The Snowman

The film adaptation of the exciting Jo Nesbø crime thriller The Snowman is out on DVD. it’s Directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) it stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, JK Simmons, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Toby Jones, with a score composed by Jonny Greenwood.

It features Norwegian detective, Harry Hole who is investigating a number of recent murders of women around Oslo. His experience of an earlier training course with the FBI leads him to search for links between the cases, and he finds two – each victim is a married mother and after each murder a snowman appears at the murder scene. Then more women disappear and are believed to have been abducted or murdered in a similar way. Almost all of the victims vanished after the first snowfall of winter and a snowman is found near the scene, this fact having been ignored by the original investigators.

Further digging leads Harry and his team – including newcomer Katrine Bratt, recently transferred to Oslo from the Police Department in Bergen – to suspect that paternity issues with the children of the victims may be a motive for the murders. They discover that all of the victims’ children have different fathers to the men they believe to be their father. Following DNA testing, results lead the investigation down a few wrong alleys and several murder suspects are eliminated from the enquiry.

Harry Hole and Katrine find themselves drawn together – personally as well as professionally. In the past he has avoided having affairs with female colleagues, but he is now tempted. During a departmental party, Katrine tries to seduce Harry and though he rejects her, Harry has fantasies about her and realises that she is a kindred spirit – a brilliant detective able to notice the smallest of details and understand the connections between them. Moreover, she has the same kind of obsessive dedication to the job which he himself has – an obsessiveness which had earlier caused his girlfriend, Rakel, to break off their relationship. To complicate matters further, during the investigation, Harry continues to meet with Rakel clandestinely, despite the fact that she is in a new relationship.

Then Katrine Bratt attempts to frame one of the major suspects, however this backfires spectacularly and she herself becomes a suspect and Harry chases her across Norway. Then Hole’s superior officers decide to frame Harry Hole to save the Police’s reputation and avoid the scandal of allowing a serial killer to work on the murder case. However another victim is discovered…

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Francis Buchholz (Scorpions)

Francis Buchholz the Bass player with the splendidly noisy German Rock Group The Scorpions was born 19th February 1954. Formed in 1965 by Rudolf Schenker, the Scorpions first had beat influences and Schenker himself did the vocals then things began to come together in 1970 when Schenker’s younger brother Michael and vocalist Klaus Meine joined the band. In 1972, the group recorded and released their debut album Lonesome Crow. Sadly Michael Schenker left the band, which led to the breakup of the band In 1973, however In 1974 a new line-up of Scorpions released Fly to the Rainbow. This album proved to be more successful than Lonesome Crow and established the band’s sound. In 1975 the band released In Trance, The album was a huge step forward for Scorpions and established their heavy metal formula and contained songs like “Dark Lady”, “Robot Man”. In 1976, Scorpions released Virgin Killer, which featured rather controversial artwork, that brought the band considerable media exposure but resulted in the album being “pulled” in some countries, although the music itself garnered considerable praise from critics and fans. The follow-up album was Taken by Force, They also recorded material during the band’s Japanese tour, and the resultant double live album was called Tokyo Tapes.

In 1979 The Scorpions released the album “Love Drive” which some critics consider to be the pinnacle of their career. Containing such fan favourites as “Loving You Sunday Morning”, “Always Somewhere”, “Holiday” and the instrumental “Coast to Coast”. The album’s provocative artwork was also named “Best album sleeve of 1979″ by Playboy magazine but was changed for American release. In 1980 the band released Animal Magnetism, which contained “The Zoo” and “Make It Real”. In 1982 The Scorpions released their next album, Blackout, which became the band’s best selling to date eventually going platinum andspawned three singles “Dynamite”, “Blackout”, and “No One Like You”, but It was not until 1984 and the release of Love at First Sting that the band finally cemented their status as metal musicians. Propelled by the single Rock You Like a Hurricane, Love at First Sting climbed the charts and went double platinum in the USA a few months after its release.

