michelle…my belle…

Remember those words? 

Fifty years ago today, 4 Brits took the world by storm making their own brand of music.

Dressed in black suits like upstanding young citizens, Paul McCartney and his fellow Beatles John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison crooned their way into our lives and…into our hearts.IMG_2635

For Baby Boomers like me, remembering the Beatles is akin to looking back with nostalgia over the course of our own lives.

Where were you when?

Ed Sullivan hosted the Fab Four on his show.

The Beatles and Elvis jammed in his Belair, California home.

Paul’s beloved first wife, Linda Eastman, died.

John and Yoko Ono staged a love-in, refusing to get out of bed for days.

The Beatles fell out of love with one another, and went their separate ways.

December 8, 2011, the night when Mark Lindsay Chapman shot and killed John Lennon.

What made the Beatles special?

Their hunky, good looks.

Their moppy, long hair.

Music and lyrics that touched us to our core.

Their lack of artifice. They were just beatles, after all. Bugs, really. Not kings or princes-in-waiting. Just ordinary blokes.

And they paid their dues…playing in joints all over Liverpool. IMG_2548

We’re lucky that Paul and Ringo are still with us to carry on in the Beatle’s tradition. Together with a rich archive of their songs, the four mop heads from England will live on…

 

elegant music…with a twist

Canadian Brass Live!Visited another friend’s blog, http://figmentsofadutchess.com and discovered the following gem. Marion is a self-confessed music buff to the nth degree. All kinds seem to catch her fancy.I was introduced to the Canadian Brass on Marion’s blog. I commented that I was somewhat skeptical at first, but was quickly won over by the elegance of their music and the theatricality of their musicians. Might I add…they’re extremely funny! I never stopped smiling. 

I went in search of the ensemble and found more of the same…with a twist. Long-time readers know that my daughter’s a professional ballerina, hence my youtube choice. Take a moment from the rat race that is your daily life…I did…and let someone else do the work…of entertaining you. You won’t regret it.

Marion’s selection was just as eloquent…albeit more folksy. It’s called Hornsmoke, and features an ensemble of fine musicians from the Canadian Brass. So keep those feet up, pahdners…those peepers peeled…and those audio receivers wide open for an oft-told tale…of the wild, wild, wild west

…now you can return to being…a city slicker…………hugmamma.  🙂

365 photo challenge: buy

What can money buy that we don’t need and don’t require?

i think my daughter would beg to differ………………………………….hugmamma.

“the ventures,” music link to japan

Classic lineup of the Ventures in Japan in 196...

Image via Wikipedia

The Issaquah Press, a local newspaper, carried another “small story” with ties to Japan. This one has a unique twist. It tells of an American rock band from the 60s era that has had an enduring love affair with the people of Japan. “The Ventures, unlike perhaps any foreign musicians before enraptured Japan in the early 1960s and have remained popular in the decades since.” Member Don Wilson makes his home here on the eastside in the Sammamish Plateau. Japan’s largest public TV network requested that the musician extend a message of encouragement to the inhabitants of the island nation who continue to revere Wilson and the other band members.

Hawaii Five-O (1969)

Image via Wikipedia

If you’ve no idea who The Ventures are, like yours truly, think the musical theme to Jack Lord’s “Hawaii Five-O,” and surf-rock anthems like “Pipeline” and “Walk, Don’t Run.”  Or other great numbers like “House of the Rising Sun” and “Tequila.” While their sound may have resonated sunny, southern California, the band originated here in Tacoma, Washington. Wilson’s home shelters “a Fort Knox of framed gold records,” the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame statuette bestowed upon the group in March 2008, and a medal from Japanese Emperor Akihito. The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, has been conferred on only a handful of foreigners. In June of last year The Ventures were honored with the decoration at the Japanese consulate in Seattle, and were cited for having contributed to the “development and enrichment” of the country’s music culture, as well as “fostering ‘cordial relations’ between Japan and the United States.”

An instrumental rock band, The Ventures reshaped Japan’s pop music scene. They succeeded in part because there was no language barrier to overcome.  Scoring 20 no. 1 hits, the group also outsold the Beatles for a time, “in the electric-guitar crazed nation.” But in the days before screaming audiences, the band encountered audiences unlike those in the U.S. “You could drop a pin and you could hear it–while we’re playing …After we played, it was an eruption of applause.” According to Wilson’s son, Tim, “Japanese fans ’embraced The Ventures like no other.’ ” 

“The band continues to tour in Japan each year, and usually sells out a 3,000-person venue in devastated Sendai. …’The band played in the city almost every year for the past half-century.’ ” according to Wilson. Having played in Japan last summer, they planned to return at the same time this year. Those plans are now on hold. In the meantime The Ventures will do a benefit concert here in the U.S. to assist disaster-relief efforts.

