Genre: Castle on the Hill

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This Genre profile is also a classroom activity to be used to talk about memories and past tense. This song, Castle on the Hill, was written by Ed Sheeran and released two years later. It focuses on memories of a childhood where one experiences his ups and downs, his firsts and lasts, his friends and foes, and his love for the land he grew up. It talks about friendships and love, experiences that are worth remembering and those that are worth forgetting, and lastly what has changed between now and the time then. Have a look at the piece that is worth watching and listening to:

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Now comes the exercises that are worth doing. You can do one or all of them, but they all talk about the same thing- memories of growing up.

  • Experiences- Make a list of personal experiences you had in your childhood, both good and bad. Then choose one out of each and tell us a story about the experience- when it happened, why you did it and the result. Most importantly, each story must include a lesson to share with everyone.
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  • Friends- Make a list of friends with whom you hung around with during your childhood. Then you can do one or more of the following:

_Who was your best friend? Tell us about him/her?

_Tell us about your circle of friends- each one about his/her life, characteristics, like/dislikes/ hobbies, etc., and what happened to them in the present.

_Your experiences hanging out with your friends- what you normally did and the events that happened that were good or bad

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  • Place of childhood- Tell us about the place where you grew up. What did the community have while you were growing up and what has changed between now and then.
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  • Favorite Foods- Tell us your favorite foods you had while growing up and why you liked it so much. Would you recommend it to others and if so, why? Apply this to other topics, like TV shows/movies, music, books/magazines, cars, places to visit, etc. Anything that comes to heart and mind and you wish to talk about.
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  • Life with your family- What kind of family did you have? Tell us about your parents and siblings. What kind of life did you have with the family? Some events that happened that had a defining moment in your life would be helpful but not a must.
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  • What things did you wish you could have done but didn’t? Every single one of us has done this and has a list of regrets. List them and ask what would have happened had you done what you regretted not having done.
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  • Random Questions. Then feel free to add a few questions of your own on some index cards and have your students pick a card, read the question and talk about it. The questions must have to do with childhood memories and must be appropriate for classroom use.

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The song itself received numerous accolades and ended up as nr. 2 in the hit charts in most countries. It’s one song where you can close your eyes and return to the day of what you were as a child, reliving the days and trying to ask yourself, what-if. Therefore, it’s worth listening to in class, but just as valuable sharing your childhood experiences, regardless of where you came from and what you experienced. Our past helps us determine who we are at present but provides lessons to the future generations.

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Genre Profile: Be Legendary by Pop Evil

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There are heroes and then there are legendsheroes get remembered but legends never die.– Averstu.com

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In our first Genre Profile (formerly Genre of the Week) in ages, this song came to mind when we talk about legends. The past year and a half brought out not only the best in everyone but also legends. Doctors, nurses, law enforcement, journalists, teachers (among them) but also the common person have risked their lives to help others who were badly in need of help but have been left in the dust because of greed and ignorance.

It leads to the question of how we want to be remembered- specifically how we perceive ourselves in front of everyone and how we can make a difference.

And this is what the song is all about. Produced by the American rock music group Pop Evil, the plot looks at a group of people who find a relict of their youth- a video game machine sitting disused for many years- and decide to relive the moment when they became heroes in their game, answering all of the questions, many of which include all the „what-ifs“.

The song not only focuses on the past but it also sends a message which is „Now is our time. How do we want to be remembered?“ 

And this is where we start off with a good conversation with the older generations, asking them about their lives and how they would like to be remembered. Sometimes a look in the past can help us in the present dictate what our future should be like.  Something to think about as you listen to this song……..

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A Wish and a Decidation that Made it Happen- Coca Cola Christmas Commercial

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What is your wish for Christmas and what would it take for your wish to come true? This is the main theme for a truly, heart-wrenching commercial that was released in the media by Coca-Cola this year. The first Coca-cola commercial with Santa came in 1986, with the Santa train being introduced in the late 1990s. And while people can associate the Santa train with the Coca-Cola commercials, not to mention the title oft he song, The Real Thing by the late Melanie Thorton, this commercial hits the spot because of the love and dedication that it took to make the wish happen.