The band toured extensively and recorded their very successful second live album, World Wide Live in 1985. The bands next album Savage Amusement was released in 1988 containing the songs Don’t Stop at the Top and Rhythm of Love, which represented a more polished and mature sound. During the Savage Amusement tour, Scorpions became only the second Western group (not American) to play in the Soviet Union as a result, Scorpions developed an extended Russian fan base and still return to perform.In 1990. Crazy World was released and displayed a less polished sound. The album was propelled in large part by the massive success of the ballad Wind of Change which muses on the socio-political changes that were occurring in Eastern Europe and in other parts of the world at the end of the Cold War. On July 21, 1990 they joined many other guests for Roger Waters’ massive performance of The Wall in Berlin. Scorpions performed both versions of “In the Flesh” from The Wall. In 1993, Scorpions released Face the Heat but this did not come close to matching the success of “Wind of Change” and was only a moderate success.

Their 13th studio album, 1996s Pure Instinct, contained the singles “Wild Child” and the soothing ballad “You and I” which both enjoyed moderate success. 1999 saw the release of Eye II Eye and a significant change in the band’s style, mixing in elements of pop and techno. The following year, Scorpions had an artistic collaboration with the Berlin Philharmonic that resulted in a 10-song album named Moment of Glory. In 2001, Scorpions released Acoustica, which featured acoustic reworkings of the band’s biggest hits, plus new tracks. In 2004, the band released Unbreakable, which was hailed by critics as a long-awaited return to form. The album was the heaviest the band had released since Face the Heat, and cintained tracks such as “New Generation”, “Love ‘em or Leave ‘em” and “Deep and Dark”. Scorpions released their 17th studio album, Sting in the Tail, on March 23, 2010 and announced that it would be their last album and that the tour supporting it will be their final tour. On 6 April 2010, Scorpions were enshrined in Hollywood’s Rock Walk in a handprint ceremony, with the band members placing their hands in a long slab of wet cement, which was placed on the Rock Walk.The Scorpions also re-record versions of their older material for an album entitled Comeblack which was released on 7 November 2011, and headlined the 2012 Wacken Open Air Festival Alongside Saxon, Sepultura, Napalm Death and Dio Disciples. http://youtu.be/bFBiHAoB_kk

Washington’s birthday/Presidents Day

Washington’s Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States, who was born on February 22, 1732. It can occur between February 15 through February 21 inclusive. The day is also now widely known as Presidents’ Day and is often an occasion to honor the incumbent president and all persons who have served as president, not just George Washington. The day is a state holiday in most states, with official names including Washington’s Birthday, Presidents’ Day, President’s Day, and Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday. Depending upon the specific law, the state holiday might officially celebrate Washington alone, Washington and Abraham Lincoln (whose birthday is February 12), or some other combination of U.S. presidents (such as Washington and the third president Thomas Jefferson, who was born in April)

George Washington was born on February 11, 1731 at his parents’ Pope’s Creek Estate near Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County, Virginia. At the time, the entire British Empire, including its North American possessions, was on the Julian calendar; the Empire, not being bound to the Catholic Church, had not yet adopted the modern Gregorian calendar that Catholic countries had adopted in 1582. Consequently, by the 1730s, the Julian calendar used by Britain and the Colonies was eleven days behind the Gregorian, due to leap year differences. Furthermore, the British civil year began on March 25 rather than January 1, so that dates in February (such as this one) ‘belonged’ to the preceding year. (See Dual dating). In 1752, The British Empire switched to the Gregorian calendar; since then, Americans born prior to 1752, including Washington, have typically had their birthdays recognized under what their birthday would have been under the Gregorian calendar (“New Style” dates). Since, during the 1700s, February 11 under the Julian calendar would fall as February 22 on the Gregorian, Washington’s birthday has been generally recognized as February 22, 1732. The federal holiday honoring Washington was originally implemented by an Act of Congress in 1879 for government offices in Washington (20 Stat. 277) and expanded in 1885 to include all federal offices On January 1, 1971, the federal holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act

The first attempt to create a Presidents Day occurred in 1951 when the “President’s Day National Committee” was formed by Harold Stonebridge Fischer of Compton, California, who became its National Executive Director for the next two decades. The purpose was not to honor any particular president but to honor the office of the presidency. It was first thought that March 4, the original inauguration day, should be deemed Presidents Day, but the bill recognizing March 4 stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee (which had authority over federal holidays). The committee felt that, given its proximity to Lincoln’s and Washington’s Birthdays, three holidays so close together would be unduly burdensome. But meanwhile the governors of a majority of the states issued proclamations declaring March 4 Presidents’ Day in their respective jurisdictions.

