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Another very nice Christmas advert, this one from John Lewis (you can find more here)

Another very nice Christmas advert, this one from John Lewis (you can find more here)

Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous (and de-Trumped) New Year

If the world is stressing you out, try this one (at low volume). Written by sound therapists and the English musical trio Marconi Union, it was scientifically measured to reduce the body's responses to anxiety by 65% when played through headphones.

I have often listened to this lovely song sung in French, and although the sense of it was clear to me I didn't get all of the words - so finally I can listen and read at the same time (apologies to French speakers for any errors I made in editing the available online lyrics).

There are many (poor) translations on the web, but this song simply does not translate into English, even if its words do. Only in French (or some other romance language, perhaps) could one sing about sensuality like this and not sound clunky or vulgar.

The first image above, by the way, is by the Portuguese doctor, surgeon and photographer José António Pascoalinho.

If you click either image you will get a selection of videos of Céline Dion singing this beautiful song.

Stunning video from NASA (with great music) to celebrate Earth Day 2017

...and a reminder of what's at stake with climate change

Amy Purdy (a link well worth following) dancing at the Rio Paralympics Opening Ceremony...

with a KUKA industrial robot...

in a stunning 3D-printed dress.

Their bring-the-house-down routine (including a samba from Amy that was able to wow Brazilians) suggested the theme of “disability meets technology”.

However, watching the athletes at Rio, and the many others all over the world that they inspire, we aren't seeing “disability” - just amazing ability.

If you like this, you might want to revisit...

[Breaking the Mold: The London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony]

[London 2012: The Beautiful Games]

A particularly nice Christmas video (particularly for cat lovers) - very little actual advertising, more about sharing at Christmas. It's worth watching full-screen, too (click any image to play - opens in a separate window).

There's a book to go with it in support of Save the Children's Children's Literacy Programme.

Thanks so much to ensemble5 for this one!

A beautiful animated tribute to Cecil, speedpainted by Aaron Blaise

Click the text below for a lot more...

Thanks to my younger daughter for this one!

This great hi-def trailer video comes from Fantastic Fungi, The Official Site for Everything Fungi - “for foodies, scientists and explorers”.

Thanks again to my friend overthetrail (Sandy) for this one! (She hasn't posted here much for a while, but click her overthetrail tag to see some really nice stuff that she has sent my way over the years.)

Peia's “Machi”, a beautiful hi-def video from her album Four Great Winds

Peia Luzzi, who currently lives in Portland, Oregon, describes herself as “a vocalist, composer and Sacred Song preserver of traditions that span across the globe.”

Thanks to my younger daughter for this one!

“Do You Want to Kill Some Rebels?”

Hilarious Star Wars version of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" from Frozen... thanks to my nephew Chris for this one!

“I Will Always Love You”

An amazing child's cover of the Whitney Houston classic - that kid is awesome!

... and I can't resist heavy horses either - a very nice Budweiser ad from this year's Super Bowl

This talk by Brené Brown (a link worth following) is a real treat. Imagine, if you will, Bette Midler as a scholar and research professor explaining some valuable secrets of life...

Thanks to my younger daughter for this one!

If you like violin music, you will really enjoy the virtuoso performance of 11-year-old Sirena Huang from Connecticut, which ranges from classical to folk tunes. However, don't miss Sirena's charming short interlude talks, which start about 9 minutes and 16½ minutes in. Enjoy!

27 Kids reading “Little Humans” by Brandon Stanton (warning: it may crack you up)

Thanks again to my friend overthetrail (Sandy) for this one! (She hasn't posted here much for a while, but click her overthetrail tag to see some really nice stuff that she has sent my way over the years.)

Wonderful video of a cat concerto... The cat really is playing the piano - sure, the video has been edited, but not CGI'd - and a marvellous orchestral accompaniment added.

A real treat for music and/or cat lovers - don't miss it!

Thanks again to my younger daughter for this one!

Fairies spread a little festive happiness... the nicest Christmas TV advert I have seen so far this year!

Click to play...

[All of my Christmas posts!]

In this particularly beautiful video, Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist, explains what he considers to be the most astounding fact about our universe: that we are all literally made of “star stuff”.

Of course, we are all more than the sum of our parts!

After watching the video I reflected sadly that some religions close their eyes to the true wonders of creation - which reminded me of this (apparently often misunderstood) quote:

If (like me) you wondered what Einstein really meant by this, go here or click the quotation for a good discussion article, or go here for an in-depth Wikipedia article on Einstein's religious views.

If you like this...

[The science of the movie Interstellar [1]]
[The science of the movie Interstellar [2]]

... and FWIW:

[My own thoughts on the conflicts or otherwise between science and religion (from my web site)]
[Magical Loops: wonderful complexity from repeating simple rules many times (from my web site)]

This great photo of one of the Dutch windmills at Kinderdijk (from Wikimedia Commons, click image for source) reminded me of Noel Harrison's version of Michel Legrand's song "Windmills of Your Mind" (“Les Moulins de Mon Coeur”) that appeared in the original 1968 version of The Thomas Crown Affair.

It wasn't a great movie, I have to say, but it had much to enjoy, notably the sexual chemistry between Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway (including their famously erotic chess game).

If you'd like a nostalgia trip to the 60's, you can watch the movie's glider sequence, which was accompanied by an abridged version of Noel Harrison's song, here (or click the image to the right).

Noel Harrison performs the complete version of his song here.

BTW: The girlfriend watching Thomas Crown gliding is played by the beautiful Dutch fashion model Astrid Heeren (a purely decorative role in this movie).

In searching for videos of Michel Legrand's original, I also came across this very nice video of the instrumental version.

In complete contrast...

Later on, the Muppets produced a gloriously funny interpretation of the same song, which anyone who has suffered from seriously jangled nerves (or is only “calm on the outside”) can relate to... you can watch that here (or click the image to the left).


If you like this...

[Night photo of the Dutch windmills at Kinderdijk]
[Great music and style from the 60's: Claude Lelouch's film Un Homme et une Femme, with music by Francis Lai]

“I will be there”, one of Katie Melua's most beautiful songs (full orchestral version, I like the album version even better)
(If, like me, you are getting problems with the audio on this particular VIMEO video, try here)

“What a wonderful world”, a special duet between Katie Melua...

...and the much-missed Eva Cassidy (as well as a non-performing appearance by the French rock star Johnny Hallyday)

Katie Melua is one of my favourite singer/songwriters. Some years ago I was lucky to see her perform live at Kenwood House, Hampstead on a beautiful summer's evening, hearing several new numbers that were later to appear on her album Piece by Piece.

“Enjoy this beautiful piece with an appropriately awe-inspiring slideshow”

“The Adagio in G minor for violin, strings and organ continuo, is a neo-Baroque composition popularly attributed to the 18th century Venetian master Tomaso Albinoni, but in fact composed almost entirely by the 20th century musicologist and Albinoni biographer Remo Giazotto.” (thanks, Antonio!)

