Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Secrets to San Antonio / Houston’s dolphins / Tarantino’s ‘Star Trek’ / The best Texas playlist / Kirsten Gillibrand in the spotlight / Robert Caro and LBJ

This week: Secrets to San Antonio / Houston’s dolphins / Tarantino’s ‘Star Trek’ / The best Texas playlist / Kirsten Gillibrand in the spotlight

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Insider’s Guide to San Antonio
By Lauren Smith Ford | Texas Monthly | December 2017
“Join the dapper Mike Casey for a bicycle tour of his favorite bars, restaurants and more in the funky, charming King William neighborhood.”

2. Galveston Bay dolphins struggle to recover from Hurricane Harvey
By Alex Stuckey | Houston Chronicle | November 2017
“Researchers observe lesions covering the marine mammals”

3. Pulp science-fiction? How Quentin Tarantino could save Star Trek
By Luke Holland | The Guardian | December 2017
“The tepid recent installment left Kirk and co needing direction, dialogue and a decent baddie. Luckily Hollywood’s grandmaster of profanity has one more film to make.”

4. Hundreds of dams in Texas could fail in worst-case flood
By Ralph K.M. Haurwitz | Austin American-Statesman | November 2017
“Texas applies its strictest safety standards only if a dam’s failure would probably cost seven or more lives.”

5. Winston Churchill Got a Lot of Things Wrong, But One Big Thing Right
By Matt Lewis | The Daily Beast | December 2017
“He contemplated using poison gas on German civilians. He wanted to keep England white. And more. But he had the quality Britain needed most at exactly the moment it was needed.”

6. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Moment Has Arrived
By David Freedlander | Politico Magazine | December 2017
“The New York senator has made sexual assault the focus of her political career. Now, the world has caught up with her.”

7. Oil and gas industry is causing Texas earthquakes, a ‘landmark’ study suggests
By Ben Guarino | The Washington Post | November 2017
“An unnatural number of earthquakes hit Texas in the past decade, and the region’s seismic activity is increasing. In 2008, two earthquakes stronger than magnitude 3 struck the state. Eight years later, 12 did.”

8. You May Want to Marry My Husband
By Amy Krouse Rosenthal | Modern Love :: The New York Times | March 2017
“He is an easy man to fall in love with. I did it in one day.”

9. Listen to the Ultimate Texas Music Playlist
By Katy Vine | Texas Monthly | November 2017
“We set out to hear what our state sounds like. We brought back the latest and best of Texas music — so listen up.”

10. Robert Caro: Rising Early, With a New Sentence in Mind
By John Leland | Sunday Routine :: The New York Times | May 2012
“I always remember Ernest Hemingway’s advice to writers: always quit for the day when you know what the next sentence is.”
Also see: Robert Caro’s Big Dig | Robert Caro’s Painstaking Process

Illustrating the heart in a million different ways

Some friends have told me how much they love the photos I include with most of my posts.

Some friends have told me how much they love the photos that accompany most of my posts. Their compliments honor me.

I don’t consider myself a photographer, just someone who loves interesting patterns — the more abstract and colorful and contrasted the better. I tend to find beauty in everything I see.

My simple Tumblr blog collects and displays the best of the art I’ve used on Stillness of Heart, along with a variety of other odd photos, gifs, and videos.

Follow me on Tumblr, and enjoy.

A bow to the King

Elvis Presley was born this week on Jan. 8, 1935, and died on Aug. 16, 1977. What he gave us will live forever.

It’s a feeling that can’t be denied. Sometimes you just have to submit to his reign. The King, who was born on Jan. 8, 1935, and died on Aug. 16, 1977, can dominate your consciousness, infusing his spirit and vitality into your heart and soul, adding an extra sparkle to your days. He shines that spotlight in your eyes, slaps you right across the face, reminds you to wake the hell up, look around, forget the pettiness of everyday life, and savor the world around you.

You have no choice but to sit back with him, laugh at the stardom, laugh at any notion of legacy and fame, and listen to some great music from a true American original. Don’t the fight the urge to do some affectionate impersonations, or just watch Johnny Cash, Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy, and Val Kilmer do their own.

Several years ago, the National Portrait Gallery recorded a short but very informative introduction to the fascinating and bizarre meeting between Elvis and Richard Nixon (above). Also, Legacy Recordings released a magnificent series of podcasts exploring the rise of Elvis, his gospel roots, his comeback performance in 1968, his 75th birthday, and his Vegas years. Links are included below, along with a few Elvis performances. Enjoy.

