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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Immortality
Posted: July 17, 2020 at 8:46 pm
In the nineteenth century, poetry was immensely popular, a deeply revered art form, and one of the most highly regarded American poets was William Cullen Bryant. Among other things, school children across America read and recited his poems "Thanatopsis" and "To a Waterfowl"widely regarded as classics. Although he was from Massachusetts and lived most of his adult life in New York, he was also familiar with central Illinois and had family members that he visited in Jacksonville and, later, Princeton. So, a few of his poems relate to our state.
But I have also noted, over the years, that poems by him appeared now and again in the "Macomb Journal." His focus on coping with death was clearly one theme that engaged many readers, but in fact, there was controversy over whether he accepted the traditional Christian belief in immortalityand that provides a glimpse into the mindset of people during his era.
Bryant was born in 1794 at Cummington, Massachusetts, and he started publishing poetry in periodicals while in his early teens. His first small book, titled "Poems" (1821), appeared two centuries ago, when he was 17. He eventually moved to New York, where he edited the "New York Evening Post" from 1829 until his death in 1878and became a revered American poet.
In 1832 he came west to visit brothers who lived in Jacksonville, and with one of them he rode to Springfield and then north along the Illinois River. That experience provided inspiration for "The Prairies," a poem that celebrated our states most famous topographical characteristic and was often reprinted in newspapers and books. In it, he not only views the Illinois wilderness in mythic terms, as an Edenic garden of dazzling beauty, but also meditates on the mysterious "mound builders"who had lived here centuries earlier but had "vanished from the earth."
Bryant visited on other occasions and wrote Illinois-inspired poems called "The Painted Cup" and "The Hunter of the Prairies." The latter associates freedom with the prairie landscape and presents the white hunter as a kind of American Adam, united with the unspoiled wilderness.
Later, after Lincolns assassination, Bryant wrote a notable tribute poem, "Abraham Lincoln," which was read to the throng of mourners in New York City on April 24, 1865. He declares that the great mans "proudest monument shall be/ The broken fetters of the slave."
But his most famous poem was, and still is, "Thanatopsis" (which means, "meditation on death"). It appeared in the "North American Review" in 1817, when the poet was in his early 20s. As that reveals, the theme of death was already important to young Bryant, and it remained so throughout his life. Influenced by British Romantic poets, he often wrote to commune with nature and the divine spirit that lay beneath it all. In a poem called "The Death of the Flowers," for example, he links human mortality to the cycles of the natural year, and in yet another often-reprinted poem, "A Forest Hymn," he declares that wooded areas were "Gods first temples," and they are still a "Fit shrine for a humble worshipper to hold/ Communion with his maker."
Raised in an old New England family, Bryant was aware of the frightening Calvinistic view of death taught by the Pilgrims, which emphasized the Judgment and everlasting punishment for sinners, so he sought a more positive relationship to God by appreciating His creation and understanding humanitys relationship to it. Thats why he says, in "Thanatopsis,"
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad [death] images
Of stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house
[i.e., the dark, narrow grave]
Make thee shudder, and grow sick at heart,
Go forth under the open sky, and listen
To Natures teachings. . . ."
And he asserts that death is a reaffirmation of our interconnection with everything else, not a condition of ultimate separation. For after all, at death each of us will "mix forever with the elements," and beyond that, we will join with all other past humans, who now lay within the earth, "the great tomb of man." And remember, he says, that all who are living "will share thy destiny," for the old and the young "Shall one by one be gathered to thy side." So, death should not be approached with fear, as he indicates at the close of his famous poem:
"So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, that moves
To the pale realms of shade, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon; but sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave. . . ."
Bryant does not specifically refer to God in the poem, but after all, the creator of everything is the one who inspires the "trust" that he mentions. Nevertheless, some Christian readers felt that the noted poem did not affirm immortality like it should have. For that reason, someone wrote a poem called "Vision of Immortality," labeling it as a "sequel to Thanatopsis," and signed Bryants name to it, and that was printed in a great many American newspapers. Of course, it is a kind of "Hymn to Immortality," talking about how the dead shall awaken to "the dawn of the immortal day." Among the periodicals that carried it, in 1852, not realizing that Bryant never actually wrote it, was Macombs first newspaper, the "McDonough Independent."
Of course, that reveals how much the 19th-century mind was focused on affirming the afterlife. And in a sense, while "Thanatopsis" remained very popular, that issue continued. In fact, after Bryant died on June 12, 1878, the "Macomb Journal" carried a front-page article in which noted preacher Henry Ward Beecher criticized "Thanatopsis" as "pagan poetry." But on June 27 the "Journal" editors also printed a little-known poem of Bryants titled "The Two Travelers," in which a person who is heading toward death affirms that he "Shall sleep, to rise, refreshed and strong/ In the bright day that yet will dawn." So, the editors wanted to reassure Macomb readers that the great poet, who had a lasting impact, did affirm immortality.
And it was such a huge public concern that, on July 4, 1878, the "Journal" reprinted an article from "Harpers Weekly" titled "He Believed in Immortality." It quotes an 1876 letter from Bryant to one of his readers, which declares, "I believe in the everlasting life of the soul." And he also affirms "the life to come of those who are dear to us here." So, it was reassuring.
It would be impossible today for any American poet to create such a stir, but in the death-haunted, poetry-loving, overwhelmingly Christian 19th century, whatever a beloved poet thought about such a key aspect of religious belief was obviously a matter of deep concern.
Writer and speaker John Hallwas is a columnist for the "McDonough County Voice." Research assistance was provided by WIU archivist Kathy Nichols.
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Posted: at 8:46 pm
A surprising development in The Old Guard sees a character stripped of their powers - here's why it happened and what it means for the future.
Warning: SPOILERS forThe Old Guard.
