Yep. 2016 was a disappointment and true disgrace in so, so many ways.
Humankind took some pretty big steps backward in 2016 so let us hope it begins to move forward once again. But even better, let us not simply hope for the best, but work for the best. Let us actively support the values of fairness and human decency to counteract this current dark tone sweeping not only the United States but much of the rest of the world. Live your life by the principals of humanism. Let us strive to give the darkenss a reason to retreat in 2017.
This video for Katie Melua's "Perfect World" touched me deeply. It reminds me of the true, unconditional love I felt from my mom, and the state of innocence of childhood. She has been gone for 14 years now and I miss her still, every single day.
You're precious I can't stand seeing you cry It hurts Watching you get what you don't deserve I tell myself You don't belong in this rough life You should have a perfect world You should have a perfect world You're too gentle And much too quick to forgive Every slight And blow you've ever been dealt Well who knows If the world will ever deserve you You should have a perfect world You should have a perfect world And who knows If the world will ever deserve you You should have a perfect world You should have a perfect world
Swedish street art group Anonymouse have just made their first installation of stores for mice...a little nut store called Noix de Vie and a sweet little cheese shop called Il Topolino. The anonymous members of this art group (or member, singular, since no one knows exactly who is behind this) told metro.co.uk, "For us the main point with the little scenes are to spread a bit of joy, so the question of our identities seems quite irrelevant. The scene is there for its own sake so shifting focus to us just seems unnecessary."
All the objects are made from human detritus like bottle caps and match sticks. I love how the nuts in the window have little country-of-origin flags, and that the store fronts light up at night. And I especially love that the Anonymouse logo is a combination of the Guy Fawkes mask used by international hacker group Anonymous and Mickey Mouse ears!
On their Instagram account, Anonymouse have announced that there will be a new vignette, for mice, in 2017...
I am pretty overwhelmed by this lovely song, "Breathing Underwater" by Emeli Sandé. The music is wonderful, her voice is exquisite, and what she is singing is beautifully mystical.
When I first heard this song, the words resonated with me. It feels obliquely profound, like they describe a dream, some kind of transcendent event, a peak experience. It speaks to me of a state of freedom that I imagine exists outside of our bodies, outside of time. But when I saw the video, I was quite taken aback by the very unexpected literalness of the flying motif. I have spent my nightly dream life flying, and the idea of having the power to fly is very important to my own personal mythology. So when I saw these dancers start to float up in the air, I was moved to tears...because of the freedom, because I know--I know in my heart and in my soul and in my skin what it feels like to fly... and because I can't do it in this physical plane.
I believe in miracles Cause it's a miracle I'm here Guess you could call me spiritual Cause physical is fear And it's safe to say the storm's gone away And I’m dancing on the morning after Yes I'd love to stay, but my home's the other way And I miss the love and laughter Something like flying Hard to describe it My God, I'm breathing underwater Something like freedom, freedom My God, I'm breathing underwater Every moon and every star Knows who you are, you know So ever if it gets too dark You never are alone And it's safe to say you surrender your days To pay back all the love you borrowed And hopes are high you survived yesterday And today is jealous of tomorrow Something like flying Hard to describe it My God, I'm breathing underwater Something like freedom, freedom My God, I'm breathing underwater
"The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust."
--Neil deGrasse Tyson
"The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff."
"Everything we are and everything in the universe and on Earth originated from stardust, and it continually floats through us even today. It directly connects us to the universe, rebuilding our bodies over and again over our lifetimes."
--Iris Schrijver, author of LIVING WITH THE STARS: HOW THE HUMAN BODY IS CONNECTED TO THE LIFE CYCLES OF THE EARTH, THE PLANETS, AND THE STARS
"We are stardust/ We are golden/ And we've got to get ourselves/ Back to the garden"
...and we could use some warming up (it was 34*F here this morning!). Check out these marvelous recipes for delicious variations on hot chocolate! Those who know me will not be surprised to learn that I am very eager to try the Lavender White...as well as the Caramel!
