Wintery Friday Fun

(I started writing this on Thursday night, intending to finish it on Friday for its usual publication – but life got in the way and given as the Olympics ended on Sunday, I figured there was a need to publish this soon rather than later!)

The Winter Olympics are nearing their inevitable conclusion, but it’s not too late to have some fun with them…

For starters, obviously the best part of any winter games is watching the ice skating. (This is apparently not a universal opinion, but this blog sticks with my opinion.) You can derive further pleasure by browsing this awesome collection of ‘Faces of Olympic Figure Skating’.

Faces of Olympic SkatingI imagine that’s pretty much the face I’d make in that context too.

The same site also brings us ‘Olympic skiers photoshopped onto toilets’, which is exactly what the name suggests.

ski8

If you have some spare time on your hands and some suitable craft materials lying around, you may want to engage in a Winter Olympics themed activity. My sister discovered this clothespin skier craft while preparing for our circle of friends’ day of fun last Wednesday – but as she had pipe cleaners, not clothes pegs, to hand, we used those instead. No, this is not a typical afternoon activity for a group of women aged 30ish, but it was raining outside and we had a surprising amount of fun. Honest. [We also considered doing skeleton bob races on the stairs, using trays, but decided against it in the end.]

Pipe Cleaner SkiersNot too shabby. Mine is the one with the helmet & red skies – a Tonga skier, to join the Tongan luger.

Talking of ice, have you seen “the best Disney movie since the Little Mermaid” [Mark Kermode] aka Frozen? I actually haven’t, because I’ve been spending money I might have spent on stupidly pricey London cinema seats on only marginally pricier West End theatre tickets. But, thanks to enthusiastic friends, I do know its Oscar nominated best song, Let It Go, very well – sung by star of the West End and Broadway, Idina Menzel. [Who I once met on one of my geekiest musical theatre days…] This song has gone down very well with a lot of people – not just Oscar judges – resulting in myriad versions appearing online. But there is a stand-out favourite as far as I’m concerned, in which one woman sings it in the voices of several divas:

Finally, in Cumberbatch Corner, is something that has nothing to do with winter, other than it’s the season in which awards season takes place. Awards season, as far as men are concerned, means suits – and we all know that a good suit on a good man is an excellent thing. Thus, my offering this week is Buzzfeed’s ’18 Times Benedict Cumberbatch Looked Like an Absolute GOD in a suit’. Leaving aside the obvious idolatry issue, it is worth a browse if you’re a Cumberbatch fan, and can’t get enough of Cumberbatch GIFs…

Sherlock Bow Tie

Friday Fun with irony and history

I don’t know about you, but I’m still riding high on a wave of tennis related joy. It’s been five days, but still it brings a smile to my face. (If you haven’t already, do watch Sunday’s Today at Wimbledon, just to relive some of the magic.) My first piece of fun for today directly relates to the events of Sunday afternoon. If you were watching, you might recall the BBC’s cameras frequently resting upon two attractive men in suits, up in the royal box – Gerard Butler and Bradley Cooper, stars of films & things, to be precise. That in itself might have been amusing (if only because they both have the most incredible eyes), but Mark Kermode has taken it to another level…

Regular readers will be aware that Kermode is effectively my Bible for all things film and that his weekly Wittertainment podcast with Simon Mayo is one of the highlights of my week. The joy of Kermode is twofold – firstly, his ability to rant with passion; secondly, his incredible use of sarcasm and irony. His analysis of Gerard Butler’s recent performance at Wimbledon would be an excellent example of the latter:

In other Murray news, I’ve just been alerted to the existence of a delightful Emma Bridgewater commemorative mug. Got to say, I’d love a commemorative mug for this event infinitely more than for the imminent royal arrival…

murray_1Thanks Jenni, for alerting me to this! 

