Friday, July 13, 2018

Music Friday: Exactly 50 Years Ago, Desmond of 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da' Bought a 20-Carat Golden Ring

Exactly 50 years ago this week, Paul McCartney and the Beatles were in a London recording studio bickering about "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," a song from the Beatles' White Album that features Desmond Jones taking a trolley to a jewelry store to buy a "20-carat golden ring." But more on that later.

As the Beatles experimented with their first reggae-inspired song, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" became a production nightmare. The band couldn't agree on the tempo or style that would work best. They spent a great deal of time recording and overdubbing, but after 60 takes, the band members were exhausted and the song still wasn't right. McCartney continued to make adjustments on his own, while the rest of the Beatles — George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon — took a break and continued to listen to McCartney's tweaks that seemed to be going nowhere.

Finally, a frustrated Lennon stormed back into the studio, pushed McCartney aside at the piano and banged out the opening chords of a louder, faster version. That rendition became the fourth track of Side 1 of The Beatles (also known as The White Album), a classic work that would spend 155 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart and sell more than 9.5 million copies in the U.S. alone.

In the part of the song directly associated with our Music Friday theme, McCartney writes about a pushcart vendor named Desmond Jones, who visits a jewelry store to buy a "20-carat golden ring" for Molly, a singer in a band.

Here we wonder out loud if McCartney might have intended to write karat with a "k" instead of carat with a "c." With a "c," McCartney was referring to a 20-carat gem in a gold setting. With a "k," he would be describing a simpler ring — perhaps without a precious stone — made of 20-karat gold.

McCartney became familiar with the phrase "Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on" through an acquaintance, Jimmy Scott-Emuakpor, a Nigerian conga player. Scott filed suit against McCartney claiming he deserved a writer’s credit for the lyric, but Scott and McCartney came to terms out of court and the case was dropped.

Beatles Trivia: In the second verse, McCartney mistakenly sang, "Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face." Clearly, it was intended to be "Molly," but McCartney and the Beatles decided to leave it in.

The Beatles went on to become what many agree is the greatest and most influential act of the rock era. The Beatles are the best-selling band in history, with 178 million certified records in the U.S. and 800 million physical and digital albums worldwide.

We invite you to enjoy the audio track of the Beatles performing “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along...

"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Performed by The Beatles.

Desmond has a barrow in the market place,
Molly is the singer in a band.
Desmond says to Molly, "Girl, I like your face,"
And Molly says this as she takes him by the hand:

Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.
Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.

Desmond takes a trolley to the jeweler's store,
Buys a twenty carat golden ring.
Takes it back to Molly waiting at the door,
And as he gives it to her she begins to sing:

Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.
Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.

In a couple of years,
They have built a home sweet home.
With a couple of kids running in the yard
Of Desmond and Molly Jones.

Happy ever after in the market place,
Desmond lets the children lend a hand.
Molly stays at home and does her pretty face,
and in the evening she still sings it with the band.

Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.
Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.

In a couple of years,
They have built a home sweet home.
With a couple of kids running in the yard
of Desmond and Molly Jones.

Happy ever after in the market place,
Molly lets the children lend a hand.
Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face,
And in the evening she's a singer with the band.

Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.
Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.

And if you want some fun, take obladiblada.

Credit: Image by Parlophone Music Sweden [CC BY 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Man Ridiculed for Eating Kit Kat the 'Wrong' Way Proposes With a Kit Kat-Shaped Ring Box

A Washington, D.C., man who was widely ridiculed on social media for eating a Kit Kat bar the "wrong" way got the last laugh when The Hershey Company came to his rescue by creating a custom Kit Kat-shaped engagement ring box for his marriage proposal.

On May 31, Haley Byrd shared a picture on Twitter of a Kit Kat bar that her boyfriend, Evan Wilt, had just sampled for the first time.

Byrd captioned the photo, "'I don’t think I’ve ever had a Kit Kat before,' my boyfriend remarks before doing THIS."

Instead of "breaking off" a segment of chocolate wafer — as the Kit Kat jingle advises — he chomped through each of the four segments, leaving a half-moon-shaped bite mark.

