Springing into Friday Fun

Kicking off these week’s fun are a few more London delights. Firstly, a mental challenge for all those who consider themselves to be London aficionados – can you identify 21 London ‘landmarks’? Now, the definition of ‘landmark’ is rather broad, but it’s a diverting 5 minutes! [I scored 16 out of 21, my incorrect answers largely being the result of mis-identifying glass windows and spurious statues…]

Another challenge (or a sheer delight) are these hand-drawn maps of Westminster by Jojo Oldham, who’s embarking on a project to map each of London’s boroughs, as well as one to map the ‘people’s Britain’. So much detail…

Jojo City of Westminster 5This illustration demonstrates just how close to the Camden-Westminster border I live.

Talking of maps, there is a huge amount of (educational) fun to be had with the fabulous addition of the Ordnance Survey town plan of 1893-6 to Google Maps. Choose your location, and see it transform from 2014 to late 19th century. Utterly fascinating. Here’s a snapshot of my current parish, which on the one hand doesn’t seem to have changed much, yet really has…

Holborn, 1890sHolborn, 1890’s

Obligatory London Transport fun is provided this week by Tubographical Transactions by Yangchen Lin, a photographic exhibition on show at the Subway Gallery 14-22 March. A host of photos that take a slightly different perspective on life on the tube, including tube pants (not a photo I’m sharing here). Londonist features several of the photos, of which these were favourites:

Damian_Lewis_Covent_Garden_station-L-749x500

Oval_tube_station_spiral_stair-L-750x500

Finally, some Oscars-related fun. Amusingly, I had something in this theme ready to share last week – but when compiling last week’s Fun, I became the second person in my family to succumb to the mistake of thinking that the last weekend in February and first weekend in March were not the same thing. [i.e. this time last week, March 2nd seemed a lot further away than 2 days, what with my brain forgetting how short February is.] So, first off, here are children recreated the key plot points of each of the films nominated for Best Picture:

I particularly loved how they chose to deal with 12 Years a Slave…

As for the night itself, obviously there was the most-retweeted-tweet-ever, but for me, there were two key moments. One was obviously what has now become known as the Cumberbomb, which prompted a brilliant article about how Cumberbatch basically ‘won’ the Oscars – which a classmate showed me during Monday’s lecture, but which I now cannot find, despite scouring the internet. Trust me, it was excellent…

The other was John Travolta incomprehensibly getting Idina Menzel’s name badly, badly wrong when announcing her performance of what ended up winning Best Song (Let It Go, as featured here a couple of weeks ago). Since his gaff, we’ve been able to Travoltafy our names and Idina has soared to the level of fame she ought have had some time ago. (Some argue that this gaff will be the making of her.) She responded to interview questions about it simply by saying “Let it go…” and the Broadway production in which she’s currently starring did this:

Adele Dazeem on Broadway

Adele, sorry, Idina also went on the Jimmy Fallon show and performed the aforementioned song with him and the Roots band – it’s worth watching, it may not be quite what you expect:

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

Parallel universes

In TV-land, you have to suspend disbelief an awful lot if you’re to truly buy into what you’re watching. This came into my mind this evening while watching the ever-wonderful Glee.

Avoiding possible spoilers, this evening’s episode included a moment when Rachel heard Shelby Corcoran – Vocal Adrenaline’s director, played by Broadway superstar Idina Menzel – singing. The thing is, earlier in the series we learned that Defying Gravity, a song made famous by Menzel as the original Elphaba in Wicked, was Rachel’s “go to shower song”. Thus, surely she (like all other Wicked devotees) would recognise Idina’s voice anywhere?

Then there’s the things you have to ignore, just so that things make sense. Two EastEnders examples spring to mind: do the Carry On films exist in a world where Barbara Windsor is the local pub’s landlady? Have the people of Walford never seen the wonder that is Gavin & Stacey because the guy who played Archie Mitchell is Gavin’s Dad? 
Or, how about the fabulous Brockman family of Outnumbered fame? They seem like just the kind of family who might have Radio 4 on in the background, particularly at lunchtime on Saturday when the Friday night comedy programme’s repeated. But how could you reconcile Hugh Dennis’ hosting of The Now Show with his other role as Pete Brockman, put-upon father of three? [Incidentally, I would love to see a hybrid of the two programmes in which Karen (or the girl who plays her) gets to host a political debate or simply take part as a contributor, it would be amazing!] 
Am I simply thinking way too much??