“I’ve been doing a lot of praying for those people,” Don Wilson said. “But, actually, those people are pretty resilient, amazingly so. They’re very compassionate to each other. You know how organized they were after the disaster, lining up for food and water and things like that.”

“It’s such a cliche to say, ‘Hang in there. You just have to get through it.’ And I’m sure they will,” he said. “I’ve never seen harder-working people in my life.” 

and here for your listening pleasure………………………………………..and mine

brings back great memories of island life………………………………..hugmamma.

for sure, outrageous fun!!!

Teatro Zinzanni, a cabaret dinner theater acro...

Image via Wikipedia

Found a YouTube video ofTeatro ZinZanni that I wanted to share with you. As much as I tried to explain its spectacular brand of zaniness in conjunction with great performances by amazing professionals, topped off by tasty eats, I know I didn’t do it justice. You have to see it to believe it. So enjoy an appetizer of the real thing.

Madames e mesieurs (my French?)………………….welcome to Teatro ZinZanni

…hmmm…i may be going again soon…hugmamma.

postaday 2011 topic: interview #3

Ever since I took up the challenge to interview someone, I’ve loved the thought of doing it. I enjoy sharing my blog with others who are generally in sync with my world view, but bring their own flavor to the mix. Multiplying my single voice by many, gets the message out farther, that we are all one people, striving to live our best lives, under the “same sky,” to borrow filmmaker Francine Le Franc’s message about the mothers of Rwanda.

Scriptor Obscura was the first blogger to follow me, and make me feel good about what I  had to say. She made me blush when she invited me to post to her blog. Friends and family have suggested that I am a writer, but to have a total stranger weigh in, was the icing on my cupcake. The fact that she’s closer in age to my 25-year-old daughter, makes her admiration of my writing doubly special. I think you’ll see her youthful, tech savvy, style reverberate throughout her responses. But like my daughter, Scriptor Obscura is an “old soul,” with a passion for life. She’s become like an internet daughter, with whom I always share hugs. Sit back…and smile for a while… 

 1. Your blog’s appearance looks so advanced. Are you naturally tech-savvy,or have you taught yourself by trial and error, or by gathering info wherever you can?
Thank you for the compliment about my blog! I have taught myself through trial and error and experiences over the years, and also by learning and gathering info as I go…and I’m still going! We never stop learning new things, as the saying goes…
2. You seem passionate, a person of convictions. What are your passions, your convictions, your causes?
I always have trouble answering questions like this one, so here is a song that basically explains how I feel: It is titled

Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise, by The Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers in Cleveland, OH Grog Shop

Image via Wikipedia

Here is the link to the video of it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEr9gMYdkHI  And here are the lyrics to this song:

 

There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light
In the fine print they tell me what’s wrong and what’s right
And it comes in black and it comes in white
And I’m frightened by those who don’t see it

When nothing is owed, deserved or expected
And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected
If you’re loved by someone you’re never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it

There was a dream
One day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it
And there was a kid, with a head full of doubt
So I scream til I die or the last of those bad thoughts are finally out

There’s a darkness upon you that’s flooded in light
In the fine print they tell you what’s wrong and what’s right
And it flies by day and it flies by night
And I’m frightened by those who don’t see it

 3. What relaxes you, comforts you, physically and spiritually?
These pictures express it best.

 
 4. Where do you live? It needn’t be specific. It would allow my readers and me to see the scenic backdrop against which your life unfolds. I live in Pennsylvania
 
 5. Is there something you’re longing to do, which you’ve not been able to do thus far, for whatever reason?
Oh, so many, many things! It is difficult to pick and choose just one thing! But if I had to choose one thing to start with, I would say that it has been my absolute lifelong goal to have a book of my short stories and poems published! I would absolutely love to walk into a bookstore and see my book displayed for sale on the shelf! By the way, if anyone has any advice or suggestions for me on how to get a book published, I would love to hear it! I would also love to walk into my local library and see my book available on the shelf for people to check out and read! Wow, this would be absolutely and completely amazing, to have people checking out and reading my writing! I would love to see what people have to say about it!
Thank you so much for the opportunity to be interviewed on your blog, hugmamma. I really appreciate it!
Huge, huge hugs…your friend, Scriptor Obscura.
 
 
You’ve many years to realize your dreams…and the energy and perseverance to make them come true.
 
 
sending huge hugs back at you…hugmamma.

a trunk of “old memories”

If you had an old, long-forgotten trunk stored away in a cob-webbed corner of your attic, or a dark, shadowy corner of your basement, what would you find if you were to drag it out of its hiding place? What treasures would you uncover, hidden away these many years? What memories would escape, like moths taking flight once again?