Apparently, in the Kit Kat world this is an unforgivable offense, and the Twittersphere called for Byrd to dump her boyfriend, pronto.

CNN news anchor Jake Tapper chimed in on Twitter, "Break up with him at once."

Even Dictionary.com got into the act, writing on Twitter, "Break off: What one does to a @KITKAT. Also, break off: What one might do to a relationship with someone who does this." The post was punctuated with a finger emoji pointing at a repost of Byrd's comment about her boyfriend's odd approach to eating a Kit Kat bar.

But, while critics were calling for Wilt's ouster, Kit Kat's U.S. parent company, Hershey's, was employing a 3D printer for a special project on behalf of the young suitor.

On the Fourth of July at the National Arboretum in Washington D.C., Wilt proposed to Byrd with an engagement ring neatly hidden in a ring box that was an exact replica of a Kit Kat bar. The custom ring box was designed with an inset for the ring and a clever magnetic closure that allowed the box to break apart to reveal the ring inside.

“Haley is truly one of a kind and I knew I wanted to do something special for the proposal,” Wilt told Us Weekly. “When Kit Kat reached out, I saw this as an opportunity to create an unforgettable moment.”

"I had no idea the proposal was coming that day," Byrd told Fox News. "My mom tricked me into thinking we were going to take family photos at the Jefferson Memorial, and when we showed up Evan was there with his whole family. When I saw the Kit Kat box, I just started laughing. It was such a neat experience, and I am beyond grateful that Evan put so much thought into it.”

After accepting Wilt's proposal, Byrd was back on Twitter with snapshots of the romantic moment and this clever caption, "He still doesn’t know how to eat a Kit Kat."

Added Kit Kat on Twitter, "He truly is the Kit to your Kat @byrdinator! So glad we could provide a small break in your magical moment!"

Kit Kat also provided an array of goodies — including this Kit Kat cake (with Wilt's simulated bite marks) — for the couple's engagement party.

World Radio summed up the story with this tweet on July 9, "@EvanWilt_ may not know how to eat a #KitKat, but he does know how to get the girl."

Credits: Images via Twitter/KitKat_US, Twitter/EvanWilt_, Twitter/byrdinator.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Here's Compelling Evidence That Mother Nature May Be a World Cup Soccer Fan

We've all witnessed how Mother Nature works in mysterious ways, but who knew she was a World Cup soccer fan?

Just three days prior to the Russian national soccer team's exciting quarterfinal match against Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, Russian mining giant Alrosa discovered a diamond that looks amazingly like a soccer ball.

"Nature creates a variety of bizarre forms, but for the first time we've found a diamond in the shape of a soccer ball," Alrosa general director Sergey Ivanov said in a press release. "We hope that this is a good sign on the eve of the performance of the Russian national team in the quarterfinals.”

Igor Orlov, the governor of the Arkhangelsk region where the diamond was mined, recommended that the diamond be named "Igor Akinfeev" to honor Russia's star goalkeeper, who saved two penalty kicks in Russia's overtime win against Spain.

"It is noteworthy that the diamond was discovered on the eve of the quarterfinals, where our team made its way thanks in part to the brilliant game of Igor Akinfeev," Orlov said.

The host Russian team nearly pulled off a stunning upset in the quarterfinals, but lost to Croatia in a penalty shootout.

The half-carat diamond — which displays a similar shape and black-and-white coloration of a standard soccer ball — was plucked from Alrosa's Karpinskaya-1 pipe in Russia's Arkhangelsk region on Wednesday, July 4.

With more than $5 billion in sales annually, Alrosa has maximized its exposure as one of the main sponsors of the FIFA World Cup 2018™. Prior to the tournament, which will crown a victor this Sunday, the mining company introduced its "football" collection of 32 round polished diamonds. Each diamond weighs 0.3 carats and represents one of the teams of the international tournament. The collection will be sold at an auction in Moscow with the results being announced on July 30.

Headlining the football collection is a special unpolished stone weighing 76.53 carats. Alrosa encouraged fans to name the super-sized diamond via an online contest.

