Serene Sunday: Largo al Factotum

I’ve just made the mistake of drinking a strong latte with my meds; saying LOUD HEAD BANGING MUSIC fits my mood is an understatement.  However, that’s not “serene.”  Hold on, let me play some Mozart.  Ahhh.  Okay, where was I?

As a child when I bothered to rise early on Saturdays to watch cartoons, I watched old Warner Bros. features such as Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker.  The show’s creators played concertos from operas during the long scenes.  I started humming along to the cool music, not knowing that it was the old fogy, classical variety that made me yawn and fall asleep any other time.  Advertising agencies also cashed in on the concept, disguising classical songs as pop tunes.

Here is one of my earliest memories, Woody Woodpecker singing “Largo al factotum” from Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.”


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Serene Sunday: You’ve Got A Friend

My two best pals visited for a week.  For a change of pace, I suggested an overnighter in Galena, a scenic historical village in northwest Illinois. It was home of President U.S. Grant and has buildings dating back to the 1820’s although following a fire in 1856, most are pre-civil war.  For the American Midwest, this is pretty old town.  My friends navigated and drove while I lounged in the back seat. They probably thought I was sleeping.   I did- a bit; but mostly I pondered the joys of true friendship.  For 17 years, they have stuck by me through thick and thin, weathered my depression and whiplash mood swings, and come running whenever I cried for help.  I didn’t gush my gratitude, but I certainly felt happy and thankful for their presence in my life.  Love you gals.

The cost of the room and assorted purchases – $$$

The cost of friendship – priceless

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Surreal Saturday: Star Spangled Pants

I’m a few weeks late but at least it’s the same month.  Felicia Day, actress and resident internet geek, actually shows off her violin virtuoso skills with the US national anthem, Star Spangled Banner. Written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812, it’s essentially a war song that’s also hard to sing. Why Congress decided to make it the country’s national anthem in 1931 escapes me.  Day puts her special kitschy spin on it to make the wretched piece bearable.

Star-Spangled Pride Pants

Link to REGULAR FLOG EPISODE FOR THIS WEEK: Starring: Felicia Day & Tom Lenk Featuring: Brit Weisman as Pride Pants Directed by: Sean Becker Executive Producers: Sheri Bryant, Felicia Day, Kim Evey, Sean Becker Associate Producer: Brit Weisman Camera: Hisonni Johnson Sound: Jonathan Hong, Leonardo Nasca Production Assistant: Ricardo Ramos Hair/Makeup: Kim Graczyk Edited By: Sean Becker Post Sound: Jonathan Hong Special Thanks: GoPotato Studio Email: Twitter: @GeekandSundry

Now here is a tune that ought to be the national anthem, America, the Beautiful.  Our pal Wiki says the the music, borrowed from a hymn, and the lyrics evolved to be first published in 1910. The self-explanatory title is more befitting a rousing, positive, patriotic song than a tune about rockets, bullets and war.  This is my favorite version, by the legendary Ray Charles.

Ray Charles – America,The Beautiful (LIVE) HD

The Miami Lighthouse for the Blind James L.Knight Center in Miami,Florida,1999 Composer : Samuel A. Ward , Katharine Lee Bates Lyrics : Oh beautiful, for heroes proved, In liberating strife, Who more than self, their country loved, And mercy more than life, I’m singing about United This America,sweet America, may God thy gold refine, Till all success be nobleness And every gain devined.

Have a great Saturday.

Richard Armitage Observation #1; or Going to Hell in A Handbasket

I’m having problems with new meds and posting on two hours of sleep.  It does wonders for judgment.  Just sayin’.

I still have a jumble of semi-coherent observations about The Hobbit tour bouncing around in my head.  Naturally, Richard Armitage’s interviews have been foremost in my mind.  While he’s evolved over the years in presentation, I’ve noticed one aspect has always remained the same: his head movements.  Initially I interpreted these delicate nods and dips of the head as indications of shyness and many did following his early interviews.  Over time, I’ve come to believe he’s not as shy as he seems (for reasons requiring a whole ‘nother post).  Yes, I think the degree stated by fans is a trope.  However, I do think he’s retained the mannerisms of much earlier years.  Notice the earlier days of mostly looking down and peering through his lashes, gentle head bobs and tilts.  (With the deluge of interviews, it’s been hard to find a snippet that exemplifies what I mean).

Here’s one from three years ago.

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Richard Armitage RH2 promotion interview


Here’s another from December past.

