LOOKING UP FROM MY LAWN CHAIR

While the world goes to hell …

… I looked away from the news on my lap top and pointed my camera up and about while still perched on my back yard lawn chair…

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TELL-TALE COMMENTS

TTD20

 

May 25th, in happy, coincidental conjunction with my birthday, the Switzerland International Film Festival made my first short film “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” available to stream for one day only.

By midnight Swiss time “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” received a 9.7 out of 10 (97.37%) rating from a total of 494 votes on the SIFF site.

Here are some of the comments viewers left on their site and elsewhere in response to the film:

 

“The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” is an exquisitely conceived piece of art. On every level its impact is both breath-takingly beautiful and raw. You cannot take your eye from a moment of this exceptional piece of creative teamwork. I am breathing deeply again now, thank you!!

  • C. Scott

 

This film is a powerful adaptation of Poe’s dark story. You may think you’re familiar with it, but the music takes you deeper inside in a clever, persuasive way. Danny Ashkenasi sings the music he composed to Poe’s lyrics emotionally and with nuance. Filming the story in unusual color tones, with lively motion and intensity , the viewer is carried on a frightening journey. The tension and the struggle of the narrator resonate long after the film is over. I recommend this film highly.

  • Shonti

 

Beautifully filmed and performed realization of Poe’s psychological tale.

  • Mark

 

My friend Joanne said it best: “Wow! It was excellent. From his narration, the dramatic effect of the celli, the suspense building and the escalation of his madness and guilt. Well done!”

  • Catherine

 

Zum Fürchten schön! Fabelhafter Darsteller , sehr gute Regie, Schnitt und Musik, Gratulation!

(Translation:  Frightfully beautiful!  Fabulous Performer, very good direction, editing and music.  Congratulations!)

  • Helga

 

TTH Postcard front

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TELL-TALE BIRTHDAY SCREENING MAY 25

Swiss Alps 1

 

May 25 is my birthday.

And my party favor to you is:

you can see “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” for free!

And your birthday present to me could be leaving a positive comment/rating.

🙂

UPDATE:

The Festival is live now!

Watch and rate and leave a comment here! 

 

There are some technical difficulties.  The film won’t play on the SIFF site, but they will direct you to it’s original Vimeo site: WATCH “THE TELL-TALE HEART – A MUSICABRE“.  But please still leave your rating and comment here.

Remember, you have until midnight in Switzerland (6pm EDT)

 

 

SIFF 1

 

I’ll explain.  My short film “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre”, a musical adaptation of the classic Edgar Allan Poe short story, has been accepted into the Switzerland International Film Festival.  But because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, they cannot screen their program in a traditional theater setting.  So, just like many other festivals, they had to either postpone, or cancel, or move on-line.  They chose to go on-line.

Which now means, you don’t have to be in Switzerland to watch, and moreover, viewing will be free of charge.

SIFF is dividing their program into 4 categories over 4 days.  Short films will be available only May 25th.  Which just so happens to be my birthday!  Kismet!

I’m told the short film selections will be available all day, Swiss time midnight to midnight May 25.

Which I guess means 6pm, May 24 – 6pm, May 25 EDT, if you’re on the East Coast, USA.

Or 3pm, May 24 – 3pm, May 25 PDT if you’re on the West Coast, USA.

 

Viewer comments and ratings will help determine awards for films.  So please, as a birthday gift to me, go see “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” May 25 (or already May 24 evening in the USA) in a virtual Swiss film festival, and if you like it, leave a positive comment and rating.

(And if you’ve already seen it at one of the previous festival appearances, on-line or otherwise, you don’t need to see it again – yet feel free to – have I mentioned it’s free? – but please do go to http://www.festti.com/ and leave a rating and viewer comment).

 

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4 NOMS from the HOLLYWOOD NORTH FILM AWARDS

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The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” has been nominated for 4 Hollywood North Film Awards for International Short Films:

 

Best Production Design – Nicholas Callais

Best Original Score – Danny Ashkenasi

Best Sound Design – Todd Maki

Best VFX and Colour – Austin Lepri

 

HNFA-Laurels20-ProductionDesign-IntShortHNFA-Laurels20-Score-IntShortHNFA-Laurels20-SoundDesign-IntShortHNFA-Laurels20-VFX-IntShort

 

The HNFA 2020 Awards ceremony will be live-streamed May 31st on their Facebook events page.

