20 December 2009
Saturday/December/26 2009 Filed in: Art, Music and Movement
Step aside Indigo Girls...Emily and Fiona have arrived!
In the process of preparing a post about musical groups who cover the Beatles, we came across Emily and Fiona, or Fiomily as they sometimes call themselves. We were absolutely blown away by their videos.
These lovely and talented young ladies are sisters and, at the tender ages of 17 and 14, they are an inspiration and a delight. Of all the Beatles covers we've heard and Beatles tribute bands we've seen, none are as compelling and charming as Emily and Fiona.
They capture that innocence of the early Beatles and perhaps for good reason. John Lennon was himself 17 when he auditioned the 15 year old Paul McCartney to join the band that would change Liverpool and then the world.
Emily and Fiona are already generating some worldwide attention themselves through their YouTube videos and live performances.
Beatles songs are just part of their repertoire and we'll be covering some of their other songs in upcoming posts. We can't say enough good things about these musicians.
Ladies and gentlemen, the amazing Emily and Fiona!
This Beatles song has a complex vocal harmony that Emily and Fiona capture quite beautifully. The rhythm guitar is spot on.
There is a cute moment where they bobble the lyrics a bit but recover like true professionals. Not to worry, ladies. John Lennon bobbled the lyrics a bit himself when the Beatles performed this song on the Ed Sullivan Show with 70 million viewers. And things turned out pretty well for them.
She Loves You
This song was the Beatles first US hit. The vocal harmonies they used intrigued even George Martin, their seasoned record producer.
Once again, Emily and Fiona nail it.
Love Me Do
This was the Beatles first British hit and Emily and Fiona do it proud with guitar and harmonica!
Again, they capture the John-and-Paul harmony quite brilliantly .
I Am the Walrus
As proof that Emily and Fiona are fearless, they take on one of the Beatles more arcane recordings from later in their career.
Great guitar work. Fantastic vocals. Well done!
Johnny B. Goode
And just to show you that Emily and Fiona's songlist goes beyond the Beatles, here they do a Chuck Berry Rock and Roll classic.
Johnny B. Goode - Live
Let's hear Emily and Fiona do Johnny B. Goode again but this time on stage, backed by the Blues Company, a professional German blues band.
Saturday/December/26 2009 Filed in: Science / Technology
The universe used to be easy to understand
Aristotle explained that Earth was the center of all. The Sun, the Moon and stars were all subordinate to terra firma.
Then Copernicus changed the paradigm, declaring the sun was the hub of everything
At the beginning of the 20th century, astronomers believed that the galaxy we now call the Milky Way was all there was of the universe.
But by the Roaring 20's, the perspective shifted again.
The Milky Way was just one of a seemingly countless number of galaxies and star clusters.
With each change in point of view, the prestige of Earth and its human inhabitants has been diminished.
The universe no longer revolves around us, around our sun or even our galaxy.
But now comes the biggest shock to our Earthly ego.
Everything we ever thought existed accounts for less than 5% of all that scientists believe that there is. And the bulk of that is just thought now to be intergalactic gas.
Of the now perceived universe, all the stars, planets, moons, meteors and comets make up less than one half of 1%.
If this is true, the entire cosmos as we know it is no more than rounding error.
What lies behind the visible universe that we know is the dark side. The mysterious world of Dark Matter and the even more perplexing realm of Dark Energy.
Like the Force in the world of Star Wars, dark matter both binds the universe together but at the same time adds an unseen heft that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of the cosmos.
Dark Energy: The Mind of God?
And if that isn't strange enough, dark energy is the invisible elephant in the room that accounts for possibly three-fourths of all that is.
What is dark energy?
Scientists can't begin to guess...
Saturday/December/26 2009 Filed in: Entertainment / Media
SCTV: One of Canada's Best Exports
Offering some of the best television sketch comedy ever, SCTV was built around the premise that viewers were watching the programming of a local Canadian TV station.
This high-concept offered the flexibility of lampooning the entire range of drama, comedy and variety shows on the tube as well as movies, news and documentaries.
The cast of the comedy troupe varied over the run of the series but every member could be counted on to bring his or her A-game every week.
Perry Como, a popular TV singer in the 50's, hosted one of the first weekly programs broadcast in color.
Known for his relaxed singing style, Perry was spoofed by SCTV in one of their most well-known parodies. That's American Pie's Eugene Levy doing the impersonation.
It's been reported that Perry thought this bit was hilarious.
Yosh and Stan Schmenge
Before John Candy was a movie star he portrayed, among a thousand other characters on SCTV, one half of the Czechoslovakian polka act, the Schmenge Brothers.
Ronco: Shower and Blow Dryer in a Briefcase
You don't see this kind of commercial too much anymore but there was a time when TV ads for useless gadgets like Pocket Fishermen and Clappers were all over the place.
SCTV's genius was to take an existing TV premise that was already silly and push it just a few clicks into the absurd.
Be sure to notice what happens to the post and the tree behind Martin Short in this bit.
The Farm Film Report
Who else but SCTV would mash-up an early morning TV farm report with movie reviews about blown' up stuff real good!
That's Joe Flaherty on the right.
English for Beginners
Catherine O'Hara and Andrea Martin were, without a doubt, two of the funniest people ever on television.
5 Neat Guys
SCTV looked at all the commercials for records and cassettes of middle-of-the-road-mediocre music acts and, once again, nudged the concept into the ridiculous range.
What's truly funny about this spoof is that it's not that far off from an ad that might have actually run on TV at the time.