An early draft of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act renamed the holiday “Presidents’ Day” to honor the birthdays of both Washington and Lincoln, which would explain why the chosen date falls between the two, but this proposal failed in committee, and the bill was voted on and signed into law on June 28, 1968, keeping the name “Washington’s Birthday”. By the mid-1980s, with a push from advertisers, the term “Presidents’ Day” began its public appearance. In Washington’s adopted hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, celebrations are held throughout February.

A food traditionally associated with the holiday is cherry pie, based on the legendary chopping down of a cherry tree in Washington‘s youth.Until the late 1980s, corporate businesses generally closed on this day, similar to present corporate practices on Memorial Day or Christmas Day. However, after having been moved to the third Monday, most businesses remain open with many offering sales other promotions. Federal and state government services close (U.S. Postal Service, state Departments of Motor Vehicles, federal and state courts). Class schedules at universities and colleges vary depending on the school. Public elementary and secondary schools are generally closed, but some school districts, such as New York City, may close for an entire week as a “mid-winter recess”.

The holiday is also a tribute to the general who created the first military badge of merit for the common soldier. Revived on Washington’s 200th birthday in 1932, the Purple Heart medal (which bears Washington’s image) is awarded to soldiers who are injured in battle.

Community celebrations often display a lengthy heritage. Washington’s hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, hosts a month-long tribute, including what is claimed to be the nation’s longest-running and largest George Washington Birthday parade, while Eustis, Florida, continues its annual “GeorgeFest” celebration begun in 1902.[35] In Denver, Colorado, there is a society dedicated to observing the day. At the George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Westmoreland County, Virginia, visitors are treated to birthday celebrations on the holiday, while at Mount Vernon, they last throughout the holiday weekend and through February 22. Since 1862 there has been a tradition in the United States Senate that George Washington’s Farewell Address be read on his birthday. Citizens asked that this be done in light of the ongoing Civil War.

Bon Scott (AC/DC)

The late great Bon Scott, Former singer with heavy metal band AC/DC sadly died 19th February 1980. AC/DC were Formed in 1973 by Malcolm and his brother Angus Young, who have remained the sole constant members. The band are commonly classified as hard rock, and are considered pioneers of heavy metal and are sometimes classified as such, though they themselves have always classified their music as simply “rock and roll”. To date they are one of the highest grossing bands of all time. AC/DC underwent several line-up changes before releasing their first album, High Voltage, on 17 February 1975.

Two years after releasing their debut album Bass player Cliff Williams replaced Mark Evans for the 1977 album Powerage. The third album Highway to hell was recorded in 1980. Sadly though Within months of recording it, thelead singer and co-songwriter Bon Scott died on 19 February 1980, after a night of heavy alcohol consumption. The group briefly considered disbanding, but Scott’s parents urged them to continue and hire a new vocalist. Ex-Geordie singer Brian Johnson was auditioned and selected to replace Scott. Later that year, the band released their highest selling album, and ultimately the third highest-selling album by any artist, Back in Black. The band’s next album, For Those About to Rock We Salute You, was their first album to reach number one in the United States. Sadly AC/DC declined in popularit . The drummer Phil Rudd was fired in 1983 and was replaced by future Dio drummer Simon Wright. However the band experienced something of a resurgence in popularity during the early 1990s with the release of The Razors Edge. Phil Rudd returned in 1994 (after Chris Slade, who was with the band from 1989–1994, was asked to leave in favour of him) and contributed to the band’s 1995 album Ballbreaker.

Since then, the band’s line-up has remained the same. The album Stiff Upper Lip was released in 2000 and was well received by critics, and the band’s latest studio album, Black Ice, was released on 20 October 2008. It was their biggest hit on the charts since For Those About to Rock, reaching No.1 on all the charts eventually. As of 2010, AC/DC had sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, including 71 million albums in the United States alone. Back in Black has sold an estimated 49 million units worldwide, making it the third highest-selling album by any artist, and the second highest-selling album by any band, behind Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The album has sold 22 million units in the U.S. alone, where it is the fifth-highest-selling album of all-time. AC/DC ranked fourth on VH1′s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” and were named the seventh “Greatest Heavy Metal Band of All Time” by MTV. In 2004, AC/DC were ranked number 72 in the Rolling Stone list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. In 2010, AC/DC were ranked number 23 in the VH1 list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time

