for the whole week, at this rate), but Paula Abdul’s dance is infectious and the animation for her performance partners, The Wild Pair (originally credited as MC Skat Kat), the video employs a technique similar to Gene Kelly’s Anchors Aweigh and Invitation to the Dance.

It’s one of my favorite music videos from the ’80s, because of the animation and the dancing.

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March 11: Cyndi Lauper ~ “True Colors” and “Time After Time”

My musical tastes spring from late ’60s Motown, R&B and folk, ’70s psychedelic and classic pop & rock, and the ’80s New Wave movement. I’ve liked some of the newer stuff, but not much.

There are a few artists who transcend time and style, who produce classics that defy pigeon-holing when describing their work.

Cyndi Lauper made hits like “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “She Bop” popular in the clubs, and yeah, they’re fun to dance to when you’re out in a club or at a party, but they’re not substantial like these two pieces.

True Colors and Time After Time both have a smoky quality and more heart than a lot of the music that came out of the New Wave. The video shows she went there long before Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Björk.

and

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March 10: Wealth Inequality in America

This video began to make the rounds in my feed shortly after the 2012 elections. I’m sorry it didn’t start to circulate before the election, but now that 2014 is on us, it’s time to revisit the subject, especially in light of Robert Reich’s new feature, Inequality for All.

If you don’t have the time or the patience to sit through a full-length documentary, here’s a summary (not directly related to the movie) that should spell it out for you.

I encourage you to watch the full-length movie, though. It’s available online through a variety of sources, including Netflix streaming, which is how I watched.

I’ve been howling about Trickle Down economic policies for decades. Here’s why.

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March 9: Sherwin Nuland ~ A meditation on hope

In 1994, Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland wrote a book called, simply, How We Die.

On March 3rd, Dr. Nuland died of prostate cancer. This week, Krista Tippett featured an earlier talk with Dr. Nuland about his various books and his views on spirituality in her weekly NPR show, On Being.

Until this week, I didn’t know of the book’s existence. I still haven’t read it, because I’m presently swamped (as you may have noticed from the erratic way in which this blog is being populated at the moment). Based on the radio show, which I listened to this morning while trying to adjust my internal clock to the new Daylight Savings normal, I’ve decided the book needs to rocket to the top of my reading list. And, I think, perhaps for my friends as well, as this has been a bad week for a number of them.

The majority of my friends are older (in the vicinity of, or over, 50), and most are dealing with the aging and illness of parents and their siblings, but one of my friends just lost a battle with H1N1 and pneumonia at only 43. It’s not clear to me from this obituary whether I will agree with all that he writes, as I believe quite firmly in speeding up the process if the person is ready to go and wants to exercise the option, but I found his words this morning to be worth further investigation.

Here’s a TED talk featuring Dr. Nuland on the subject of hope rather than death. I recommend listening to both this and the On Being show as well. Expect more of these over the coming months. I’ve found many of the TED talks intriguing springboards for further conversation. I don’t think I’m alone.

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March 8: BELIEF (Huvr)

In the movie Back to the Future, Part II, Marty McFly fast-forwards to 2015. Seemed like a long time into the future, back then.

Fast forward to today (for real) and the video below that hit YouTube on March 3. In just five days, the video has accumulated some 11 million hits. Sadly, if you visit the Wikipedia entry for the BTTF II Hoverboard, you’ll see it’s the hoax I expected it to be.

Sad? No, not really. The video gave me a smile.

Just don’t be that gullible maroon who thinks this is actual science. It’s not. It’s just movie magic.

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March 6: Kajagoogoo / Limahl ~ “Too Shy” and “NeverEnding Story”

It’s one-hit-wonder time today, with Kajagoogoo‘s Too Shy, a video I liked a great deal when I used to watch MTV (back when they showed, you know, music).

I always wondered what happened to them, because I knew there was something that happened. Limahl broke away (well, not really, according to Wikipedia), and eventually made a hit out of the theme for the movie version of The NeverEnding Story.

Ah, well. The backstory is seldom as nice a read as the art produced.

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March 4: “Let It Go” one more time (post-Oscars)

Yeah, I know. You’re probably sick of the song now. I’ll try to make this the last time (for now). But I couldn’t contain myself when Adele Dazeem…ahem…Idina Menzel herself sang on Sunday night’s Academy Awards show. (Made me wonder whether it was just a simple mistake, an amazing parody of herself, or a brilliant marketing move for the producers of If/Then.)

But I digress…

I mentioned earlier that there are in excess of 213k in parody or tribute links to the song Let It Go on YouTube. I’ll give it a rest after this, but you need to see these, just because.

First, the current Broadway cast of Avenue Q congratulate their co-creator, Robert Lopez, who co-wrote the song with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez:

Then, there’s Alex Boyé stellar Africanized Tribal cover of the song, with the ) Ft. One Voice Children’s Choir. Holy cow, can that kid sing!

Finally? What you’re all probably thinking. And if you haven’t swallowed yet, do yourself a favor: Put the coffee down.

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March 3: “12 Years a Slave” and “Slavery And The Making Of America” (Revised)

Ordinarily, I’d be posting a video for History Monday, but not today.

Today I’m posting the link to the 2014 Best Picture Oscar Award-winning 12 Years a Slave. I’d post a link to the movie itself, but I’m certain it will return to theaters in the very near future, and I encourage you to go see it.

12 Years a Slave is a tough watch because it presents the terrible, cold, hard, unshakable reality of slavery. Solomon Northrup’s story is Roots for today’s world.

Movies like these bring home the truth, whether people want to hear it or not. It is important to tell these stories, especially today, when people like Arkansas state representative Jon Hubbard can be so remarkably unclear about the cost that they can suggest  slavery was a “blessing in disguise” and sites like Save Our Heritage (which I refuse to link to – you can go find this one on your own) post the sort of revisionist history that would have you believe being a slave isn’t so bad, and that we ought to return to those times.

You can complain about reality all you want, but you can’t alter it. That’s why it’s reality. It’s what happened. And what’s happening now, today, here in the US and abroad. That’s how I dedicate my Mondays this year: To recognizing the truth.

[Revised to add…]

So, because I haven’t got a live link to either 12 Years a Slave or Roots, I give you a different documentary, entitled Slavery and the Making of America. Yeah, it’s long. It’s also important. And I’m adding it here after the initial posting date, because I found it after I posted.

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March 2: Mr. Hublot (2014 Academy Award Winner)

I had hoped to find this piece for today’s entry, but when I looked yesterday, it wasn’t where I expected to see it. Today, magically, I could find the film, but be warned – it’s likely to go away again, so see it while you can.

How does Mr. Hublot fit into Spiritual Sunday? I’ll leave that as an exercise for the viewer. All I know is it touched my heart. Would have been my choice, if I’d been allowed to vote. (Yes, Get a Horse! was awesome, but while it was funny and technically spectacular, it wasn’t moving.)

Unfortunately, the full version of the video is gone from YouTube. You can find more by going to this link to the official site.

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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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