A twist in the third act of The Old Guard sees the leader of the immortals, Andy, lose her powers - here's a breakdown of why that happened and what it means. Based on the titular comic book series by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernndez, The Old Guard was released via Netflix in July 2020. Rucka returned to pen the film adaptation and Gina Prince-Bythewood served as the director. Charlize Theron starred Andy (aka Andromache of Scythia), alongside a cast that included KiKi Layne and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
The Old Guard centers on a group of immortal mercenaries that have spent varying centuries fighting on the behalf of humanity. When they are approached by James Copley (Ejiofor), they begrudgingly accept a mission to rescue a group of kidnapped children. Unfortunately, the mission turns out to be a trap that ultimately leads to Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) being captured by the ruthless Steven Merrick (Harry Melling). As her friends are experimented on to determine the source of their powers, Andy leads the charge to rescue them. To that end, she eventually teams up with a new immortal named Nile Freeman (Layne). Andy and Nile also enforce the assistance of Copley and Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts) as they seek to atone for their respective betrayals. Andy's efforts, however, are further complicated when it's revealed that she has been rendered mortal.
Related: The Old Guard Ending & Sequel Setup Explained
The new development was first revealed when a stab wound she received didn't heal as it traditionally had. Andy's newly vulnerable state was also hammered home when she was shot by Booker. Though several characters questioned how it was happening, The Old Guard refrained from offering a definitive answer. In fact, the film didn't delve much at all into the technicalities of the immortality - both in terms of what caused or what removed it. The scientists experimenting on the immortals to unlock the secrets drew a blank. As far as they could tell, the subjects seemed entirely ordinary. The immortals themselves believed that each of them just had a set, preordained time and that their powers would fade the moment they'd reached it. The comics also offer little illumination on the matter, with Andy never facing such a power loss in the issues already released. Nor was there much interest in the idea of exploring what makes the immortality tick. As Rucka told Polygon:
"[The mythology] was something that I had no interest in exploring in the comic. In the first The Old Guard story, I didn't want to waste time or real estate, because comic book pages - that's your premium, that's what you're spending to tell your story."
Rucka was much more interested in exploring the personal and emotional toll that such an extended life has on people. The detail of the characters eventually losing their power was simply a device used to add some stakes to the action. Though they are functionally immortal, they can eventually die. As a result, the characters of The Old Guard still go into every battle with it potentially being their last. The removal of Andy's power is likely a more visceral extension of that, serving to visually increase the tension going into the final showdown. Furthermore, the stakes will already be high from the outset when Andy is finally confronted by the vengeful and still-very-much-immortal Quynh. That being said, Rucka did concede that "when you're making a movie, you're a little more obligated to at least promise answers to questions." As such, definitive answers regarding Andy's power loss and the overall source of their abilities could come in future The Old Guard installments.
In the meantime, much of why Andy lost her immortality can be found in the themes of the film. At the start, Andy was losing faith in humanity and questioning the purpose she'd held onto for centuries. Believing that the world was moving too fast and now beyond saving, she was ready to lay down arms and quit. After losing her immortality, however, a monumental shift occurred. Firstly, in line with an element of destiny conveyed as being in play, her new fragility led to her being reminded that a more compassionate side of humanity exists. It also reminded her of just how tenuous and precious life actually is. As such, she was left at the end of The Old Guard more determined than ever to fight for and protect innocent lives.
More: What To Expect From The Old Guard 2
Kevin James Adds Himself To No Country For Old Men Coin Toss Scene
John Atkinson has been a news and feature writer for Screen Rant since late 2018. Before that, he had articles published across a number of different outlets. A graduate of the University of London, John was raised on a small island by television and movies. As such, he pursued a career in screenwriting and film journalism when it became apparent that actually becoming Spider-Man was impossible. John's fondest wish is to one day produce a film of his own. Until then, he's more than happy to spend countless hours just talking about them. John's love of film and television defies genre and sometimes even logic. Nothing is off-limits to his passion - be it Marvel, DC, Rian Johnson's Star Wars, or Tommy Wiseau's latest cinematic offering. Away from screens, John can often be found in a park reading mystery and/or fantasy novels, jumping up and down at various music events, or thinking too deeply about Keanu Reeves' career and why Edgar Wright doesn't have an Oscar.
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Posted: at 8:45 pm
One Good Thing is Voxs recommendations feature. In each edition, find one more thing from the world of culture that we highly recommend.
The Old Guard, Netflixs newest blockbuster, is actually multiple love stories in a big action flick coat.
Based on the 2017 comic book written by the indomitable Greg Rucka and drawn by Leandro Fernandez, The Old Guard is ostensibly about a group of killing machines who can never die. But its really about the aching loneliness of being a killing machine who can never die.
Andy (Charlize Theron), a.k.a. Andromache of Scythia, has been alive to know this better than anyone. The story is set in the present day, but Andys birth predates the Ancient Greeks. She has over time learned that the only way to survive forever is to never let mortals get to close to her. Booker, another of Andys fellow immortals, tells Andy from personal experience that watching your kids die isnt something you want to reckon with. And it becomes one of the first things Andy teaches Nile (KiKi Layne), the newest addition to her chosen family of immortal soldiers.
Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli), the couple that rounds out Andys never-dying family, are the lucky ones among the group because they have each other, forever and always.
Joe and Nicky arent the main protagonists in director Gina Prince-Bythewoods film, but since the films release on July 10, theyre the characters who have garnered a lot of attention because of how rare it is that gay men are featured in action movies. Even rarer is that were allowed to watch Joe and Nicky share a passionate kiss and other physical moments of affection throughout the film.
And The Old Guard takes their love story a step further. Straight people are regularly part of myths and legends but LGBTQ people rarely feature in them. The times that queerness does pop up in popular, mainstreamed ancient histories, myths, and legends, it can sometimes come across like its written in code, or is found buried in footnotes, or is glossed over as brotherly love or friendship, not romantic affection.
That The Old Guards Joe and Nicky are unapologetic about their love allows queer people, and gay men in particular, the opportunity to see that throughout all of history, weve been there all along and in such a mainstream, typically heteronormative medium, no less. That representation in itself is not just thrilling, but revolutionary.
