AlcHOLidays | National Bluebird of Happiness Day | Pursuit of Happiness


Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you say? Notice that it’s only the pursuit of happiness we’re guaranteed, not the finding or attainment.

In the 1940 film The Blue Bird (starring Shirley Temple, speaking of drinks), the bird in question is given as a selfless gift, and then escapes. The moral being that the bluebird of happiness is always to be pursued, not captured. And from the 1934 song,

be like I, hold your head up high,
’til you see a ray of light and cheer

and so remember this, life is no abyss
somewhere there’s a bluebird of happiness

Bluebird of Happiness, Harmati & Heyman

All this to say, September 24 (that’s this coming Monday) has become known as the National Bluebird of Happiness Day. Now, you can take that as a challenge to always look for the silver lining, to keep optimistic as the days get shorter and the weather turns brisk (which is a plus in my book), or to go out of your way to spread a little happiness for someone else; essentially being a bluebird of happiness yourself!

And if you’re into old movies but not feeling the Shirley Temple vibe, watch Hitchcock’s The Birds, instead. I’m certainly not going to judge what makes you happy.

Pursuit of Happiness Cocktail for National Bluebird of Happiness Day, September 24

Part of what makes me happy, of course, is creating fun cocktails for any and all reasons. Historically, there is a cocktail known as the Blue Bird, using either gin or vodka, triple sec (ptoo!) or curacao, and bitters. I suppose gin would make sense for the era (Vodka didn’t get a good foothold in the US until mid-century, after all), but my thought process was veering a bit more tropical, plus I’ve been wanting to use this new Denizen Aged White Rum from Holland (look for a full review forthcoming), so rum and blue curacao (of course) means pineapple isn’t very far behind. Then I decided to try and see what the difference would be between pineapple juice and pineapple soda. Just because.

Pursuit of Happiness

2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Aged White Rum (like Denizen)
3/4 oz Blue Curacao
garnish of a slice of Pineapple with or without a little bluebird pick

Combine the juice, rum, and curacao over ice and shake til you’re feeling happy. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a slice of pineapple.

Making little themed picks from a bird stamp, blue ink, and toothpicks is totally optional but fun!

So, I tried this both ways: with pineapple soda and pineapple juice. No surprise that the juice version won out, really, it’s only to be expected. The soda just didn’t have enough oomph to blend well and stand up to the two alcohols, while the juice gave the drink some body and you really got more pineapple flavor. Now, if you wanted to, I’m sure you could cut it half and half and be fine, but I was feeling more all or nothing last night.

And for those who might wonder if the Cruzan Vanilla Rum I reviewed a while back might not go lovely in this drink, it’s too sweet. I know, is that really possible? But yes. The aged white rum has depth without being harsh, the vanilla would be a bit cloying. That said, if you were inclined to combine the pineapple juice and the pineapple soda and then lace it with a bit of that Cruzan Vanilla Rum, what you would have would be more than a little reminiscent of pineapple upside down cake.

And there’s nothing wrong with that!

And because this is one of my favorite TMBG songs and actually has ties to the original Bluebird of Happiness (bluebird of friendliness, anyone?), I have to close with Birdhouse in Your Soul.

(Direct link for the Feed Readers: Birdhouse in Your Soul by TMBG)


Get Up Stand Up

64 Arts

In high school, I auditioned for the school musical in a fit of stupidity uncharacteristic bravery.

The school had recently built a fabulous, new auditorium/theater so it seemed logical to have stuff going on it it. (I guess if we did, before then, it happened at other schools? I’m honestly not sure.) Band and chorus, of course, were thrilled, and the chorus teacher was heading up the musical. It was supposed to be Barnum, needing a huge cast, so anyone who wanted was encouraged to try out.

I was going through a serious infatuation with Broadway during those years and thought it would be fun. I wasn’t some aspiring starlet or anything, I just wanted to try. I picked Eponine’s solo, ” On My Own,” from Les Mis and practiced the hell out of it. I knew I wasn’t the best singer in the world, but I also knew that this song needed less theatrics to pull of and more stamina. Stamina I had.

Along with some other chorus students and the chorus teacher there was some big-time muckity-muck in musical theatre and he was to be advising on the performance. Basically, another person to impress.

I won’t say that it was a seamless performance. First, I only brought one copy of the sheet music with me and the pianist (we were required to sing with accompaniment) needed it. And I was supposed to stand away from the piano so this left me singing it by memory. Which, for the most part, wasn’t a problem, only a couple of the verses start the same and I did flub up the order a bit. That wasn’t fun. Finally, after it was all said and done, Mr Muckity-Muck said to me,

“Ah. Patti Lupone.”

But not in a way that said he thought I was anything like her. Only that I was trying to imitate her. But here’s the thing: while Ms. Lupone was, indeed, in Les Miserables, she played Fantine. By the time this song was sung? Fantine was long-dead. Moreover, the recording I had that I based my performance on had Eponine sung by a Japanese girl. And I knew this, and was very confused, but said nothing.

As it turned out, they didn’t have enough people audition to fill the cast of Barnum so they changed it to You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. And I wasn’t cast. Which turned out to be fine since I had so much else going on that I wouldn’t have had the time, anyway. All’s well that ends well, right?

