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Wednesday, 28 February 2018

New Portraits Quiz ANSWERS

Here are the answers to last weeks portraits quiz.
Rosa Parks was, of course famous as a civil rights activist who moved forward her cause by insisting on keeping her seat on a segregated bus. Alan Turing was the English scientist who kicked off the computer revolution and solved the Enigma Machine problem. He was gay at a time when that was illegal in Great Britain. He took his own life and a poisoned apple with a bite taken out of it was found next to his bed. Steve Jobs always denied that it was the original of Apple's Trademark. I'm not convinced.  Machiavelli has lent his name to an adjective which reflects poorly on his true worth as an adviser to princes and politicians. Marie Curie was a double Nobel Prize winner (in different disciplines). She was the first person to achieve this; there have been three others since.
Paul McCartney is a former Beatle. Emily Dickinson, born in Massachusetts in 1830, was hardly recognised for her poetry during her lifetime. JRR Tolkien was the author of The Lord of the Rings, beloved reading for every schoolboy. Richard Feynman was the quantum physicist who led the enquiry into the Challenger disaster and a wonderful popular promoter of science. He once said, "If you think you understand quantum theory then you don't understand quantum theory".
Maya Angelou was the author of I know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a touching autobiography of her childhoodKaty Perry is a singer-songwriter famous for I Kissed a Girl. Franz Kafka was a deeply troubled Czech writer and Bryan Cranston is pictured five years before he began making Breaking Bad.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

New Portraits Quiz

Can you name the twelve subjects in these portraits? It's a real mix - many of the subjects have a name more famous than their face.  Five of them are famous primarily for their writing, three are famous for science and there are two singers. Some of them are not shown as they usually are seen. Six of the twelve are European. Answers in a week.
Have a go; no one will get them all!
I'm listening to the rough and raw original version of Let's Stick Together by Wilbert Harrison, recorded in his garage. It needs to be played loud! Click here.
There are some excellent cover versions by Bryan Ferry, Canned Heat, KT Tunstall and Bob Dylan but I like this one best.
Incidentally Harrison re-recorded it later as Let's Work Together - not nearly as good as the first version... Canned Heat also used that title.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Sonny, my grandson!

I don't usually post much personal stuff but today is an exception. Long-time followers of this and my previous Blog may remember that seven years ago my grandson, Sonny, was rushed into Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma; a very aggressive cancer. He was in the hospital for four months and has made a full recovery after comprehensive life-saving treatment. Many of the readers of this Blog were wonderfully supportive at the time which proved to be a great help.
Sonny has been in full remission for several years now and his annual appointment is to seek out any damage done by the chemo-therapy and none has been found.
Well, this weekend is his Bar Mitzvah (akin to a Confirmation) when, according to Jewish law, he becomes a man and responsible for his actions. He is a popular, kind, loving and very funny soccer-mad boy. Naturally it will be a very emotional day and there will be a big family celebration on Sunday. The picture above was taken a couple months ago at another function. His one will be very informal. Below he is pictured with his younger sister Lois aged ten going on 30!
I'm listening to The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi's Nabucco. Very fitting and very moving. Listen here.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Painting of the Month (79) Feb 2018: David Bomberg

David Bomberg, In The Hold, 1913-14, Tate, London
David Bomberg (1891 - 1957) was a British artist, a student of the Slade School of Art and a member of the 'Whitechapel Boys'. This cubist-influenced painting was made before the First World War, and like so many others, when he returned from war his outlook and style changed.
In this picture he has retained the lines from where he had squared up his preliminary work leaving a grid of cubist-type patterning and has dissolved the image into fragments.. However the work is not abstract; left of centre a figure in blue can be clearly seen working in the hold of a ship in London docks and lower-right a ladder can be observed leading out of the hold. You have to work to see it!
There is actually a cross depicted in every single square and strong diagonals in both directions across the whole surface. In fact the longer I look at this painting the more things I see. It's a monumental piece - more than six feet along each edge.
The Whitechapel Boys were a group of Jewish artists in the East End of London during the first quarter of the twentieth century, a place of ever-changing immigrant populations. A remarkable group of artists and writers emerged from the group which included Mark Gertler.
David Bomberg: Two self-portraits and a photograph
I am listening to Linda Ronstadt's version of Neil Young's Birds. It's a lovely song which I always seem to prefer sung by a female vocalist. There is a delicate vulnerable version by the English singer Kathryn Williams here.



Monday, 5 February 2018

Great Popular Songs (6): Into The Mystic

"And when that foghorn blows I want to hear it, I don't have to fear it."
Van Morrison wrote Into The Mystic for his 1970 album Moondance. It has a beautiful poetic lyric which, like many songs of it's type, is open to various interpretations. After nearly fifty years it shows no sign of sounding 'dated' and has already been featured in at least half a dozen movies.
You can listen to it by clicking here

Into The Mystic. Words and Music by Van Morrison:
We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic
And when that foghorn blows I will be coming home
And when that foghorn blows I want to hear it
I don't have to fear it
I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
Then magnificently we will float into the mystic
And when that foghorn blows you know I will be coming home
And when that foghorn whistle blows I got to hear it
I don't have to fear it
I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And together we will float into the mystic
Come on girl
Too late to stop now...
So, lean and spare lyrics which are melded to the melody in a  grip so strong that a permanent atmosphere is created. The mood is mystical, magical and spiritual in feel. The words are open to several differing meanings via homophones such as "We were born/borne before the wind". Van Morrison himself expressed doubt about which meaning he intended. As with so many lyrics and poetry you can take your own interpretation.  Too late to stop now.......