Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” Video’s 13s and 7s

Jun 17, 2019 by

Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” Video’s 13s and 7s

Monday morning. It’s release day of Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” video with her in it and it is loaded with easter eggs of her favorite number 13 and the number of her album Lover, lucky number seven.

So here we go.  Right off.

13 elements and dice that add up to 13.

In the second screen with the 13 elements, the cat, the rollers, the lipstick, the red dice, (the ones in the container mostly equal six) but the ones in front total to 13.) So there’s two 13s right there.

Then Taylor complains about the time being 7 a.m. (reference to 7th album) and looks at her watch where the one is a 13.

Then she’s headed out to the pool in here bling sun glasses. And yes, across the top they have sparkles across them. And just how many stars or what ever are there?

Why 13 of course.

How many else should there be?

Let’s skip forward to the part where TS comes walking down Main Street of her trailer city. She’s walking with the guy, pumps and all and she’s got blue hair and that Mr. T starter kit necklace with that big bold 13 in gold.

Now of course the protestors how many might there be? I’ll answer such a rhetorical question on my own. Somewhere between the number 12 and 14.

This keeps going. We get to the sun bathers in front of the trailer, of which TS is one, this time in a yellow swimsuit, an she’s sunning in front of the 13 protestors.

This time, however, she’s sitting in a group of seven, (album “Lover” number) and telling them to cool down.

But

the

most

excellent 13 possibly of all time, and you have to be looking for this one, comes from the symbolic Taylor and Katy Perry make up where Katy is dressed as a hamburger, and Taylor is a bunch of fries.

And how many fries are there?

Yep. There are seven in the front.

There are six in the back.

There are 13 french fries.

Count them yourself.

Taylor Swift’s 13 French Fries

 

 

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Fleabag Season 2–Phoebe Waller-Bridge At Her Best

May 17, 2019 by

Fleabag Season 2–Phoebe Waller-Bridge At Her Best

May 17, 3 p.m. in the afternoon and I’ve already devoured the six-episode season 2 of Fleabag on Amazon Prime and am in awe of the work of Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a writer and actor. 

She announces early in episode 1 that this is a love story, leaving one to think that the first episode is a love story, but really, all six episodes become an over-arching love story with little ones sandwiched masterfully in between.

Yes, I know, Phoebe and the show isn’t known for the best language or kid-friendly situations. That’s a given. If you could get past that and get to the heart of the story in Season 1 you saw how Fleabag, Phoebe’s character, was dealing with a surprise trauma she was running from until it was thrown in her face in the last episode as a major reveal.

Season 2 picks up 371 days, 19 hours and 26 minutes  later and Fleabag says she’s changed. Her old self wasn’t getting her anywhere, so she’s decided to make a change. And then we go through six episodes of her trying to do just that.

There is much more heart in Season 2 than one would ever have anticipated. The writing is masterful. The last episode where Andrew Scott talks about love is written from the heart.

The new and guest stars Andrew Scott from Sherlock fame as Jim Moriarty, Fiona Shaw from Killing Eve playing a counselor, and Kristin Scott Thomas, help enliven the series (the English call a season a “series”).  

One often hopes that a second season will be as good as the first. I’ve been disappointed in the second season of Killing Eve. After episode one even, I could tell Phoebe’s role in writing had been cut way way back. As the season has dragged on, it’s become almost a different show than season 1. Night and day to me. It’s still a good show, but the Zing that was there with Phoebe’s writing is NOT there.

With the second season of Fleabag, I have no problem in arguing that Phoebe’s mantra in how she writes with “Panic, panic, and hope,” is more than evident. It was brought to life in every page she produced in the script for these six episodes. The greatest regret I have is that there were only six shows in this season and now I’ve seen them all already.

That’s not to say I won’t see them several times but….

Will there be a Season 3? Sian Clifford, who plays Fleabag’s fictional sister, recently said no. The way Phoebe walks away from camera and waves at the end of the last episode, that kind of seals it, too. Even the way the last episode is laid out, Fleabag S2 ends in a good place. It is wrapped up nicely, shall we say.

