Posts Tagged ‘The Colbert Report’

dr-strangelove-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-bomb-originalI’ve been on a little break this week but thought I should come back for a little Sunday music.  I thought that since this was the final one for the year that we end with a song that is associated with endings, We’ll Meet Again.  Most of us probably know it mainly from the end of Stanley Kubrick‘s great satire Dr, Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb when it was played as Major ‘King’ Kong, played by Slim Pickens rode a nuclear warhead like a bucking bronc to begin our ultimate destruction.

The version played in that film was recorded by Britain’s Dame Vera Lynn in 1939 and became, for obvious reasons, one of the most popular songs for British soldiers and their loved ones during World War II.  It has had an enduring legacy, most recently used on the finale of The Colbert Report when a huge assemblage of famous guests sang it to end the show.

I am using my favorite version by Johnny Cash from his final album American IV: The Man Comes Around.  He recorded this album right up to the very end of his life and this was one of his final songs from those final days.  The voice is tired and strained at times but the sentiment of the song glows in this version.  It fits the situation perfectly.

I probably will post before year’s end but if for some reason you don’t check back, have a wonderful New Year.  I am looking forward to 2015 and what it might bring.

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Breaking AbbeyTonight’s the much anticipated American debut of Downton Abbey‘s third season.  I know that I’m looking forward to get my fix of the drama following the family and serving staff of a huge British manor as it struggles, financially and socially,  through the changing times around World War I as the era of the great landed estates nears its end.

Speaking of needing a fix, a few weeks back, in response to his faux outrage over Michelle Obama getting a preview of the new episodes ahead of the general public,  Stephen Colbert presented a video featuring three of the main characters from the series in a parody.  They were supposedly reading lines from the upcoming season of Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad, the series dealing with the story of a  science-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin.  If you’re a fan of either series, or both like me, you may get a kick out of this uncensored mash up.  Maybe they can next do a Homeland/Mad Men version with Carrie and Saul carrying out the parts of Don Draper and Roger Sterling?

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Uncensored – Breaking Abbey
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

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Last night on The Colbert Report, Paul Simon appeared and played a new Christmas  song called Getting Ready For Christmas.  Before singing he explained that it was based on a sermon from December of 1941, in the weeks after Pearl Harbor.  The preacher was the Reverend J.M. Gates, a fire-and-brimstone Baptist from Atlanta who was famous for recordings of his sermons in the years before his death in 1945.  I don’t know much about him.  Actually, I had never heard the name before last night.

But the song Simon played was pretty good and there were samples of Gates’ recordings in the background at certain points in the performance that intrigued me.  I don’t know exactly which sermon Simon sampled but there are several examples of Gates’ work online.  One, Death’s Black Train Is Coming, was his bestseller and is a great example.  My favorite however is Hitler and Hell which plays very well in the video off the sound of the footsteps of the jackbooted figure that goes through the darkness in it.  I’m thinking that one of the recordings in the advertisement shown here might be the one used in Simon’s song.  Will Your Coffin Be Your Santa Claus! sounds like it might be the one.  Funny, that with such a catchy title it never caught on like Jingle Bell Rock or  Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer.

Anyway, gives a listen to the Rev. Gates, if you are so inclined and here’s Paul Simon’s new song, Getting Ready For Christmas.  It’s a very watchable video.

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Sometimes there is a coming together of influence and the end product in creating a painting.  Such is the case with this painting, a new piece that is an 18″ by 18″ canvas, that will be going to my next show, Toward Possibility, at the Kada Gallery in Erie, which opens November 6.

I watched a segment on The Colbert Report featuring a song, You Are Not Alone,  from Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy written for Mavis Staples, the legendary R & B/ gospel singer.  The two performed the song and I’ve had it in my head ever since.  During the next few days, as I was working on this canvas, the sound of that song and Mavis Staples’ voice constantly seemed to be pushing this piece along.  It affected how I viewed it as I was painting it and affected the determination of its endpoint, its completion.  It was pretty evident to me that this piece was destined to be called You Are Not Alone.

I like the ambiguity in the title.  It could represent not being alone in the obvious spiritual sense but in the human sense as well.  We all share commonalities in our travels through this life although it often feels as though we are going absolutely alone down our chosen paths.  It’s an important reminder that while our paths might be unique, the feelings that we experience are often the same as others on other journeys.  We react as humans.

This is a very simple painting but there is a lot going on within it, as far as color and texture, that give it the needed depth to carry the mood.  The feeling I carried from the song led me to keeping the composition sparse, with no distant landscape in the background and the Red Tree being the sole focus of the canvas.  I wanted that pure focus in this piece and everything in it pushes the eye to that central figure, creating an atmospheric feel that carries the weight of the painting.

Okay, I’ve said enough.  Here’s an acoustic version of the song with Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy.  Hope you’ll see what I heard…

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I saw Judith Schulevitz on The Colbert Report last night promoting her book, The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time, and it brought a lot of things to mind.  Her book, from what I take, examines the concept of our need for a sabbath and how we have lost the benefits of this day of stoppage as we have become more and more entrenched in a hectic 24/7 world.   Our concept of time has been altered by our change as a society.  We see time spent in activity of ant sort as more meaningful than any spent in stillness.

I am old enough to remember when the Blue Laws of the past were still in play in this part of the world and how most businesses were closed on Sunday.  It was hard to find a gas station open.  You couldn’t buy alcohol.  Almost all retail stores were closed.  Traffic was lighter and Sundays had a quieter tone in general, even for my family which was not religiously observant in any way.

I used to think, when reminiscing about those days, that this slower pace and quiet was nothing more than the fact  that I was a kid and lived on the more casual, relaxed kidtime.  No deadlines.  No schedules.  Just be a kid and let time flow naturally.  But as I remember more, it really seemed to be a quieter and calmer time for the adults as well.  There was something very comforting in knowing that everyone’s week had this common day when we would all reset and realign.  A common stopping point where we could all reflect on the week that was past and regroup for the coming week..

Of course, that could never happen now.  We are too invested as a culture of perpetual motion now and to try to put on the brakes would take a revolution of sorts.  But people like Judith Schulevitz and her family are trying to return to that feeling of reflection.  It’s a small step but if only a few families can regain that sense of of calming the hands of the ever spinning clock, then it’s a worthy effort.

Here’s an article Judith Schulevitz wrote for the NY Times, several years ago that is the seed for this book and more clearly defines what I’m struggling to say.  For example:

What was Creation’s climactic culmination? The act of stopping. Why should God have considered it so important to stop? Rabbi Elijah of Vilna put it this way: God stopped to show us that what we create becomes meaningful to us only once we stop creating it and start to think about why we did so. The implication is clear. We could let the world wind us up and set us to marching, like mechanical dolls that go and go until they fall over, because they don’t have a mechanism that allows them to pause. But that would make us less than human. We have to remember to stop because we have to stop to remember.

Take a look and this Easter Sunday, relax.  Reset the clock…

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