Kelly Groucutt

Best known for being the bassist for the English rockband Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), between 1974 and 1983, Kelly Groucutt sadly died 19 February 2009, following a heart attack suffered the previous night. Kelly Groucutt was born 8 September 1945. born Michael William Groucutt, in Coseley, West Midlands.Groucutt began his musical career at 15 as Rikki Storm of Rikki Storm and the Falcons. He went on to sing with various outfits during the ’60s, picking up the guitar as he went along.Groucutt was also a member of a band called “Sight and Sound”, and later with a band called “Barefoot”.It was while playing with Barefoot in Birmingham that he was spotted by ELO’s Jeff Lynne; and after Lynne, Bev Bevan and Richard Tandy had watched him play, he was invited to join ELO, to replace Mike de Albuquerque, who had recently left the band.

Upon joining, he was immediately asked to adopt a stage name because ELO had already had several members named Michael, Mike or Mik; he chose Kelly as being a school nickname.ELO then set off on their Eldorado tour.He soon established himself as a fan favourite by taking over lead vocal duties on a few songs as well as gaining a great rapport with live audiences. His distinctive voice can also be best heard on later ELO songs such as “Nightrider” (1975), “Poker” (1975), “Above the Clouds” (1976), “Sweet Is the Night” (1977), “Across the Border” (1977) and “The Diary of Horace Wimp” (1979). While he did not perform the operatic vocals in the studio, Groucutt often displayed his vocal talents by replicating them during live performances of “Rockaria!” (1976).The first Electric Light Orchestra album to feature Kelly on bass guitar and as a backingvocalist was 1975’s Face the Music. He continued contributing on the following albums A New World Record (1976), Out of the Blue (1977), Discovery (1979), Xanadu (1980) andTime (1981).In 1982 he released his self-titled, solo debut album, Kelly. This album featured fellow ELO members Bev Bevan, Richard Tandy, Mik Kaminski and their orchestral co-arranger and conductor Louis Clark.

In 2001 this album was remastered for CD. Groucutt remained with ELO until the onset of the recording sessions for 1983’s Secret Messages album. It was at this juncture that he left the band, unhappy with royalty payments during his tenure, and made the decision to sue management and band leader Jeff Lynne. A settlement for the sum of £300,000 was reached out of court prior to proceedings. He is credited with playing bass on Secret Messages, although it has been stated from an official source that he only played on four songs (“Train of Gold” and “Rock n Roll is King” from the single disc release and “No Way Out” and “Beatles Forever” from the original double album).He took part in some of the many ELO spin-off groups: OrKestra, ELO Part II, and The Orchestra. He toured worldwide with The Orchestra (former members of ELO and ELO Part II) and also took part in tours as part of a local, little known band called Session.

Harper Lee

Best selling American novelist Harper Lee sadly died 18 February 2016 at the age of 89. Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama in 1926 And was the youngest of the four children born to lawyer Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Finch Lee. She grew under the stresses of segregation and as a child shared summers with another aspiring writer, Truman Capote, who annually came to stay in the house next door to hers. She studied at the University of Alabama from 1945 to 1949 before moving to New York, where she began writing fiction in her spare time. Lee eventually signed with an agent in 1956. Capote later invited her to accompany him to Holcomb, Kansas, to help him research his groundbreaking 1966 crime book In Cold Blood.

Capote also inspired the figure of the young boy Dill in Harper Lee’s classic 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, with his friend the first-person narrator Scout clearly modelled on the childhood Lee herself. Her father acted as the template for small town lawyer Atticus Finch who displays resolute courtroom dignity as he struggles to represent and save the life of a black resident named Robinson who is accused of raping a white woman by a racist mob. This provides the novel’s ethical backbone. To Kill a Mockingbird went on to become a national institution and the defining text on the racial troubles of the American Deep South, where Lee’s home state of Alabama, was the epicenter of many violent upheavals over civil rights. The publication of Mockingbird, had a profound effect on white residents of the state and the power of the novel was able to shift the ingrained assumptions of white Alabamans and took the politics of the civil rights era and made them human. She showed people that this was about their neighbors, their friends, someone they knew, not just about the issues.

