“Amazon Dating,” Parody as Performance Art, Part 1

My daughter Morgan, and a few of her artistic colleagues, fed up with modern dating (think Hinge and Tinder), wondered if they could design a fake site where single men and women could be ordered as easily as ordering college textbooks, shoes, or humidifier filters. What if singles came starred and reviewed? What if all parties involved had to sign a “Non-Ghosting Agreement?” Their creation? “Amazon Dating!” The fake site has been commented on by a bunch of other sites, all who get the joke except for one who thinks Amazon’s playing a joke on their customers. (C’mon Betches, really?!)

Commenting in the article “Just In Time For Valentine’s Day, “Amazon Dating Is Selling Hot Singles Near You (Kind Of), GQ Australia, said,

If you’re currently in a relationship, you will be well aware of the fact that Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Even if stores weren’t blasting Michael Buble and dropping confetti from heart-shaped balloons from the ceiling, it would be impossible to ignore your partner’s nudges that the romantic holiday is near and you better have that dinner reservation booked and a present purchased.

Singletons however, will likely be avoiding the holiday in its entirety. “It’s just romance at gunpoint,” those single colleagues will declare in the office, probably via email as they take the day off work in an effort to avoid anyone brandishing a bouquet of flowers and smug smile that they can only hope changes to one of disfiguration brought on by severe allergies induced by cheap chocolate and 7-Eleven purchased flowers.

Being single is tough. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t see people marrying someone they’ve just met on TV in the hope of finding love, or intelligent men and women pitting themselves against a number of others. Tech companies are well aware of the plight of the single woman and man, and consequently dating apps continue to roll out with increasing speed. But sometimes we’re just too busy for Bumble, too tender for Tinder, and too horny for Hinge, so what are we left with? What slim chance do we have of meeting someone in the real world then, hey?

Well, a parody site called Amazon Dating offered one solution: singles you can order with free one-hour delivery through your Prime Membership.

The website is an hilarious take on Amazon’s official website. Given that you can practically buy anything on Amazon these days – portable fans, sneakers, shampoo, cat food – it’s not so far-fetched to think that sometime in the future, we might just be able to order a date off the retail giant. In this instance however, instead of delivering packages, the site “delivers” dates. Visitors can “choose” from over 40 singles at varying prices and ratings, even with the option of selecting their ideal date’s height and love language.

Created by Ani Copian, Suzy Shinn, Morgan Gruer, and animation studio Thinko, the website features a number of Internet punchlines and even links to Chat Roulette as “Prime Video” and Britney Spears’s “Toxic” as “Your Last Relationship.”

While Amazon Dating’s FAQ page answers several questions and also goes on to outline that yes, the site is indeed a joke, it’s hard not to imagine that sometime in the future, Amazon just might enter the dating landscape with its own app, given that they seem intent on dominating every other sector. And if that was the case, we can only fear what our price tag would be. Heck, it would probably read: REDUCED TO CLEAR.

 

On Mashable, Anna Iovine wrote “Amazon Dating is perfect parody for your pre-Valentine’s Day panic.”

The Verdict’s In: The Rooster Can Crow!

Maurice the rooster with his owner, Corinne Fesseau, at her home on the southwestern island of Oléron, France. Photo Credit Kasia Strek for The New York Times

Good news for the rooster. Bad news for the neighbors.

Best quote ever! “This rooster was not being unbearable,” Mr. Papineau added. “He was just being himself.”

Hon, remember the trial of Maurice the Rooster? The judge made his decision!

  

PARIS — The most famous rooster in France can continue to crow.

So ruled a French judge on Thursday, rejecting a claim by neighbors on the southwestern island of Oléron that the fowl, named Maurice, was a nuisance and made too much noise.

The judge found that the rooster, being a rooster, had a right to crow in his rural habitat.

“Maurice has won his fight,” his lawyer, Julien Papineau, said after the court decision in the small coastal city of Rochefort. “The judge recalled that, where Maurice is singing, it is in nature. It is in a rural town.”

