Friday, April 21, 2017

Music Friday: In His Signature 'Stable Song,' Gregory Alan Isakov 'Turns These Diamonds Into Coal'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. In his signature "Stable Song," singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov uses gemstone and precious-metal metaphors to describe an artist who struggles to find his muse and ultimately returns to his roots.

He sings, "Ring like crazy, ring like hell / Turn me back into that wild haired gale / Ring like silver, ring like gold / Turn these diamonds straight back into coal / Turn these diamonds straight back into coal."

In the YouTube clip below, Isakov introduces the song by telling a live audience that "The Stable Song" is a poem "about everything."

In our interpretation, the artist seems to be unable to deal with the stress that comes with success. He's under tremendous pressure to compose something perfect (diamond) and, instead, decides to return home where he can get back to basics (coal) and recapture the energy of his youth.

Written by Isakov, "The Stable Song" was the second track of his 2007 debut album, That Sea, The Gambler. The song also returned as the fourth track of the artist's 2016 collaboration with the Colorado Symphony.

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, raised in Philadelphia and now calling Colorado home, the 37-year-old Isakov has been traveling most of his life. His songs tell the story of his time on the road and his constant yearning for a sense of place. Music critics have described him as “strong, subtle, a lyrical genius.”

Isakov is currently on a 16-city tour with stops in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, British Columbia, Alberta, Montana and Wyoming.

Please check out the video of his 2012 live performance at The Bing Lounge in Portland, Ore. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"The Stable Song"
Written and performed by Gregory Alan Isakov.

Remember when our songs were just like prayer
Like gospel hymns that you called in the air
Come down, come down sweet reverence
Unto my simple house and ring... and ring

Ring like silver, ring like gold
Ring out those ghosts on the Ohio
Ring like clear day wedding bells
Were we the belly of the beast, or the sword that fell?
We'll never tell

Come to me, clear and cold
On some sea
Watch the world spinning waves
Like that machine

Now I've been crazy, couldn't you tell?
I threw stones at the stars, but the whole sky fell
Now I'm covered up in straw, belly up on the table
Well I drank and sang, and I passed in the stable

That tall grass grows high and brown
Well I dragged you straight in the muddy ground
And you sent me back to where I roam
Well I cursed and I cried, but now I know
Now I know

And I ran back to that hollow again
The moon was just a sliver back then
And I ached for my heart like some tin man
When it came, oh it beat and it boiled and it rang
Oh, it's ringing

Ring like crazy, ring like hell
Turn me back into that wild haired gale
Ring like silver, ring like gold
Turn these diamonds straight back into coal
Turn these diamonds straight back into coal

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/KINK Radio.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

11 Million Views: Video Pokes Fun at Millennials in an Era of Engagement Ring Selfies and Viral Proposals

Comedian Jon Crist's video spoofing millennials' obsession with social media in an era of engagement ring selfies and viral proposals has earned more than 11 million views on Facebook.

In the 3-minute-long vignette, Crist co-stars as a young suitor who takes his girlfriend (played by Megan Batoon) to a scenic overlook, where he's about to surprise her with a marriage proposal.

Stopping along a dirt path, he gets down on one knee, pulls a ring box from his pocket and asks, "Madison Marie, will you marry me?"

But before she answers, the girlfriend looks around curiously.

“Wait, you hired a photographer, right?” she asks. He points to where the photographer is hiding.

"I'm sorry," she tells the photographer. "Do you mind actually coming a little bit closer?"

Her concern is that the proposal video shot from a distance was not "going to share that well" on social media.

What follows is a series of quick cuts that focus on his girlfriend's desire to control the "production value" of the video with the end goal of earning tons of likes on social media.

Each scene becomes more and more extreme. First, the girlfriend makes sure she's facing the camera and that the lighting is just right. Then, she insists the photographer shoots them so the skyline is in the background. She even obsesses about how she doesn't like her middle name, how much she is sweating and the amount of cloud cover in the sky.

The mild-mannered boyfriend repeats his proposal from every angle, enduring 43 takes. But, in the end, it's all worth it because the girlfriend is delighted.

