Wrap-up: That's all for the 2008 parade, so the rest of this post is tucked away under the "continue reading" link below. Check back frequently for my normal blog posts, updated (almost) daily, and periodic live-blog events. Have a suggestion for something I should cover? E-mail me at Noah.Zaves@gmail.com. Feedback is welcome too. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
11:55 am: Why is Macy's asking us to believe in Santa Claus? Is it because nobody has the money to buy their own presents, so we should just trust that presents will appear on Christmas Day? I heard a piece on the radio this morning about how to explain to your children that "Santa has limits too," and he can't necessarily bring everything he's asked for.
11:52 am: Andy Williams is so awesome that he doesn't even pretend to use a microphone. He can just chill there and look like he's projecting his voice all the way out to the stands and cameras. From the looks of it, he really believes that he can do it. Ironically, he's the best lip-syncher I've seen all morning.
11:49 am: I LOVE Kermit the Frog. He's got a really cute float, too, sitting on a log under a bridge surrounded by kids, but the subject matter? "I believe in Santa Claus"? Complete with a legion of kids all clutching their hearts and pledging allegiance to Santa? I don't know if I can support that sort of mixing.
11:43 am: Kristin Chenoweth. Sad day for the Wicked alumnae, I guess. Her voice is nice (pre-recorded, of course), but her face is frozen in the most painful expression. Sure, it's cold, I know, but if I were on live television in front of 50 million people (NBC's estimate), I would maybe try smiling a little...
11:41 am: West Johnston High School has turquoise uniforms, with white pants. I don't ever remember seeing a turquoise marching band. It's catchy, and the blue flags and guard uniforms really make the turquoise pop.
11:33 am: The Special Needs Color Guard of America. Hella Respect. Also way cool that they included the girl in a wheelchair.
11:25 am: "Fred Hill Briefcase Drill Team" That's the coolest thing I've ever seen. Sharply-dressed men with red ties and briefcases marching in formation - and boogying. I love that the Fred Hill haberdashery closed in 1992, yet the drill team is still together.
11:21 am: "Rodeo," from Aaron Copland's Hoedown. Fascinating choreography, highlighting the different colors of the band as they change back and forth. For our next Wind Ensemble concert, we're playing a set of Renaissance dances, for which we sit in "consorts" of similar instruments. The piece is constructed as a conversation between the different consorts. <3 Aaron Copland, bringin' back the Rennaissance... :-)
11:10 am: Trace Atkins sings on the Jimmy Dean float. Funny that the whole country-themed float features easy-to-spell names, that I don't have to look up. Cute float, too. I like the melon-colored face on the front. :-)
11:03 am: The Good Housekeeping float, part of their massive PR plan to roll out the new Good Housekeeping seal (which, astonishingly, looks much more old-fashioned than the one it replaces). When they introduced the seal on the Today show, the graphics people mistakenly put up the new seal when the host asked for the old one (a mod-art blue design with a sideswept border). Personally, I'm not impressed with the "improvement," but I'm sure they tested it on tons of focus groups. Something about a big important anniversary...
10:56 am: Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is an adorable float, especially hen they started singing. But who's the friend they introduced? (edit: Oh, it was Rickroll!)
10:50 am: <3 Idina Menzel. From her introduction, I thought she would sing something from Wicked. But she was good anyway. Also exciting: Kristin Chenoweth is coming up later in the parade. :-)
10:46 am: The Copague HS marching band, out of New York, is playing They Might Be Giants' "Istanbul, not Constantinople." I didn't know that anybody outside of my summer camp knew that song. (If you do know it, you should strongly consider applying to work there...)
10:43 am: "Keith Herring's Heart" balloon. I don't think the heart is anatomically correct. Anyone know more about that?
10:39 am: How can you have a real-life Ronald McDonald right behind the balloon version? What message does that send to little kids?
10:37 am: The people singing "Aquarius" (sponsored by the History Channel?) are singing with so much passion. It's clear from their faces that they truly understand, and believe in, the song. Or else they're just amazing actors...