Since the movies Netflix premiere, theres one scene in particular that viewers have discussed over and over, rising above the battle axes and bullets. Midway through the movie, the villains who are seeking to steal the secrets of immortality capture Joe and Nicky after an all-out assault on Andys team. While transporting them to the lab where scientists plan to poke, prod, and experiment on them, a security guard mocks Joe and Nicky, asking if theyre boyfriends. Its likely that to some queer people watching, the mocking isnt unlike stuff weve heard on playgrounds or even in adulthood.
Youre a child, Joe snaps back. Hes not my boyfriend. This man is more to me than you can dream. Hes the moon when Im lost in darkness, and warmth when I shiver in cold. And his kiss still thrills me even after a millennium. His heart overflows with a kindness of which this world is not worthy. I love this man beyond measure and reason. Hes not my boyfriend. He is all, and he is more.
Joes response is equal parts snappy retort and love poem. At its heart is a simple message: that straight people might not ever fully understand what its like to be gay and to find love. Their love is not better nor more profound, but innately different. Their love is forged from generations of being taught that its unnatural, forbidden, and wrong by a society that, for many centuries, has relegated queer people to the margins and encouraged us to be people we arent.
The Old Guard gets at this adversity through Andys own broken love story, another queer romance. Andy and Quynh fought together through thousands of battles, and its implied that the two womens love is more than just platonic. When captured and tortured for being witches, Quynh is separated and thrown into an iron coffin at the bottom the ocean.
You are too powerful together, the guard tells Andy, as Quynh is pulled away.
The guard could have meant that their combined immortality was too frightening. But he also could have meant that that these two women and their love for each other is something to be feared, too. From then on, Andy lives every day carrying the weight of losing Quynh.
Its so clear that neither the guard who separate Andy from Quynh nor the one who taunted Nicky and Joe can even begin comprehending that queer love is just as powerful as any other kind. It may not immediately look like a heterosexual romance, but it is no less meaningful.
Joes declaration of passion for Nicky also invites the viewer to imagine the 1,000 or more years theyve seen and spent together. I, for one, hope they got to see spectacular, silly, beautiful things. We learn that they met fighting on opposite sides of the Crusades, have been by each others side for so very long, and will ostensibly continue to endure even after all of us turn to dust.
Thankfully, Joe and Nickys mythic queerness is far from the only foray into the genre in fact, The Old Guard has a perfect complement in the novel The Song of Achilles.
A week before Netflix released The Old Guard, I was on vacation at home, because that is how we vacation now and finished reading Madeline Millers The Song of Achilles. I was already a fan of Millers after reading Circe, her retelling of the immortal witch and temptress from The Odyssey.
The Song of Achilles is Millers first novel, from 2012. She gives life to the myths of Achilles from his companion Patrocluss point of view, telling a story about love that endures when forces of nature, fate, and war are determined to tear you apart.
Growing up, I knew Achilles had that pesky foot thing and played a part in the the Trojan War, but all I really knew about Patroclus was that he was really good friends with the very heterosexual Achilles in 2004s Troy.
Beyond that not-great movie, Achilles and Patrocluss homosexuality has been debated over and over, usually coming down to dissecting Ancient Greek culture and the semantics of gay. Miller sees it simpler than that.
I would also add, more specifically, that I think the culture is ready for the kind of love story that transcends gender and time, Miller said in a Q&A about the book on her website. I did not deliberately set out to tell a deliberately gay love story; rather, I was deeply moved by the love between these two characterswhose respect and affection for each other, despite the horrors around them, model the kind of relationship we all can aspire to.
Miller has an uncanny ability to make you nostalgic for voices youve never heard, places youve never been. Her novels leave you wistful for true love youve never had the chance to lose.
The Song of Achilles is something you should read if you think that The Old Guard, which spends most of its runtime on focused on Andy teaching Nile about life, should have been about Joe and Nickys infinite love above all else. It expands on the themes touched upon Joes speech and the supernatural aspect of immortality thanks to gods, goddesses, and deities.
But The Song of Achilles is easily beautiful enough to stand on its own. Though Miller says she didnt deliberately set out to create a gay love story, its a fantasy that unravels and justifies the feelings and vulnerability of the LGBTQ experience, gay men in particular. Just as The Old Guard does for new Netflix viewers or long comic book fans, this novel indulges the desire to want and be loved, no matter your sexuality. And The Old Guard and The Song of Achilles both reassure queer readers that weve always existed even when we havent always been seen in the ancient history books.
The Old Guard is streaming on Netflix.
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Posted: at 8:45 pm
In 1996, Roslyn Heights native Don Cohen published the book My Father, My Son, cowritten with his father Dr. Max Cohen and comprising over a decade of letters written between generations, sent from Dons home in Connecticut to Maxs Long Island residence.
Now, nearly 25 years later, the Cohens letters make up another book, The Inside Ride: A Journey to Manhood. This second volume comprises writings from late 1990s until Maxs death in 2011, with aforeword by Dons son Jared and an afterword by his daughter Emily.
Father and son would use the correspondence to analyze their relationship as they faced new experiences in their lives.
Don worked as a marriage and family therapist, while Max was a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst with a practice in Garden City. Their contrasting schools of thought would lead to often witty, always thoughtful insights from both sides of the father/son divide.
The earlier book had been a success, and took the Cohens on the talk show circuit while bringing the usually quiet Max out of his shell, Don says.
It was funny, he really was resistant to the whole project at first, but he couldnt say no to me, Don said.My fatherhad been much more introverted than me, so to see him really enjoy being on talk shows and being interviewed with me was pretty cool.
But, he says, the relationship took a turn in the year 2000, when they got into an argument in their letters.
He gave an opinion about how I was raising my son which I didnt particularly like, Don said. We wrote some pretty angry letters back and forth. You think youve written this whole book together and everythings fine and dandy, but theres still more stuff to think about.
