Friday, February 26, 2021

Music Friday: Stevie Wonder Sings About the Vitality of Youth in 1983's ‘Stay Gold’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, the incomparable Stevie Wonder performs “Stay Gold,” a beautiful ballad he co-wrote for the 1983 cult movie classic, The Outsiders.

In the song inspired by Robert Frost’s 1923 poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” Wonder uses the lustrous metal as a metaphor for the precious, yet fleeting, vitality of youth.

“Stay Gold,” which runs during the opening credits of The Outsiders, starts with these memorable lyrics: “Seize upon that moment long ago / One breath away and there you will be / So young and carefree / Again you will see / That place in time… so gold.”

The Outsiders was adapted from a 1967 novel by teenage author S.E. (Susan Eloise) Hinton, who based the story on her own experiences in an Oklahoma high school, which was divided by rival gangs, the hardscrabble Greasers and the wealthier Socs (pronounced “soashes”).

The movie has become a cult favorite, partly because Hinton’s book is required reading in many high schools, but mostly due to the fact that every teenage actor in the cast went on to become a Hollywood A-list heartthrob. The cast included Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon and Tom Cruise.

The Robert Frost poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” plays a vital role in the film. Ponyboy (played by Howell) reads the poem to the injured Johnny (Macchio) while they are in hiding. “Stay gold” are Johnny’s last words before he dies. Later in the film, Ponyboy finds Johnny’s interpretation of the Frost poem: that beauty and innocence are transient and must be guarded like gold.

While Wonder penned the lyrics to “Stay Gold,” the music was composed by Francis Ford Coppola’s father, Carmine, who also contributed the memorable, original music to a number of his son’s other blockbuster films, including The Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now.

Born Stevland Hardaway Morris in inner-city Detroit, Wonder was a child prodigy and musical genius — despite being blind since infancy. His first instrument was a harmonica and he was a skilled musician by the age of eight.

He was discovered by Ronnie White of the Miracles at the age of 11 and was quickly signed to a five-year Motown contract by CEO Berry Gordy. Billed as Little Stevie Wonder, the singer/songwriter/musician was an instant sensation.

Now 70, Wonder has performed for six decades. Over that time, he has amassed 30 U.S. Top-10 hits, received 25 Grammy Awards and has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him ninth on its list of the greatest singers of all time. Wonder is a member of both the Rock and Roll and Songwriters Halls of Fame.

Please check out Stevie Wonder’s live performance of “Stay Gold.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Stay Gold”
Lyrics by Stevie Wonder and music by Carmine Coppola. Performed by Stevie Wonder.

Seize upon that moment long ago
One breath away and there you will be
So young and carefree
Again you will see
That place in time… so gold

Steal away into that way back when
You thought that all would last forever
But like the weather
Nothing can ever… and be in time
Stay gold

But can it be
When we can see
So vividly
A memory
And yes you say
So must the day
Too, fade away
And leave a ray of sun
So gold

Life is but a twinkling of an eye
Yet filled with sorrow and compassion
though not imagined
All things that happen
Will age too old
Though gold

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Mission to Mars: Opal May Provide Evidence of Life on the Red Planet

On Thursday, the Perseverance rover completed its seven-month, 293 million-mile journey to Mars and landed safely in the Jezero crater, which contains fields of opaline silica, better known as opal.

NASA scientists purposely targeted the Jezero crater because it was a rich source of a mineral that was likely to preserve microbial or plant material. During its two year mission, the six-wheeled, SUV-size vehicle with the most sophisticated robotic astrobiology lab ever launched will be collecting opal samples that may prove the existence of extraterrestrial life.

According to NASA, the now dry and dusty 28-mile-wide Jezero crater shows unmistakable signs of having been filled with water billions of years ago. Perseverance will begin its work near an ancient river delta that once flowed into the basin. Jezero means "lake" in many Slavic languages.

"In Jezero, we have one of the most beautifully preserved delta deposits on Mars in that crater," explained Katie Stack Morgan, the deputy project scientist for the mission.

Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley said that billions of years ago, it would have been an ideal place for microorganisms to have lived, "and it is also a wonderful place for those microorganisms to be preserved so that we can find them now."

Perseverance is a significantly upgraded version of its predecessor, Curiosity, which explored Mars in 2012. New instruments include a better drill to secure core samples, instruments to analyze Martian mineralogy, ground-penetrating radar, a weather station, high-res cameras and microphones that have captured the sounds from Mars for the first time. The first audio clips were beamed to the Earth on Saturday, February 20.

