Several years ago, while working as an executive assistant for a major pharmaceutical company, I had to plan a trip for my boss to Rwanda.
Rwanda. Holy cow! Can you even get a plane to Rwanda??
It turns out you can. More than one in fact. You can fly there direct via British Airways from Brussels, Belgium mainly because there are a lot of Europeans who visit the area for the Silverback gorilla wildlife preserve in Kigali. The movie "Gorillas in the Mist" was filmed there.
So I began the long and interesting process of setting up my boss's trip to Kigali, Rwanda. He was an executive director, and the company was making a very large charitable donation of our pneumonia vaccine to the children of Rwanda. Pneumonia kills thousands of children there every year, due to the high humidity rates in the mountainous forest region they live in, and the general lack of "first world" medical care. My boss was a pompous, high-maintenance, pointy-haired jerk of a man, and he insisted that I find him the highest level of hotel accommodation possible because "a third world four-star hotel is our single star, you know".
After a bit of investigation and some calls to the assistants of other executives making the trip, we all agreed upon one of the two four-star hotels in Kigali, the Hotel des Mille Collines - otherwise known as the "Hotel Rwanda", for those of you who saw the movie. I hadn't at the time, but I'd heard the name so I started reading up on it, out of curiosity.
All kinds of music. Taylor Swift and The Violent Femmes. Streetlight Manifesto and Barenaked Ladies. Pearl Jam and The Pogues. The Grateful Dead and the Dixie Chicks. Broadway Tunes and The Ramones. Pat Metheny and Barry Manilow and Pink and Arianna Grande and Mika and Pentatonix and Taj Mahal and the entire soundtrack from Pitch Perfect. I love all sorts of stuff.
And I sing. I sing loud and with great gusto and I love, love, love to sing.
But if you looked at my iPod, or the music file on my iPhone right now, you wouldn't see much. 99% of what's there is there because my daughter and I share and iTunes account, and she's downloaded it to her phone.
You see, I don't listen to music much, when I'm by myself. If my kids are in the car, the radio or the iPod is on, and we're all singing and grooving.
Will Hook live through the episode? Millions of ovaries want to know!
Oh, the fearful, wary anticipation of a Once Upon A Time pre-hiatus show. I'm still reeling from the fateful goodbye scene of last year's mid-season cliffhanger, and I knew we were going to get our guts ripped out again.
This is simply brilliant. You choose whether to be a "Wakie" (someone who wakes people) or a "Sleepyhead" (someone who gets woken up), register on the site and it will connect you for a one minute conversation (anonymously) with someone somewhere in the world. That's cool enough, but here's the really brilliant part: they've got a forum (similar to Craigslist "missed encounters" from what I can tell) where you can try to connect with your wakie or sleepyhead, if you'd like. They're also looking into a premium service that will let you extend your call to five minutes, and they're even looking into a celebrity angle where the celeb of your choice can pre-record messages that you can pay for as a wake up call. The celeb can then link those via social media.
Of course, with a wake-up call from Dwayne Johnson or Colin O'Donoghue I'm liable to want to stay in bed.
One of my high school chorus pictures, with Mr. Thorp proudly at the center.
In seventh grade, my first year of junior high, I was allowed to pick one "elective" course. There was no question in my mind about it, no pondering, no confusion. I was born to sing nearly as much as I was born to act and born to write. I had a passably good voice (I would never claim to be a diva, but I could hold my own) and thus began my school singing career.
My first chorus teacher was Mr. Phillips. He had bright red hair and a bright red mustache and when he got mad at us, his face went bright red, too. But he was loony and knew his stuff. He gave me my first musical role, as the Rose in Alice in Wonderland.
Next came Mrs. McAllister, who used the piano as a percussion instrument and occasionally threw chairs across the room when her temper got the better of her. She was raw and crass and demanding and brought us together to sing under the iron fist of unwavering perfection. I didn't always like her, but I loved the way she made us sound.