Oct. rambling: idealism, cynicism

coming to the aid

CELL PHONE FUNCTIONS

cell phone functions
XKCD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.
Pew Research: In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace

Obituary: Megan Angelina Webbley, 1988-2019

How corporations are addressing guns

John Oliver: National Weather Service

The Best Places to Live in a Future Troubled by Climate Change – Upstate New York state gets an honorable mention.

Vehicle recycling: AN ECO-FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVE

The Apartment Shortage Controversy

Today’s Environmental Crisis Was Created in 1919

Arkansas’ Phillips County Remembers the Racial Massacre the US Forgot

An entire Manhattan village owned by black people was destroyed to build Central Park

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama spoke at the funeral of Congressman Elijah Cummings

Why The Normalization of Stan Culture is Unhealthy

Tips you need to know to help you spot fake news

D.C.’s Newseum Is Closing Its Doors at the End of the Year

What Happens Right Before Your Best Employee Quits

The Best Home Protection: Home Security Systems

Eeyore is named onomatopoeically, after the braying call of a donkey; he’s the most depressing character in the Pooh universe

Idealism

Students at Albany Medical College are coming to the aid of sanctuary seekers in the US; victims of persecution, torture, and other abuses are three times more likely to be granted asylum if they are evaluated by medical professionals and can provide an affidavit in court

Goodbye DARE — More Schools Are Embracing Realistic Drug Education

A good reason to brush your teeth – from the American Dental Association

How Long Do Average U.S. Marriages Last?

Was Bruce Springsteen born to be a filmmaker?

Greg Burgas: Idealism and cynicism in art

Albany Library Foundation gala photos by DTrae Carter (I’m in there somewhere)

Now I Know: When Playing a Doctor on TV is Good Enough and How a Cute Cartoon Created a Catastrophe of Raccoons and The Secret Life of Supermarket Apples and The Lifesaving Powers of Being an NFL Superfan and The Bird That Set The Record Straight and Why You Can’t Perform Hamlet at the Bar and What’s So French About the F-Word?

Canned Pumpkin Isn’t Pumpkin At All

Mad as a Hatter

INDIVIDUAL 1

Do What’s Right – chockablock with links

He serves nobody except himself

Fact-checking

The un-American president: he hugs the flag every chance he gets, but the truth is very dark indeed

The Daily Show: Kurds edition; John Oliver: Syria

AIER: Presidential Harassment Is a Public Good and Five Wrong Claims about Trade

Rob Dreher in The American Conservative: Is he mentally unstable?

Doral was sited for 524 health code violations from 2013 to 2018

Nate White: Why do some British people dislike him?

Taylor’s Testimony Goes Way Beyond Quid Pro Quo

William Barr’s Wild Misreading of the First Amendment

MUSIC

Guiliani – Randy Rainbow

The Fury – a suite from John Williams’s score

Coverville: 1282: Cover Stories for No Doubt and Avril Lavigne and 1283: Yes Cover Story and Yacht Rock Revue Interview

Piano Sonata No. 9 by Alexander Scriabin

Moses Supposes from Singin’ in the Rain, re-created by dancer Derek Hough and an animated Donald O’Connor

The Isle of the Dead, Sergei Rachmaninov’s epic tone poem

How’d You Like to Spoon With Me? – Angela Lansbury, from Till The Clouds Roll By (1946)

Swing You Sinners! (Fleischer Studios)

You’ve Got to Eat Your Spinach – Mae Questel

Hocus Pocus – Focus, from Disney and Pixar’s Onward, released 6 March 2020

Nippertown: IN MEMORIAM: LYRICIST ROBERT HUNTER Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performing member of the Grateful Dead

Movie review: Blinded by the Light

Bruce Springsteen IS the Boss

Blinded by the Light (2019_film_poster)My wife and I were intrigued enough to go see the film Blinded by the Light on what turned out to be the day before it left the Spectrum Theatre in Albany. It wasn’t there very long.

The premise is that Javed (movie newcomer Viveik Kalra) is a Muslim young man in England. His family, including parents Malik (Kulvinder Ghir) and Noorhad (Meera Ganatra), had emigrated from Pakistan. Javed is finding life at school and home disspiriting. The overt racism he encounters on his way home in the country run by Margaret Thatcher made it worse.

Then, in the lunchroom and out of the blue, a Sikh young man named Roops (Aaron Phagura) lends Malik two cassettes by Bruce Springsteen and promises him that it will change his life. And it does.

The Boss’ words have liberated his creative vision. In doing so, he butts heads with his strict and controlling traditional father. What does this music of this Jewish American – “he’s not Jewish!” – have to do with them? What Bruce wrote related to the working class.

His confidence also helps him attract the attention of his classmate, Eliza (Nell Williams). A scene with Malik, Eliza, and her parents was painfully believable. Malik’s relationship with Eliza made the lyrics wrote for the band of his best friend Matt (Dean-Charles Chapman) more believable. Other pivotal people in Maloik’s life include his sisters, his teacher and a neighbor.

Blinded by the Light is based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir Greetings from Bury Park, published in 2007. Manzoor co-wrote the script with director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) and her husband Paul Mayeda Berges.

This film has surface similarities with Yesterday: South Asian involved with a massively successful musician. It’s a very different film, stylistically.

Bruce Springsteen has given his thumbs up to the project. He loved Manzoor’s book and showed up at the premiere, even playing at the afterparty.

