All of Me – John Legend (2013)

John Legend and Chrissy Teigen

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend

“The overwhelming sensibility is one of optimism,” Legend told BBC News about Teigen’s influence on the album. “She’s definitely affected my songwriting.” – Songfacts.com

I became familiar with John Legend from La La Land. He wrote and performed that show-stopper ‘Start a Fire‘. Overall, I was really impressed by not only his musical talent but his credibility as an actor. He represented the allure of commercial success and the move away from traditional and pure jazz towards the mainstream. He was tailor made for that part.
Then I stumbled upon this song ‘All of Me’ which is from his fourth album Love in the Future. It peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 11 in May 2014. It basically took the world by storm peaking very high in most of the western world’s charts. Like many of the modern day ballads I actually prefer listening to the verses over the chorus and All of Me is no different.

According to wikipedia: “All of Me” is a tender piano power ballad, which was inspired by his then-fiancée, now wife, model Chrissy Teigen…. In June 2013, Legend premiered “All of Me” during a performance on Oprah Winfrey’s Oprah’s Next Chapter…Ken Capobianco of The Boston Globe named the song the album’s “essential track”…..The song’s music video was shot in Italy just days before Legend’s wedding, featuring his fiancée, model Chrissy Teigen. The video ends with footage from their actual wedding in Lake Como, Italy.

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Posted in Music

10/9 – 16/9 incl. Simulation Trilemma, Stand By Me, PTA and Cain and Abel.

news on the march

Welcome to Monday’s News on the March – The week that was in my digital world.

Podcast at PowerfulJRE:

For a few years I have been watching Nick Bostrom discuss his Simulation Argument. This is one of the more laid back interviews with him. Unfortunately Rogan is unable to grasp Bostrom’s explanation of Option 3 of his Simulation Trilemma below, so the last 30 minutes where Nick repeats himself can be frustrating.

Bostrom’s trilemma argues that one of three unlikely-seeming propositions is almost certainly true:

  1. “The fraction of human-level civilizations that reach a posthuman stage (that is, one capable of running high-fidelity ancestor simulations) is very close to zero”, or
  2. “The fraction of posthuman civilizations that are interested in running simulations of their evolutionary history, or variations thereof, is very close to zero”, or
  3. “The fraction of all people with our kind of experiences that are living in a simulation is very close to one”

Nick Bostrom is a Swedish philosopher at the University of Oxford known for his work on existential risk, the anthropic principle, human enhancement ethics, superintelligence risks, and the reversal test. (Watch full interview)

Poem by River Dixon at The Stories in Between:

I may smile at you
But it stops there
I don’t have much
To give you
Some words
Nothing much at all…(read more)

Review by Seth Harris at PulpCult:

Stand By Me isn’t a perfect movie, but it has beautiful moments where the craft of the filmmakers and the themes of the narrative come together. It’s also another showcase for River Phoenix, a reminder of what we lost with his passing. His monologue is delivered with the most genuine emotion, and I could hear so many former students of mine in the expression of his pain. (Read more)

I wrote a review of Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master in March this year. I always find PTA an breath of fresh in interviews. You would expect someone who makes the kind of movies he does to be reluctant to reveal his own thoughts about them, but as you can see in this interview he is extremely candid and humble. I also recommend this longer interview on the Bill Simmons podcast where he discusses his whole career up to this point (including The Phantom Thread).

Video excerpt of Jordan Peterson in Auckland:

‘…Humans have discovered in this dramatic manner that if they make sacrifices in the present then hypothetically the future can be better. I don’t know if that’s not the major discovery of mankind…to give up something we want right now we can sort of bargain with fate as it were, to get something better in the future.’ – Watch the full video clip.