Richard Armitage interview from

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Video Interview with Richard Armitage


He reminded me of some one. But who?  At first, I thought it was Princess Diana, famously known for her introverted looking through her lashes interviews.  But then I recalled she didn’t move her head much.  So, who else was famous for the very delicate, almost placed, little graceful nods and bobs?  Then I remembered – Topo Gigio!  I kid you not folks, look at this.  Notice the dreamy eyes and graceful head dips and bobs.

Topo Gigio and Friends – The Ed Sullivan Show

Topo Gigio, the famous little Italian mouse, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show over 50 times. Topo’s delightful antics, including fun musical moments with his friend Bobo the bear, charmed America. However, the enduring image which remains in the hearts and minds of viewers is how Topo ended his weekly visits, crooning to Ed “Keesa me goo’night, Eddie!”


For the those not of a certain age, Topo Gigio is a famous Italian mouse who I adored when he appeared regularly on the Ed Sullivan show back in the stone age (read: 1960’s).  Little Topo became an Italian and Spanish cultural icon.  He seems to have seen better days now; the last I saw him, he was pitching spaghetti sauce on Italian television in 2005.  Now, it’s not a bad thing that RA reminds me of an adorable little puppet.  It just tickles my funny bone.

I’ll go lie down now.

Surreal Saturday – London Calling

I dream I move to London.

After 10 days of a hormonally induced nosedive, nightmares, and creative paralysis, the grip breaks finally and I dream of moving to London.  I don’t enter a lovely row house in a leafy green village of my fantasy.  Instead in a chain of four consecutive dreams, I dream of the moving process in linear time.  Bright and early on a sunny morning I indicate to shadowy movers what furniture to take from my parents’ old house and from my condo-but-not-my-condo. In a blink, we shift to the London car park of my new home.     We realize Something Has Been Stolen, but not a car because I don’t drive.  I need to call the police.  Meanwhile, my relative-but-not-my-relative commandeers the process and they bustle quickly, eventually getting away from me.  I am angry to lose control.  They have my keys and I’ve never seen my new place.  Suddenly, I am there in my new bustling mid-rise, The Ritz (but not that Ritz),   moving determinedly up four flights and across a short passage until I reach a silver matte door, unit 1617A in bold embossed numbers.  I push open the door, and there is my relative-but-not-relative arranging my furniture before an empty stone fireplace.  I note to light the fire and admire in the foyer the funky retro silver wallpaper with a black and white trellis of vines.

Then I’m pulled away to a hotel room in the building, to a mystery of Twilight Zone proportions that must be solved as night falls. The Doctor is nowhere in sight.  Suddenly it’s morning.  My shadowy movers and I hug, having Saved the World.  We decide to play a game on ice that’s not hockey.  I sit it out because I don’t skate.  The not-hockey-puck flies and knocks a spectator out cold.  Woops.

It’s a surreal celebration.

Happy belated New Year!

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Serene Sunday: Let It Be

My real life situation has required decisions concerning excepting the status quo or standing and fighting.  Fortunately, doing the latter stood out like a neon sign.  The problem has been gathering the mental energy to go the long haul.

Lately I’ve been thinking of the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Of course, you don’t have to be spiritual to understand the sage advice.  I’ve found the most difficult part is accepting things I cannot change. Letting go of the desire to control a situation I cannot affect in any meaningful way is humbling.  This segues to today’s video, Let It Be, by the Beatles.

Let It Be – The Beatles – Lyrics

Uploaded by vH3L3N4v on 2008-06-14.

Serene Sunday: Summer Breeze

It’s the Labor Day weekend for those in the US.  This usually means the end of summer and wearing white.  But with the strange weather this year, there’s no telling.  Because I’m old, I’ve reached back to 1972 and Seals & Crofts with their #1 hit, Summer Breeze.  Adieu, summer.

Enjoy the weekend.

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♪ Summer Breeze is the title of a song written and recorded by Seals and Crofts that has been covered by The Isley Brothers, Type O Negative, the Three Tenors, and several other artists. One of the distinctive backing instruments on Summer Breeze is a child’s toy piano.

Meeting Richard Armitage

Its true I can be so blase, but sometimes I surprise myself.  Yup, it’s true.  I wasnt going to tell but it’s too much to keep to myself.  Yup, I’ve had an encounter of my own.  But before I tell the story, there’s something else.

I have a video!   YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

This is going to knock your socks off!

Wait for it….

Just click the button.

Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up (Official Music Video)

The official video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. The new album ‘Are We There Yet?’ is out now: Download here: “Never Gonna Give You Up” was a global smash on its release in July 1987, topping the charts in 25 countries including Rick’s native UK and the US Billboard Hot 100.

Rick rolled!

(Yes, this will probably come home to roost, but it was too irresistible. Congrats to all the real encounterees.  Back to my other project.)



