everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Eurovision, part deux

I know that Eurovision isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so I will try to make this my last post on the topic. For 2013, at least. (Unless we can arrange a world tour for the fabulous Cezar from Romania – see yesterday’s post if you missed his performance – in which case, I will be posting daily to keep the dream alive.) Anyways, there really were so many astonishing acts this year that I can’t do them justice without boring you to tears.

So, I’ll stick with my top three – Cezar from Romania (the star of yesterday’s post), Farid Mammadov from Azerbaijan (and his mirror box-dancing friend, the unsung hero of the piece) and Krista Siegfrids from Finland with ‘Marry Me’ (which sounds more like the declaration of a crazy stalker than a woman in love).

I haven’t even included the 95 year old guy from Greece, or the voluptuous yet bookish-looking lady from Israel, or the whispering hipster from Hungary, but you can check them out at eurovision.tv if you’re curious (and you really should be).

Without further ado, here are the clips for Azerbaijan and Finland – and if you can’t bring yourself to watch the videos, at least check out the lyrics to ‘Marry Me’, below. They say the song is for marriage equality (the end of the performance was a bit of a hint, I guess), but I say these lyrics are about so much more.


Marry Me

Spying on you undercover, drinking coffee with your mother
Am I getting closer?

Baby, I feel like a sinner, skipping dinner to get thinner
Where is my proposal?

I’m your slave and you’re my master
Oh baby, come on, take your shot

So marry me, I’ll be your queen bee
I’ll love you endlessly
I do it for you, for you, for you
Yeah, I do it for you, marry me, baby

I’ll play your game, I’ll change my last name
I’ll walk the walk of shame
I do it for you, for you, for you
Yeah, I do it for you, marry me baby

Oh oh, oh oh oh, ding dong
Oh oh, oh oh oh, ding dong

I know where the future’s heading, I can see my perfect wedding
Isn’t that just bracing?
I don’t think there are no ladies who will give you cuter babies
Isn’t that amazing?

I’m your slave and you’re my master
Oh baby, come on, take your shot

So marry me, I’ll be your queen bee
I’ll love you endlessly
I do it for you, for you, for you
Yeah, I do it for you, marry me, baby

I’ll play your game, I’ll change my last name
I’ll walk the walk of shame
I do it for you, for you, for you
Yeah, I do it for you, marry me baby

Oh oh, oh oh oh, ding dong
Oh oh, oh oh oh, ding dong
Oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh, ding dong
Oh oh, oh oh oh, ding dong

This is the day, I don’t wanna wait much longer now
If you run away, I’m gonna find you anyhow
Oh, yeah, yeah, oh yeah
Whatchu waiting, whatchu waiting
Whatchu waiting, whatchu waiting for?

So marry me, I’ll be your queen bee
I’ll love you endlessly
I do it for you, for you, for you
Yeah, I do it for you, marry me, baby

I’ll play your game, I’ll change my last name
I’ll walk the walk of shame
I do it for you, for you, for you
Yeah, I do it for you, marry me baby

Oh oh, oh oh oh, ding dong
Oh oh, oh oh oh, ding dong
Oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh, ding dong
Oh oh, oh oh oh, ding dong

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Eurovision-ary, Romania

Another year, another Eurovision. I remember sharing my excitement about this spectacle last year – it really is an amazing event. Somehow, just when you think it’s not possible to beat the previous year’s highlights/lowlights, our European pals rise to the challenge.

Literally, in the case of the breathtaking performance from Romania this year. Here is the clip – you really have to see it to believe it. And then you’ll appreciate why I have no more words to add here…Take it away, Cezar.

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Merry Christmas!

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours – I hope that you have a wonderful festive season, full of everyday sparks, and the time to enjoy being with your family and friends. And also some time to enjoy being by yourself, maybe to look back on the good things that happened in 2012 and look forward to the exciting adventures that await in 2013. I’ll be keeping an eye out for Christmas sparks today – we’re lucky to share our family lunch with seven little people plus grownups, so I’m sure there will be plenty of sparks around!

