(Second) Best. Karaoke. Ever.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but Karaoke has to be one of my favorite pass times.

My first Karaoke experience was in Japan with a group of Postal Workers. It was at the end of my “Postmaster for the day” celebration, which was one of those crazy only-in-Japan things that I now look back on and wonder if it really happened or if it was a figment of my imagination. I shared the honor with Ultraman and was required to sign a few fake postal documents. I’m pretty sure it happened…

My point is that this very first Karaoke experience set me up to enjoy Karaoke the RIGHT way – without inhibition and with as much enthusiasm as you can manage. Also, with Sake.

It was the single most fun Karaoke experience of my life.

A couple of weeks ago, I followed up with arguably my second most fun Karaoke night ever. I don’t know exactly what made it so great. It could have been the great mix of friends, a diverse song list or the the just-enough alcohol consumption. I’m pretty sure it was a mix of all three. All I know is that it was the perfect recipe for a night of fun, laughter and some killer dance moves.

On to the photographs. Excuse the funky lighting and out-of-focus shots – although I much prefer the photos of me that are out of focus. Thanks to Suzi for picking up the camera.

And if you make it to the end, you might just find our eclectic playlist.

Apologizing in advance for the next one – sorry guys, but it’s awesome.

The next one’s blurry, but I love it!

I also love the photos that show of some of the complicated lyrics.

And that we’re not afraid to go a little gangsta.

Please don’t judge the playlist, although I think everyone can agree that we ended on a high note. ūüôā

PLAYLIST

Title Artist
Things We Do For Love, The 10CC
Son Of A Preacher Man Springfield, Dusty
Willkommen Cabaret
Just Give Me A Reason Pink feat Nate Ruess
Don’t Let Me Down Beatles , The
All I Wanna Do Crow, Sheryl
Good Morning Starshine Hair, The Musical
Cream Prince
Amish Paradise (Gangsta’s Paradise) Yankovic, ‘Weird Al’
Faith Michael, George
You Might Think Cars, The
We Are Golden Mika
Rumour Has It Adele
Seven Nation Army White Stripes, The
I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ Scissor Sisters
F#ck You Cee Lo Green
What I Like About You Romantics, The
We Belong Benatar, Pat
Can’t Get You Out Of My Head Minogue, Kylie
I’m Your Baby Tonight Houston, Whitney
Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone Pride, Charley
Bad Bad Leroy Brown Croce, Jim
Groove Is In The Heart Dee-Lite
Play That Funky Music Wild Cherry
Me, Myself And I De La Soul
Party Rock Anthem LMFAO Feat. Lauren Bennett and Goonrock
I’m Yours Mraz, Jason
I Knew You Were Trouble Swift, Taylor
I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing Aerosmith
Stayin’ Alive Bee Gees, The
Your Woman White Town
You Oughta Know Morissette, Alanis
Creep Radiohead
Time Of The Season Zombies, The
Empire State Of Mind Jay-Z & Alicia Keys
Criminal Apple, Fiona
Everybody Wants You Squier, Billy
Harper Valley P.T.A. Riley, Jeannie C.
All Night Long (All Night) Richie, Lionel
Sweet Child O’ Mine Guns N’ Roses
Raise Your Glass Pink
Don’t Stop Me Now Queen
Metro, The Berlin
Home Sweet Home Motley Crue
Sex (I’m A…) Berlin
Nothin’ But A Good Time Poison
Nuthin’ But A G Thang Dr. Dre
Bullet With Butterfly Wings Smashing Pumpkins
Moonage Daydream Bowie, David
Get The Party Started Pink
Mama I’m Coming Home Osbourne, Ozzy
Total Eclipse Of The Heart Tyler, Bonnie
Somebody That I Used To Know Gotye feat Kimbra
Love Shack B-52’s, The
Elderly Woman Behind The Counter Pearl Jam
What It Takes Aerosmith
I Want Your Sex Michael, George
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Catch Up Wednesday: Karaoke, TEDx Inspiration and Everything in Between

Wow – it seems it’s been a week since my last post. You can blame my absence on the following:

  • Good weather (editing photos is tough when the sun is shining)
  • Game of Thrones
  • More Game of Thrones
  • Three whole seasons of Game of Thrones (and one big O.M.G at the almost end!)
  • Work
  • End of school year insanity (Field day, Pajama Day and don’t even get me started on teacher gifts, ugh!)
  • Gardening and house organizing.
  • And did I mention work? Drowning.