Such sad news. George Michael has died on Christmas Day at the shockingly young age of 53 (the age of your blogmaster...ahem) and as regular readers of "Oh, By The Way" know, I start each December off with a re-post of his lovely "December Song (I Dreamed Of Christmas)." This year has taken a lot of great talent from us...
George Michael, born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, was a talented vocalist--with a powerful yet smooth voice--and songwriter. His work with Andrew Ridgeley as 1980s pop duo WHAM! started him in the public eye but it was his solo work that solidified his stature. His album "Faith" was a revelation (1987). It was a seamless blend of English pop with synthesizers and American soul. Take a listen to the funky yet dark "Hard Day."
Don't bring me down Don't bring me down Don't bring me down I've never been one For playing games You can move your mouth forever But the words sound just the same Something like Bang bang you're dead Couldn't we just make love instead Say yes because it's what we do best And I've had such a hard day Take me where their eyes can't find us Without you I may as well just... How much - do I have to say What more - do you have to see What will it take to make you love me Well you're not the first You're not the last You're not even the one who loves me the best But all I think about is you So take me where their eyes can't find us Without you I may as well just... So take me where their eyes can't find us Without you I may as well just... Don't bring me down Don't bring me down Don't bring me down Please don't wander from my door I've never been one For playing games You can move your mouth forever But the words sound just the same Bang Bang you're dead Shouldn't we just make love instead Say yes 'cause it's what we do best And I've had such a hard day So don't bring me down Won't you give me a break Somebody give me a break now! Don't bring me down Don't bring me down Don't bring me down Sweet little boy with oh such a big mouth Harsh words can get you into hot water When people don't understand you baby I'm always here for you And I And I will never bring you down, down, down my baby Trust me I want you to trust me Oh trust me 'Cause I won't bring you down (Don't bring me down) I won't bring you down Do you trust me Yeah
But his 1990 release "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1" took him to another level. The song "Freedom! '90" was ostensibly about his own rise to fame and his unease in that position, but can be read at the same time as a declaration of emancipation for anyone feeling tied to or trapped by something not of their choosing.
I won't let you down I will not give you up Gotta have some faith in the sound It's the one good thing that I've got I won't let you down So please don't give me up ‘Cause I would really, really love to stick around, oh yeah Heaven knows I was just a young boy Didn't know what I wanted to be I was every little hungry schoolgirl's pride and joy And I guess it was enough for me To win the race? A prettier face! Brand new clothes and a big fat place On your rock and roll TV But today the way I play the game is not the same No way Think I'm gonna get myself happy I think there's something you should know I think it's time I told you so There's something deep inside of me There's someone else I've got to be Take back your picture in a frame Take back your singing in the rain I just hope you understand Sometimes the clothes do not make the man All we have to do now Is take these lies and make them true somehow All we have to see Is that I don't belong to you And you don't belong to me yea yea Freedom Freedom Freedom You've gotta give for what you take Freedom Freedom Freedom You've gotta give for what you take Heaven knows we sure had some fun boy What a kick just a buddy and me We had every big shot good-time band on the run boy We were living in a fantasy We won the race Got out of the place I went back home got a brand new face For the boys on MTV But today the way I play the game has got to change Oh yeah Now I'm gonna get myself happy I think there's something you should know I think it's time I stopped the show There's something deep inside of me There's someone I forgot to be Take back your picture in a frame Don't think that I'll be back again I just hope you understand Sometimes the clothes do not make the man All we have to do now Is take these lies and make them true somehow All we have to see Is that I don't belong to you And you don't belong to me, yea yea Freedom Freedom Freedom You've gotta give for what you take Freedom Freedom Freedom You've gotta give for what you take Well it looks like the road to heaven But it feels like the road to hell When I knew which side my bread was buttered I took the knife as well Posing for another picture Everybody's got to sell But when you shake your ass They notice fast And some mistakes were built to last That's what you get That's what you get That's what you get I say that's what you get That's what you get for changing your mind That's what you get for changing your mind That's what you get That's what you get And after all this time I just hope you understand Sometimes the clothes Do not make the man All we have to do now is take these lies And make them true somehow All we have to see is that i don't belong to you And you don't belong to me yea yea Freedom Freedom Freedom You've got to give for what you take Freedom Freedom Freedom You've got to give for what you take Yea you've got to give for what you, give for what you give May not be what you want from me Just the way it's got to be Lose the face now I've got to live I've got to live
But one of my all-time favorites is his delirious song "Flawless (Go To The City)" from his album "Patience." The music always gets me grooving and his message of hope to those who don't fit in (gay men and women in small towns in particular) is quite uplifting , but I especially love this video that was filmed, amazingly, all in one continuous four-minute take. The concept is actually extremely moving and inspiring, seeing all the people and lives who have moved through a single space. And watching them all in this overlapped sense of time--where all time is simultaneous--suggests ideas of quantum physics and multiple universes. And of course there is a metaphysical aspect in that beautiful, transcendent moment, when, for one instant, all these people who do not know--and never will know--each other, are in sync and connected through space and time by their sense of self, and by their sheer, unstoppable life force. Lovely...