“This rooster was not being unbearable,” Mr. Papineau added. “He was just being himself.”

The court also awarded the rooster 1,000 euros, about $1,100, in damages — more than enough for a luxury redo of his simple green chicken coop, though the money will go to a fund for the families of those who have perished at sea, his lawyer said.

Maurice, a modest bird with magnificent plumage, did not let out a triumphant cackle at the news of his court victory in Rochefort. His celebrity has not gone to his head.

The rooster and his owner, Corinne Fesseau, had been sued by a retired couple, Jean-Louis Biron and Joëlle Andrieux, who have a vacation home in the area and claimed that Maurice’s crowing had made their holidays stressful.

The rooster’s case had been taken up by thousands of people across France as a symbol of rural values — eternal values in France — that they say are under threat.

Other neighbors staunchly defended the chicken, and the mayor passed an ordinance protecting his rights.

The judge’s decision was soundly based on French law, the lawyer said. In these “fights between neighbors, the nuisance has to be excessive, or permanent,” Mr. Papineau said.

The court found that neither was the case.

“This is a reaffirmation that people of bad faith don’t always win,” Mr. Papineau said, “and that we’ve got to accept nature’s sounds.”

Video from my post on Maurice the Rooster.

The Trial of Maurice the Rooster

Hon, you know what’s stranger than the Central Park Squirrel Census? A rooster on trial!

Cockadoodle-Do or Cockadoodle-Don’t?

On June 23,  The New York Times ran an article,  On Front Lines of Culture War In France:  Maurice the Rooster by Adam Nossiter about a rooster on trial for waking up neighbors with his early-bird song. Jean-Louis Biron and Joëlle Andrieux, who built a summer vacation house in the town of St.-Pierre-D’Oléron 15 years ago, had enjoyed peaceful vacations until Corinne Fesseau installed a chicken coop in 2017. “Jean-Louis Biron and Joëlle Andrieux have petitioned a judge to make Ms. Fesseau and her husband stop ‘the nuisances consecutive to the installation of their chicken-coop, and most particularly the song of Maurice the cock. They insist that the setting is urban, and so Maurice has no right to crow.'” The notion that the town is urban is part of the controversy.

The crowing Gallic coq is an eternal symbol of France and the controversy taps in to France’s still unbroken connection to its agricultural past, its self-image as a place that exalts farm life and the perceived value of a simpler existence.

Maurice has become the most famous chicken in France, but as always in a country where hidden significance is never far from the surface, he is much more than just a chicken.

The following are quotes and info from Nossiter’s NYT’s article. 

  • Maurice is described as “a cantankerous fowl with a magnificent puffed-out coat who struts Ms. Fesseau’s backyard with three hens in tow.”
  • “Mr. Biron and Ms. Andrieux hired an official court bailiff to report on the rooster, at a cost of hundreds of dollars…On the second and third day, at 6:30 and 7:00 am, the bailiff ‘took note of the song of the rooster.'”
  • Tens of thousands of people across France have signed a petition in the rooster’s favor.
  • The mayor of St.-Pierre-D’Oléron supported a municipal ordinance that “proclaimed the need ‘to preserve the rural character’ of the town.”
  • “A parliamentary representative from the rural district of Lozère wants rural sounds to be officially classified and protected as ‘national heritage’.”
  • “The rooster must be defended,” said mayoral candidate Thibault Brechkoff.
  • The plaintiff’s lawyer, Vincent Huberdeau said his clients are “not against the rooster, they’ve never asked for the death of the animal, this is about noise.”
  • Mr. Huberdeau said, “[My clients] have been presented as hostile to nature. But it’s not that at all. They have nothing against the rural world.”
  • “A mediator suggested sending Maurice away while Mr. Biron and Ms. Andrieux were using their vacation home.” Ms. Fesseau said, “I won’t be separated from my rooster!”
  • Ms. Fesseau also said, “A rooster needs to express himself.”
  • “On a recent morning, at precisely 6 am, with the sun just emerging, Maurice stiffened, raised his head, shook his wattles, opened his beak and let out a low, hoarse crow that Maurice’s lawyer characterized as ‘discreet.’ Ms. Fesseau’s husband, Jacky, slept right through the performance.”
  • Ms. Fesseau fretted, “Before, [Maurice] was happy, everything was going so well. But now…all this uproar and stress…”
  • “The rooster’s lawyer, in official pleadings, said Maurice ‘himself has perceived this disquiet, as for the past past several months he has only rarely sung.'”
  • “A random sampling of other neighbors uncovered only staunch defenders of Maurice.”
  • “Why must a rooster be arrested?’ asked neighbor Katherine Karom.
  • Another neighbor, Renaud Morandeau, said “he didn’t understand what all the fuss was about since he’d never heard it and added, ‘And even if I had heard, what the heck, it’s a rooster.'”
  • “There was no immediate risk of expulsion, or less pleasant rooster destinies.”