So have a look at the commercial and think about what you wish for- carefully. Then ask yourself what it would take to make this wish come true.

As a bonus, enjoy the song, The Real Thing by Melanie Thorton……..

I myself have a personal wish for you all, which you will find in the Advent Calendar that you will see quite soon.

Happy Holidays! 🕯️🕯️❤️❄️☕☃️🎄⛪🎁🎉⛄🌨️🤠🚛🚛🚛

Genre of the Week: A Tribute to the Swing

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This week’s Genre of the Week pays a tribute to some of the greatest soul and R&B (rhythm and blues) singers who have passed recently. One of them happened to be the predecessor to Elvis Presley in terms of fame during the infancy of rock music, Little Richard. Known as the Innovator, the Originator and the Architect of Rock and Roll, Little Richard was known as the person who created rock and roll with its combination of piano, brass and swing, and set the foundation for other artists of his time to follow suit, namely, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Eddie Cochran and especially, Elvis, who later became the King of Rock and Roll. While Little Richard provided the swing, especially with his smash hit, Tutti Frutti (released in 1955), other musicians experimented with instruments which led to rock music splitting into its many forms later on during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, such as heavy metal, R&B, dance (including disco) and pop music. Little Richard continued his career in R&B and soul music, thus leaving 73 years of legacy for many generations to listen to and learn about how rock music was born, raised and fanned out into the forms we listen to today. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. The Swing died on May 9th at the age of 87.

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One of the first things that came to mind upon hearing of his passing was a mixture of swing and rock, where Tutti Frutti was paid a tribute. In 1989, Jive Bunny and the Master Mixers created a mix of techno, pop, jazz, classic rock and swing with the release of Swing the Mood.

Little Richard’s masterpiece was included together with what other pieces of music? Hint: One of them was a song by Elvis, another was first used in a TV sitcom Happy Days. There are two versions. Listen to them and try to figure out who sang what song and in which year. Enjoy this one as we pay tribute to Little Richard.

Short Version:

 

Long (12 Inch Record) Version:

 

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Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers also had two other songs that were released, paying tribute to classic rock and swing, That’s What I Like and Let’s Party. They too were released in 1989 and all three of them reached Nr. 1 in the Bilboards. The group from Yorkshire, England later became known as Mastermix DJ Music Service and to this day, produce music and dance mixes for radio and for online streaming.

 

Fl Fi USA

 

Spoonful of Clorox by Randy Rainbow

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After having a chance to watch one parody and getting ourselves motivated into throwing Donald Trump out of office, our next parody will surely give Anne Hathaway grey hairs and Julie Andrews a heart attack. After all, they both played an important household character that we, as children, enjoyed watching growing up. This piece, performed by comedian Randy Rainbow is a response to a series of absurd comments made by President Donald Trump on experimenting with treatments that has caused an uproar among everyone and their dogs, literally.

And while sugar is not healthy when taken in excess, these products should absolutely NOT be taken at home and kept out of reach of children. And the lady in the black dress and umbrella approves of this message. Enjoy the irony and the laughs, but keep the warning labels on the jugs and needles.

 

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Randy Rainbow (known officially as Randy Stewart Rainbow) is an American actor, comedian and satirist, whose specialty is creating parodies of personalities and other events. He is credited for pieces, like “Randy Rainbow Calls Lindsay Lohan”, “Randy Rainbow Calls Dr. Laura”, “The Morning After Chelsea’s Wedding” and „Hey Gurl, It’s Christmas.“ Since the start of Donald Trump’s Presidency in 2017, Randy has created aslew of parodies that are long enough to list that a person can get writer’s cramps from even listing them. 😉 A Spoonful of Clorox, using the household cleaning products as a target of the parody, is the latest in the Trump series. He resides in New York and has been really active in the show business. He has a blog you can access here. You’ll find his satirical songs and the like on his YouTube page here.