I came across this flash mob video this week and thought you might like it too. It is from earlier this year, but it feels very festive. It also makes me want to organise a flash mob in 2013, so if you’ve got any ideas – please let me know…

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Overcoming the post-holiday slump

And so today it hits me. That inevitable post-holiday slump as things return to normal – bills need to be paid, appointments need to be made, work needs to be done…and the chances to reminisce about my recent holiday will be few and far between. So, I need a bit of a boost today. Normally, Dr Seuss is my go-to guy for motivation and a smile, but today I’m going with Flight of the Conchords and their recent NZ charity single: Feel Inside (and stuff like that).

You have probably already seen it by now, but in case you haven’t (or you need a refresher, like me today), here it is – a longish clip, but the interviews absolutely make the song, so I suggest you grab a cup of tea and sit down and enjoy it with me. A bit of feta really can make things better. Oh, and you can now buy this song on iTunes outside of NZ, so it’s like having a source of smiles on tap – I love it!

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Hip Hop Hooray

A lot of people don’t know this about me, but I love hip hop music. I am whiter than most white people (thanks to my Irish genes), can’t really dance, don’t like a lotta bling, and I’m not really very street-wise, but for some reason I love hip hop. Not all of it, but a lot of it. Maybe it’s because I love words and people who are clever with words (and by that I don’t mean people who can only rhyme ‘ho’ with ‘blow’, or ‘cop’ with ‘pop’). There are some brilliant hip hop lyrics, aside from the trashy sexist, racist, violent stuff that you often hear about. And a very cool design studio in Chicago – Orange Beautiful – has produced a series of prints based on some famous lyrics. This first series features an ‘Ice’ connection. I found them via Fab.com and I like them alot…

All right, stop – collaborate and listen. Vanilla Ice, or Robert Van Winkle as he was known to his family, is credited with releasing the first single that brought hip hop into the mainstream (entering the Billboard music charts when it was released in 1989/90). It was Ice Ice Baby and it was a massive hit (and a guilty pleasure for many people who were too embarrassed to admit that they were hooked by Vanilla Ice and his catchy tune). So many memorable lines, but Orange Beautiful have chosen to immortalise: Anything less than the best is a felony. Words to live by, for sure.

Then there’s Ice Cube – a giant of hip hop who has also had success in film and tv (production and acting). Ice Cube should not be confused with Ice T, another hip hop legend who now plays a detective Law and Order: SVU. Orange Beautiful have picked the only lyrics that I think are fit for framing from Ice Cube’s Check Yo Self – sound advice for anyone you know who is maybe hitting life a little too hard: You better check yo self before you wreck yo self.

And to finish on a more deep and meaningful note, here is a print of Ice T’s lyrics from Don’t Hate the Playa, a graphically worded song that’s a twist on the footballing/life expression, ‘play the ball, not the man’: Don’t hate the playa, hate the game. They could also have used another classic line from that song, some financial advice from Ice T: If you out for mega cheddar, you got to go high risk. Maybe next series. (As an aside, the styling of this photo from the Fab website makes me laugh.)

You can check out these limited edition prints from Orange Beautiful on sale at Fab.com here as they’re not yet on the Orange Beautiful website (or their etsy shop) here. Peace out.

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Jedward and the Olympic Torch

So, I don’t normally post on the weekends, but this week I saw some big news that needed sharing. Jedward (the real winners of Eurovision in my eyes) carried the Olympic Torch through Dublin. How they got so close without the product in their hair catching fire is a modern day miracle. Here’s a pic and a quote to get the weekend off to a great start.

“Thank you, guys, so much for all coming out and being so Jepic and so Jedicated to the Olympics. Last year we had Barack Obama and this year we have the Olympic torch.”

Totally Jepic, boys. This pic is from the UK MTV website, which featured the story here. But you can read about it pretty much anywhere that covers big news stories. If only these two could actually compete in the Olympics…that would be even better…Keepin’ the dream alive, Jedward!

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Confession: I love Eurovision.

If you have read this blog before, it probably won’t come as a surprise to you that I love the annual Eurovision song contest. That’s right, let me say it again – loud and proud: I LOVE EUROVISION! It’s not cool, I know, but I have been a fan since I first saw it and couldn’t quite work out whether it was real. It is real. And it is spectacular.

When you’re all the way on the other side of the world here in Australia, it can be tough to keep up with current European trends – you know, fashion, music, makeup, design etc. And if you watched the Eurovision song contest, I think it’s safe to say that you would form a very strange impression of many of our European cousins, indeed. With costumes and performers and music that often seem like they’re from another planet, nevermind another continent, the contest brings together many countries from Europe to share their particular sort of ‘special’ with the world. And whether they’re singing in their native tongue or in that kooky language of English, it’s often tricky to work out what they’re singing. Which is usually for the best. But the common language is cheesy ballads or techno dance beats, daring costumes, big hair and big smiles.

