Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for March 21, 2014



[Spring is all Rite] -- Ah, Spring has arrived. Well, at least according to our celestial calendar because the Vernal Equinox was this week! I was wracking my brain to come up with some appropriate 80s fair for this week's flashback. Finally, I realized I could just go with the classics. Or a classic. As in classical music: The Rite of Spring by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. Now, it was written and first performed in 1913 in Paris, France. Original choreography was by Vaslav Nijinsky, and that choreography was long thought lost. However, in 1989, it was reconstructed by the Joffrey Ballet in Los Angeles -- and there is our 80s connection!

For more information about The Rite of Spring, visit this Milestones of the Millennium article on NPR. To hear and see the Joffrey Ballet's performance, check out the videos after the break!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A New Breastplate (And a Message for St. Patrick) Redux

[This post is a slightly updated version of one that I published on 3/17/2009 and 3/14/2012.]



So, Monday is St. Patrick's Day. Well, I for one will not be putting on the green and celebrating. I do not celebrate the lives (real or imagined) of those who tried to put down my ancestral faith. For those of you who didn't realize, the driving out the snakes thing has been pegged as a likely metaphor for stomping out the ethnic and traditional practices of the Irish people. (However, you should also know that Celtic Reconstructionist Brenda Daverin -- Branruadh -- indicates that this metaphor is one of three common misconceptions about Patrick). Still, Patrick is the focus of the upcoming holiday as well as the ire of many a Pagan. Hence, this post is directed to "him."

Patrick, if you truly existed (even if only as a composite of several individuals as I suspect), I have a message for you. Neither you nor your brethren drove out the "snakes" -- you merely forced them undergound. Nor did you eliminate their traditions. In fact, your beloved Church is riddled with more of my ancestor's traditions than those of the early Christians, and by this I am referring to practices from the first few decades of Christianity, or "the Way of Yeshua" as it was likely known by its earliest adherents. And in case you missed it, Patrick. The "snakes" are back. We are back, and every year our numbers grow as more people awaken to the old ways -- be they Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Romanic, etc. -- and make them relevant today. For our ways are relevant as they are a means of being in this world, being with it, and not trying to simply control it or ignore it in the hope of achieving some afterlife. Originally written and posted in 2008, "A Heathen's Breastplate" is still appropriate to post now:
The Lorica (or Breastplate) is a prayer written in Irish and Latin that is often attributed to Saint Patrick. There are many variations of it (one can be found here), but I have decided to rewrite it in "honor" of the old saint who is said to have driven out the pagans. Now it has a nice Heathen slant...
A Heathen's Breastplate 
I arise today 
Heir to the strength of Asgard; 
Light of the sun, 
Splendor of fire, 
Swiftness of wind, 
Depth of the sea, 
Stability of earth, 
Firmness of rock. 
I arise today with mine own strength to pilot me; 
Thor's might to uphold me, 
Frigga's wisdom to guide me, 
Odin's hand to guard me, 
Heimdall's watch to shield me, 
Freyr's vitality to sustain me, 
And Freya's love to bless me. 
Afar and anear, 
Alone or in a multitude. 
The ancestors are with me, 
before me, behind me, 
on my right, on my left. 
As sure as 
The Earth beneath me, 
The Sky above me, 
The Holy Powers within me. 
I arise today 
Rooted in the mighty traditions of my past. 
And I walk Midgard, 
Sending forth the blessings of this day's deeds to generations yet unborn. 
copyright 2008 and 2010, BSW



Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for March 14, 2014



[Breathe - Redux] -- OK. A year ago this week, I had to drive from Bucks County, PA, to see my father at the Cleveland Clinic. Dad was sent there after he had been admitted to the local ER with difficulty breathing, particularly in pushing out carbon dioxide. After a consult with his doctors in Cleveland, where his bone marrow transplants had been performed, the decision was made to lifeflight him to the Clinic and place him in the cardiac ICU. The morning after he was sent to the Clinic, I packed up the car, drove across PA, picked up my mother, and finished a 9+ hour drive by checking into the Inter-Continental Suite Hotel in Cleveland. At the outset of this trip, we had expected Dad to be in the Clinic for several days. Instead, we found that we were to spend the rest of March in Cleveland. After my first week at the Clinic, I settled on "Breathe" as the theme for my Friday 80s Flashback of 3/22/13 . The reason for this theme will become apparent after you read the original intro for that Flashback which is re-posted here in its entirety.  