"Babe, it's so beautiful," she says looking down at what is presumably her new engagement ring. But then the viewer notices that she's actually viewing her phone.

"Look at all these likes!"

Please check out Crist's proposal video, which he captioned this way: “What’s the point of getting engaged if you don’t post it on Instagram?”

Credits: Image captures via YouTube.com.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Chicago Cubs' World Series Rings Commemorate Team's First Championship in 108 Years

You can say that the Chicago Cubs' 2016 World Series rings were 108 years in the making. That's because the last time the Cubs won baseball's Fall Classic — in 1908 — the average wage was 22 cents per hour, 8% of homes had a telephone and the White House was occupied by President Theodore Roosevelt. Fittingly, ring manufacturer Jostens loaded the 14-karat white gold bling with a slew of symbolic elements, including 108 diamonds surrounding the bezel on all sides.

Overall, the rings boast 5.5 carats of diamonds, 3 carats of genuine Burmese rubies and 2.5 carats of genuine sapphires in a handsome red, white and blue design.

The face of the ring features the familiar Cubs' bullseye logo masterfully rendered in 33 custom-cut rubies set in a ground of 72 round white diamonds and surrounded by a circular frame made from 46 custom-cut blue sapphires.

The words WORLD and CHAMPIONS in raised white gold letters against a black ground wrap the top and bottom edges of the ring.

The Cubs have a tradition of flying a victory flag at Wrigley Field every time the team wins. That symbol, carved from fire blue corundum and surrounded by 31 white diamonds, sits below the player's name and above the player's number on one side of the ring. The iconic Wrigley Field bricks and ivy complete the background.

On the ring's opposite side is a silhouette of the Wrigley Field fa├žade, the championship year and a marquee displaying the message "CUBS WIN!" Also shown is a silhouette of the World Series trophy with a large round white diamond set in the center signifying the 2016 World Series victory. On each side of the trophy is a princess-cut diamond representing the team's two previous World Series titles — in 1907 and 1908.

In raised white gold letters on the bottom of the outer band is the team's 2016 rallying cry, "WE NEVER QUIT.”

Hidden on the inside of the bottom of the band is the symbol of a goat's head, which is a nod to the "Curse of the Billy Goat." Cubs legend states that the curse was placed on the franchise by William Sianis, the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, in 1945. Sianis had attended a World Series game at Wrigley Field with his pet goat and fans complained of the odor. When Sianis was asked to leave, he allegedly declared, "Them Cubs, the ain't gonna win no more." The "curse" lasted for 71 years.

The inside of the band also displays the date and time of the championship – 11/3/16 • 12:47 AM EST – and the series scores and logos of the three teams the Cubs defeated on their way to the World Series victory. The Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in seven games after coming back from a 3-1 deficit. The final game went into extra innings, but the Cubs prevailed 8-7.

"We felt that we had a responsibility, not only to the Cubs organization, but to Cubs fans around the world, to create a once-in-a-lifetime ring," said Chris Poitras, Jostens Division Vice President, College & Sports. "This iconic piece of jewelry uses intricate craftsmanship to tell the unforgettable story of the Cubs' World Series victory, which now takes its prominent place in the history of all professional sports."

Credits: Images courtesy of Jostens.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Music Friday: Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis Sings, 'I Was Your Silver Lining, But Now I'm Gold'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis sings about having the courage to pull the plug on a failing relationship in the 2007 release, "Silver Lining."

Penned by Lewis, the song explores the moment when our heroine breaks up with her boyfriend because she knows that — in the long run — she'll be better off without him.

She sings, "I never felt so wicked / As when I willed our love to die / and I was your silver lining as the story goes / I was your silver lining but now I'm gold."

The phrase "now I'm gold" refers to Lewis having the confidence to finally set out on her own. She is no longer defined as her boyfriend's silver lining — the glimmer of hope in his bad situation.

In the song's official video, Lewis and fellow bandmate Blake Sennett are seen exchanging vows in a church. But then, Lewis hands Sennett a gold coin and leaves him at the altar. Both child actors, Lewis and Sennett dated in real life until 2002.

"Silver Lining" is the first track on the indie rock band's fourth and final full-length album, Under the Blacklight. In retrospect, some critics believe that the song foreshadowed the band's breakup, which would take place four years later.