Serene Sunday: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

My friend Elsa arrived to belatedly celebrate her birthday which she shares with a certain person.  When asked for her serene choice, she suggested Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.  Let’s see what Wiki has to say:

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring is the most common English title of the 10th movement of the cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. A transcription by the English pianist Myra Hess (1890–1965) was published in 1926 for piano solo and in 1934 for piano duet.   The British organist Peter Hurford made his organ transcription for the chorale movement as well. Today, it is often performed at wedding ceremonies slowly and reverently, in defiance of the effect suggested by Bach in his original scoring, for voices with trumpet, oboes, strings, and continuo. Written during his first year in Leipzig, Germany, this chorale movement is one of Bach’s most enduring works.”


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Surreal Saturday: Love Signs [NSFW]

Sigh.  I was so busy mucking around with Twitter that I forgot today’s post.  So I’m falling back on ye ole standby, DeStorm.  This video gets artistic and slick.  (NSFW due to language.)


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Get on iTunes: RT this video: Directed by Aaron Moorhead: Produced by Bais: Mixed by: Christian My Google+ My Twitter: My Facebook: My iPhone, iPod, iPad App: Also available on the Android platform. Go to the Android market and type “DeStorm” Get a Tee!




Serene Sunday: Orinoco Flow

Since a friend of mine likes Enya, I decided to showcase one of her first “breakthrough” global hits recorded in 1988.  According to my pal Wiki, “”Orinoco Flow” peaked at #1 in several countries, including the United Kingdom, where it stayed at the top of the music charts for three weeks. In the US, the song peaked at #24 in early 1989. The song was also highly popular in the early 1990s and was featured on many pop music compilations.”

Hope your Sunday is serene.

Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) – Enya (with lyrics)

This is my favorite of Enya’s songs, Orinoco Flow. I recently saw a video just like this one and I really liked it so it inspired me to make my own. I hope you enjoy the song and the pictures as much as I do. 🙂


Surreal Saturday: Sweating to the Surreal

I’m in a hurry again and feeling challenged to find something surreal for today.  Frankly I thought RichardsBeard tweeting me was surreal enough, but maybe that’s just me.  Aha, I found something really… interesting.  Well, maybe that’s too positive a word.  It’s a … fitness video.  I think.  Says the blurb:

“Mariko Takahashi’s Fitness Video for Being Appraised as an “Ex-fat Girl” (often referred to as Doggy Fitness or Poodle Fitness) is a short film by renowned art director and commercial film director Nagi Noda who has created spots for Nike and Coca Cola and starring Takahashi Mariko, a Japanese 2005 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships gymnast and jazz musician.. The film was created for Panasonic’s Ten Short Movies — Capture the Motion series for the 2004 Summer Olympics. The film is a typical work out video except for the fact that the video’s instructor is dressed in a body suit giving her the appearance of having muscles shaped like the fur of a groomed poodle dog. Also, exercising with her in the video are six actors dressed in dog costumes with actual live dogs’ heads superimposed over their real heads. Nagi Noda, in her artist’s statement, explained that she arrived at the poodle concept after noticing that the dogs’ hair cuts resembled muscles. She believed that this concept would help her video appeal to people of all ages.”

Ohhhh!  It’s meant to be surreal for it’s own sake.   Perfectly understandable now.

Take a look.

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Mariko Takahashi’s Fitness Video for Being Appraised as an “Ex-fat Girl” (often referred to as Doggy Fitness or Poodle Fitness) is a short film by renowned art director and commercial film director Nagi Noda who has created spots for Nike and Coca Cola and starring Takahashi Mariko, a Japanese 2005 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships gymnast and jazz musician..



Serene Sunday: Hair

Good morning star shine!  For some reason songs from Hair are stuck in my head… hmmm, wonder why?  Particularly one mentioned by our Fitzg.  So, Fitg, this is *your* fault.  Let’s see what the venerable Wiki has to say:

“Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a rock musical with a book and lyrics by James Radoand Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot. A product of the hippie counter-culture and sexual revolution of the 1960s, several of its songs became anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement. The musical’s profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy. The musical broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of “rock musical”, using a racially integrated cast, and inviting the audience onstage for a “Be-In” finale.  Hair tells the story of the “tribe”, a group of politically active, long-haired hippies of the “Age of Aquarius” living a bohemian life in New York City and fighting against conscription into the Vietnam War.