So, I’m taking a brief respite while waiting on some project feedback to share some photo teases and a little inspiration.

The Boys

We’ve been spending a lot of time outside, playing with soccer balls, wall balls and baseballs and planting vegetables, flowers and grass. We’ve also enjoying family movie night – Peter Pan and The Fantastic Mr. Fox are the most recent. I need to take more photos of these guys. Thomas and Samuel are growing up very quickly. I know this because it seems like they grew out of every pair of shoes and item of clothing within the past couple of months.

More photos coming soon…

The Girls

I promised these photos over a week ago. They’re still coming together but here’s a tease for the ladies who joined me on, arguably, THE. BEST. EVER. karaoke night. The photos are a little “artsy” (dark and blurry with weird disco lighting), but I love them.

More photos coming soon…

The Inspiration

My two favorite talks from TEDx Portland are now available on YouTube.

First up is a very high energy and inspirational presentation by Graphic Designer and illustrator Kate Bingaman Burt. If you need a 15 minute pick-me-up then I highly recommend this one.

As an immigrant, the next talk from Ben Huh hit very close to home. It might make you look at the immigration debate in a different light.

I’ll be back to post more photos soon but for now, back to work.

A Few Recommendations

Every so often I find myself in entertainment nirvana, when I have the urge to recommend nearly every little piece of pop culture that I’ve consumed. I’m in that nirvana-ish place right now so please forgive me while I share a few things that are making me happy right now. And, of course, please share your own recommendations to help me get through this long dark winter..

LISTENING

The Moth Podcast: Fat Girl Interrupted by Lisa Lampanelli
It’s rare that I find myself gaffawing while I’m driving to work by myself. This woman is amazing and you may even learn a very valuable lesson whilst being thorougly entertained.

This American Life Podcast: Three kids of deception
Worth a listen just to hear Fred Arminsen do his Ira Glass impression, but make sure you stay for Act 2 about a black attorney who went undercover at an all-white country club and Act 3 where David Sedaris shares his experience being mistaken for a french pickpocket by a couple of Texans on a French Subway. Listened in shock at the first one and laughed out loud at the second.

WATCHING

Sleepwalk with Me
Based on a true story that was first shared on an episode of This American Life. It would be an ordinary story about a relationship if it weren’t for all the sleepwalking.¬†(And I realize this puts me in danger of looking like an NPR geek but I can’t help it). The best part is that it’s streaming on Netflix right now.

Downtown Abbey
Yes, I’m on the bandwagon (a proud early adopter) and, yes, I cried like a baby last week. No spoilers here but if you’re not watching then you’re missing out on one big emotional roller coaster ride.

READING

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
A modern day guide to feminism and what it takes to be a woman, while respecting a woman’s right to choose whether or not they really need a brazilian wax. Funny and thought-provoking.

And because every post needs a photo…

Karaoke is Good for the Soul

I am convinced that there is nothing quite as good for the soul as gathering a bunch of girlfriends to sing at the top of their lungs, have a few drinks and enjoy a lot of laughs.

I have loved Karaoke since that very first time I went out partying with a group of Japanese Mailmen after my day as the honorary Postmaster General of Sukagawa Japan. (A very long story that I may share on the blog one day). I remember at one point during that evening many (many!) years ago, and likely after more than a few sakes, it suddenly occurred to me that no one cared if I sang out of tune. What they cared about was that we were all having a good time and, for this frustrated High School-musical-star-wanna-be, it was wonderful to feel free enough to sing at the top of my lungs with no judgement. The only danger was that I wouldn’t have enough fun, and that was entirely up to me.

So, when my friends at work look at me like I’m insane every time I tell them I am out for another night of Karaoke, I try to explain that you don’t have to be a great (or even a good) singer to enjoy it. You just need to make sure you’re with great friends who are willing to let go of their fears and inhibitions as much as you are.

