Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge was "Time". The posts are of a more philosophical, contemplative, and even autobiographical bent. No time management tips in this theme, but stuff intended to make you think.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Love Is The Drug (#BOTB)

The purest truest love is the cure for all of our ills.  Personally, I think I'm addicted to love...

The Great Gatsby Poster

       In my Remakes Blogfest post previous to this post I mentioned that my favorite film version of The Great Gatsby is the 2013 release directed by Baz Luhrmann.  The film soundtrack can be rather jarring at first--it was for me--but I began to not only get used to it, but I enjoyed it.  The incongruity of the crazy songs rather set the mood for the setting of the Roaring Twenties when the film takes place.  For my Battle of the Bands this round I pit a song from the Gatsby soundtrack (a remake of an earlier hit rock song) against another rock version of the same song...

Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens each month on the 15th and on some blogs there is also a Battle on the 1st of the month.  My blog is one of those with a second Battle on the 1st of the month.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.

Love Is the Drug

          This song first done by Roxy Music in 1975 was the group's biggest hit.  You surely know it, but if not you can hear the original version here.   Please don't vote on the orignal!  The following are your choices:

Bryan Ferry  "Love Is the Drug"  (2012)

         This version by Ferry is essentially a  twice-over remake since he also sang the original with Roxy Music.  Here he gives the song a hot jazz band sound which made it well suited for the Gatsby soundtrack.

Divinyls  "Love Is the Drug"  (1993)

        This Australian group rocks this song   Their version appeared on the soundtrack of Super Mario Brothers

Time to Vote!

I think this is a very very tough choice.  Guess I'll have to come up with the version that is my personal favorite after several more listenings.   Do you have a preference between these two choices?   Which version do you like the best?   You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.

        Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands



'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Cherdo on the Flipside 

Winner of this Battle Announced on Monday November 20th

         With Thanksgiving next week I'm going to cut back the voting time which I think will be fine since you've got the weekend to cast your vote.  

         Busy times ahead for me--how about you?   Have you experienced what you've felt to be true pure unshakable love?   Does the use of more contemporary songs in films set in past periods bother you?  


Monday, November 13, 2017

The Great Gatsby (Remakes Blogfest)

   It's been said that you can't repeat the past...though of course you can when you remake a movie.  Then you can repeat the past as many times as you remake the movie...

Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner.----
blog about your favorite remake: movie (or television show into movie and vice versa), song, or book – or all three! Post a YouTube video and links where we can find these treasures. Tell us why THIS remake doesn’t suck!   You can find the list of other participants at either of the hosting sites.

The Great Gatsby

        Surprisingly, for one who had been an English major with a focus on literature when I was in college the first time around, I had never read F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby until 2013 when the most recent remake was released.   I had no particular intention on seeing the film--the novel didn't strike me as interesting nor did the movie.   Later, after the film's release, my wife and I were visiting our daughter in Houston and as I was looking for something to read during my stay there I spied a copy of Gatsby in their bookshelves.  It was a relatively short book so I decided to read the thing that I had thus far avoided for my entire life.  

        Well, I was blown away--one of the best novels I have read.  Upon finishing it was clear to me why The Great Gatsby is considered by many to be one of "The Great American Novels."   In a sense it is the truest American story, a rags to riches parable for the modern age.  The novel captures the spirit of an era and the essence of the romantic longings for the unobtainable that so many of us may have experienced in our own lives at some time or other.  The tragedy is beautifully told by Fitzgerald and begs for cinematic treatment.  After reading the book, I was convinced that I needed to see this celebrated new film version.
        In some future post I'll go into what made me so apprehensive about seeing the 2013 version of Gatsby, but I'll add in passing here that it was directed by Baz Luhrmann who also directed the 2001 film Moulin Rouge--yeah, I hated that film, but more on that in a few weeks in a future post.  Despite my feelings about Moulin Rouge, I was set on viewing his interpretation of The Great Gatsby.   At the time I was not aware that it had been interpreted by earlier directors.

The Great Gatsby 1926.jpg
The Great Gatsby (1926)


         Luhrmann's version blew me away thus luring me to explore whether other versions had been filmed.  I discovered there had been four movie versions over the decades (not counting a made-for-TV version that I have yet to see).   The first was a silent film of which no copies are known to exist any longer so other than viewing the trailer I have not seen that one.   Another version was released in 1949 with Alan Ladd in the role as Gatsby.  In 1974 Robert Redford played the lead in a much bigger production than its predecessors.  Then came the Luhrmann spectacle.

The Great Gatsby Poster
The Great Gatsby (1949)

         If the 1949 version were the only one to have been made it would have been a highly credible interpretation and worth a viewing by Gatsby fans.  The acting is fine though the story has been pared down to ninety minutes which does not allow for enough exposition and character development.  This film is more like a summary of the story with a feel that much is missing--and it is.  Nevertheless, Ladd plays the Gatsby role well.   This film is satisfactory, but probably wouldn't be fulfilling enough for modern audiences.  For one thing, it's in black and white and comes across as more of a film noirish experience than the story that it is meant to be.  This version is pretty good, but a bit flat.