The Mexican singer Malukah (real name Judith de los Santos) has a beautiful voice, and she has made some very popular cover versions of songs from computer games like Skyrim (among others), as well as music from other kinds of popular entertainment.

I particularly liked this version of the Game of Thrones Theme and “The Children” from the same popular TV series, as well as her recording of “Misty Mountains” from the film The Hobbit.

You can currently download several of her songs for free at her web site, or watch and listen to her here on Youtube.

My favourite part of this great talk is Alain's visit to a tabloid newspaper, this kind of newspaper being “the number-one organ of ridicule in modern times”. He presented them with plots of great tragedies of western art, and invited them to come up with a headline. For example, the plot of Othello as outlined by Alain resulted in a proposed headline of “Love Crazed Immigrant Kills Senator's Daughter”.

Perhaps we all need to spend 17 minutes listening to Alain if we want to stay sane and happy in today's achievement culture...

If you saw that wonderful “life is good” movie Enchanted April, you will remember the lovely theme tune that George Briggs (Michael Kitchen, perhaps best known for Foyle's War) plays on the oboe.

The tune is Elgar's Chanson de Matin, which you can listen to on this video in an orchestral version, accompanied by many of my favourite paintings by J.M.W. Turner.

A beautiful and interesting film (well worth the hour to view) shared by my friend Overthetrail - thanks, Sandy!

(Sandy hasn't posted here much for a while, but click her tag to see some really nice stuff that she has sent my way)

Just what it says... nice and soothing to play in the background (opens in a separate window).
Thanks to Adrian von Ziegler for this free gift!

*Broken link fixed!*

Last year at Christmas the UK's John Lewis department store chain produced a truly charming advertisement called The Journey (well worth watching at this time of year if you have never seen it)

This year they have produced another, The Bear and the Hare. Enjoy!

The budget airline South African Kulula Airways provides security announcements in its own unique manner...
(in English with French subtitles)

Thanks, Louvain95 (Lou)!

This is the most charming and delightful video that I have watched in a long time.

Camille Roux writes: “Hello, with my little brother we realized a trumpet-guitar cover of a [female] French singer (we're french) : Joyce Jonathan - Ca ira.”

Enjoy it for the music and the wonderful antics of this lovely pair. Also, I recommend another of Camille's videos, C'est écrit.

If (like me) you have never heard of Joyce Jonathan, try her video Je ne sais pas - you won't be sorry!

Another of Gatorindo's many great shares (click his tag above for a lot more good stuff that I've had from him). Thanks again, David!

This is a wonderful, surreal animation by Cordell Barker, presented by the National Film Board of Canada. The spiky social-commentary humour reminds me a little of Sylvain Chomet's "Belleville Rendezvous" (Les Triplettes de Belleville) (I describe some of Sylvain's work here on my Movies web page, if you are interested).

I owe this gem, as so many others, to one of Gatorindo (David)'s many great shares - this one, in fact. Well worth reading!

“Other Places” (1 of 2)

My screenshots below are from one of my favourites of these videos - Skyrim (The Elder Scrolls V). Click any image below to enjoy the landscapes, set to nice music.

You can find all of ultrabrilliant's Other Worlds videos here, and another set of screenshots (urbanscape, for a change) in my previous post below.

If you like this...

[Another post on Skyrim]

“Other Places” (2 of 2)
[continued from Part 1]

My screenshots below are from another of my favourites of these videos - Empire Bay (Mafia II). Click any image below to enjoy the cityscape, set to nice music.

You can find all of ultrabrilliant's Other Worlds videos here, and another set of screenshots (landscape, for a change) in my next post above.

If you like this...

[... and try clicking the urbanscape tag above...]

Screenshots from a beautiful NASA video - click any image to play

Thanks to my friend Sandy for this one!

If you like this...

[LUX AETERNA, a beautiful video with music from Cristóbal Vila]

*Broken link fixed!*

A wonderful surreal film by Nicolas Devaux, whose other work is well worth checking out, e.g. here

(My personal prize for the most cretinous comment seen so far this year on YouTube, an award for which there is fierce competition, goes to the person who saw a few minutes of this film and triumphantly announced that it was "a fake".)

Thanks to romancinme and ensemble5 for this one!

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

My American family is into computer games and music (among other things). They always have something good to show me when I visit, like this...

A scene from the standard Skyrim game (click the image to read a major Wikipedia article, and there's a good review here)

As I understand it, Skyrim has an open architecture, and a whole community (the Skyrim Nexus) is involved in extending and enhancing it - this is an example from Skyrim Visuals and Graphics enhancements, an image that I found here (click the image above for a full-size version)

And then there is the music from Skyrim...

The Mexican singer Malukah (real name Judith de los Santos) has a beautiful voice, and she has made some very popular cover versions of songs from Skyrim (among others) - this one is The Dragonborn Comes (and a video of a Skyrim trailer with the same track wil be found here)

...and here is Malukah singing another Skyrim song, one of my favourites, Tale of the Tongues

You can download many of Malukah's songs as MP3s, including these, free from her web site.

My American family is really into Anime (as well as music and computer games, see my next post). They recently introduced me to Anime Music Videos (AMVs) which are really an art form within an art form. They showed me this hilarious example. It's a lot of fun - do play it.

A celebration of the Curiosity Rover Mission, with beautiful images and music

Thanks to ensemble5 (whose beautiful pages are well worth visiting).

[How far is it to Mars? (nice video animation)]

I love this... shared some time ago by a kind friend whose name I have mislaid - if it was you, please let me know!

A truly beautiful video, blending science, nature and spirituality, from Cristóbal Vila
(click any screenshot to play, opens in a separate window)

Thanks, Elegantlady (Roberta)!

If you like this...

["Nature by Numbers", another beautiful video by Cristóbal Vila]

A Splendor Seldom Seen

From the page:

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has delivered a glorious view of Saturn, taken while the spacecraft was in Saturn's shadow. The cameras were turned toward Saturn and the sun so that the planet and rings are backlit. (The sun is behind the planet, which is shielding the cameras from direct sunlight.) In addition to the visual splendor, this special, very-high-phase viewing geometry lets scientists study ring and atmosphere phenomena not easily seen at a lower phase... More...

Thanks to Fourteenth for this one!

If you like this...

[BBC Audio Slideshow: Splendour of Saturn]

One of the nicest stories to come out over the festive season... the true spirit of Christmas.

The beautiful voice of Cesária Évora, who died a year ago at the age of 70 in her native Cape Verde

One of many great shares by Gatorindo - thanks, David!

In her final days as Commander of the International Space Station, Sunita (Suni) Williams of NASA recorded an extensive tour of the orbital laboratory and downlinked the video on Nov. 18, just hours before she, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency departed in their Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft for a landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan. The tour includes scenes of each of the station's modules and research facilities with a running narrative by Williams of the work that has taken place and which is ongoing aboard the orbital outpost.

Suni, who is of Indian and Slovenian extraction, is a Captain in the US Navy, where she was a helicopter test pilot, and (I discovered) has a very impressive career in both the USN and NASA.

Click on any screenshot to play the video... 25 minutes of privileged viewing not to be missed!