And if you have some reservations, a little jalapeno sake can always help get you through the first couple of songs…

Side note: I’m pretty sure this next photo was taken during one of the many Beastie Boys tributes of the evening.

And this next song had a line about tears… or crying. Our performances tend to get more literal as the night goes on.

Thanks for a wonderful night ladies and my apologies for keeping you all out so late. Who knew that a three hour Karaoke session could turn into five hours so easily? I guess that’s what happens when you’re having just TOO much fun.

Sunshine and Sing-a-longs

What began on on Thursday as a rainy (torrential) birthday, developed into a long weekend of celebration – filled with fun time with friends (5 hours of Karaoke), loads of family time, a night out with the husband and way too much chocolate cake.

I’m still working on the photos so look for a full report in the next couple of days. In the meantime, I’ll share a quick iphone pic of the cake that single handedly set me back on my goal to lose weight before summer, a fabulous cocktail that I hope to recreate, and a classic video clip of one the songs that kept the Karaoke party going until the wee hours of Saturday morning. The song also seems appropriate for a sunny start to the week (this one’s for you LeeAnn).

Happy Monday!


Five Things Friday: Romantic Movies that Go Beyond All That Gross Kissy Stuff*

*Gross kissy stuff according to a three year old. Not the opinion of the author.

There was a time, long ago, when I went to the movie theater on a regular basis. I would easily lose myself for a couple of hours in a romantic comedy or the latest thriller or even a classic movie – due in large part to a wonderful 12 month period when I lived within steps of the famous Astor theater in St. Kilda.

There was also a time, long ago, when I could proudly declare that I had seen most, if not all, of the Best Picture nominees before the Oscar telecast and share my informed opinion on who should win.

Of course those days are over thanks to something call “parenthood” – and the increase in the number of best picture nominees didn’t help my cause.

So, as I share my favorite romantic movies, you’ll notice that most of the films on the list are more than a few years old. Part of this is because I have to be particularly choosy about how I spend my movie-viewing time, but I also believe that it is because it is incredibly difficult to make a ¬†great romantic comedy – one that doesn’t resort to cliches or painful sentimentality to tell a story.

Without further ado, my choices for the top five romantic movies that stimulate the mind as well as the heart strings.

1. When Harry Met Sally

Hand’s down my all time favorite romantic movie. I think I’ve seen it more than 30 times and owned it on VHS in Australia before I upgraded to a DVD copy when we moved to the US (Blue ray¬†may be next). It’s a funny, romantic story about friends who finally find love right in from of them. I love the “documentary” interviews that are sprinkled throughout the film and, of course, the quotable dialogue that ends with one of the most romantic declarations of love ever found in a movie.

“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible. “

This film caused me to fall in love with Billy Chrystal for a couple of hours – now¬†that’s¬†genius.

2. Like Water for Chocolate

Back when I used to see a lot of movies, I also used to see a lot of foreign movies. I know, it was a crazy, frivolous use of time and I LOVED it. One of my favorites was “Like Water for Chocolate”, a story about forbidden love and the heroine channels her pain and ¬†passion through the food she cooks. Funny, romantic and, above all, delicious.

‚ÄúThe trouble with crying over an onion is that once the chopping gets you started and the tears begin to well up, the next thing you know you just can‚Äôt stop!‚ÄĚ

3. The Princess Bride

This movie has revenge, kidnapping, swordplay, giants, poison and Rodents of Unusual Size (ROUS’s) but above all, it’s about “TWUE WUV”. I vividly remember going to see the Princess Bride as a child with my Mum, my brothers and one of my Mum’s friends with her kids in tow. It made such an impression that I simply cannot wait until my kids are old enough to enjoy this film. Of course, given they’ve declared the movie “UP” to be too scary thanks to the appearance of a bad guy, I may have to wait a little while. I don’t think they’re quite ready for Prince Humperdink and his Pit of Despair.

“I was eleven years old. And when I was strong enough, I dedicated my life to the study of fencing. So the next time we meet, I will not fail. I will go up to the six-fingered man and say, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.””

