Friday 14 June 2024

She's up all night for good fun

Wheeee! Another weekend's on the way...

#adecadeago today, dear reader, it was sunny and warm - quite unlike this current bleak, cold, dank weather [We have had the heating on most evenings - in June!]. - and we were preparing to move house to Dolores Delargo Towers #3 a few weeks later.

On that occasion it was a Friday 13th - hence the reason for this choice for our traditional end-of-the-week slot to get the party started. I need no excuses to play it again, however - it cheers me up every time!

Thank Disco It's Friday!

As I said at the time, "I doubt Pharrell and Daft Punk were even born when that film was made"...

Have a great weekend, folks!

Thursday 13 June 2024

Pain of choc-lit

Deliberately cocking up the pronunciation of words is one of life’s little pleasures, so liven up your otherwise drab existence by mangling these:

Choco Leibniz
You know Choco Leibniz biscuits, the Rich Tea of the continent? You call them ‘the tasty rectangle chocolate ones’ that your gran gets from Waitrose, but it’s much funnier to childishly refer to them as ‘chocolate lesbians’, or something that sounds like a cross between Coco Pops and Limp Bizkit.

Microwave
Nigella gave us her tastiest treat of all when she concocted this feast of the English language. Depending on your intonation, ‘Mee-crow-wah-vee’ sounds like a whimsical spell uttered by a Shakespearean faerie or a threat slurred by a troll living under a bridge. Either way, it promises hours of fun watching others wince.

Paella
Everyone has heard some insufferable pedant say paella correctly, and cringed as their mouth twists its way around a vague orgy of Spanish vowel sounds. But phrasing it as a request for your sister’s posh mate to bring you a pastry-based dinner is much more satisfying. Try it yourself.

Anywhere ending in ‘shire’
Admittedly you can only do this one in a safe space lest you get mistaken for an ignorant American tourist, but it’s still good, wholesome fun. Slowly sounding out ‘Lie-cest-er-shire’ allows you to cosplay as a dim rural farmer who ain’t ever heard of these fancy big town ways of saying stuff. Chew some hay for the full effect.

Pain au chocolat
Messing with the French is always enjoyable, whether it’s by bringing up their abject surrender in two world wars or by deliberately butchering the name of their flavourful pastries. They may think they’ve got one over on you by forcing you to briefly use their heathen language, but you’re coming right back by saying ‘pain of choc-lit.’

Champagne
A double whammy that can piss off both the French and the rich. Sounding it out as ‘sham-pag-ne’ makes the expensive beverage sound like an ugly, newfangled baby name. And it’s also how you’ll be pronouncing it anyway once you’ve necked a few glasses of the stuff, you big lightweight.

The Daily Mash

Of course.

Wednesday 12 June 2024

Derrière un kleenex

Sad news. That most beautiful and uber-cool of chanteuses Mlle Françoise Hardy has ascended the glittering stairway to Fabulon, Gauloise in hand...

A core performer in the so-called yé-yé craze in early 1960s France, her cultural impact was such that Bob Dylan became obsessed, sending love letters, and wrote a poem about her, and Mick Jagger said that she was his "ideal woman".

Over her long career she released almost 30 LPs (the most recent in 2018), modelled for Yves Saint Laurent and Paco Rabanne, represented Monaco at the Eurovision Song Contest, and worked with a diverse range of arists including Serge Gainsburg, Jane Birkin, Air [on the b-side of their smash Sexy Boy], Michel Berger, Iggy Pop and Blur. Remarkable.

Here is a selection of her songs, by way of a tribute:

[as covered by Natacha Atlas]

... and finally, a classic - made famous decades later by Jimmy Somerville:

RIP, Françoise Madeleine Hardy (17th January 1944 – 11th June 2024)

Tuesday 11 June 2024

The Best of Times

Jerry Herman was a genius. That much is a given - indeed, he's our second favourite composer in the musical theatre world, after Stephen Sondheim (inevitably).

