Kuroshio Sea: a City Observed

 Jon Rawlinson has shot a beautiful video and placed it on Youtube for everyone.  It is spectacular.  It is the second largest aquarium tank in the world, the Kuroshio Sea, at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan.  The slow motion of the sea life, the black shapes of the people coming to observe this floating city, the music that perfectly matches the rhythm of the rays as they pulsate to the top.  I hope the Discovery channel or National Geographic picks this up as a commercial for a fund for Oceans.  It spurs a viewer to think more about the sea as a culture, a huge culture of life.  

Perhaps it’s what’s been missing when we see aquariums–we never get the grand scale.  But here, the camera moved back and just set to record—we see nearly five minutes of a city under glass under water, the schools of fish flying in formation, the slow galooting of the whale sharks as they pass.  It’s unforgettable.  

What I love too are those people, who are moving not in slow motion, but when they reach the edge of the tank they slow down and stop and we see scale, but we also see the dynamic inherent in saving the oceans:  People must be aware, people must see.  If it were just a video of the aquarium by itself, I think it would have less an impact on me.  It’s the people in the foreground that remind me of where we are, how small we are, and who is observing and why we are important to put in that picture.  

Thank you, Jon Rawlinson.  See his other work here.  I hope the Discovery Channel or the World Wildlife Fund or a new Oceans Fund calls you and asks you for the video.  Everyone should see this on a flat screen TV.  I’m sure it is stunning…

How to do a House Party Right

bghome2I attended a house party Saturday night–sort of like the one pictured here. I’ve heard of things like this.  Anne-Louise Genest explained a bit of the history of the kind of music she was playing with Sammy Lind and Nadine Landry that evening–how it might happen in a kitchen. The intimate setting was right. Miche and Hector had opened their home–moved back the furniture, rented folding chairs, made snacks. There was a charge of $15 at the door to pay back the hosts and the musicians for what turned out to be a beautiful evening.

It was planned well–limited to 25-30 people; people brought their own drinks; and the music was a mix of bluegrass/cajun with fiddle tunes throughout. There were two 45 minute sets, with a half hour break in between for mingling and snacks. And a lovely wandering dog in the midst giving out love to whomever reached out for her.

I remember back in 2002, a night in someone’s home after a party was drifting into the evening.  Folks would bring out guitars. It was a lucky moment, but only the six of us experienced it. Kind of a convergence of good fortune, talent, a long evening to linger around guitars.

But you can create a moment and plan it well too. The only difference between that moment in 2002 and this one in 2009 was the event that was created. Saturday was a performance in an intimate setting–aimed to be the focus of the evening. They asked friends (and a sister) who were performers to perform for us, rather than all of us hoping guitars might pop out after a dinner.  The performers were spotlighted.

My grandparents used to host Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in their home. I don’t know how my grandparents knew them—I vaguely remember that Alpha and Jeff Stueart were friends of Bob Wills. But they played music in their home in between gigs around Texas and Oklahoma in the 30s and 40s, a time of Western Swing. I don’t remember that my grandparents ever played music themselves. My grandfather dug ditches and my grandmother was a cook, but they loved music and were good hosts. They opened their home to other people who would enjoy that music as well. They were dirt poor. But they knew the value of music.

We can’t always have a convergence of singer/songwriters at our dinner parties. But we can host a House Party and bring in performers that are coming through town. I bet we can do that with small theatre too. It had great planning and Miche and Hector created an evening I won’t forget.  I’d rather go to concerts like this, I think, than sit in a large auditorium.  Here I was a few feet away, and food and drink were handy.  Like an Irish Pub, in some ways.  But in your home.

House Parties eliminate having to make the modern choice between a night at home with the family or going out to a show. It takes us back to a place where we relied on each other. They brought the show to their home, and brought us to their home too. As Laurel Parry (now known as Larry) said to open the night. “Either we’re very cutting edge or we’re reviving an old practice–or maybe a bit a both.” Blogs have talked about this new phenomenon before and websites telling you how to host a gig like Concerts in Your Home.

But I think the one at Hector and Miche’s went really well. Maybe they were cutting edge, maybe just wanting to find an intimate way to have music in their home. Maybe we only remembered something we forgot we needed. I’m just glad that, clapping and stomping our way into the night, we all remembered it together, .

Star Wars Barbershop: Moosebutter and Corey Vidal

Corey Vidal and Moosebutter were nominated for the People’s Choice Awards for Vidal’s video rendition of Moosebutter’s song. Moosebutter is an acapella group, and they took several of John William’s soundtrack themes and wrote Star Wars lyrics to them. What’s ironic, now, is that whenever I hear John Williams’ Indiana Jones theme, I think of Star Wars—“Fly the Fal-CON through an as-ter-oid!” and when I hear Jaws, I think, “Wooooo-KIE, Woooooo-KIE; Some-one get this walk-ing car-pet.” Fitting, perhaps, because John Williams is identified with Star Wars —and while we may remember all these great themes, I wonder if when we hear them, we say: Williams also wrote the Star Wars theme. Notice that Moosebutter doesn’t sing anything from Star Wars but you feel as if you’ve heard that theme too. An Aural Illusion, or an Aural Allusion. Hmmm.


Corey got a lot of flack for lipsynching to Moosebutter’s song—but if you look at Youtube right now, there are hundreds of imitators of Vidal’s video. Though scolded for being unoriginal, Vidal brought a new form–the Brady Bunch Look Four Part Harmony Video. He deserves credit for the form, as well as the idea to take Moosebutter’s song and put it in a popular venue like Youtube. In many ways, Vidal has bumped up the recognition of Moosebutter’s songs–like a mass market ad campaign. In the same way a commercial that borrows a song from an obscure group can suddenly bring attention to that group, Corey brought attention to Moosebutter. The video received more than 3 million hits. Moosebutter thought it was great, and rumor has it, they have a contract with Warner Music–which may be why the video on this blog entry might not work. Moosebutter gave Corey their blessing to do the video–and Corey gave his blessing to the Video Response that Moosebutter made. Corey even put it on his Youtube showcase so it would get as many hits.  Vidal, in the end, was showcasing his video talents–what he could do with an interesting song. This is the heart, by the way, of Creative Commons License—and lookie there, the attention got people a big contract!  Woo-hoo!  (Except there’s bound to be more control on HOW things are distributed, shown, played with….)

Anyway, reception of creativity is often just as interesting as the creativity itself.

The Star Trek Barbershop Quartet: Hi-Fidelity

How fun is this?  Barbershop and Kirk and Spock.  The second one–they speak about beaming down to a Barbershop Quartet contest…. enjoy.

And then another one.  Hi-Fidelity is the group and they are participating in a Barbershop Quartet contest.

Grant and Lyall, if you were looking for a way to adapt the show towards those baby boomers….I’m wondering if we could alter the barbershop scene…..

Just kidding.  😉  Live Long and Prosper.