 

HN2

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WALNUT CANYON – Journey Through a 900 Year Old Native American Settlement

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Left side of the canyon loop, as seen from the visitor’s center…

 

The Hopi name is Wupatupqa.

Also known as Walnut Canyon National Monument, it is the place, about 10 miles southwest of Flagstaff, Arizona, where 900 years ago the Sinagua people lived in at least 25 dwelling rooms along the cliffs of Walnut Canyon, carved out by a sharp shoe lace shaped looping of Walnut Creek.

 

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… the left and middle island part of the canyon loop.

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A closer look at the canyon “island”, as one walks down a steep path towards it from the visitor center:

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The canyon, as one turns towards the right, when facing the “island” from the aproach.

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40 Days of Outdoor Memories

Thanks A Lot, COVID 19!

 

Back in early April, when it became clear we would be hunkering indoors for at least the next month, barely getting out, and certainly not doing any traveling, I started posting on my social media accounts pictures of some wonderful vistas I took in the past in the great outdoors.  I called the postings “Daily Outdoor Memory Escape”, a name I now find a bit unwieldy but I guess I’m stuck with it.  And it looks very much like I’ll continue posting these for some time still, since we’ll be hunkering down in NYC a lot longer than we first assumed back in early April.

So here are the first 40 Outdoor Memory Pics, with links to the original blog posts they hail from, and which include a lot more pretty outdoor pics like them:

 

4/2/2020 – Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #1:

Grand Canyon (South Rim)

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4/3/2020 – Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #2:

Grand Canyon (South Rim – Desert View Drive)

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4/4/2020 – Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #3:

Rainbow Bridge at Lake Powell 

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4/5/2020 – Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #4:

Dunedin, Florida

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4/6/2020 – Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #5:

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

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4/7/2020 – Daily Outdoor Memory Escape #6:

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

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TELL-TALE Now Playing in the LIFT OFF ONLINE FESTIVAL

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WATCH & VOTE FOR TELL-TALE!

 

I’m pleased to announce that “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” has been selected to play on-line in the LIFT-OFF GENRE CONTENT EXTRAVAGANZA, running through May 13.

 

CLICK HERE TO BE TAKEN THERE

 

That link will take you to a page of 122 films, shorts and features, in the comedy, horror or sci-fi & fantasy genres.  There is a one-time $10 rental fee, which will allow you to watch as many of the films as you like for a week.

“The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” can be found at #106.

 

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And while you are there, please give “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” your vote in the comment sections.  Instructions are on the site and also copied below:

 

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“Enjoy and please remember to share this great collection with your friends, family and peers.

We are running the Lift-Off Genre Content Extravaganza to bring people true indie content during these crazy times! Our Online festivals have been a proven method for bringing new eyes to the independent film market. Thank you for supporting true, indie cinema!

 

Please vote by first writing VOTED in the comments section, followed by the names of your two favourite films. Then head to our website on liftoff.network/voting-system-logce2 to fill out the more detailed voting form. When selecting your festival page from the drop down menu, this page is LOGCE2.

Votes with only one selection/ the same film twice will be INVALID.

Strictly ONE set of votes per person.

The top five films from both pages of the festival will be rated by Lift-Off’s Official Judges who will go further in-depth and score the 10 films based on multiple aspects.

The film with the highest overall score wins an official selection for a live screening at an upcoming Lift-Off Film Festival.

The top 3 voted finalists will join us for a Director’s Commentary on our YouTube Channel.

youtube.com/c/liftoffglobalnetwork

Voting will end 10pm (BST) Wednesday 13th May

After the festival, these films will be removed from the public domain.”