There are a few things I’ve learned from looking back on this incident:

  1. There’s a reason so many things are asked for in triplicate. Having an extra copy of the sheet music certainly would have come in handy. It’s like having all the directions from point A to point B and back again. Because (and this is a different story altogether) retracing your steps doesn’t always work.
  2. Sometimes perseverance isn’t always enough. It counts for a lot, but if you’re persevering in the wrong direction, it’s still the wrong direction.
  3. Human beings make mistakes. I’m not saying I should have called out Mr. Muckety-Muck on his error but I could have. Had I done it, had I spoken up and stood up for myself, maybe I wouldn’t have been so upset by his disregard of me. Anger blows over whereas sadness lingers.

* * *

And that, I think, wraps up what I’ve got to ramble about for the first art: singing. All the songs I’ve referenced this past week and a bit can be found in one handy spot thanks to iTunes’ iMix feature. Enjoy and I’ll be back on Wednesday with Art the second: musical instruments!

What I Really Meant to Say

64 Arts

When we rely on our ears, sometimes the meanings aren’t clear…

You’ve heard of mondegreens, right? So named by writer Sylvia Wright, they are what happens when we hear something completely different in a song lyric.

Possibly the most famous ones are “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” which was really “while I kiss the sky” (Jimmi Hendrix, Purple Haze) and “There’s a bathroom on the right” for “bad moon on the rise” (Credence Clearwater Revival, Bad Moon Rising).

But my favorite is fairly unique (or so I think). Mom was a child in the 50s and 60s and had an older sister, my aunt, who liked to listen to the girl groups and Doo Wop of the day. From her sister’s room came the sound of the Moonstone’s “The Book of Love”

Now that iconic part? Oh I Wonder Who-o-o-o, Who wrote the book of love? Well, my mother, bless her heart, heard “Who milked the moo cow now.”

This, of course, has been the source of many a giggle in our family because, of course, all children play the game of let’s laugh at Mom (or Dad) from time to time. One particular instance happened at work when I was programming our new phone system (we work together) at her desk (because she has the Master Phone–sounds like some trippy Dr Who character). She was actually singing a different song (Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”–probably because I’d said “shoot” to the phone or something, there’s no telling, really), absolutely slaughtering the chorus (I’ve actually blocked it the murder was so bad) when I corrected her (it’s a gift, folks, honest). She thought it was terribly funny and, of course, brought up “moo cow now” and that was it. We were in absolute hysterics by the time the next person walked through the door.

Luckily it was a coworker. It probably says something about our office that Mom and I laughing so hard we’re in tears is not a shocking sight.

Any mondegreens in your family’s song closet?

Weekend Extra: Singing without Music

64 Arts

(well, not really; singing IS music, as we previously established, I just meant without instruments but you probably knew that!)

I just wanted to share this very cool video of an a cappella group, Perpetuum Jazzile, performing Toto’s Africa. A cappella is always impressive, but this is a big group doing amazing things to create the various sound effects and instrumentation that was used in the original. Just so freaking cool.

I mean, really. Just the clapping is outstanding. I remember in band doing tests to see how long a group of us could clap at different rhythms/intervals–it’s tough not to sync up with your neighbors!

Anyway, a couple more posts next week on singing (since the subject’s kind of a familiar one and I didn’t want to get teachy-preachy I’m just going with the memory flow as it comes; other topics might end up more instruct-able) and then we’ll move onto instrumental music. Another fun one!!!

Hum Along

64 Arts

Do you? Hum along? Maybe you’re not much of a singer or maybe you don’t know all the words yet to your new-favorite song so you hum the uncertain parts. Or you just hum because you prefer to hum. It’s better than whistling in a lot of cases.

Speaking of unknown lyrics, did you ever gopher song lyrics? At least that’s what I think it was called, it’s what I remember reading on a blog ages later after the Internet and sites like made such methods somewhat archaic.

I remember I had a binder full songs that I’d taped from the radio (ah, tapes… feeding the nostalgia, folks!) and spent hours stretched out on the floor, fingers near the buttons, wearing out tape after tape hitting Play-Pause-Rewind as many times as it took to get the words right. I don’t think it was as much about signing the songs myself, in my room, requisite hairbrush as a microphone. It was just about knowing them. Understanding what the artist was trying to say–at least on the surface. It would be years before I started thinking about hidden meanings and subtext.

The pride of my homemade libretto? Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”

Speaking of archaic tech, one more memory from the late-80s:

Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” came out in February of 1989. Our local top-40 station was going to first play it at some unholy hour (probably midnight) and I was determined to stay up for it. I wouldn’t get my tres spiffy compact stereo until the following Christmas so I was stuck with a basic radio in my room and no tape recorder of my own. My little brothers, however, had a Fisher Price tape player that actually did record. I’m not certain where I scored a blank tape from.

Anyway, late that fateful night I stayed up, in the dark because I was supposed to be asleep. The radio being on was nothing new, I always went to sleep with music on. At the appointed hour I set the boys’ toy tape recorder on the dresser with the mic as close to the speaker as humanly possible and tried to time it just. right. to get all of the song that I’d never heard but was sure I’d love. Not to mention die if I wasn’t among the first girls at school to hear it.

Hearing the song on the radio always brings back this memory. What songs from your tween/teen years do that for you?