Podcast at PowerfulJRE:

Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t let Rogan get a word in edgeways, but the last hour is excellent.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator.
  (Watch the full podcast here)

news on the march the end

Posted in News, Science

All I Really Want To Do – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan 1964

Bob Dylan 1964

‘I ain’t lookin’ to compete with you
Beat or cheat or mistreat you
Simplify you, classify you
Deny, defy or crucify you
All I really want to do
Is, baby, be friends with you’

Warning this post includes a potentially offensive word to express adulation:

All I Really Want To Do was one of Dylan’s most popular non-topical songs from the early years. I have always enjoyed listening to it because of it’s playfulness and banter. It brings a huge smile to my face because of his ‘tongue in cheek’ delivery which includes yodeling and ‘laughing’ no less. He really puts himself out there!

What makes this song reach a fucking insane nobel-prize winning standard is how damn good his lyrics are. He juxtaposed the piercing letter with frivolous delivery like a trapeze artist and reached the other end – having not only come out in one piece but emerging triumphant. There are hundreds of ways this song could have gone wrong for a 23 year old artist and he found the one way it was always going to sound right even after all these years.

Ok, onto formalities – Wikipedia: All I Really Want to Do” featured on the 1964 album, Another Side of Bob Dylan….It was recorded in just one take. Within a year of its release, it had also become one of Dylan’s most familiar songs to pop and rock audiences, due to hit cover versions by Cher and the Byrds….It was inspired by Dylan’s breakup with Suze Rotolo.

 All I Really Want to Do and I Shall Be free No. 10 induced the biggest chuckles from that that album. The latter my class and I would sing at a work event in the Navy, of all places!

I was unable to locate online an original studio recording which is unfortunate, but the following audio from his show in Rhode island is the closest which resembles the original and gives a sense of everything I’ve described here:

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Posted in Music

Once (2007) – John Carney (Friday’s Finest)

Once 2007

Once is an Irish romantic drama that had a very modest budget (and ‘approach’ if I might add) and found Oscars success at the 2008 awards season. I have great affection for this movie not only because I had just seen the protagonist – Irish music balladeer Glen Hansard in concert opening for Bob Dylan, but because this adorable understated indie movie made such great-inroads and basked in the sun of mainstream accolade.

Wikipedia: The film stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová as two struggling musicians in Dublin, Ireland. A thirty-something busker performs with his guitar on Grafton Street, a Dublin shopping district and chases a man who steals his money. Lured by his music, a young Czech flower seller talks to him about his songs. Delighted to learn that he repairs hoovers, she insists that she fix her broken hoover…..  Once spent years in development with the Irish Film Board and was made for a budget of €112,000. It was a commercial success, earning substantial per-screen box office averages in the United States.

It’s very serendipitous how I see Bob Dylan in Sydney 2001 the night before he received his Oscar for Things Have Changed and then Glen Hansard in 2007 open for him and soon thereafter he wins an Oscar for Falling Slowly in Once. What are the chances of that?

Allow me to digress if you will, when I saw Dylan perform the night before he won his Oscar he was very jovial and zingy, perhaps he already had received his Oscar in the post. I remember saying to my partner at the time, ‘he’s trying to be Elvis’. It was a fantastic show and just after Dylan sung Things Have Changed and received his Oscar my old man called me. He said (or words to the effect), ‘Dylan eyes penetrated the TV screen. He didn’t sing that song, he WAS that song’. Put it down to nostalgia or what have you, but it is one of my favourite live performances of anything, ever. He unleashed this remarkable verbal tirade of aging cynicism and reasoning (no holding back) and to this Hollywood audience no-less, then he ever so graciously/meekly accepts the award and gives a wonderfully articulate speech about tranquility and goodwill.

Once‘s minimalist real-life documentary and Hollywood cliche-free approach is refreshing. It has wonderfully natural performances from the two leads. Although musicians first and actors second, they acquit themselves well in both areas. Everyone involved in this film obviously has a great passion for music, and it is very infectious. Once may loosely be classified as a musical, but it has a refreshing vérité inflection. It was conceived by director John Carney as a “video album,” but it sports a scrappy, un-embellished naturalism that is rare these days in cinema.