4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

A story about breakup and the lengths two people would take to erase memories that are almost too painful to bear. Is erasing the bad worth the loss of the good memories as well? This movie is a bit of a mind bender, but that’s what makes it such a unique and wonderful love story. Kate Winslet is fabulous and even Jim Carrey plays it wonderfully straight. Unforgettable, for sure.

“Look man, I’m telling you right off the bat I’m high maintenance. So I’m not gonna tip-toe around your marriage or whatever it is ya got goin’ on there. If you wanna be with me, you’re with me.”

5. Annie Hall

OK, I admit that Woody Allen is not everyone’s cup of tea, but who can deny the brilliance of the dialogue in this movie. It’s just an everyday story of two people who meet, fall in love and then find themselves hating each other. But what makes this movie rise above the ordinary is the list of fantastic one-liners and Diane Keaton at her most fabulous.

“A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark. “

Special Mentions

  • An Affair to¬†Remember¬†– I had to include at least one classic. Cary Grant. Enough said.
  • Crazy Stupid Love – funny, unexpected AND released within the last 12 months.¬†
  • While you were sleeping – A gentle, only slightly predictable, love story. It won’t make you think very hard, but it will definitely make you smile.¬†
  • Edward Scissorhands – this film is visually amazing and, of course, I’m a sucker for Johnny Depp, even at his most freaky-looking.
  • Up – what’s not to love about a cartoon that can tell an entire story of a couple’s relationship from beginning to end in a 3 minute montage?

Did I miss one or two (or 20)? Share your own favorites in the comments.

By Popular Demand: A Little Product Placement

(Warning: this post is a little out there. Blame it on the holiday spirit.)

Most of the planet knows that Starbucks recently had a buy one, get one free promotion on their holiday drinks. Never ones to miss a freeload opportunity, my team at work took a rare few moments to walk down the street and make the most of said promotion (only an even number of people allowed).

I don’t quite know how this next series of photos happened. One moment I was taking random photos in the terrible Starbucks store lighting, and the next moment Lisa turned into a product model. I think she has a future on the home shopping network – and I hear they have way better lighting.

Madeline made a guest appearance…

…but Lisa was REALLY into it.

And then I took a picture of her with an autumn leaf that was twice the size of her head.

The end.

Five Things Friday: Being

1. Watching…
Grimm – my new favorite show. It’s like it was created just for me – a little bit of crime, a little bit if mystery and a whole lot of weird.¬†It’s also set AND FILMED right here in Portland so it’s fun to try and identify parts of the city as I watch. I might even venture so far as to say it’s my new X Files. I know – HUGE.

2. Reading…
IQ84 by Haruki Murakami. Loving it so far, although I’m only three chapters in. It’s a huge book so it should keep me going through Christmas and likely for much longer after that at the rate I am able to read books these days.

3. Listening…
To Christmas Music. I know, I know, it’s early, but I am on a mission to put together a fun mix for our trip to the Polar Express late next week. This song will definitely make its way onto the playlist.

4. Anticipating…

A bunch of new movies that will be released over the next few weeks.¬†Thinking I might have trouble dragging Kei along to Breaking Dawn Pt1 or The Hunger Games but he might be interested in Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. We’ve seen the Swedish version and I want to see how the American version compares.

Although if he sees this trailer, he might just change his mind about The Hunger Games. It looks amazing!

5. Browsing
75 years of Life Magazine covers. ¬†A wonderful history and photography lesson with inspiring images dating back to 1936. If you don’t have time to browse the full 75 years then I highly recommend the 75 Best Life Covers of all time and, for a reminder that perfection is elusive, Life’s 20 Worst Covers.

This weekend looks like rain, rain and more rain. In other words, the perfect weekend to run errands like grocery shopping and piles of laundry, and get ready for the holiday week. Thankfully, our take-out turkey dinner will be cooked by someone else, so all I have to do is make one more side dish and buy some wine for mulling.

I fought this time of year for a long time, but I am slowly learning to love the falling leaves, cozy nights in and the way American’s add “spice” to everything. Looking forward to a great weekend and a short work week.