But not to worry. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s career is on its way up. She is a masterful writer, she’s young, and funny, and she’s going places. And that’s the best part of everything about her. As a budding but older person writing, I’d do most anything to spend an hour of time listening to Phoebe talk about her theories. She says if she could ask anyone 73 questions, she’d ask Rasputin. So I have two 500-page books at my side in my TBR pile to figure out what the questions and then the answers might be. And I keep going back into my Work in Progress and asking myself, how would Phoebe turn this on its head? That sort of thinking is shaking up my short in a way I could not have anticipated, and hopefully one my future agent, and then future readers would not have either. As you’ll see from the 73 questions, “Panic, panic, and hope.”

Not only that, the beautiful quote she lives by, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect,” by Anais Nin.  Phoebe has cut it to “We write to taste life twice.” When you watch season 2, anyone who has ever been in love, or fallen out of love, or searched for love and not ever felt they’ve found it, well, you’ll feel like you’ve tasted life twice. And that is what makes Phoebe Waller-Bridge one of the best writers out there acting and writing today.

 

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Neil Diamond – Done Too Soon

Mar 14, 2018 by

Neil Diamond – Done Too Soon

Neil Diamond canceled a planned world tour this year. He has Parkinson’s and in the words of one of his songs, is done too soon. The disease is so bad he can’t keep traveling. Honestly, I wasn’t surfing for tickets, but this is sad news. For the past 46-47 years of my life, Neil’s tunes have enriched the musical fabric of my life.

I first remember Neil Diamond when we moved to Derby, Kansas near McConnell AFB in late spring 1972. When Dad returned from his second tour in Nam, this one as a member of the elite USAF helicopter group, the Green Hornets, he brought with him a Sansui receiver, Teac reel-to-reel, and a Pioneer turntable that fed some high powered Sansui speakers.

One of the albums that filled two bedroom home on S. Post Oak was Neil Diamond’s Taproot Manuscript. Dad played it every Saturday morning as we waited for a place in base housing. To this day I can hum every note of side two of the album–from “Childsong” all the way to the frogs fading at the end–twenty minutes later.

Shilo

When I got older, I found the jazzed up version of “Shilo” on Neil Diamond’s 12 Greatest Hits album. There’s no telling how many times I’ve played and replayed this song. From grades four through… I won’t say how old, I played air drums along with him and the orchestra.

Something about the high-hat and the drums rolling across the set has always made me as happy as Neil singing about his imaginary childhood friend. There are a couple other versions of the song but they don’t come close to the one on this album.

Now I know some of my friends reading this will mock me and make fun of Neil. That’s okay. They’re not getting sung in seventh inning stretches either. He is. Bum bum bum…. (“Sweet Caroline”)

“Do It …” the 45 single sounded better than any album or CD ever has.

The Monkeys have Neil to thank for “I’m A Believer.” It was Number One on BillBoard Magazine for weeks.

Neil had tons of hits. “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “I am… I Said,” “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon,” and on and on….

But now I wonder if he’s playing one self-fulfilling song in his head more often than the others.

Done Too Soon

I’ve been mindful of this song since dad brought home Taproot Manuscript, but never really understood it until I grew older. Neil goes through a litany of famous people and then remarks that all of them have something in common with all of us.

In 1970, he wrote himself a warning in “Done too Soon.” I hope he heeded it and enjoyed every minute along the way.

“And each one there
Has one thing shared
They have sweated beneath the same sun
Looked up in wonder at the same moon
And wept when it was all done
For being done too soon
For being done too soon.”

We all race through our lives seldom taking the time to enjoy each day as we live it. That was the message here. Not to do that. And even if we do, Neil postulated as a younger man, that it would still happen, that our lives are but a wisp of time and then we are gone, or we are old and our days of youth are swept away before we know it.

Neil Diamond, thank you for the music and the memories. They’ve been valuable in my lifetime.

Heed Neil’s words as you live out your days. Live every day as if your last. And enjoy every single moment as much as you may because one day you’re going to look back and wonder where the days went and remark that it was all done too soon.