Friday/December/25 2009 Filed in: Entertainment / Media
This Jedi Never Returned
The producers of the Star Wars Holiday Special believed the magic of the film franchise would make this TV extravaganza a seasonal classic with the same cachet as "Miracle on 34th Street."
Things didn't work out that way. The special had a single airing on November 17, 1978, then made the jump to lightspeed on its journey into oblivion.
But what, indeed, would Christmas be without hearing Princess Leia sing the Life Day song to the tune of the Star Wars theme.
This special has been the target of much lampooning, but the message is worthwhile, the cast committed to their character roles and Carrie Fisher has a very nice voice.
Wednesday/December/23 2009 Filed in: Art, Music and Movement
As of December 2009, sales of The Beatles: Rock Band topped 1 million units worldwide.
And that's all because Dhani Harrison -- the spitting image of his famous Dad, George -- had a vision and saw it through.
In 2006, Dhani ran into MTV president Van Toffler and pitched the idea of a Beatles-based videogame. MTV had recently purchased Harmonix, the developer of Rock Band and the original developer of Guitar Hero.
Toffler didn't bite, but Dhani, undaunted, took the idea directly to Harmonix.
And more importantly, he took the idea to Apple Corps, the Beatles-founded music production company, and pitched the concept to Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Yoko Ono. We assume that his Mom, Olivia, was already on board.
Beatle sons: Sean Lennon and Dhani Harrison
Dhani made the sale and helped put a package together between Harmonix and Apple Corps, whose shareholders saw the videogame as a way to introduce a whole new generation to Beatles music.
And after two years in development, the Beatles: Rock Band launched internationally on the same day as a re-release of the remastered Beatles CD catalog.
That release date was 09-09-09. Number nine, number nine, number nine for you fans of the Beatles White Album.
Of course, not everyone needs a videogame to cover the Beatles.
Here are some well done covers of Beatles songs and a tribute to some of George Harrison's great guitar solos.
Paperback Writer - The Cover
Paperback Writer - The Original
Run For Your Life - The Cover
Run For Your Life - The Original
Beatles Guitar Solos
Monday/December/21 2009 Filed in: Marketing / Business
Who the Hell is This Guy?!
If you're a baby boomer, you've certainly heard of at least some of the hundreds of worthless novelty products he peddled for decades on the inside covers of comic books and magazines.
He's Harold Von Braunhut, the mail-order mastermind behind Honor House, the company that made a fortune selling such iconic crap as Sea Monkeys, X-Ray Specs and $5 Rocket Ships. But the real story here is where the company profits may have ended up. But more about that in a bit.
First of all, there's no such animal as a sea monkey. It was a fanciful name that Von Braunhut came up with to hawk a mysterious breed of nearly microscopic brine shrimp known as Artemia Salina.
The so-called Sea Monkeys were easy to ship because they were in a state of suspended animation, called cryptobiosis, until you added borax, ash and yeast.
In fact, even after adding these magic ingredients purchasers often learned that their sea monkeys were in that other, more familiar, state of suspended animation better known as dead.
Does the FTC know about this?
The comic book ad showing a nuclear family of sea monkeys, -- Mom with a bow on her head protrusions -- lounging in front of their sea castle, pushed the limits of puffery.
But then again what do you expect from Joe Orlando who not only drew the illustration of the sea monkey family but was an associate publisher of Mad Magazine.
There is a disclaimer, though. The package states: "Illustration is fanciful, does not depict Artemia."
What a deal! For just one buck you can get a pair of glasses that lets you see through stuff. Well, kinda.
I see London, I see France...
And if you're a pre-teen boy looking at a comic book ad, it's pretty easy to guess what you'd like to use this gadget for.
Unfortunately, X-Ray Specs don't allow you to see through the clothes of that cute girl with the orange backpack in Home Room. Nor do they allow you to shoot lightning bolts at her as punishment for ignoring you.
The so-called lenses of X-Ray Specs actually consist of a feather pressed between two pieces of cardboard punctured with pinholes. The feather diffracts light and creates two slightly offset images of whatever you're looking at.
And Voila! You can see the bones in your hand!
Not just a Rocket Space Ship. A Jet Rocket Space Ship!
"Imagine a streamlined space ship big enough to hold a child."
Wow, a child! Now that's stretching the imagination!
"Because of its enormous size we're forced to ask for 63 cents shipping charges."
Wow! 63 cents! This thing must be freakin' huge!
A dissatisfied customer:
new16q reports his disappointment in the 1950's with his Jet Rocket Space Ship in a Flickr posting:
When it came I was disappointed because it was just pieces of cardboard and even the box it came in was part of the so-called rocket. I built it in my basement and called my friend Dick to come see it....he took one look and said, "That's it?"
I think it ended up in the trash bin the next day. But I learned a lesson. If it seems to good to be true (a spaceship for $4.98), it probably is. :-)
We imagine he wouldn't have been any more satisfied with the Polaris Nuclear Sub for two bucks more.
Jack Booted Sea Monkeys
The money raked in during the 1950's from sales of Sea Monkeys, X-Ray Specs, cardboard Rockets and countless other products helped Harold Von Braunhut fund some of his favorite political organizations.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, Von Braunhut was a committed supporter of several white supremacists groups. He allegedly helped supply firearms to the Ku Klux Klan and regularly attended the Aryan Nations annual conference.
Not long before his mysterious death in his home in 2003, in an interview with the Seattle Times, Von Braunhut commented on his politics this way, "You know what side I'm on. I don't make any bones about it."
Maybe he was talking about those bones revealed by his amazing X-Ray Specs...