[Though, as an aside, I did have a stunning realisation last night. If Scotland votes ‘yes’ to independence next year, does that mean non-Scots could no longer support him on the basis of nationality? That’s got to be an important political consideration…]

Back to the normal world of Friday Fun, how about some lost tube station fun? Specifically, a video of not-so-recently abandoned Aldwych – the only one of the ghost stations that I can remember being in existence. That doesn’t mean that it’s not an interesting station (parts of it have been unused since 1917), and it has a fascinating history. All in all, a pretty good creation – as illustrated that its a final project for a film student and was awarded a 1st.

Finally, something that is so terribly random, yet well thought out, that it’s a compelling read. Someone has actually gone to the trouble of working out how each Pixar film is related to the next. Not just through the motifs and characters that appear as running jokes throughout them, but as an actual evolution of the universe. Seriously, a lot of thought has gone into this. Possibly too much thought. Here’s a glimpse:

The Pixar Theory

I still can’t decide if it’s genius or utterly ridiculous, but it is a diverting read. Obviously, you’ll want to watch a ton of Pixar films immediately afterwards too. Good job it’s the weekend!

Friday Fun for Monday Morning

As I seem to have said repeatedly since returning from Uganda, life is very busy at the moment. That’s basically why there was no Friday Fun this week – even though I had plenty of gems to share. Turns out co-ordinating the Twitter stream and questions within an academic theology conference leaves little time for blogging. Who’d have thought it…

But it’s Monday, and surely that merits some fun?

Firstly, some Disney, because everyone loves a bit of Disney, don’t they? The animators at Disney are a clever bunch – it turns out they’ve been referencing characters from other Disney films for years and I, for one, never noticed. Here are fifteen examples, some are a bit too recent for me, but I did appreciate Sebastian from the Little Mermaid with the Genie in Aladdin:

Sebastian in Aladdin

Disney films are great, obviously, but what happens to the characters afterwards? Is it all happy endings? The following video combines ‘what happened next?’ with the classic YouTube art of one person singing several parts with themselves. [Amusingly, I discovered this on Friday morning and noted it for Friday Fun. By Friday afternoon, someone had posted it on my timeline as a suggestion for Friday Fun – thanks John!]

Next up, the obligatory Friday Fun TfL references. Thanking my friend Jenni for her regular emails/tweets regarding the underground, thus providing me with pretty consistent fodder! Firstly, a fascinating article from the Guardian about the strange absence of the tube from art and literature. (I don’t quite agree with the thrust of the article, but it’s interesting nonetheless.) Secondly, Jenni wasn’t sure if she’d dreamed this, but it turns out that last week’s Friday Night is Music Night was indeed a London Transport special. Mind the Gap – a musical tour of London’s Underground will be on iPlayer till Friday. Talking of “mind the gap”, here’s a delightful story about the voice behind the most famous TfL public safety announcement. It elicited an “awwwww” from me while on board a packed commuter train, so consider yourself warned.

Finally, some thing rather retro that’s a joy for several reasons. Firstly, it’s Victoria Wood and she’s a comedy legend, especially in my family. I dug out this video as a means of cheering up my mother when she was under the weather last week, as it’s a family favourite. At a very young age my sister and I were both able to do our own renditions of various Wood sketches – and we especially loved ‘Kimberley’. In watching this one, I realised it was also where our family catchphrase “Red cabbage – how much? Red cabbage? No idea!” came from (obviously, I knew it was a Wood-ism, but hadn’t realised it was this particular sketch). It’s not just worth watching for its comedy value (and the fact that it should lead you into a treasure-trove of Wood wonder), it also contains glimpses of celebrities as they looked 20 years ago, which is fun. (To get you started, my spots included Julie Walters, Clare Rayner and French & Saunders…) It has to be said, now that I’m a proper grown up, I’m beginning to realise just why my father had his reservations about us being such huge Victoria Wood fans while we were still at primary school!

Stringed Friday Fun

It’s Friday, let’s stop messing around and do this.

