Posts Tagged ‘music

17
Jul
18

10 Reasons to Love Weyauwega: the Arts

When the average person hears the phrase “international film festival,” a handful of cities spring to mind: Cannes. Venice. Paris. London.

For hardcore film buffs (and just to be clear, that’s hardcore film buffs not hardcore film buffs) a few more names and places come to the fore. Like Chicago. Buffalo. Boston. Weyauwega.

Yes. You read that correctly. Weyauwega.

Founded in 2011,  the Weyauwega International Film Festival (aka WIFF) celebrates and supports film and filmmaking, and aims to “bring together” filmmakers from around the world. The festivities take place over four days and include screenings of internationally released films, including documentary films, foreign language films, dramas, comedies, and short films. Conceived and nurtured by Wega Arts, WIFF honors films and their makers with cash prizes and awards known as Gerolds—so named for the Gerold Opera House where WIFF takes place.

Gerold Opera House

Perhaps the most enticing part of the WIFF is Psycho Fest! Inspired by the work of author Robert Bloch, who wrote (among many, many other things) the novel upon which the movie Psycho was based, Psycho Fest is the portion of the WIFF that features screenings of films in the horror and thriller genres.

You may have heard that the character Norman Bates was loosely based on a man by the name of Ed Gein, who murdered and cannibalized at least two people in Plainfield, Wisconsin back in the late 1950’s. What you may not know is that the gifted and prolific Mr. Bloch was living in Weyauwega at the time the Plainfield crimes were coming to light, or that his fictional Bates Motel was inspired by Weyauwega’s very own Lakeshore Motel.

Kinda sends shivers up your spine. Doesn’t it?

The motel is long gone, but the sign still stands not far from the highway–an eerie reminder of Weyauwega’s connection to Hollywood and Alfred Hitchock.

Lakeshore Sign

For another view of the sign, visit https://www.facebook.com/WegaFilmFest/photos/the-lakeshore-motel-in-weyauwega/1589877247730926/

The next WIFF starts November 7th and runs through the 10th. That means Psycho Fest is just a few weeks away. So mark your calendars, and get your tickets now if you don’t want to miss it!

In addition to WIFF, the creative minds at Wega Arts—and their valued sponsors in the community—do a lot of fun and fantastic stuff for the folks Weyauwega. Like free theatre and music workshops for area teens. And Swing Dance and Mardi Gras parties for adults. In 2016, the organization partnered with Helios Addiction Recovery Services to produce a short film entitled Heroes Rising, which aims to address the opioid epidemic and to spur “meaningful and constructive dialog about substance abuse.”

Meanwhile, up the road at the Weyauwega Public Library, you can catch presentations by writers, musicians, historians, and even the occasional Elvis impersonator! If you don’t believe me, check out these links:

https://www.facebook.com/wegalibrary/photos/ms.c.eJxFkskNxDAMAzta6D76b2xhKaa~;A5kaMeHMsggm4SYn~;fGAcqvyaPELMgeQXFB8QHUB2MkQaYDaCb6g213ULT~;QJDORAMong~_tuaefzxPrzSKIFdsW6RiwbT2K22AvNEWNtTOxaToTGTBCe~_KrLVW~;xFSuY6gIC8DmOca2OR7xQ24xARveovwzZTh2dqkwGGwDNZzDcwtupYMuxbmIUVGbrgYJs1RNry7ZCdOq~_reP8kq0QgHVMIyCmKwawWwRbylf9~;h~;Jfu7tdnvgTIR8T1I4zkT1~;VCicSbc9A~_Hto~_N.bps.a.1778466072190506.1073741962.107697575934039/1778468548856925/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/wegalibrary/?hc_ref=ARTjMSWnd3uM7CF3TAonavfRNYzDWOCK99AWDJ0nQCq5vfrq67mvddpdn9IE_GReKnc

Meanwhile, for more about Robert Bloch, go to http://milwaukeerecord.com/city-life/bloch-buster-milwaukees-connection-to-psycho-h-p-lovecraft-and-robert-bloch/ or visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bloch

And if Bloch’s Psycho is too scary or too racy for you, remember, there’s always Psycho Babble!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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07
Dec
15

Parody Paradise

Behold the humble parody. If you’re a fan of irony and bad puns, you can’t get enough of them. If you’re “Weird Al” Yankovic, you’ve made a career of them. With numerous Top 40 songs and more than fourteen albums to his credit, it’s obvious that his work enjoys a sizable fan base.

I count myself among the legions of “Weird Al” fans. As do the Jarhead, the Princess, and El Noblé. We own all but one of his studio albums, and several of his collections including “The Food Album,” “The TV Album,” and “Permanent Record: Al in the Box.”

