Friday, July 19, 2013

Music Friday: American Idol Finalist Tamyra Gray Sings Cab Calloway’s ‘Minnie the Moocher’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today’s song, “Minnie the Moocher,” is a jazz classic first recorded in 1931 by Cab Calloway and His Orchestra, and reprised for a new generation by American Idol finalist Tamyra Gray during the hit show’s first season in 2002.


In the song, Minnie dreams about the King of Sweden gifting her with things that she was needin’. On her list is a “home built of gold and steel,” as well as a “diamond car with platinum wheels.”

The song is famous for its nonsensical ad-libbed “scat” lyrics, such as “Hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-hi.” In his club performances, Calloway would challenge his audience to repeat each increasingly difficult scat phrase, often resulting in a comical exchange.

Despite being 82 years old, the song continues to be covered by artists as diverse as Oingo Boingo and Wyclef Jean. The song also has been performed on the silver screen in The Blues Brothers (1980) and The Cotton Club (1984).

Gray performed an abbreviated, but powerful, version of “Minnie the Moocher” during American Idol’s “Big Band” night. Although she eventually finished fourth in the first season of the popular music competition, Idol judge Simon Cowell was famously disappointed when Gray was voted off the show and felt she could have won.

We hope you enjoy Gray’s version of “Minnie the Moocher.” The lyrics are below if you want to try to keep up with the tricky scat.

“Minnie the Moocher”
Written by Cab Calloway and Irving Mills. Performed by Tamyra Gray.

Hey, folks here's a story 'bout Minnie the Moocher
She was a low down hoochie coocher.
She was the roughest toughest frail,
but Minnie had a heart as big as a whale.


She had a dream about the king of Sweden
He gave her things that she was needin'.
Gave her a home built of gold and steel,
a diamond car with the platinum wheels.

Scoodly-boo scoodly-boo scoodly-boodly-boodly boo
Ditta-ditta-didly skitta-didly bitta-didly skitta zoy!

They took her where they put the crazies,
Now poor Min, she’s kicking up daisies,
You’ve heard my story, this ends my song,
She was just a good gal, but they done her wrong.

Poor Min! Poor Min!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Savannah Guthrie Tells Jay Leno How Her Band-Aid-Wrapped Engagement Ring Ended Up in the Kitchen Trash

Back in May, Savannah Guthrie thrilled her 4.5 million “Today Show” viewers with a peek at her brand new diamond engagement ring. What the newly betrothed “Today” co-host didn’t tell her audience was that the impressive four-prong dazzler — given to her by media consultant Mike Feldman — was too big for her finger and that she wrapped a Band-Aid around the shank so it wouldn’t slip off.


During her Monday night appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” Guthrie admitted that she wore her ring that way for six weeks, forgoing a proper resizing at her favorite jeweler. The Band-Aid-wrapped bauble was annoying and uncomfortable, causing Guthrie to take it off frequently.

And here’s where the story takes a scary turn…


Guthrie told Leno that one afternoon while she was home she realized the ill-fitting diamond engagement ring had gone missing.

“I looked high and low, everywhere you could look,” she said. “The panic was rising up. I called work and asked: 'Can you please look in my office? Maybe I left it there.'“ She had already thought about the kitchen's sink drain and trash can, but she wasn’t at "desperation level" so she wasn’t ready to go there.

But when the office search came up empty, the Australian-born journalist said she finally reached “desperation level.”

"I stuck my hand down the drain. It's like guacamole and bean dip or whatever, but no ring," she told an amused Leno. "So I open up the trash and start rifling through it. Do you know, it fell out of a paper towel in the trash?"


Referring to her new fiancé and with her smile morphing into a devilish grin, she added, "So then I was like, 'Do I tell him?'"

"No, don't tell him,” Leno joked. “I think it would be wrong if he found out."

Leno’s top-rated telecast has a daily viewership of 3.4 million, although it's not clear if Guthrie's beloved Feldman watches the show.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Famous 55-Carat Champagne-Colored ‘Kimberley Diamond’ Goes on Display in NYC

The fabulous champagne-colored Kimberley Diamond made its New York City debut on Thursday at the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West. The virtually flawless, 55.08-carat diamond was cut from a huge 490-carat crystal that was once part of the Russian Crown Jewels.


Discovered at the fabled Kimberley Mine in South Africa some time before 1868, the huge 490-carat crystal went through a number of transformations during its 145-year history.

