Friday, January 17, 2020

Music Friday: Billie Marten Loves When You Give Her Things, Especially Wedding Rings

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you wonderful songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, British songstress Billie Marten delivers her enchanting acoustic cover of "The Book of Love."

In the song, Marten explains how love is unnecessarily complicated and frequently irrational. In fact, if someone could write The Book of Love, it would be a mammoth volume — long, boring and overwrought with "flowers and heart-shaped boxes and instructions for dancing." Love, she contends, is spending special moments together, and expressing one's love with a time-honored symbol of jewelry.

At the end of the song, she concludes, "And I / I love it when you give me things / And you / You can give me wedding rings / You can give me... You can give me wedding rings."

Written by Stephin Merritt and originally released by American indie pop group The Magnetic Fields in 1999, "The Book of Love" was covered by British rocker Peter Gabriel, whose version appeared in the soundtrack of the 2004 flick, Shall We Dance. The song earned a cult following in 2010 when Gabriel's "Book of Love" was used during the series finale of the hit show Scrubs.

Born Isabella Sophie Tweddle in Ripon, England, in 1999, Marten began playing the guitar and singing when she was just seven years old. In 2008, she established a channel on YouTube, where she posted covers of pop songs, mostly for the benefit of her grandparents who lived in France.

When she was 12, Marten was invited to do a few sessions for a local YouTube channel called "Ont' Sofa." Immersed in a studio filled with Fender guitars, the young lady performed a number of popular songs, including her beautiful, effortless rendition of "The Book of Love." The videos went viral and her singing career was set in motion. She was signed to Chess Club Records, a division of Sony Music, in 2015, and was nominated for Britain's Sound of 2016 Award.

Please check out the video of Marten's "Ont' Sofa" performance of "The Book of Love." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"The Book of Love"
Written by Stephin Merritt. Performed by Billie Marten.

The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing
It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And instructions for dancing

And I
I love it when you read to me
And you
You can read me anything

The book of love has music in it
In fact that's where music comes from
Some of it is just transcendental
Some of it is just really dumb

And I
I love it when you sing to me
And you
You can sing me anything

The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
Things we're all too young to know

But I
I love it when you read to me
And you
You can read me anything

And I
I love it when you sing to me
And you
You can sing me anything

And I
I love it when you give me things
And you
You can give me wedding rings
You can give me... You can give me wedding rings

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com/Ont' Sofa.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

St. Louis Blues Mascot Earns First-Ever Stanley 'Pup' Championship Collar

Barclay, the adorable four-legged mascot of the St. Louis Blues, recently received a Stanley "Pup" Championship collar — complete with the team's famous Blue Note logo rendered in sapphires and karat gold. A spokesperson for Purina claimed Barclay is the first dog to ever receive championship jewelry.

Blues executive and Hall of Famer Brett Hull was on hand last week to honor the pup, who was adopted by the team in December of 2018. Many Blues fans and sports writers believe the future service dog played an important role in settling down a team in conflict and leading them to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Prior to Barclay's arrival, the Blues were a team in turmoil. They were dropping down to the bottom of the standings and their players were literally fighting among themselves.

Liz Miller of the Riverfront Times recounted, "On December 13th, the team adopts Barclay and brings him to practice. No one fights each other, instead opting to play with the dog. On December 14, eventual Conn Smythe winner Ryan O'Reilly wins the team's next game in overtime — with a shorthanded goal, no less. Is it coincidence that the Blues started to play more like a winning team after Barclay was recruited? We think not, St. Louis."

The yellow Labrador Retriever puppy soon became an internet sensation, as videos of the five-month-old Barclay slipping across the ice with a stick and puck during a team practice went viral.

Purina worked with Jostens in preparing the special collar for Barclay. The team's signature Blue Note — the same one that adorns the players' championship rings — is affixed to the blue leather collar.

For Jostens' ring design, the Blue Note logo was rendered with 16 genuine, custom-cut blue sapphires. The number 16 represented the number of victories earned by the Blues on their path to the championship. Jostens reported that each sapphire had to be delicately shaved so each would fit exactly within the logo’s yellow gold outline.