This year, the 57th annual Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Baku, in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. It’s the home country of last year’s winners – Eldar & Nigar (or Ell & Nikki, as they were rebadged), who won the contest with their captivating duet, “Running Scared”. It featured a lot of arm-waving dancers in white. But that was last year – this year in Baku, the theme is Light Your Fire and the two semi-final shows are on this week, with the grand final on Saturday 26 May. There are 43 countries on display this week in the Baku Crystal Hall and I strongly suggest you check out the Eurovision website to share the magic. There are plenty of photos and videos. But in the meantime, here are some of my highlights:

The lady representing Greece is singing a song called Aphrodisiac. I definitely hear her rhyme it with ‘maniac’, but I’m not sure what else.

These two chaps are representing Austria. They are rappers and call themselves Trackshittaz. Judging by their press photo, they are big with the laydeez of Austria. It is interesting to listen to rap in another language. Sounds kinda like a lot of angry swearing.

Then there is this lady representing Albania. She has a very powerful voice and a bird’s nest full of dreadlocks on her head. A force to be reckoned with.

Oh, and guess who’s representing the UK? 78 year old Engelbert Humperdinck. Uh huh.

Now, this is coming close to my favourite. It’s the entry from San Marino. And I’m not proud to say that I had to look that up to find out that it is also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, located on the Italian peninsula, east of the Apennine Mountains. The population is just over 30,000 and I’m not sure what life is like in San Marino – but their entry in Eurovision is this young lady singing The Social Network Song. And in a rehearsal that I saw, she was using her laptop as a prop on stage.

Not to be outshone, Moldova’s entry looks a little like Colin Farrell.

And then there’s the Romanian entry. Their press photo gives you a pretty good idea of what they’re about. It’s an interesting number, with a foxy lady out the front of a 1980s band jumping around the stage – I think they are playing their instruments, and if so, the guy on the piano accordian should be complimented for his ability to dance around while keeping the music pumping.

For the first time, Ireland will be represented by the same act as last year – Jedward, the spikiest heads in the business. These two boys are like aliens from out of space with their crazy costumes and flammable hair-dos. They do have sweet voices, which will no doubt be tested as they cartwheel and back flip across the stage. Yes, really. I think they came 8th last year, which was a pretty good showing, so let’s hope that they can bring some joy to the Emerald Isle with a top 5 finish in Baku.

And now, the end (of this post) is near, so I’ll leave you with the intriguing entry from Georgia. Anri Jokhadze is the first male to represent Georgia in the Eurovision contest. And he’s singing his pop song, I’m a Joker. Yes, Anri, you’re a joker – I can tell by your press photo. But you’re so much more, according to the lyrics from your song, which include: I’m a joker; I’m a rocker; I’m a shocker; I’m a poker. Also, I’m a talker and straight-walker; I’m a broker, evil-blocker. Then, I’m a slaker, Trouble-breaker, Fortune-maker, Care-taker. And the song ends on a frightening note for all of the HR professionals in Georgia (and beyond): I’m just a womanizer, Let me be your supervisor. You’ve been warned.

If you’d like to find out more about this magical event, check out the official Eurovision website, which is where all of these official pics from the European Broadcasting Union were sourced. I’m excited!

Oh, and this guy is representing Slovakia. I do not know what he is singing.

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Tony Bennett. Legend.

Last night my mum and I went to see Tony Bennett at the Sydney Opera House. (Just to clarify – the pic on the left is a Billboard Grammys photo, we didn’t get that close. And he didn’t bring Lady Gaga. But I think that the photo is funny.)

I had bought the tickets for my mum’s birthday earlier this year as we love Tony Bennett and his cronies (something to do with my Grandad, our own Italian-New Yorker, I’m sure).