If you haven’t seen Once and your still undecided about if it’s your ‘thang’ then watch this video excerpt from the movie when they record ‘When Your Minds Made Up‘:

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Posted in Movies and TV, Music

All I Have To Do is Dream – Everly Brothers

The next song in the music library project is The Everly Brothers’ All I Have To Do is Dream. I am reblogging Badfinger’s powerpop article about it (click on image below or go directly to the song at the end of this post). I had heard this song as a young tacker, but I had forgotten about it until reading Bad’s post. I’d also forgotten how great the Everly Brother’s harmony is in this. This and Sam Cooke’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ were two songs I wish I had had the audacity to swoon girls with, like Harrison Ford does in Witness. Alas that was not meant to be, but plenty fortunate for those girls.

All I Have To Do is dream

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Savvy and amusing dialogue in ‘The Sun Also Rises’ (1926)

Characters Sun Also Rises

Wikipedia: ‘Hemingway (left), with Harold Loeb, Duff Twysden (in hat), Hadley Richardson, Donald Ogden Stewart (obscured), and Pat Guthrie (far right) at a café in Pamplona, Spain, July 1925. The group formed the basis for the characters in The Sun Also Rises: Twysden as Brett Ashley, Loeb as Robert Cohn, Stewart as Bill Gorton, and Guthrie as Mike Campbell.’

The dialogue below is something you might expect from the very best of a Woody Allen or Larry David script yet Hemingway did it in the 1920s.

Following on from last week’s reflections on Ernest Hemingway’s short declarative sentences and prose we continue our exploration of what his biographer Jeffrey Meyers described “Hemingway’s greatest work” – The Sun Also Rises.

Ernest Hemingway lived in Paris in the 1920’s and worked as a Foreign Correspondent for the Toronto Star. He used his journalism experience to write about fiction, but his stories in The Sun Also Rises are based on real events and real characters, specifically his fellow American and English expatriates (see image inset). The book portrays these characters traveling from Paris to Spain to watch the running of the bulls. He had intended to write a non-fiction book about bullfighting, but instead decided the week’s experiences he shared with his friends on vacation presented him with sufficient material to write a novel. He began writing his novel on his birthday 21st of July— 1925, and finished the draft manuscript two months later.

The dialogue below I found particularly shrewd, yet entertaining.  Robert Cohn (who was dissected in last week’s excerpt by Hemingway’s alter ego Jake Barnes in the first few pages) is taken aback by the charm and beauty of Lady Brett Ashley. Cohn begins probing the protagonist Jake Barnes to know the ins and outs of this ‘Lady’ he has fallen for. The tension between them is palpable because Lady Ashley had just earlier told Jake she loves him, but they both know that they have no chance at a stable relationship.

“What do you know about Lady Brett Ashley, Jake?”

“Her name’s Lady Ashley. Brett’s her own name. She’s a nice girl,” I said. “She’s getting a divorce and she’s going to marry Mike Campbell. He’s over in Scotland now. Why?”

“She’s a remarkably attractive woman.”

“Isn’t she?”

“There’s a certain quality about her, a certain fineness. She seems to be absolutely fine and straight.”

“She’s very nice.”

“I don’t know how to describe the quality,” Cohn said. “I suppose it’s breeding.”

“You sound as though you liked her pretty well.”

“I do. I shouldn’t wonder if I were in love with her.”

“She’s a drunk,” I said. “She’s in love with Mike Campbell, and she’s going to marry him. He’s going to be rich as hell some day.”

“I don’t believe she’ll ever marry him.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know. I just don’t believe it. Have you known her a long time?”

“Yes,” I said. “She was a V. A. D. in a hospital I was in during the war.”

“She must have been just a kid then.”

“She’s thirty-four now.”

“When did she marry Ashley?”

“During the war. Her own true love had just kicked off with the dysentery.”

“You talk sort of bitter.”

