ART NOTES - finally being recognized in his home state in spite of his politics, the Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration 1912-2012 will be at the Gilcrease Museum of the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma through April 29th.
GET WELL to the retired, former Deep Purple keyboard player Jon Lord - currently pursuing classical music projects - who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer but (since it was detected early) hopes to return to performing this year.
THE OTHER DAY a pre-trial hearing was held in Italy about the shipwrecked cruise liner Costa Concordia - but when I read the sub-headline, "Victims' families want truth" ....... sadly, all I could hear was the disgraced Captain Francesco Schettino channel the words of ..... Jack Nicholson .....
"You can't handle the truth!"
MEANWHILE ........ after the Costa Concordia disaster, plus the Costa Allegra whose engine room caught fire (but mercifully no one was hurt) ... now the Gelso M cargo ship has run aground off the coast of Sicily. What's going on with Italian sailing vessels? Captain Schettino, call your office.
MONDAY's CHILD is Trooper the Cat - a Canadian kitteh who was mentioned in this space a few weeks ago as being rescued after spending a night frozen to a driveway with a broken pelvis. He had to have a leg and his tail amputated, but has gone to live in a foster home until his recovery is complete, with a Facebook page not only fund-raising, but even tracking the flight to his foster home.
SIGN of the APOCALYPSE - two men were arrested in China for stealing a century-old bridge near Shanghai - breaking it up into blocks, and lifting with cranes onto a truck to sell as building stone - and were only caught because a witness who saw them last fall wrote down their truck's license plate number.
Suggested Expanded SEPARATED at BIRTH - Had Enough Right Wing BS thought that I should add - to last week's posting of musician Willie Nelson and the "Harry Potter" figure Argus Filch (as portrayed by actor David Bradley) - the past (and newly present) Oregon governor John Kitzhaber - whaddya think?
FILM NOTES - for this year's annual Razzie Awards - dishonoring the year's worst films - a record eleven nominations went to Adam Sandler for his films "Jack and Jill" and "Just Go With It", with the losers to be announced in April.
ART NOTES - five large-scale participatory works by major Latin American artists in an exhibit entitled Suprasensorial is at the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C. through May 13th.
FILM NOTES - an upcoming film will be based on the book entitled Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of 'Psycho' - with Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren cast as Hitchcock and his wife, and Scarlett Johansson cast as Janet Leigh.
BUSINESS NOTES - major department stores are seeking ways to deal with customers who de-shop - buying an outfit for a special occasion, only to return it claiming it did not fit or was faulty. A better idea: have these stores collectively finance a dress-rental shop - not only for party dresses but also bridesmaid's and even some wedding dresses - which does not exist in many places.
TUESDAY's CHILD is Whiskers the Cat - a Massachusetts indoor kitteh that escaped one night, and was found under under a Jeep, sitting on top of the fuel tank yet warm and dry.
TWO ESSAYS in the Economist magazine examines the winds of change in Britain: one sensing that in schools anti-gay attitudes are receding, while another believes that if the Conservative Party cannot woo black and Asian voters, "They may never win majorities again".
POLITICAL NOTES - the regime of Alexander Lukashenko - which has become increasingly dictatorial since Belarus’s fraudulent presidential election in 2010 - has become increasingly isolated after European Union nations took the extraordinary step of jointly withdrawing all their ambassadors from Belarus.
ART NOTES - a comprehensive look at post-WWII works entitled Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics is at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas through June 3rd.
MORE and MORE the Conservative Party in Canada seems to be emulating the scorched-earth electoral methods of the GOP, leading the Liberal Party's interim leader Bob Rae to declare, "We are entering into a kind of Nixonian moment in our political culture, where all kinds of dirty tricks seem to be possible".
WEDNESDAY's CHILD is a UK kitteh who insisted on sleeping on a man's wireless router for hours, often knocking the aerial with her tail and crashing his internet connection. After sending photographic proof: his ISP sent a new router, with his cat content to sit on the old (and no longer functioning) DSL router.
BRAIN TEASER - try this Weekly World News Quiz from the BBC.
GOOD LUCK, INDEED to the Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala - who has been given just three years (by the country's president Goodluck Jonathan) to overhaul sub-Saharan Africa’s second-biggest economy, one riven with corruption and inefficiencies, carved up by political bosses and vulnerable to bursts of communal violence. But for the daughter of a tribal king from the turbulent Niger Delta (who later studied at Harvard and MIT and was a managing director at the World Bank) - this is a challenge worth taking on.
OLDER-YOUNGER SISTERS? - country musician Carrie Underwood and NBA cheerleader (and "American Idol" performer) Brittany Kerr.
RECENTLY a popular, recurring benefit performance for the now 50 year-old group Amnesty International - called the Secret Policeman's Ball gala, which was founded by John Cleese - was held outside of Britain for the first time, with UK performers ranging from Russell Brand, Coldplay and Eddie Izzard joining Ben Stiller and Jon Stewart recently at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
ART NOTES - a career retrospective of the artist Emily Carr entitled On the Edge of Nowhere will be at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in British Columbia, Canada through June 30th.
THE WHEELS of JUSTICE nearly came off at a trial in the Swedish capital of Stockholm when it emerged that the defendant facing the judge was in fact the wrong man - due to a mix-up in jail, which sent the wrong man up to court - and the defense attorney had shaken the defendant's hand before trial without realizing the man he had greeted was not in fact the person on trial.
