Happy Friday from C-3PO.

In which some adorable folks calling themselves the “Star Wars Club of Tunisia” do a super delightful version of Pharrell Williams’ Happy, dancing in costume through the abandoned Tatooine sets in the Tunisian desert. No, I know!

(If you happen to be unfamiliar with original, I urge you to fill that lacuna in your life’s education — click here)

h/t BuzzFeed

Absolutely gorgeous flashmob tribute to Nelson Mandela by the Soweto Gospel Choir.

Just watch.

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For the story behind this, and a translation of the lyrics, click here.

And not for nothing, but if you’d like to hear Mandela himself sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” (“which he loved to use as an ice breaker when speaking to wide-eyed four and five year olds”), click here.

To watch his first television interview, in 1961, in which you can hear him begin to hint toward a need to shift away from nonviolence, click here.

And finally, to listen to NPR’s special program, “Nelson Mandela: An Audio History,” click here.

Big h/t and thanks to my internet friend from way back, @Cthulhucachoo.

Random pop star awesomeness.

Look at what happened to this Berlin busker, just out there trying to make a few Euros with his beat-ass guitar: He was playing Bronski Beat’s mid-1980s dance-pop hit “Smalltown Boy” — and along came lead singer Jimmy Somerville to sing it with him!!1!

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Apparently Somerville lives in Berlin and was out walking his dog. Can you even imagine? “Is it you? Is it you?”

Finally, I would like to note that I once interviewed the Scottish-born Somerville, for the Jerusalem Post, before he came to Israel for a solo show. Sometimes in my life, I’ve gotten to pretend I was cool.

Here’s the song for which Somerville is probably best known, from his Communards days – “Don’t Leave Me This Way”:

(Could this clip be anymore 80s? I think not. The pants!).

h/t Gawker

Edinburgh in my dreams.

Forth Bridge

The Forth Bridge. source

My mother and I took a trip to Scotland in the spring, and it was really lovely, in all ways (with the possible exception of the snow we encountered on the Isle of Skye on May 1) (and even that was kind of funny).

Ever since, I’ve been torturing myself by following Scottish newspapers and Twitter accounts and gazing at pictures of Edinburgh Castle and/or Elephant House, a cafe which (aside from being the place in which JK Rowling wrote the first book in the Harry Potter series) is the very cafe of which I have always dreamed. Here’s a picture I took on our trip — the Castle is visible through those windows, and I wish I were sitting there right now:

IMG_20130430_181024_847

Now, I have a dear friend who grew up in Edinburgh and went to school there and could probably tell me all the really good reasons a person wouldn’t want to live there — strictly speaking, pretty much any place loses its sheen when it’s the place in which you have to battle traffic and are not on vacation.

And yet.

One of funny things about which I’ve learned a great deal more than I’d have guessed I might want to know in the meantime is the Forth Bridge. It spans the Firth of Forth (the estuary of the River Forth), it is an engineering marvel, and it is apparently held in deep affection by the folks who cross it now and then on their way to and from Edinburgh (crossing, as it does, from Queensferry to North Queensferry. Or, I suppose, from North Queensferry to Queensferry).

Journalist Peter Ross wrote a genuinely lyrical piece about the men who for nearly 50 years maintained the bridge’s paint-job, but now most of them are out of work, because the once constant, year-round painting has been replaced by better, fancy new materials that make their work redundant. Men have died on that bridge, and their family members have returned to keep working on it. The daughter of one man who fell told Ross about her father’s love for the bridge:

He was proud to be part of the painting crew, she said, and considered the bridge as being his own. What makes this especially moving is that it is precisely what you hear from many of the bridge workers; it belongs to those who toil upon it, and though their devotion is sometimes sorely tested, it seems to endure like steel.

Next September marks the 50th anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge (the younger sibling of the bridge pictured above)**, and there are apparently all manner of celebrations planned, and gentle reader, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve been fantasizing about how I might get my mother and myself back for it (with another nip up to Skye).

That won’t happen. But in the meantime, I have discovered a local band called Bwani Junction who plays a lovely tune called “Two Bridges” (a reference, I think, to the fact that the original Forth Bridge is now accompanied across the water by the Forth Road Bridge), which has in turn kind of made Bwani Junction the bards of the bridges (despite the fact that, if you read the lyrics, it’s not really about the bridges, and in fact refers to “the rotten veins frames* of these two bridges”, sooo…), which in turn means that they will be a central pillar of the musical events next year.