Like me, I’m sure you’ve so many memories of bygone days, some further back, only fragments remaining. Sorting through them isn’t easy. Their essence is so ephemeral, after all. Is it one complete remembrance, or is it a collage of several? Where does one leave off, and another begin? Unwinding memories can be like pulling on a single thread, and watching a sweater unravel, until nothing remains but handfuls of yarn. But I think reminiscences are made of stronger stuff than articles of clothing that are eventually tossed out, or given away. Of your own free will, you could  never be rid of your memories.

A painting of Wailuku and the Iao Valley, Maui...

Image via Wikipedia

One of my fondest memories is of a time in high school, when I was recognized by the nuns as a budding choreographer. The St. Anthony Girl’s High School  Logothat I attended in Wailuku, Maui in the 60s, was a relic from another era. There was a Boy’s School as well, but it sat across the parking lot, on the other side of the campus. There were very few occasions, very few, when the student bodies would interact. Teenage boys and girls could only strain their necks, trying to ogle each other from a long distance away. Binoculars would’ve been handy. I should have had a concession. No. Too capitalistic for Catholic nuns.

I can’t remember if anything I staged for school assemblies, held in the cafeteria, was performed for a gathering of both student bodies. It wouldn’t have mattered to me, except that the butterflies in my stomach would have multiplied sizeably in number. After all, how often did I have more than a hundred guys staring at me all at once? Never! I repeat. Never! Still don’t.

I can recollect 3 particular instances when I entertained my fellow students. I did a modern interpretation of a popular Peter, Paul and Mary folk song at the time, “Blowin in the Wind.” 

 
Peter, Paul and Mary onstage at the Westbury M...

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 I vaguely remember starting the piece lying prone on the floor, and eventually dragging myself into an upright position. Slaves were my inspiration, what they had to endure to survive, another day, another month, another year. I delivered my performance with great anguish, felt in every moral fiber of my spirit, every muscle of my body. The nuns hailed it as my entre into the professional world of choreography. I took their acclamations in stride. At the time, and considering my mom’s personal financial straits, New York and Broadway were as far  away as the moon.

But I went on to bigger and better productions. I choreographed a number from West Side  Story, which one I can’t recall. Perhaps it was “I Want To Be In America.” Setting the piece on my best friend, Lee, and myself, we had a blast dancing it. She was also my romantic lead in an Asian fairytale  that I wrote, at least I think I wrote it. The title of the play escapes me, although it contained the word “runner.” And no, it wasn’t “The Road Runner.” Besides Lee as a princess, me as the poor peasant pining for her, and her disapproving father, there was a green dragon. Of papier-mache and medium height, it was also one of my artsy concoctions. I’ve an old, black-and-white photo of the 4 of us buried somewhere in an antique blanket-chest. But don’t look for it in this post. It’d take me days, if not longer, to unearth.

Cover of "Flower Drum Song"

Cover of Flower Drum Song

A final memory, not a favorite, is of a solo I choreographed to “Happy Talk” from the  movie “Flower Drum Song.” I imagined myself as the beautiful, Eurasian actress Nancy Kwan.

Nancy Kwan Looks Back on an All-Asian ‘Groundbreaking’ Film

January 25, 2002

Nancy Kwan recalls that the 1961 film version of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical “Flower Drum Song” was such a big hit with audiences, “I used to go to Chinese restaurants and get Chinese for free all the time! It was very well-received. We were very proud because it was an all-Asian cast and it made money.”

Kwan, a vivacious 62, played Linda Low, a beautiful and ambitious performer in a Chinatown nightclub in San Francisco. Although her singing was dubbed, Kwan had several memorable dance numbers including “I Enjoy Being a Girl” and “Grant Avenue.”

Gosh, wasn’t she gorgeous? For this number, I sat upon my haunches, using only my hands to gesture the lyrics. I was appropriately attired in a sleeveless, Chinese top, with a cooly’s hat perched on my head. Why I performed the piece in an outdoor assembly of both the girls and boys student bodies, I’ll never know, but I did.

Standing very close to where I performed, were my boyfriend and his friends. Of course I was in my “element,” or so I thought. As I began to move my arms, the strapless bra I decided to wear so that straps wouldn’t slip down my arm as I danced, began inching its way down my chest, almost nonexistent at the time. I literally sweat through that number, constantly trying to maneuver my bra back into place. It was the longest 4 or 5 minutes of my life, and a memory that I’ve not relished telling. But at my age, there are so many others that far surpass that one in remaining buried at the very, very bottom…of my trunk of old memories.

remember some of yours?…hugmamma.

less is more! the grammy’s

Is anybody watching the Grammy’s? The sights and sounds are overloading my senses!!! “Arcade Fire pulled out all the stops…helmeted bike riders crisscrossing the stage, ballpark lights blazing, musicians and singers banging out sounds and lyrics. Yikes! Music these days has gone industrial, either that or it’s altogether gone, left the building, taken a rocket ship to outer space. I’m sorry but I need 2 hard hats, one for either ear.

