Tag Archives: entertainment

Thought of the Day 10.13.12 Paul Simon

‘Why am I so soft in the middle when the rest of my life is so hard?”
— Paul Simon

Paul Frederic Simon was born in Newark, New Jersey, USA on this day in 1941. He is 71 years old.

Paul’s other love is baseball. [Image courtesy Paul-Simon.info]

He grew up in Queens, New York  loving baseball and music. Simon met Art Garfunkel in middle school. They were the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat in their 6th grade production of Alice and Wonderland and attended Forest Hills High School together. He and Garfunkel would use a tape recorder to practice singing together. In 1954 Paul got a guitar for his birthday. They  tried to duplicate the tight harmonies of the Everly Brothers, who they idolized. In 1956 Simon wrote their first song “The Girl for Me” which his father, Louis (who was musician and college professor) wrote out and corded for the duo.

While juniors in high school they started the group Tom and Jerry. (Art was Tom; Paul was Jerry) They released a single, Hey, Schoolgirl. The song reached #49 on the Billboard charts.

After high school Simon went to Queen’s College, New York and studied English. He met singer songwriter Carol King at Queen’s and he did solo work and played with a group called Tico & The Triumphs. Although Tico et al put out a few singles the efforts weren’t very successful.

Worried that Simon and Garfunkel sounded too Jewish the duo opted for the more generic Tom and Jerry. [Image courtesy Paul-Simon.info]

Simon continued to write after graduation. He embraced the changing social climate of the early Sixties and “the burgeoning Greenwich Village folk scene.” [ Paul-Simon.info]  His maturing style is reflected in the songs he wrote during this era, especially the Sound of Silence.

´Sound of Silence´ uses imagery of light and darkness to show how ignorance and apathy destroy people´s ability to communicate on even a simple level. The light symbolizes truth and enlightenment. Both music and lyrics are perfectly fitting.  [Paul-Simon.info]

Simon reunited with Art Garfunkel in 1963. They began to sing in folk clubs, worked on songs and recorded a few of the songs Simon had earlier penned.

Here is He Was My Brother a song that Paul dedicated to Andrew Goodman, one of three civil rights workers killed in Mississippi in 1964.

They released Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. as Simon and Garfunkel. A classic now, the album met with tepid response when it first came out. The songs are a mix of original Simon compositions; Bleecker Street, Sparrow, The Sound of Silence, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.; traditional tunes the duo arranged to best fit their voices; and covers. Sound of Silence hit #1 and gave Simon and Garfunkel their first gold record.

Simon moved to England and Garfunkel went back to school. Paul worked with the Australian band The Seekers and did some solo recording.

Back in the US Simon and Garfunkel released Sounds of Silence; Parsley, Sage, rosemary and Thyme, Bookends, and Bridge Over Troubled Water. They also contributed heavily to the soundtrack for the movie Mrs. Robinson.

America (Simon & Garfunkel song)

America (Simon & Garfunkel song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The duo won GRAMMYs in 1969 and 1971 (plus a GRAMMY: Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003) and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

They split in 1970, again. Simon  put out a self title album that was more World Beat inspired. The album featured Mother and Child Reunion and Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.

There Goes Rhymin’ Simon came out in 1973 and had the hits Kodachrome  and Loves Me Like a Rock.

In 1975 he put out Still Crazy After All These Years with the hits My Little Town and 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.  Simon picked up another Grammy for the album.

He switched record labels to Warner Brothers for One-Trick Pony. He starred in a movie of the same name. His next album was Hearts and Bones. That album was written around the famous 1981 Central Park reunion concert for Simon and Garfunkel and Art’s influence can be heard on several songs.

English: Front cover of the Paul Simon music a...

English: Front cover of the Paul Simon music album Graceland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Simon worked on the We Are the World single to raise money for USA for Africa his interest in world music was rekindled. His Graceland album  — which celebrated its 25th anniversary on June 5th — was a

“…melding of South African styles and Simon’s trademark sensibility made for one of the most intriguing albums–not to mention commercial hits–of the ’80s. At once lively, thoughtful, gorgeous, and tough, Graceland acknowledges splits both in South Africa’s social fabric and in Simon’s personal life … Humor is hardly absent from the mix, though; witness the addled “I Know What I Know” and the fable-like “You Can Call Me Al.”[ –Rickey Wright. Amazon.com]

Rhythm of the Saints was recorded in Rio de Janeiro and New York in 1989. This album featured a latin beat, and Simon was quick to point out that the World Sound label was nothing new for his songs. He’d been writing with an international flavor since Julio after all.

Simon lent his talents to the 1998 musical play The Capeman. Although most critics liked his songs, and the production was nominated for several Tony’s the critics panned the effort and it lost millions.

In 2000 he produce a more conventional pop album You’re the One.

He continues to tour — often with other folk and rock icons, and occasionally with Garfunkel. In 2010 he put out So Beautiful or So What.