Columbus, the European Laboratory, one of many on the Space Station (this one on the right hand side) where a lot of medical experiments are done

A sleep station module, containing 4 of these sleep stations...

"It's sort of like a little phone booth. It's also like a little office, with a computer and some toys and books and other things that make it sort of like home"

No gravity, so each of the 4 sleep stations...

...are in a separate wall

One of the space suits in storage, a miniature space vehicle...

"...your head turns inside the fixed helmet, you need a wide angle of vision and usually it's pretty sunny out there, so you need sunglasses, which make you look pretty cool"

A tour of a space toilet...

...with more information on cleaning up null-gravity messes than you may want to know!

Heading down from here, we get to "one of the coolest places on the Space Station, like a glass bottom boat"

You might want to take a look at this link (opens in a separate window)...

[Tracy Caldwell Dyson in the Cupola Module of the International Space Station observing the Earth below]

...the Cupola, with windows all around... (over Africa at the moment)

"That's the Soyuz spacecraft that's taking us home to Planet Earth today"

After showing us the exercise equipment, Sunita heads for the Soyuz spacecraft (a long way!)

A diversion to fly down the PMM, a big silver canister when seen from the outside - essentially a closet where things are stowed, "and a lot of fun to play in - and much bigger than the Soyuz"

Entering the Russian segment (Kevin, the next Commander, is doing the filming) "you don't need a passport either"

A long way, passing Yevgeny coming in the other direction

The Russian segment was the first section to come up to the Space Station, in 1988. The Station has been manned 12 years, and been up in space 14 years.

After another long passage... "here we are in the heart of the Space Station, really - the Service Module or Central Post". The service module is also the place to come when there's an emergency (fire, depressurization, toxic atmosphere) - "we gather here to figure out how to deal with whatever it is".

Controls to help fly in visiting spacecraft if they need it, and Russian and American computers that "help to control anything we need to on the Space Station"

Two Russian crew members, and on the wall behind them, pictures of Russian heroes of the space programme "which reminds us of our roots"

After showing us a lot of other stuff, Sunita heads down another long stretch to the Soyuz spacecraft that will take her home later today

...and at the end of that passage, she drops down another long shaft, arriving at...

...the docking probe which incoming spacecraft use to dock to the ISS (and we get an explanation of that, too)

Squeezing into the top section of the Soyuz (this part gets burnt up on re-entry - in a few hours time, in fact)

Looking up, that's Kevin, the next ISS Commander, looking down into the Soyuz

Squished into the tiny Descent Module, which has been getting made ready over the past couple of days, Sunita sitting in one of the three personalized custom-made seats (which she'll be using later today for real). "It's a pretty safe ride home... behind us is the parachute, all of our survival gear just in case we land in some strange place on the planet and nobody's there to rescue us right away..."

Some of the instruments, including hand controllers you can fly the module with

Listening to this lady, you would think she is talking about taking the bus home after a day at the office, instead of re-entering the Earth's atmosphere in a tiny capsule after a few months commanding one of humanity's outstanding political and scientific achievements. (She did get home safely, by the way.)

I take my hat off to her, and to NASA for providing us with the privilege of seeing so much detail of what goes on up there.

(Thanks so much to ensemble5 for this share.)

If you like this...

[A view of Endeavour docked to the International Space Station - and some thoughts to go with it]

Natalie Cole giving a wonderful live performance of "Smile", a song whose music was written by Charlie Chaplin for his 1936 movie Modern Times, the lyrics being added later for Natalie's father Nat King Cole's original recording...

...which you can listen to on this nice video (but I apologise in advance for the probably inappropriate advert that you may have to use the "mute" button for!)

A beautiful romantic jazz number from the Mexican singer-songwriter and actress Ximena Sariñana.

Another wonderful share from Gatorindo (David) - if you click the image you will be taken to his own post, where you can read more information and play the video.

"Hope", directed and choreographed by Lionel Hun, in a performance inspired by his experiences in the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, with music by Olivier Milchberg (who also played and appeared in Cirque du Soleil)

A wonderful share from Gatorindo (David) - if you click the image you will be taken to his own post, where you can read more information and play the video.

Many children must have sat through lessons with a teacher who knew their stuff but couldn't teach, or (even worse) with a poor teacher with no real knowledge of their subject. Here is someone very different...

Recently Bill Gates nominated Salman Khan as one of Time Magazine's The 100 Most Influential People in the World, writing:

"Like a lot of great innovators, Salman Khan didn't set out to change the world. He was just trying to help his teenage cousin with her algebra from across the country. But from a closet turned office in his Silicon Valley apartment, Sal, 35, has produced an amazing library of online lectures on math, science and a host of other subjects. In the process, he has turned the classroom — and the world of education — on its head.

"The aspiration of is to give every kid a chance at a free, world-class education. The site has over 3,000 short lessons that allow kids to learn at their own pace. Practice exercises send students back to the pertinent video when they're having trouble. And there's a detailed dashboard for teachers who use Khan Academy in their classrooms.

"Early pilot programs in California classrooms show terrific promise. I've used Khan Academy with my kids, and I'm amazed at the breadth of Sal's subject expertise and his ability to make complicated topics understandable."

It's not just kids that will appreciate the free video lessons of this wonderful teacher. I'm not bad at maths, but I am still enjoying going back and watching his way of putting over topics that have faded from my memory over the years - even some very basic ones.

Whether you're interested in maths, science, finance & economics or humanities (or if your kids are interested or need to be), do check this out. It has to be one of the greatest educational resources in the world - and it doesn't cost a bean.

A particularly good animation of Conway's Game of Life

John Conway's "Game of Life" is an exploration of how complexity evolves in nature. It is a game you can play at home, using any board with squares (a chess board is too small, a Go board is better). You lay down any pattern of stones or pieces on the board, and then apply some very simple rules to determine what the next pattern looks like.

If you have the patience to repeat this exercise through many patterns, applying the same rules from one pattern to the next (or better, use a computer) then you will see some strange and wonderful things (as illustrated in this video).

The "Game of Life" is an example of a whole family of investigations into how Nature works, in particular the fascinating study of Cellular Automata. These show how even very simple rules, repeated many times, can lead to very complex (and sometimes very beautiful) results.

Cellular Automata crop up in a very interesting SF trilogy by Robert J. Sawyer (who wrote Flashforward), about the evolution of intelligence in the World Wide Web - if you are interested, I reviewed the books (which start with "Wake") here.

The "Game of Life" is described here on my web site.

A happy Korean pop-jazz foot-tapper, one of many delights in the fabulous music collection of Gatorindo (David)

"Follow me", a beautiful song by Kimiko Itoh, set to the music of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez

From the soundtrack of the anime/computer animated science fiction film Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

One of many beautiful things to be found on the pages of ensemble5 (forwarded to me by Elegantlady (Roberta)).

"The Sagan Series is a collection of tribute vidoes dedicated to the late, great Carl Sagan. Breath-taking cinematography and a mesmerising soundtrack lends a powerful scenery to Sagan's narration from his hit TV series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage."