Well “whop my jaws” as my husband use to say in the good old days. Guess who won Album of the Year? Arcade Fire for “Suburbs!!!” And you know what??? I get to hear them play another of their songs to close out the award ceremonies. I’m putting on my hard hats…whatever happened to “less is more?”

i’m getting real old…fast…hugmamma.

“witch doctors,” do you believe?

With Halloween just around the corner, I’m reminded of something that raised the hairs on the back of my neck. I’m in the midst of reading Orson Welles-A Biography” by Barbara Leaming. Written with his complete cooperation, it really is “a dazzling, intimate portrait of a legend.” Never one of my favorite actors, I must admit that I’ve altered my opinion after reading 396 pages of the 630 page book. Welles was really the genius he was touted to be! Unfortunately his diverse talents overextended him physically and mentally, so that his failures were as huge as his successes, both personally and professionally. But I’ll leave that for another post.

Through a series of fortuitous events, 20-year-old, recently married Orson Welles made his New York directorial debut in the midst of this country’s Great Depression. In 1935, Hallie Flanagan, head of Vassar College’s Experimental Theatre Workshop, was appointed as national director of the Federal Theatre  project. As part of FDR’s Works Progress Administration, the FT was charged with providing work for the nation’s unemployed theatrical professionals. Because Flanagan “was not a member of the Broadway commercial establishment, but an academic with a taste for experimental and regional theater,” and because, by rule, 10% of actors, musicians, playwrights and technicians “could consist of theater people who had not been receiving relief, thereby ensuring the presence of expert professional talent to counterbalance the inevitable amateurs who found working in the theater more appealing than a government construction project,” Orson found himself among this elite class of professionals.

Charged with mounting a classical production, Welles, upon his wife Virginia’s suggestion, chose to stage   “an all-black Macbeth by transposing its action from Scotland to Haiti, a startlingly new setting with important artistic advantages, not the least of them the rich possibilities for music and decor. … Preferring not to anchor the action too firmly in Haiti he had in mind a mythic island more like the fantasy setting of The Tempest than any actual place. But as Orson saw it, there was a significant gain in realism as well: by alluding to Haitian voodooism the production could make credible the role of the witches that modern audiences of Macbeth often have trouble accepting.”

At Harlem’s Lafayette Theatre,  Orson’s Macbeth opened to a mixture of  gang members, respectable black bourgeoisie, and Manhattan’s chic downtown crowd. When the curtain rose on “the intricate jungle settings, piquant costumes, and sensuous lighting,” the audience broke into “wild applause and gasps of pleasure.” And the critics’ reviews were just as ebullient. Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times wrote with enthusiasm  ” ‘As an experiment in Afro-American showmanship the Macbeth fairly rocked the Lafayette Theatre, …If it is witches you want, Harlem knows how to overwhelm you with their fury and phantom splendor.’ ” The New York Daily News’ Burns Mantle hailed Macbeth as ” ‘a spectacular theatre experience. …the most colorful, certainly the most startling, of any performance that gory tragedy has ever been given on this continent.’ ”

In contrast, Percy Hammond of the Herald Tribune wrote ” ‘What surprised me last night was the inability of so melodious a race to sing the music of Shakespeare,…The actors sounded the notes with a muffled timidity that was often unintelligible. They seemed to be afraid of the Bard, though they were playing him on their home grounds.’ ” One of the African drummers, who accompanied the ranting of the three witches, made a voodoo doll in the critic’s likeness, hanging it in effigy and sticking it with pins. When told by the lighting director that Hammond was entitled to his opinion, the African replied ” ‘He’s bad man.’ ” Humoring the man over beer and pretzels at a local bar, Orson agreed to his drinking companion’s decision to put a curse on the critic.

“The African made one stipulation: the responsibility for Hammond’s death would be Orson’s alone. As a pretzel disappeared into his mouth, Orson nodded agreement. The rest of the company, Orson among them, watched with amusement as the voodoo practitioners blessed their drums before pounding on them backstage for several days. He barely gave it another thought until, shortly thereafter, he gasped to learn that Percy Hammond had just died.”

One of these times I’ll tell you about my “big-aunt,” who was a “Kahuna,” a Hawaiian witch doctor.

makes you wonder…hugmamma.