Tag Archives: Entertainment_Culture

Amusing Monday: Art within a soap bubble

It begins with secret formulas for bubble solution, takes off with personal creativity and becomes an entertaining show with smoke, lights and music. They call it bubble art.

The first video shows Melody Yang, who has been performing bubble art since the age of 3 as the youngest member of the performing Yang family. Her father, Fan Yang, studied the science of bubbles and found new ways to blow bubbles to create works of art. He started the troupe called the Gazillion Bubble Show, which performs in New York City. Check out other videos from the show.

For his continually expanding and multiplying bubbles, Fan claims to have broken the Guinness Book of World Records 16 times. I found him as the current record holder of the longest bubble wall, nearly 167 feet long. See Guinness World Records website.

Melody has now followed in the footsteps of her parents, uncle and brother. She has performed on television in Italy, Greece, France and the U.S., including an appearance on the Queen Latifah Show.

Another bubble artist is Su Chung Tai, shown in the second video on this page. I found him listed as the current world record holder for the most bubble domes created inside one another, a total of 12, and the most soap bubbles successfully blown inside a larger soap bubble, a total of 779.

Su started working with bubbles in 2011 and has become a celebrity in Taiwan and other areas in Asia. He calls his show “Be Fantasy: The Joy of Bubble.”

One more bubble artist is Javier Urbina, a Spanish actor, director and theater producer known as “The Lord of the Bubbles.” Since 2014, he has performed more than 250 bubble shows in Spain and Mexico.

Amusing Monday: Water and fireworks show featured in Shanghai

On the Fourth of July, what could be more appropriate for this blog than a combination of water and fireworks? Lets add some lasers, flashing lights, searchlights and projected images.

It all comes together at Shanghai Disneyland, which opened a couple weeks ago in China, with an entirely new nighttime extravaganza called “Ignite the Dream.” Similar to other Disneyland shows, the action takes place at the Enchanted Storybook Castle.

The first video reveals what people see when they attend the show. Be sure to watch in full-screen. Mickey Mouse offers a tour of images associated Disney films, including “The Lion King,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Finding Nemo.” Mickey then moves to other locations reminiscent of more than a dozen other Disney movies.

Shanghai Disneyland, which opened June 16, is the first Disney theme park in China, not counting the one in Hong Kong. It is the sixth park throughout the world. At 963 acres, it is second in size only to Disney World in Florida. The Storybook Castle is the tallest of any park in the world.

The associated Disney Resort contains an entertainment district, recreational facilities, a lake and two themed hotels. The cost is estimated at $4.4 billion. The Walt Disney Company owns 43 percent of the resort, while the remainder belongs to a joint venture of three companies owned by the Shanghai government. The project was approved by the Chinese government in 2009, and construction started two years later.

The second two videos feature visits to the new theme park, the first by CNN’s Matt Rivers, the second by Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts.

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

Amusing Monday:
You can vote for year’s best Eco-Comedy film

The Eco-Comedy Film Competition was created to get people thinking about the environment by reaching them through entertainment instead of a heavy-handed message.

“Clean Water” is the theme for this year’s competition, sponsored by The Nature Conservancy and American University’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking.

More than 80 short films were entered into this year’s contest. Everyone is eligible to vote online for the People’s Choice Award by selecting from among the seven finalists. Watch those seven videos on the Eco-Comedy Film Competition website, and vote using the form beneath the video players. Make sure you click in the lower right corner to go full screen. I’ve posted a couple of my favorites on this page, but please don’t let that influence your own choice.

The winning video will be selected by a panel of judges. The Grand Prize winner will be announced March 22 and will be awarded a $2,000 prize.

Last year, Patrick Webster won both the People’s Choice Award and the Grand Prize for his video “Dude! Or the Blissful Ingorance of Progress.”

Amusing Monday: Music in tune with salmon and orcas of the Salish Sea

Dana Lyons, known for his songs of humor and environmental inspiration, performed his tune “The Great Salish Sea” during Saturday’s Ways of Whales Workshop on Whidbey Island.