Here on Earth, fine opals are sourced mainly in Australia. Scientists believe that between 100 million and 97 million years ago, Australia’s vast inland sea, which was populated by marine dinosaurs, began retreating. As the sea regressed, a rare episode of acidic weather was taking place, exposing pyrite minerals and releasing sulphuric acid. As the surface of the basin dried further and cracked, silica-rich gel became trapped in the veins of the rock. Over time, the silica solidified to form opals.

In precious opal, the silica spheres are uniform in size and are stacked into an orderly arrangement, which gives the structure the ability to break visible white light into separate colors. An opal’s silica structure contains 3% to 20% water, according to the American Gem Society.

Credit: Perseverance rover image by NASA/JPL-Caltech. Australian opal image by James St. John, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Grand Palais Provides Design Inspiration for Paris Hilton's New Engagement Ring

Paris Hilton may have finally found her Prince Charming. Venture capitalist Carter Reum proposed to the heiress/entrepreneur over Valentine weekend with an emerald-cut diamond engagement ring fit for royalty.

The ring design by jeweler Jean Dousset — the great-great-grandson of famed French jeweler Louis Cartier — takes its inspiration from the architectural elements of the iconic Grand Palais, the exhibition hall and museum complex located at the Champs-Élysées.

"Jean Dousset looked to the city of light when designing my one-of-a-kind engagement ring," Hilton explained on her website, parishilton.com. "Influenced by both classical and Art Nouveau motifs, it is framed by forms that resemble the vaulted glass ceiling of the Grand Palais."

Hilton named her ring "Paris" and said that it appears to be lit from within. The large center stone is flanked by two trapezoidal stones and accented with dozens of smaller stones throughout the elaborate setting.

Jewelry-industry pundits had a hard time pegging the exact carat weight of the stone and overall value of the ring. The diamond is estimated to weigh anywhere between 10 and 20 carats, and the ring value is said to be in the range of $1 million to $3 million.

The 39-year-old Reum popped the question while the couple celebrated Hilton's 40th birthday on a private island. It seems as if Hilton might have been aware of Reum's intentions because her beach attire included a Loschy crown and her signature fingerless gloves. The couple's family and friends were also on hand to share in the celebration.

In a series of Instagram posts, Hilton said that her fairytale dream came true and dished the details of the romantic proposal.

She wrote, "When you find your soulmate, you don’t just know it. You feel it. 💫 My love & I have been together since our first date, and for my birthday, he arranged a special trip to tropical paradise. 🏝️ As we walked to dinner along the beach, Carter led us to a cabana adorned with flowers and dropped to one knee. 💍 I said yes, yes to forever ❤️ There’s no one I’d rather spend forever with. ✨ Here's to Love - the Forever Kind 💋 #Engaged #SheSaidYes"

On her YouTube channel, Hilton shared a video of an artist hand painting her namesake ring in Dousset's design studio.

Credits: Ring and engagement images by Paris Hilton. Grand Palais photo by Inocybe at French Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Music Friday: Justin Bieber Dances Under the Diamonds in 2021's 'Anyone'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you new tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Justin Bieber tells his wife, Hailey, that she is the only one he'll ever love in his 2021 hit, "Anyone."

In the very first verse, Bieber sets the romantic scene with references to gems and precious metals.

He sings, "Dance with me under the diamonds / See me like breath in the cold / Sleep with me here in the silence / Come kiss me, silver and gold."

"Under the diamonds" is Bieber's poetic way of describing the starlit sky, while "come kiss me, silver and gold" conveys how much he cherishes the relationship.

In the official video, Bieber portrays a 1960s boxer who gets a shot at the title. Actress Zoey Deutch provides Bieber's inspiration as he trains — Rocky-style — in the lead-up to the fight. In the climactic final scene, Bieber recovers from a near-knockout to triumph in the end.

Since its release on New Year's Day 2021, "Anyone" has been viewed on YouTube more than 53 million times.

"'Anyone' is such a special, hopeful, anthemic song," he said in a statement. "It sets the tone for a brighter new year full of hope and possibility."

"Anyone" charted in 21 countries, including a #6 placement on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #2 position on the Canadian Hot 100.

Interestingly, "Anyone" was originally intended for Camila Cabello's sophomore studio album, Romance. The song didn't make the final cut and was offered to Bieber, instead. "Anyone" was co-written by Andrew Watt, who famously co-wrote Cabello's smash hit, "Havana."

Born in London, Ontario, Canada, in 1994, Justin Drew Bieber loved to perform as a kid. In early 2007, he placed second in a local singing competition. Bieber’s mom, Pattie, posted a video of his performance on YouTube, and then added videos of her precocious son singing covers of various R&B songs. It's been reported that music executive Scooter Braun accidentally clicked on one of Bieber’s videos — thinking he was watching a 20-year-old doing a cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” The impressive performer was, in fact, the 12-year-old Bieber.