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to. I was just trying to give you the facts.”

“I don’t believe she would marry anybody she didn’t love.”

“Well,” I said. “She’s done it twice.”

“I don’t believe it.”

“Well,” I said, “don’t ask me a lot of fool questions if you don’t like the answers.”

“I didn’t ask you that.”

“You asked me what I knew about Brett Ashley.”

“I didn’t ask you to insult her.”

“Oh, go to hell.”

He stood up from the table his face white, and stood there white and angry behind the little plates of hors d’oeuvres.

“Sit down,” I said. “Don’t be a fool.”

“You’ve got to take that back.”

“Oh, cut out the prep-school stuff.”

“Take it back.”

“Sure. Anything. I never heard of Brett Ashley. How’s that?

“No. Not that. About me going to hell.”

“Oh, don’t go to hell,” I said. “Stick around. We’re just starting lunch.”

Cohn smiled again and sat down. He seemed glad to sit down. What the hell would he have done if he hadn’t sat down? “You say such damned insulting things, Jake.”

“I’m sorry. I’ve got a nasty tongue. I never mean it when I say nasty things.”

“I know it,” Cohn said. “You’re really about the best friend I have, Jake.”

God help you, I thought. “Forget what I said,” I said out loud. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right. It’s fine. I was just sore for a minute.”

“Good. Let’s get something else to eat.”

After we finished the lunch we walked up to the Café de la Paix and had coffee. I could feel Cohn wanted to bring up Brett again, but I held him off it.

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Posted in Reading

All Down The Line – Rolling Stones

The next song in the music library project is The Rolling Stones’ ‘All Down The Line’. I am reblogging Badfinger’s powerpop article about it, since that is where I first heard it (click on image below or go directly to the song at the end of this post). I was immediately impressed by it. I’m not a big Rolling Stones fan by any stretch but I have a few of their songs in my music library. I can appreciate why they are heralded as one of Rock n Roll’s greatest rock bands. Their live performances are something out of the ordinary. Few had the allure and charisma which Jagger possessed on stage and the ferocity of that instrumental backing power at their fingertips.

All Down The Line - Bad

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3/9 – 9/9 Monday’s News on the March

news on the march

Welcome to Monday’s News on the March – The week that was in my digital world.

Article by David S Wisener at davidswisener.com:

My body and my heart have been betraying me of late.

Physical illness combined with a broken heart is a heck of a one-two punch and can take us to really dark places.

But I don’t want to write yet another lament about my misfortunes in love. The temptation is there as I wrestle once more with deep depression, but it’s not helpful. (Read more)

Story by Bruce Goodman at Weave a Web:

You’ve no idea the trouble Noeline Hartstonge and husband Quentin had in procuring ethically sourced cocoa beans. They were to be used as a conclusion to an ordinary dinner with several other couples they had met through the local Croquet Club. Ethically sourced cocoa beans and organically grown bananas. These days it was fast becoming almost impossible to entertain. (Read more)

Poem by River Dixon at The Stories in Between:

A jar of coins
Set aside for another day
Corner of a dresser
Where once sat
A woman’s brush
In its place, now
A layer of dust
Telling a tale
Of lost love, when love
Was not enough..(Read More)

Article by Mike Smith at Self Aware Patterns:

Last week I started listening to a Sean Carroll podcast episode, an interview of Adam Becker on his book, What Is Real?: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics.  Before even finishing the episode, I downloaded Becker’s book and read it. (Read More)

Poem by Intellectual Shaman:

Wanderers wonder

what would be

if they turned their wishes

West (Read More)

Sam Harris podcast at Critical Thoughts:

“In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris addresses listener concerns that he uses a “double standard” to evaluate the relative threats of white supremacy and jihadism.”

news on the march the end

Posted in News

All Along The Watchtower – Bob Dylan (live Vancouver 11-11-1978)

Bob Dylan 1978

Bob Dylan 1978

If it were not for Bob Dylan writing so many great songs, I would probably be listening to more classical music. Today we look at All Along The Watchtower, a Dylan song which became so famous because Jimi Hendrix covered it. Many claim it to be the greatest covered song in Rock history. It would also appear Dylan modified the song live from his original version to be a bit more like the Hendrix version. Wasn’t he quoted as saying “sometimes cover’s are better”?

