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Tuesday
Apr142015

Two tickets to a new Broadway show could be yours!

 

A brand new comedy opened on Broadway last week: Living on Love, a hilarious new show about music, marriage, and celebrity. 

In a nutshell, Living on Love tells the story of celebrated diva Raquel DeAngelis. When her husband, the fiery and egomaniacal Maestro Vito DeAngelis, becomes enamored with the lovely young lady hired to ghostwrite his long-delayed autobiography, Rachel retaliates by hiring her very own—and very handsome—ghostwriter to chronicle her life as an opera star. Sparks fly, silverware is thrown, and romance blossoms.

Living on Love features veteran performers Jerry O'Connell (Sliders) and Anna Chlumsky (My Girl and Veep.)

Renée FlemingIt also stars opera legend Renée Fleming, who in 2014 became the first classical singer to perform the National Anthem at the Superbowl. This is Ms. Fleming's Broadway debut, and she has been reviewed in the role as magnificent. In fact, I'll be reviewing the show on my Operatoonity.com site after I see the show this weekend.

So, here's where you come in. You can win a pair of tickets to a performance of Living on Love on a date of your choosing (see performance dates here) by entering the Rafflecopter drawing below or leaving a comment on this post that explains why you are the perfect person to win these tickets.

One winner will be chosen on April 20. So don't delay. Enter today: 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

 

Saturday
Apr042015

'Pot pie fill you up!' Uptown Funk, Amish style

Last fall, Bruno Mars hit the "Dancing with the Stars" stage donning a head full of hair curlers to sing what would become my favorite dance anthem since "Thriller" called "Uptown Funk." 

Watching the video is even more fun than listening to the song itself.

Apparently, lots of others thought so too, which led to Dark Lord Funk You Up (Harry Potter video parody) and the ingenious Uptown Passover video by the a capella singing group Six13. 

I, too, have been known to make light of my own heritage, specifically my father's PA Dutch gene pool. Grace personified, let me tell you.

So, here are the lyrics for my parody of "Uptown Funk" based on my rich and deeply impactful cultural experience living in PA Dutch Country.
 

Chicken pot pie, Amish style. Photo credit by Bob Gowtowski, Flickr, Creative CommonsPot Pie Fill you Up (or Uptown Funk Amish style)

ACH! 

This song’s about Plain cooks
With Plain looks, they’re no yuppies
This one's for those hausfraus
Who milk cows, and drive buggies.

Buyin’, fryin’, lard up in a skillet
Cooks canned ham in iron pans
For breakfast, she serves millet.

Too hot (hot pan)
Grab the hotpad outta the cupboard, Anne
Too hot (hot pan)
Go fetch the fire company, Dan
Too hot (hot pan)
Say Donnerwetter but don’t say d*mn
Too hot (hot pan)
Keeps bees to make her own honey. Ach, du lieber!      

Fried scrapple hallelujah (whoo)
Pepper cabbage hallelujah (whoo)
Bacon gravy hallelujah (whoo)
‘Cause Amish cooks gon’ give it to you
‘Cause Amish cooks gon’ give it to you
‘Cause Amish cooks gon’ give it to you
It’s real pot pie and we don't use crust.

Don't believe me kumm eat
Don't believe me kumm eat
Don't believe me kumm eat
It’s real pot pie and we don't use crust.
Eens, zvee, drei, vier

Halt. Vait vonct!peanut butter schmear
Fill my cup, put some Schenk’s cheese in it
Amos, hitch the mare!
If we make pies, we’re gonna draw flies
Faster than peanut butter schmear

Too hot (hot pan)
Grab the hotpad outta the cupboard, Anne
Too hot (hot pan)
Go fetch the fire company, Dan
Too hot (hot pan)
Betsy, say Donnerwetter but don’t say d*mn
Too hot (hot pan)
Keeps bees to make her own honey. Ach, du lieber!

Schnitz hits you hallelujah (whoo)
Potato filling hallelujah
Red beet eggs hallelujah

‘Cause Amish cooks gon’ give it to you
‘Cause Amish cooks gon’ give it to you
‘Cause Amish cooks gon’ give it to you
It’s real pot pie and we don't use crust.
Don't believe me kumm eat

Don't believe me kumm eat
Don't believe me kumm eat
Fimf, sex, siwwe, acht 

. . . Before we boil this chicken
Let me roll out some dough

Pot pie fill you up
Pot pie fill you up
Pot pie fill you up
Pot pie fill you up
Froogewadde, pot pie fill you up
Pot pie fill you up
Pot pie fill you up
Pot pie fill you up
Nein, zehe, elf, zwelf

Take white flour, don’t sift it
Roll the dough out like a big biscuit
Grab a butter knife and cut noodles
Slow cook the whole kit-and-caboodle

It’s real pot pie and we don't use crust
Ains, zvee, drei, vier
Fimf, sex, siwwe, acht
Nein, zehe, elf, zwelf

Eens, zvee, drei, vier
Fimf, sex, siwwe, acht
Nein, zehe, elf, zwelf
Dreizeh, vatzeh, fuffzeh, sechzeh

Pot pie fill you up
Pot pie fill you up (Froogewadde)
Pot pie fill you up
Pot pie fill you up
Pot pie fill you up (Froogewadde)
Pot pie fill you up
Pot pie fill you up
Pot pie fill you up
Pot pie fill you up (Froogewadde)

ACH!

(Coming soon, to a theater near you: The Pot Pie Fill You Up music video!)

 

 

Friday
Mar272015

Art imitates books or why Don Juan is a square

You heard it here first. DON JUAN, the most notorious womanizer in the history of Western Civilization (not even Tom Jones on his best day is a close second), is a square.