Vote Him Away by Roy Zimmerman

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While politics, especially with regards to the situation in the US, are not really appropriate in times like the Corona Virus, this Genre of the Week looks at the parody of one song and how song artist Roy Zimmermann made it into art, supporting the dire need of change American have been desparately looking for. And for the record, we feel your pain, especially to the doctors and nurses who are working around the clock and risking their lives saving others infected by CoVid 19. This song’s for you all. ❤  🙂

 

The original song that was used for this parody can be found here.

 

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Fl Fi USA

The Gambler: A Tribute to Kenny Rogers

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There are many cultural aspects that are typical of the US. Country music is one of them. It is not like our German Volksmusik because it talks about love Bavarian style. It’s a type of music where you need a guitar, a road, a set of cards and some love stories of women in the past and present, who put a stamp in the heart of a man, dressed up in a cowboy hat and riding a stallion or a horse.

We’ve had many country music singers come and go in the last 50 years or so, like Wynonna Judd, Glen Campbell and Garth Brooks. But one person left over 40 years of country music on the highway as he left to join the Lord.

Kenny Rogers died on 20 March, 2020 at the age of 81 years. He was a talented singer, who started his career in 1976 and retired in 2017, leaving behind 36 albums with 24 songs receiving national and international accolades. His second, not to mention hardly ingnorable second job was an actor, who made his debut in 1973 but last appeared in 2009. He will be remembered as the rustling cowboy, who was a fast shooter and stole the hearts and minds of many women in the Wild, Wild West.  His most famous role that will be remembered by many is the man who cleaned town, Brady Hawkes, in the Gambler series, five films that were released from 1980 until its last one in 1994. He also played Jack MacShayne in the MacShayne film series in 1994.

As mentioned before, Rogers left a legacy that spanned 40 years in the show business. Many of us grew up listening to his songs and watching him clean town in the Wild West. When asked what country music means to them, seven out of ten will mention Kenny Rogers in one form or another because of his style, his tender heart, and lastly, as a lifelong teacher.  When hearing the news of his passing, one song came to mind that best describes his legacy, which is The Gambler.  Watch the video and ask yourselves these two questions:

  1. What was meant by his lessons brought up in the video in the literal sense? Remember, the song has to do with Poker and other card games that were popular in the Wild West, as much as today.
  2. At the same time, what do these lessons mean in the moral and figurative sense? Each lesson does have an underlying meaning that we can take with.

 

To close with a quote: Life is like a game of cards. How lucky we are depends on what hand we have. Some of us will be lucky, some won’t. Some will keep trying, some won’t. Some will find ways to win, some will find ways to hinder it. And lastly, some will find ways to stop the immorals from ruining their lives, others will simply watch and learn, to be used when the next window of opportunity opens.

RIP, Gambler.

 

Fl Fi USA

Christmas Lights Poem by Keith Darnay

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There are many poems that have been written about Christmas lights over the past half a century. Some tied in together with the Christmas trees, some deal with the struggles with decorating them with lighting. However, this poem, written by Keith Darnay, puts the Christmas lights in the forefront, as they represent the color, love and true meaning of Christmas.  This video and poem were released 35 years ago on a TV Station in Minot, ND, as Mr. Darnay was starting his promising career in broadcasting, which has been 40 years and counting. Enjoy the video but especially the poem. 🙂 ❤

 

The Files has a quiz on Christmas lights and ist history. Feel free to challenge yourselves and click here.

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A Tribute to Roxette

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1989 was the era of change in many aspects. With the Fall of the Wall, it ushered in a transition from what we knew in the past and what we should know about for the future. It was a bridge connecting the usual environment to the new usual. It was an era of change, where the greats from the 70s and 80s were replaced with those who would eventually lead us into the new millennium and beyond.