Both the single and the album achieved critical acclaim. Rolling Stone magazine tabbed Under the Blacklight as the 8th best album of 2007, and picked "Silver Lining" as the 27th best song that same year.

Founded in Los Angeles in 1998, Rilo Kiley was named for a mythical Australian rules football player that came to Sennett in a dream. According to a 2005 interview with syndicated radio show Loveline, Sennett dreamed he was being chased by a sports almanac. "When it got me, I leafed through it... and I came upon an Australian rules football player from the 19th century named Rilo Kiley. It's kind of embarrassing," Sennett admitted.

Please check out the official video of Rilo Kiley performing "Silver Lining." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Silver Lining"
Written by Jenny Lewis. Performed by Rilo Kiley.

And I'm not going back into rags or in the hole
And our bruises are coming
But we will never fold

and I was your silver lining
As the story goes
I was your silver lining but now I'm gold
Hooray hooray I'm your silver lining
Hooray hooray but now I'm gold.

And I was your silver lining
High up on my toys
Well you were running through fields of hitchhikers
As the story goes

hooray hooray I'm your silver lining
Hooray hooray but now I'm gold
Hooray hooray I'm your silver lining
Hooray hooray but now I'm gold

And the grass it was a ticking
And the sun was on the rise
I never felt so wicked
As when I willed our love to die

and I was your silver lining as the story goes
I was your silver lining but now I'm gold
Hooray hooray I'm your silver lining
Hooray hooray but now I'm gold
Hooray hooray I'm your silver lining
Hooray hooray but now I'm gold
But now I'm gold
But now I'm gold
But now I'm gold

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

'Apollo' and 'Artemis' Diamond Earrings Could Fetch $68 Million at Sotheby's Geneva

Named after two of the most revered and powerful Olympian deities, Apollo and Artemis, this exquisite pair of diamond earrings — one blue, one pink — could fetch upwards of $68 million at Sotheby's Geneva on May 16.

Although Sotheby's is promoting the pear-shaped diamond earrings as a pair, they will be sold as individual lots. "The Apollo Blue" is a fancy vivid blue diamond weighing 14.54 carats, while "The Artemis Pink" is rated fancy intense pink and weighs 16.00 carats. The Apollo Blue carries a pre-sale estimate of $38 million to $50 million. His twin sister, Artemis, is expected to fetch between $12.5 million and $18 million.

“The Apollo and Artemis diamonds will be the stars of our May sale in Geneva — by far the most important pair of earrings ever offered at auction,” noted David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division. “These exquisite colored diamonds are enormously rare and each is a wonderful stone in its own right. Together, as a pair of earrings, they are breathtaking.”

According to Sotheby's, The Apollo Blue is the largest internally flawless fancy vivid blue diamond ever to be offered at auction. The Gemological Institute of America graded it as a Type IIb diamond, a purity rating earned by less than one-half of 1% of all diamonds. The Apollo Blue could be compared favorably to the famous "Oppenheimer Blue," which set a record last year when it yielded $57.5 million at Christie's Geneva. That stone weighed 14.62 carats and had a clarity grade of VVS1.

The Artemis Pink, earned a Type IIa rating from GIA, another category describing the most chemically pure type of diamonds. The pink diamond has a clarity grade of VVS2. Both diamonds boast exceptional optical transparency.

In Greek mythology, the twins Apollo and Artemis were the offspring of Zeus and Leto. Apollo was known as the god of the sun, archery and prophecy. Artemis was revered as the goddess of the moon, chastity, the hunt and the natural environment.

Apollo and Artemis are headlining a five-week promotional tour in the lead-up to the May 16 auction. The tour started in London on Friday and will continue to Dubai, New York, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Geneva.

Blue diamonds owe their color to traces of boron in the diamond’s chemical structure. Pink diamonds, on the other hand, owe their color to the effects of intense pressure and heat while they were still deep within the earth. These factors caused distortions in the diamond’s crystal lattice that influence the way the diamond absorbs green light, thus reflecting a pink hue.

Credit: Image courtesy of Sotheby's.