 

Five Things Friday: Movies for Halloween Weekend

It’s the weekend before Halloween which means America is abuzz with all things ghoulish. While I don’t fully understand why people become so excited about decorating their front yards with skeletons and headstones (seems a little morbid to me), I CAN get into the spirit with a great scary movie – whilst wearing my witch’s hat of course.

I love scary movies. Actually, let me clarify that. I love suspenseful movies – the kind that keep you guessing¬† and then surprise you with an ending that you didn’t quite expect. I’m not a fan of the movies that try to outdo themselves with gore and violence (the SAW series will not make it to my Netflix queue anytime soon), I like scares with more intelligence twists and fewer decapitations.

So here’s my top five.

You’ve probably heard of them all before – I’m not an art house scary movie girl which is probably why I didn’t pursue a career as a film critic. That, and the fact that my writing often pushes grammatically-correct boundaries.

1. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Remains one of the biggest twist endings in movie history and takes you a wild ride along the way. Bonus points for turning my teenage popstar crush into someone unrecognizable.

2. The Others (2001)
Although this movie was largely panned by critics (and my husband), I find it creepy, moody and very scary. It’s also easy for me to empathize with a mother who seems to be losing her mind.

3. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
I can’t believe this film is 20 years old – which makes me WAY too young to have seen it when it was released. It remains one of the creepiest, most disturbing movies I have ever seen and explains why I have never, ever bought a bottle of Chianti and cant stand fava beans.

4. The Shining (1980)
Another movie about descent into madness. Earns bonus points for starring Oregon’s own Timberline Lodge.

5. The Omen (1976)
The original, not the remake. A demon child, a Catholic church conspiracy and just enough blood and gore without crossing into gratuitous violence.Also made me never, ever want to name a child Damien.

Honorable mentions:

I’m sure I missed a bunch – apparently I haven’t watched many scary movies during the past 10 years. Please share your own favorites in the comments so I can bring my Netflix queue into the 21st century.

5 Things Friday: Star Wars Fever

Star Wars has been a rather large obsession in our house for a few years now. We have the Legos, the costumes, the Wii game and the action figures that have all threatened to take over our house. But, for the last couple of months there has been a shift in playtime priorities. Somehow Luke Skywalker and Han Solo have been put back into the toy box while Spiderman, Batman, Spuerman, the ridller etc. etc. take over our lives.

It’s a nice change of pace – although I admit that I am getting a little tired of hearing the Spiderman theme song. One thing I have noticed, however, is that Superheros don’t inspire as many fun (and crazy) online discoveries.

So, in recognition of the phenomena that is Star Wars, I present you with five of my most fun, strange and simply crazy Star Wars-related internet finds.

1. Light Saber Train Handrails
Let’s ignore the fact that George Lucas is doing this to squeeze even more money from dedicated fans and just marvel at the pure genius of Light Saber handrails. If we had sen these when we visited Japan last year, then I think my kids heads would have exploded.

Via cnet.

2. Y-O-D-A YODA
Who doesn’t love a little Weird Al (in small doses of course). I think this is his best Star Wars song, set the the tune of “Lola”

If you like that one, then I would also recommend “The saga begins” set to the tune of “American Pie.¬†Sidenote: Does Weird Al ever age?

3. Yoda Pie Chart
Someone shared this on Twitter last week and I love it!

Via Garr’s Posterous¬†

4. Scandinavian Retro Star Wars Posters
Stylish and informative. Could definitely see myself hanging it in my kids bedrooms – that is if I were the sort of person to hang things on walls (it’s shameful).

Via Ohdeedoh.

5. And finally, from classy to a little crazy – Star Wars French Ballet Disco.
I think this one speaks for itself.

 

This weekend looks like it might have to be a quiet one. Woke up with a nasty head cold this morning (I’m blaming my husband for passing it on) so I think I’ll spend the weekend sipping tea and lying on the couch. I’ll also be praying to the weather gods that we get a sunny day on Monday for the TeeUp for Down Syndrome golf tournament. It’s not much fun photographing golfers in the rain.

Photo by me. ūüôā

Hope you enjoyed this quick trip into Star Wars fanaticism. Happy Friday.