Friday Fun with molluscs

Last Saturday, I sat on a sofa with a group of friends and watched a couple of YouTube videos on TV. [This in itself is still something of a novelty…] There was much squealing and ahhhing, followed by impressions of the lead character over dinner. Instantly I knew what the next Friday Fun would have to be…

The first Marcel the Shell with Shoes video came out over a year ago, but I only discovered it last weekend when a friend who was already a fan discovered that a second one had emerged. They’re beautiful shorts, about a little shell called Marcel who wears shoes – he drives a bug (though he can’t control where it goes); he sleeps in bread; has a raisin for a couch; and is petrified of a pet dog. Watch both, you really won’t be disappointed!

Interestingly, when asked how my friend first discovered Marcel, it turned out to be because it’s Josh Groban’s favourite YouTube video. [Not that she’d asked him, you understand – it was a question in an interview.] Mentioning Josh Groban and YouTube in the same sentence allows me to also feature this genius video which combines two of my great loves – Groban and Twitter…

I feel Josh Groban is often mis-labelled as simply an easy-listening, beloved by grannies, singer. In fact, he’s utterly hilarious, willing to make fun of himself at the least opportunity – witnessed in his Glee appearances and his legendary hosting of Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Love him. [And for this reason am insanely jealous of one of my oldest friends who got to meet him at his recent Birmingham concert – no fair!] Could someone get me him for Christmas? Cheers.


I love Wednesdays – it’s the day when my week starts to calm down and the studying overtakes the office/church working. (It also follows a 12 hour working Tuesday, which is all kinds of exhausting.) To ease myself into the day, I spent 11 minutes this morning watching an utterly delightful video. I was tempted to add it to Friday’s list, but actually, it’s not really ‘fun’ in the Friday sense of the word.

Have you ever wondered exactly what went into printing sheet music before the invention of computers? I can’t say I have, but after watching this film, I’m utterly in awe. Basically, (and many of you probably know this) it involved engraving the notation onto metal sheets, from which prints could be made. As anyone who has studied musical theory can tell you, notation is a pain in the backside to get correct – so imagine engraving metal?

Much of this video is in German, but it has subtitles and is hypnotising. My favourite moment is when the engraver is asked what happens if he makes a mistake and he replies “but I don’t make mistakes” – so they ask him to demonstrate what he would do if someone else made a mistake. [Surprisingly, it doesn’t involve throwing the whole metal sheet away and starting again – lucky, that.]

For me, the most ridiculous discovery was that musical directions had to be stamped letter by letter. When you think of how many ‘allegro’, ‘allegrando’ and ‘tuttis’ there might be in even a short piece, that’s got to be a pain.

So, Sibelius fans, don’t take what you’ve got for granted. Be thankful for Herr Henle Verlag and others like him for turning notation into the artform that computers had to emulate. (And fans of handwritten notation – just be grateful you’re writing on paper, not metal.)

Friday fun with flight attendants and farmers

As I’ve been stuck in the middle of nowhere (at a Christian conference centre whose raison d’etre appears to be feeding people as much food as possible), opportunities for discovering something for Friday Fun have been limited. However, I’ve just had a quick look at a Friday favourite in the Guardian – the Viral Video Chart – and found a total gem.

You know how tedious flight safety announcements can be? How they always say you should pay attention even if you’ve flown on that plane, with that airline countless times before? How even the attendants look beside themselves with boredom? Well, on Cebu airlines (in the Philippines) they are far from dull and boring:

Flight attendants, passenger safety and Lady Gaga – what’s not to like?

If you’re the kind of person who refuses to follow links to the Guardian (yes B, I’m talking to you…), other gems featured this week include the rather wonderful Yeo Valley yoghurt advert. This caused more of a stir during last week’s X Factor than the show itself – in fact one of my friends rang to tell me to watch it online (she knew I was stuck on a stupid train). My tweet back at her summed it up:
“Just watched the Yeo Valley ad…not since Ben Fogle has a man in a Barbour jacket looked so hot. Hellooooo farmers!” 