There are plenty more, but the heat and the lateness of the hour is frazzling my brain. Instead, I leave you with another Glee related snippet – a tribute to the wonder that is Brittany. Even if you’ve not watched Glee, watch this video, you need to know about a girl who thinks dolphins are gay sharks – trust me! 

An Elphaba Complex

Tonight – completely unexpectedly – I’ve got a ticket to see Wicked for the third time. Oh how I love teacher friends whose students drop out of school trips! Friends and sporadic readers of this blog will know that my love of Wicked goes beyond my love of most musicals. I utterly adore it.

I saw it within a month of it opening (most expensive theatre tickets I’ve ever bought, but they were so worth it) and have probably spent hundreds (?!) of pounds fuelling my habit since then. Three trips to see the show, the CD, the score, the backing tracks, an Idina Menzel album, the book – I could go on.

Anyway, it’s been a hit with lots of my close friends, mainly the ones that are into singing and fabulous musicals. We all pretty much want to be Elphaba and not just because she gets the best songs, but because it’s a story we identify with…
The green girl, unattractive to all her contemporaries and overshadowed by a conventionally popular (and beautifully blonde) girl, eventually defies the odds and the lovely guy falls in love with her. 

A male friend, who I’ll call Idiot Boy, referred to this a couple of years ago as the “Elphaba Complex”.
After he’d heard about my last trip to see it, where I was accompanied by my sister,  he asked “so, does she want to Elphaba too?”. Good question. She’d probably love to sing Defying Gravity up in the air (who wouldn’t?) but of course she doesn’t want to be her in the same way – she’s married, she’s got her Fiyero. [For the record, my brother-in-law is not given to wearing breeches…] 

For other, terminally single female friends, it’s more to do with feeling like no one will ever fall in love with us. Elphaba’s big issue was that she was green (I’m not even going to begin explaining how this happened, read Wikipedia if you’re completely uninitiated to the world of Wicked), we have other issues – being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, not pretty enough – whatever. I think we all have crushes on unattainable men and wish that things would work out for us like they did for Elphaba. (Except that we don’t want to have to fake our own death or turn our lover into a scarecrow in order to succeed!)

I laughed when Idiot Boy originally teased me about this ‘complex’, but on reflection, he may have had a point…


Elphaba (the green one) and the beautiful, popular girl…

Celebrating the Lord

[Note: This is not in anyway a faith-related post.]

The Lord’s 60.

Yes, it really has been 10 years since the spectacular that was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 50th birthday celebration in the Royal Albert Hall. (If you’ve not seen it, it’s on DVD, watch it, it’s wonderful!) So it was about time for another one…

Luckily the BBC thought so too and considerately used their staging from Saturday’s Last Night of the Proms to host a birthday concert for the Lord. Except it turns out he was actually 60 6 months ago. Nevermind.

The evening turned out to be: dry, entertaining and educational…

For example, did you know that Love Changes Everything (the hit song from Aspects of Love) was originally written for Starlight Express but not used, put away in a drawer and brought out again for the later musical?? Nope, neither did I.

Incidentally, it’s broadcast on Radio 2 at 7.30pm on Friday, 10th October. I highly recommend listening, then you too can catch:
– Lee Mead coming in too early at the start of All I Ask of You
– John Barrowman generally being hilarious
– Joss Stone emulating a crazy evangelical preacher during Jesus Christ Superstar (“can I get a witness?!”)
– Duncan James being surprisingly good & Jason Donovan being surprisingly bad

I’ll be listening, especially I managed to miss most of my most anticipated item by mis-timing a trip to the toilets. Turns out the overture for The Beautiful Game isn’t as long as I thought and I was still in the toilets when I heard “and now, Idina Menzel singing Unexpected Song…”. That would be my favourite Broadway Diva singing my favourite ALW song – I ran like the wind!!

And if all that wasn’t enough, the evening was doubly exciting because my friend Gill (and her Mum) were in one of the supporting choirs – here we have Gill looking a little, well, moody, whilst on stage with Ruthie Henshall (another West End Diva):