The lyrics are told from the perspective of “Granny,” an orca estimated to be 104 years old and the oldest whale among the Southern Residents. The song tells about how underwater sounds, as heard by the whales, have changed over time — from the Native American canoes and the sailing ships of yesteryear to the noisy tankers of today.

Dana performed the song solo, with only his guitar, on Saturday at the Ways of Whales Workshop, sponsored by Orca Network. The sound was wonderful, and Dana’s voice rang out clear, but the recorded version sounds richer with additional instrumentation, as you can hear in the first video on this page.

“The Great Salish Sea” is the title song is from Dana’s latest album, which includes the popular “Salmon Come Home.” I’ve posted the music video of the salmon song in the second video player on this page. Other songs on the album include “I Need the Water,” which speaks of the competition for this limited resource. To hear the songs on the album, go to “The Great Salish Sea” on Dana’s website., which also includes his full list of albums.

Dana has toured throughout North America and in many countries during his 30-year career. His current schedule includes upcoming appearances in Langley, Vancouver, B.C., and Port Townsend.

Dana was born in Kingston, New York, and graduated from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. He now lives in Bellingham.

Humor has long been a key part of Dana’s music, so I think we should revisit one of his most popular songs, “Cows with Guns,” viewed in the third video player (below).

Amusing Monday: Toilet songs for the holidays

Four years ago, I wrote an “Amusing Monday” blog post I called “Toilet songs for the holidays.” This year, I was unsuccessful in finding some good water-related songs for the Christmas season, so I thought a replay might be in order. The following, from Dec. 19, 2011, features an amusing song called “O Christmas Grease” by Steve Anderson.

Knowing more than a few sewer operators in my day, I can tell you that their leading pet peeve is all the stuff that people dump down their toilets and drains.

I’ll never forget the courtroom description of a giant “rag ball” — some 30 feet long — found in Bremerton’s sewer. Rag balls are the accumulation of diapers, tampons and baby wipes that get flushed down the toilet and become caught somewhere in the sewer lines.

Bremerton’s famous rag ball became wrapped up in courtroom testimony during a lawsuit against a sewer contractor hired by the city to run the operation. For details, check out my story from April of 1998.

Steve Anderson

What I really wanted to share with you this week is a song called “O Christmas Grease” by Steve Anderson, a water resources analyst at Clean Water Services. This is the agency that manages wastewater and stormwater in a 12-city region west of Portland, Ore.

Steve often writes music and performs in a band when he’s not working at the utility. He told me that he started writing original songs as well as parodies of existing tunes to entertain his fellow water experts at conferences. Last week, for example, he showed up at a conference to help educators decide whether humor is useful in educating people about wastewater issues.

Steve says the public-education folks at Clean Water Services tolerates his songs, but they do not fully embrace his activities. His first song — a parody about the low levels of drugs that make it through the treatment process — got him into a little hot water with some folks in the business. “Dope in the Water” is sung to the tune of the Deep Purple original.

“The Ballad of Betty Poop” was written as a kid’s song for Take-Your-Children-to-Work Day. It’s about the adventures of a plastic GI Joe and other characters. It includes these famous lines: “Give it up, you toilet treasures… You’ll never make it all the way to the river…”

Steve has not released these songs to the public, though he readily shares them with friends and anyone who will listen. I must thank Gayle Leonard, who writes a blog called “Thirsty in Suburbia,” for bringing Steve’s songs out into the light and putting me in touch with this creative force in the sewer world.

      1. O Christmas Grease
      2. Dope in the Water
      3. The Ballad of Betty Poop
      4. Dont Flush the Baby (Wipes)
      5. Fats Oils and Grease

Download the lyrics to all five songs (PDF 72 kb)

Amusing Monday: Ad experts describe most creative ads of 2014

In its annual “Ten Best Ads of 2014,” Adweek magazine praised an eclectic assortment of commercials featuring unusual topics and/or presentations.

