[Editor’s Note: Given that this article is about the latest episode of Westworld, the article will contain light spoilers about season two’s fifth episode, “Akane No Mai”.]Last night, HBO’s hit series, Westworld, offered up the fifth episode of its second season, titled “Akane No Mai”. After last week’s episode, “The Riddle Of The Sphinx”, which focused primarily on William/the Man in Black, James Delos, and Bernard, Sunday night’s episode revisited the plotlines of Maeve and Dolores, who were relatively absent in last week’s show. While Dolores/Wyatt is off becoming a crazy supervillain, as she is wont to do this season, Maeve and company end up in Shogunworld, where we see the crew visiting a Japanese-themed version of Westworld.Without revealing too much more, it’s safe to say that Westworld’s composer Ramin Djawadi showed himself once again as a genius. The Iranian-German composer earned critical acclaim for his score of another HBO hit, Game Of Thrones, and Djawadi is bringing this same attention to detail to Westworld. In Shogunworld, he first offers a take on The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It, Black”, which channels the new setting with traditional Japanese instruments—the tune was previously covered in season 1 of the show, though in the context of the player piano in Westworld’s Sweetwater.However, one of the standout moments of last night’s episode was Djawadi’s rendition of Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.”, a beloved song from the New York hip-hop crew’s 1993 studio album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The choice for Wu-Tang Clan, outside of continuing the show’s wonderful trend of reimagining well-known songs in world-specific traditions, is also notable, given that Wu-Tang was known for mixing in and riffing on ancient Asian arts (though the rappers tended to focus more on Chinese themes around classic Kung Fu cinema). Similarly borrowing instruments and feel from traditional Japanese music, the highly theatrical instrumental rendition of the classic rap track slipped by under the radar for some viewers. However, it’s definitely worth a listen, so you can check it out below for yourself.
Bluegrass festivals are where it all begins. These are the best:DelFestMay 23-26Cumberland, Md.delfest.comBasics: A long weekend of pickin’ and grinnin’ takes place Memorial Day weekend in the scenic Potomac River Valley, surrounded by the vast Appalachians of Western Maryland. This fest was created to honor living bluegrass legend Del McCoury, who headlines each day and gets around for sit-ins with most of the bill’s main acts.Bands: In addition to daily sets from Del and the boys, the line-up boasts a long list of high-profile progressive pickers, including Old Crow Medicine Show, Yonder Mountain String Band, Trampled by Turtles, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. A big surprise this year is two sets from Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, who will bring some funky rock exploration to the string band party.Set Break Escape: Bring your bike and stretch your legs on the Great Allegheny Passage, a 141-mile rail trail that runs from Cumberland through shaded valleys all the way to Pittsburgh.FIVE MORE…Aiken Bluegrass FestivalMay 10-11Aiken, S.C.Bluegrass, bikes, and beer. They come together at this two-day bash in Aiken, which features picking from Keller Williams and the Travelin’ McCourys, Larry Keel, Della Mae, and the Hackensaw Boys. On Saturday, start the day with a family bike ride downtown and during the fest enjoy micro suds from fest sponsor New Belgium Brewing Company.aikenbluegrassfestival.orgDr. Ralph Stanley’s Annual Memorial Weekend Bluegrass FestivalMay 23-25Coeburn, Va.One of bluegrass music’s early forefathers, Stanley turned 86 this year, and he’ll still give you chills when he sings classics like “O’Death.” He also still hosts this traditional bash at his old home place, featuring some of his favorite bands like Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, the Grascals, and Larry Sparks.drralphstanley.comGraves Mountain Festival of MusicMay 30—June 1Syria, Va.Set next to the splendor of Shenandoah National Park, this longstanding bluegrass fest features a mix of the traditional and progressive picking among the welcoming comfort of Graves Mountain Lodge. Acts include the Steep Canyon Rangers, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Lonesome River Band, and IIIrd Tyme Out.gravesmountain.comROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches FestivalJune 27-29Owensboro, Ky.The past and present of bluegrass is celebrated with this three-day fest in Owensboro, home of the International Bluegrass Music Museum. Leftover Salmon, the Punch Brothers, David Grisman, and the Steeldrivers will take the stage at Yellow Creek Park for the museum’s biggest annual fundraiser.rompfest.com Mountain Song FestivalSeptember 13-14Brevard, N.C.North Carolina native sons and Steve Martin’s backing band, the Steep Canyon Rangers bring a solid line-up of bluegrass heavyweights to Brevard every fall for a pickin’ party at the Brevard Music Center’s open-air auditorium with Pisgah in the backdrop. Acts this year still to be announced.mountainsongfestival.comCheck out the rest of our Outdoor Festival Guide!