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: “Even when it feels as if we’ve seen this movie before, we’ve never seen it set to the sounds of the Boss, and we’ve never seen it from the point of view of this particular terrific kid and his family.” I highly recommend Blinded by the Light.

Bruce Springsteen turns 70

“the writer has made one promise”

Bruce Springsteen
When Bruce Springsteen made the covers of the magazines TIME and Newsweek in the same week in 1975, I thought his career was pretty much doomed.

I became even more convinced when it took nearly three years between his third album, Born to Run, and Darkness on the Edge of Town.

Bruce put out a double album, The River, in 1980, which actually has a Top 10 single. So naturally, he follows it with the fine, if stark Nebraska, which did OK commercially.

Then the massive commercial and artistic album Born in the USA in 1984. Bruce had to tell Ronald Reagan’s people that the title track does not mean what they thought it meant. There were SIX Top 10 singles from that collection and regular play on MTV, when that was something.

AFTER “THAT” ALBUM

Naturally, Springsteen followed that with a FIVE-ALBUM collection, maybe a tad excessive, but with another charting single. But it’s interesting that after that, he became less the guy with the hits, and more the album-driven artist.

If you exclude live albums and compilations, all of Springsteen’s albums released between 2002 and early 2014 went to #1 on the Billboard charts. That exception was We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions which “only” went to #3. I thought that album a bit too reverent. But the Live Dublin albums, with many of the same musicians and songs, that came out the next year, was loads of fun.

I’ve only seen him perform once. I say “only” because he’s been in the area regularly. His three-hour shows are legendary.

Bruce performed his one-man Broadway show that was well received. He wrote an autobiography, Born to Run. He says, “Writing about yourself is a funny business. But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I’ve tried to do this.”

Now his new album, Western Stars, is going to be a movie. Bruce Springsteen IS The Boss.

SOME SONGS

born to run cover
Spirit in the Night, 1973
Rosalita, 1973
Born to Run, #23 in 1975
Jungleland, 1975

The Promised Land, 1978
Darkness on the Edge of Town, 1978
Hungry Heart, #5 in 1980
The River, 1980
Atlantic City, 1982

Pink Cadillac, 1984
Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart, 1985
We Are the World – USA for Africa, #1 for four weeks in 1985
Glory Days, #5 in 1985
My Hometown, #6 in 1986
War, #8 in 1986

Brilliant Disguise, #5 in 1987
57 Channels (And Nothin’ On), #68 in 1992
Better Days, B-side of Human Touch (#16), 1992
Streets of Philadelphia, #9 in 1994, and won an Oscar

My City of Ruins, 2002; WTC benefit
Old Dan Tucker, 2006
Radio Nowhere, #102 in 2007
Outlaw Pete, 2009

His YouTube channel
Coverville 1265: Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., Covered, Track-By-Track

Bruce Springsteen turns 70 on September 23.

Music Throwback: We Are the World

I didn’t buy the single which was #1 for four weeks on the pop charts and two weeks on the soul charts.

This being the birthdays of both Ray Charles (b. 1930) and Bruce Springsteen (b. 1949), the song We Are the World came to mind. Both singers had significant solos on the track.

Let’s back up. Back in 1983-1985, there was a terrible famine in Ethiopia. In reaction to the television reports, Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats) and Midge Ure (Ultravox, Thin Lizzy) wrote Do They Know It’s Christmas? in 1984. “It was first recorded in a single day on 25 November 1984 by Band Aid, a supergroup put together by Geldof and Ure and consisting mainly of the biggest British and Irish musical acts at the time.” It was re-recorded three times: in 1989, 2004, and 2014 for various charities.

American singer Harry Belafonte thought that if a bunch of Brits could do this, what could Americans do? Initially thinking of a benefit concert, Belafonte was convinced by “Ken Kragen, who managed an impressive roster of talent, that they could raise more money and make a bigger impact with an original song; Belafonte agreed…”

From Rolling Stone: “‘Check your egos at the door’ read the sign on the front door of A&M Studios in Los Angeles on the night of January 28th, 1985. Producer Quincy Jones had placed it there because dozens of the nation’s biggest singers were walking through that door, and he had exactly one night to cut a record that would save lives by raising money to help alleviate a famine in Ethiopia.

“The result, USA for Africa’s We Are the World, was released… on March 7th, 1985, written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. By all accounts, some people, especially the rockers, didn’t particularly like the song. But it was Springsteen who refused to undermine the process and kept that faction in check.

Here are the lyrics, with indicators of the soloists.

The success of the Band Aid and USA for Africa singles led to benefit concerts such as Live Aid, also in 1985 and the various Farm Aid concerts.

I didn’t buy the single which was #1 for four weeks on the pop charts and two weeks on the soul charts (and #76 on the country charts) and sold four million copies in the US alone. I bought the album, which also sold well, but was lightly regarded.
Listen to:

Do They Know It’s Christmas (1984) here or here

We Are the World here or here (long version)

Queen at Live Aid here

We are the World (2010), for Haiti here

The making of We Are the World here

Music Throwback Saturday: Fire

Three songs that are all in my collection called Fire, they are very different pieces of music.

October 9-14 this year is Fire Prevention Week in the US, “established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871.”

Each year has a theme. 2016’s theme is Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years.

Watching the terrible fires in California, and elsewhere in the western United States, following the severe drought conditions, was sobering. Yet, as is often the case, it also reminded me of music. Continue reading “Music Throwback Saturday: Fire”