While I found no overtly water-related ads this year, a couple of them came close — and I liked them — so I’m featuring them in the two video players on this page. As you’ll see, they are quite different from each other in style.

Adweek’s top winner is sort of a noncommercial, because it is a description of a Super Bowl ad that would have been produced if only the sponsor, Newcastle Brown Ale, had enough money to buy a spot during the last Super Bowl. I featured this ad among other “ads that never were” in Water Ways back on Feb. 10.

You can watch all 10 ads chosen by Tim Nudd of Adweek in his annual review of television commercials for the magazine. As he notes in his story:

“Four spots came from outside the U.S., and a fifth was made without an agency at all. Also, there’s not a single traditional 30-second spot in the bunch, as if we needed more proof that the shape of advertising is changing.”

It’s worth noting that these ads are chosen for their creativity, not for their success in selling products.

If you’d like to view other clever or creative commercials, I’ve put together some additional lists from 2014:

Amusing Monday: Old Spice ads break with reality

Old Spice, maker of aftershave, deodorant and so much more, has gone wild with its television commercials the past few years.

I started out, as usual, to produce this “Amusing Monday” by looking for videos with a water-related theme. I located the first video on this page, which depicts a guy who cannot escape a fresh shower no matter where he goes.

After that, I started looking at other Old Spice ads. The company has produced so many weird videos it is hard to know where to begin and end. Should we talk about the Old Spice “prank ads”? Click here on “The Flattering Man” and then hang on.

These prank ads, as Greg Kumparak of Tech Crunch calls them, have been placed all over the Internet as part of the Old Spice campaign. He includes links to eight others in a story he posted in January.

Some people loved the ad that Old Spice calls “Momsong,” but others were seriously weirded out or offended. It’s a bit more than a mother’s lament that her son is coming of age with the help of Old Spice: “Now he smells like a man and they treat him like one.” At the end of the video, the screen includes links to two related videos.

I’m more annoyed than amused by a shouting Terry Crews, who was featured in a series of Old Spice commercials a couple years ago and was called back this year to hock an Old Spice shaver. See this YouTube video. In the commercial, he is both the person shaving and the hair about to be shaved.

I could go on like this all day, but someone named Chris John has compiled 21 Old Spice commercials in a single nine-minute video on YouTube. Check out the second video player on this page.

Hunter Whitworth of Paste magazine analyzes the Old Spice campaign, which is engineered by the advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy of Portland, Ore.:

“As fewer and fewer people watch live television—and as the audience that does is spread over an increasing number of channels—commercials are engineered with an eye towards their life on the Internet; they are designed to go viral as much as they are designed to sell you something.”

In his analysis, Whitworth makes an essential point: Unlike so many funny commercials being created today, these Old Spice ads actually place the product in the spotlight. As I once learned in an advertising class, you can’t forget to mention what it is you are selling.

There are many more Old Spice oddities to check out. The timeline on the Old Spice Facebook page is one way to get a wide-angle view. You can also visit the Wieden+Kennedy website and its Old Spice page. Of course, Old Spice has a YouTube channel, in which one video after another can be watched.

Finally, if you would like to see how far Old Spice has come — or fallen, depending on your viewpoint — check out the last video player on this page.

Amusing Monday: Mermaids are called to the job

Movies about mermaids — notably “Splash” and Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” — apparently inspired a bunch of little girls who wished to become mermaids themselves. For some, the feeling never went away. And for a select few, the idea of being a mermaid has grown into a full-time occupation.

Perhaps the most impressive of these professional mermaids is Mermaid Melissa, whose training and job skills include actress, animal trainer, scuba diver and professional free diver. She is able to hold her breath for more than four minutes while swimming, which adds reality to her underwater performances as a mermaid.

The first video on this page shows Melissa swimming with fishes and marine mammals. The background music gives this video a surreal quality. (It is a little longer than I would prefer.)

