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 .....
An important video at a Missouri city council hearing led to a surprise testimonial from a member of the clergy .... and, I have to admit, noticing this resemblance ...
OK, you've been warned - here is this week's
tomfoolery material that I posted.
FILM NOTES - in the new, highly successful French film Untouchable - about a quadriplegic millionaire and his immigrant caregiver (which may yet be adapted into an English language film, starring Colin Firth) - the producer Harvey Weinstein was appalled that the racist politician Jean Le Pen accused it of being an example of France's move toward ethnic diversity.
TUESDAY's CHILD is Gumbo the Cat - a New Hampshire kitteh who was badly burned in a barn fire last month and presumed lost .... but was located by Miss Colby the Pig three days later .... and Gumbo is now recovering nicely.
JUST IN TIME for Halloween: the continent of Antarctica for the first time had a fictional feature shot there: a horror film that premieres October 31st in Scotland.
OF NOTE - an organization called Meow Mitzvah is helping to deal with the feral cat situation in the city of Jerusalem.
WEDNESDAY's CHILD is a stray cat who led a man to several 2,000 year-old catacombs - no pun intended - in Rome, Italy.
A MAJOR DECISION for the relatively new president of Peru: whether to back the request for a pardon (on medical grounds) from the four children of the disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori - in prison for authorizing the creation of a death squad - given that President Humala in 2000 led a failed military rebellion against Fujimori, and was elected president last year in a narrow victory over one of his four children.
THIS PAST THURSDAY yours truly hosted the Top Comments diary: about the most important figure in US amateur wrestling history, on his 64th birthday. That was Dan Gable day in the State of Iowa: and I noted how the murder of his sister drove him to near perfection as a high school/collegiate wrestler (losing only his final match, dramatically), then to Olympic gold (without surrendering a single point) and finally a coaching career with fifteen national team titles ...... and how he said "no way" to Karl Rove.
ART NOTES - an exhibition entitled Drawing Together: International Cartoons is at the Flint, Michigan Institute of Arts through December 30th.
SIGN of the APOCALYPSE - the jazz pianist Randy Hoexter, the director of Education at the Atlanta Institute of Music, released an album of cheesy songs entitled Fromage ... with as sophisticated an arrangement (well, as can be) of songs such as "You Light Up My Life", "Muskrat Love" and - heaven help us - "Yummy Yummy Yummy" ... which I heard on the digital cable channel "Music Choice".
FASHION NOTES - for years, women in Austria shied away from wearing dirndls - which was associated with conservative (or even far-right) ideology - but a remark by the avant-garde British designer Vivienne Westwood (on a visit in 2001) about how flattering they are to a woman's figure seems to have changed attitudes.
THURSDAY's CHILD is the Senate candidate Hank the Cat from the state of Virginia - who appears to have weathered an attack ad earlier in the campaign - and who now concludes this upbeat field report with, "We all deserve a better breed of politician ...... and today that breed is a Maine Coon feline".
TECHNOLOGY NOTES - the Swiss Federal Railways is grappling with how to handle longer passenger trains than it has ever operated before with 16-car double-decker trains set to go into operation at the end of 2015 (and capable of carrying 1,400 passengers in their longest versions).
SCIENCE NOTES - the African nation of Ghana opened its Space Science and Technology Centre - its first such institution - specializing in teaching, learning and space research commercialization.
SEPARATED at BIRTH - two actors with a common first name as well as a common birthplace of San Francisco: the late David Dukes (from "The Winds of War" and who was the actor that portrayed Edith Bunker's rapist) and David Strathairn (from "Molly Dodd" and the star of "Good Night and Good Luck").
BRAIN TEASER - try the latest Quiz of the Week's News from the BBC.