10:35 am: Mr. Peanut in his "chauffeured" peanut-mobile. My dad: "You think kids are allergic to him?"
10:26 am: I do <3 Sesame Street. And the guy on the piano is really rockin', even if the piano is totally fake. Honestly, if I had to choose between a real piano and one that's yellow with green highlights...
10:24 am: Jumprope? Way cool! I didn't know that it was possible to jump with four ropes intertwined. I'll even forgive them their trip-ups because their routine is so insane.
10:18 am: Leonard Bernstein = good. Amazing, in fact. Leonard Bernstein played by a slightly uncoordinated and slightly unbalanced marching band outdoors in November = not quite so good. Nice thought, though, as New York celebrates Lenny's 90th birthday.
10:16 am: "Shontelle" I've never heard of her, but she's got a really nice voice. Sweet and yet powerful at the same time. Her song is catchy too. I wonder if she's a totally new singer whose record label paid the big bucks to get her in the parade so the teenagers become obsessed. Either way, sounds like she deserves it.
10:08 am: And the marching bands begin. This one's from Georgia Tech. How cool that they're playing something original, a "Fantasia on Georgia Tech Themes." I bet it was written by someone at the school. Sad they didn't mention the composer though.
10:03 am: "James Taylor: America the Beautiful" I do love that song, and James Taylor sings it with passion. I'm reminded of the Rev. Al Sharpton's speech from the 2004 DNC. He talks about Ray Charles' version of America the Beautiful, which is so much more powerful because Ray Charles has been blind since birth. "Ray wasn't singing about what he knew," Sharpton explained. "He hadn't seen many purple mountains. He hadn't seen many fruited plains. He was singing about what he believed to be."
9:42 am: "Under the Sea," from the new Little Mermaid musical. I'm not thrilled that Disney movies have been turned into musicals, but I guess Little Mermaid's a good candidate, since it has so many catchy songs. About the costumes: All the sea creatures have legs, except for the Little Mermaid, who's wearing a skirt. The crab (what's his name?) is just a guy wearing a red suit, plus a red hat with googly eyes on it. You'd think Disney could spend a little more on costumes? It sounds good though - just like the original.
9:35 am: "Harry Connick Jr. hosts a helicopter tour of the parade route." In case there was any doubt about what a New Yorker sounds like. "I was in the parade once, but I didn't make it past Times Square. I couldn't push my piano that far." I saw him on David Letterman the other night, and his Christmas album is surprisingly fly and original, despite my disdain for Christmas albums. Plus his 11-year-old daughter sings on one of the tracks, which is cute. He said that she had to work super-hard on the song, and prove to him that it was good enough for the album. He looked really proud that it was. :-)
9:29 am: "South Pacific: Nothing like a Dame," from the new Broadway revival. Sounds pretty good, but not exceptional. Definite props to the actors for wearing open button-down shirts in a New York November. One guy, without an undershirt, looks positively freezing. The choreography is nice, but again, not too exceptional. On another note, it's nice that NBC recognizes the socio-political implications of South Pacific. For a long time, the mainstream media completely ignored that aspect of the show.
9:17 am: "In the Heights," from the musical of the same name. I've never seen such a fly performance! The song alternates Latin rhythms with totally legit hip-hop sequences, complete with rapping. Wow! Plus the themes of the song are really cool. Seems to be about the alternative culture of the neighborhood, and the heritage of the (apparently) Latino lead character. Noah's rating: I want to fly to New York tomorrow to see the show. Who's got money?
9:06 am (pacific): "The official ribbon-cutting opening" Neither of the people with scissors (Al Roker and the parade's organizer) actually cuts the ribbon. They go snip-snip, and the ribbon falls limply down to the ground, fully intact. Reminds me of when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg came to Willamette to cut the ribbon on the new Law School building. She had a 2-foot pair of sparkling scissors, and it took a full minute to realize that it didn't have blades. So then Pres. Pelton sneaks in with a pocketknife, and cuts it when nobody's looking. :-)