The court will announce a verdict in September.

Stevie Wonder with The Harlem Boys Choir-Live

Me, my mom and sister at my brother’s wedding.

I’m really missing my mom this holiday season. What I want to tell her:

One of her granddaughters is recovering quickly from hip surgery.

One of her granddaughters got a new job offer.

One of her granddaughters danced beautifully as Captain of the Soldiers in The Nutcracker.

One of her grandsons, who is in the United Stated Army, will be stationed on the East Coast in a couple of months.

And I received amazing feedback on a picture book manuscript.

So, to my mom and all those that we miss…

New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show, Part 3

I said, “Say cheese,” to my 12 year-old niece, and this adorable little boy thought I was talking to him!

Here are more photos from the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden. Below the slide show is a short “Behind the Scenes” video.

Happy family time, hon!

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Shout Out Sister! Sara Bareilles On the Making of Armor

Sara Bareilles (photo courtesy of The Famous People.com)

Guess who mentions Morgan in an interview on Variety.com?

Sara Bareilles gives a shout out to my director-daughter, and talks about her music and the political climate in the article, “Sara Bareilles on Celebrating Female Power in the T Bone Burnett-Produced ‘Armor’.” by Chris William.

The title of Sara Bareilles’ new song, “Armor,” makes it sound like she’s ready for battle. And that’s not altogether off the mark for this female-centric anthem, as the lyrics take a so-done-with-this attitude toward a politicized patriarchy. But there’s even more compassion than fierceness as the lyric video for the single celebrates women and girls of different colors, orientations, ages and sizes, all of whom get to literally flex their muscles, in between holding up placards with the words of Bareilles’ song.

The T Bone Burnett-produced “Armor” is her first new non-“Waitress” single since 2013, and until recently, she didn’t see it, or any of the new material, coming out until next year. But watching the news coerced Bareilles into putting the song into circulation now, as she explained in a phone interview from London Thursday.

“To be totally honest, it’s been a hard year, watching and emotionally experiencing what been going on politically and culturally,” she tells Variety. “I think we were always kind of intending to save the music until the top of next year, closer to the album release. But with everything going on, I feel my responsibility as an artist is to respond. And that’s what this is, even though the song was already written and recorded, before I was sitting there watching the Supreme Court hearings.”

Bareilles adds that “both T Bone and I have to give a lot of love and gratitude to everyone from the label, management and marketing team who really responded so beautifully to my request to push everything up, which as we know in this industry is not the easiest thing to do. I just wanted to respond with a song that is really intended to be a message of support and community and solidarity. It felt like it belongs here, in this moment.”

“Armor” features her concentrating on the bottom end of her piano, which makes for an unusual sound… at least for her. “My homage to Tori Amos!” she laughs.