Thanks for this one, Elegantlady (Roberta)!

"Wild Mountainside" by the Scottish singer-songwriter Eddi Reader MBE

One of many, many treasures to be found in Gatorindo's fabulous and wonderfully-documented music collection. Thanks, David!

"After organizing our bookshelf almost a year ago, my wife and I (Sean Ohlenkamp) decided to take it to the next level. We spent many sleepless nights moving, stacking, and animating books at Type bookstore in Toronto (883 Queen Street West, (416) 366-8973)."

Great fun - thanks, Purplegem!

One of many breathtaking (and sometimes beautiful) sports compilations put together with "epic music" by derDon1234

Thanks to my friend Louvain95 (Lou) for this one!

Wonderful time-lapse photography of the San Francisco Bay Area by Simon Cristen

One of several time-lapse videos found here

Thanks to aldchronicle56 (Allan) for another of his many generous and excellent shares.

I am pleased to report that Allan is now here on Categorian, with a slightly different username! (I shall keep the old tag name to avoid confusion.)

An extraordinary and beautiful performance by the young Dutch trumpet player Melissa Venema

Thanks to Elegantlady (Roberta) for another of her many generous and excellent shares.

Great music from the English jazz composer and musician John Surman - thanks, Gatorindo (David)!

This is the coolest and funniest Christmas video that I have ever seen. However blue you are feeling, this will cheer you up!

I have posted this in previous years but (as usual) I can't resist doing it again.

The music, by the way, is sung by Clyde McPhatter (Santa) and The Drifters (reindeer). The animation is by Joshua Held.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

"Night and Day", a beautiful cool track by the Australian singer-songwriter Sarah Blasko, from her album
As Day Follows Night

One of many wonderful music shares from my friend Gatorindo (David).

Some nice art by Louis Ashton Knight, and nice music to go with it - thanks again, Elegantlady (Roberta)!

This is as heart-warming and perfect a story of Pay It Forward as you are likely to see this Christmas. If you watch nothing else, spend 10 minutes on this one...

Thanks to Gentle-Gypsy for this one.

Bach, Preludio, Partita in E Major, performed by Lara St John, solo violin

Chopin, Nocturne in E-flat Major, opus 9 no.2, Piano Solo, performed by Stephen Malinowski
(who is a very talented software writer as well as musician)

Two of many wonderful music animations by Stephen Malinowski (smalin) - both of these links are well worth visiting

Thanks to chryssanthemum (Chryssie) and bordertourista (Candace) for these!

One of a great series of science videos with voices of famous presenters transformed to music

Found on the wonderful pages of ensemble5.

I had never heard of this 1997 film until it was shown recently on UK television. Directed by Clint Eastwood, it stars Kevin Spacey and John Cusack, supported by some other fine actors (and Clint's daughter Alison as the love interest). I was expecting a steamy Southern soap opera, but I was pleasantly surprised - one word to describe it might be "dignified", not a common attribute nowadays. (I'll certainly read the book, which sounds considerably more complex.)

The film opens and closes with an a capella version of "Skylark", sung by k.d. lang. The linked video is only about a minute long, but you can listen to a surprisingly good cover version (including a film clip) here.

The a capella style suits the film, but I still really like "Skylark" by Cleo Laine and James Galway, from their magical album Sometimes When We Touch (one of my treasured possessions from the days of vinyl).

A slide show of Gaudi's wonderful architecture, set to the music of Queen - thanks to aldchronicle56 (Allan) for this one!

A charming musical version of A.A. Milne's poem from Now We Are Six by singer-songwriter Melanie Safka,
sent to me by my friend Gatorindo (David)

If you like this...

[The Hoose at Pooh's Neuk]

This wonderfully cheerful, bouncy song was sent to me by my friend Gatorindo (David), who wrote:

"Poppy but fun, and you can understand all of the words... note the chick doing the Robot--not a retro Robot, but really doing it... Debbie went on to do great things with that voice..."

If you haven't visited David's great pages, there is no time like the present... and you can see all of my Gatorindo snaffles if you click his tag above.

A very popular light show, set to the equally popular duet by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman

Thanks to Elegantlady (Roberta) for another of her many generous and excellent shares.

(The original video shared (from which the screenshot comes) has been blocked in some countries - this is the next best I could find. Give it 25 seconds or so for the spectacle to get under way...)

One of most beautiful videos I have seen for a long time (my screenshots):

Midnight Sun: A natural phenomenon occurring in the summer months north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle where the sun never fully sets and remains visible 24 hours a day.

This short time lapse film (by SCIENTIFANTASTIC) was shot during the Icelandic Midnight Sun in June of 2011.

Thanks again, aldchronicle56 (Allan)!

If you like this...

["Home", HD movie of the Earth taken from the air by Yann Arthus-Bertrand]

Evolution of the gas density in the high resolution resimulation of clustor 001
(Watch the movie here, and more simulation movies here)

The Bolshoi simulation (says the page) is the most accurate cosmological simulation of the evolution of the large-scale structure of the universe yet made (“bolshoi” is the Russian word for “great” or “grand”).

Thanks to Samaryantha for this one.

"Hallelujah" by the (female) Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter k.d. lang - a song that I always associate with the sad parts of that great movie Shrek - thanks again, Elegantlady (Roberta)!

"Forever Autumn" by The Moody Blues, one of my favourite tracks - thanks, Elegantlady (Roberta)

If you're in this mood...


A very nice video featuring the work of Patricia van Lubeck, set to some glorious music which I am pretty sure is by Karl Jenkins - it is very like (but isn't) one of the tracks on "Adiemus"

"Patricia van Lubeck is a self-taught artist. Born in Amsterdam in 1965, she was a bookeeper until 2000 when she started the 21st century by becoming a fulltime professional artist. She moved to the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand in 2005 and since then her work has taken a new and exciting direction. Her works in recent years show landscapes and weird plant species which she calls her psychedelic gardens."

Patricia van Lubeck was one of Ritas's favourite artists, and you can listen to more of Karl Jenkins' beautiful music here.

Thanks to my friend Catcaley for this one!

I guess everyone has a "They're playing our song" favourite. This classic by Roberta Flack is mine! In the old days, we attended quite a few dances where the DJ's choice of this song would magically fill the previously sparsely-populated dance floor.

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris performing live during their tour 'All the roadrunning'.
From the DVD 'Real Live Roadrunning' recorded at Gibson Amphitheatre 2006.

One of my all-time favourite songs, written by Mark Knopfler, and a great version of it.

Neil Diamond is one of the world's great performing artists (the third most successful in the charts after Elton John and Barbra Streisand), still going strong at 70.

In this beautiful track he transforms a catchy but banal pop hit that he wrote for the Monkees into a beautiful ballad. He also performed this version on the same tour in his July 2011 concert at London's huge O2 Arena, televised by BBC4.

"Juliette (Romantic Guitar)", a very nice track written and performed by Chris Spheeris
(The original video, from which the screen-shot comes, has been removed - I have found another)

The man himself (click for bio)

A sad farewell to Amy Winehouse, who was found dead on 23rd July 2011. A great young talent, tragically lost.