[Image courtesy: Amazon.com]


My Darcy Weekend

As you may recall from Will (and Jane) This Summer in B’more (June 6) THIS past Friday, Saturday and Sunday was Regency Weekend at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (CSC).  The acting troupe put on Christina Calvit’s adaptation of  Jane Austen’s delightful Pride and Prejudice.  The Jane Austen Society of North America: Maryland Chapter (JASNA:MD) joined forces with CSC on Sunday for our Summer meeting, and I came by with some family and friends on Saturday to help with a Game Tent and to drum up some interest in JASNA.


My lovely daughter Maggie, my sister Margie, my husband Bill and I headed to Ellicott City’s Patapsco Female Institute (the stabilized ruins of an old girls school that is now an open air theatre and part of the Howard County Park System) where we met our friends  Lynn Reynolds, Chris and Matt. There  we split up to handle Game Duties and the JASNA recruitment table.

I created the Jane Game while working with a graphic design student. It was a side-by-side project and our goal was to create a board game that we would want to play. It is a trivia game based on the novels of Jane Austen and comes with a laminated or cloth playing board, 100 cards on Pride and Prejudice, glass game pieces and a draw string bag. If you are interested in securing your very own game send me a message.

At the Game Tent we set up The JANE GAME a trivia game based on Pride and Prejudice and Austen BINGO.

WoMANning the JASNA table. (Photo courtesy of Kim Rock)

Over at the JASNA info table we had registration forms and some fun Austen inspired gear. JASNA is a terrific organization dedicated to the appreciation of Jane Austen and her writing. The over 4,000 members in JASNA (US and Canada) enjoy reading and discussing Austen’s books, learning more about the things Jane liked to do, and exploring the world that influenced her writing. Membership is open to every one interested in the life and works of Jane Austen and includes: a subscription to JASNA News; JASNA’s literary journal — Persuasions; an invitation to the Annual General Meeting; An invitation to join one or more local chapter — like  JASNA: MD ; and participation in members-only tours of Austen sites.  Membership is only $30.00 per year (for individual members.)

We got to talk to some lovely people (first from the cast, then  from the audience) and then we got to see the play.

Mr. Darcy observes Caroline and Lizzy in a scene from Pride and Prejudice (running now through the end of July at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company.)

As you may have already figured  out, I’m a huge Jane Austen fan (I’ve created a board  game based on her books and I’ve got my own Regency dress, for heavens sake!)  So I was primed and ready for this stage play of P&P.

And I’m happy to say it was universally charming! Happy thought INDEED!

The pre-show panel “Kitty and Lydia: Mischief and Merriment” with Rachael Jacobs, Karen Stakem Hornig, Mark Turner, Jana Stambaugh and moderator, Polly Bart.


JASNA:MD worked with CSC to pull together a special treat for Sunday’s audience, a pre-show panel discussion on “Kitty and Lydia: Mischief and Merriment.” Polly Bart, JASNA:MD’s Programming Chair, co-ordinated the event for the group and acted as the moderator for the panel. She brought together the actresses who play Kitty and Lydia, Jana Stambaugh and Rachael Jacobs, with JASNA members Mark Turner and Karen Stakem Hornig.

Kitty and Lydia on stage.

The actresses spoke on the joys and challenges of bringing their 200 year old characters from the page to the stage. Turner, who is known for delighting JASNA members with his mind tickling Austen era Charades, took over with “Kitty and Lydia: Their Roles and Relationships” (aka “The Case of the Ugly Bonnet”)

Hornig holds up her favorite film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Hornig presented “Kitty and Lydia as Character Types in Film Adaptations of Pride and Prejudice.” (Note the image of Colin Firth on the cover the Collector’s Edition of the DVD.)

Photo courtesy Kim Rock

My friend Kim helped me at the JASNA registration/info table on Sunday. We met some wonderful Jane fans who were interested in learning about the organization, as well as tons of lovely current JASNA members stopped by to say hello!

Jane and Lizzie share a sisterly moment in Act One.

I enjoyed the show even more on Sunday. (All the stage shots in this blog are from Sunday’s performance — you aren’t allowed to use a  flash, but since the Sunday show starts two hours earlier… I could shoot with out a flash.)

Sadly I don’t have any photos of Jose Guzman as Mr. Collins. He was hilarious as the sycophant clergyman. Jonas David Grey (Mr. Bennet) and James Jager (Mr. Bingley) were also very funny. Blythe Coons (Lizzy) and Adam Sheaffer (Mr. Darcy) gave more subtle, but equally delicious performances. I particularly like how the audience on Sunday was cheering for Jana Stambaugh — after her pre-show talk about how she, Kitty,  was the “Jan” of the Bennet family, she definitely had us in her corner.

This just in: Thanks to Kim Rock, we now have a picture showing Mr. Collins! (fourth from the right).

Although my weekend with Mr. Darcy, Lizzy and the rest of the Pride and Prejudice cast is over I hope that you will take the opportunity to visit Chesapeake Shakespeare Company this summer and catch this charming adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic.

Pride and Prejudice runs in repertoire with Romeo and Juliet until July 29th.

Cheers! Rita

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