Monthly Archives: February 2021

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Song of the Day #1839

Song of the Day: Jaws (“One Barrel Chase”) [YouTube link], composed by John Williams, begins with an echo of that ominous “shark” theme before bursting into the sounds of a seafaring adventure. This is one of the best cues from the Oscar-winning soundtrack to Steven Spielberg‘s suspenseful 1975 film (and it’s also one of my—and my sister’s [Ski!]—favorite movies!). Today is the Maestro’s 89th birthday and what better way to celebrate it than with a selection from one of his most iconic scores. Check out the scene that this music gallantly captures [YouTube link].

Song of the Day #1838

Song of the Day: Mighty Joe Young (“Main Title”) [YouTube link], composed by Roy Webb, opens the original 1949 version of this classic fantasy film, created by the folks who brought us the original “King Kong” (including producer and writer Merriam C. Cooper and special effects Wiz, Willis O’Brien, and his protege, Ray Harryhausen). It even stars Robert Armstrong, who plays a character very much like Kong’s Carl Denham. At least this one has a happier ending for the ape! And here’s to a Mighty ending for the winning team in today’s Super Bowl LV.

JARS: 20th Anniversary = 20,000+ Reasons to Celebrate!

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies just received its 2020 annual report from Pennsylvania State University Press. This report does not count print subscriptions. But the news is wonderful. As the only scholarly, university-press published, interdisciplinary, double-blind peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the study of Ayn Rand and her times, last year—our twentieth anniversary year—gave us 17,907 requests for articles from JSTOR alone and 4,302 from Project MUSE for a grand total of 22,209 global article requests!

To put this into perspective, this journal began in 1999 with only a couple of hundred subscribers. The collaboration of JARS with Penn State Press began in 2013. That first year, our total electronic downloads were 7,922. By 2019, that total had increased to 14,515. The majority of the requests had come from the United States. Today, a strong 48% of the 22,209 article requests still come from the United States. But the majority of requests now stretch from North and South America to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania, encompassing nearly 130 countries.

This journal remains a trailblazing periodical, welcoming perspectives from all over the intellectual spectrum. I want to extend my deepest appreciation to everyone who has requested even a single article, let alone over 20,000 to mark last year’s 20th anniversary celebration.

The July 2021 issue will be submitted to Penn State Press in less than a month, to kick off the beginning of our third decade.

The best is yet to come …

Song of the Day #1836

Song of the Day: Airport 1975 (“Main Title”) [YouTube link], composed by John Cacavas, opens the second installment in the “Airport” film series, inspired by the original Arthur Hailey novel (and 1970 film). George Kennedy (as Joe Patroni) was the only actor to star in all four films of the series (not counting the 1980 parody film, Airplane!). This 1974 film starred Charlton Heston, Karen Black, and Gloria Swanson (as herself) in her last film role. Not nearly as fine a production as its predecessor, it nevertheless went on to become the seventh highest-grossing film of 1974. And it sports an elegant main title.

Song of the Day #1835

Song of the Day: Marty (“Hey, Marty”) [YouTube link] features the music of Harry Warren (who was once characterized on TCM by Michael Feinstein as the most successful writer of popular songs in the twentieth century!) and the lyrics of Paddy Chayefsky, who wrote the screenplay for this 1955 Best Picture (based on his 1953 teleplay). Ernest Borgnine in the title role earned a Best Actor Oscar. The theme can be heard in varied orchestrations penned by Roy Webb throughout the film, but the song itself can be heard over the end credits.

Song of the Day #1834

Song of the Day: Mary Poppins (“Stay Awake”), words and music by brothers Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, is a sweet lullabye sung by Oscar-winning actress Julie Andrews in this classic Disney tale. Yesterday, we dreamed. Today, we’re staying awake with a selection from this Oscar-winning score. Check it out here [YouTube link].

Rand 116 … Still Challenging Traditions

Today is the 116th anniversary of the birth of novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand. Interestingly, on Sunday, the New York Times Book Review published an Alan Wolfe-penned essay on Benjamin M. Friedman’s book, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism. Amazingly, Wolfe took aim at Friedman’s attempts to connect free markets to religion and the Protestant work ethic (something for which Max Weber is most famous).

This is from Wolfe’s review:

For one thing, this book is mistitled; its overwhelming concentration is on only one religion, the Protestant one. You will not find a discussion here of the two great papal encyclicals, “Rerum Novarum” and “Quadragesimo Anno,” that form the basis of Catholic social teaching. By confining himself mostly to the Protestant countries of England, Scotland and Holland, Friedman, for all his range, narrows his focus too much.

What is more, economics and theology may have intertwined in the past, but they rarely do now. If anything, someone could write a contemporary work, surely shorter than this one, on atheism and the resurgence of free-market economics. The 19th-century economic thinkers Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner, both influenced more by Darwin than Calvin, were quite hostile to religion. The 20th century’s most widely read advocate for laissez-faire, Ayn Rand, was a militant nonbeliever. Milton Friedman, who needs no identification, was Jewish by birth but nonobservant. The story so brilliantly told by the author, it would seem, has reached its end.

A provocative observation that places Rand’s take on free markets (and the work of others in the classical liberal and contemporary libertarian movement) outside the religious context to which it has often been wedded by conservative thinkers especially.

Song of the Day #1833

Song of the Day: The American President (“I Have Dreamed”), words and music by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, was originally featured in the 1951 Broadway production of “The King and I,” but was never heard in the 1956 film version, except as a background theme prior to “We Kiss in a Shadow.” It is, however, featured in the 1999 animated version of “The King and I” [YouTube link], and over the end credits, by Barbra Streisand [YouTube link]. A lovely instrumental rendition arranged by Marc Shaiman is used in this 1995 romantic comedy-drama, which transcends party lines. Check out the version featured in the film [YouTube link] and then check out the original Broadway version (with Doretta Morrow and Larry Douglas), and versions by Sammy Davis, Jr. and Doris Day, whose rendition was Richard Rodgers’s favorite [YouTube links]. Given today’s date, I Have Dreamed of an early spring… despite the fact that Mother Nature just dumped a foot-and-a-half on NYC alone. Competing Groundhogs give us contrasting forecasts: Punxsutawney Phil says more winter’s ahead; Staten Island Chuck predicts an early spring. Go Chuck!

Song of the Day #1832

Song of the Day: The Wizard of Oz (“Follow the Yellow Brick Road/We’re Off to See the Wizard”), music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Yip Harburg, begins my seventeenth annual Film Music February. This song is a highlight of one of the most beloved films in cinema history: the 1939 version of “The Wizard of Oz,” starring Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale. This year, the 93rd Annual Academy Awards have been postponed till the Spring, but our Film Music February remains. Our tribute to cinema music will begin and end with a selection from this 1939 gem. Check out this classic selection from the film [YouTube link].