'Cause you're beautiful (Perfection)(Like no other) Flawless, absolutely flawless 'Cause you're beautiful (Perfection)(Take me, make me) 'Cause you're beautiful (maybe tonight, they'll see you tonight) And it's no good waiting by the window It's no good waiting for the sun Please believe me, the things you dream of They don't fall in laps of no-one And it's no good . . . Waiting, waiting And it's no good . . . Waiting You've got to go to the city Always the same Always the same dreams yeah yeah Always the same (yes you're movin' up) Well you've got to think of something 'Cause your job pays you nothing But you've got the things God gave you So the music may yet be your saviour Got to be a way, some way Got to be some way to make your way to the light (All the girls say) Got to be some way, today, today, maybe tonight, maybe tonight And it's always the same . . . Always the same dreams yeah yeah Always the same (yes you're movin' up) You're beautiful, you are, and you know it You're wasted here, you're a star In this small town of hand-me-downs who don't even know it Sometimes they’re beating you down Sometimes they’re eating you up Sometimes you think that your head's going to blow It doesn't get better . . . Don't you know, you've got to go to the city You've got to reach the other side of the glass I think you'll make it in the city baby I think you know that you are more than just A fu**ed up piece of ass You've got to go to the city You've got to go to the city, They're going to find you there 'Cause you're beautiful 'Cause you're beautiful Do you want a saviour, saviour Say that you do, You know you're wasted here, wasted here And there ain't no miracles happening any time soon ...
I was born in a cloud... Now I am falling. I want you to catch me. Look up and you'll see me. You know you can hear me. The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you. We're over a forest. There's millions of snowflakes. We're dancing. The world is so loud. Keep falling and I'll find you. I am ice and dust. I am sky.
I can see horses wading through snowdrifts. My broken heart, my fabulous dances. My fleeting song, fleeting. The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you. My broken heart, my fabulous dance. My fleeting song, my twist and shout.
I am ice and dust and light. I am sky and here.
I can hear people. I think you are near me now. The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you. We're over a forest. It's midnight at Christmas. The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you. I think I can see you. There's your long, white neck. The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you. Now I am falling. Look up and you'll see me. The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you. In a moment or two. I'll be with you. The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you. Be ready to catch me. The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.
"Oh, By The Way" is my digital scrap book of things I like, things I would share with a close friend and say: “Oh, by the way, do you know of this artist/ clothing or interior designer/ model/ singer/ actor/ gorgeous man… or, have you seen this video/ photo/ film... or heard (or do you remember) this song/ band... or, read this book/ poem/ inspiring quote... or, visited this place/ museum/ restaurant/ famous building... or, have you heard of this amazing new scientific discovery?”
I am dedicated to posting the positive, the fascinating, the beautiful, the interesting, the moving, and the inspiring and uplifting. Sometimes I post cultural as well as personal observations, milestones, and remembrances. And just like life, all of these things may often have a bit of melancholy or even sadness in them, which is what makes our time here so lovely and bittersweet and precious.