It took a few years to get back to being father and son again, Don says, but the two still made memories like taking Max to his boyhood home, Coney Island, and visiting a statue of beloved baseball players Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese. The letters would start up again, too,
Then, in late 2009, Don suddenly stopped receiving letters from his father. Concerned, he drove down to Long Island for a visit, and Max told him why he stopped writing.
He told me that hed been diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, and he wasnt physically able to write back, Don said. So I came up with a way for him to write.
Don would drive down semi-regularly to visit Max, with a letter in tow. After he read it, the father would dictate a response, which the son would handwrite.
I didnt want to stop the letters, Don said. I couldnt lose that connection with him.
Don would visit his father for another letter on July 24, 2011, his 87th birthday.
Having my grandchildren and my children is what makes life meaningful, Max wrote that day. Its about love and feeling you have an impact on others. You want to feel like you matter to the people who are important to you, and that they too have the same effect on you. At this point, Donald, I have nothing more to say.
It would be his last, as Max died that September.
In the following years, Don would begin working on a follow-up to their father-son volume, albeit with a different, more mature perspective.
I became a man whos now going through a lot of the same things that he went through with me, Don said. So I had a different understanding and insight now about what it was like to you know be a father with older children, and then to be a grandfather. It gave me a deeper appreciation for some of the things that I challenged him on in the first book.
Now retired with his wife Dee, a native of Sands Point, Don says he is the proud grandfather of two grandsons and three granddaughters, who range from ages 1 to 9. He adds that he hopes they can use the book as a way of getting to know their familys past.
Theyll get to know what kind of relationship that their grandfather had with their great-grandfather, Don said. Theyll get a model of inspiration of a family legacy. Theyll learn a lot about where they came from and where theyre going. And hopefully, itll be passed down through generations.
He adds that hesees the book as a legacy piece.
My father said that his kids were his immortality, Don said. Now I see that my kids and my grandkids are mine.
The Inside Ride: A Journey to Manhood is available through Amazon.
Posted: at 8:45 pm
"Musical Hogwarts" is how Chris Martin describes it. To Liam Gallagher it's the "Big Brother House with tunes", but for Ozzy Osbourne it's the birthplace of heavy metal.
It's where Oasis created their masterpieces, where Bohemian Rhapsody came to life and where Coldplay's journey into the musical stratosphere took off.
A long way from the bright lights, the ramshackle old farm "in the middle of nowhere" near the Welsh-English border has become known for its decades of stellar output.
And some of the world's greatest rocks stars have now paid homage to Rockfield Studios with the story of its legacy having been made into a feature film to be premiered on the BBC on Saturday night.
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Blink and you'll miss Rockfield as you travel north out of Monmouth on the B4233 in south Wales.
The cattle and pig farm on the Monnow Valley floor has for years been the place where careers are defined and where rock royalty hang out.
It is to recording studios what Glastonbury is to music festivals - run by farmers, on a working farm and fiercely independent.
But it all started with a snub.
Brothers Kingsley and Charles Ward had hoped to record at EMI in London in the 1960s but were turned down by legendary producer and "fifth Beatle" George Martin.
So they decided to buy the gear and set up for themselves - and Rockfield Studios was born.
Almost 60 years later, they are able to boast that almost everyone across the globe will know a song recorded in their old barn or pig shed.
And it was in these most tranquil and sedate of settings that the loudest of music was born - and with it, two heavy metal godfathers.
The first was the late, legendary Lemmy, a former roadie for Jimi Hendrix who turned up at Rockfield in 1972 to record his first material as the newest member of Hawkwind, kickstarting a career which led to him founding Motorhead and immortality with their metal anthem Ace of Spades.
The other is the now the head of one of TV's most famous families and lives among Hollywood A-listers in opulent Beverly Hills - but Ozzy Osbourne traces his fame and fortune back to the little homestead.
Rock music's Prince of Darkness was one of the first to use Rockfield's newly-built Coach House Studio in 1970 as his new band Black Sabbath fine-tuned their breakthrough hit Paranoid.
"We were very loud and Rockfield allowed us the freedom," Osbourne recalls. "Because no-one would allow us to play as loud as that. The roof tiles were rattling.
"We didn't think, 'let's invent heavy metal', it just happened.
"Rockfield will always be a part of me. I can go and live in Beverly Hills but for some reason I end up back in Rockfield. It's just magic."
Paranoid by Black Sabbath was put together and rehearsed at Rockfield in 1970 and went on to be considered one of the greatest heavy metal songs of all time.
It was in Rockfield's old horse tack room where the final piece of a six-minute rock operetta was lovingly mastered by Queen in the summer of 1975.
When the studio's co-owner Kingsley Ward walked in on Freddie Mercury playing on the dusty old piano in the corner of the food store, little did he know he was getting an exclusive preview into what would eventually become one of the most acclaimed songs of all time.
"I went in and Freddie was sat in the corner - he was probably doing the finishing touches to Bohemian Rhapsody. Then it was called Freddie's Thing," says Kingsley.
The release of Bohemian Rhapsody was a defining moment for band and studio.
The track is Rockfield's most famous export and the song that made Queen a household name across the world, recorded at the studio during a six-week stint in 1975.
Later, the great David Bowie ended his 1970s decade of dominance - including anthems such as Heroes, Changes and Starman - by eating cheese in Monmouth with a friend famous for his Lust for Life.
Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr takes up the story.
"We were recording in the Coach House Studio and we were curious to know who was in the main studio," he says.
"We could not believe it was none other than Iggy Pop. Not only was that mind-blowing but Bowie turned up and he looked as you'd always imagined David Bowie looking.
"It was so Rockfield - he had this huge bit of cheese in his hand and a can of Heineken."
Although Simple Minds wrote their breakthrough hit Promised You A Miracle in Monmouth, they actually recorded it at new record label Virgin's own residential studio.