Those of you who follow me on Twitter, or know me in some other way (either virtual or IRL), know that I have been out of town visiting my father in the ICU. He was admitted last Tuesday evening due to shortness of breath. Since admission, he has been shuttled between two different ICU departments (cardiac and medical), undergone a battery of tests, and subjected to intubation -- with that last one occurring twice! The various doctors and experts on staff seem to know what the problem is -- Dad's muscles are too weak to properly ventilate -- but they don't know the "why" of the problem, or how to reverse it ... yet. So, as you can well imagine, breathing has been very much on my mind lately. Unfortunately, the kind of breathing I have in mind isn't exactly enshrined in 80s tunes. But I'll do my best to deal with this week's theme as well as support my family during this medical crisis. If you want to know what made the playlist this week, you can read and hear more after the break.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for March 7, 2014

80's Flamingo by Vicesome

[All Right, Already, Enough with the Flamingos!] -- I know some of you come here not only to reminisce with me about the 80's, but also to mine my musical tastes. OK, that latter part probably isn't true, but I like to believe that my readers (all two or five of you) visit me regularly for guidance on what was great about the music scene in this beloved decade. However, I am not above admitting that I, too, have my guilty pleasures. And I will do more than simply admit to liking (or having liked) potentially dreadful music, I will share one of my said guilty pleasures with you. Having said that, I hope you realize it's not too late to turn back. Still here? OK, let's go.

I'm not proud of this, but Christopher Cross has a place in my music-appreciating background. Mr. Cross apparently falls into the pop/rock category, but I have also seen him cataloged as a singer-songwriter. He has been active since 1979, but his first album and singles hit the charts in 1980 (when his best-known and award-winning song, "Sailing," was released). Speaking of awards, over his career, Cross has earned five Grammys, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award. After 1983, however, Cross' chart presence and sales tanked. I'm thinking that's primarily to do with MTV and the industry's general and growing concern other image. Just look at Christopher Cross' album covers. First, you'll note that the guy seems to have an unhealthy attraction to flamingos.

  



Second, you never see his face on his covers. Why? Maybe he, or his management, realized this face was not likely to move record sales:


Anyway, the guy was known for smooth hits, not for being a style icon. Want to know what hits made this week's playlist? Read and hear more after the break!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

xkcd.com has posted a cool graphic that serves as a very quick and easy way to determine the time in different parts of the world:

Now by xkcd.com

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for February 21, 2014



[Happy Smiths' Debut] -- February 20, 1984, thirty years ago yesterday, The Smiths dropped their eponymous debut album. In a decade populated with jangly acts, The Smiths pretty much defined a new genre of mopey, introspective music with a debut album that ran counter to just about every 80s pop cliche: Their songs were about a very un-poppy topic (child abuse); the production was dour, and maybe even uninspired; the cover photo was a still from the 1968 Andy Warhol film, Flesh; their lead singer warbled like a man in terminal frustration, if not pain. And you know what? It is all wonderful. The Smiths debuted at number two on the UK Albums Chart, and "What Difference Does It Make?" peaked at #12 on the UK Singles Chart. The Guardian ranked The Smiths among their 100 Best Albums Ever list (1997), and Slant Magazine lists it among their Best Albums of the 1980s. Instead of three individual flashback tunes this week, I'm giving you three ways to enjoy this seminal album. You can check them out after the break.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for February 14, 2014

David, age 7, sledding on Jan. 25, 1985 (source: News-Tribune Attic)

[Frozen] -- In light of this week's snow storms, the Friday 80s Flashback features songs about snow and ice and, well, winter. (What? You expected Valentine's Day songs? You came to the wrong blogger). Right here in Bucks County, PA, we got around 13" of snow Wednesday into Thursday. However, we were spared a bit when the storm whipped around for a return engagement, and only netted an additional inch or so (along with a lovely sheet of ice). I hope all my fellow 80s-philes have fared well, and that you are cozied up and safe. What wintry tunes do I have for your snow day enjoyment? You can read and hear more after the break. 

Friday, February 07, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for February 7, 2014



[Magic] -- As I am visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I figured magic -- or songs about magic -- was a good theme for this week's flashback. Now, as there was no Harry Potter back in the 80s, none of these songs are about him or his movie franchise. These songs either have magic in the title, or they refer to something as being magical. What made the sorcerous cut this week? You can read and hear more after the break. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

To My Old Brown Earth

Paul Winter is offering a free download of "To My Old Brown Earth," the last song on Pete Seeger's 1996 album, Pete. Seeger wrote the song for, and performed it at, the funeral of his friend, John McManus, co-editor of the radical newsweekly, The Guardian. The album, produced by Living Music, netted Seeger his first Grammy.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for January 24, 2014 (on a Saturday)

old skool cassette by ~EDIllo

Time for another flashback of a Flashback. I'm reaching into my archives and re-posting the Flashback from a year ago. I find it interesting that I was late posting that week just as I am today. 

[Atypical Qualities] -- I apologize for being late with this week's Flashback. Some things came up at work, so instead of wrapping up the post on Thursday evening, I found myself reviewing a slide deck in preparation for a Friday morning presentation. Believe me, I would have much preferred working on the Flashback.

Anyway...

This week's flashback started with a song by Robert Hazard. I cannot remember what made me think of it, but it stayed in my head. I figured that was a good indicator that the song had to be featured on the blog. I initially had some trouble building a theme around Hazard's song, but I finally settled on songs making something of an atypical description -- like "Chariots of Fire," but not that song (at least not this week). What songs did make it this week? Read and hear more after the break.