Some of the photos, art, poetry, and prose are my own original work, credited with my initials, JEF. When it isn't, I always try to post links to the original source material, but often I find photos on the web that are not linked or other material that is not sourced. In these instances, I post them without malice since it is assumed that such things, by being globally posted on something as uncontrollable as the internet to begin with, are in the public domain. If you identify the source of an image that is not linked, please politely let me know (without accusing me of theft) and I will be happy to provide a link. If you are the owner of an image and would prefer it be removed, I am happy to do that as well.
I hope to inspire and entertain my readers with things that inspire and entertain me. There is a startling amount of beauty and creativity in the world and it enriches us all to participate in it.
All-time Favorite Films
2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick)
After Hours (Hysterical, hair-raising ride through NYC at night)
American Beauty (Alan Ball)
Baraka (Stunning, transcending—the "spiritus mundi" on film)
Belle et Bete (Cocteau)
Big Sleep, The (The epitome of film noir)
Bringing Up Baby (Hepburn & Grant—the epitome of screwball comedy)
Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, The (Greenaway)
Crash (Cronenberg—DIFFICULT subject, not for everyone)
Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg—ultimate modern gothic horror)
Drowning By Numbers (Greenaway)
Edward II (Derek Jarman)
Erendira (From magic realist Marquez’ brilliant short story)
Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick's last film)
Fearless (Jeff Bridges—life and death)
Funny Bones (Leslie Caron, Jerry Lewis, and the brilliant Lee Evans)
Holiday (Hepburn & Grant)
Howard’s End (The ultimate statement of the unfairness of class systems)
Ice Storm, The
Inland Empire (David Lynch)
Interiors (Woody Allen's ode to Bergman)
Jetée, La (French short that inspired Gilliam's "12 Monkeys")
Jules et Jim (Truffaut)
Juliet of the Spirits (My favorite Fellini)
Kwaidan (4 Japanese ghost stories)
L’Age d’Or (Bunuel)
Last Temptation of Christ, The (Jesus was a shaman)
Latcho Drom (Beautiful visual documentary of Romany culture around the world)
Lion in Winter, The (Hepburn!—Like “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” but circa 1183)
Living End, The
Lost Highway (David Lynch)
Maurice (Boy gets boy, they live happily ever after!!!!!)
Men Don’t Leave (Jessica Lange’s gorgeous delicate performance)
Nights of Cabiria, The (Fellini)
Orlando (Tilda Swinton’s pristine performance and Sally Potter’s ravishing visuals)
Orphée (HEAVEN! Cocteau was a genius)
Pennies From Heaven (Steve Martin/ stunning Edward Hopper sets!)
Philadelphia Story, The (Hepburn)
Pillow Book, The (Greenaway)
Planet of the Apes (1968...NOT 2001!)
Postman Always Rings Twice, The (Nicholson/Lange--WOW)
Prospero’s Books (Greenaway)
Rebel Without a Cause ("I got the bullets!")
Shining, The (Kubrick)
Thin Red Line, The (Terrence Malick--existential poetry cleverly disguised as a war film)
Titus (Julie Taymor does Shakespeare)
Tommy (Brilliant, audacious Ken Russell film of The Who's rock opera)
Tree Of Life, The (Terrence Malick masterpiece)
Un Chien Andalou (Bunuel and Dali, need more be said?)
Wall,The (Pink Floyd)
Wings of Desire (All the feelings of the entire human race in one film)
Woman of the Year (Dated yet charming Hepburn vehicle)
Zabriskie Point (Empty, open, classic early 70s)
ZOO, A Zed and Two Noughts (Greenaway)
The Sounds My Soul Makes: Music
Dead Can Dance
Everything But the Girl
Gang of Four
Nine Inch Nails
Rickie Lee Jones
Tears For Fears
This Mortal Coil
Important Books That Have Influenced Me
100 Years of Solitude—Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Doorway (for young people but worth it)—Madeleine L’Engle