In addition to the Blue Note, the collar also features a "2019 Champions" plaque and a "Purina" insignia.

The celebrity pup, who was voted "Best Team Dog" in the NHL Fan Choice Awards, has his own Instagram page with more than 78,000 followers.

"Woof! My name’s Barclay!" notes the Official Stanley Pup of the @stlouisblues on Instagram. "I’m a good boy who’s training to be a future service dog through @duodogsinc."

Credits: Barclay mages via instagram.com/stlbluespup. Collar closeup screen capture via YouTube.com/KSDK News. Ring photo courtesy of Jostens.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Role Reversal: Will Single Ladies Propose to Their Guys on Leap Day, Feb. 29?

For more than 1,500 years, February 29 has been reserved for single ladies who have waited far too long for their guys to pop the question. Leap Day, which hits the calendar every four years, is a time when traditional roles are reversed and women are encouraged to pop the question.

Leap Day marriage proposals have their roots in 5th century Ireland, where St. Brigid of Kildare forged a deal with St. Patrick to permit women to propose to men every four years. In Ireland, Leap Day is also called Bachelor’s Day.

This Irish tradition was then brought to Scotland by Irish monks. Legend states that in 1288, the Scotts passed a law that allowed women to propose on Leap Day. If the man refused the proposal, he would have to pay a fine, ranging from a kiss to a silk dress or a pair of gloves. In upper-class circles, the fine would be 12 pairs of gloves. Presumably, the gloves would hide the shame of not wearing an engagement ring.

In English law, the day February 29 had no legal status, so some Brits believed that traditional customs held no status on that day either. Hence, women were free to reverse the unfair custom that permitted only men to propose marriage.

This theme was celebrated in the 2010 romance/comedy Leap Year. Amy Adams plays the part of Anna, who is frustrated when another anniversary passes without a marriage proposal from her boyfriend. When she learns about the Irish tradition that allows women to pop the question on Leap Day, she rushes to Dublin to track down the boyfriend at a convention just in time to deliver a marriage proposal on February 29.

There is some evidence that more women are considering the idea of popping the question — any day of the year. Pinterest reported in December 2018 that searches on its site for the phrase “women proposing to men” had skyrocketed 336% compared to 2017.

On Christmas Day, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn shook up the Internet when she proposed to her NHL pro boyfriend P.K. Subban, stating, "Men deserve engagement rings, too." Vonn's proposal needs an asterisk, however. You see, Subban had already proposed to her in August with an emerald ring (because green is her favorite color).

In the fall of 2018, The Knot's sister site — which covers unique proposals — changed its name from "How He Asked" to "How They Asked."

“We are strong believers that inclusivity is not optional," noted Meghan Brown, site director of How They Asked, "and it was about time our name reflected that. How They Asked is a site for everyone."

A recent survey of 500 men by Glamour found that 70% of men would be "psyched" if their female partner popped the question.

Will Leap Day 2020 mark a turning point for traditional gender roles? Only time will tell.

Credit: Image by BigStockPhoto.com

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Swiss Researchers Invent Lightweight 18-Karat Gold That's Mixed With Plastic

Swiss researchers just unveiled a new type of 18-karat gold that's made from 75% gold and 25% plastic, yielding super-lightweight, malleable material that weighs just 1/10th to 1/5th as much as the traditional alloy.

The team at ETH Zurich claims that the new lightweight alloy has the exact same lustrous qualities of traditional 18-karat gold, making it an attractive alternative for jewelry manufacturers and designers.

"Lovers of gold watches and heavy jewelry will be thrilled," wrote Peter Rüegg on ETH Zurich's official website. "The objects of their desire may someday become much lighter, but without losing any of their glitter. Especially with watches, a small amount of weight can make all the difference."

The researchers believe that the new material will also be attractive to manufacturers because it is easier to work than traditional precious metals. The melting point of the new material is just 105° C (221° F), versus 1,064° C (1,943° F) for traditional 18-karat gold.

Gold purity is measured by its karatage, with 24-karat gold being 100% pure. Conventional 18-karat yellow gold is made from 75% gold and 25% other materials, such as copper and silver. Popular 14-karat gold is 14/24ths (58.3%) pure gold, and 10-karat gold is 10/24ths (41.6%) gold. Both 14-karat and 10-karat gold are commonly mixed with silver and copper.