An extraordinary young talent who is thankfully still very much with us...

[Imogen Heap]

Theo Jansen creates the most amazing kinetic sculptures that literally have a life of their own. He hopes that when he passes on, his creations will still be wandering the sand dunes of Holland, powered entirely by the wind. Thanks, aldchronicle56 (Allan)!

If you ever had a special time dancing to this one, then I'm sure you will always remember it.

Thanks again, bluesemotion!

The romantic piano of John Sokoloff, with images to match - thanks, bluesemotion!

In this fascinating programme from the BBC, documentary-maker David Malone explores the secrets of ocean waves. He finds that waves are not made of water - waves are energy in motion, travelling long distances, but away from shore the water that passes the energy usually just moves in small circles...

We can watch waves endlessly (although not often in such beautiful ways as this), without appreciating their true nature. The sound of waves, for instance, doesn't come from water, but from millions of vibrating bubbles...

...and there are waves not just on the surface between water and air, but between layers of water...

...the most complex (and the most important) of which are oceanic Rossby waves, which can take months or years to cross an ocean and have many effects on our climate, including being the reason why the British Isles aren't locked in ice (more on their importance here, in far more detail than was possible in the programme)

Waves do not just happen in water - they underlie so many other processes of life and nature, taking forms that we often don't see or recognize...

... and by the end of this extraordinary programme we can see David Malone's mother, at the very end of her life cycle, as (among many other things) a very complex and beautiful wave.

This excellent and thought-provoking film has been shown several times on UK TV. If it comes your way and you haven't seen it, it's definitely worth catching.

If you like this...

[A fascinating video, "Nature by Numbers"]

Jake Shimabukuro plays "Bohemian Rhapsody" on a ukulele... an extraordinary performance on a happiness-bringing instrument (when played like this).

Thanks for sharing, Anitab!

If you like this, here is a really beautiful one...

["Somewhere Over The Rainbow" by Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo]

"My Muse", a fine performance by the Texan Bluegrass singer and songwriter Sarah Jarosz, found on Comely1's very fine pages

I am delighted to say that Comely1 is now here on Categorian as tobeannounced

Adagietto, from Symphony No. 5 in C-Sharp Minor, 4th Movement, by Gustav Mahler

Thanks Catcaley for sending me this piece of music, one of the most beautiful ever written (IMO) - and a nice video too

Thanks to elegantlady for this nice chill out video (if the wrong video plays, swing your cursor to the left of the screen to select it - it's currently the 4th one)

There are some other very good HD chillout nature videos on this page

[Some of my soothing favourites if you're feeling jangled...]

Two delights in one here: a beautiful song by Enya, "China Roses", and an equally beautiful video to go with it by the Spanish environmental and peace activist angelsolcito (a lady well worth visiting)

Thanks to Pasatter for this one (I found it on her StumbleUpon pages, but she has now moved to Tumblr where she is Irish Fantasy).

The glorious "Pearl Fishers" duet sung by Andrea Bocelli and Bryn Terfel - performances of it don't get much better than this!

Thanks for the share, Cat!

"Torn", a great track by Natalie Imbruglia (image from here)
Click the image to play

Thanks to Bluesemotion for this find!

"Dusk and the boy" by LensENVY (Jacqueline)

There's a little trail behind this one. It started when my good friend Nancy sent me Bluebird, a great song by the Manchester-based singer/songwriter Chas Rigby.

I searched for more songs by Chas Rigby and one that I really liked was Nightwind.

When I was looking for a "Night Wind" image to accompany this song, I found the beautiful image above.

Thanks, Nancy!

"Rocket Love", a great rainy-day song, sung by the Russian-born jazz vocalist Sophie Milman

I agree with Ray - this is one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

Whatever the (excellent and beautiful) video says, though, this has nothing to do with Art Garfunkel, unless I am much mistaken (not an unheard-of occurrence!). It is all about Paul Simon and Kathy Chitty, and it is Paul who is singing.

[Click the music tag at the top of this post for more of my music favourites...]

From the page:

In "Nature by Numbers," filmmaker Cristóbal Vila presents a series of animations illustrating various mathematic principles, beginning with a breathtaking animation of the Fibonacci sequence. Then it moves on to the Golden and Angle Ratios, the Delaunay Triangulation and Voronoi Tessellations. This would be math-class gold, and it's awfully sweet even if math class is years behind you.

If you are fascinated by this brilliant animation (which I found on Ian's pages), here is a quick guide to finding out more (should you need or want it):

The Fibonacci Sequence is formed by starting with 0,1 and adding the two numbers together to get a new number (giving 0,1,1). If you keep doing this using the last 2 numbers in the sequence then you get 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21... Fibonacci thought up this sequence (in the year 1202) as described in Fibonacci's Rabbits, which is well worth reading, as is all the other information that you will find there.

Two numbers "a" and "b" are said to be in the Golden Ratio if the ratio of "a" to "b" is the same as the ratio of "a+b" to "a". You can't write this ratio exactly as a decimal number, but it is approximately 1.618.

The Golden Ratio, referred to as phi (greek letter), is approximated ever more closely by the ratio of any two successive numbers in the Fibonacci Sequence, as the sequence is taken further and further. From the sequence above you can see that 13/8 is an approximation of the ratio, but 21/13 is a better approximation (and so it goes on).

Spookily, you can start a sequence with any two numbers, e.g. (235,1) and extend it using the same rules as for the Fibonacci Sequence, and the ratio between the last two numbers will still get closer and closer to the Golden Ratio as the sequence extends. In other words, it is the rules, rather than the starting numbers, that matter.

The Golden Section is a line segment divided according to the Golden Ratio.

The Golden Angle is what you get if you divide a circle's circumference according to the Golden Section, draw two lines from the centre of the circle to where the circumference is split, and take the smaller angle between those two lines. It is about 137.5 degrees. You will see it appearing in the animation.

I can't tell you much about Delaunay Triangulations and Voronoi Tessellations (not having met them before), except that they are reflected in the way in which Nature packs things together. This amazing video has certainly inspired me to try to find out more.

If you like this...

[A great post on the Fibonacci series from laydgray]
[... and you might like the mind-stretchers tag at the top of this post]

"Make Someone Happy" (a song that I always associate with that great movie Sleepless in Seattle) sung by the Russian-born jazz vocalist Sophie Milman

If you like this...

[More of the bright side of life...]

Images of Imogen Heap from

Thanks to butterflyZa for this stunning video, and also to Mike who writes:

"Imogen Heap performing live for Indie103.1, spine-tingling stuff. Just the girl herself, sampling and looping her own vocals live on this version of Just For Now."

Imogen is an extraordinarily talented lady, with an amazing command of both technology and music. I saw her once on BBC's Breakfast Show, where (sitting on the sofa, with her various gizmos more or less invisible about her person) she demonstrated how she could harmonize live with herself. Click any of the above images to hear what she can really do in a live performance.

If you haven't met it before...