But if you want to learn about the journey of the girl who would become a mermaid, check out the second video, or read her brief autobiography on her website, mermaidmelissa.com. Melissa’s blog also features some interesting videos and commentary, including her decision to legally change her name to “Mermaid Melissa” at the end of last year.

A new video by singer/song writer Sean Dennison features Melissa as the subject of the song “Mermaid.” Click on the last video at the bottom of this page.

Other professional mermaids, all with their own interesting stories, include:

And if those are not enough mermaids for you, check out MerPalooza, the international mermaid convention held the past two years in Tampa.

Amusing Monday: flying flecks of colored light

Brian Maffitt, an experimental videographer from Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., had a brilliant idea when he aimed a video projector out his window into a swirling snowstorm. The result, documented in both still photos and video, resembles abstract art.

“I’ve toyed with the idea of shooting swirling snow for a while, but this was the first big snowstorm we’ve had when I was prepared to experiment,” Maffitt told Lewis Wallace of Wired magazine.

His video can be viewed in the top window on this page; his series of photos can be seen in a Flickr slideshow in the bottom window. Be sure to view both of these full-screen.

Personally, I’m intrigued by the variety of images produced by this blending of nature and technology, knowing that the images are an artifact of the mechanical and electronic function of the video projector. By the way, the video he chose to project was “The Lorax,” a colorful animated film based on a Dr. Seuss book.

The stock music for the video was taken from the video-editing software Final Cut Pro, and I think the piano tune is a nice accompaniment to the video. However, I wish Brian would recognize the poor sound quality on the YouTube video and re-do the soundtrack.

As for the slideshow, he told Chris Lambeth for his blog on F Stoppers:

“I used a somewhat slow shutter speed to capture a little relative motion, but seldom more than a second or so. When the snow was drifting slowly, the results were colorful and etherial. When the snow moved more rapidly however, the spinning color wheel of the projector produced a strobing effect that generated separate red, green, and blue dots where the snowflakes fell… The end results are a wonderful mix of analog photo techniques, augmented by digital projection.”

Maffitt, 50, is a founder and chief creative officer for Total Training, which provides online classes in web design, digital video and related technology.

Amusing Monday: Sea World trains TV personalities

First, the folks at Sea World confine them in a tight space. Then trainers teach them tricks. Finally, they are expected to perform before a live audience.

I could be talking about killer whales, but I’m actually describing the activities of Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, cohosts of NBC’s “Today” show.

A big-screen TV was erected in front of a killer whale tank, so four orcas could offer their encouragement to Kathie Lee and Hoda. Unfortunately, the whales kept trying to change the channel.

At first, the training of the two TV personalities did not go so well. Julie Scardina, Sea World’s “animal ambassador,” had a hard time keeping the two focused on the task at hand.

Kathie Lee was worried about how her underarms looked and appeared to be focused on the huge TV rather than the simple movements she was asked to perform.

“Gee, I think I need to lose some weight,” she said. “Speaking of killer whales!”

The whales watching the screen were hardly amused.

Julie finally was able to get Kathie Lee and Hoda to pay attention, and she showed them how to turn and move their arms. It was a challenge for the two humans, but Julie taught them a little ditty that helped them perform the task: “Splash and turn… Splash and turn…,” they repeated over and over again.

The whales responded with encouragement, swimming the length of their pool, as the two co-hosts finally learned their new tricks.

Many people think it is cruel to confine killer whales in small tanks and expect them to perform for a few fish. But you should have seen the relief on their faces when the trainers finally took away the giant TV. Forcing the orcas to watch Kathie Lee and Hoda do their tricks seemed truly traumatic to them.

I hear that Sea World trainers are considering installing a TV near the killer whale pool and keeping it on all the time. Nobody knows if the whales would become addicted to television like lesser-intelligent humans. What shows would they want to watch anyway? Feel free to speculate.

Anyway, I want to thank blogger Candace Calloway Whiting for dredging up this video. Somehow I missed the original “Today” show segment from last summer.

To view the complete segment, which includes more on the killer whales along with footage of other animals, go to the Today show webpage.