That became the pattern - labels began to use their own studios and Rockfield, an independent beacon for so long, was on the rocks.
"There was loads of studios and only a certain amount of work to go around - then dreaded dance music turned up and it wasn't what we did," says Kingsley.
Computers replaced recording studios and technology took over.
From the endless bookings of the 70s, Kingsley Ward's wife Ann took several book-keeping jobs to keep Rockfield alive during the late 80s.
"Then in 1989 and 1990, there was a massive recession and the music industry suddenly caved in completely," says Kingsley in the film Rockfield: The Studio On The Farm.
Then came their second coming - literally so - as one infamous band saved Rockfield with an album by that name.
The Stone Roses' self-titled first album had been a massive success, with the band laying down Waterfall and I Am The Resurrection at Rockfield after their Battery Sessions in London had proved a slog.
And when they decided to return to Rockfield to record the follow-up, it was a pivotal moment in the studios' survival.
Producer John Leckie, who first recommended Rockfield to the Roses, said their new American record company "were quite prepared to throw lots of money - millions of pounds - at the band to do whatever they wanted."
That was music to Rockfield's ears, as times were tough when the Roses arrived in 1992 to plan their Second Coming.
Its lead single Love Spreads was recorded at Rockfield sometime between 1992 and 1994 and was the band's first new material released for more than two-and-a-half years. It was their highest place record in the UK chart, reaching No 2 in November 1994.
"They booked in officially for a couple of weeks," Lisa Ward, Kingsley's daughter and now office manager, explains in the film.
"But they stayed. It was 13 months in the end. That saved us. The Stone Roses saved Rockfield."
Little did Rockfield know at the time that their next musical legacy was staying over the other side of the valley, recording at a studio that was once part of the Rockfield estate.
Manchester Britpop heroes Oasis were trying - and failing - to master their debut album Definitely Maybe there.
During their sojourn, frontman Liam Gallagher pinched the owners' combine harvester and crossed the fields to spy on the Roses at Rockfield.
Oasis eventually finished their first album in Cornwall, but returned to Monmouth to record what would become some of their most celebrated anthems at Rockfield.
Don't Look Back In Anger was recorded by Oasis at Rockfield in 1995 and went to No 1 in February 1996, becoming one of their most famous songs.
The second Oasis album - (What's The Story) Morning Glory - transformed the band and the Gallagher brothers Noel and Liam into global rock sensations as Wonderwall, Don't Look Back in Anger and Champagne Supernova became pub singalongs.
"There was a little bit of a debate about who was going to sing Wonderwall," recalls Rockfield's studio engineer Nick Brine.
"Noel was going to sing Wonderwall, then Liam was going to sing Wonderwall.
"Then Noel said, 'ok I'll sing Don't Look Back in Anger', then Liam wanted to sing Don't Look Back in Anger. So there was a debate on who was going to sing what."
Ultimately, Don't Look Back In Anger turned into songwriter Noel Gallagher's first single as lead vocalist, while Liam sang Wonderwall.
"Everyone wanted to make the songs the best they could," Liam tells the Rockfield film. "If that bred a bit of competition then so be it."
While residential studios such as Rockfield - one of the first - allowed bands to immerse themselves in their creativity, living together at such close quarters 24/7 could spark tension.
Liam Gallagher recalls a row with his brother at Rockfield which ended in damage being caused with "cricket bats and air rifles, the lot".
But when tempers cooled, the band got down to business and finished the album which helped define Britpop - a musical movement for which Rockfield would become the engine room.
"Both studios were both booked up nine months in advance, back to back," recalls Lisa Ward.
"The 1990s was a great time for British guitar bands."
Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics, Ash, Black Grape and the Boo Radleys all recorded number one albums there.
Kingsley Ward says: "One time in 1997, out of the top ten albums, Rockfield had seven."
And the next Monmouth megahit was written in the stars - and inspired by an old copy of the Yellow Pages.
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Much was expected of the up-and-coming band Coldplay at the turn of the millennium but they were under pressure to turn that expectation into something more tangible.
Frontman Chris Martin knew Rockfield was a "a make-or-break session" as the former cleaners had "one shot" at the big time in one of their first recording sessions.
Luckily for them, the sky was clear for at least part of their sessions recording debut album Parachutes - as immortality and their crowd classic Yellow was created.
"We were recording Shiver and went outside for a breather and it was so beautiful," says Martin.
"All four of us were outside and Ken Nelson, our producer, said 'look up there, lads' - and he literally said 'look at the stars', which is the first line of that song.
"It was mind-blowing because we'd been in London for five years so we haven't seen anything beyond smog for a while, so that line was in my head.
"I went back in and sat behind the mixing desk and I played the chord. I got the title from the Yellow Pages which was at about a 45 degree angle.
"The chorus came in the bathroom of the living room area. And that gave us our lives for the last 16 years. From humble beginnings."
Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm will be broadcast on BBC Two Wales and BBC Four at 21:15 BST on Saturday and on BBC iPlayer
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American Vampire by Snyder & Albuquerque returns this October with ’70s setting and vibe – GamesRadar+
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The long-simmering next volume of Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque has a name and a release date: American Vampire 1976, debuting October 20.
"The characters in '76 are in a really dark place in terms of the fight against evil," Snyder says in the announcement. "The '70s mirror our current era in many ways: the anxiety, the fear, and the re-examination of American identity.
"The book opens on Skinner Sweet working outside of Vegas doing death-defying Evel Knievel-style stunts, trying to die," the writer continues. "Theres a kind of Son of Sam plot in New York City with Cal and Travis, a political thriller plot with Felicia, and all sorts of '70s iconography. Its my favorite arc so far."
Set in 1976, this nine-issue series plays on the turmoil and anxiousness during the United States' Bicentennial.