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Gonna Write You A Letter….

Mar 8, 2018 by

Gonna Write You A Letter….

Not long ago, I bought resume paper and matching envelopes. Not to send out resumes but for something more special–letter writing.

Once I load the paper into my 1951-model Smith-Corona Silent, (taking care to ensure the letterhead is correct), I write someone I’ve not corresponded with in a while. Maybe someone I have never written before. 

My penmanship is better after months of hand-written Morning Pages. But how often these days does anyone receive the gift of a letter composed on a typewriter? Yeah, rarely.

My goal is a letter a day. One-page to let a special person know they were on my mind. This is so much better, not to mention cheaper than Hallmark. More original. More personal. More caring.

I don’t ask for a letter in return, though a typing pen pal would be nice. these days we dash emails and texts off with so little thought behind them. I enjoy my time at the typewriter taking the care to send genuine thoughts and to do my level best not to make any typos.

Dumping By Snapchat

A friend of mine had her son dumped by a girlfriend recently. She sent him a Snapchat message. He read the Dear John and it disappeared, forever. They’d been going steady for more than a year. They are 14, but still. This from a girl born in Alabama. She knows better and her mother taught her better, too. Emily Post is rolling in her grave.

Better Mail

My friend Harold Duncan often tells his mail carrier he wishes the Postal Service would bring “better mail.” The other day Harold had his wish fulfilled with a one-page letter thanking him for many years of friendship and support.

Typing With a Butter Knife

Owning a typewriter is rare these days. I bought my first last fall–a Smith-Corona Super Sterling like my dad had when I was a boy. In the documentary California Typewriter, Tom Hanks turned me onto the Smith-Corona Silent model. Hanks says that of the 250 typewriters he has, the Silent is the one he could not do without. I concur. It’s like typing with a butter knife.

My typewriters have changed how I write. The rhythm of the intricate machine slows my thought process. Words form pictures in my mind as the letters flow to my fingertips, depress a key, activate a series of levers and springs before compressing the fibers of a black ribbon and leap onto the white canvas of the non-glowing, porous page.

I revised my novel “The Voodoo Hill Explorer Club” on my typewriters. Instead of cutting, they helped grow the story into something new and magical. Yesterday I started querying agents.

Times are crazy busy. I’ve enjoyed the responses from friends who’ve received my letters. Writing them was worth it. Every clickety-clack….

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Ólafur Arnalds’ Eulogy for Evolution 2017 1440 is musical symmetry

Aug 24, 2017 by

Ólafur Arnalds’ Eulogy for Evolution 2017 1440 is musical symmetry.

 

I am in Week Six of Julia Cameron’s Finding Water. Now 18 weeks into her writings, she professes somewhere along the way that we do not celebrate enough the work of other artists who are brave enough to be themselves. I must do that here with the work of Ólafur Arnalds and a piece called 1440.

The piece is sublime, intoxicating, and contrite, all in the course of it’s six-minute fifty-six-second life.

I breathe, I whisper, I cry, I dream, I remember, I pray, I hope, I long for what was and what still will be in this song’s life.

I know nothing of his intent in writing this piece, but the Piano Channel of Apple TV plays it once or twice daily of late and when I hear it, I stop what I’m doing and close my eyes and enter the world of the music.

This is what music is made for, to take us somewhere. To our own place. Not the one the composer designed, but to the place only we can share with God. And that’s what happens when I am enjoined with the sounds of this piece.

The song is available on iTunes.

Here’s one video interpretation. I’m not sure of the video’s point. I can’t determine the storyline but the work is good.

Regardless, a salute to Ólafur Arnalds for this fine song. It has a special place in my heart. Thank you.

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Zelda, Almost Home

Jun 27, 2017 by

My favorite shot in the short film, “Zelda, Almost Home.” The tunnel leading to Riverfront Park in Montgomery, Alabama.

The premise for the short film Zelda, Almost Home became quite simple: Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1900, lived a wild and tumultuous life with the author of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, whom she met in 1918. What if she came back today as a ghost?