1. ELVIS: THE EARLY YEARS Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
2. ELVIS: ULTIMATE GOSPEL Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
3. RELIVING THE ELVIS ’68 COMEBACK SPECIAL Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
4. ELVIS 75 Parts 1 through 20
5. ELVIS AND VIVA LAS VEGAS Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

SONGS
1. LOVE ME TENDER (Live) Elvis Presley
2. BABY WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO (Live) Elvis Presley
3. HEARTBREAK HOTEL Elvis Presley
4. MERRY CHRISTMAS, BABY Elvis Presley

129. Mable John: “Take Me”

I could not agree more with this assessment. Her yearning tears my heart apart. This is one of my all-time favorite songs of any genre.

Motown Junkies

Tamla RecordsTamla T 54050 (B), November 1961

B-side of Actions Speak Louder Than Words

(Written by Andre Williams and Mickey Stevenson)


Note the mis-spelling of 'Mable'. Scan kindly provided by Robb Klein, reproduced by arrangement.  All label scans come from visitor contributions - if you'd like to send me a scan I don't have, please e-mail it to me at fosse8@gmail.com!A complete change of pace and mood from the big balladry of the A-side Actions Speak Louder Than Words, this is a louche, gospel-inflected quasi-blues, occasionally chaotically disorganised and occasionally near-devotional in its direct intensity.

It’s a much better record than the A-side, something which becomes obvious right off the bat. The band are up for it, despite a few lapses (including the bass player dropping right out of time very noticeably at the end, a flub which may have been enough to spike this as a potential A-side), opening the record identically to the Supremes’ Never Again before heading off in a whole different direction.

The backing singers are in full flow too, alternately gospel and blues, reminiscent of the best work of the choir who’d earlier…

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Videos I Love: Musical medicine

This music never failed to re-energize me.

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This music never failed to re-energize me.

I’m fighting off a cold. I haven’t been sick in more than year. I spent today pushing myself (and only occasionally succeeding) to compose a literature review so I’m not looking at an unfinished thesis in early November and wondering how I wasted six months.

I’ve dutifully taken medicine and had lots of juice and warm pho (noodle soup with chunks of eye round steak and brisket, lemon chunks, cilantro, basil leaves, and bean sprouts).

I’ve also enjoyed some oldies to keep me awake, just slightly dancing with my shoulders so no one notices. This music video has always been one of my favorites. I love how he drops in Tupac so perfectly.

Back to work.

A copyright issue required the creator of the video below to mute the sound. Fortunately, the remix survives here.

*****

I’m occasionally sharing some thoughts on a few videos that make me smile, make me think, or preferably do both. Read more from this special series here.

Videos I Love: Miami Vice and the ‘Cry’ ending

The roar of Crockett’s Daytona Ferrari racing past. Castillo’s silent scowl. The police helicopter landing beside a glittering ocean.

I’m occasionally sharing some thoughts on a few videos that make me smile, make me think, or preferably do both. Read more from this special series here.

Some of the very best parts of “Miami Vice” were its musical sequences. The music of Phil Collins, Depeche Mode, and Russ Ballard both immortalized and were immortalized by the series’ grand sweep through Florida’s 1980s drug wars and the enduring post-Vietnam bitterness and cynicism that undermined Reagan’s hopeful vision for a reborn Cold War America. They often enhanced the few moments of decent acting and writing.

Admittedly, in retrospect, much of the series’ writing was not all that great, and much of the acting elicits from me, one of the show’s biggest fans, painful winces or laughter (when I’m sure laughter was not meant to be the reaction). Nevertheless, overall, the series was gorgeous.

My favorite musical sequence comes at the end of an episode titled “Definitely Miami,” the twelfth episode of the second season and the first episode of 1986. The sequence featured “Cry” by Godley & Creme. Click on the link for an episode synopsis that will place the ending in the proper context.

I think the “Cry” ending is truly amazing. The roar of Crockett’s Daytona Ferrari racing past. Castillo’s silent scowl. The police helicopter landing beside a glittering ocean. Crockett left alone in the sunshine, exhausted and shattered. It was another one of those moments where the series achieved a film-like quality, anticipating by decades what HBO drama series strive for and what Michael Mann would finally realize with “Heat,” “Collateral,” “Ali” and the wholly unnecessary “Miami Vice” movie.

Note: NBC Universal recently pulled the YouTube video to which this post refers. I have substituted a less-than-great approximation until I find another version of the original episode sequence.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Solar tornadoes / The Mile High Club / Handsome presidents / Romney’s Hoover curse / An animated Robert Johnson

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism. Read past recommendations from this series here.