Let me 'splain.

Or better yet take a look:

I work at Harcum College in Bryn Mawr. I'm heading up a committee as part of the centennial celebration for a community engagement art project called Bears & Squares. While I am good at project management, I am not exactly known for my visual artistry. I must say that as a former schoolteacher, I can do a heck of a bulletin board. Since I have been asking students, faculty, staff, and alumni to do a Centennial Square, I thought I'd try my hand at it myself. 

Basically, this is a 10 x 10 gessoed panel that I decoupaged with my book cover, tea-stained pages from the book, coffee-stained paper doilies, and little stencils.

Here's the impetus behind my design. You may know that Don Juan or Don Giovanni as he is known in the opera world is a Spanish libertine. Don Giovanni, Mozart's most acclaimed opera, is set in Seville. So, I stained one of the doiles black to look like a mantilla. Then I added some bric-a-brac which reminded me of a wrought-iron Spanish balcony:

There's a famous balcony scene in Don Giovanni, which inspired my little bric-a-brac, which is supposed to be used for scrapbooking, I think.Then I added some eighth notes since there's tons of musical references in DON JUAN IN HANKEY, PA.

It was great fun to do. Very cathartic. Months of stress melted away as I placed the elements on the prepared square and eventually stood back to admire my artistry. It I plan to do squares for each of my books and then display them at home or in my office.

So, that's the story of how DON JUAN became a square. You know what that means, don't you? Tom Jones is destined to become a square, too, which I'm certain legions of fans would say is inconceivable.

 

Sunday
Mar222015

I've flipped for "Flea Market Flip"

Because I am such a fan of story and storytelling, I came late in life to watching reality shows like the ones on HGTV. My very favorite is "Flea Market Flip." Love, love, love it.

When I used to teach school and had my summers off, I did a little flipping myself. I got some furniture from Bill's Aunt Ruthie. Since it had good bones but the finish was a little tired. I decided to flip the whole schmeer and use it in my living room.

 

So, I started with this dresser, which is kiddie-sized. For all the pieces in this collection, I added a few layers of paint (red and green) before painting it cream-colored and then sanded it down for a distressed look. Then I stenciled, antiqued, and painted a varnish on it.

I use this as an end table in my living room. We don't use the checkerboard on it, but we could. It is functional. Usually there is a little lamp on it and Bill's iPad.

The other end table is useful, but I didn't take enough time and care to prepare the surface before painting. So, I learned a lot with that particular piece. Take the finish down to the most primitive state you can before repainting.

I haven't done any furniture since I pursued writing as a hobby, so I vicariously flip by watching "Flea Market Flip." I am preparing for a burst of refinishing, collecting ideas.

The flippers on "Flea" are ingenious. Just look what one team did with mason jars:

This is my absolute favorite flip I have ever seen on the show. One team took six mason jars and turned it into a lighting fixture. Just love it.

Here are the before and after photos of the project from the HGTV site:

And here is the lighting fixture one resourceful flipping team made from it:

'

There lots of inspiration on HGTV. Lots to learn. I plan on upping my game, learning more, and also adding 8 extra hours to my day by not sleeping. Only nine years until retirement!

Saturday
Mar142015

More Boo-boo than Yogi (but I'm trying)

 

"Project Yoga Richmond 1" by Eli Christman - https://www.flickr.com/photos/gammaman/7170043719/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Project_Yoga_Richmond_1.jpg#/media/File:Project_Yoga_Richmond_1.jpg

True confessions. In my 20s, I was bored to death with the idea of starting a yoga practice. Exercise was supposed to make your heart pound. Get you good and sweaty, until all you wanted to do was douse your head and chest with water to cool down. So, I jogged. I did aerobics. I did step aerobics. Still no yoga.

I regret that I didn't give yoga another try in my 30s after I gave birth. But I was trying to get that maternity body back in shape. So I did fitness walking and enjoyed it immensely.

In the meantime, I developed arthritis in my back and my knees. I dislocated my right shoulder and my rotator cuff has lingering damage since I tumbled off a ladder while painting a set.

Last year, my physical therapist offered a few yoga sessions while she was on winter break at our local Curves. I didn't perform very well since I wasn't fluent with the various movements--up dog, down dog, tree pose, triangle pose, child's pose. More Boo-boo Bear than Yogi, but I tried.

Later that year, I visited my daughter in Vermont and she introduced me to Lesley Fightmaster's yoga videos on YouTube. The fact that I could do a yoga routine when it suited my schedule and not have to run out to a class was so convenient, there were absolutely no barriers to participation. So shortly before the new year, I began my first serious yoga practice.

At the risk of exposing myself as the only woman in American waiting until midlife to embark on a yoga practice, I have gained so much value out of yoga that it was worth embarrassing myself to share the video I started with:

 

Don't be put off by the oxymoronic vibe of Fightmaster and yoga. Lesley's a kind and patient tutor if you don't mind her getting a little New Agey on you.

I have grown so much by doing this yoga routine 3 to 4x a week. More flexibility, more confidence, more strength in my back (for carrying groceries), and have become more in touch with my body. Truth is that my middle aged body and I had gotten out of touch kind of like a pair of close friends from high school who are no longer BFFs. Yoga is bringing me back into a necessary understanding of what my body can and can't do and what I need to encourage it to do more of.

Why not give it a try? You have nothing to lose but a little of your pride until you know what you are doing and all to gain by becoming reacquainted with your body. I can *almost* touch my knee to my nose, and it makes me feel 20 years younger.