 

#LiftOffFilmFestivals

#LiftOffGenreLabs

#LiftOffGenreContent

#LiftOffGenreContentExtravaganza

#VimeoOnDemand

#SupportIndieFilm

GL Extravaganza - poster - portrait p2

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The Tell-Tale Award That Got Away

Flicks logo

 

I was doing some maintenance work on the Tell-Tale Homepage, when I saw I had noted an award won from Flicks Film Festival, but had not posted a laurel or certificate or even logged what the award was for.

I checked the Film Freeway website – Film Freeway is the site through which I submit “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” to festivals – and found Flicks Film Festival among the list of submitted organizations, and that I was listed as an award winner.  But here again it wasn’t noted for which category the award was won.

I went through my emails.  And discovered this notification from November 29, 2019:

 

Congratulations – Your entry has been identified for official selection and has gone through for further judging.

 

And then December 18:

 

Huge Congratulations – Your entry has been identified as an award winning achievement and you have WON.

Your winning entry is automatically entered into our Annual Award Event being held in July 2020 under the category you are a winner in.

Please be sure to email at us so we can send your Official Winners Certificate and Laurel for the category you have won this month.

 

That was great news.  And that must have been when I added Flicks Film Festival to the Awards list.  And the notification to be in the running for the Annual Award surely gives me something for which to be in happy suspense.

But none of that explains what the award is for.

At the time I emailed back:

 

Hi, Flicks Film Festival,

How exciting to learn “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” is a November winner.

I look forward to learning via the Official Certificate and Laurel what the win is.

best,

Danny Ashkenasi

 

And that is the end of the “paper trail”.

I never received the expected response with my Official Certificate and Laurel.  And what with the winter holidays and travel and several other festivals contacting me, the Flicks Film Festival award question slipped my mind and I didn’t follow up.

Until now, when I was editing the Tell-Tale Homepage and noticed this unexplained awards listing.

A little late to email Flicks Film Festival again perhaps?

Luckily they do have a website, where the winners of past months are just a click away, which is where I found this certificate for their November selections:

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So, I won for Best Actor in a Short.  Excellent!  Thank you, Flicks Film Festival!

And the Film Freeway website allows for the creation of a laurel using a generic template:

Best Actor in a Short - Flicks Monthly Film Festival - Nov 2019

So, all’s good.  That’ll do nicely.  The award that got away has been finally officially claimed.

But I’ll keep my eyes open wider come July…

 

Flicks banner

 

 

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What we are doing with our Coronavirus Relief Money

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Ed and I will be donating our Coronavirus relief money to “Church and State”.

 

Ed to “Church”, meaning his Quaker Meeting.

 

Me to “State”, meaning the baker’s dozen of senate races where Democrats have a good to fighting chance to oust the Republicans:

 

1. Kentucky – Amy McGrath is neck in neck with the odious turtle Mitch McConnell. It would be so sweet to get rid of him!

2. Maine – Sara Gideon is leading in polls against Susan Collins.

3. Arizona – Astronaut Mark Kelly (Gabby Giffords’ husband) is leading strongly against Martha McSally, who already lost one senate race before being appointed to McCain’s seat.

4. Colorado – John Hickenlooper has double digit leads in polls against Cory Gardner.

5. North Carolina – Cal Cunningham is neck in neck against Thom Tillis.

6. South Carolina – Jaime Harrison is fundraising well and gaining on Trump asslicker Lindsey Graham.

7. Kansas. Yes, Kansas! Barbara Bollier is looking strong and the Rep primary field is a mess. The likely Rep contender, the malevolent Kris Kobach already lost one statewide race to Governor Laura Kelly last year.

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CLASS 1-3’s FIRST GRADE OPERA – involving a magic carpet and a family transformed into chameleons

 

flting carpet painting

 

NYC’s schools closed due to the COVID 19 pandemic the week the three first grade classes at the Brooklyn Children’s School were scheduled to perform their operas, which the children had written and composed themselves.  I still held out hope at the time that the performances would only be postponed.  But schools will remain closed for the rest of the term.  The performances won’t happen.

So now, as a poor substitute, I am sharing – in three posts, one for each class – the stories and the music of the three first grade operas that never got their day on the stage.  The children have their scripts at home with them, but with this they now also have recordings of their songs to share and sing along.

