I post a weekly diary of the historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the US) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I featured this past week in "Cheers & Jeers". For example .....
The world of media, sports and politics ... not many degrees of separation, it would appear ...
OK, you've been warned - here is this week's
tomfoolery material that I posted.
POLL NOTE - in today's poll, I have avoided any mention of the Texas plant explosion (at least until further information develops) and only two nominations based upon the Marathon bombing (limited to dumb remarks after-the-fact) ... hope you'll understand.
ART NOTES - an exhibit of the works of Andy Warhol - including his portrait of the Scottish-born philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (as Warhol graduated from Carnegie Mellon University) - is on display at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood from Oct 4th thru Nov 3rd.
WHILE it is Nelson Mandela who is (deservedly so) South Africa's most prominent citizen, I have an even greater admiration for Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu - who urged his countrymen to 'regain their compassion' as he accepted the 2013 Templeton Prize - awarded for his work in advancing spiritual principles such as love and forgiveness.
THE OTHER NIGHT yours truly hosted the Top Comments diary with a look at Stax Records and its legacy: with performers such as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Booker T and the MG's, Rufus Thomas and blues guitarist Albert King.
MONDAY's CHILD is Ginger the Cat - a one-eyed English kitteh who trekked 5 miles in snow to return to his family (after going missing 10 days).
AGRICULTURE NOTES - the highlands of Peru have long had concentrated poverty - but improved roads/mobile technology are resulting in rising incomes.
BRAIN TEASER - try this Quiz of the Week's News from the BBC.
WEDNESDAY's CHILD is an Elkhart, Indiana kitteh who was rescued after (it is believed) having being thrown off a freeway overpass and wound-up landing onto a sign ..... but after being rescued two days later was fine (other than a small scrape on his leg) and he will soon be up for adoption.
JEERS to a member of the Danish parliament, elected from the xenophobic Danish People's Party - who on a visit to New Zealand was so freaked-out from a welcome (by its Navy) involving some native Maori dress and rituals - that she described it as "uncivilized" and a "grotesque mark of multicultural worship".
CHEERS to a fine meet-up of some of the Cheers & Jeers group of northern New England in Portland, Maine ...... it may well be the focus of a Top Comments diary this coming Thursday.
ART NOTES - an exhibition of images by 12 photographers of Latino descent entitled Cotidiano - looking at everyday life in a quite diverse community - will be at the former residence of the Ambassadors of Spain in Washington, D.C. through May 12th.
SIGN of the TIMES - two of Central Asia’s aging strongmen - the leaders of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan - are planning for their succession, which might possibly involve .... their daughters.
IN THE MIDST of that nation's economic crisis, some farmers in Greece are thriving by cultivating saffron - the world's most expensive spice.
THURSDAY's CHILD is Frankie the Cat - an abandoned New Zealand kitteh now weaned off eating solely junk food, with many families seeking to adopt him.
GOOD LUCK to the Spanish judge Mercedes Alaya, who has the unenviable task of presiding over the mother of all Spain's corruption scandals involving reptile funds - corrupt management involving kick-backs of a pension fund, with more than 60 people investigated (including seven who used to work for the Andalusian parliament) and the case has already over 23,000 sheets of paper filed.
TV NOTES - Entertainment Weekly offers its choices for the 21 Most Annoying TV Characters (although it is primarily confined to those during the past twenty-five years, when the magazine was founded).
SIGN of the TIMES - when the US craft beer brewing age began around 1980, its pioneers modeled their brews after those in Britain. Now, with the success of the industry: brewers in the UK have modeled some of their offerings on US brews.
HAIL and FAREWELL to the English graphic designer Storm Thorgerson - who designed the album covers for numerous rock bands (most notably Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon") - who has died at the age of 69.
FRIDAY's CHILD is Rosie the Cat - an English kitteh who went missing when a UMass Boston doctoral student lost her during a fire ... until a man recognized her from seeing "Lost Cat" posters.
........ and finally, for a song of the week ..................................while I haven’t always liked her choice of material: the 40+ year career of singer Jennifer Warnes is one that has had amazing versatility and she always seems to fit in wherever she is. It includes country music, musical theatre, TV programs, film scores or simply on the pop charts - and especially known for her work in duets (with two resulting Grammys).
