Category Archives: Music

And now for something completely different. . .


“Waltzing Matilda,” the ballad of a Bush Ranger who’d rather die by his own hand than surrender to authorities, is the unofficial anthem Down Under, a song that celebrates the origins of white Australia in the convicts shipped over the Old Blighty.

You’ve heard the song, no doubt, opening with the immortal words, “Once a jolly swagman [thief] camped beside a billabong [watering hole]. . .”

But one thing we guarantee you’ve never heard is the song sung in the language of those who had lived in Australia for 40,000 years before those first Brits, Irish, and Scottish prisoners arrived. The language she sings is Kriol, a creole evolved from contact between the Gurindji language of the indigenous people of the New Territories and the English of the settlers.

Well, here it is, for aboriginal vocalist Ali Mills, who performs a robust version which draws smiles aplenty from her studio musician accompanists.

From MGM Distribution:

Ali Mills — Waltjim Bat Matilda

And if you’re confused about the meaning of the words in the English-language version, we’re calling in our official interpreter, the Man in Black himself.

Take it away, Johnny Cash:

John Oliver takes on on Trump, music pilferage


He’s back from hiatus, offering his take on the Mistake by the Lake.

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Republican National Convention

Program notes:

John Oliver discusses last week’s unsurprisingly surprising Republican convention.

And in another segment, Oliver teamed up with some well-known recording artists concerned about the appropriation of their work by candidates, including The Donald.

Featured artists include Usher, Josh Groban, Michael Bolton, Dan Reynolds, Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson from Heart, Cyndi Lauper, Sheryl Crow, John Mellencamp, and Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynold:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Campaign Songs

Program notes:

John Oliver and some of America’s favorite recording artists remind politicians not to use their songs without permission on the campaign trail.

Political topography: Two different nations


The stark outward differences between the two major party presidential candidates are also reflected in the “likes” of the Facebook followers, as revealed in a new state-by-state analysis reported by the Wall Street Journal.

First up, their favorite actors:

BLOG CW Actors

Next, their favorite musical performers:

BLOG CW Music

And then there’s their favorite books:

BLOG CW Books

Changing cloud cover accelerates global warming


Regions where cloud cover has increased [blue] or decreased [orange] based on observations and models - Image: Joel Norris

Regions where cloud cover has increased [blue] or decreased [orange] based on observations and models – Image: Joel Norris

More bad news for our children and their children comes from a new study that reveals yet another accelerant triggering the fires of global warming.

The greenhouse gases that are the main culprit in raising global temperatures are changing the patterns of the world’s clouds, and the shifts bode ill for the future.

From the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego:

A Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego-led research team analyzing satellite cloud records has found that the cloudy storm tracks on Earth are moving toward the poles and subtropical dry zones are expanding. Cloud tops are also moving higher in the atmosphere.

The record confirms computer climate models that have predicted these changes to have taken place during the past several decades as a consequence of the accumulation of societally generated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

“What this paper brings to the table is the first credible demonstration that the cloud changes we expect from climate models and theory are currently happening,” said study lead author Joel Norris, a climate researcher at Scripps.

With the simultaneous roles clouds play in cooling and heating the planet – reflecting solar radiation back to space but also trapping solar energy in their structures – clouds are among the most important variables in climate.

Their complex behavior has been one of the biggest areas of uncertainty for scientists attempting to understand current climate and forecast future trends.

Inconsistent satellite imaging of clouds over the decades has been a hindrance to improving scientists’ understanding. Records of cloudiness from satellites originally designed to monitor weather are prone to spurious trends related to changes in satellite orbit, instrument calibration, degradation of sensors over time, and other factors.

When the researchers removed such artifacts from the record, the data exhibited large-scale patterns of cloud change between the 1980s and 2000s that are consistent with climate model predictions for that time period, including poleward retreat of mid-latitude storm tracks, expansion of subtropical dry zones, and increasing height of the highest cloud tops. These cloud changes enhance absorption of solar radiation by the earth and reduce emission of thermal radiation to space. This exacerbates global warming caused by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations.

The researchers drew from several independent corrected satellite records in their analysis. They concluded that the behavior of clouds they observed is consistent with a human-caused increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and a planet-wide recovery from two major volcanic eruptions, the 1982 El Chichón eruption in Mexico and the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines. Aerosols ejected from those eruptions had a net cooling effect on the planet for several years after they took place.

Barring another volcanic event of this sort, the scientists expect the cloud trends to continue in the future as the planet continues to warm due to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations.