HAIL and FAREWELL to the late Steve Paul - the owner of an influential 1960's NYC rock club called "The Scene" - who has died at the age of 71. He was also the manager of the blues guitarist Johnny Winter (when he first achieved fame) and Steve Paul wrote the liner notes for the first Johnny Winter album. English teachers: here are part of those liner notes - as examples of "incomplete sentences" for your pupils:
Johnny plays basic blues. Color them black. Real black and nothing else. Color them black black. Johnny looks white. Color him white. Real white and nothing else. Color him white white. By themselves black and white, like the laws of opposites and energy, seem to be attracting nowadays. In Johnny's case it's been a longtime attraction. Resulting in a long-awaited explosion. That of a great blues player. And a human being. With feeling. Getting what he deserves. A chance to let other people feel through his music. As he has felt from other blues people. Whatever they choose. But definitely felt.SIGN of the TIMES - according to its publisher DC Comics, Superman/Clark Kent - following the Daily Planet's takeover by a conglomerate and evidence that hard news has given way to too many "soft" entertainment stories - will leave the quaint metropolitan newspaper ...... and might even become a blogger.
FRIDAY's CHILD is Tiki Bear the Cat - a New Hampshire kitteh rescued from a fire (with some extra oxygen)... and while she is still in a veterinary hospital, she seems to be improving per this video at last report.
....... and finally, for a song of the week ................................... someone whose career rose from the ashes on more than one occasion is Joe Cocker – and so a look at his extensive career seems apropos. And he’s been successful not via his own compositions (or that of a bandmate or dedicated songwriter) but by personalized cover versions of other people’s tunes – which for rock stars of his generation (after the mid-60's) is uncommon.
The Sheffield, England native began singing R&B songs in his first band Vance Arnold and the Avengers – a blend of Elvis Presley’s character Vince (in "Jailhouse Rock") and country singer Eddie Arnold. They had a dream gig in 1963 (opening for the Rolling Stones at Sheffield City Hall) but Joe left them to sign as a solo act.
Eventually he formed The Grease Band along with keyboardist (and fellow Sheffield native) Chris Stainton - who later went on to being a member of Eric Clapton’s band for several years. Cocker chose the name from reading about the jazz organist Jimmy Smith (favorably) describing a fellow musician as "having a lot of grease". Producer Denny Cordell (Procol Harum, Moody Blues) heard and signed them in 1967.
They had a minor hit with "Marjorine" but a hugely successful cover version of Ringo Starr’s With a Little Help From My Friends (that featured Jimmy Page, Steve Winwood and Procul Harum’s drummer B.J. Wilson as back-up players).
They had a very successful US tour in 1969, being added to the Woodstock Festival at the last minute but making a lasting impression. As was common then, management
milked pushed the band quite hard in recording and touring, and an exhausted Cocker dissolved the Grease Band at the end of the year.
But management had already booked a spring 1970 US tour - and told him he’d better do it – so Cocker asked Leon Russell (who had been a guest player on his second album) to assemble a new band on short notice. This became the legendary Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour that cemented Joe Cocker’s career, with a legendary live album and film resulting from it (and there is a 35th anniversary version CD with some excellent unreleased material). Finally free, Cocker went back to Sheffield for two years of R&R.
In 1972, he came back with more successful recordings and tours but fell heavily into substance abuse. Getting cleaner, he had his next hit in 1974 with a cover of Billy Preston’s You Are So Beautiful and on a 1976 Saturday Night Live performance, John Belushi came on-stage and hilariously mimicked Cocker’s mannerisms (though it was John, of course, who died six years later).
Continuing on the next several years, Joe Cocker sang a famous duet with Jennifer Warnes: Up Where We Belong (co-written by Buffy Sainte-Marie) from "An Officer and a Gentleman" that not only hit #1, it won Grammy and Academy awards in 1982.
Five years later an album of his was nominated for a Grammy, featuring the title track Unchain My Heart though it did not win.
Joe Cocker had a successful performance at Woodstock 1994 and continues performing to this day at age 68. His authorized biography came out a few years ago, he lives in Colorado today and his 23rd studio album entitled Fire It Up will be released next month.
Of all of his work, it is his 1989 cover of the Bryan Adams tune "When the Night Comes" that is my favorite – and below you can hear it.
I'll be back for you, it won't be long
But for now there's something else
That's calling me
So take me down a lonesome road
Point me east and let me go
That suitcase weighs me down with memories
I just wanna be the one you run to
I just wanna be the one you come to
I just wanna be there for someone
When the night comes
Let's put all the cares behind us
And go where they'll never find us
I just wanna be there beside you
When the night comes