A second novel Go Set a Watchman was published in July 2015. It was originally written in the mid-1950s and is set some twenty years after the events in To Kill a Mockingbird, and is written from the point of view of an adult Scout (Jean Louise) Finch who travels from New York to Maycomb, Alabama, to visit her father, Atticus Finch, And the title alludes to Scout’s view of her father, Atticus Finch, as the moral compass (“watchman”) of Maycomb. The novel sees Scout “forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father’s attitude toward society and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood. Go Set a Watchman has since become a global success winning many awards.

Sadly In later years Lee’s health declined and she lived for several years in a nursing home less than a mile from the house in which she had grown up in Monroeville, Alabama – the setting for the fictional Maycomb of her famous bestselling 1961 bookTo Kill a Mockingbird, which became a best seller and sold more than 40 million copies around the world and earned her a Pulitzer prize. Lee was also awarded the presidential medal of freedom in 2007 by George Bush. She will be sadly missed.

Falco

The late great Austrian Rock Musician and Rapper Falco (Johann Hölzel) was born 19 February in 1957. Falco began to show signs of unusual musical talent very early. As a toddler, he was able to keep time with the drumbeat in songs he heard on the radio. He was given a baby grand piano for his fourth birthday; a year later, his birthday gift was a record player which he used to play music by Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, and the Beatles. At age five, he auditioned for the Vienna Music Academy.

In 1963, Hölzel began his schooling at a Roman Catholic private school; four years later, at age ten, he switched to the Rainer Gymnasium in Vienna. Shortly thereafter his father Alois Hölzel left the family. From then on, Hölzel was raised by his mother and grandmother. He left school at sixteen in 1973 due to absenteeism. His mother then insisted he begin an apprenticeship with the Austrian employee pension insurance institute, At seventeen, he volunteered for eight months of military service with the Austrian army. He then entered the Vienna Music Conservatory in 1977, but left after one semester to “become a real musician”. He moved to West Berlin while singing in a jazz-rock band and exploring the club scene. When he returned to Vienna he was calling himself “Falco”, in tribute to the East German ski jumper Falko Weißpflog. From 1978 He played bass with the Austrian hard rock-punk rock band Drahdiwaberl until 1983 and also played bass with the space disco band Ganymed in 1981.

Falco’s first hit was “Der Kommissar” from the 1982 album Einzelhaft, which combines German rap verses with a sung chorus. Shortly after British rock band After the Fire recorded an English cover version, based on Falco’s lyrics and also called “Der Kommissar” and American singer Laura Branigan also recorded a version of the song with new English lyrics under the title “Deep in the Dark” on her album Branigan2. Sadly though his second album, Junge Römer (Young Romans) failed to provide a repeat to his debut single’s success.

Falco then began to experiment with English lyrics in an effort to broaden his appeal, and this resulted in his most popular album and single of his career “Rock Me Amadeus” with it’s distinctive guttural delivery, which was inspired in part by the Oscar-winning film Amadeus, and the song became a worldwide hit in 1986. The Follow-up single “Vienna Calling” was another international pop hit. The third song “Jeanny” became Highly controversial when it was released in Germany and the Netherlands, because the story of “Jeanny” was told from the point of view of a possible rapist and murderer. In 1986, he released the album Emotional, which included the Songs “Coming Home (Jeanny Part II, One Year Later)”, “The Kiss of Kathleen Turner”, “Kamikaze Capa” which was written as a tribute to the late photojournalist Robert Capa and “The Sound of Musik”. In 1987 he went on the “Emotional” world tour and also released a duet with Brigitte Nielsen, “Body Next to Body” and an album in 1988 entitled Wiener Blut (Viennese Blood).

Sadly though, Falco died of severe injuries received on 6 February 1998, just a few days before his 41st birthday, when his Mitsubishi Pajero collided with a bus on the road linking the towns of Villa Montellano and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. It was later determined that the bus driver was speeding, for which the driver served three years in prison. However, at the time of the accident, Falco was under the influence of significant amounts of alcohol, cocaine and THC.At the time of Falco’s death, he was planning a comeback with the album Nachtflug (Night Flight) which included the song “Titanic”, and was released posthumously. He is buried in the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in Vienna, Austria.