Archive for October, 2010

Somehow, though I’ve loved U2 for decades, I’ve only just learned that U2’s song “The Sweetest Thing” (lyrics here) was written by Bono as an apology to his wife, Ali, for missing her birthday back when the band was in recording sessions for “The Joshua Tree” (first album I ever bought on CD).

Originally the B-side to “Where the Streets Have No Name,” the song was redone in 1998 for a new compilation, and they gave it a lovely video that seems to involve about half the city of Dublin. (Scroll down a bit to watch it.)

Ali is the lady who climbs into the carriage at the start of the video, putting on a suitably annoyed face, and during the ride down Fitzwilliam Place, various characters pop up to help Bono “apologize,” including Irish pop group Boyzone chiming in on the “Oh oh oh”s, Irish boxer Steve Collins, the “Massive Heeds” (dancers with giant fiberglass U2 heads from a Galway performance group), the Artane Boys Band, part of the cast of “Riverdance,” the rest of U2 appearing just in time for the Edge’s pretty guitar part, Chippendale dancers on a firetruck and some unnamed pilots assisting with the “blue skies ahead” line.

Thankfully, she had long since forgiven him (one hopes!), and she asked both in 1987 and 1998 for the song’s proceeds to go to charity.

Subtly, Bono is miming some of the actions in the song (e.g. “my love, she throws me like a rubber ball” at the opening; taking off his trademark shades to show the blue eyes Ali loves at “blue-eyed boy to brown-eyed girl,” etc.)

Ah, and that’s Bono’s big brother, Dublin restaurateur Norman Hewson, popping in as the chef at the end. (I don’t know about the dog. Anyone?)

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When Sam Clemens was 13, he left school and became a printer’s apprentice.

This image, a daguerreotype, was made in late 1850, right around his 15th birthday. The next year, he would start work at his brother Orion’s newspaper, the Hannibal Courier.


University of California Press; thisismarktwain.com


No mustache. No thought of a white suit. A smooth face with what might be freckles (his hair would have been red), the narrowed right eye adding an air of skepticism, as it would in his later portraits. (The photo is reversed – more on that in a minute.)

And if one is hesitant to seem fanciful by saying the boy’s eyes are windows into a clever and original mind, the literal proof is at the bottom of the image, where his hands clutch printer’s letters spelling out his own name: “SAM.”

He’s holding a compositor’s stick in which he has “set the letters in reverse so that they would read correctly when the daguerreotype produced a mirror image,” explains the Steamboat Times, which also says the hat is a printer’s cap.

Though his “splendid shock of red hair” is white in our collective consciousness, he was not only a redhead himself but surrounded all his life by red hair (his mother, his daughter), as well as cats, and so may be uniquely qualified to observe, as he did, that

“While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.”

The photo comes from Thisismarktwain.com, a web site built by the University of California Press in advance of its release of the unexpurgated version of his autobiography — he didn’t want it to be published until 100 years after his death, which came in 1910. So it’s time! The first volume will come out Nov. 15.

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