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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EverydaySparks. Gangnam style.

I’m always amazed by how quickly the market can respond to trends. Not the stock market, but the market for clothing and accessories that are quickly produced and often sold cheaply to take advantage of something that’s very now. And since now can be so fleeting – yesterday’s “Team Aniston” t-shirt is tomorrow’s rag for dusting – I am in awe of people and companies who can produce trend-based products, getting in and out of the market before people move onto the next big thing.

And the current ‘big thing’ seems to be that South Korean rapper/dancer/jockey PSY and his song Gangnam Style. The song was released in July this year and it seems to be spreading around the world. And, like a fluffy koala that bites you, or a delicious apple with a worm in it, this song seems cute and innocent at first, but progresses quickly to SUPER ANNOYING on the richter scale. Yes, that is a measure on the richter scale.

I knew it had gone too far when I saw Australia’s Today show this morning – they crossed to a school playground full of little kids dancing around to Gangnam Style. On the face of it, I say good on them for dancing – getting away from their ipods and high sugar cereals and torturing passengers on public buses. But there’s something kinda creepy about 6 year olds shouting along to the song, “HEEEEY, SEX-Y LAY-DEEEEE” and making strange moves that must be mimicking the video clip. Still, I think most of the other words are in Korean, so I guess they can’t be blamed for going with what they know. Although I do like that one of the kids at my niece’s school has changed those words to, “Heeeey, steak and gra-vy”. Much more age appropriate, sonny.

Anyways, if you want to impress your friends and family with your very own Gangnam style, check out these finds from etsy – I couldn’t believe the range of options. But you’d better get in quick, as there’s probably an obscure rapper/dancer/jockey from a tiny village in Botswana putting the finishing touches on his latest dance hit and getting ready to launch it to the world…

Only $9.99 for this Gangnam Style bow tie from TessaROXX.

I feel like there is a giant “Keep Calm” factory out there somewhere, cranking the handle day & night to produce more “Keep Calm And…” products. This one is from appleholic.

For a trendy baby. Not sure what the deal is with the pearls though, but whatevs. This is from Sassy Kat Boutique.

And I just found this shop – Impressive Steps. You can customise flip flops with your own message, so that you can leave a trail of advertising, or messages of love, or just plain nonsense across the beach.

Taking it to the beach. Gangnam Style. From iStep.

And if you have no idea what this Gangnam Style is all about, here’s the You Tube clip that started all the madness. And fuelled an industry producing heaps of stuff with a very short shelf life. Which is surely another topic for another day…

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Pop Charts

Some people need charts and visuals to really make sense of the world. I see how it can sometimes be helpful to reduce the confusion of something big or complex into a series of connected boxes on an A3 piece of paper. In the corporate world, accountants have their ‘mud maps’, HR people have their ‘org charts’, management consultants have their ‘stakeholder maps’ and marketing people tend to have something brightly coloured and written in code, so that it doesn’t make sense to outsiders. But that’s just work. What if there were clever people who used their charting prowess to help us navigate and better understand the real world? Ta-da, here’s Pop Chart Lab.

The Lab began a couple of years ago, founded by a book editor and a graphic designer who joined forces with one modest goal in mind: to render all of human experience in chart form. Uh huh. Their range is amazing – they have tackled everything from beer to culinary devices to the story of a boy’s migration to a town called Bel Air. Here are some of my favourite prints (they also print their charts on t-shirts, in case you want to educate the masses).

(c) Pop Chart Lab

Oh yes, from Bill Haley in the top left to Lady Gaga in the bottom right corner, this is indeed A Visual Compendium of Notable Haircuts in Popular Music. It’s a signed, limited edition print that is sure to get people talking. And if you like this, you’ll probably like its cousin: A Visual Compendium of Notable Haircuts in Hollywood. (That one even includes Chewbacca’s impressive ‘do, along with several cast members of the Harry Potter franchise.)

(c) Pop Chart Lab

And here’s the chart that I think is my favourite – a collection of 13 pie charts about pies. Yep, they’re breaking down the ingredients that go into those delicious desserts and it is just as scary as you might imagine. All the old favourites are there – including Fig. 12, Peanut Butter Pie, which is full of gooey goodness: by my calculations, almost 50% peanut butter, around 20% Oreos and almost as much butter, with a fair dose of heavy cream, vanilla extract and bittersweet chocolate. God bless America, I say. (If pies aren’t your thing, you might like The Delectable Kaleidoscope of Candy Bars – a pretty, colourful and super-detailed examination of the common ingredients and textures linking a bzillion different types of sweet treats.)

(c) Pop Chart Lab

And finally, Constitutions of Classic Cocktails breaks down nearly 70 famous drinks into their constituent parts. Apparently, this is the most elaborate chart that the Lab folk have ever made – it is beautifully designed and unbelievably detailed. Whether you’re looking for inspiration to get shakin’, know a dedicated barfly with a birthday coming up, or just like the design, this is a good ‘un. I love it because to me it looks as though the cocktails are at the centre of a mysterious sort of galaxy. Or perhaps cocktails are like the Wheel of Fortune. And let’s face it, when the drinks are flowing, both of those statements are generally true.

If you’re thirsty for more info, you can check out many more educational works of art at the fabulous Pop Chart Lab site here.

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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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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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Fair Juliet

Hardcore. 8 year old Juliet – an Australian treasure, from the trampoline moshpit to you…

 

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