ALL OF WHICH (…) leads to the following, which is a clip of them singing “Two Bridges” at the Forth Bridge Tower (a thing that looks like no mean feat). I <3 it, so here it is:

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It’s worth noting that the people of Scotland will also be voting on independence next September — a “yes” vote would undo the Acts of Union from 1707, so yeah. There are all kinds of reasons to wish I could be there next fall.

As John Steinbeck noted in Travels with Charley — some trips never really end.

*UPDATE: No less an authority than Bwani Junction themselves got in touch to tell me the correct lyric. [o_O!]

**UPDATE NUMBER TWO: I’ve corrected a complete error on my part — the 50th celebrations are for the Forth Road Bridge, not the original engineering marvel — a fact one would have gotten right, if one had bothered to pay attention to the fact that the first bridge was built in 1890, and the second in 1964. Apologies and thanks to commenter Jenny Meader for pointing it out. /hangs head

In case you ever doubt that my husband loves me…

…just know that he sent me this:

Nobody ever loved me like he loves me, oh yeah.

Musical crush, awesome-cool update edition.

Matt Priest, of Canasta… stopped by this blog. Today. And left a comment. And said thank you. And also linked to the official video for the song that I’ve twice embedded (how the official video escaped my eye, I have no idea). No, really, he did! Click here if you don’t believe me, you un-believing-type person!

And so it seems only right that I embed the right clip! Especially as I’ve now had this very song on loop in my head for like, I don’t know – a week? Or so?

I give you: Microphone Song – the official clip!

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(Thanks, Matt Priest! I think your band and musical oeuvre are very, very fab).

PS Squeeing may or may not have ensued when I saw the above-linked comment. We may never know, and I will never say. Ahem.

The Swedish meatballs have lingonberry hats.

eurovision2013The Eurovision Song Contest is this mildly disturbing/culturally regressive annual song contest that I have largely ignored since leaving Israel, and which I pretty much ignored even while in Israel (except for that one year when we wuz robbed! And, as we say in Hebrew: He who understands will understand!), but having watched a few videos from this year’s entirely over-the-top event, I may have to get on board next year. It.was.bananas!

If you’ve never heard of Eurovision before, or don’t know much about it, I highly recommend that you click through to this BuzzFeed post: Everything Non-Europeans Need To Know About Eurovision — it is extremely entertaining, and also informative! (Servicey!) In fact, it’s the source of my newly-acquired knowledge that the contest was literally established (in 1956) as something of an alternative to/balm for all the wars the Europeans had put themselves through up until a little more than a decade prior. Singing instead of shooting! There’s a thought!

Anyhoo, the previous year’s winner gets/has to host the current year’s event (a fact which apparently leads poorer countries to maybe-sorta trying to lose sometimes), which gives them the opportunity to promote their country through whatever means are at their disposal. Sweden chose the following means, and all I’m going to say in advance is that the Swedish meatballs have lingonberry hats.

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I am merely saying.

(I’m also going to say that you might want to watch the following, Belgium’s entry. BuzzFeed rightfully noted  [in its aptly titled post "Check out the 11 most absurd moments from Eurovision 2013"]  the amusing manner in which the backup dancers essentially stole the show from the song, but as you watch the clip, it becomes clear that the singer is just so very thrilled to be on that stage, and it’s adorable [just look at that smile at the 1:57 mark!], and at the end, he jumps up and down, and I’m pretty sure he broke down in tears).

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(Also, does he not sound quite a bit like Belgium Bruno Mars?! Yes, he does).

h/t BuzzFeed, obvs.

My new crush: Canasta (the band, not the card game).

Remember back when I posted about Canasta? Don’t lie, I can see you through the screen.

Anyway, since that post went up two weeks ago, I’ve listened to one or both of their albums nearly every day.

I only caught the very end of their set on the night of which I wrote (back when I posted about Canasta), but between the energy they brought, and what keeps coming off those two discs, they’ve actually, genuinely morphed into one of my favorite bands. Just like *that*! They’ll be performing at The Taste of Chicago on July 13, and I’m distraught that I won’t get to see them any earlier (well, maybe not distraught. Disappointed). (But very disappointed!).