Firstly, they had me at ‘harp camp’…
Last week someone posted the video below on Facebook. As my eyes scanned down the newsfeed, they alighted upon the opening words of this video’s summary: “While I was at a harp camp this summer…” Who isn’t going to want to watch a video that’s prefaced with that? (Especially if it brings back American Pie memories.) Anyway, it’s an arrangement of Owl City’s Fireflies for 5 harps and some bongoes. If that isn’t going to brighten up your morning, you obviously don’t appreciate stringed instruments enough.

If you really want to wreck your working day, open that up in YouTube and take a glance at the videos down the side. Yup, there’s a whole world of pop songs re-interpreted on the harp. Who’d have thought it? (I’m particularly bemused by the Californian identical twins who appear to take their harps to a lot of exotic locations. Clearly harps aren’t as unwieldy as I thought.)

If harps really don’t do it for you, what about some cute babies? (Don’t worry, this isn’t hormonal broodiness, I just genuinely thought this was rather comically cute.)

You’ve got to love parents who are willing to let the world laugh at their children…

Finally, just in case you didn’t have a fun-filled Tuesday 14th earlier this week (and you’re female/interested in men), here’s a way of finding your perfect prince:
More specifically, which Disney Prince is right for you? (I just know you’ve been wondering.)

I wasn’t disappointed by my result – Prince Eric (top left), of Little Mermaid fame. Apt for several reasons, firstly because who doesn’t secretly want to be a mermaid? Surely I wasn’t the only child who swirled their hair around in the bath while singing Part of Your World? Also, the quiz tells me that Eric is: “A dog lover, dancer, and expert sailor, he’s your Renaissance man.” Well, isn’t that just darn perfect! 
What, wait, what do you mean he’s a cartoon? Oh well, I guess I’ll have to go back to the drawing board then… 

Quirky London and quirky musicals

Off the back of Tuesday’s geektastic London transport related videos, the first offering for this week’s fun is both London-centric and informative. Taking you to 10 ‘quirky’ locations in the capital, it captured my attention for 2 reasons:
(i) It explains what goes on inside a building in Mornington Crescent that’s intrigued me since I started going past it every day aged 11.
(ii) It reveals the location of a dog cemetery in central London.
Architectural geeks may also get excited by the revelation that you can play with a giant map of London showing new developments in an office just off Tottenham Court Road.

A word of warning: it’s 2 years old now, so some of the info is a little out of date – just in case you decide to plan your weekend around its contents.

Tenuous link time… London is a great city, home of theatres that have housed some of the greatest musicals ever written and some of the world’s best musical theatre artistes. One of the best things about the MT world is that it doesn’t take itself seriously, willingly taking the mick out of itself on a regular basis. America has Forbidden Broadway, and now Britain has Michael Bruce’s Unwritten Songs.

One of these songs – Portrait of Princess – has been turned into an awesome video, featuring various stars of the West End. Snow White is Julie Atherton – last seen in Avenue Q (Trekkie Monster’s puppeteer’s also in there), while Cinderella’s none other than recently crowned ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ – Sheridan Smith. Oh, and Russell Tovey’s in it too… [Warning: it probably ought to carry a 15 certificate at least. This is no Disney musical.]

This links rather neatly with the next gem – which is miraculous and totally coincidental – and is included with much thanks to Annabelle. What’s (almost) better than a Disney parody? Why, six versions of the same man singing a Disney medley of course! It’s a perfect follow up, as the first song of the medley is in fact the Disney song that I ended up singing having watched the parody. Even if you’re not into the slightly odd phenonmenon of people singing with themself, this is well worth the watch – the captions are an added humorous bonus, and honestly, who doesn’t like Disney songs?

I ♥ Jodi Benson, Lea Salonga and Alan Menken too! Love it.

Oh, and if this has reminded you of the fabulous Sam Tsui (who I personally think is a notch or two above Disney Medley guy), have no fear – the two of them have duetted on none other than a favourite Wicked track. (I think this reveals which is the stronger singer, and it’s not the one that does all the twiddly bits…) 
Random aside fact, he also works for Disney as an animator – the links just keep getting better and better!