Friday, May 29, 2015

Karaoke Memories, Part 3

Picture it -- Japan. 2012. A busload of Canadian tourists driving through the Japan Alps. Not just any bus though. A bus equipped with a karaoke machine! Everyone singing at the top of their lungs. The bus rockin', rollin', bouncing off all four tires. Mariachi horns blaring. Mariachi horns? Yes, it's Ring of Fire!

I'm proud to say that Ring of Fire was my selection from the karaoke catalogue for our group singalong that day. The key to picking a great group karaoke song is to make sure it's very fast, catchy and something everyone knows. No dreary folk songs or weird slow stuff -- that just brings down the energy and the mood.

They loooooove karaoke in Japan, of course, because they invented it. Karaoke is everywhere in that country! We had such a blast that day on the bus. It sure passed the time and made the bus ride seem shorter. And how many people can say they've sung karaoke in the very Homeland of Karaoke?

Here's my one known factoid about karaoke -- it means "empty orchestra." It comes from "kara" ("empty") and "oke" (an abbreviated form of "okesutora" which is the phonetic Japanese imitation of our English word "orchestra"). It refers to the missing lead singer track in the otherwise fully recorded music. Now you know!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Karaoke Memories, Part 2

About 10 years ago, My Rare One and I attended a friend's great 50th birthday party. She had rented the premises of the Old Bastards Club in the Edmonton Armouries for the occasion and what a blast we all had! Lots to eat and drink and then . . . karaoke!

My Rare One and I, along with a couple more friends, did our best Supremes imitation of this song, including their classic choreography --

Just call me Miss Ross!

But the true karaoke highlight of the evening came later, when one of our friends who is a professional singer sang "Unchained Melody." You know what a barnburner of a song that is and man, she gave it everything she had! We grabbed the candles off the tables and held them up along with any lighters we had, all swaying together for her moment of concert greatness, LOL!

Yes, we all had brain cramps the next morning. Why do you ask?

Next post -- Karaoke in its Homeland

Monday, May 25, 2015

Karaoke Memories, Part 1

Do you like karaoke? I enjoy it every once in awhile. Over the years I've had three memorable karaoke experiences which I'm going to share with you this week.

The first time I ever experienced karaoke was in The Peg about 25 years ago. The karaoke fad had just come to Canada and was all the rage. So when Winnipeg's local lesbian bar, Ms Purdy's, advertised a karaoke night, a friend and I made sure to attend. We got there early too because the joint was packed!

Speaking of Ms Purdy's, here's a photo I took of it around the same time period. It wasn't quite as seedy inside as it looked from the outside, LOL! Ms Purdy's was a small place but managed to pack in a pool table, a good-sized stand-up bar, about a dozen tables and chairs and a small mirrored dance floor. Its windows were, of course, unbreakable one-way glass so we could see out but no one on the street could see in. The front door led into a security foyer where you'd first have to run the gauntlet of a couple of big dyke bouncers before being allowed into the bar itself. The purpose of that was to keep out gaybashers, religious nuts seeking to condemn us and/or save our souls, irate husbands/boyfriends looking for their AWOL wives/girlfriends, and men of all descriptions.

[Photo © Debra She Who Seeks, 1990]

Anyway, back to karaoke . . . .

A number of women got up and sang a few songs. OMG, they were dreadful! But everyone, being Canadians and members of the Sisterhood, clapped politely and did not boo them off the stage. Finally, at the end of the rather desultory evening, a chunky middle-aged lez with short salt & pepper hair went up to the front. She grabbed that mic and proceeded to just blow everyone away with an absolutely rockin' rendition of "Old Time Rock & Roll."

The whole bar erupted sky-high with clapping, stomping and cheering! She shut the place down too because no one had the nerve to follow that act at the karaoke machine, LOL! Later I heard that 10-15 years earlier, she had been one of the lead singers in a popular Winnipeg tribute band. And man, she still had it, baby!

Next post -- Karaoke at the Old Bastards Club

Friday, May 22, 2015

Monster Chiller Horror Theatre

Hello, kids! Count Floyd here. Be prepared to be frightened to death by this week's monster chiller horror offering! Now give a big howl of welcome to our guest host, Debra She Who Seeks!
On my "Ask Me Anything" post, Dr Theda and/or Stacey of Dr Theda's Crypt inquired: "Who are your favourite Villain and Monster?"