[More about]

"Preguntas Hermosas" by Superfad, who writes:

"Preguntas Hermosas" is a story about a time that was shared between two people, told through a combination of "Poema X" by Pablo Neruda and "Under the Harvest Moon" by Carl Sandburg. It unfolds in three parts; a fond remembrance, loss, and then finally acceptance.

(Original post: July 7th, 2010)

This hour-long documentary from the BBC marks the inauguration of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, arguably the most advanced engines in the world today.

A turbofan engine (top half of graphic) is simple (hence reliable) in concept, but its engineering is about as far from simple as you can get.

Most of the thrust actually comes from propellers - fan blades - which are mounted inside an outer enclosure. The fan blades are driven by a turbojet engine, around which flows the cold air from the fan.

This engine has 20 fan blades, which together pump over a ton of air each second. Each one costs about the same as a typical family car, and has to exert a force equivalent to lifting 13 double-decker buses.

When fitted inside their shroud, the blades have an end-clearance of less than 1mm.

Each blade is precision-made from a 3-layer titanium sandwich, in a secret process that involves inflating the blade to get this super-strong structure.

Each blade is then tapped with a mallet and its exact natural resonance electronically measured. The order in which the blades are fitted around the shaft depends on matching these resonances for perfect balance.

This is where the business happens. The hot air from the combustion chamber, compressed by the blades towards the front of the turbojet, hits 96 turbine blades, which have to operate in a "fairly harsh environment". At maximum thrust they turn at 10,000 RPM, moving at 800 MPH, surrounded by a temperature of 1700 degrees - which is 300 degrees above the melting point of the alloy.

Each turbine blade feels a force of some 18 tons. Normal metal is crystalline in nature - under a microscope it is reminiscent of a granite kitchen worktop - and isn't strong enough for this task. Rolls-Royce has developed a process, the non-secret parts of which are shown in this film, for casting each blade as a single super-high-strength crystal.

The "fir tree" base of one blade, which will be machined to 7 microns - and keep that tolerance after being stretched by 18 tons of force.

The upper part of the blade, showing the cooling channels that stop the alloy melting, by removing enough heat to boil twenty kettles in each second.

The prototype engine has to pass two years of tests before it is certified. One of these is pumping 30,000 gallons per hour of water through the engine, during which it must work normally.

(Twin engined aircraft crossing the Atlantic have to be certified for ETOPS, which officially stands for Extended Twin OPerationS. Unofficially, although the film doesn't say this, it stands for "Engines Turning Or Passengers Swimming". An ETOPS-certified aircraft must have ultra-reliable engines, and be able to fly perfectly well on only one engine.)

The most spectacular test destroys a very expensive engine. A fan blade is detached by an explosive charge with the engine running at full thrust, resulting in a force of unbelievable magnitude...

...and an eye-blink later, the engine is ruined but everything has been contained within the super-tough outer shell.

While the technology is truly awesome, the documentary also focuses on the people that make it all happen. Rolls-Royce cars are now made by BMW, but the aero-engine business is still the old Rolls-Royce. From people who deal with logistics to people who carry out precision machining, from metallurgy specialists to people who check and test every aspect of every process, these are folk for whom mistakes are simply not an option.

Even what looks like a very large call-centre turns out to be a room-full of specialists monitoring, 24/7 in real time, the performance of engines powering hundreds of aircraft flying all over the world.

The style of the documentary occasionally set my teeth on edge, but the content is well worth watching.

If you liked this, the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine is featured here:

[Florida's least-known major attraction: Fantasy of Flight]

and if you would like to explore the world from your PC:

[My "Flight Simulator" page]

A beautiful song from Secret Garden, and an equally beautiful video from Wintermood (Virgil Beceru)

The song is from Secret Garden's album Once In A Red Moon

Running Bear writes:

Secret Garden's music has been described as a tapestry of Norwegian and Celtic elements. There are classical as well as popular influences. There are traditional as well as contemporary colors in it. But most of all their music is an emotional storytelling style of their own, unable to fit into one category. This is why Secret Garden is recognized in classical radio charts as well as play-listed in popular radio programs, crossing over from New Age charts in USA to Pop charts in Asia. The trademark is its simplicity and haunting melodies, sung by the violin of Fionnuala Sherry, all composed and produced from the heart of Rolf Lovland.

Thanks to Neva for introducing me to this beautiful song.

PS: Secret Garden makes a very nice "Radio Station" on, if you like melodic and relaxing music that you can listen to free on-line.

A singer, pianist, composer, lyricist, arranger, actress, educator, TV host and producer who is worth knowing about...

[Ann Hampton Callaway]

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole ("Iz") sadly died of weight-related respiratory illness on June 26, 1997, at the age of 38.

He left behind this absolutely beautiful version of a beautiful song.

"Winter Light" by Linda Ronstadt

"Winter Light" by Linda Ronstadt

This was a nice video of a beautiful song from the end-credits of Agnieszka Holland's film of Frances Hodgson Burnett's book The Secret Garden. The original has gone, but if you click the image you can select a different video with the same track.

I can remember only two film adaptations of classic children's books that (IMO) are virtually perfect. Agnieska Holland's film of The Secret Garden is one, and Lionel Jeffries' film of Edith Nesbit's book The Railway Children is the other. If you know of more, please let me know!

If you liked this...

[Wikipedia's list of classic children's books]
[My books page]

Below are some of my screenshots of Kate Madison's prequel to The Lord of the Rings, "Born of Hope" (the extended version).

It tells the story of how Aragorn came to be born, and how he eventually reached the safety of Rivendell as an infant.

Made on a shoe-string budget (£25,000) and released free on the Internet, this extraordinary achievement reminds me that we often use the word "amateur" in a derogatory sense. This movie shows everyone what real "amateurs" can do.

Arathorn, who will become the father of Aragorn

Elgarain, played by the multi-talented Kate Madison, hides her love for Arathorn, who sees her only as a true friend

The sons of Elrond helping to defend the Dunedain's settlement

Gilraen, wife of Arathorn and mother of Aragorn, narrating the story to her sleeping son

The young Aragorn, finally safe in Rivendell

(One of the main filming locations for the movie was Epping Forest - see my previous post below).

[More about the movie]
[My movies page]

(Last posted: December 23rd, 2009)

This is the coolest and funniest Christmas video that I have ever seen. However blue you are feeling, this will cheer you up!

I posted this last year but can't resist doing it again.

The music, by the way, is sung by Clyde McPhatter (Santa) and The Drifters (reindeer). The animation is by Joshua Held.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Randy Cassingham adds a great deal of value to this extraordinary video, which is why I am directing you to his site first.
From Randy's blog:

I'm really taken with a video released on YouTube last week. It's an Auto-Tune, which is the name given to soundtracks that use the audio plug-in of the same name. Auto-Tune was designed to correct the pitch of vocals, but clever music creators realized they could use it to make spoken word recordings musical. This is a fantastic example of the genre.