The French national team will challenge the winner of today's match between England and Croatia for the championship on Sunday.

Credits: Diamond photos courtesy of Alrosa. Soccer ball image by By Pumbaa80 (Self-published work by Pumbaa80) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Man Proposes to His Wife — Again — After Finding Bridal Jewelry in Ashes of Destroyed Home

A California man turned a horrific scene into something beautiful Sunday when he found his wife's bridal jewelry amidst the charred rubble of their devastated home and proposed to her all over again.

"She's the most beautiful woman I've ever known, she's the glue in our family, and I adore her to pieces," Ishu Rao told the Associated Press, "so if I can put a smile on her face I'm going to do it."

Married only eight months ago, Goleta residents Ishu and Laura Rao had barely any time to escape their home when wildfires swept through their neighborhood last Friday evening.

Laura had taken off her rings and was getting ready for bed when the fire forced them to flee with Ishu's two daughters, three dogs and a cat.

When the couple returned to check on their home on Sunday, the structure was reduced to a pile of ashes. By looking for the pipes that had remained somewhat identifiable, Ishu was able to home in on where the kitchen sink had been. That clue gave him a starting point in his search for his wife's bridal jewelry. Before long, he had located her charred engagement ring and wedding band.

In a spontaneous expression of love (and with Santa Barbara County Fire Department official Mike Eliason on hand to capture the moment), Ishu went down on one knee and asked Laura to marry him once more.

Donning a blue breathing mask, Laura burst into happy tears and said, "Yes."

"It put everything into perspective," Laura told the Associated Press. "It took all the pain away and reminded me of what matters in life: the people around you."

"It was truly a special moment out of the ashes," added Eliason, who posted photos of the proposal to the Fire Department's Twitter page.

Credit: Image courtesy of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Adventurer Josh Gates Hunts for Ruby Slippers Stolen From Judy Garland Museum

Adventurer Josh Gates investigates the 2005 theft of one of the most iconic pieces of Hollywood memorabilia of all time — the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz — during Tuesday night's episode of "Expedition Unknown" on the Discovery Channel.

Following the biggest lead in more than a decade, Gates dons his scuba gear and dives into an abandoned iron ore pit near Grand Rapids, Minn., with the hopes of finding the elusive slippers.

On August 28, 2005, a pair of ruby slippers that had been on loan to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids were stolen in the dead of night. During Gates' investigation, he discovers that the heist has all the earmarks of an inside job. The alarm on the museum's emergency exit door had been deactivated. The access door to the exhibit area had been left unlocked and the security camera that had been aimed at the ruby slippers was turned off.

Via smoky re-enactments, the viewer learns that the thieves broke the glass of the emergency exit door, strolled into the exhibit hall, smashed the glass enclosure of the display and dashed off with the slippers. It all took less than 45 seconds.

Over the years, there had been rumors that teenage pranksters had stolen the slippers, loaded them into a can and then into a duffle bag. Apparently, they weighted the duffle bag and then dumped it into a flooded mining pit.

Reportedly insured for $1 million, the stolen slippers had been owned by California collector Michael Shaw and were among the five pairs designed by MGM’s chief costume designer Gilbert Adrian for the 1939 blockbuster. Dorothy's ruby slippers have been called “the most famous pair of shoes in the world” and “the Holy Grail of movie memorabilia.”

Recently, one of the remaining pairs was offered for sale by auction house Moments in Time for $6 million. Another pair is undergoing extensive conservation care and will be returning to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History on October 19.

In Grand Rapids, at the Judy Garland Museum, visitors can purchase ruby slipper memorabilia, including a T-shirt with the slogan, “Who Stole The Ruby Slippers?”

Find out if Gates can solve the mystery on tomorrow night's episode of "Expedition Unknown."

Check out the Discovery Channel's two-minute teaser below...

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com; Ruby slippers image via Smithsonian.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Music Friday: Elton John Suffers From a Broken Heart in 2001's 'Dark Diamond'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Elton John sings about suffering from a broken heart in 2001's "Dark Diamond."