While I'm awfully fond of existentially-tormented Marvel villains like Magneto and Loki, I must confess that there's a special place in my heart for a certain old timey musical villain, as cosplayed here by various cats --

Now, I suppose there could be an argument that the Phantom is not only a villain but also a kind of monster. But why quibble?
Listen to the music of the night . . . .

As for my favourite monster, I'm a big fan of Japan's gift to the world, Godzilla! But poor Godzilla is a very misunderstood monster, you know. He's really just a regular kinda guy who likes an occasional drink, good snacks and a fun time like anyone else --

Some even see a kind of . . . spiritual . . . significance in Godzilla. Are we misinterpreting Godzilla's message? God knows it wouldn't be the first time that ever happened!

Hey, if Scientology can be a tax-exempt religion, why not the Church of Godzilla? Send all donations c/o this blog, my children, that you may be greatly blessed, yea verily.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bunnies Behaving Badly

It's not a well-known fact but rabbits swear like sailors. Especially when they miscalculate and things don't go their way.

Rabbits can also be bloodthirsty little savages. Don't be fooled by their cutie-pie sweet features.

Rabbits are also notorious thieves. Never trust them!

Of course, their sexually inappropriate behaviour is well known.

Time to take stock, Bugs. Are you sure that you're headed to heaven?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Happy Victoria Day!

For Canadians too, it's ALL about having a paid day off work when it comes to celebrating the Royal Family. And today is a favourite statutory holiday in Canada -- Victoria Day! So let's go camping, have a BBQ and drink beer! "Queen Who?" Who cares?

But we should feel sympathy for Victoria's unfortunate descendant, Queen Elizabeth II. It's hard to be Queen these days. The world is so full of upstart wannabes --

Even poor little Prince George isn't safe from the mockers and pretenders.

But even if the Queen doesn't like our disrespectful attitudes, she can't stay downhearted for long . . .

. . . because she has a cunning plan! Yikes!

So all together now, let's hear a rousing chorus of --

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Slaveowner Ancestors, Part 2

John Green, my 4x great-grandfather, was born in New Jersey in 1740. During the American Revolution, his Tory family remained loyal to England. John and his four brothers all "joined the Royal Standard" and fought to keep British control of the Thirteen Colonies. Having lost that struggle, John and his brother Adam emigrated in the late 1780s to the Niagara region in Canada as United Empire Loyalists. John brought along his wife Mary, seven children and a slave named Tom.

Slavery was perfectly legal in Britain and its Empire at that time. It took British abolitionists many decades to convince people that slavery is morally wrong, repugnant and should be abolished. Change came slowly, in small incremental steps. Initially, abolitionists succeeded only in having legislative reform measures passed to undermine slavery's viability and usefulness, not to end it completely.

The first such measure was taken here in Canada in 1793 at the behest of abolitionist John Graves Simcoe, the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. He persuaded the legislature to forbid any new slaves from being brought to Canada after that date. While slaves already in Canada remained enslaved, any children born to them in Upper Canada would be freed at age 25.

In 1807, Britain passed its own incremental reform statute and abolished the slave trade (although not slavery itself). It took another generation of political and social agitation before slavery was completely abolished at last in Britain and throughout the Empire in 1833.

John Graves Simcoe

Simcoe and his wife were good friends with John Green and his family. I suspect it was Simcoe who persuaded or pressured John Green to voluntarily free his slave Tom now that they lived in Upper Canada. It is said that after being freed, Tom chose to stay in the employ of the Greens for wages.

John Green prospered in Upper Canada until his death in 1830. In addition to owning a farm, saw mill and grist mill, he was also appointed as a surveyor, road builder and justice of the peace. His family name was given to the village of Greensville. Today it is part of the suburban neighbourhood known as West Flamborough on the outskirts of Hamilton, Ontario.

West Flamborough's Christ Church Anglican and its old graveyard sit on land provided by John Green in 1817 for that purpose. John Green and his wife (as well as my 3x great-grandfather Samuel Green and his wife) are all buried there apparently, although their tombstones have long since deteriorated and been lost to mortal view.

[Final two photos by Debra She Who Seeks, 2013]