We last saw Tony Bennett at the Lyric Theatre at Sydney’s Casino (a truly beautiful theatre stuck in a hideously tacky venue – imagine the Kardashian wedding held in Paris’ Sacre Coeur and you’ll kinda get the feeling). So it was nice to see the now 85 year old crooner in the fabulous Concert Hall of the Opera House on a cool Sydney evening. (And if you’re not from ’round here, the tent looking things in my pic on the right aren’t market stalls but Opera Bar – best views in town.) The average age of the crowd was probably about 60 and I helped the nice couple next to us read their ticket numbers (they forgot their glasses) and the chap in front was sporting a fetching 1960s style red gingham jacket (and he wasn’t a hipster being ironic).

Tony’s daughter Antonia opened the show. Now, I don’t like to be cruel and Lord knows I can’t sing, but I do believe that if she was a gal born to a different daddy, Antonia would not be singing on the Opera House stage. Her voice is fine – sometimes sweet, but not very strong and often a little pitchy to my ears. I whispered to my mum, I hope that if Dad becomes a singer, he lets me open his show even though I can’t sing. And like a true stage mother, she replied, Well I hope you’ll wear something a lot more glamorous if that happens.

But Antonia knew we hadn’t come to see her, so she only stayed on stage for about 30 mins before the real star of the show came out. And what a star he is – performing hit after hit for over an hour and a half, without a break or a drink of water. HE IS 85. And his voice is strong – maybe just a little creaky by the end of the night, as anyone’s would be – as he hits the higher notes and brings home the powerful lyrics. HE IS 85. His band (at least from where we were sitting) all look like old timers too, but they were equally impressive.

From classics such as I Left My Heart In San Francisco to The Way You Look Tonight; from his stories about Bob Hope and Charlie Chaplin to bustin’ out some amazing dance moves that would put most men in their 20s to shame; from his genuine delight when people applaud or squeal to the incredible finale – Fly Me To The Moon. Without any microphone. HE IS 85. He said it was to test the acoustics of the Concert Hall, but I reckon it was to test the ol’ lungs and maybe show off a bit that he’s still got such talent. Whatevs, Tony Bennett – at 85 as at 25, you’re a true legend.

 

 

(This last pic has no relevance – I just took it last night and didn’t want our Bridge to feel left out of this post.)

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The ukuleles are in town

So, last night I went to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at the Opera House. Oh yes I did. My friend Jane bought tickets and invited me to go along and it sounded just weird enough to be my cup of tea, so away we went. Before the show, we were at Opera Bar and noticed lots of people (ok, by ‘lots’, I clearly don’t mean thousands, let’s say at least 37) carrying little ukelele-shaped cases. At first, I was surprised that the orchestra members would be out drinking so close to showtime, then realised that these must actually just be random people carrying ukuleles. The ukulele carriers covered some pretty broad demographics – men and women, young and old, two eyes and four eyes. I know it sounds dumb, but I had never really thought of ukuleles as instruments before last night. More of a cute-looking joke present to give a niece or a friend who secretly wanted to be Slash, but lacked any musical ability.

Anyways, we got to the concert hall and it appeared that the gig was sold out, or pretty close to it. On our right was a fancy looking pair of seniors, who told us that they had brought their daughter and their grandson (with his ukulele). And their Indian parish priest from Maroubra (with his ukulele), who seemingly loves music and turns every church service into a singalong. On several occasions of audience participation, said priest thrust his ukulele high in the air, like some sort of salute to the gods. Rock on, Father. On our left was another fancy looking pair of not-quite-as-seniors from the north shore. Jan was learning the ukulele after completing some classes for beginners at an evening college and had recently enjoyed a ukulele jam session with a group in Sydney’s inner west. Even my friend Jane advised that she had taken ukulele lessons. I like to think I’m pretty down with current trends and I definitely love music, so I feel like I have missed something here. WHEN DID THE UKULELE GET SO POPULAR? AND WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME?

Whatever, the concert was fun, with everything from Beethoven to Lady Gaga to a Playschool-esque singalong version of the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK. The highlights for me were the emotional rendition of Wheatus’ Teenage Dirtbag and the upbeat, jazzy take on Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights. As we left, I was happy, but still not sure what to make of this new (to me, at least) ukulele world. However, I am nothing if not easily inspired, so thought I’d get home and google ukulele instructors in my neighbourhood and start taking classes. Then I ran into a group of youngish ukulele carriers near the taxis and my immediate reaction was: WEIRDOS. And that was the end of that.

PS, if you want to visit ukulele world without paying for a ticket, you can check out the Orchestra on You Tube.

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