Song of the Day #2105

Song of the Day: Oppenheimer (“Can You Hear the Music”) [YouTube link], composed by Ludwig Gorranson, is one of the highlights from the Golden Globe-winning and Grammy-winning soundtrack to the 2023 biopic, directed by Christopher Nolan. This selection was nominated for two Grammys, while the original score has earned an Oscar nomination. Today begins a three-day Barbenheimer musical arc.

Song of the Day #2104

Song of the Day: One Hundred and One Dalmations (“Cruella de Vil”), words and music by George Bruns and Mel Leven, is sung in the 1961 animated classic by Bill Lee [YouTube link]. Selena Gomez rocked the song in 2008 [YouTube link]. It paints a lyrical portrait of the iconic antagonist in the story, whose name is a mixture of “Cruel” and “Devil”, ranking 39th on AFI’s List of “100 Years … 100 Heroes and Villains“. Growing up, long before I saw the film that I came to love, my Mom—who was definitely not Cruella de Vil—must have read me this bedtime story at least 101 times, from the 1962 volume, “Walt Disney’s Story Land“. (The Disney story and franchise were based on Dodie Smith‘s 1956 novel, “The Hundred and One Dalmations“.) It was one of my all-time favorites as a child. On this date in 1919, my Mom was born. And I’ll forever cherish all the stories she told, all the love she gave, all the laughs we had, and all the memories that remain deep in my heart.

Photo collage: Clockwise from top left: Mom in the 1940s; Dad, Mom holding me, and my godfather, Uncle Nick, after my baptism on June 11, 1961; Dad, Mom, and me at my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding; Mom and me in the late 1970s; Mom in the 1980s; Mom, me, and my sister Elizabeth, June 1988, New York University, my Ph.D. commencement in Washington Square Park; Mom in the 1990s; Mom at the center, always.

New C4SS Article on Dialectics

Today, Center for a Stateless Society published my newest essay: “It Really Does Depend on the Context: Ben Burgis and the Analytical Marxist Critique of Dialectics.” As I write:

The title of this essay recalls the Congressional hearing that took place on December 5, 2023, in which Claudine Gay, the president of Harvard University, seemed to dodge difficult questions by uttering the phrase “it depends on the context.” The phrase immediately became meme-able, even the butt of an opening “Saturday Night Live” skit. New York Times journalist A. O. Scott (2024) wrote that more than any other word, be it “plagiarism” or “genocide,” “Gay’s fate was sealed by a single word. … The word was ‘context’.” Scott’s larger point, of course, was that throughout the heated controversy, there was, in fact, a “rigorous avoidance of context” — the context of election-year politics, unending global conflicts, the crises in higher education, and so forth.

My purpose in this essay is not to relitigate that Congressional hearing. Rather, it is to focus on the method for which keeping context is primary. That method — dialectics — addresses societal problems by exploring their many overlapping and shifting contexts in a dynamic world.

Check out the “full context” here!

For discussion, see here, here, and here.

Song of the Day #2103

Song of the Day: A Man Called Otto (“Til Your Home”) features the words and music of Sebastian Yatra and Rita Wilson, who was a co-producer of this poignant 2022 comedy-drama. Based on the 2012 novel “A Man Called Ove“, written by Fredrik Backman, and a 2015 Swedish film adaptation, this film stars Tom Hanks in the title role. Thomas Newman composed the film score, but this song is a standout from the film’s soundtrack. Check out the official video, which highlights scenes from the film [YouTube link].

Song of the Day #2102

Song of the Day: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (“When I’m Sixty-Four”), originally written by Paul McCartney when he was a teenager, first appeared on The Beatles’ celebrated 1967 album. It was also featured in the 1978 film of the same name. Check out the original version and the Frankie Howerd film version [YouTube links]. Yesterday, I actually turned 64! I wanted to express my deepest appreciation to all those who sent their well wishes. Much love to my family, friends, and colleagues! Clearly, I know the answer to the questions posed in the lyrics to today’s Song of the Day: “Will you still need me? Will you still feed me? When I’m 64?” Yes! Yes! And Yes! And I plan to stick around a lot longer, so stay tuned!

Song of the Day #2101

Song of the Day: Ben-Hur (“Entr’ Acte”) [YouTube link], composed by Miklos Rozsa, opens the second act of this spectacular 1959 film epic, which won 11 Oscars, a record tied by “Titanic” (1997) and “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” (2003), but never surpassed. This cue features some of the most triumphant themes from one of the greatest symphonic film scores ever written. There’s also a live orchestral rendition that Rozsa originally wrote [YouTube link]. As is typical on this day, my birthday, I feature music from my all-time favorite film.

Song of the Day #2100

Song of the Day: Secrets Beneath the Floorboards (“Kiss Me”) [link], composed by my friend Michael Gordon Shapiro, can be heard in this 2023 Lifetime movie thriller (its original title was “House of Lies“). The suspenseful film and score keep you on the edge. This cue provides tender relief.

Song of the Day #2098

Song of the Day: Cinderella (“So This is Love”), words and music by Al Hoffman, Mack David, and Jerry Livingston, is featured in the 1950 animated flick. Ilene Woods and Mike Douglas provide the vocals for this lovely duet in the original Disney film [YouTube link]. Check out another sweet rendition by James Ingram and an instrumental jazz version by the Dave Brubeck Quartet [YouTube links]. A Happy Valentine’s Day, with love to my family and friends! The Daffodils are already in full bloom in Brooklyn! (And yes, I decorated!)

Song of the Day #2097

Song of the Day: The Awful Truth (“My Dreams Are Gone with the Wind”), music by Ben Oakland, lyrics by Milton Drake, is from this 1937 screwball comedy. The film, based on a 1922 play by Arthur Richman, earned Leo McCarey a Best Director Oscar—though in his acceptance speech, McCarey said: “Thanks, but you gave it to me for the wrong picture”, a reference to his poignant 1937 film “Make Way for Tomorrow“. However, this film, starring Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, and a young Ralph Bellamy (nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar), is a hoot. The film also stars Skippy the Dog as Mr. Smith—also known for his appearances as the dog Asta in “The Thin Man” (1934) and as George, the dinosaur-bone-burying dog, in “Bringing Up Baby” (1938). The scenes in which this song is performed are hilarious. The song uses the phrase “Gone with the Wind“, a playful reference to the 1936 book two years before that novel was adapted for the screen. The combined scenes in which Joyce Compton and Irene Dunne deliver the windblown lyrics were heavily improvised [YouTube link].