One of the changes that was taking shape was the style of music. During the 1980s, we were greeted with a combination of rock, techno, pop and disco music, while some of the greats from that era, influenced us through their lyrics that combined events with the past with lessons for the present. Much of that had to do with the Cold War, which was winding down, thanks to Michail Gorbachev’s policies of openness. The 1990s, however, brought a wider, more modern selection of pop and rock music, but also dance music and rap, and it would carry us through, while focusing on the good, the bad and the interesting sides of society.

Yet the 1990s would not have been possible had it not been for some musicians that were up and coming in the late 1980s- before the Revolution of 1989- the ones that would make the 1990s the unforgettable decade that would set the precedent for the future. One of the musicians that led the procession was the music duo Roxette.

Consisting of Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle, the Swedish pop group was formed in 1986 and its style of music consisted of pop and dance, with some contemporary hits to add to their storied list of songs produced. Yet their breakthrough came in 1988 with the release of the album “Look Sharp!”. With this album, five singles were released, all of which made it to the top 10 in one way or another through 1989 and into 1990. The album was an immediate commercial success in Sweden, selling over 140,000 copies within ten days of release. In the US, the album was certified platinum on 20 January 1990 by the RIAA for shipments in excess of one million units. It peaked at number four in the UK, where it spent over a year on the charts. It was certified platinum by the BPI in December 1990 for sales in excess of 300,000. The album set the foundation for multiple successes for the group over the course of the next two decades, as eight more albums were released, each one with at least three singles, some of them have garnered additional awards.

If there were three songs that defined 1989 and helped usher in the 1990s and a new era of change, they would be (in no certain order):

Dangerous

The Look

 

Dressed for Success

These three songs looked at society and its strive for success both for individuals as well as a whole. It defined the changes that were going to happen and changes which people can simply embrace and take advantage of. Yet during the first half of the 1990s, a lot of Roxette’s songs dealt with love and heartbreak, including:

Listen to Your Heart

Sleeping in My Car

How do You Do?

Spending my Time.

These songs were solely performed by Marie, whose soprano voice was moving to many, as if an angel was talking to the listener and showing him/her where to go. Marie’s career went back to the 1970s, but she’s best remembered for her time with Roxette, where for 30 years until her retirement in 2016, she and Per had a wonderful joyride, impressing her fans and winning the hearts of millions more. Roxette was one of the top 10 music groups of the 1990s and 2000s and there was no household in America or Europe that did not have an album from Roxette.

Sadly, after 17 years of battle, Marie Fredriksson died of cancer on 9 December, 2019. She was only 61. She had undergone years of treatment and operations until it was time to hang it up for her career and enjoy the last moments of her life. As I was compiling a tribute for Roxette, I ran across Marie’s farewell speech when the group was forced to cancel the last leg of a concert in 2016: “Sadly, now my touring days are over and I want to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful fans that (have) followed us on our long and winding journey.” Her partner’s response was a classic: “The joyride on the road is over now – but we sure had fun, didn’t we?”

My response: We did have one heckuva joyride- one that will last forever in our memories. You will be missed for helping usher in an era of opportunity and success, after years of division. Many thanks for that wonderful journey, Marie and God Bless. ❤

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Christmas Genre 2019: Reconnecting after Many Years’ Absence: An E.T. Story

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Many of us who grew up in the western half of the world will probably be familiar with this movie, produced in 1982 by Universal Pictures:

E.T., The Extra Terrestrial was one of the most successful films of the 1980s and is clearly in the Top Ten of all films produced in the 20th Century.

This year, the beloved alien makes his way back to visit in this Christmas commercial produced by Xfinity Communications, part of the Comcast conglomerate which also owns Universal. After 37 years, E.T. reunites with his old friend Eliot and his family, bringing back memories and sharing them with the younger generation.

And like the film 37 years before, this one still hits the heart and souls of many who love the little fella as much as in the past. This one will perhaps go down as one of the best Christmas commercials of this decade and beyond.  More I cannot say, because films like this always hits the heart and brings tears of joy. So have a look and enjoy!  ❤

 

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