Category Archives: Music

Andrew Dances

A performance by a 21-year-old named Andrew on the BBC’s The Greatest Dancer last Saturday brought the audience and the judges to their feet, and offered a brief respite from the crudity and ugliness that have characterized so much of the last two years.


More about Andrew

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Shocker: Happy College Girl Dances with Friends!

I generally avoid politics on this blog, for a whole bunch of reasons, but this is irresistible.

At 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Back in 2010, when she was a student at Boston University, she and some friends made a video in which they matched dance moves from the 1980s movie, The Breakfast Club, to the hit song, “Lisztomania”, by the French band Phoenix.

A few days ago, a sad little right-wing troll attempted to embarrass  Ocasio-Cortez by posting parts of the video, along with a rude and spiteful description. Emphasis on “tried”, because the attempt backfired spectacularly when virtually all the people who commented on the clip found it to be various shades of bright, cheerful, and endearing.

Judge for yourself. Here’s the full video:

Having unwittingly boosted the name-recognition and popularity of the new member of Congress, the troll deleted his account and scurried back to wherever it is that humiliated trolls scurry when they just want to pull the covers over their heads and hope nobody will find them. (Hint: If you ever visit Ann Coulter’s house. Don’t Go into the Basement!


Equal Time

Of course, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is not the only political figure to give a fresh interpretation to a pop song by using it as the basis for a new video. While researching this article, I found another politician who added an entirely new dimension to “Once In A Lifetime”, by the Talking Heads.

In the interest of equal timing:


And now I’m off. I’ve heard that there’s a video of Ted Cruz lip syncing “Closer”, by Nine Inch Nails, somewhere out there on the Internet. Gonna find it if it takes all night.

Just Another Drama Club Kid Being Driven to Rehearsal by His Mom….

This glorious video deserves a Special Tony Award.

Colin O’Leary presents “O’Leary Car Ride: Showtunes 2018”, and gives us a brilliant and hilarious treat to end this less-than-brilliant and hilarious year.

I’m absolutely in awe of this kind of talent and originality and pure charm.

In addition to that Special Tony Award for Colin, his mother and grandmother should share an award for Best Supporting Actress.


Colin’s YouTube channel helpfully lists all the Broadway musicals captured in the video.

The Third Man, and Café Mozart

That scene contains the most frequently quoted passage from The Third Man, and as it ends, you can hear part of Anton Karas’s famous musical score, played on the zither.

The Third Man is a classic 1949 film noir set among the ruins of Vienna during the post-WWII occupation. An American, Holly Martins, spends much of the movie trying to find out what happened to his friend and potential employer, the mysterious Harry Lime. The film, with Joseph Cotten as Martins and Orson Welles as Lime, was written by Graham Greene and directed by Carol Reed. With that much talent involved, it’s not surprising that the British Film Institute named it as the greatest British film of all time.*

I’ve mentioned that one of my little side projects on this trip was an exploration of some of the historical cafés and coffee houses of Vienna. Here’s how The Third Man fits in.

Café Mozart is identified by name in the movie, but the scene that was set there was actually filmed at another Vienna café. The real significance of Café Mozart is that this is where Graham Greene worked on the script.


Coincidence

As I headed for the café, I walked past this building, and recognized it immediately.

In The Third Man, this is the entrance to Harry Lime’s apartment building. It looks unchanged from when the film was made in the 1940s.


Café Mozart

Café Mozart

Café Mozart

Café Mozart can trace its origins back to 1794, and was renovated in 1994.

Café Mozart Interior. Image found on the Web.

Café Mozart Interior. Image found on the Web.

Knowing myself as well as I do, I realized that once I was comfortably seated in a nice warm cafe, drinking a nice hot cup of chocolate, it would take an enormous effort to get me back onto the cold, windy streets of the city.

Mozart Schokolade

Mozart Schokolade

Hot chocolate, with a chocolate and pistachio sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.

Cream Cheese Dumplings

Dumplings

Cream Cheese Dumplings on a berry compote.

Let’s just say I stayed a little longer than I’d planned, and much longer than was absolutely necessary. But can you think of a more pleasant way to spend a couple of hours on a chilly afternoon?


*A solid choice, although I’d probably go with Kind Hearts and Coronets or The Bridge on the River Kwai.

Pete Shelley, 17 April 1955 — 6 December 2018

Pete Shelley in His Prime

David Bowie and Lou Reed are dead.

And now we’ve lost Pete Shelley, leader of the Buzzcocks, who died in Tallinn last week of a probable heart attack.


The Buzzcocks’ first single for United Artists Records was “Orgasm Addict”, which was promptly banned by the BBC. Can’t imagine why.

Then there was the Buzzcocks’ biggest commercial success, of which New Music Express wrote that “Shelley’s bisexuality would form the subject matter of arguably punk’s greatest song, 1978’s ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t Have)’.

And more “singles that fused pop craftsmanship with rapid-fire punk energy “, like this…

…and this…

…and this.

Look. If you don’t own it already, get a copy of the Buzzcocks’ “Singles Going Steady”. The Buzzcocks were a singles band,  and “Singles Going Steady” is a superb collection of their best songs.

Play it loud.


I missed the Buzzcocks the first time around, which gave my brother David permanent bragging rights, because he saw them perform live before I did. It wasn’t until their 1989 reunion tour that I went to my first Buzzcocks concert, at the old 930 Club in Washington. They’d been inactive for a while, and I didn’t know what to expect.

It was one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen. They played everything, and they played it faster and ten times as loud as I played it at home. It was a truly transcendent night.


In an interval between one of the Buzzcocks’s many breakups and reformations, Shelley released his first solo single, the song “Homosapien”. It was banned by the BBC (plus ça change…) which didn’t stop an extended version of the song from becoming a major dance hit in the US. For a while, it seemed to be playing everywhere.


In The Guardian‘s obituary for Shelley, Neil Gaiman is quoted as writing: “Part of my youth dies with him.”

It’s a sad sentiment I share.