This doesn’t happen to me very often — indeed, I can remember exactly one other case in which I went into a show essentially blind, and emerged an uber-fan, and that was in Israel and the artist was Jeremy (aka: Irmi) Kaplan. And it was a very long time ago.

But I mostly didn’t understand the words at first– it was a little like how I’ve found that I listen to REM: That one voice is among the musical elements, another of the instruments, the energy and the timbre of it, its depths and richness, but actual understanding? Pretty much just occasional words and phrases.

Which is odd, because unlike Michael Stipe, Canasta’s Matt Priest sings pretty dang clearly.

Und zo! I quickly came to understand! And though I didn’t know this when I posted it two weeks ago, “Microphone Song” pretty neatly sums up my experience as a writer (even though Priest writes lyrics [obvs], and I don’t [also obvs]. You kind of have to rejigger two or three lines to make it work, but trust me, it totally works).

So here are the lyrics, followed again by the video. And really — check them out. They’re pretty ding-dang fab.

MICROPHONE SONG

So, here I sit
Pen hangs forever an inch above the page
Feels just like schoolwork
Thought I’d be through with all that by this age
Caffeinated ideas race to and fro I can’t catch even one
Two hours to go
Someone remind me that this should be fun

I’m tired of trying
To express what’s not there
Forming opinions worthy to share
I’ve got things I’m thinking but why would you care?
Who am I?

Cuz on the ki-ki-kinda day like today
When I-I-I’ve got nothing to say
I feel that my-my-my words get in the way
Of what the fi-fi-five of them are trying to play
So please do-do-don’t pay attention to me
Cuz I’m go-go-goin’ broke lyrically
And if a po-po-poet’s what I wanted to be
A micropho-pho-phone’s not something I’d need
C’mon!

Still here I sit
Minutes to go and I’m losing my cool
I start to resent
All those of you who swear by the rule
That great rock n roll isn’t just something you pick up and play
But great rock n roll should always have something of value to say

Cuz on the ki-ki-kinda day like today
When I-I-I’ve got nothing to say
I feel that my-my-my words get in the way
Of what the fi-fi-five of them are trying to play
So please do-do-don’t pay attention to me
Cuz I’m go-go-goin’ broke lyrically
And if a po-po-poet’s what I wanted to be
A micropho-pho-phone’s not something I’d need
C’mon!

This is just cool, I don’t care who you are.

The ultra-cool Canadian astronaut/commander of the International Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield will be coming home soon (tomorrow? I think? in the course of Monday), and the internet (specifically Twitter and YouTube) will be a poorer place for his return to atmo. Hereunder you will find his version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, as recorded on the Space Station (!), followed by video proof that you can’t cry in space (and now I know why I never became an astronaut). Make sure you go to YouTube and check out the rest of his video oeuvre, including “Nail Clipping in Space,” “Zero-G Guitar: Re-Learning How To Play in Space,” and “Space Taxes.”

Now if someone would only dig up some dirt on this man, because he’s a little too elaborately wonderful. Even with his Rather Canadian Mustache.

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I’m back! I’m catching up! Have some good music!

A literal hour after my taxi pulled away from O’Hare on Saturday night (following my truly terrific Scottish vacation – about which more later), I was at a bar mitzvah. Can’t slow my roll!

In fact, I’d actually missed the vast majority of the event, as services were in process even as I was boarding my second flight, and subsequent celebratory events unfolded in the course of my hours in the air. But I made it for the tail end — and what a cool tail end it was! Our friends held their son’s party at the uber-cool local venue Fitzgeralds, and hired a local band, Canasta — and Canasta, it transpires, is terrific. They describe themselves as orchestral pop, a genre which I generally do not much enjoy (you can miss me with your Arcade Fire), but man. I love these guys. It has a lot to do with lead singer Matt Priest’s rich voice, but goes far beyond that.

To add to the cool factor, the party favor’s were the band’s t-shirts and both of their CDs, which have been on constant spin in chez Hauser since.

Below is one of my favorite tracks (so far, who knows where I’ll go with this. I also really, really like some tracks for which I can’t find clips, and they also do a wicked cover of No Diggity).

Enjoy! And check them out further by clicking here! And if you’re in Chicago, they’re going to be playing the Taste on July 13 at 5:20 pm, and I do believe that me and mine will be attending.

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BBL, I promise.

 

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