Friday, March 20, 2015

Music Friday: Rascal Flatts Reveals the Magic That Happens When You Play a Country Song ‘Backwards’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, Rascal Flatts sings about the magic that happens when you play a country song backwards.

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The fun 2006 ditty, appropriately titled “Backwards,” explains how playing a country song in reverse essentially gets you a free pass to hit the restart button on your adult life.

Sung from the point of view of a “old boy” who has been through hard times, “Backwards” delivers an up-tempo, foot-stomping laundry list of all the things he’d get back if he could magically rewrite his personal history. One of those things is a diamond ring.

Rascal Flatts’ lead vocalist Gary LaVox sings, “You get your hair back / You get your first and second wives back / Your front porch swing / Your pretty little thing / Your bling, bling, bling and a diamond ring.”

“Backwards” is the fourth track from Rascal Flatts' five-time platinum album Me and My Gang, which sold five million copies and scored the #1 spot on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 albums chart. The song also appeared three years later on the soundtrack of Hannah Montana: The Movie, which also hit #1 on the Billboard album chart.

The song is prominently featured in a pivotal scene when Miley Cyrus’ character, Miley Stewart, arrives home to find her extended family jamming to the song in her living room. She mimics a few lines from the song and then says, “I want my life back, Dad.” A clip of the scene in which the members of Rascal Flatts make a musical cameo is below.

Rascal Flatts, which is composed of Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney, was established in Columbus, Ohio, in 1999. The band is credited with a dozen #1 songs on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and is a top-selling touring act. The group sold more than 7 million tickets between 2004 and 2012.

We have two videos below. The first is an acoustic video of the group performing “Backwards.” The second is the clip from Hannah Montana: The Movie. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

"Backwards"
Written by Marcel Francois Chagnon and Tony Carl Mullins. Performed by Rascal Flatts.

I was sittin' on a bar stool
In a barbecue joint in Tennessee
When this old boy walked in
And he sat right down next to me

I could tell he'd been through some hard times
There were tear stains on his old shirt
And he said, "You wanna know what you get
When you play a country song backwards?"

You get your house back
You get your dog back
You get your best friend Jack back
You get your truck back

You get your hair back
You get your first and second wives back
Your front porch swing
Your pretty little thing

Your bling, bling, bling and a diamond ring
You get your farm, and the barn
And the boat, and the Harley
First night in jail with Charlie

It sounds a little crazy
A little scattered and absurd
But that's what you get
When you play a country song backwards

Well, I never heard it said quite like that
It hit me in the face 'cause that's where I'm at
I almost fell flat out on the floor
He said, "Wait a minute, that's not all
There's even more."

You get your mind back
You get your nerves back
Your first heart attack back
You get your pride back

You get your life back
You get your first real love back
You get your big screen TV, a DVD
And a washing machine

You get the pond, and the lawn
And the bail, and the mower
You go back where you don't know her
It sounds a little crazy

A little scattered and absurd
But that's what you get
When you play a country song backwards
Oh play that song!

We sat there and shot the bull
About how it would be
If we could turn it all around
And change this C-R-A-P

You get your house back
You get your dog back
You get your best friend Jack back
You get your truck back

You get your hair back
You get your first and second wives back
Your front porch swing
Your pretty little thing

Your bling, bling, bling and a diamond ring
You get your farm, and the barn
And the boat, and the Harley
First night in jail with Charlie
You get your mind back

You get your nerves back
Your first heart attack back
You get your pride back
You get your life back

You get your first real love back
You get your big screen TV, a DVD
And a washing machine
You get the pond, and the lawn

And the bail, and the mower
You go back where you don't know her
It sounds a little crazy
A little scattered and absurd

But that's what you get
When you play a country song backwards

Here's the acoustic video of the song...

Below is the scene from Hannah Montana: The Movie...

Photo credit: By Bob James [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Two Highly Coveted U.S. Coins May Shatter $10M Auction Record at Upcoming Sotheby’s Event

Two astonishingly rare and highly coveted coins — an 1822 Half Eagle $5 gold piece and an 1804 Silver Dollar — could each shatter the $10 million single coin record when they hit the auction block at Sotheby’s New York on May 19 and 20.