It's not just fantastic because it's a clever use of Auto-Tune; I've seen that and it's fun, but it's not amazing. But in this video, John Boswell not only put some spoken word to music with compelling visuals, but he also managed to distill the essence of what Carl Sagan was saying with his groundbreaking 1980 13-hour TV series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. (It also features a brief interlude of words from physicist Stephen Hawking.)


I know not everyone will like the Auto-Tune effect, and it starts out a bit weird, but it's only three and a half minutes, so stick with it: it's worth it. I recommend you play it twice: once to watch it, and then again while reading along with the lyrics, which are below...

If you like Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, or even if you have never heard of them, don't miss this one.

"Torero", a beautiful Flamenco piece from the German guitarist Govi, in a video featuring some extraordinary and appropriate computer graphics. The music comes from Govi's album "Cuchama".

Thanks again to my friend bel-vedere (who sadly left SU) for this one!

The talented American trumpeter and composer Chris Botti, one of many great musical finds sent to me by my SU friend bel-vedere, whose current location I sadly don't know.

Click the picture, or go here, to play Chris's beautiful track On The Night Ride, from his album "First Wish".

(Original post: August 11th, 2009)

The young South Korean guitarist Sungha Jung, still only 12 years old, plays 'With or Without You' from 'U2 Medley' by Doyle Dykes

Sungha Jung says that his dream is to become a professional acoustic fingerstyle guitarist. Judging from this performance I would say that he has an excellent chance of realising his dream!

One of many good things to be found on the delightful pages of my friend dak2cool.

This HD video was shot at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan by Jon Rawlinson, a filmmaker, cinematographer and editor based in Vancouver, Canada. The music is by Barcelona.

I am not sure what the world's largest aquarium tank is... the largest aquarium (well worth visiting, I believe) was the Georgia Aquarium in November 2005, although that may have changed by now...

Thanks for this one, Sandy!

Beautiful rain sounds, music and images found on Aline's always-lovely pages

Joe Hisaishi, playing his own composition, the theme "One Summer Day" from one of my all-time favourite movies, the Oscar-winning Spirited Away

Joe Hisaishi is a really interesting and talented composer as well as musician. He composed the music for many of Hayao Miyazaki's movies, making a major contribution to their special magic. His stage name (reversed so his family name comes first) was adopted by him as a phonetic equivalent of the name of one of his own favourite composers, Quincy Jones.

If you like this...

[Japanese animation at its finest: the master-works of Hayao Miyazaki]
[My movies page]

(Original post: June 29th, 2009)

Michael Jackson: Gone Too Soon

This beautiful song is dedicated to Ryan White, a young victim of AIDS who Michael befriended prior to his death. Michael performed this song at the ball for former President Bill Clinton's first inauguration on January 20, 1993, where he highlighted the importance of supporting research for a cure to this disease.

Thanks so much to my friend Sandy for this poignant memory of a great, sad talent.

Sandy also recommended this beautiful video: Michael Jackson: Childhood - if you miss him, it might well make you cry.

Wonderful uplifting music by Eric Bibb.

If you haven't heard Eric before and you like this one, check out his web site where you can hear more of his work.

Just two of many extraordinary images taken from the Cassini spacecraft. I have added a red arrow to the first image to point to a tiny speck - our own planet Earth.

It's mind-boggling to think that these images were transmitted successfully to several infinitely more tiny dishes on that tiny speck, taking up to 90 minutes at the speed of light to get there, and that we (tinier still) are somewhere on that tiny speck looking at them... and that some of us, working together, were capable of this great achievement.

In this really interesting slide show, Carl Murray, a member of the Cassini Imaging Team from Queen Mary College London, takes us on a tour of Saturn, its arcs and moons - including Titan, which appears to have geological features similar to Earth's.

[More on the Cassini mission]
[Some more of my space exploration favourites]


Here we are
Finally together
Holding close
Never release this feeling
This moment
My dream is now
Loving you

'Cause your beautiful
Something in your eyes
Tells me I have found
Love that never dies
I don't have to dream
Reality is beautiful in you...
Never felt more true

There you are
Finally the answer
Take my hand
Never release
The sweetness
The magic
The happiness
I found in you

'Cause you're beautiful
Something in your eyes
Tells me I have found
Love that never dies
I don't have to dream
Reality is beautiful in you...
Never felt more true

Here we are...

'Cause you're beautiful
Something in your eyes
Tells me I have found
Love that never dies
I don't have to dream
Reality is beautiful in you...
Never felt more true...


A beautiful song by Late Night Alumni, and a beautiful video to go with it.

The song "From Clare To Here" by Ralph McTell, sung by Nanci Griffith, has always been one of my favourites. It's hard to explain why - it's just something about the sad, haunting refrain that grabs me.

(Original post: June 9th 2009)

"Home" is an incredibly beautiful, passionate movie directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, co-produced by Luc Besson ("Léon" and "The Fifth Element") and narrated by Glenn Close. Filmed entirely from the air, it provides a unique view of our planet and what we are doing to it.

Made on a not-for-profit basis, it has just been released in cinemas and also on the Internet. You can watch the entire one and a half hours as an official full-size, high definition video on YouTube - click any image below. You can also download an HD version from BitTorrent.

Using beautiful and compelling images even for scenes of devastation and poverty, the movie makes it all too clear how little time we have left before irretrievable damage is done. Many people who view it online will, I suspect, give up watching it before the end for one reason or another - but the many others who stay with it will discover that it ends on an optimistic, positive note, describing many of the good things that are going on. This last theme is: "It's too late to be a pessimist", but it doesn't start until 1 hour and 21 minutes into the movie. If you watch it at all, please don't give up half way!

I would add to these positive messages that we don't have to give up (for example) living in beautiful cities that glitter at night (if that's what we want to do), or driving fun, fast cars. The technology exists, or is being developed, to allow us to do such things without destroying our planet - quite the reverse - and with that technology comes job and investment opportunities for many people. Green, done right, saves money, makes money and helps everyone.

PPR, who sponsored the film, is a French multinational holding company specializing in retail shops and luxury brands. The company was founded in 1963 by the billionaire businessman François Pinault. It was originally called Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, but changed its name on 18 May 2005 to simply PPR. If you are interested in how huge amounts of money and luxury goods can get together with ethical and green practices, take a good look around their site!

[ (English version)]
[My environment web page]

A very imaginative and beautiful CGI work (with great music) by Bruce Branit - click either picture to play

"This award winning short was created by filmmaker Bruce Branit, widely known as the co-creator of '405'. World Builder was shot in a single day followed by about 2 years of post production. Branit is the owner of Branit VFX based in Kansas City."

You find out what this video is about only at the end... I won't spoil it for you.

Thanks so much to green-eyedlady (Kadi) (no forwarding address at present) for sending me this one.

This is my winter song to you.
The storm is coming soon,
it rolls in from the sea

My voice; a beacon in the night.
My words will be your light,
to carry you to me...

A beautiful duet from singer/songwriters...

Sara Bareilles, and...