Braun tracked down the youngster in Canada, and with the permission of Bieber’s mom, introduced him to singer-songwriter Usher, who soon became his mentor. Bieber was then signed by record executive L.A. Reid and the rest is Bieber history.

Bieber has sold an estimated 150 million records, making him the best-selling male Canadian artist and one of the world’s best-selling music artists. He's earned one Grammy Award, 18 American Music Awards, 20 Billboard Music Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards and a record 21 MTV Europe Music Awards.

Please check out the Bieber performing "Anyone" in the official video. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

"Anyone"
Written by Justin Bieber, Michael Pollack, Raul Cubina, Andrew Watt, Jon Bellion and The Monsters & Strangerz. Performed by Justin Bieber.

Dance with me under the diamonds
See me like breath in the cold
Sleep with me here in the silence
Come kiss me, silver and gold

They say that I won't lose you
But you can't predict the future
So just hold on like you will never let go
Yeah, if you ever move on without me
I need to make sure you know

That you are the only one I'll ever love
(I gotta tell ya, gotta tell ya)
Yeah, you, if it's not you, it's not anyone
(I gotta tell ya, gotta tell ya)
Looking back on my life you're the only good I've ever done
(Ever done)
Yeah, you, if it's not you, it's not anyone
(Anyone)
Not anyone

Forever is not enough time to (No)
Love you the way that I want (Love you the way that I want)
'Cause every morning I find you
I fear the day that I don't

They say that I won't lose you
But you can't predict the future
So just hold on like you will never let go
Yeah, if you ever move on without me
I need to make sure you know

That you are the only one I'll ever love
(I gotta tell ya, gotta tell ya)
Yeah, you, if it's not you, it's not anyone
(I gotta tell ya, gotta tell ya)
Looking back on my life you're the only good I've ever done
(Ever done)
Yeah, you, if it's not you, it's not anyone
(Anyone)
Not anyone

Oh, oh, oh, oh
If it's not you, it's not anyone
Oh, oh, oh yeah, woah

Yeah, you are the only one I'll ever love
(I gotta tell ya, gotta tell ya)
Yeah, you, if it's not you, it's not anyone
(I gotta tell ya, gotta tell ya)
Looking back on my life you're the only good I've ever done
(Ever done)
Yeah, you, if it's not you, it's not anyone
(Anyone)
Not anyone

Looking back on my life you're the only good I've ever done
(Ever done)
Yeah, you, if it's not you, it's not anyone
(Anyone)
Not anyone

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com/Justin Bieber.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Reimagined Gem Halls at American Museum of Natural History Set to Reopen This Spring

Fans of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City are anxiously awaiting the Spring 2021 reopening of the completely reimagined Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals.

The 11,000-square-foot halls will feature some remarkable new attractions, including two amethyst geodes that are among the world’s largest on public display. Sourced in Uruguay, the geodes tower to a height of 12 feet and 9 feet, respectively.

Other high-profile specimens include the legendary 563-carat “Star of India” sapphire, 632-carat Patricia emerald, a 3,000-pound block of iridescent green and blue labradorite and the 9-pound almandine “subway” garnet that was discovered under Manhattan’s 35th Street in 1885.

Titled "Beautiful Creatures," the renovated hall's first temporary exhibition gallery celebrates historic and contemporary jewelry inspired by animals. The gallery will include pieces by Cartier, Bulgari and Tiffany & Co., as well as by contemporary designers, such as Bina Goenka.

“When I first started as a curator at the Museum over 40 years ago, the most recent version of these galleries had just opened. Science has progressed significantly in that time, such as with the concept of mineral evolution,” said George E. Harlow, curator of the new halls. “These new exhibits will present our current scientific understanding of gems and minerals, present the environments in which they form, and focus on the intimate relationship between minerals and life.”

The section of the museum that will house the Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals had long been a cul-de-sac, which could be entered and exited only from the south end. In the new configuration, the halls will be linked to the new Gilder Center, allowing visitors to circulate with greater ease and less congestion.

With interactive displays, touchable specimens and media, the halls’ redesigned exhibits will tell the fascinating story of how the vast diversity of mineral types arose on Earth, how scientists classify them and how humans have used them throughout the millennia for personal adornment, tools and technology. Exhibits will showcase about 5,000 specimens from 95 countries.

The new Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals were designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates together with the American Museum of Natural History’s award-winning Exhibition Department under the direction of Lauri Halderman, vice president for exhibition. The halls are named for Roberto and Allison Mignone, longtime AMNH supporters and volunteers. Roberto is a Museum Trustee and Allison is vice chair of the Museum’s Campaign.

Credit: Image by D. Finnin/© AMNH.