One of my roles over the last couple of days has been doing the PowerPoint for sessions. I’ve done this a few times and you get to know what you can get away with doing while your laptop’s in presentation mode, and what you can’t. Sneaky tweeting/facebooking – yes, watching rather hot farmers rapping about yoghurt – not so much… 

Intense in tents

On the final night of last year’s Greenbelt, my tent mate Morv and I had an unfortunate loud snorer in a nearby tent incident. We ended up doing a little piece to camera (where the snorer couldn’t actually be heard) in which we wittered on about loud people, the cold, the tent and perhaps the festival itself.

This year I decided we should make this late night film shoot a regular occurrence and we diligently created a video for each of the three nights we shared a tent (and an airbed – though for the record although we’re good friends, we’re not that good friends…). Edited together, we now have a video diary for Greenbelt 2010 that is in turns comic and ridiculous. Actually, we’re so proud of the results that we’ve just been talking about pitching a comedy routine for next year’s Last Orders (the magazine style show at the the end of the day featuring the best bits of the programme). Anyone willing to nominate us? Anyone? Anyone? Ok then…

Here you are:

If you’re pushed for time, I recommend night one and night three. Morv actually falls asleep during night two and we’re both so tired that it’s incomprehensible (we start talking about chord progressions), but if you love me/us, you need to watch the whole lot. Topics covered include: how to set up your bed to stay warm; festival highlights; a generator saga; getting told off by old men and the general perils of camping. It’s also worth observing the way in which we get progressively more red-faced (windburn, not sun) and the hair (in my case) getting a lot wilder.

I had planned to do a final night film with the die-hard crew who stayed till Tuesday, but the memory card on my camera was full and I was too tired to go through and delete stuff. Still, I think it’s better just being the comedy duo throughout – lends an air of consistency to proceedings!

Friday fun with football

Two things I’ve been rather remiss in over recent weeks has been my commitment to Friday Fun and making any mention of the World Cup on the blog. Ok, perhaps the latter wasn’t so remiss of me – I couldn’t really care less about the football. But it seems only right that today, two days before it all comes to a glorious end, I mark the occasion with something amusing.

To be honest, the football hasn’t totally been off my radar. I kind of watched all of England’s matches. When I say ‘kind of’ the only ones I watched in full were Algeria (dull, dull, dull and I was on my own at home) and Germany (at church, with G&Ts and a lot of angry Christians). I was in the vicinity of a TV during the USA game but was being inducted into the world of poker at the time. I can remember very little of the poker game (except that even when I made major errors – like confusing suits – I still managed to win) and even less of the match.

If there’s one thing that has characterised this World Cup it’s been the vuvuzela. (Always got to be careful how you type that word…) There have been a couple of random sightings of them in my neighbourhood – well, one sighting and one hearing. On my way home one evening I caught a glimpse of a man cycling (along a busy main road) carrying a vuvuzela in one hand and steering his bike with the other – downright hazardous! Then I heard them…somewhere behind my flat on the afternoon of England V Germany. (I can’t guarantee it was a vuvuzela as I didn’t see it, but it was either that or an elephant had moved into Bermondsey.)

This video therefore manages to combine two things with the potential to annoy me. The aforementioned vuvuzela and Lord of the Rings (my views on this have been expressed previously):

I realise that the title of this post is actually misleading, there is in fact no football in either of the videos mentioned – hobbits and musical instruments – yes, football – no. The next one consists solely of football fans and successfully brings together two things I love – singing men and slushy love songs. Admittedly, it’s not performed in the most musical fashion, but it raised the hairs on the back of my neck nonetheless…

If football’s your thing, then I hope you revel in its final hours. If it’s not – don’t worry, it’s nearly over. I will be subjected to the final on Sunday thanks to my lovely church rescheduling its evening service so that it doesn’t clash – yay! (In case you’re missing the link, the match will then be shown on the big screens in church.)