With the new material, ETH Zurich scientists used a matrix of plastic in place of metallic alloy elements. Instead of weighing 15 grams per cubic centimeter, the new 18-karat material weighs 1.7 grams per cubic centimeter.

Raffaele Mezzenga, Professor of Food and Soft Materials at ETH Zurich, explained how she and her colleagues used protein fibers and a polymer latex to form a matrix in which they embedded thin discs of gold nanocrystals. In addition, the lightweight gold contains countless tiny air pockets invisible to the eye.

Highlights of the process were recently published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

“This gold has the material properties of a plastic,” Mezzenga said. "If a piece of it falls onto a hard surface, it sounds like plastic. But it glimmers like metallic gold, and can be polished and worked into the desired form."

The researchers also claimed that the hardness of the material may be adjusted by slightly altering the composition. The latex, for example, could be replaced by other plastics, such as polypropylene. Also, altering the shape of the gold nanoparticles will change the color from gold to violet.

While Mezzenga and her team see obvious applications for jewelry and watch manufacturers, the material also may be suitable for chemical catalysis, electronics applications or radiation shielding.

Credit: Image by ETH Zurich / Peter Rüegg.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Fairytale Proposal: Animated Couple Star as the Prince and Princess in 'Sleeping Beauty'

A romantic Massachusetts man worked with an illustrator for six months to pull off an epic, fairytale marriage proposal that has gone viral on social media.

In filmmaker Lee Loechler's ambitious plan, animated versions of he and his girlfriend, Sthuthi David, would take starring roles in her favorite movie, Sleeping Beauty. During the pivotal scene, when Prince Phillip wakes Princess Aurora with a kiss, the characters on the screen would transform into cartoon lookalikes of Loechler and David and set the stage for the real-life proposal. Loechler contracted Australian illustrator Kayla Coombs to make it happen.

On December 30, Loechler and David attended what she thought was a special private screening of Sleeping Beauty at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in the couple's hometown of Brookline. Since all this was a surprise for David, hidden in the back of the screening room were the couple's friends and family. Surrounding the couple were Reddit volunteers, who were incentivized to attend the free screening with a pizza-and-beer afterparty.

A YouTube.com video that has been viewed more than six million times shows David's reaction as the hair and skin colors of the iconic Disney characters start to change and there's the realization that she and her boyfriend are now in the movie.

After the prince awakens the princess, he pulls out an open ring box revealing a glistening diamond engagement ring. The animated Loechler flips the box into the air, and the in-the-flesh version pretends to make the catch.

Standing in front of the screen, with the ring in hand, the real Loechler went down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend.

"I love you with my whole heart, including all of its ventricles, atriums, valves," Loechler joked, before clarifying for the audience that David is a cardiologist.

"Oh my God, these poor people!" David responded, not knowing that the audience was made up of her friends, relatives and Reddit volunteers.

“Will you live happily ever after with me?” Loechler asked. David answered, "Yes."

"It's not every day you get to propose to your high school sweetheart," Loechler wrote on his Instagram page. "The only thing better than seeing the smartest person I know completely dumbfounded was knowing we'd get to live happily ever after together."

As the movie came to a close, the title "The End" changed to "The Beginning."

Then, in a cute touch, the screen transitioned to a bold-color test pattern, and then a title appeared that said, "Alt 2 'Sthuthi Says No.'" In this version of the ending, there is a scene of crying dwarfs.

"Hey Riley," Loechler yelled to the film operator. "Can you kill it? She said, 'Yes.'"

Please check out the Loechler's video here...

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Music Friday: Tim McGraw Sings About a Breakup in ‘Diamond Rings and Old Barstools’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country star Tim McGraw sings about a breakup in his 2015 hit, “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools.” This emotional ballad tells the story of former lovers who agree to go their separate ways after finally conceding that the relationship has no chance of working out.

In the first verse, McGraw sings, “Diamond rings and old barstools / One’s for queens and one’s for fools / One’s the future and one’s the past / One’s forever and one won’t last.”

