I post a weekly diary of historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the US) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I often feature in "Cheers & Jeers". For example .....
OK, you've been warned - here is this week's
tomfoolery material that I posted.
ART NOTES - an exhibition entitled The Unknown Hopper: Edward Hopper as Illustrator will be at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts through October 26, 2014.
HAIL and FAREWELL to the pianist Horace Silver - whose 1964 tune Song for My Father was played on darn-near every jazz station each Father's Day - who has died at the age of 85. With his passing, only 2 (of 57) famous jazz musicians who were photographed in the legendary 1958 photograph for Esquire magazine entitled A Great Day in Harlem are still alive: saxophonists Benny Golson and Sonny Rollins.
And to the author Daniel Keyes, who wrote the book Flowers for Algernon - for which Cliff Robertson won an Oscar in the film version entitled "Charly" - who has died at the age of 86. I loved reading this in junior high, and its last line:
"P.S. please if you get a chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bak yard."BRAIN TEASER - try this Quiz of the Week's News from the BBC.
THURSDAY's CHILD is Special K the Cat - a Washington state kitteh who went missing two years ago, but was found and returned home due to her microchip.
END of an ERA - in order to make way for new apartments and office space, the parking garage where Mark Felt - known for many years simply as Deep Throat - had his clandestine meetings (with Bob Woodward) ... is to be torn down.
TONIGHT the USA takes on Portugal in the World Cup (beginning at 6:00 PM Eastern) on ESPN ... and also Apple TV as well.
BEER SALES in the nation of Nigeria have been booming, with brewers re-working formulas to suit a hot climate.
THE OTHER NIGHT yours truly hosted the Top Comments diary with a look at my favorite author of sports books, John Feinstein - who (in reality) writes books about the people and business of sports .... and with a liberal political touch, too.
FRIDAY's CHILD is Shelby the Cat - an Australian kitteh who vanished from her home and then reappeared on the doorstep .... thirteen years later.
PROGRAMMING NOTE - I will be away for much of next week, hence there will not be an Odds & Ends diary next Sunday.
I plan to attend two Drinking Liberally gatherings: one in Denver this coming Wednesday, June 25th at 7:00 PM, and also in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 27th at 6:30 PM. If you'll be in either place that evening, I hope we'll have a chance to meet. I will be back here the following week, posting on July 6th. Have a happy 4th of July.
NEXT MONTH when the surviving members of Monty Python perform their reunion shows next month in London: the final performance (on Sunday, July 20th) will be simulcast in theaters around the world - beginning around 2:30 PM Eastern.
SEPARATED at BIRTH - TV star Jeffrey Dean Morgan ("Grey's Anatomy") and film star Robert Downey Jr.
...... and finally, for a song of the week ........................ a look at a song from over thirty years ago: Up Where We Belong – from the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman – which won a 1983 Oscar for its composers (Buffy Sainte-Marie and Jack Nitzsche, plus lyrics by Will Jennings) and a Grammy for Best Duo that same year for its singers (Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes). And yet: if one of the film’s producers had his way … the song would neither have appeared in the film ...nor be released as a single.
Lyricist Will Jennings – who wrote the lyrics to a few Steve Winwood songs as well as My Heart Will Go On from the film Titanic – said that Paramount Pictures asked him to write for this film (after watching a rough cut). This was for the film’s end: in which Richard Gere’s character (in his dress naval whites) arrives at the factory where Debra Winger’s character works … and carries her off. Given that the film was due to be wrapped-up soon, he did so in just a few days: with music provided by Buffy Sainte-Marie and Jack Nitzsche who wrote the score for the entire film.
Saskatchewan-born Buffy Sainte-Marie's illustrious career continues to this day, with her most recent album released five years ago. Jack Nitzsche had an extensive career in music, with film scoring (The Exorcist, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and who did arrangements and session piano for everyone from Phil Spector to the Rolling Stones. He and Buffy Sainte-Marie married in 1983, then separated a few years before his death (via a heart attack) in 2000.
An Officer and a Gentleman was directed by Taylor Hackford (whose other works include White Nights, Dolores Claiborne, Against All Odds and Ray) and who has been married to Helen Mirren since 1997.
A friend of his was the manager for the pop singer Jennifer Warnes (who had a Top Ten hit with Right Time of the Night in 1977) and suggested her to sing the song. Hackford thought her voice "too sweet" for the tune, but was intrigued when her manager suggested – alternatively - that it be done as a duet (with a singer whose voice would never be thought of as "too sweet").
Will Jennings had written a song for Joe Sample of The Crusaders, I’m So Glad I’m Standing Here Today – which was nominated for a Grammy. Accompanying Jennings to the Grammy ceremony, Hackford saw Joe Cocker sing with such feeling that he made a mental note for the future ... which had now arrived.
Hackford contacted Chris Blackwell the CEO of Island Records (who had Cocker signed to his label). He was happy to let Cocker record, but there was a problem: he was on tour in the Pacific Northwest. Paramount thus flew Cocker to LA one afternoon to record the tune with Jennifer Warnes, and then flew him back to resume the tour.
Richard Gere had (all along) thought that the script’s ending scene was overly sentimental, which Hackford was inclined to agree with … yet when done in rehearsals, the film’s extras all applauded: telling Hackford the script should remain as is. And when Gere later saw a finished version (with the song) he became convinced, too.
Fortunately, Taylor Hackford prevailed - and the song reached #1 in the US (remaining so for three weeks) in 1983. Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jack Nitzsche and Will Jennings all won (for "Best Original Song") awards from the Golden Globes, the Oscars and Britain's BAFTA. Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes won Grammys for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group. In addition, Louis Gossett Jr. won an Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film.
The song was later recorded by Buffy Sainte-Marie herself, plus Gospel singers Bebe and CeCe Winans. It has been featured on several TV shows (The Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park) as well as the film Moulin Rouge.
Fast-forward thirty years to 2013 - when Germany's Golden Camera Awards honor both German stars as well as international performers. And in a ceremony held in Berlin: Sigourney Weaver, Al Pacino and Clive Owen were honored for their lifetime film achievements, as well as Joe Cocker for music.
And in a surprise for the audience: Jennifer Warnes joined Joe Cocker on-stage for a reprise performance. And since Jennifer Warnes had a minor hit singing Leonard Cohen's First We Take Manhattan (Then We Take Berlin) .... the venue seemed quite apropos.
Below you can hear that - while their voices may not be what they were thirty years ago - they can still shine.