From the BiPM FLATULENCE FILE - two attorneys in Duisburg, Germany who were upset at the amount of dog waste left behind by careless owners in front of their office ..... flagged the problem, so to speak. Since the flags went up there has been no additional poop left on the lawn, and people have come into the law office to ask about the action and to take photos.
ON THE 30th ANNIVERSARY of the death of Ayn Rand, essayist George Monbiot writes that her psychopathic ideas made billionaires feel like victims and that the 'Willy Loman syndrome' (the gulf between reality and expectations) led to millions blithely volunteering themselves as the billionaires' doormats.
THURSDAY's CHILD being a nocturnal animal is upset that beginning June 1st, Japan's growing number of Cat Cafés will have to put the cats away and close shop at 8 PM, as the country's new animal protection law (aimed at pet shops) will ban the public display of cats and dogs after that time.
CONGRATULATIONS to the editor of the Guardian newspaper Alan Rusbridger who is the first non-American journalist to be awarded the Kennedy School of Government's annual Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism for two particular reasons this year: his role in leading negotiations with Julian Assange over the publication of the giant treasure trove of WikiLeaks documents, and for the newspaper's relentless investigation into the phone-hacking scandal that has helped shake Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to its core.
SEPARATED at BIRTH - former Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant and King Theodon (as portrayed by the British actor Bernard Hill) from the "The Lord of the Rings" series.
LEST YOU THINK that the difficulties created by non-native plants are limited to temperate or tropical climates: the fringes of Antarctica are being invaded by alien plants and tiny animals, as the clothes and boots of tourists and scientists visiting the continent often carry plant seeds.
FRIDAY's CHILD is Toofy the Cat - shown outside the home of a Fargo, North Dakota resident and now very popular with neighbors and passing drivers.
....... and for a song of the week....................................................................... looking at "is it or isn't it?" controversial songs from the 1960's: perhaps the most famous was written by R&B singer Richard Berry (photo left) who's remembered mostly due to a twist of fate - yet whose short career had more to it.
He was born in Extension, Louisiana in 1935, his family moving to Los Angeles in his infancy. He sang in various doo-wop bands, including The Flairs on a song that was produced by Jerry Lieber & Mike Stoller. And they liked Berry's voice so much: when they produced a single by The Robins (later to become The Coasters) they had Berry sing the lead on their 1954 hit Riot In Cell Block #9 that had to be uncredited (as Berry was under contract to another label). Berry had another uncredited role on a duet with Etta James on her hit "Roll With Me, Henry".
Berry then led his own band The Pharaohs before tiring of the music business at age 22. He wanted to get married but needed some cash - and so he sold the rights to five songs for a total of $750.00.
One of those five songs came about two years earlier when he was waiting to perform a side gig in Anaheim with a Latin band named the Rhythm Rockers. As he told journalist Bob Greene, the 12-piece band played a three-chord instrumental (while he was in the dressing room getting ready) that appealed to him. Lacking paper, he wrote some lyrics on a piece of toilet paper.
And thus was born the song Louie Louie that was eight years away from stardom.
Berry told Greene the tune was a love song structured like One for My Baby (And One More for the Road) was: when the singer said "Set-'em-up, Joe" it was clear that Joe was the star, but the singer was not Joe. In his tune, Berry said that the singer was a sailor who was speaking to Louie - who could be a barber, a bartender or any one else. Berry recorded the song on Flip Records (in a calypso/doo-wop smooth style), selling modestly on the West Coast but not the big break he had hoped for, helping persuade him to leave the music business. But a few copies made it to the Pacific Northwest (in part because The Pharoahs had performed there).
In 1963 a rock band in Portland, Oregon named The Kingsmen (photo right) heard the song and recorded it. And due to one factor - that they recorded it in a $50 studio with a ceiling mike - lead singer Jack Ely's vocals couldn't be heard clearly (especially over The Kingsmen's raggedy-funky volume) that meant the lyrics couldn't be understood ... and thus began the rumors that something ... well, illicit was going on.
Bob Greene said that he wrote the 1988 article because he got a letter from a woman whose son's social studies class had debated the issue of whether the lyrics were salacious (or not) to no avail (Greene asserting that George Will probably didn't get letters like this). It was investigated by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, headed towards the top of the charts (before being halted by some radio stations banning the song) and made The Kingsmen stars.
Berry said he had "no positive or negative feelings either way" about the recording and besides: he'd sold the rights to it, anyway. But he listened and determined that The Kingsmen sang "the same words exactly as I wrote them". The song had a new lease on life fifteen years later in 1978 when John Belushi sang it in the "Animal House" film. Berry finally met Kingsmen singer Jack Ely in 1983, who explained the studio set-up to him.
With some legal help in the mid-80's, Berry won back some of the rights to the song, enabling him to retire far from wealthy but comfortably. More than 400 versions have been recorded of the song, and Berry explained that it wasn't surprising that young musicians told him it was the first song they had ever learned: "it had three simple guitar-chord changes in it". Richard Berry died in January, 1997 at the age of 62.
And those lyrics? Well, the song made #55 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs list ... with the fairly innocuous lyrics below.
The first video lets you hear a young Richard Berry sing it in 1956 .... and the second video has The Kingsmen's 1963 version.
Fine little girl, she waits for me
Me catch a ship across the sea
Me sail the ship all alone
Me never think me make it home
Three nights and days me sail the sea
Me think of girl constantly
On the ship I dream she there
I smell the rose in her hair
Me see Jamaica moon above
It won't be long, me see me love
I take her in my arms and then
Me tell her I never leave her again
Louie, Louie - me gotta go
Louie, Louie - me gotta go
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