1. Tornado Season on the Sun?
VideoFromSpace | Feb. 14
“For a 30 hour spell (Feb 7-8, 2012) the Solar Dynamics Observatory captured plasma caught in a magnetic dance across the Sun’s surface. The results closely resemble extreme tornadic activity on Earth.”

2. Wendell Pierce Goes to Market
By Elizabeth Gettelman | Mother Jones | January/February 2012
“The ‘Treme’ and ‘The Wire’ actor on his career, launching a supermarket chain in New Orleans, and why Americans shy away from reality on television.”

3. Flamingo Air, Cincinnati Airline, Offers Mile High Sex To Customers
The Huffington Post | Feb. 16
“The airline, started by a group of pilot friends who dared each other that they couldn’t get one couple to pay for a mid-air romp, is now a successful airline that takes people into the sky and lets them get it on.”

4. The Man on Mao’s Right, at the Center of History
By David Barboza | The New York Times | Feb. 17
“But his language skills helped shape negotiations during one of the most important diplomatic missions of the past half-century.”

5. Creatures of the deep: terrifying macro pictures of polychaetes or bristle worms
The Telegraph | Feb. 19
“These tiny monsters may look like they are from another planet but they are in fact creatures from our deepest oceans.”

6. Our most handsome presidents
Lapham’s Quarterly | Feb. 20
TR wasn’t too bad looking when he was at Harvard.

7. Can Romney Break the Hoover Curse?
By Abby Ohlheiser | Slate | Feb. 20
“Americans haven’t put a successful CEO in office since 1928. If Romney is to end the drought, he’ll want to avoid appearing to be the second coming of our worst president.”

8. The women of the Mercury era
Mercury 13 | February 2012
“[Twenty-five] women, narrowed down to 13, who participated in and passed the very same physical and psychological tests that determined the original astronauts. ”

9. Three Science-Based Sex Tips for the Emotionally Intelligent Gentleman
By Jeremy Adam Smith | Good Men Project | Feb. 14
“From zebras to astronauts, Jeremy Adam Smith looked to science for some sex advice.”

10. The Legend of Bluesman Robert Johnson Animated
Open Culture | May 2011
“During his short life (1911-1938), Johnson recorded 29 individual songs. But they could not have been more influential.”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. HOY TENEMOS (Boyz from Brazil remix) Sidestepper
2. EL CUARTO DE TULA Buena Vista Social Club
3. SONEROS EN UNA CESTA Cesta All Stars
4. MECANICA DE AMOR Mi Son
5. UNA MUJER EN MI VIDA Ramito
6. VOLVER A VERTE Oscar DeLeon
7. CANDELA Buena Vista Social Club
8. BESAME MAMA Poncho Sanchez & Mongo Santamaria
9. EL CAMISON DE PEPA Compay Segundo
10. BABARABATIRI Tito Puente

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Whitney Houston dead / Stories of the unemployed / Soviet ghosts in Afghanistan / Valentine’s Day gift ideas / Inspiring children

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism.

1. In Afghanistan, a Soviet Past Lies in Ruins
By Graham Bowley | The New York Times | Feb. 11
“As poignant in its imperial ambition as in its otherworldliness, the Soviet-era swimming pool atop Swimming Pool Hill here is as good a symbol as any of the doubtful legacy of empires. ”

2. 10 Far-out Valentine’s Gifts
Oddee | Feb. 9
“Valentine’s Day is coming and you still have no idea what to buy for your beloved one? We have compiled a list of 10 of the best strangest, weirdest and most unusual valentine’s gifts you can actually buy.”

3. 20 Reasons Your Flight Attendant Might Not Be Happy-Go-Lucky
Rants of a Sassy Stew | Feb. 10
“If your flight attendant isn’t chipper and licking your ass throughout the flight, there is probably a very good reason behind it.”

4. The Istanbul Art-Boom Bubble
By Suzy Hansen | The New York Times Magazine | Feb. 10
“It appears that Istanbul … is having its moment of rebirth. These newly wealthy corners of the East seem full of possibilities, but what kind of culture will the Turks create?”

5. Faces beyond the numbers of long-term unemployed
By Sharon Cohen | Associated Press | Feb. 11
“The frustrations of one 53-year-old North Carolina man are multiplied millions of times over across time zones and generations in a country still gripped by economic anxiety, despite increasing signs of recovery.”

6. Whitney Houston, superstar of records, films, dies
By Nekesa Mumbi Moody | Associated Press | Feb. 11
“She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.”

7. How war stories inspire children to learn
BBC News | Feb. 11
“Many fictional tales of loyalty and survival – often based on true wartime events – have also helped children to understand what happened.”

8. The case for global currency
By David Wolman | Salon | Feb. 11
“Would it make more sense to have one currency for the entire world?”