"Skinner Sweet has exhausted all efforts to regain his lost immortality. With his powers and purpose gone, he is now determined to go out with a bang," reads DC's description of the book. "At a seedy motorcycle rally in the desert where Skinners closer than ever to his death wish, Pearl Jones and a shocking partner track him down for one last, desperate mission: the force known as the Gray Trader and its minions are tunneling through the bowels of the world to unleash hell on Earthjust in time for Americas bicentennial. With catastrophe looming, its up to Skinner and Pearl to reconcile and change the course of historyor die trying."
Here's a four-page first look at the debut issue. The series will be colored by Dave McCaig:
And the new series isnt just about Skinner, but about the entire franchise and the other vampires introduced along the way.
"American Vampire 1976 embraces every character so far from the franchise, including Dracula, the Lord of Nightmares, the Council of Monsters," Snyder tells Newsarama.
Although Albuquerque had been working for DC for long before American Vampire's 2010 debut, this Vertigo (and now Black Label series) was Snyder's DC debut - and this volume comes on the 10th anniversary of his time at DC.
"Scott, Rafael, and I, we cut our teeth together on American Vampire 10 years ago," DC executive editor Mark Doyle said in the announcement. "Returning to finish the story we started a decade ago is a thrill. Working on American Vampire 1976 has been so creepy and cool, especially because the parallels between 70s paranoia and today are really chilling"
DC's Thursday announcement of this limited series they call it the franchise's "final chapter," however Snyder clarifies to Newsarama that it's not "the end end."
"American Vampire 1976 brings us up to the present," Snyder explains, as the series has previously been set in the historical past. "After this we'll jump to the present-day."
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Posted: at 8:45 pm
While you might think a film where most of the cast are immortal would have some trouble with creating dramatic tension, Netflixs The Old Guard certainly manages to keep you guessing until the final moments.
But what does the films shock ending mean for any follow-ups and if there is an Old Guard sequel, what would the cast like to see their characters get up to?
Luckily for you, weve done the legwork to find out in that we asked some of the cast and The Old Guards director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, all of whom seemed keen for more adventures with these characters.
If the story continues its absolutely up to an audience, Prince-Bythewood told RadioTimes.com, adding that screenwriter Greg Rucka (who also wrote the graphic novel The Old Guard is based on) has plenty of ideas.
I know that Greg Rucka has always envisioned his story, when it was a graphic novel, as a trilogy, and actually the second part of his comic book just came out. So I know where the story goes, and its pretty great. So if an audience wants it, theres absolutely more story to tell.
Check out our analysis of the ending alongside the casts wishes for a sequel below, but beware there are some serious spoilers right after the jump.
Matthias Schoenaerts in The Old Guard on Netflix
Big spoilers follow, so dont read on if you havent seen The Old Guard.
The film concludes with our unkillable heroes free from the clutches of evil pharmaceutical mogul Merrick (Harry Melling) and beginning a new quest to right wrongs with the help of Chiwetel Ejiofors Copley but there have been a few consequences from their adventure.
Longtime team leader Andy (Charlize Theron) is now mortal having lost her ability to heal rapidly and return from death, while Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts) has been exiled from the group for the next hundred years following his betrayal earlier in the movie.
And 6 months after the events of the film, Booker is joined by fellow immortal Quynh, a former friend of Andys who (in earlier flashbacks in the film) was captured, imprisoned in an iron maiden and thrown in the sea to drown, revive then die again for all eternity. Andy looked for Quynh for years but never found her, worrying that the ordeal would drive her old friend mad and now that shes somehow returned, it may be that Andys fears will be realised
Gina Prince-Bythewood on set with Kiki Lane and Charlize Theron (Netflix)
Quynh has reared her head and that causes some issues, absolutely, Prince-Bythewood told us though she wouldnt be drawn on exactly what trouble an insane immortal could cause in the sequel, instead directing fans to the source material.
I would just base it on the graphic novel because again, we have to see if an audience wants it, and then something will be written, she said.
In a sequel, perhaps we could expect the down-at-heel Booker to join forces with Quynh, or try and get back in with his friends by telling them about her plans, assuming shes out for revenge. Meanwhile, the main team would presumably begin their work with Copley (Ejiofor) directing them to serious threats around the world.
For a more specific guide as to what might happen, fans might be wise to check out Ruckas Old Guard graphic novel sequel when its released in full in September.
Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in The Old Guard on Netflix
Like Prince-Bythewood, the Old Guard cast say its up to audiences whether we see more stories in this world, with any sequels determined by just how many people stream the film in the coming days and weeks.
Still, they all seem very excited at the prospect of a sequel, noting that there are plenty of new directions for the story to go in.
I mean I definitely think theres potential for that, because the central characters and central idea are so fascinating, and can occupy all sorts of different times and periods and ideas, Chiwetel Ejiofor (pictured) told RadioTimes.com.
So I think it lends itself to that in that way, and I think that these characters are really interesting. And I think that theres more story to tell in terms of their narrative. Theres a lot more to explore.
And I think philosophically theres more to explore about this psychology, and what the nature of immortality is, and how that reflects on what ones relationship is to being alive. Theres a lot to look at really.
Harry Melling stars in The Old Guard on Netflix
Going off what Chiwetel said, the theme of immortality is such a huge one, added co-star Harry Melling.
Theres so many avenues you can go down and the characters are so fascinating. I really hope it has more to go.
Marwan Kinzari (who plays Joe in the film) was also interested in a sequel, though noted that current filming restrictions may have to be lifted before he and the other cast could think of getting back into their immortal groove.
Marwan Kenzari in The Old Guard on Netflix
We dont know. We live in a complicated world, he told RadioTimes.com. And I can only hope for things to clear up, and for this huge storm to pass over us all, and to have somehow a world where we can all be creative again.
And in this case, the Old Guard has a lot to offer. So I would be happy to be part of the second one most definitely. That would be a no-brainer for me.
Its a fantastic world, and theres a lot to explore, he concluded.
THE OLD GUARD (L to R) KIKI LAYNE as NILE, LUCA MARINELLI as NICKY, CHARLIZE THERON as ANDY
As we say, it seems likely that the Quynh/Booker storyline will play out in a sequel, and the films director suggests that the gang will face more real-life threats as well in their quest for justice.