Just like in class, every recording will start with three piano chords to get ready before the melody starts and you can sing along (or simply follow along reading the words in the score).  I used a different “instrument” from my keyboard’s sound library for each melody.  For Class 1-3’s songs I used “Steel Guitar”, “Church Organ”, “Vocal Aah”, “Violin”, “Music Box” and “Oboe”.  Can you guess which sound is the melody for which song?

 

CLASS 1-3 OPERA

“The Mysterious Castle”

 

No dragons or big cats in this story.  But a dungeon figures here, if not quite as prominently as in 1-1’s opera.

 

The story begins up in the skies, where Dana is flying a magic carpet.  The carpet can fly because it has been soaked in magic water from a magic pond.  Dana is flying to the pond to retrieve more magic water to use it to help Dana’s home village, currently suffering under a food shortage.

 

SONG #1 – FLYING ON A MAGIC CARPET

1-3-1

 

Meanwhile, in the Bad Castle, the ruler Caya is counting all the gold in the gold room.

 

SONG #2 – COUNTING GOLD

1-3-2

 

The Bad Castle’s dungeon master Bena is unhappy, because Caya has turned Bena’s family into chameleons.

 

SONG #3 – CHAMELEON FAMILY

1-3 song 3

chameleons

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CLASS 1-2’s FIRST GRADE OPERA – of the moon and the earth and a celestial smash up

6-5-earth-moon-1

 

NYC’s schools closed due to the COVID 19 pandemic the week the three first grade classes at the Brooklyn Children’s School were scheduled to perform their operas, which the children had written and composed themselves.  I still held out hope at the time that the performances would only be postponed.  But schools will remain closed for the rest of the term.  The performances won’t happen.

So now, as a poor substitute, I am sharing – in three posts, one for each class – the stories and the music of the three first grade operas that never got their day on the stage.  The children have their scripts at home with them, but with this they now also have recordings of their songs to share and sing along.

Just like in class, every recording will start with three piano chords to get ready before the melody starts and you can sing along (or simply follow along reading the score).  I used a different “instrument” from my keyboard’s sound library for each melody.  For Class 1-2’s songs I used “Flute”, “Gospel Organ”, Marimba”, “Trumpet”, “Rich Strings” and “Horn”.  Can you guess which sound is the melody for which song?

 

CLASS 1-2 OPERA

“Space Flight”

 

Class 1-2 also cast their opera with a dragon and a big cat, a jaguar in this story.  The other main characters are the Earth, the Moon, and, making a surprise cameo appearance at the end, the Sun.

This opera wound up being one of the most sublimely odd operas first graders have concocted in twenty years at the Children’s School.

The story begins with the Moon and the Earth.  Specifically the Moon telling the Earth why it is angry.  The Moon is jealous of the Earth’s bountiful life, when all the Moon has is dead rocks.

 

CLASS 1-2 OPERA

 

SONG #1 – MOON AND EARTH

1-2 song 1

 

Meanwhile the Jaguar wants to be friends with the Dragon.  But the Dragon believes jaguars turn dragons into chickens.

 

SONG #2 – I DON’T WANT TO BE A CHICKEN

1-2-2

chicken

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CLASS 1-1’s FIRST GRADE OPERA – in which a dragon and a tiger meet in a dungeon

baby dragon

 

NYC’s schools closed due to the COVID 19 pandemic the week the three first grade classes at the Brooklyn Children’s School were scheduled to perform their operas, which the children had written and composed themselves.  I still held out hope at the time that the performances would only be postponed.  But schools will remain closed for the rest of the term.  The performances won’t happen.

So now, as a poor substitute, I am sharing – in three posts, one for each class – the stories and the music of the three first grade operas that never got their day on the stage.  The children have their scripts at home with them, but with this they now also have recordings of their songs to share and sing along.