The Great Gatsby Poster
The Great Gatsby (1974)

          My wife prefers the sweeping epic version from 1974.  The acting is outstanding and everything about the production is top rate.  Robert Redford does a fine job with his portrayal of the title character.  I've only seen this version once so far, but I would say that it is well worth watching.

The Great Gatsby Poster
The Great Gatsby (2013)

          My favorite is the 2013 version.   All of the acting works well for me.  The sets, the effects, and even the soundtrack are all big, brash, and a lot of fun.  Toby Maguire delivers the most effective portrayal of Nick Carraway (the narrator) of all of the films in my opinion and for me he really made the film.  However, I'd put Leonardo DiCaprio's performance up against any of the Gatsby's who came before him.  Where this version really captures the essence of the book is in its depiction of the decadence of the Jazz Age and the craziness of the world surrounding Gatsby and his elite neighbors.  For repeated viewings Luhrmann's version is the one for me.   It's good stuff that sticks pretty close to the story and spirit of Fitzgerald's novel.   I think Zelda Fitzgerald might have preferred this version as well.

          Now for any Moulin Rouge fans who might take offense at my negative stance on that film,  stay tuned to this blog for my post regarding that Luhrmann nightmare.  I will have some opinionated thoughts to share about it.  That post will come on November 29th directly preceding a related Battle of the Bands of December 1st.   My next Battle of the Bands post will be this Wednesday when I'll be pairing a song from Luhrmann's Gatsby soundtrack with an earlier version of the song.  Hope you'll join me for that.

         And by the way, regarding the versions of The Great Gatsby that I've discussed in this post, they are all relatively widely available so finding them would likely be little problem.   I bought the 1949 and 1974 versions through Amazon while I found the 2013 version with lots of bonus features at my local Walmart for something like seven bucks--a real steal.

         Would you consider The Great Gatsby to be one of America's greatest novels?     If you've seen any of the Gatsby films which was your favorite (if you liked any of them)?   What are some of your favorite film remakes?  


Friday, November 10, 2017

Coming and Going

A Happy Arrival!

       Another grandchild!   She is my sixth grandkid (I can hardly believe it) and my fifth granddaughter.  This is the second child of my youngest daughter, Angelina, and her partner Ray.  Logan Maria Lego was born in the afternoon on Monday November 6th.  Though it will after New Years before I can see her in person, I am excited to meet her.

     According to my daughter, the inspiration for Logan's name comes from the character Wolverine.  I guess Ray and Angie must be fans. 

    Everyone is saying that Logan looks like either my daughter, Angie, or her big sister, Marley.   Either way that would certainly make sense to me, but I've never been able to tell much who a baby looks like.  I'd say she looks like herself--beautiful!

On a Sad Note...

       In the early hours of the Wednesday morning November 8th, my youngest brother, Jeff, passed away from a heart attack.  He had been living in Nashville, Tennessee for many years.  I had been looking forward to visiting him on my way to New Jersey during the Christmas break, but now it looks like I'll be picking up his ashes from the mortuary where he will be cremated.    Then I'll take his remains to be interred next to our parents in Maryville, Tennessee.  He'd been wanting to go back to Maryville.  Now he will be home at last.

       Born in San Diego on Halloween of 1962, Jeff had just turned 55.  As a small child he was one of the youngest jugglers in the world having learned the skill at age three.  By age five he could juggle five objects, which is no easy feat.  In later years he developed a passion for music.  He had an amazing talent in all sports.

       In high school Jeff began displaying signs of mental illness.  He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and moved through a number of of care facilities throughout his life.   This was a burdensome heartbreak for my parents and especially for my mother after my father died in 1991.  My mother faithfully visited Jeff on a regular basis when he was living nearby and as often as she could when he was housed farther away until her death in 2014.  At that point I became Jeff's conservator.

        It was not easy for me to visit very often, but Jeff and I spoke via phone on a regular basis.   I will miss those conversations.  He would usually talk about CD's that he wanted me to buy for him or about his favorite musical artists.  However, there were those times when we had interesting conversations about life, death, and family.  Jeff would at times have unique outlooks concerning what was in his head or at other times absolutely crack me up with his odd sense of humor.  He too enjoyed a good laugh when I would connect with him with my own humor.  Yes, I will miss his calls.

        Something that he frequently told me was that he was saved by Jesus Christ and someday he would be in heaven.  I guess it sounds cliched, but I do believe he is in a far better place where he has peace and clarity.  Just as he never failed to end our conversations with "Love you Lee," I will leave him with that same thought:   "Jeff, my brother, I love you."

Jeff Jackson at about age 9