9. Rereading: Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes
By Briam Dillon | The Guardian | March 26
“Grieving for his mother, Roland Barthes looked for her in old photos – and wrote a curious, moving book that became one of the most influential studies of photography”

10. The siege of Leningrad
Witness :: BBC News | January 28
“When Leningrad was cut off from the rest of Russia by German troops during World War Two, one third of its population died.”

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TUNES

Tonight I’m spending some time with the blues, specifically with the Texas Blues Café. Check out the line-up and then listen here.

1. Walter Trout — Blues Deluxe
2. Paul Thorn — Starvin For Your Kisses
3. Whiskey Myers — Thief Of Hearts
4. 8 Ball Down — Walk Down Blues
5. Z Tribe — LiL Hurricane
6. Robbie King Band — Wanting You
7. Brooks & Dunn — Caroline
8. John Fogerty — Swamp River Days
9. George Thorogood — You Talk To Much
10. Grace Potter — Sugar
11. 2 Slim and the Tail Draggers — Mother Load
12. Bo Cox — Gone
13. Van Wilks — Long Way To Crawl

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Her affair with JFK / Female sex drive / Style on the campaign trail / Artist faces Facebook millions / Jupiter’s moon / Miscarriage lawsuit after Costa Concordia

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism.

1. Woman recounts her affair with JFK when she was 19
By Cynthia R. Fagen | The New York Post | Feb. 5
“Their sex was ‘varied and fun.’ He could be seductive and playful and sometimes ‘acted like he had all the time in the world. Other times, he was in no mood to linger.’ ”

2. Female Sex Drive Decline Tied To Hormones, Evolution
By Jennifer Abbasi | The Huffington Post | Feb. 1
“[R]elationship duration was a better predictor of sexual desire in women than both relationship and sexual satisfaction.”

3. Why Are We So Obsessed With the Presidential Candidates’ Style?
By Noreen Malone | The Cut :: New York Magazine | January 2012
“Middle-aged and older white men in business-formal attire don’t tend to be the objects of sartorial fascination.”

4. Graffiti artist David Choe set for Facebook windfall
BBC News | Feb. 3
“A U.S. graffiti artist who painted Facebook’s offices is set to become a multi-millionaire when the social network begins trading as a public company.”

5. Latino voters favor protecting the environment
By Sara Ines Calderon | NewsTaco | Feb. 2
Among the findings, “76% of Latino voters voiced support for maintaining environmental protections.”

6. Tiny volcanic moon controls Jupiter’s auroras
By Lisa Grossman | New Scientist | Feb. 3
“Sometimes the puppets control the puppeteer. It seems volcanic outbursts on Jupiter’s moon Io control brilliant auroras on its parent planet.”

7. Lana Del Rey and the new culture of failure
By Stephen Deusner | Salon | Feb. 2
“The controversial pop sensation is somehow more interesting for her spectacular flameouts than her music”

8. Costa Concordia Lawsuit: Passenger Sues Cruise Line Over Miscarriage
The Huffington Post | Feb. 5
“[H]er doctors claim the ‘intense psychological stress suffered both during the night-time evacuation and when her lifeboat smashed up against rocks as it headed for the nearby shore’ is to blame.”

9. The Virgin Father
By Benjamin Wallace | New York Magazine | Feb. 5
“Trent Arsenault has never had sex, but he’s the father of fifteen children — and counting. The more he antagonizes the FDA, and unnerves television audiences across America, the more his in-box is flooded with requests for his sperm.”

10. Top five regrets of the dying
By Susie Steiner | The Guardian | Feb. 1
“A nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’. What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life?”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. PUSH Sarah McLachlan
2. PURPLE RAIN Prince
4. NO ORDINARY LOVE Sade
5. TAKE MY BREATH AWAY Berlin
6. PERFECT GIRL Sarah McLachlan
7. MELTDOWN Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke
8. CANDY PERFUME GIRL Madonna
9. #1 CRUSH Garbage
10. BABY DID A BAD, BAD THING Chris Isaak

Videos I Love: ‘Life is short. Let’s play a song’

If I have any friends left when I die, perhaps they’ll sing this for me.

I’m occasionally sharing some light thoughts on a few videos that make me smile, make me think, or preferably do both. Read more from this special series here.

The season premiere of one of my favorite TV shows, “Treme,” was recently delayed until fall 2012.

Here’s one of my favorite scenes from the heartbreaking series. A guitar player has been killed, and his friends gather to remember him in the only way they know how. If I have any friends left when I die, perhaps they’ll sing this for me.

Don’t fight back the tears.