Friday Fun – a truly random assortment

This week’s Friday Fun is being composed in haste, so is simply a collection of the week’s highlights – you are therefore spared my try-hard tenuous links.

First up, something beautiful, musical and involving a public transportation map – it’s like a Christmas and birthday combined! Found via the ever amusing Dave Walker, this is an audio-visual representation of the New York subway system at work:

You might possibly be amused by a Twitter exchange that followed (or not…):
LC: “Would be interested to see a London one, though parts would go silent during the obligatory rush hour signal failure.”
DW: “Yes, London would have to include (for instance) Circle line train stopping for an irritatingly long time at Aldgate, etc”
AM: “You know that’s only so the driver can get out and pee? I think they should have spare drivers for such purposes”
DW: “Really? They must have very ineffectual hand dryers or some such.”
LC: “Don’t start suggesting there should be spare drivers or no loo breaks – they’ll call for more strike action!”
DW: “All I’m calling for is for the staff conveniences to be near platform 1 and with effective hand dryers.”
Disclaimer – I’m not sure that all the information contained within the above is factually correct.

At the end of the week, what else could be more amusing that funny animals? How about a funny Hollywood actor like Tom Hanks? Ok, so he’s not that funny (except maybe occasionally in Big) but when you combine him with animals – even unfunny animals – it becomes hilarious. And thus, the world has given us “Tom Hanks is a Lot of Animals”:

I particularly like the variety of Tom Hanks’ faces used in these photos.

Finally, something for all you Musical Theatre obsessed First Aiders (this could be a post in itself as it simultaneously fascinates and bizarres me) – the St John Ambulance have formed a partnership with popular West End show Wicked in an effort to educate primary school children on the importance of First Aid*. 
Yes, First Aid and the West End. But it gets better, I quote from the website:

“Asking ‘What would Elphaba do?’ is an effective way to encourage pupils to think about the values that underpin first aid.”

Quite frankly, ‘What would Elphaba do?’ has been my personal mantra for some time. I’d like to see the campaign launch a wristband (preferably violent green in hue) bearing the letters WWED so that I can have a physical reminder at all times. If you spot me looking green, wearing black, carrying a broomstick and jumping on furniture while singing too loudly, then I’ll have taken the mantra a little too far… 
*Incidentally, First Aid is extremely important – I do not intend to undermine this. My Grandad drove an ambulance you know! 

Sherry & Schwartz

Sherry – as in the alcoholic beverage usually served pre-dinner. Never drunk it myself, being more of a Gin and Slim kind of girl.

Schwartz – the award-winning composer of fabulous musicals, most specifically Wicked.

Neither, if I’m honest, are things I’d expect to find at church on a Sunday morning.

This month, I’ve got to spend my Sundays visiting a church that’s somewhat different to my usual place of worship. The Church of England is a spectrum of worship styles and theological traditions – my church exists at one end of it. Therefore I’ve been tasked with exploring a church that’s towards the opposite end of the spectrum.

There was nothing particularly alien about the church – it was harvest festival, there were small children dressed up as vegetables (don’t get me started on the child wearing a pumpkin mask…), there were smells but no bells and lots of robes.

Browsing through the order of service while waiting for it to kick off, I made a surprising discovery. The anthem (during which the harvest gifts would be brought forward) was written by Stephen Schwartz. What on earth was a piece by a musical theatre legend doing in the middle of a High Church service?

Ok, so it was from Godspell and it was a version of the harvest classic ‘We Plough the Fields and Scatter’ – so it possibly was apt, but let’s just also say that it was perhaps indicative of the inclusive nature of the church.

The order of service also mentioned the post-service refreshments. Regular church attenders will be familiar with the standard of beverage usually available – over-brewed tea, coffee of a dubious nature and intensely strong squash. There’ll usually be some biscuits, but the zealous children of the parish will have swiped the plate as soon as it appears.

It’s not often that there’s booze on offer. Wine at the abbey last Easter – fair enough; post-evening service welcome drinks seem logical; and carol services wouldn’t be complete without mulled wine. But sherry, at 11am? That’s a new one on me – oh, and there were two varieties (sweet or dry) on offer.

Still, that’s notched up another 2010 First. Not sure that sherry will become a regular fixture on my alcoholic beverages list, but who knows – maybe I’ll grow accustomed to it over the next three Sundays? 

Green Eyes

Unfortunately, I have a bit of a tendency to give in to the Green Eyed Monster. It’s not a great trait, but hey, there are worse ones.

Today I’m jealous of one particular friend who’s recently moved to San Francisco to work for 6 months. This in itself is a reason for jealousy. Earlier he showed me the amazing views from his apartment via the wondrous medium of Skype – Alcatraz from your bedroom window anyone?? The sun was shining brightly, and though it’s been sunny here today, we’re lacking some really good heat. Our chat was cut short by the arrival of his running buddy, they were off for a run to the Golden Gate Bridge…I may have strolled past Tower Bridge on my way home tonight, but I can do that any day. I’ve never seen the Golden Gate Bridge. Hmmmmmmm.

I’m even more jealous of this friend today because of what he got up to last night. [Fear not, this isn’t heading in a dodgy direction!] He and his fellow cast members (Did I mention this is a theatrical friend? That fact becomes more important later in this story.) had been given tickets to a performance of Wicked, which, as you may remember is my most favourite musical. He’s not so much of a fan, (though he would obligingly be my pianist for all the best songs, which was useful when he lived around the corner) and is the person responsible for the Elphaba Complex theory. Anyway, he told me in advance that he was going and then when he got home let me know what he’d got up to…

He’d tried on Elphaba’s hat.
This might not sound like a big deal to you, but if in your wildest dreams you imagine yourself flying high, defying gravity clutching a broom in one hand and having a cloak billowing out around you with your skin a shade of verdant green, then this is seriously jealousy inducing. [If you have no idea what I’m talking about, watch this.]

Admittedly, he has no photographic evidence of this exploit – apparently such photos are severely verboten – but he did get one with the Wizard’s head. He and his chum also spent some time searching for ‘the spellbook’ (he laughed at me when I corrected his terminology, it is in fact ‘The Grimmery’) but to no avail. Ah well. I’m touched that as he was engaged in this ridiculous activity he was thinking of me and how envious I would be.

Last year there was a possibility that this friend might get an audition for the London production. He told me this prefixed with “don’t get all excited, but…”, and sure enough, I got very excited. It went something along these lines:
“If you get a part in Wicked, can I come backstage when I come and see it?” [Fairly reasonable.]
“If you get a part in Wicked, can I get on the stage and sing Defying Gravity when no one’s there?” [Beginning to get a little geeky.]
“If you get a part in Wicked, could I try out the thing that raises Elphaba up at the end of Act 1?” [Very geeky, but a logical request from any true fan.]
“If you get a part in Wicked, could you trap either Elphaba or Glinda and their understudies in a broom cupboard so that I could cover for them?” [Very, very weird and possibly a little desperate.]

Ack, jealousy – it makes fools out of all of us!

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…