In the song composed by John with lyrics by long-time collaborator Bernie Taupin, the term "dark diamond" is used to describe a person who once flourished as a "jewel" with a fire in his soul, but is now "hard and cold."

His beloved was the one star he could count on, the only one who could show him the true meaning of love. But his inability to "break through" caused him to lose his true love and now he has only himself to blame.

John sings, "Oh, I'm a dark diamond / I've turned hard and cold / Once was a jewel with fire in my soul / There's two sides of a mirror / One I couldn't break through / Stayed trapped on the inside, wound up losing you."

"Dark Diamond," which incorporates elements of blues, pop and R&B, appeared as the second track of Songs from the West Coast, John's 26th studio album. Listen carefully and you can hear music legend Stevie Wonder making a guest appearance on the harmonica.

Although the song was never released as a single, "Dark Diamond" still gets airplay in Scandinavia and Continental Europe. The album charted in 19 countries, including #15 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and #9 on the Canadian Albums chart.

Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, the 71-year-old John is one of the best-selling music artists in the world. In a career that has spanned five decades, John has sold more than 300 million records. John and Taupin have collaborated on 30-plus albums and are credited with more than 50 Top 40 hits.

His single in honor of Princess Diana, “Candle in the Wind 1997,” sold more than 33 million copies worldwide, making it best-selling single in the history of the U.K. and U.S. singles charts.

Please check out the audio track of John performing "Dark Diamond." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Dark Diamond"
Written by Bernie Taupin and Elton John. Performed by Elton John.

Oh, I'm a dark diamond
I've turned hard and cold
Once was a jewel with fire in my soul
There's two sides of a mirror
One I couldn't break through
Stayed trapped on the inside, wound up losing you

Tell me how does it work
How do you make things fit
Spent all my life trying to get it right
I've put it together and it falls apart
I thought to myself I might understand
But when the wall's built
And the heart hardens
You get a dark diamond
Dark diamond

Oh, I'm a dark diamond
But you're something else
You read me more than I read myself
The one star I could count on
Only comet I could trust
You burnt through my life to the true meaning of love

[Chorus 2X]

Credit: Image by Richard Mushet on Flickr (Elton John on Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

'Lotus Ring' Smashes Guinness World Record for the Most Diamonds Set in a Ring

The "Lotus Ring" has just smashed the Guinness World Record for the most diamonds set in a single ring. By employing an ingenious design featuring 48 individual diamond-encrusted "petals," Indian jewelers Vishal and Khushbu Agarwal were able to set a staggering 6,690 diamonds into an 18-karat rose gold structure.

The intricately detailed ring, which took more than six months to design and craft, is valued at $4.1 million and is heavier than a golf ball at 58 grams (2.05 ounces).

Over the past seven years, the "Most Diamonds Set in a Single Ring" record has changed hands three times.

The Lotus Ring captured the record previously held by Savio Jewellery's "Peacock Ring," which had established it own record in 2015, with 3,827 ideal-cut diamonds set in 18-karat gold. That ring had an estimated value of $2.7 million.

At the time, a spokesperson for the India-based Savio Jewellery company had told JCK magazine that the manufacturing process took three years to complete, with individual diamonds ranging in weight from 0.003 carats to .01 carats. The Peacock Ring's diamond count was 51% greater than that of the previous record holder, the "Tsarvena Swan," which held its title since 2011.

Vishal Agarwal is credited with coming up with the Lotus Ring design, while Khushbu Agarwal, the owner of Hanumant Diamonds, funded the project and provided the artisans to complete the fabrication.

The Agarwals are hoping that the Lotus Ring will help raise awareness about the importance of water conservation. As the national flower of India, the lotus depicts "the beauty growing in the water-world," according to Vishal and Khushbu, who are both based in Surat, India.

"As fame is so much attached to a Guinness World Records title, we can put it to good use by bringing together like-minded people to work towards a beautiful world," they said in a statement.

Please check out the video, below, which offers an insider's view at how the Lotus Ring was manufactured.

Screen captures via Instagram/guinnessworldrecords. Peacock Ring by Savio Jewellery.