The inspiration to shoot Zelda, Almost Home came from watching Vincent Laforet’s Reverie on YouTube. You’ll also notice there’s a hat tip to Damien Chazelle and his film La La Land— Zelda walks in front of a mural. Simon Cade from DSLR Guide has been a big influence and coach as well. (This is my first short film. I’m 51 years old.)

Come to find out, there are ample stories around Montgomery already to suggest the premise for this film is dead on. The halls of Baldwin Middle School are full of stories alleging apparitions of Zelda. As I talked with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum Executive Director Sara Powell last Friday, she had two more accounts, recent ones, as the museum prepares to open upstairs rooms as a bed and breakfast.

So as you read and watch the film, please know, it is grounded in much less fantasy as you might first suspect.

The Making of Zelda, Almost Home

One of the first things any viewer will note is the music, Almost Home, composed by Moby and used with permission from his website, MobyGratis.com. He offers free use of his material provided it’s used for purposes like this—non-commercial and creative expression.

The film is shot entirely in Montgomery, Alabama, June 22-25, 2017. And that is part of my commentary for shooting this, there are almost no films about Montgomery that are actually SHOT in Montgomery.

It is all shot with a Canon D60, part with a Nifty Fifty lens and part with an 18-135 mm. The camera for the most part is mounted on a Neewer Image Stabilizer. Shots from the car the camera was mounted on a tripod.

Shot List

The intersection of Zelda and Fitzgerald, Montgomery

The street sign at the corner of Zelda and Fitzgerald in Montgomery, Alabama.

The opening shot is designed to give homage to Montgomery for honoring Scott and Zelda, while also having our Zelda set the scene that she was full of life when she lived here. It is not hard to imagine the real Zelda spinning around her street sign with glee.

Five minutes after we left the scene, I drove back through and someone had called Montgomery Police to investigate what we were doing. A patrol car was sitting where I’d been parked and was using the lights of the car to light up the street sign.

Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, Felder Avenue

The house on Felder is now a museum. They have a fascinating collection of Fitzgerald memorabilia and are open very day of the week except Monday for tours. And they are in the process of opening an upstairs suite as a bed and breakfast so those seeking inspiration for their writing or filmmaking can soon stay in the same rooms as the Fitzgeralds for nine months back in the 1920s. This is said to be the longest the two lived anywhere together. And it was the last place they ever lived as a family.

Winter Place, Goldthwaite and Mildred

It is often said that Scott and Zelda met at the Montgomery Country Club. But lore now suggests in fact that they met at Winter Place on Goldthwaite. Part of the tale goes is that Zelda’s daddy, Judge Anthony D. Sayre, who lived four blocks away, would not have approved of her being at Winter Place so saying they met at the country club was much more proper.

The McBryde-Screws-Tyson House, Mildred

Christian Lowry, the owner of the house, tells the tale that Zelda was friends with the girls who lived there at the time. He says Zelda used a ring she’d been given by Scott to carve their initials in a second story window. Mr. Winter, who owned Winter Place across the street, is said to have had a thing for Ms. Zelda when she was younger and so as an admirer, when McBryde-Screws-Tyson lie vacant, he sent men into the home to extract with window pane Zelda carved initials into.

The McBride-Screws-Tyson House in Montgomery, Alabama.

It is hoped, that since Mr. Winter was something of a pack rat, that as Winter Place goes through renovation, the original piece of glass will be found and hopefully returned to its rightful window.

But this is the sentimental importance of this shot in the film.

*I have been spelling McBryde with an I instead of Y. That’s now corrected on June 30, 2017 though I can’t change it in the YouTube post.

The Train Shed

There are stories about Zelda and the train shed in Montgomery. It was the prime way in and out of town for Zelda and Scott. But it is also said that she dressed down one day and walked around with a tin can seeking donations. News of this, of course, stirred Judge Sayre. Which is probably what it was meant to do.