In the chorus, he continues, “I guess some things just don’t mix like you hoped / Like me and you / And diamond rings and old barstools.”

Written by Jonathan Singleton, Barry Dean and Luke Laird, "Diamond Rings and Old Barstools" was released as the fourth and final single from McGraw’s chart-topping Sundown Heaven Town album. The single peaked at #11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs list and #10 on the Billboard Canadian Country list. It was also nominated at the 58th Grammy Awards for Best Country Song.

McGraw described how he loves to get lost in the emotion of this song, stating, "The guitar is so filled with regret. It just drips with it."

The son of New York Mets star pitcher Tug McGraw, Samuel Timothy “Tim” McGraw was born in Delhi, La., in 1967. Tim was brought up by his step-dad, Horace Smith, and didn’t know that the famous athlete was his biological father until he was 11. McGraw learned to play guitar while attending Northeast Louisiana University on a baseball scholarship. He signed his first record deal with Curb Records in 1990 and married country singer Faith Hill in 1996.

McGraw is one of the best-selling music artists of all time with more than 80 million records sold since he first burst onto the country music scene in 1992. Twenty-five of his 65 hit singles have gone to #1 on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Songs chart, and 10 of his 15 studio albums have topped the Billboard U.S. Top Country Albums chart.

Please check out the video of McGraw’s live performance of “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

"Diamond Rings and Old Barstools"
Written by Jonathan Singleton, Barry Dean and Luke Laird. Performed by Tim McGraw.

Diamond rings and old barstools
One's for queens and one's for fools
One's the future and one's the past
One's forever and one won't last

It ain't like midnight and cigarette smoke
It ain't like watered down whiskey and Coke
I guess some things just don't mix like you hoped
Like me and you
Diamond rings and old barstools

The wrongs and rights, the highs and lows
The "I love you's," the "I told you so's"
Past few miles to wherever's home
Another morning waking up alone

It ain't like midnight and cigarette smoke
It ain't like watered down whiskey and Coke
I guess some things just don't mix like you hoped
Like me and you Diamond rings and old barstools

It ain't like midnight and cigarette smoke
Nothing like watered down whiskey and Coke
I guess some things just don't mix like you hoped
Like me and you
Diamond rings and old barstools

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Diamond That Survived the Holocaust and Two World Wars Is Rescued in Manhattan

A New York newlywed said she was horrified when an heirloom diamond fell out of her engagement ring and disappeared into the underbelly of a newsstand refrigeration unit on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Danielle Gelfand's 1-carat diamond had been in her family for more than 100 years.

“I went to grab a bottle of water. I reached in, and all of a sudden, I heard a click,” Gelfand told a reporter from CBS2.v

The click was the sound of her diamond caroming into an abyss.

The NYPD's Emergency Services Unit removed a few panels from under the soda case's refrigeration unit but were unable to complete the rescue without cutting the metal frame. The officers said they needed permission from the cart's owner, who, they learned, wouldn't be available until after the weekend.

Gelfand and the Emergency Services officers weren't about to give up easily. Her engagement ring had been a cherished keepsake of not only her 88-year-old mother, but her mother's mother, as well.

“A ring is just a ring, but this ring is so much more,” Gelfand told CBS2. “My mother is a Holocaust survivor and it’s a ring that lived through two wars, the first World War and the second World War. And she gave it to me.”

When Gelfand told her mom that the heirloom diamond was stuck under a newsstand soda case, the Holocaust survivor returned a steady, unemotional response.

"You know what?" the mom said. "We have our health, and if it’s meant to be, we’ll get it back.”

On Monday, Gelfand and her husband returned to the newsstand to meet its owner and to try a newly purchased piece of equipment. It was a snake camera that could easily squeeze between crevices of the refrigeration unit. Within a few minutes, the Gelfands were able to confirm the exact location of the diamond.

Using some other specialty equipment, they were able to finally rescue the diamond that has been through so much.

Danielle Gelfand told CBS2 that she will be keeping her family's tradition alive by one day passing the ring down to her own daughter.

Credits: Screen captures via newyork.cbslocal.com.