When Katherine Reed heard Melbourne’s virus-inflicted lockdown would be tightened and extend for six more weeks, she began to cry. The 32-year-old lives alone and has been working at home since March, when the southern hemisphere summer turned to autumn. Like millions of others living in Australia’s second city she now faces at least another six weeks of winter isolation. On Monday, as curfews loomed and authorities ordered non-essential businesses to close, book store manager Bill Morton witnessed his normally “vibrant, lovely” patch of the city transform into a “ghost town”. Melbourne’s tram bells seem to ring out louder and longer, a reminder that the streets are nearly deserted of the city’s almost five million residents. “People are pretty demoralized,” Morton told AFP. “Pretty well everything is closed around here. So it’s a very strange, quite eerie atmosphere.” During the day, the few masked walkers out for an hour-long window for exercise cautiously maneuvered around each other, conscious of social distancing rules. The feted theatres, live music venues and buzzing restaurants of Australia’s premier cultural hub have fallen silent, with their staff and owners facing more months of uncertainty. From Wednesday evening offices and most businesses will be closed, and a complex set of rules will dictate when people can leave home and where they can go. Bar owner Andrew Park has stayed afloat so far during the pandemic by scaling back to cocktail deliveries, but he is now more worried than ever. “Foot traffic will be completely gone,” he told AFP, predicting that a curfew after 8pm will see customers cocoon, even if food and drink purchases are still allowed in the daytime. “My fear is people will just altogether stop ordering from local, small businesses.” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews warned it could take the state, which includes Melbourne, “years to recover”. Maggie May, who owns a gift shop with her husband, had adapted during an earlier lockdown. She sold items online for the first time, a challenging but ultimately positive learning experience. “You’re constantly trying to pep yourself up (because) if you sink into an anxiety hole then nothing is going to get done and at the end of the day you’re just going to get more anxious,” she told AFP. The country’s hardest-hit state has recorded almost 12,000 of the roughly 18,000 cases in Australia and more than half of the 221 fatalities from COVID-19. Morton said the book store had seen revenue drop to around 25 percent of pre-pandemic levels, leaving the 50-year-old business heavily reliant on government support schemes and rent deferrals. “We can hang in for the time being but operating at the reduced revenue that we are, we can’t do it indefinitely,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of concern for a lot of the businesses around here, whether they’ll be able to see it through,” adding that many had already closed down permanently. “This virus, this pandemic is taking a heavy toll”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday, acknowledging that many in Victoria will have “reached breaking point”. He announced disaster payments for anyone forced to isolate for 14 days, as the authorities try to urge the infected to stay at home after many were caught flouting the rules. The best people in Melbourne can now hope for is that case numbers are brought under control and, in six weeks’ time, they can cautiously celebrate a reopening in spring. Topics : “I understand the increased lockdown,” she said, lamenting “cruel and misguided” rules that allow partners, but not friends to visit. From the start of this world-enveloping pandemic, experts had warned there would be bad times and good, setbacks and advances in bringing the virus to heel. But that has not made the new stop-start existence any less strange or any less difficult to bear. Australia had appeared to have the virus in hand, but a few clusters quickly turned into hundreds of cases a day, forcing the country’s most restrictive lockdown yet.
INVERCO continued: “Debt markets were no exception, and government bond yields rebounded sharply, with a corresponding fall in the price of fixed income assets, with higher falls for long duration bonds.”But the commentary concluded: “Nevertheless, during the preparation of this report in July, pension fund portfolios recovered all of June’s correction, following the news of the solution to the Greek problem.”Average annualised returns for Spanish occupational funds were 8.08% for the three years to 30 June 2015, and for the five years to that date, 5.99%.At end-June, total assets under management for the occupational pensions sector stood at €35bn, slightly lower than at end-March, but up by 3.4% on June 2014. Total pension assets, including those in individual plans, now amount to €102.5bn.The number of participants has increased slightly, at just over 2m.For pension funds as a whole, most assets are invested domestically – 62.1% of portfolios, slightly down over the past three months. Non-domestic holdings have also declined, from 20.5% at end-March to 19.4% at end-June.There has also been a further slight shift from fixed income to equities. Overall, 56.3% is now invested in fixed income, compared with 21.4% in equities (8.3% in Spanish and 13.1% in non-domestic shares).This compares with 57.7% in fixed income and 22.4% in equities (9% Spanish, 13.4% non-domestic) at end-March 2015. The biggest single component of pension fund portfolios – 32.9% – is still invested in Spanish government bonds, with a further 17.1% in Spanish corporate bonds.However, cash holdings have risen over the past three months by over two percentage points, to 9.6%. The continuing uncertainty over Greece’s debt problems has played havoc with recent investment returns of Spanish pension funds, according to figures from the country’s Investment and Pension Fund Association (INVERCO).However, they said values recovered in July, once again approaching pre-crisis levels.Spain’s occupational pension funds made average returns of 5.57% for the 12 months to end-June 2015. The results are in marked contrast to the 10.61% returns for the 12 months to end-March 2015, and 10.25% for the 12 months to end-June 2014.INVERCO said: “The general uncertainty about Greece increased market volatility in June, causing widespread falls in all equity indices, especially in European markets. Together with corrections in April and May, it prompted declines in value on pension fund portfolios during the second quarter of the year.”