The study, “Evidence for Climate Change in the Satellite Cloud Record” [$32 to read for non-subscribers to the $199-a-year journal], appears July 11 in the journal Nature. Researchers from University of California Riverside, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Colorado State University are co-authors. NOAA, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, and NASA supported the research.

Somehow a certain song seems in order:

Joni Mitchell — Both Sides Now

Tea Party honcho’s film crew unionizes, strikes


Oh, the irony.

From Deadline Hollywood:

Tea Party activist Norm Novitsky’s In Search of Liberty, a crowdfunded feature film about the U.S. Constitution, has been shut down in Savannah, GA, after 30 members of his crew walked off the job. The group, made up mostly of students and recent graduates from the Savannah College of Art and Design, had been seeking union representation, living wages and reclassification as employees rather than independent contractors.

The film, which stars Food Network host Bobby Deen, son of reality star Paula Deen, bills itself as a “a straight-to-DVD release that tells the story of a captivating statesman from America’s past” who takes a present-day family on a series of wild adventures that “opens their eyes to the origins and importance of the U.S. Constitution, the degree to which it is under attack and what can be done to save it.”

The film’s crew had worked on the shoot for three weeks. Dissatisfied with their wages and working conditions, they approached IATSE for representation. They walked off the job en masse on July 2, and the producers shut down the film Thursday when they couldn’t find a replacement crew.

IATSE has filed unfair labor practices charges with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming union reps were subjected to threats and acts of intimidation during their efforts to organize the workers. A member of the crew is scheduled to present evidence Monday to the wage and hour division of the U.S. Department of Labor that crew members were not paid minimum wages and did not receive overtime pay.

Solidarity forever, brothers and sisters!

Take it away, Pete Seeger:

Trump’s promise: The Great Wall of America


With a border wall serving as a centerpiece of Donald Trump’s xenophobic brand of populism, it’s a good time to look at the one we’ve already got, via an updated version of a 2007 documentary from Al Jazeera.

Plus, we’ve got an anti-wall editorial from a famous Republican at the end. . .

From Al Jazeera English:

Walls of Shame: The US-Mexican Border

Program notes:

A border of more than 3,000 kilometres separates the US from Mexico – but it is defined not only by physical barriers made of concrete and steel but by an immigration policy which is failing to address the issues behind illegal migration.

Despite the US spending billions of dollars on border enforcement, the lure of work sees illegal migrants enter the country at a rate of 850,000 a year.

A series of walls along the Mexican border were designed to stem this flow but based on current estimates it has failed. Instead, the walls have re-routed human traffic into remote desert areas where people risk their lives in deadly conditions attempting to enter the US.

This film shows what US immigration policy looks like on the ground for the people making the perilous journey for a better life, and for the Americans who call this borderland home.

Update: Since this film first aired on Al Jazeera English in 2007, the US continued to increase spending on border security. At no other time in history has there been as many border patrol officers on duty as there are today.

And now the authorities are bracing for a new challenge: children. Since 2014, the number of families and unaccompanied children apprehended at the border keeps skyrocketing.

Young people are filling family detention centres near the border, having fled poverty or extreme violence in Central America.

And today the issue is taking centre stage in this US presidential election, with Donald Trump calling for more walls, leading some migrants to say they will cross the border now before it may be too late.

We’ll leave the last word to a very famous Republican, recorded way back in 1963 for his album Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites:

Clint Eastwood — Don’t Fence Me In


And, yes, he really did cut an album:

BLOG Clint

And now for something completely different. . .


The late Ryan Larkin [and previously] was an enormously talented and deeply troubled Canadian artist and animator who lived his life on the streets.

For today’s ANFSCD we bring you two of his musical animations for the National Film Board of Canada, the boundless font of visual wonders.

First up is a 1971 animation from Greek mythology with a solo flute accompaniment:

Syrinx 

Program notes:

Borrowing from classical mythology, this very short film illustrates the story of Syrinx, the nymph who attempts to escape the goat-god Pan’s amorous advances by fleeing to a nearby river for help, only to be transformed into hollow reeds. Syrinxis the first film by Ryan Larkin, an Oscar®-nominated director who began his animation career in Norman McLaren’s student group. The technique employed is charcoal sketches on paper; the accompanying music is Claude Debussy’s “Syrinx” for solo flute.

Directed by Ryan Larkin – 1965

Our second offering, from 1972, features members of the community he called home, the streets.

STREET MUSIQUE


Program notes:

Visual improvisation on music performed by a popular group presented as sidewalk entertainers. The illustration is by a young film artist and animator who sees life with an amused and imaginative eye. His take-off point is the music, but his own beat is more boisterous than the musicians. He ranges from the most convoluted of abstractions to caricature of familiar rituals, including the bath. A film without words.