And so it was that I whooped for joy when I found out that his self-penned revue [and every showman simply has to have one of those!] Jerry's Girls was coming to a fave haunt of ours the Menier Chocolate Factory - so Madam Arcati, Hils, Crog and I trolled off to see it last Saturday!

It was a superbly-crafted show, and everything we could have wished for. From a review by Daz Gale at All That Dazzles:

Created by Jerry Herman and his collaborator Larry Alford in 1981, Jerry’s Girls opened off-Broadway before enjoying a national tour and a Tony-nominated run on Broadway. This musical revue crams in more than 30 of Jerry’s songs from eight classic shows including Mame, Mack & Mabel, La Cage Aux Folles and Hello, Dolly! as well as two new songs for this revue. This is done through a loose narrative that sees three performers getting ready in their dressing room for a performance and ultimately moving to the stage (and beyond, in some cases here).

The original concept by Jerry Herman, Larry Alford and Wayne Cliento is a clever way to incorporate the songs and make it feel cohesive. Though there is still an element of it being shoehorned in, having scenes move from the dressing room to the stage and back allows for a lot of fun and flair to be told in these songs, with elements of storytelling in several of the more emotive numbers. Hannah Chissick’s direction executes this flawlessly, with no shortage of ideas on how to make each number differentiate from the last and best use the versatile space of the Menier. This is elevated by Matt Cole’s always sensational choreography as we witness three of the very best of Jerry’s girls bring his numbers to life in spectacular fashion.

And what of those girls? This was a three-hander show, with the magnificently-talented combination of Julie Yammanee, Cassidy Janson and Jessica Martin, portraying the three ages of Vaudeville showgirls - the ingenue just starting out, the powerhouse current star, and the long-experienced trouper. In combination and each with their solo numbers, they were all utterly breathtaking!

Stand-out ensemble numbers - and there were so many! - included Before The Parade Passes By, Tap Your Troubles Away [on typewriters!], the Just Go To the Movies/Movies Were Movies segment [where we had Miss Janson, as one of the three "usherettes", sat in the row in front of us for a time], La Cage Aux Folles and Hello, Dolly!, Miss Jansen and Miss Martin also "trapped" Miss Yammanee in a trunk to do a marvellous version of Bosom Buddies, and the three of them were especially good in the utterly hilarious Take It All Off - in which Miss Martin was really able to exercise her "comedy chops".

In the absence of any Menier cast videos, here's Miss Dorothy Loudon's version of that number [I have also featured Miss Lorna Luft's version before]:

Miss Yamanee got her moment in the spotlight with rollicking versions of That's How Young I Feel and Look What Happened to Mabel...

... while Miss Janson got many of the big torch-song numbers like I Won’t Send Roses, If He Walked Into My Life, The Best Of Times and Time Heals Everything...

Here's Miss Bernadette Peters' version:

...and Miss Martin, too, had some tear-jerkers of her own such as I Don’t Want to Know, And I Was Beautiful, I Am What I Am and the eternally poignant Song On The Sand.

Here's the laste, great Miss Mazzie's version of that:

We were overawed by the whole evening, to be honest - even the unfamilar numbers - and it just reinforced my opening sentence.

A fitting tribute, by a hugely talented trio of singers. What more could anyone ask for?

To conclude, from Jonathan Whiting for Musical Magazine:

Special mention must go to the band under Music Director Sarah Travis; bar the keyboard/piano, the band is completely acoustic, which adds a rawness and an intimacy to the production. Travis’s orchestrations are incredibly versatile, often feeling much grander than a six-person band might typically sound.

The final number, Jerry’s Girls celebrates all the luminary women who have graced the stage in a Herman musical, from Ethel Merman and Bea Arthur to Angela Lansbury and Carol Channing, culminating with the names Cassidy Janson, Jessica Martin and Julie Yammanee. That they have been added to this list of legends feels absolutely right here – it’s difficult to imagine this show being performed by anyone else.

Amen.

Jerry's Girls is playing at the Menier Chocolate factory to 29th Jun 2024.

Book now!

Monday 10 June 2024

Take it easy and enjoy it while you take it


Sigh. Back to the office again.