In the graphic novel theres a very grounded story tackling a problem within the world, which again brings more villains that are not with the conceit of immortality, Prince-Bythewood said. So theres actually a really cool balance between those two.
And its possible some story beats cut from the first film will reappear in a sequel, with Prince-Bythewood keen to see more of the historical romance between Nicky (Luca Marinelli) and Joe (Marwan Kenzari).
In the graphic novel, I have to say [I love] how Joe and Nicky met, she said. We talk about it in the film, but in the graphic novel you actually see it, and it was in one of Gregs earlier drafts. The film was feeling so full we just had to cut it.
THE OLD GUARD (L to R) MARWAN KENZARI as JOE and LUCA MARINELLI as NICKY in THE OLD GUARD. Cr. AIMEE SPINKS/NETFLIX 2020
But that is a pretty incredible sequence of those two in the Crusades. And they keep killing each other and coming back to life as everyone around them is dying and staying dead. And that final moment after the third or fourth time that theyve killed each other, they just look at each other and they know that theyve met their soulmate.
Its pretty great, she added. And I hope that if theres a sequel, that gets to be illustrated.
The Old Guard is streaming on Netflix now check out our lists of the best TV shows on Netflix and the best movies on Netflix, or see what else is on with our TV Guide
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Three movies about immortality vs mortality and not being an asshole have arrived for your viewing pleasure!
Whats more fun than a trilogy you assemble yourself? The correct answer is Hugging a family member without fear that your touch could infect them with a deadly pathogen. Still, finding three streaming movies that weirdly go together is arguably the second safest way to have a good time right now, after nap until phase 3 vaccine trials are over.
Three new sci-fi/horror-adjacent films recently dropped that weirdly explore oddly similar themes about the horrors of immortality/mortality and how empathy is the only way to fight the bogeyman. In the spirit of 2020, lets start with the sad one!
Relic (Available via most streaming rental services)
Although possessed of less baba and zero dook, Relic does follow in The Babadooks footsteps. Its an Aussie horror flick that offers a metaphor as explicit as can be metaphored.
When grandma Edna (Robyn Nevin) goes missing, daughter Kay (Emily Moritmer) and granddaughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) move into her place and look for her. Edna suddenly returns, but she aint right. What follows is a grief-laden exploration of dementia as a literal monster and the pressures and perils of what different generations of women owe one another.
Writer/director Natalie Erika James and cowriter Christian White somehow timed their film about compassion towards the demons faced by the elderly to a moment in history when we seem to have stopped giving a shit about old people. Too literal to be a parable, Relic uses the horror genre as the social magnifying glass it can be, demanding that we see the shared humanity in those who are suffering around us.
Oh, and if COVID didnt already have you decontaminating your domicile like a proper lunatic, Relics copious mold will get you scrubbin bubbles. So its good for your emotional growth and your hygiene!
Grade = A-
The Old Guard (Netflix)
A squad of immortal mercenaries are being hunted by big pharma while also adding a new recruit to their team. Is that silly? Yes. Does it feature Charlize Theron whacking bad dudes across the face with a colossal axe-type weapon? Also Yes! Does something real bad happen to the evil pharma boss? My lips are sealed, but Martin Shkreli voodoo dolls can take some time off!
Director Gina Prince-Bythewood and writer Greg Ruckawho also penned the comic this was adapted fromdeliver an oddly sentimental, deceptively thoughtful film that remembers people actually like to see and follow the action in an action movie. Weird, right?
Editor Terilyn A. Shropshire and cinematographers Tami Reiker and Barry Ackroyd dont cower behind shaky-cam or epileptic editing but compose simply impeccable fight sequences. Meanwhile, Prince-Bythewood gives us the first comic book team that actually feels like a family. And all of this is set in a story that emphasizes how caring for others and doing whats right sets of ripples that are felt for millennia.
Were it not for its wholly inappropriate, incredibly distracting, poorly chosen, Europop-trash soundtrack, it would have been as flawless as Charlize Theron whacking bad dudes across the face with a colossal axe-type weapon!
Grade = B+
Palm Springs (Hulu)
Of all the Groundhog Day riffs, Palm Springs is the first to allow JK Simmons to hunt another man for sport. Finally!
This timey-wimey rom-com sees Andy Samberg as Nyles, a narcissist in need of a haircut, who gets trapped in an infinite time loop after stumbling into a magic-laden cave. When Sarah (Cristin Milioti) gets accidentally sucked in as well, the two repeat the same day together until the inevitable happens: She learns quantum physics, and he learns hes an asshole.
Writer Andy Siara and director Max Barbakow deliver absolutely nothing new. But they deliver on every cliched expectation with clever and quirky humor. This, while condemning callous, me-first behaviors that dont consider the implications of personal actions on others. Totally unrelated, but wear a mask out there folks!
Samberg remains charming, even if the reforming manbaby trope feels like its been stuck in a recycling time loop itself. Milioti is less endearing, although perhaps thats what happens to the female lead when your rom-com has very few women behind the scenes
Palm Springs is ultimately a wholly endearing diversion perfectly suited for a year where we all feel like were living the same day every goddamn day.
Grade = B+
Other critical voices to consider
Austin Collins at Vanity Fair says Relic exposes the problems with elevated horror.
Sherin Nicole at Idobi describes Old Guard as deeply human and circumspect.
Adrian Gomez-Weston at The Cinema Soloist points out how Palm Springs tackles the big questions.
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Warrior Nun. It's a show about warriors who are also nuns. Pretty simple stuff, right? But for a show with a two-word premise, things get pretty complicated over the course of the Netflix series' 10-episode first season.
The show tells the story of Ava, a 19-year-old ward of a Catholic orphanage who is implanted with the angel Adriel's halo and finds herself imbued with mystical powers. It turns out that she's the latest in a 1,000-year-old line of women who've borne the halo, women who have all been nuns of the Order of Cruciform sword. Here's how the story shakes out in the end.