In 1921, the rough diamond was turned into a 70-carat emerald-cut gem. In 1958, to further improve its brilliance and proportions, it was cut again into its current 55-carat form (about 1.25 inches in length).


The gem was given the name “Kimberley Diamond” to honor the mine at which it was originally found. It has been described as a “cape diamond,” an Old World term meaning “deep color.”

The Kimberley Diamond is on loan from the Bruce F. Stuart Trust and will be on display at the museum's Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems through June of 2014.


Other famous gemstones on display at the museum include the 563-carat Star of India, the world's largest gem-quality blue star sapphire, and the Patricia Emerald, a 632-carat, 12-sided crystal considered to be one of the world's greatest emeralds.

Gem Images: American Museum of Natural History

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Florida Treasure Hunters Score 48 Spanish Gold Coins Dating Back 300 Years; Bounty’s Value Estimated at $200K to $250K

Divers working just 100 feet off Florida’s Treasure Coast on Saturday recovered 48 solid gold coins dating back 300 years. The coins, called escudos, were part of the treasure aboard 11 Spanish galleons wrecked by a hurricane on July 31, 1715. The coins, in excellent condition and bearing dates between 1697 and 1714, have an estimated value of $200,000 to $250,000.


A company called 1715 Treasure Fleet Queen's Jewels maintains the rights to the Sebastian, Fla., salvage area, just north of Vero Beach. According to its owner, Brent Brisben, searching for 300-year-old treasure is like “searching for a needle in a haystack,” but on Saturday his crew's efforts paid off big time.


Four divers, working in just six feet of water, started pulling up gold escudos from the sandy bottom. “I love the sound of gold,” Captain Greg Bounds told NBC affiliate WPTV. “This makes it all worth it.”

Brisben explained to CNN that the recovery efforts are not as glamorous as they would seem.

"You may expect to see a big galleon on its side with treasure chests overflowing, but it's not like that at all," he said. "With shipwrecks that old, most of the organic material like the actual wood of the ship is gone, due to deterioration. What's left are mostly metals and pottery... china, silver buckles, bronze cannons and gold coins."


The treasure still waiting to be recovered off the east coast of Florida is estimated to be worth $550 million — about 20% of the treasure that went down during the horrific 1715 hurricane that took 1,000 lives. At the time, Spain sent sailors back to the Americas to salvage the wrecks, but experts believe about 80% was recovered.

Interestingly, there were few gold coins registered aboard the sunken galleons, so it is assumed that the recovered coins were illegal contraband being smuggled back to Spain. The amount of gold aboard the 11 sunken ships remains a mystery.

Brisben told CNN that the 48 recovered coins would be sold to private collectors, with the proceeds going to finance future salvage efforts.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sewer Worker Saves Engagement Ring From Certain Doom After Bath Mishap

Thanks to the persistence of a dedicated and softhearted sewer worker, Shannon Harrigan was reunited with her beloved engagement ring after losing it down the drain while giving her young son a bath.


Harrigan and her family had recently moved to Tequesta, Fla., from Chicago, and the young mom was having a hard time adjusting to the southern Florida humidity.

Her fingers were swollen, so she decided to move her engagement ring from her ring finger to her pinky. That turned out to be a bad idea, when the ring slipped off during bath time and disappeared down the drain.


"It was something that was obviously precious and priceless to me," Harrigan told NBC affiliate WPTV. Distraught, she knew that she would probably never see her ring again. But then, a glimmer of hope...

A few days later, by some amazing coincidence, a crew from the Loxahatchee River District was scheduled to clean the sewer lines near Harrigan’s house. She told the crew to “keep an eye out” for her ring.

Sewer worker Ryan Robertson was sympathetic to Harrigan’s plight. “I know how my wife would feel if she lost hers, so I felt we had to give it the best shot we could,” he told WPTV.


Actually, Robertson thought the recovery effort was probably going to be in vain. "It was like finding a needle in a haystack," said Robertson. "I didn't think we had a chance to find it."

The crew removed a load of sand and sewage from the sewer line and brought it back to the plant. There, Robertson personally raked through the muck to find the ring. After about an hour, Robertson was ready to give up, but then he noticed something shiny sitting on the top of the stinky pile. "I said, 'No way did we just find this.’"


Once he cleaned and sanitized the ring, Robertson personally drove it back to Harrigan’s house. He pulled it from his pocket and asked the mom of two little boys if her missing ring “looked like this.”

“I started crying," she said. "I was really taken by just the kindness and the time that they spent listening to the story."