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Both headliners are from the incomparable D. Brent Pogue Collection of early U.S. coins, a trove of 650 gold, silver and copper specimens expected to be the most valuable collection of currency ever sold at auction.

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Mint records indicate that 17,796 Half Eagles were coined in 1822, but only three survive. The Half Eagle up for bid at Sotheby’s is the only privately held example in existence. The other two are part of the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution.

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The 1804 Silver Dollar is frequently dubbed the "King of American Coins." Although they were dated 1804, the coins were actually made in 1834 or 1835 on behalf of President Andrew Jackson, who intended to use them as diplomatic gifts. The one offered for sale at Sotheby's is considered the finest known example of the coin. Only eight still exist.

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“These two coins in particular, we think, have a possibility of being up around that $10 million mark," Brian Kendrella, the president of Stack's Bowers Galleries, told Reuters. If either coin eclipses the $10 million mark, it will overtake the record set in 2013 for a 1794 Silver Dollar.

(Stack's Bowers Galleries and Sotheby's recently announced a multi-year agreement to jointly present a series of numismatic auctions at Sotheby's global headquarters in New York City. The upcoming auction of the D. Brent Pogue Collection is one of them.)

Dallas real estate developer A. Mack Pogue and his son, D. Brent Pogue, began their famed coin collection in the 1970s, and patiently assembled top-notch rarities for the next 30 years. The collection’s primary focus is on the first coins produced by the United States between 1792, the year the Philadelphia Mint opened, and the late 1830s, according to the Sotheby’s website.

Reuters reported that sales of rare U.S. coins reached a record of nearly $536 million in 2014, but that record is likely in jeopardy with the D. Brent Pogue Collection hitting the market this year.

Photos via Sothebys.com

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fashionable Neanderthals Wore Eagle Talon Jewelry 130,000 Years Ago, Say Anthropologists

Anthropologists at the University of Kansas claim that fashionable Neanderthals wore handcrafted jewelry made from eagle talons 130,000 years ago. The eagle talon adornment, shown here, could very well be the world's oldest jewelry.

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A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE suggests that the Neanderthals who predated modern humans were much more intelligent and style-conscious than previously believed.

Study author David Frayer, an anthropology professor at the University of Kansas, based this assumption on a collection of eight white-tailed eagle talons that were excavated 100 years ago from a cave in present-day Croatia.

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At the time of the find, the talons didn’t seem to be unusual, but on further inspection, it was determined that the talons had notches and tool marks on them, indicating that they were strung together either as a necklace or bracelet.

"It really is absolutely stunning," Frayer told Live Science. "It fits in with this general picture that's emerging that Neanderthals were much more modern in their behavior."

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The talons were just a few of the thousands of items extracted from a cave between 1899 and 1905 by Croatian scientist Dragutin Gorjanovic-Kramberger. Although the original find yielded valuable information about Neanderthals, the tooling that allowed the talons to be used for body ornamentation was discovered only recently.

"I was stunned," Frayer told CNN. "It's so obvious that these are cut."

Frayer and the co-authors of "Evidence for Neanderthal Jewelry: Modified White-tailed Eagle Claws at Krapina" surmised that the Neanderthals were also catching the eagles, whose talons they harvested for jewelry.

Even today, catching an eagle is no easy feat, so the anthropologists believe the Neanderthals must have developed excellent “planning skills and ritual” to pull off such a formidable challenge.

"Neanderthals are often thought of to be simple-minded mumbling, bumbling, stumbling fools," Frayer told CNN. "But the more we know about them the more sophisticated they've become."

Scientists believe that Neanderthals appeared in Eurasia between 200,000 and 250,000 years ago and died out about 40,000 years ago.

The model of an adult Neanderthal male (shown above) is on display in the Hall of Human Origins in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Credits: Talon jewelry: Luka Mjeda. Neanderthal: By reconstruction: John Gurche; photograph: Tim Evanson CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

That’s Sweet! Japanese Candy Maker Mimics World Famous Diamonds in New Line of Edible Treats

Utilizing a top-secret formula that gives its candy a flawless transparency, a Japanese confectioner has released a new line of premium treats that mimic the world’s most famous diamonds.