Throughout the first half of the season, Ava grapples with her newfound powers and debates whether or not she wants to align herself with the OCS. But by the end of the season, she's decided to team up with Father Vincent, Shotgun Mary, Sister Beatrice, and the rest of the warrior sisters. Inventor Jillian Salvius, who has built a portal to other realms called the Ark with the help of the mystical element divinium, initially seemed to be the Big Bad, but was revealed to be doing her research to help her ailing son Michael, and she too teams up with the OCS.
Instead, the real problem player is Cardinal Duretti. The OCS pieces together that he was behind the killing of prior halo bearer Sister Shannon. He wants the halo to pass to someone loyal to him, as he needs to use its power to allow its bearer to pass through walls to enter the tomb of Adriel. The angel gave up his divine immortality when he gave his halo to Areala, the original warrior nun, and now his bones lie in the catacombs of the Vatican, behind a stone wall that's 20 feet deep. His remains are said to have the power to make whoever controls them the "lord of demon kind," and Duretti, who's elected to Pope near the end of the season, seems to like the sound of that. So the OCS heads off to Adriel's tomb to foil Duretti's evil plan.
Courtesy of NETFLIX
Ava, Father Vincent, and the sisters locate the tomb, and, pumped up from a phasing workout regimen, Ava successfully travels through the stone. Inside, she finds not Adriel's bones, but Adriel himself. As it turns out, he never lost his immortality, and has been trapped there for centuries.
At first, Ava and Adriel are pretty chummyhe's an angel, she's pretty much a novitiate, it's a match made in heaven. But when Adriel touches her, Ava receives flashes from Areala's memories that make her suspicious. When Adriel tries to take the halo from her, she blasts him with its power, just as the OCS dynamites its way in and saves her.
Meanwhile, Mother Superion confronts now-Pope Duretti, only to find out that he has no clue about the killing of Sister Shannon or the underground tomb. He's not the bad guyand Adriel's no angel. Ava reveals to the team that Adriel is in fact a devil. Father Vincent calls the newly-freed Adriel his master and tells him that his machinepresumably the Ark, which Michael has just leapt into, bound for dimensions unknownis waiting for him. Vincent killed Shannon, and he's been the baddie all along.
The sisters fight Adriel while Ava waits for her halo to recharge its mystical batteries, but Adriel summons an army of demons who posses the bystanders and swarm the women. And that's where the season ends! The fate of the OCS, the duplicitous Father Vincent, and little Michael, wherever he is, will have to wait for season two.
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The 8 desires of human life
Desire is an intrinsic part of human life. We all wish for a variety of things; many are materialistic and some emotional. We want health, wealth, comfort, good relationships, success, good progeny and fame. There are also spiritual desires - we have a desire to know about life after death, about how to remain detached and equanimous under all kinds of circumstances and we want to be at peace. But these myriad wishes arise from some basic human desires. On Day 10 of Hari Katha during Lockdown, Morari Bapu, the well-known narrator of Ram Katha analysed the innate desires in any human being.
He felt that there are eight contraptions of human want:
Morari Bapu explained how Ram Charita Manas through different sequences shows how these desires can be fulfilled as per our patrata (eligibility).
PEACE, STRENGTH AND KNOWLEDGE
Shantam sasvatamaprameyamanagha nirvanashantipradam
(Ram - the bestower of supreme peace in the form of final beatitude, placid, eternal, beyond the ordinary means of cognition, sinless and all-pervading.)
II Ram Charita Manas Sundar Kaand Shloka 1II
In the first Shloka of Sundar Kaand, Lord Ram has been described as the bestower of peace and it is to him that his holy name that we need to turn to obtain serenity of mind.
Another basic characteristic we would need to imbibe in our endeavour is to take refuge at the feet of a spiritual master. Our strength will derive from our complete surrender to a Guru. And such a strength which derives from a spiritual master is superior from personal power as it is free from our ego.
Not only physical strength, Ram Charita Manas explains that an intellectual prowess is also a form of power.
Dana parasu budhi shakti pracanda, bara bigyana kathina kodanda.4.
(Again, charity is the axe; reason, the fierce lance and the highest wisdom, the relentless bow.)
II Ram Charita Manas Lanka Kaand Ch 80 (A)II
In addition to a sharp mind, if we have nirmal mati (uncontaminated thinking or), it can also lead us to Vishram or peace.
Takey juga pad kamal manavu, jasu kripa nirmal mati pavau 4.
(I seek to propitiate the pair of Her (Sitas) lotus feet, so that by Her grace I may be blessed with a refined intellect.)
II Ram Charita Manas Bal Kaand Ch 18II
To remain a dependent or under the shelter of a Guru can provide us real freedom.
Ram gives Bharat full freedom to choose the way forward after the demise of their father Dasratha, but Bharat chooses to choose whatever Ram chooses.
Bharat shows complete surrender as he pleads:
Jehi bidhi prabhu prasan mun hoi, karuna sagar kijiye soi 1.
(Do that, O ocean of mercy, which may please your heart, my lord.)
II Ram Charita Manas Ayodhya Kaand Ch 269II
BEAUTY AND IMMORTALITY
Beauty should not be seen as only externally extant but must manifest as an inner magnificence. And immortality should be interpreted not just by the measure that we are alive. The quality of our thoughts and our contribution in adding to the vitality of the world during a lifetime also lend to our immortality.
LOVE AND BLISS
Immortality can be understood only by those who are ready to consume poison (hardship, criticism etc.) like Mira. Sacrifice is a by-product of love, which in turn helps us obtain bliss.
However, anyone who is free from these desires can be called as ascetic or a Sanyasi. In the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna in his address to Arjun defines such a person Nitya Sanyasi who holds no malice for anyone, neither does he desire anything.
The views expressed by the author are personal and do not in any way represent those of Times Network.
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