everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Do you wanna see a mermaid?

I am not entirely sure how I found out about the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida. But it is now on my bucket list. Would that be because it is, “one of the deepest, naturally formed underwater caverns in the U.S.”? Maybe for some people. Or because of its super catchy name, which means, “little spring” or “winding river”? Not really, to be honest. It’s actually because it is, “THE ONLY CITY OF LIVE MERMAIDS!” (or so they say on their website).

Yesteryear Mermaids

Apparently it all started back in 1946, with a former Navy guy called Newton Perry, who trained SEALs (the Navy ones, not the ones who do tricks and catch fish) to swim underwater in World War II. No notes on whether he was a mermaid/merman, but apparently he, “scouted out Weeki Wachee as a good site for a new business”. And then he invented a method for humans to breathe underwater via oxygen hoses connected to an air compressor (so it could look like humans were, “thriving twenty feet underwater with no breathing apparatus”. Genius.

Then he built an 18 seat theatre into limestone, six feet below the water’s surface. And then? Well, I can’t paraphrase, as I won’t do it justice: “Newt scouted out pretty girls and trained them to swim with air hoses and smile at the same time. He taught them to drink Grapette, a non-carbonated beverage, eat bananas underwater and do aquatic ballets.” AMAZING.

And so the mermaid show drew large crowds and was quite the place to visit in the 1950s (even Elvis stopped by). And then in the 1980s they opened a water theme park and beach. Then in the 1990s they started the popular “Mermaids of Yesteryear” shows. Apparently, the former mermaids’ motto is, “Once a mermaid, always a mermaid”.

Not convinced? Then have a look at some of these amazing mermaids from the “Mermaid Roster” on the site (which is almost too good to be true)…

MermaidStayce

Don’t be surprised if Mermaid Stayce beats you in Candy Crush.”

MermaidCrystal

“Mermaid Crystal enjoys track & field and is always up for a game of Trivia Crack.” 

MermaidBrittany

“You can find Mermaid Brittany hunting when she’s not performing.”

I salute you, Newton Perry, for your fabulous vision. And you too, multi-talented mermaids. I very much hope to see the mermaid show for myself one day (they are open 365 days a year, fyi). [I did check out the ‘Careers’ section of the website – no current requirements for additional mermaids.] “Being a mermaid is a magical job. As the mermaids sing in The Little Mermaid show: 

We’re not like other women,
We don’t have to clean an oven
And we never will grow old,
We’ve got the world by the tail!”

Sing it, sisters. [You can check out the website here.]

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A Skateboarding Dog in Central Park

Because, why not? My cousin in New York sent me this video, recorded by a friend of hers in Central Park a few evenings ago. Look at how many people are happy and excited about this spectacle – there just aren’t enough skateboarding dogs in this world, I tell you.

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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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