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Among the notable diamonds replicated by Tokyo-based candy maker Ameya Eitaro are the 105-carat Koh-i-Noor and the unusual 16-sided, 36-carat Pasha of Egypt.

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It took the company several years to come up with a candy formula that yielded the transparency to mimic a priceless jewel. Apparently, the firm used alternatives to conventional sugar and starch syrup.

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Each candy jewel, which is said to have a “simple, sweet taste,” is packaged in a decorative jewelry box and sells for approximately $31. The Koh-i-Noor replica has a diameter of about 4mm (1.57 inches).

“Candies have always been something vibrant and shiny, and we wanted to develop them into products that resemble jewelry,” a spokeswoman at Eitaro Sohonpo Co. told the Wall Street Journal’s Japan Real Time blog.

The diamond candies made their debut last week at two of Japan’s high-end department stores — Ginza's Mitsukoshi and Isetan in Shinjuku. The release was timed to coincide with “White Day,” an annual celebration that comes on March 14, exactly a month after Valentine’s Day.

Unlike in the U.S., where Valentine’s Day marks a romantic gift exchange between men and women, Valentine’s Day in Japan is different. It’s designated as a special time for women to express their love by presenting gifts to men. White Day is the flip side, when men get a chance to reciprocate with gifts that are typically white in color, such as white chocolate, cookies, jewelry or, now, glistening candy diamonds.

Images: Courtesy of Eitaro Sohonpo Co.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Survey: Engagement Ring Spending Jumps 5% to $5,855; Average Wedding Costs Now Exceed $31,000

Couples spent an average of $5,855 on their engagement rings in 2014, an increase of 5% compared to 2013, according to a national survey of 16,000 newly married brides conducted by The Knot.

Caucasian prime adult male groom kissing hand of female bride.

Overall wedding budgets are also on the rise, with the average tab in 2014 coming in at $31,213, up from $29,858 in 2013. By far, the biggest part of the wedding budget was dedicated to the venue, with the reception hall costs tallying $14,007, a jump from $13,385 a year before.

The engagement ring ranked as the bridal couple’s second-highest expense, followed by the reception band ($3,587), photographer ($2,556), florist/d├ęcor ($2,141), wedding/event planner ($1,973), ceremony site ($1,901), videographer ($1,794), wedding dress ($1,357), rehearsal dinner ($1,206), reception DJ ($1,124), transportation/limousine ($767), ceremony musicians ($637), wedding cake ($555) and invitations ($439). The honeymoon was not included in these statistics.

Although wedding budgets are on the rise, guest lists are shrinking. “The average wedding now has 136 guests, down from 149 in 2009," said Rebecca Dolgin, Editor in Chief of The Knot. "Couples are focusing on creating an amazing guest experience and reception details, including finding unique venues to reflect their personality."

According to The Knot, more and more bridal couples are stepping out of the box to find unusual wedding sites — such as historic buildings/homes (14%) and farms (6%) — that better reflect their personalities. This compares to the more conventional, and still popular, venues, such as banquet halls (22%), country clubs (11%) and hotels (11%).

Certainly, regional factors play a big part in what a wedding will cost. The most expensive places to get married are Manhattan ($76,328) and Long Island ($55,327), while the least expensive places to tie the knot are Utah ($15,257) and Arkansas ($18,031).

The Knot reported that the bride’s parents and the bridal couple each contributed equally (43%) toward wedding expenses. The groom’s parents pitched in for 12% and “others” accounted for the remaining 2%.

Other fun facts pulled from the survey results include the following:
• The average marrying age is 29 for a bride and 31 for a groom. The oldest brides are from Nevada (32.7) and New York City (32), while the youngest brides hail from West Virginia (26.8) and Kentucky (26.9).
• The average length of an engagement is 14 months. Brides from Utah and West Texas reported the shortest engagements (10 and 9.9 months, respectively), while brides from Northern New Jersey and western Pennsylvania reported the longest engagements (18 and 17.5 months, respectively).
• The most popular month to get engaged is December (16%).
• The most popular months to get married are June (15%), October (14%).

The Knot’s “2014 Real Weddings Survey” reflects the responses of nearly 16,000 U.S. brides married between January 1 and December 31, 2014.

Image: BigStockPhoto.com