The Riverfront Tunnel 

The Riverfront Tunnel has changed over the years. Only recent efforts by the city to bring night life back downtown have led to the amazing lighting in the tunnel. The colored lights and the depth of the shot make this one of my favorite scenes in the film. I thought about going back and having Zelda walk perfectly framed up the lighted tunnel but then it’d be too staged and too fashioned, something the true Zelda would not allow.

Tallapoosa Street

This is one of the apex locations in downtown Montgomery, connecting with Commerce Street, critical to the city’s past and present.

The Alley

Over the past 15 years, the Alley has really come to life as an attraction in Montgomery, and wherever there was a party in this town, well, it’d attract Zelda.

Tallapoosa and Commerce Statue of Hank Williams

The Hank Williams Statue is now the gateway into the Riverfront Park area of the downtown area.

RSA Tower Fountain on Dexter Avenue

David Bronner has built a series of buildings throughout Montgomery over the past 40 years. The fountain this Zelda is playing along wasn’t here when Zelda was, but like the real Zelda, my character couldn’t resist the temptation to play. And she really wanted to get into the water like the real one would have done, too.

Catoma Street view of Troy State

Troy State wasn’t located here back in the day, but is an important part of the downtown scene, connected to the Davis Theatre and across the street from the Jefferson Hotel where Scott and Zelda are said to have stayed, as well as being near the Rosa Parks Museum, which I believe back in the day was also the Empire Theatre, one of the first air conditioned places in the hot of the South.

Sunny Paulk Civil Rights Mural, Lee and Montgomery Streets

Hat tip to La La Land and having Emma Stone walk past the You Are The Star Mural. Montgomery has a beautiful Civil Rights Mural here and we just had to include it. Zelda was gone before all of that came to be and so it was fitting for her to just walk past.

Oakwood Cemetery, Plot 28, graves of Minnie and Judge Anthony D Sayre

The Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama where the parents of Zelda Fitzgerald rest in peace.

There is a memorial plaque for Scott and Zelda, their daughter Scottie Smith, and Zelda’s parents, Minnie and Anthony D. Sayre in Oakwood Cemetery. When we arrived for shooting, the sunset was alive with color and emotion.

The first shot is Zelda mourning over the plaque. She then runs her hands over the stone above her father’s tomb. Out of love and emotion, the Zelda character in the film lies down on the stone above Minnie and puts her hand on Minnie’s name. By then it was too late to see, but the poignancy of should not be lost. Zelda would dearly miss her Momma for many reasons all of us would.

Old Alabama Supreme Court Building, Dexter Avenue

Justice Sayre served on the Alabama Supreme Court from 1909 to 1931. Zelda would visit this place and miss her daddy.

Zelda visiting the Old Alabama Supreme Court Building on Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama.

The Alabama Capitol

The Capitol is just a stone’s throw from the Old Supreme Court Building.

Chris’ Hotdogs, Dexter Avenue

Chris’s Hotdogs is 100 years old this year. I don’t know if Zelda ever went there to eat before she left town, but the odds are pretty good that she would have. They have served every sitting Alabama governor since they opened. It makes sense the lead Flapper Girl would have been a customer, too.

Court Street Fountain

Many a girl like Zelda has climbed the fence at the fountain to wade into its waters looking down Commerce Street toward the Alabama Riverfront and up Dexter Avenue toward the Capitol.

Sunroom window, The Fitzgerald Museum

The sunroom at the museum would hold special value to Zelda. Scottie, their daughter, wrote about its importance during the Christmas the family spent in the home. As a ghost looking back, she would totally take time to look into this room and remember the gem of joy they experienced there as a family for one of the few times ever.

The Museum at night, Felder Avenue

Day or night, the museum is a treasure of Montgomery.

My Own Zelda Ghost Story

So, the night before we began shooting, while walking up the drive to the museum, a white and tan cat came running out of nowhere and up to me. I am allergic to cats and don’t care for them. This one, as I was standing in the drive looking at shots, avoided my Zelda actor, (Angie Tatum Weed) and began curling around my legs. I finally said, “Hey Zelda!” and the cat stopped.

 

 

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