Another weekend - albeit a very enjoyable one - has whizzed by again, and so we're faced with another week of unbridled thrills and spills...

We need a little somthing special to get us going on this Tacky Music Monday - so how about a mantra we all live by, courtesy of the lovely Rosie?

Keep it gay, keep it light
Keep it fresh, keep it fair
Let it bloom every night,
Give it room, give it air

Keep your love-lovely dream and never wake it
Make it happy and be happy as you make it

Let it sing like a nightingale in May, keep it gay
Keep it free or you'll frighten it away
Take it easy and enjoy it while you take it
Keep it gay
Keep it gay
Keep it gay

Let it sing like a nightingale in may, keep it gay
Keep it free or you'll frighten it away
Take it easy and enjoy it while you take it
Keep it gay
Keep it gay
Keep it gay

I hope you're all singing along, dear reader! Have a good week...

Sunday 9 June 2024

The delightful Miss Finkelstein

I'm having a pleasant Sunday (despite the grey, gloomy weather), basking in the happy memory of last night's magnificent production of Jerry's Girls at the Menier Chocolate Factory last night [more on that in due course, il va sans dire]. Surprisingly, given the fact that it doesn't seem to have warmed up sufficiently yet for this to be classed as any kind of "summer", the pots in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers were bone dry, so I watered all of them. Now, I've cracked open the cider...

Deep joy - we have a centenary to celebrate, and that neatly takes care of our "Sunday Music"! Miss Dolores Gray (for it is she), star of Kismet, smash-hit stage sensation (particularly here in the West End, where among her hits were Annie Get Your Gun, Gypsy and Follies), and all-round "va-va-voom girl" was born 100 years ago last Friday.

Here are just a few highlights from her career...

Dolores Gray (born Sylvia Dolores Finkelstein, 7th June 1924 – 26th June 2002)

[More Dolores here]

Saturday 8 June 2024

One o'clock news


RIP, Nicholas Ball aka Hazell. A long-distant "secret crush" when I was a teenager...

Another "snippets post" today, dear reader:

And now, the weather: Flaming June?! My arse.

Friday 7 June 2024

Get down to the hiphop be-bop-a-lula

Almost there, folks. Almost there...

As another much-needed weekend of fun and frolics hoves into view [and we have another theatre trip to look forward to tomorrow - Jerry's Girls at the Menier Chocolate Factory], we need to get this party started!

Here's a little "blast from the past" - from thirty-three years ago, when House Music ruled the world...

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great one, dear reader...


PS Yes, I have featured it before - as a recipe!

Thursday 6 June 2024

"What do you think? Gorgeous, huh?"

Very many happy returns to the fantabulosa and multi-talented Harvey Fierstein, who blows out 70 candles on his cake today!

A creative genius of a man - among his triumphs, he wrote and directed (and starred in) the original Torch Song Trilogy on stage and the film adaptation, wrote the book and lyrics for Jerry Herman's La Cage Aux Folles, and the book for Cindi Lauper's triumphal Kinky Boots. On stage, he was the original "Edna Turnblad" in Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman's musical Hairspray, "Tevye" in Fiddler On The Roof, and replaced Douglas Hodge as "Albin/Zaza" in La Cage. On screen, he was in Mrs Doubtfire and Independence Day, episodes of Cheers and Murder She Wrote, and has done numerous voiceovers for the likes of The Simpsons and Mulan. Phew!

Needless to say, we adore him.

Here are a few highlights of the man's talents, starting with one of the best monologues of 'em all...

And finally, as Gay Pride is just around the corner, this:

Harvey Forbes Fierstein (born 6th June 1954)

Wednesday 5 June 2024

Reading material

I'm on a "study day" for work today.

Believe me, the subjects I'm studying are not nearly as interesting as hers...

Tuesday 4 June 2024

The perfect pastime for sexually inadequate failures

Abandoned all hope of getting a shag? Fill your time with one of these cripplingly dull hobbies where your lack of sexual charisma will see you fit right in.