If I had to name my favorite “Weird Al” parody, you would not be reading this post because I would still be going through all of the “Weird Al” albums in our music library trying to decide and, therefore, never would have finished writing it.  Even if I were to list just my top five or ten the task wouldn’t be made any easier because they are so many and varied it would be impossible to establish a fair set of criteria on which to judge them.

For example, “Amish Paradise” is a song parody based on Coolio’s “Gangster Paradise.” Although I am not an avid fan of rap music, based on its lyrics alone this parody is pure perfection. Add to that the song’s hilarious concept—an Amish man who raps (!!!) using lines such as ‘you know I shun fancy things/like electricity’—and the delicious irony of a pious man “bragging” about his “humility” by saying ‘I know I’m a million times as humble as thou art’—and you now have something on the level of genius.

The same goes for “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi,” which is a parody of the punk hit “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)” by the Offspring that extols the many virtues of a Jewish leader using a type of music to which people normally slam dance. And then there’s the “The Rye or the Kaiser (Theme From Rocky XIII)” based on Survivor’s megahit and the theme song of the movie, “Rocky III,” which imagines the title character now retired from boxing and running a deli. And we must not forget “The Saga Begins,” which is a musical account of George Lucas’ fourth Star Wars movie, “Episode 1: The Phantom Menace” based on Don McLean’s “American Pie” that replaces the lines:

“Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die”
with (roughly) these:
“Well my, my this here Anakin guy
May be Vader someday later now he’s just a small fry
He left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin’ soon I’m gonna be a Jedi
Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi”

If any of these songs are unfamiliar to you, I strongly encourage you to head over to YouTube or Amazon’s music center (after reading this post, of course) and treat yourself to one or more of them because they are awesome. 

With these parodies, and all my other favorites being, quite literally, lyrical and literary masterpieces, it would be impossible to choose the best five or ten, much less to rank them in any way. In fact, rather than choose the one, five, or ten “Weird Al” parodies I LIKE the most, it might be easier and faster for me to name those I DISLIKE, since there are only five: “Grapefruit Diet,” “Germs,” “I Want a New Duck,” “Addicted to Spuds,” and “The Brady Bunch.” If any of these songs are unfamiliar to you, I strongly recommend you keep it that way because you’re missing nothing.

My love of parodies likely goes back to childhood when I discovered how exciting it can be to swap words to make a song either funny, outrageous, or controversial. The first parody I recall hearing was a version of that lonesome ballad about lost love, “On Top of Old Smoky” called “On Top of Spaghetti.” As a kid I got a real charge out of the idea of a meatball being set in motion by a mere sneeze and then travelling from its perch atop a plate of steaming pasta out into traffic only to be crushed by a tire. If you’re unfamiliar with this parody, I recommend you seek therapy because clearly you had an awful childhood.

Not long after hearing “On Top of Spaghetti” I became acquainted with its darker cousin. Retaining the title and many of the lyrics of the original, this version of “On Top of Old Smoky” told the story of murder and cleverly rhymes “blood” with “a .44 slug.” Depending on the person singing it (and their relationship with their currently educator, no doubt) the party being the victim of murder may be a lover or a teacher.

My taste in music got only slightly more sophisticated over the next few years. I don’t remember the details, but at some point I recall becoming fond of a variation on the classic “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” that replaced the words ‘merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily/life is but a dream’ with ‘throw your teacher overboard and/listen to her scream.’

For some reason, teachers were popular targets of musical parodies back in the seventies. Perhaps they still are. Perhaps fantasizing about offing your teacher and setting it all to music is how school kids resolve their cognitive dissonance over being forced to submit to another unrelated authority figure. Or perhaps I’m just full of it.

Either way, seeing harm come to your teacher was a common theme when I was a kid. Even at the holidays. In fact, it was during rehearsals for one of the many Christmas concerts from my youth that I came across a version of Joy to the World that had me in stitches for days—and in my Auntie’s bad books for weeks. I won’t risk inciting her further ire (which is a very real possibility since she is a devoted reader) by providing all of the lyrics here, but in case there are any wide-eyed innocents out there who don’t know what I’m talking about but REALLY, REALLY want to, I offer a couple of lines for elucidation:

 Joy to the world/the school burned down/and all the teachers died

But lucky for the principal…

In honor of the season—and out of respect for all the wonderful, dedicated teachers past, present and future—I will end that quote here, and instead finish this essay with perhaps the greatest holiday-themed song parody of all time:

Jingle bells/Batman smells/Robin laid an egg

Batmobile/lost its wheel/and Joker got away—Ay!

Thanks for reading,

and

Happy Holidays!




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