Friday, August 31, 2012

Music Friday: 'The Ecstasy of Gold' With Ennio Morricone

Welcome to Music Friday, when we bring you wonderful songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today we have one of the most famous musical compositions in the history of cinema: "The Ecstasy of Gold" by Ennio Morricone.

This work is part of Morricone's brilliant score for the 1966 film, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," and movie buffs may remember how it added drama to the climactic scene when Tuco (Eli Wallach) is frantically searching a massive dustbowl cemetery for the grave that holds $200,000 in gold coins. The movie starred Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Wallach in the title roles.

Critics have called Morricone's "The Ecstasy of Gold" one of the most triumphant, ecstatic and uplifting pieces of music you’ll ever have the good fortune to hear.

Incidentally, our younger readers may recognize "The Ecstacy of Gold" as the stirring music behind the opening credits of 2006's "Jackass 2," where Johnny Knoxville, Chris Pontius, Steve-O, Bam Margera and the misfit crew are shot in slow motion as they are being chased by bulls.

The original movie soundtrack to "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" was unusual because the instrumental compositions contained the sound of gunfire, whistling and yodeling. The breakthrough soundtrack was a commercial and critical success, topping out at No. 4 on the Billboard pop album chart.

We hope you enjoy "The Ecstasy of Gold" – an amazing song that, despite having no lyrics, is performed by a huge chorus and backed by a full orchestra. Sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

RNC Staffer Pops the Question on the Big Stage in Tampa

Love was in the air at the Republican National Convention in Tampa yesterday as RNC production manager Bradley Thompson surprised his fiancée, Laura Bowman, with an elaborate marriage proposal on the convention stage. The proposal was captured by the national media and applauded by the Republican conventioneers.

As production manager, not only did the 32-year-old Thompson have access to the big stage, where Republican headliners have been making their speeches over the past two days, he also had the ability to design his own graphics for the massive multi-panel video displays that surround the stage. He rigged them to read: "Laura Bowman will you marry me?"

Thompson called his girlfriend up to the stage, where he dropped to one knee and offered his proposal. Bowman said, "Yes," and the couple embraced – as video crews from various media outlets captured the moment. The event was broadcast on CNN and picked up by the Associated Press, in addition to other outlets.

According to BuzzFeed, RNC chairman Reince Priebus offered his best wishes on Twitter, saying: "Congrats to the lovely couple who got engaged on the convention stage today!"

Both Brooklyn natives, Thompson had called Bowman, an RNC production coordinator, up to the stage on the ruse that there was a sound problem. At that point, she knew something was up. "I thought there was something fishy when he said there was a sound problem because there are never technical problems when he runs the show," she joked.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Luxury Facial Treatments Use Genuine 24-Karat Gold Leaf

Top spas around the world are touting the benefits of 24-karat gold facials that use real gold leaf to firm skin, reduce wrinkles and provide a golden glow. At the exclusive Four Seasons Spa in Florence, Italy, the 24K treatment is said to harness the metal’s hydrating and revitalizing properties while rejuvenating, firming and lightening the skin. It's a two-hour luxurious experience that will set you back about $550.

Closer to home at the Nidah Spa in the Eldorado Hotel (Santa Fe, NM), the ultra-luxe beauty treatment is part of a regimen provided by UMO, a high-end Japanese skin care company. The firm has created a technology that dissolves the gold leaf so it can be massaged into the skin. The super-hydrating treatment lifts and firms the skin, reducing the appearance of sun damage and lines, according to spa director Susan Keene.

Elizabeth Taylor in her role as Cleopatra. Was she the first to use gold skin treatments?

According to UMO, gold has been revered throughout history for its beautifying and healing properties. Historians believe Cleopatra slept in a gold mask every night to maintain her youthful skin. In ancient Rome, gold salves were used for the treatment of a variety of skin problems. Gold was also regarded as the key to preserving a youthful appearance in ancient Chinese medicine, as the queen of the Ch’ing dynasty used a gold massage roller on her face everyday.

UMO explained that the science behind the success of gold in facial treatments is that the element has been successfully used for more than 80 years to treat rheumatoid arthritis by reducing inflammation. Gold’s anti-inflammatory properties also decrease skin inflammation, thereby slowing down melanin secretion and reducing age spots.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

GOP Bling Bedazzles Attendees of the Republican National Convention

All eyes will be on the Republican National Convention as it opens in Tampa today with a cast of GOP headliners, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan.

Delegates, supporters and throngs of reporters from all over the country will be enjoying the festivities and collecting GOP memorabilia, including a neat assortment of patriotic red-white-and-blue rhinestone pins.

Two Tampa sisters, also known as The Blingers of Tampa, were granted the authority to design and sell handcrafted pins featuring the trademarked Republican elephants.

The 2012 Host Committee Small Business Network granted the rights after the sisters, Laura Lang and Dinah Swickey, pitched their idea to market their decorative pins to delegates and Republican supporters attending the convention.

"We've been working on this project for almost two years since they announced that the RNC was coming to our home town," Lang told the South Tampa Patch. "When we pursued the Republican National Committee to grant us approval to handcraft their trademark elephants into bling, we were thrilled how quickly they agreed."

According to the South Tampa Patch, The Blingers of Tampa have already "pinned" some high-profile attendees, including Congressman Scott Rigell from Virginia Beach, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor and Anita Perry, the wife of Texas Governor and former GOP Presidential candidate Rick Perry.

The sisters are excited to be in the national spotlight. With approximately 13,000 – 15,000 members of the media in attendance, The 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee boasts that the RNC is the single largest media event in the world except for the Olympic Games.

Monday, August 27, 2012

'Hopeless Romantic' Panhandles to Buy Engagement Ring; Jeweler Comes to the Rescue

A self-described "hopeless romantic" donned a formal shirt, vest and tie and headed to the highway with a handmade sign last Sunday to panhandle for donations so he could buy an engagement ring for the love of his life.

Corey Fontenot had moved to Colorado from Louisiana two years ago, but had to leave his girlfriend, Lori, behind. The only way she would join him in Colorado is if they got married. Although he is gainfully employed, the enterprising young man didn't have enough money to purchase an engagement ring.

So, walking along the side of the highway and holding a sign that read, "In Love, Need Money for Ring, Anything Helps," Fontenot appealed to motorists in the Brookfield area, about 20 miles north of Denver.

By the end of his first day of panhandling, Fontenot had collected $80 and, more importantly, the attention of Denver's NBC television affiliate, 9News, which covered his story on last Sunday's news show and featured him on its website and Facebook page.

Only one day later, the 26-year-old's story would take a dramatic turn.

A local jeweler, Sonny's Diamonds and Jewelry, stepped in and donated a ring so Cory and Lori could proceed with their engagement. "They gave me an amazing ring and I plan on using it to propose to my girlfriend in October," he told 9News.

Fontenot, whose predicament and happy outcome went viral as it was picked up by the websites of Huffington Post and USA Today, said that his story shows girls everywhere that there are still hopeless romantics out there.