Birdwatching
The closest you’ll get to anything you’d describe as a ‘bird’, and deservedly so if you enjoy talking about women like you’ve stepped out of Carry On Up The Khyber. All that money you’re not spending on romantic meals out and sex toys can be used to buy a posh pair of binoculars and if you’re really lucky you might get to spot some avian mating. You pervert.

Bus-spotting
Even lower down the food chain of tragic male hobbies than trainspotters, bus-spotters spend their time tracking buses across their working service lives through various companies. At least trains retain some of the old fashioned glamour of the golden age of travel. Knowing the fleet number history of a particular Scania OmniTown is not going to get anyone hot for you. And if it does, you must marry her immediately.

Warhammer
Pretending you’re a mystical overlord of destruction using little plastic figurines which you should have grown out of by the time you were 10 is the perfect pastime for sexually inadequate failures. Luckily, the people hanging out with you in the Warhammer shop are like-minded male geeks, so there are no scary females around to intimidate you. It’s a safe space, and discussing the intricacies of the Helican Subsector is much easier than asking a woman if she’d like to go out for a drink with you.

WW2 re-enactment society
You’ve no future to look forward to, at least not in terms of a fulfilling relationship, so why not hark back to the halcyon days of Hitler, ration books and conscription? Women tend not to be so interested in running around a muddy field recreating the Second Battle of the Odon, so you’ve no worries about being distracted from your manoeuvres. And if they are around, they’ll be after the blokes confident and attractive enough to dress up as American GI’s, which will only add to the authenticity of your war experience.

Internet forums
This is a self-fulfilling prophecy in terms of not getting a shag, as the more hours you plough in online, the more likely you are to meet fellow incels who convince you the reason you haven’t had sex for three years is because women are evil and not because you spend all your time on a cryptocurrency forum. Take a break and touch grass, as you no doubt tell other terminally online saddos to do several times a day.

Watching cricket
Leave going to football matches to proper men with wives and girlfriends and immerse yourself in a sport so fucking tedious that half the players could lie down for a kip mid-contest and nobody would notice. It lasts all day, which means you at least get out of the house for a bit, and there is little worry of the woman sitting next to you giving you a spontaneous hug at a moment of high drama or excitement. Because there aren’t any.

The Daily Mash

Of course.

Monday 3 June 2024

Now what's right is right but you ain't been right yet

Here we go again...

After the cold and dank of Saturday, with only yesterday being nice enough to enjoy getting outdoors, I feel robbed of a proper weekend! Sigh.

Let's bring out the big guns this Tacky Music Monday to provide our much-needed wake-up call, shall we?

Our Patron Saint of Grrrowling (and Questionable History) Miss Amanda Lear fits the bill nicely:

Have a good week, dear reader.

Sunday 2 June 2024

You'll find it happens all the time


Roses "Gertrude Jekyll" and "Veilchenblau" and Clematis “Comtesse de Bouchaud” complement each other perfectly. [click to embiggen]

Finally! The weather brightened up - it was vile yesterday and on Friday - so, needless to say, I've spent a fruitful several hours in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers, potting-on some little plants that have outgrown their pots, disposing of the Spring tulips (we don't have the space to keep anything that's not going to flower for a second year, and tulips in pots generally don't), and watering every single one of the remaining 200+ pots, troughs and wall-pots. Phew.

Time, methinks, for some "Sunday Music", courtesy of our "house band" again:

Faboo!

Saturday 1 June 2024

Curry night?

The BBC Asian Network has announced the winner of of its poll of the Ultimate 90s Bollywood Song, and it would be curmudgeonly of me not to feature it. We are great Bollywood fans, after all.

From the 1995 romantic comedy Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol [dubbed, of course, by proper playback singers], here's Tujhe Dekha To (When I saw you):

I much prefer this one, to be honest - but then again, it is rather earlier than the 1990s...

Sharmila Tagore, sung by Sharda - Leja leja leja mera dil [from An Evening in Paris, 1967]

Lamb Bhuna with pilau rice and a naan bread, anyone?