Just like in class, every recording will start with three piano chords to get ready before the melody starts and you can sing along (or simply follow along reading the score).  I used a different “instrument” from my keyboard’s sound library for each melody.  For Class 1-1’s songs I used “Jazz Organ”, “Ballad Organ”, “Accordion”, “Brass Section”, “Saxophone” and “Vibraphone”.  Can you guess which sound is the melody for which song?

 

CLASS 1-1 OPERA

“Into the Dungeon and Out Again”

 

Dragons are popular with this generation of 6 year olds.  Last year two of their kindergarten operas featured dragons.  And this year two of their first grade operas do.  Incidentally the same two also feature big cats.  For 1-1 it’s a tiger who joins the dragon as a main character in the opera, along with two people, one very nice, one very nasty.

If Class 1-1’s opera were written this fall, it would easily be thought of being a response to the quarantine, as the bulk of the story involves the four main characters stuck together for a long time in a dungeon.  But Class 1-1 came up with their story last fall, so the parallels must just be a coincidence, or a premonition.

We first meet Ashley, a kind hearted person, who just adores baby dragons:

 

SONG #1 – BABY DRAGONS

1-1-1

 

The baby dragon is hungry.  There isn’t enough food for it in the forest.  Ashley suggests the baby dragon sneak into the dungeon through a little hole in the wall to find food.  The baby dragon sneaks in successfully, but is scared away by the presence of a full grown tiger inside.

The baby dragon runs back into the forest.  Ashley follows it.

Meanwhile at the the town market, Bashlyn is bullying the other villagers.  Taking all the tomatoes, stepping on feet, bumping into people and insulting them.  The townspeople finally have enough, and throw Bashlyn into the dungeon.

tigerOnce in the dungeon, Bashlyn yells at the tiger, who backs away and covers his eyes.  Then Bashlyn makes fun of the tiger, calling him a big striped baby.  The tiger cries.

The next day the baby dragon, even hungrier, dares to go back into the dungeon for food.  The tiger says hi.  The dragon realizes the tiger is nice and they become friends.

The dragon asks the tiger why it is locked up in the dungeon, and the tiger says: “I started scratching things I shouldn’t.”

 

SONG #2 – TIGER’S SONG

1-1 song 2

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4/25/20

4-25-20-a

These groom figurines stood upon one of our wedding cakes April 25, 1998.

 

Today is Ed and my anniversary.

27 years together.  22 years married.

And it’s a Saturday.  Last time our anniversary fell on a Saturday was five years ago.  It won’t happen again for another six years.

So of course we will go out on the town, splurge on a big fancy meal at our favorite Brazilian restaurant and treat ourselves to a hot ticket Broadway show.

Yeah, that’s how to celebrate our anniversary when it falls on a Saturday!

 

Or… maybe not.

 

Maybe we’ll just treat ourselves to a box full of chocolate ganaches and watch gay romantic comedies on the home screen all day.

Yes, I think we’ll choose to do that instead ….

 

sigh…

 

… it’ll still be grand, because it’ll be us together.

 

 

4-25-20-b

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GRAND CANYON – BRIGHT ANGEL TRAIL

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Taking a Morning Hike Down into the Grand Canyon

 

The morning of our final day at the Grand Canyon, we took the Bright Angel Trail down to the first rest house and back up again.

These first pictures are views of the trail from the rim of the Grand Canyon.

 

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This is Ed on the rim trail.

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And this is the upper part of the Bright Angel Trail seen from the rim trail.

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Panorama video of the trail:

 

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The view of the canyon just as you start to descend on Bright Angel trail:

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The first trail “doorway” cut into the rock:

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DROPPING NAMES

celeb group selfie

Can you name all the celebrities in this famous celebrity group selfie, and which one of these beautiful people is a celebrity’s “civilian” sibling?

 

A Collection of Mini Memoir Memories

You may have seen this going around on Facebook or Twitter:  People listing names of celebrities they have met in their life times, but including one name that is a lie.  Then people try to guess who is the celebrity this person hadn’t met.

I decided to play too:

 

OK, I’ll play too. 12 celebrities I met. One I did not. Can you guess who?