Dylan’s original on his underrated John Wesley Harding album was ‘real’, a parable in my young mind, not obscure. I could see myself being part of it and I could see it from a distance. Hendrix took that essence of the original on John Wesley Harding, and exploded it, disintegrated the song, and turned it into this hypnotic beast. You can read an excellent review here about Hendrix’s version from fellow blogger Badfinger on his blog Powerpop.

To my ears there exists no better version where Bob is honoring Hendrix than live in Vancouver 11-11-1978. It’s a Tour de Force ramp-up of his own song which possesses this other-worldly chaotic barrage and mesh of strange noises, coalescing to form (if you could imagine it) a ‘circus’ big-band sound. I have not heard anything like it before or since from Dylan.

The song was compiled as part of a project called Dylan’s Desert Island Revue‘ which I undertook on the Expectingrain web site.  More information about that project as well as the actual live recording can be obtained from the aforementioned link.

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Posted in Music

The Mosquito Coast – Peter Weir (1986)

The Mosquito Coast_
Today on ‘Friday’s Finest’ we feature another compelling yet underrated Peter Weir film about the mysteries and forces of nature. The Mosquito Coast has just 6.6 on IMDB and 76% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was also a commercial disappointment having lost money. It may well be the only Harrison Ford film that has flopped so badly. I revisited the film only recently and I was captivated by it, like I was in my youth. It currently sits at 67 in my all time favourite movies list.

The Mosquito Coast is based on the novel of the same name by Paul Theroux. The film tells the story of a family that leaves the United States and tries to find a happier and simpler life in the jungles of Central America. “Ice is civilization”, Allie fox proclaims with unctuous authority. That will be the foundation for his utopian dream.

“We eat when we’re not hungry, drink when we’re not thirsty. We buy what we don’t need and throw away everything that’s useful. Why sell a man what he wants? Sell him what he doesn’t need. Pretend he’s got eight legs and two stomachs and money to burn. It’s wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.”

– Allie Fox (Harrison Ford)

But Allie is so headstrong, so convinced of his infallibility that his vision blinds him to reality. Lets just say he is not prepared for the reality of nature nor the threat other desperate humans pose. His jungle paradise quickly turns into a dystopia as Allie’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic and aggressive.

Ford really goes out on a limb in this playing a character so egocentric and domineering; distinct from anything he’s done before, but nails it in my opinion. Then we have the iconic River Phoenix who was at the prime of his youth in terms of his innate acting sensibility; stealing nearly every scene he is in. According to IMDB, Ford and Phoenix had a very close bond in this film and Ford even recommended Phoenix to Spielberg for Indiana Jones based on their time together making this film.

Taking a very Robinson Crusoe-esquire piece of fiction and putting it to film would not have been an easy process. Beyond the deep themes expressed in the script, The Mosquito Coast looks good visually. The tropical scenery is spectacular. Production design and cinematography are terrific. And the film’s score, by Maurice Jarre, is wonderfully exotic and majestic.

Interesting facts about The Mosquito Coast from IMDB Trivia:

  • Jack Nicholson was originally offered the lead role, but backed out partly because he could not watch Los Angeles Lakers games in Belize, where part of the film was to be shot.
  • Of all of his films, star actor Harrison Ford considers this to be his favorite.
  • River Phoenix was raised in the Children of God cult, where he and his family had been stationed in Venezuela. River was motivated to act in the movie because he recognized the many similarities between the film and his childhood.
  • Actors Martha Plimpton and River Phoenix started a personal relationship on this movie which continued for a number of years.
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Posted in Movies and TV

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