Ingrid Michaelson (whose work you may have heard on Grey's Anatomy, among other places)

Happy New Year...
(Original post: December 31st, 2008)

A video created and shared by my friend judibug. The beautiful song is "The Dance" by Garth Brooks. Thanks, Judi!
(Original post: December 22nd, 2008)

Hilarious topical version of Carol Of The Bells, sent to me by my friend Julian

(There's a "watch in high quality" option on this video)

(Original post: December 15th, 2008)

A pocket-powerhouse performance of Mariah Carey's song "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by 10-year-old Olivia Olson, in the delightful movie Love, Actually. Richard Curtis, the director, explained afterwards that they had get Olivia to dial back the quality of her singing in order for it to be believable to cinema audiences!

Among many other treasures in that movie was what must be one of the coolest small kids on the planet (he's about 5 years older now) Thomas Sangster.

Click either picture to play - the video will open in a separate window.

(Original post: December 9th, 2008)

A wonderful Christmas video created and shared by my friend judibug - thanks, Judi!

Samba Saravah is a musical sequence from Claude Lelouch's movie Un Homme Et Une Femme, one of my all-time favourites.

It's hard to believe now that when this film appeared in England in 1966, the censors gave it an X certificate. Times have certainly changed...

It's essential to see this movie in French, with subtitles if necessary. The French language (and this movie) has a rhythm, a style and a soul to it that just doesn't translate into English.

Every time that I hear this music, the words go on dancing in my head for hours afterwards:

“…Mais quelque soit le sentiment qu’elle exprime,
Elle est blanche de formes et de rimes.
Blanche de formes et de rimes,
Elle est nègre, bien nègre dans son coeur…”

You will find all the words of this song (with a translation) here. Click the picture above to play the video - it will open in a separate window.

I had to add a couple of pictures of the beautiful Anouk Aimée...

If you like this, you'll find more on this movie here:

[My movies page]

The Rose

Some say love
It is a river
That drowns the tender reed
Some say love
It is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love
It is a hunger
An endless aching need
I say love
It is a flower
And you its only seed

It's the heart
Afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It's the dream
Afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
It's the one
Who won't be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul
Afraid of dying
That never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong
Just remember
In the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed
That with the sun's love
In the spring
Becomes the rose

This beautiful song was written by Amanda McBroom, who describes how this song came to be written here.

Click the picture (which I found here) to bring up a selection of Bette Midler's performances of this song, which will open in a separate window.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt
(On the side of a hill in the deep forest green)
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
(Tracing a sparrow on snow-crested ground)
Without no seams nor needlework
(Blankets and bedclothes the child of the mountain)
Then she'll be a true love of mine
(Sleeps unaware of the clarion call)

Tell her to find me an acre of land
(On the side of a hill, a sprinkling of leaves)
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
(Washed is the ground with so many tears)
Between the salt water and the sea strand
(A soldier cleans and polishes a gun)
Then she'll be a true love of mine

Tell her to reap it in a sickle of leather
(War bellows, blazing in scarlet battalions)
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
(Generals order their soldiers to kill)
And to gather it all in a bunch of heather
(And to fight for a cause they have long ago forgotten)
Then she'll be a true love of mine

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

A truly magical intertwining of poetic lyrics and harmony, from a combination of talents the like of which we may never be lucky enough to experience again.

Click the picture to play - it will open in a separate window.

This is the Dyer Symphony Harp Guitar...

... and if you click the picture above you will hear a wonderful song played on this instrument by Michael Hedges.
The song (which starts about a minute into the video, after Michael introduces the instrument) was composed by Michael for a film documentary about a Japanese mountain climber.

Once you have heard this great music you may want to know more about it. Thanks to Catherine Todd who writes:

"Since 1990, I have been searching for the title to the soundtrack which Hedges plays "Because It's There." [This is from a] documentary about a Japanese mountain climber who was ultimately lost in the snow, his body never found.

"After long searching on the web, came up w/the film titles "Uemura Naomi Monogatari" also known as "Lost In The Wilderness" (U.S.) 1986. Windham Hill WD-1055 soundtrack is listed as "The Shape of the Land."

"Found it! Bought it! Bless you guitarsoul for posting & musicians & Amazon!"

For more songs by and information about Michael Hedges, click here.

"Fragile" by Sting

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrow's rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime's argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are
How fragile we are how fragile we are

Karen Carpenter
March 2nd, 1950 - February 4th, 1983

Requiem in Pace

When Karen died in 1983, the world lost both a lovely woman and one of the most beautiful voices on the planet.
Karen lives on in memories and in many wonderful recordings.
The words of this song have always seemed to me to be a fitting epitaph.

A Song For You

I've been so many places in my life and time
I've sung a lot of songs, I've made some bad rhyme
I've acted out my love in stages
With ten thousand people watching
But we're alone now and I'm singing this song for you

I know your image of me is what I hope to be
I've treated you unkindly but darling can't you see
There's no one more important to me
Darling can't you please see through me
'Cos we're alone now and I'm singing this song for you

You taught me precious secrets of the truth witholding nothing
You came out in front and I was hiding
But now I'm so much better and if my words don't come together
Listen to the melody cause my love is in there hiding

I love you in a place where there's no space or time
I love you for in my life you are a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singing this song for you

You taught me precious secrets of the truth witholding nothing
You came out in front and I was hiding
But now I'm so much better and if my words don't come together
Listen to the melody cause my love is in there hiding

I love you in a place where there's no space or time
I love you for in my life you are a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singing this song for you

We were alone and I was singing this song for you.

Click the picture to play the video.

Karen Carpenter (Wikipedia Article)

More on Karen Carpenter's story...

River Man

Betty came by on her way

Said she had a word to say
About things today
And fallen leaves.

Said she hadn't heard the news
Hadn't had the time to choose
A way to lose
But she believes.

Going to see the river man
Going to tell him all I can
About the plan
For lilac time.

If he tells me all he knows
About the way his river flows
And all night shows
In summertime.

Betty said she prayed today
For the sky to blow away
Or maybe stay
She wasn't sure.

For when she thought of summer rain
Calling for her mind again
She lost the pain
And stayed for more.

Going to see the river man
Going to tell him all I can
About the ban
On feeling free.

If he tells me all he knows
About the way his river flows
I don't suppose
It's meant for me.

Oh, how they come and go
Oh, how they come and go.

A haunting, beautiful, autumnal song in 5/4 time by Nick Drake, from the album Five Leaves Left.

Nick died young in 1974; I wish I'd heard his music earlier. More on his story here, and on the song itself here.

The images in the video, I understand, are extracts from a BBC documentary on Nick Drake.

"For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her"

What a dream I had
Pressed in organdie
Clothed in crinoline of smoky burgundy
Softer than the rain
I wandered empty streets down
Passed the shop displays
I heard cathedral bells
Tripping down the alley ways
As I walked on

And when you ran to me
Your cheeks flushed with the night
We walked on frosted fields of juniper and lamp-light
I held your hand
And when I awoke and felt you warm and near
I kissed your honey hair with my grateful tears
Oh I love you girl
Oh I love you

I think that these are some of the most lovely lyrics that Paul Simon ever wrote. Click the picture to listen to the song being performed by a unique combination of talents...