(We’ll call it a Josephine Baker’s dozen):

 

Jennifer Aniston 1 Jennifer Aniston

Leonard Bernsteinleonard-bernstein-9210269-1-402

Al GoreAl Gore

Philip Seymour HoffmanPhilip Seymour Hoffman

Celeste_Holm-1955Celeste Holm

jude-law-9375342-1-402Jude Law

ViggoViggo Mortensen

Marni NunMarni Nixon

Isabella Rossellini 1Isabella Rossellini

Paul RuddPaul Rudd

Andy SerkisAndy Serkis

christopher-walken-9521854-1-402Christopher Walken

Elijah Wood 1Elijah Wood

 

As people started guessing who the wrong imposter celebrity might be, and getting it wrong, I would share little anecdotes regarding the circumstances of my actual interactions with those individuals.  These turned out to be worthy of a collection of mini memoir memories, which I will post below.  I’ll start with the celebrities my Facebook friends guessed wrong before the right name was pinned down, then add the rest of the anecdotes before leaving the name of the celebrity I hadn’t met until the end.

So you could play along by approaching each anecdote as a helpful narrowing of the field, starting with who my friends thought were the likeliest suspects.  Guess (and reconsider your guess) scrolling along:

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CORONAVIRUS DANCERCISING

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Boogieing Away the COVID 19 Blues

New York City’s gyms were shut down four days after Broadway and one day after the schools.  Six days later the whole state would be ordered to shelter at home.  There was to be a lot of sitting around and the girth of my middle aged midriff was very likely to expand egregiously.  I am used to getting my cardio on the elliptical exerciser at the gym, staving away boredom reading a good book while my legs pedal away.  What to do cooped up for weeks on end with no such machine at home?

I was going to have to dance the fat and the Covid 19 blues away.

 

Adam Lambert – Superpower

 

VelvetIt just so happened that Adam Lambert latest lp “Velvet” dropped that very week.  I’m a fan and this is his most accomplished album.  More importantly every track, even the ballads, crackles with groovy funk beats and dancetastic flights of musical and vocal fancy.   I’m compelled to get my disco on, and so in lieu of the gym I instituted daily full album listening sessions as a way to get my daily cardio.

I am nurturing my inner Dancing Queen as well as working up a salutary sweat.

 

Adam Lambert – Stranger You Are

 

CD2What’s that look like?  Well, I basically have not been “getting down” in public like this since attending high school dances many decades ago (I’ve not been much of a clubber or raver, to say less than the least).  These pictures I’m including here (after much internal struggle) were taken at Jason and Bertram’s wedding last summer.   The last time I boogied before then was at the wedding of my niece, and, to do the math, she is home schooling a first grader now.

So do these pictures accurately freeze my “dance stylings” in time?  There has been an ongoing argument between my inner editor, critic, whipping boy and flasher as to the need for or wisdom of posting these pictures,  appalling or appealing as they may be depending on your sensibilities.  A decent amount of alcohol lowered my inhibitions enough for these incriminating photographs, but even then, my mostly downcast glances testify to self-consciousness still being very much present.  CD3I confess these photos offer only modest glimpses into my dancercising reality.  On my own in our den my gyrations feel a lot less … contained … as I sense from within my own body far from prying eyes, cameras, and mirrors.

Imagine a middle-aged Middle Earth dwarf laying down moves a la Drag Race Vogueing (lip-sync for your life!), Manic Tai Chi and Kate Bush Running Up That Hill.  That’s what it feels like to me.  No one is watching.   Ed is forbidden within sight and I am avoiding reflective surfaces as well as my own shadow.

After a week of exclusively grooving to “Velvet”, I decided to create a “Dancercise” playlist of 377 tracks to be played on random shuffle.  Turns out certain playlist songs like “I’m So Excited” and “Walk Like an Egyptian” propel me beyond cool school Adam Lambert stylings into a more crazed convulsive cardio.  So now add to the RuPaulTaiChiKateBush dance metaphor above a fourth image: Epileptic Energizer Bunny.  It can’t be pretty (still avoiding reflective surfaces and shadows) but it burns even more calories than my Lambertian locomotions.

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