The Seattle native grew up in pre-Disney Anaheim, and at age nine sang the national anthem at LA’s Shrine Auditorium. She was offered an opera scholarship after graduating from high school, but chose folk-singing instead (and as a contralto, she may have wondered about the relative lack of lead singing roles written for that voice).
She sang in LA clubs in the mid-60’s - opening for Jackson Brown, Jose Feliciano and (most importantly) Pat Paulsen, who suggested her to the Smothers Brothers when they assembled their musical cast in 1967. As a 20 year-old she sang duets with the likes of Donovan Leitch, which led to her being cast as the female lead (Sheila) in the Los Angeles theater production of Hair (which had a successful 2009 revival on Broadway).
After the TV show ended, her early 1970’s recordings flopped ... which led her to her next break: meeting Leonard Cohen, who became her mentor. She sang back-up on several of his tours, working her way up to singing leads/duets with him.
Eventually she had her break-through single in 1977: Right Time of the Night – with its calm yet open tone of sexuality – reached #6 on the pop charts and #17 on the country charts (later covered by Reba McEntire) and followed up in 1979 with "I Know a Heartache When I See One" that made it to #19 (and #10 on the country charts, later covered by Jo Dee Messina). That same year, she sang It Goes Like It Goes for the film Norma Rae that won the Oscar (for Best Original Song) for its composers.
She came back in 1982 with a famous duet with Joe Cocker – Up Where We Belong from the film "An Officer and a Gentleman" which also hit #1, leading to a Grammy for the singers (and Oscars for the composers). That same year she sang James Taylor’s Millworker on the PBS production of Studs Terkel’s "Working" (which Taylor hosted).
Film composers offered her other singing parts in films such "Twilight Zone – The Movie" and "All The Right Moves". But it took until 1987 for her next standout duet – with Bill Medley (of the Righteous Brothers) on (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life – from the dance finale of "Dirty Dancing" - that once again reached #1 and won both Grammys (for the two singers) and Oscars (for its composers).
That same year, she sang a song that Leonard Cohen had written (but did not record himself until the following year) called First We Take Manhattan (Then We Take Berlin) - my favorite Leonard Cohen song - with Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar. It's from her album Famous Blue Raincoat – consisting exclusively of songs he has written or co-written. One that she co-wrote with him was Song of Bernadette about the girl from Lourdes, France who claimed to see the Virgin Mary (possibly stemming from Jennifer’s Catholic upbringing).
Apart from her duet with B.J. Thomas on "As Long As We've Got Each Other" (the theme song from "Growing Pains") and a 1991 duet with Jackson Browne (singing the Beatles' "Golden Slumbers") she has been out of the limelight since her 1992 album The Hunter - and having been signed/dropped by various labels has prevented a true “Best Of” album.
Which explains her efforts to break free of record companies, resulting in her 2001 album The Well that garnered many critical raves. There's also a 20th anniversary version of Famous Blue Raincoat (with bonus tracks), she also appeared on a tribute album to Warren Zevon in 2004 and tours from time-to-time.
Jennifer Warnes turned age 66 last month, and in February she traveled to Germany, when Joe Cocker received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the 48th Annual Golden Camera Awards in Berlin. And as a surprise guest of The Golden Camera Awards, Jennifer Warnes joined Joe Cocker in a live performance of "Up Where We Belong" (as shown below). Hmmmm ... "Then we take Berlin", indeed.
Of all of her work: it was seeing a YouTube version of her back on the old Smothers Brothers show that helped me decide upon a favorite. By playing the role of Sheila in the LA production of "Hair", Jennifer Warnes would sing what I consider to be the best song of the play, Easy to be Hard - which scolds activists who overlook close friends in favor of big causes. And below you can hear a 21 year-old Jennifer Warnes sing it on the Smothers Brothers show.
How can people be so heartless?
How can people be so cruel?
Easy to be hard
Easy to be cold
How can people have no feelings?
How can they ignore their friends?
Easy to be proud
Easy to say no
Especially people who care about strangers
Who rail about evil and social injustice
But do you only care about the bleeding crowd?
How about a needing friend?
I need a friend