But seriously, “I think a huge part of the reason the song is an evolution of my sound is getting to partner with T Bone on this. One of the things that I loved about working with him is that he comes to the table with the perspective of less is more. We built this big ole deep end to the rhythm track, but essentially from an instrument standpoint it’s a three-piece band — drums, piano and bass, with a couple of other colors and flavors thrown in here and there. And my little internal pop artist got nervous for a minute wondering, like, ‘Oh, is there enough on here? Is there enough happening?’ But when I really sit back and listen to the message of the song and what I really want to put forward, it’s about the simplicity of it.”

The lyric video with the wide representation of women won’t be the only video for the track. “It’s the only video for right now; the anticipation would be to have another video down the line a little bit,” Bareilles says. “But it was such a beautiful treatment by Morgan Gruer, our director, and we talked through the ideas and the images and the treatment and what we were hoping to capture. And again, really what I loved about it was the simplicity of the intention. It’s about community and putting a face on the people that this song is talking about, in all of their wide range and spectrum. You know, that video could be a year long, and there still wouldn’t be everybody represented there, but it’s a portion of who this song is talking about.”

There’s no attendant album announcement to go with the song’s release. “We’re not quite ready yet for that,” she says. “This was kind of a rogue musical decision to put this song out as quickly as we did. It felt right. And then we’ll worry about the album later.”

Was there any thought of getting it out before the midterms, even though it’s not overtly political? “If it encourages anybody to activate in any way, I think that’s a good outcome for this piece of music. It’s not specifically written about voting, but certainly these are issues that are on the ballot currently, and the people that will make decisions that affect these issues as they pertain to women are on the ballot. So it’s really a time to engage and use your voice and educate yourself, and I really feel more than ever that it’s just our deep responsibility to engage. And so if anybody’s paying attention or listening to me, you know, that’s what I want to encourage them to do.”

The idea that elevating women and their experiences can be seen as a partisan political position in this environment seems puzzlingly backward to Bareilles, but she doesn’t regret the additional opportunities for conversation.

“I feel like it’s that classic adage that history is not moving in a straight line. And so in some ways it feels like we’re treading [territory we’ve been in before. But in some ways, we’re not. I think we’re still making progress, and I think that there’s something incredibly positive about the fact that these conversations my peers are having with each other (are occurring). I was going to brunch the other day with friends and we were talking about impassioned political views and what’s going on on a larger scale, and I remember a time when I wasn’t even paying attention.

“So I feel like there is a real value and a beauty to the fact we’re all awake — even if we woke up inside a nightmare,” she laughs.

Music Video of Sara Bareilles Armor

Clad Yourself in Armor

Morgan’s  lyric music video for Sara Bareilles‘ song Armor was released. No animation, just real people who wrote the lyrics and faced the camera.  Love it! Want to learn more about Bareilles’ motivation behind the song. Click here to read her interview with Billboard.

This song was not intended to be released until next year, but it felt increasingly like it wants to belong to this moment in time. Sometimes the world inspires a song… and sometimes the world also inspires the release date. So here we are. I spent the summer of 2018 working with T-Bone Burnett on material that is incredibly near and dear to my heart, ARMOR serving as the centerpiece. It has been one of the great artistic adventures of my life. I am incredibly proud to share the first taste of it all.

“The woman who survives intact and happy must be at once tender and tough.”
-Maya Angelou

To all my sisters and all our friends… you make me stronger.
Now hand me my armor.

Xo Sara

Thanks for watching, hon!

Moody and Mesmerizing Music Video of Robinson’s Medicine

She did it again!

A couple of days after my daughter Morgan’s  music video for Louis the Child’s song, Dear Sense, came out, her music video for Robinson’s song Medicine was released. It’s so interesting how the stories behind each song drive the tone for the videos. Want to know how the overhead shots were taken? Drones!

The lighting, movement, and emotion emphasize the music–just beautiful!

“Anna Robinson, better known by the mononym Robinson, is a New Zealand singer-songwriter and musician. She is from the city of Nelson. Robinson released her first single “Don’t You Forget About Me” in 2017.”

Thanks for watching, hon!