After an Off-Broadway debut in October 1967 at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater and a subsequent run in a midtown discothèque space, the show opened on Broadway in April 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances. Simultaneous productions in cities across the United States and Europe followed shortly thereafter, including a successful London production that ran for 1,997 performances. Since then, numerous productions have been staged around the world, spawning dozens of recordings of the musical, including the 3 million-selling original Broadway cast recording. Some of the songs from its score became Top 10 hits, and a feature film adaptation was released in 1979. A Broadway revival opened on March 31, 2009, earning strong reviews and winning the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for best revival of a musical. In 2008, Time magazine wrote, “Today Hair seems, if anything, more daring than ever.”

Bet you didn’t know all that.   Here I was confusing it with Oh! Calcutta!, another musical infamous for full frontal nudity.  I recall wanting to see Hair as a child but my parents heard about the naked cast climbing over the seats, so that was vetoed.

A popular group in the 1960’s, the 5th Dimension recorded two songs together  from the musical, Aquarius and Let in the Sunshine.  Released in 1969, the single held the number one position on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks and was certified Platinum.   Wow, I feel old.


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Foolish Friday: The Beard Memorial Edition

ARMITAGEWORLD (AP)  There has been a continued outpouring of grief, ecstasy, apathy, and chicanery over the recent death of The Beard, age 1 1/2.  Admidst the rumors and speculation surrounding The Beard’s passing, fans have been commenting on blogs, Twitter and Facebook, about their fond memories of it, or not.

Nobody knows the exact birth date of The Beard, but it made its first public appearance at the New Zealand The Hobbit press conference in March 2011 with close friend, British actor Richard Armitage.  Apparently, their association at the time was tentative, as Mr. Armitage stroked his new friend and said, “yeah, this is an experiment.”

The Beard lived out its life in relative seclusion, only emerging for public events, small cameos in The Hobbit vlogs, and two photo shoots.  But as one fan commented, “That Beard had a good life, attached to Richard’s face. It travelled the world, met many interesting people. It’s even rumoured to have been fondled and stroked by Richard once or twice. They’ve even showered together! We could all hope to have such a life!”

There are no services announced for The Beard at this time.  Inside sources said that fans who which to commemorate The Beard’s life, can donate to the JustGiving charities in lieu of money or flowers.  The Beard is survived by sisters Lashelle and Lashette; brothers, Brauw, Brow, and ‘Do; cousins, the Elsewheres; and close friend, Richard Armitage.

[Both videos are the same.]


The Beard: A Tribute

This is a fun tribute video for fans of actor Richard Armitage’s beard.


The Beard: A Tribute

The following is a fun tribute for fans of actor Richard Armitage’s beard. Song is “What A Wonderful World sung by Louis Armstrong This video is for personal enjoyment. There is no monetary gain. No infringement intended.


Serene Sunday – Peace Train

Serene Sunday is interrupted to report from sunny, hot Chicago.  The NATO summit meeting is starting today at McCormick Place, just 9 blocks south from me.  Meanwhile, in Grant Park, the protesters are expected to hold a rally and then march south on Michigan Avenue a block away, to the site of the summit.  Needless to say, the area is a bit anxious.

So far, demonstration have been pretty peaceful with a few scrums with police.  But nobody knows what could happen if more violent elements join.  Downtown and the South Loop has been preparing for this like the coming of WWIII.  Police and private security are crawling all over the place.  My building is on semi-lockdown.  If we aren’t instantly recognized, we need ID to get in and out, pedestrians and motorists. Anything that can used to throw or smash have been removed.  All the streets around me are now blocked off.  Lake Shore Drive is closed which is almost unheard of.  Many of the businesses have boarded over their windows. Choppers are flying back and forth.   I’ve not seen anything like this.

Right now it seems like everybody is out walking the dogs and milling around in pockets.  Nobody knows what will happen.  Hopefully it will be a non-event.

In the meantime, enjoy Peace Train by Cat Stevens.

Cat Stevens- Peace Train

Wakefield Peace Train – a lava lamp photo collage dedicated to a village at a hallowed junction between time and space – where the story of its glory is written in seasons beside the tracks of the old 909


Serene Sunday – Reach Out

There was a lot of chatter last night in chat.  At the end of the evening, the following song popped up which I think is appropriate for today.  So in instead of the Hallelujah Chorus, I present something a bit groovier.  Here is Reach Out, by the Four Tops from 1967.

Four Tops – Reach Out (I’ll Be There) (1967) HD 0815007

HQ-Video. Four Tops – Reach Out (I’ll Be There), ein Hit im Jahr 1966.

Surreal Saturday – Chess!

Still having a heard time finding the surreal on YouTube.  I suspect I don’t know the right channels…  Anyway,  I went back to DeStorm, my go-to man for videos.  But what should I find but a rap that explains chess.  Enjoy.


figured I’d tell ya a story while teaching how to play chess. ENJOY! My vines: My Facebook: My Twitter: