Posted in books, Fantasy, films & DVD

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

English author Lewis Carroll ( Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) told Alice Liddell and her sisters a story that would eventually form the basis for his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland In a rowing boat on the River Thames from Oxford to Godstow, On July 4 1862 and It was subsequently published 4 July 1865. The journey began at Folly Bridge near Oxford and ended five miles away in the village Godstow. During the trip Dodgson told the girls a story that featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. He began writing the manuscript of the story the next day, although that earliest version no longer exists. The girls and Dodgson took another boat trip a month later when he elaborated the plot to the story of Alice, and in November he began working on the manuscript in earnest. It tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children.It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. Its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.

The novel starts with Alice feeling bored and drowsy while sitting on the riverbank with her elder sister who is reading a book with no pictures or conversations. She then notices a talking, clothed White Rabbit with a pocket watch run past. So She follows it down a rabbit hole, suddenly she falls a long way to a curious hall with many locked doors of all sizes. She finds a small key to a door too small for her to fit through, but through it she sees an attractive garden. She then discovers a bottle on a table labelled “DRINK ME,” so she drinks a little and the contents cause her to shrink in size. Unfortunately she leaves the key on the table. So She eats a cake with “EAT ME” written on it in currants.

After eating the cake Alice grows alarmingly and her head hits the ceiling. Alice starts crying and her tears flood the hallway. After shrinking down again Alice swims through her own tears and meets a Mouse, who is swimming as well and tries unsuccessfully to talk to him. The sea of tears becomes crowded with other animals and birds that have been swept away by the rising waters. Alice and the other animals reach the bank and a Dodo decides that the best thing to dry them off would be a Caucus-Race, which consists of everyone running in a circle with no clear winner. Then The White Rabbit appears and Mistaking her for his maidservant, Mary Ann, orders Alice to go into the house and retrieve some gloves but once inside she starts growing. The horrified Rabbit orders his gardener, Bill the Lizard, to climb on the roof and go down the chimney. Outside, Alice hears the voices of animals who hurl pebbles at her, which turn into little cakes and after eating them, Alice shrinks again.

Alice then encounters a blue Caterpillar on a mushroom smoking a hookah, who tells Alice that one side of the mushroom will make her taller while the other side will make her shorter. She breaks off two pieces from the mushroom. One side makes her shrink smaller than ever, while the other causes her to grow alarmingly. Eventually Alice brings herself back to her normal height and discovers a small estate and uses the mushroom to reach a more appropriate height. She sees a Fish-Footman deliver an invitation to the Duchess, who lives at the estate and meets The Duchess’s Cook who is throwing dishes and making a soup that has too much pepper, which causes Alice, the Duchess, and her baby to sneeze violently. Alice is then given the baby by the Duchess which turns into a pig. The Duchess’s Cheshire Cat then directs her to the March Hare’s house.

Here Alice becomes a guest at a “mad” tea party along with the March Hare, the Hatter, and a very tired Dormouse who falls asleep frequently, only to be violently woken up moments later by the March Hare and the Hatter. The characters give Alice many riddles and stories. Eventually though Alice tires of all the inane riddles and leaves claiming that it was the stupidest tea party that she had ever been to. Upon leaving the Tea-Party Alice enters the Queen of Hearts garden and encounters three living playing cards painting the white roses on a rose tree red because The Queen of Hearts hates white roses. A procession of more cards, kings and queens and even the White Rabbit enters the garden. Alice then meets the King and Queen, who is fond of saying “Off with his head!” For the slightest transgression. Alice is invited to play a game of croquet with the Queen and the rest of her subjects but the game quickly descends into chaos. Live flamingos are used as mallets and hedgehogs as balls. The Queen is then prompted by the Cheshire Cat to release the Duchess from prison.

The Duchess is then brought to the croquet ground at Alice’s request, and The Queen of Hearts dismisses her on the threat of execution and introduces Alice to the Gryphon, who takes her to the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon then suggests they play a game. So The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon dance to the Lobster Quadrille, and then the Gryphon drags Alice away for an impending trial where the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts. The jury is composed of various animals, including Bill the Lizard, the White Rabbit is the court’s trumpeter, and the judge is the King of Hearts. Others Attending the trial include the Hatter, and the Duchess’s cook. Alice is then called upon to give evidence as a witness. During the proceedings, Alice finds to her alarms that she is steadily growing larger and her increasing size causes problems. So The King and Queen order Alice to be gone, citing Rule 42 (“All persons more than a mile high to leave the court”). However Alice disputes their judgement and refuses to leave until the Queen of Hearts eventually shouts “Off With Her Head!”

Posted in Health, Science-tech

Marie Curie

Best known for her pioneering research in the field of radioactivity, the World famous Polish–French physicist and chemist Marie Skłodowska Curie died on 4th July 1934 of aplastic anemia,. She was born 7th Novemer in 1867 in Warsaw, Poland. Maria’s paternal grandfather, Józef Skłodowski, had been a respected teacher in Lublin, where he taught the young Bolesław Prus,who became a leading figure in Polish literature.Her father, Władysław Skłodowski, taught mathematics and physics, subjects that Maria was to pursue, and was also director of two Warsaw gymnasia for boys.After Russian authorities eliminated laboratory instruction from the Polish schools, he brought much of the laboratory equipment home, and instructed his children in its use.

The father was eventually fired by his Russian supervisors for pro-Polish sentiments, and forced to take lower-paying posts. the family also lost money on a bad investment, and eventually chose to supplement their income by lodging boys in the house. Maria’s mother Bronisława operated a prestigious Warsaw boarding school for girls; she resigned from the position after Maria was born.She died of tuberculosis in May 1878, when Maria was ten years old. Less than three years earlier, Maria’s oldest sibling, Zofia, had died of typhus contracted from a boarder.

When she was ten years old, Maria began attending the boarding school of J. Sikorska; next she attended a gymnasium for girls, from which she graduated on 12 June 1883 with a gold medal. After an illness she spent the following year in the countryside with relatives of her father, and the next year with her father in Warsaw, where she did some tutoring. Unable to enroll in a regular institution of higher education because she was a woman, she and her sister Bronisława became involved with the clandestine Flying University, a Polish patriotic institution of higher learning that admitted women students.

At a Warsaw laboratory, in 1890–91, Maria Skłodowska did her first scientific work and made an agreement with her sister, Bronisława, that she would give her financial assistance during Bronisława’s medical studies in Paris, in exchange for similar assistance two years later. Maria took a position as governess: first as a home tutor in Warsaw; then for two years as a governess in Szczuki with a landed family, the Żorawskis, who were relatives of her father and fell in love with their son, Kazimierz Żorawski, a future eminent mathematician.Who soon earned a doctorate and pursued an academic career as a mathematician, becoming a professor and rector of Kraków University. Sadly his parent rejected his relationship with Maria.

She lived inWarsaw until the age of 24, when she followed her older sister Bronisława to study in Paris, where she earned her higher degrees and conducted her subsequent scientific work. She was also the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes—in both physics and chemistry, In 1903 she won the Nobel Prize in Physics which She shared with her husband Pierre Curie (and with Henri Becquerel), and In 1911 She became the sole winner of the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry which she shared with Her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie and son-in-law, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, and is the only woman to date to win in two fields, and the only person to win in multiple sciences.

Among her many achievements are the theory of radioactivity (a term that she coined), She also developed techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and discovered two radioactive elements, polonium (Which was named after her native country) and radium. She was also the first female professor at the University of Paris and Under her direction, the world’s first studies were conducted into the treatment of neoplasms, using radioactive isotopes. In 1932, she founded a Radium Institute (now the Maria Skłodowska Curie Institute of Oncology) in her home town, Warsaw. The Institute was headed by her physician-sister Bronisława.

Unfortunately though Marie Curie died on 4th July 1934 of aplastic anemia,  Curie’s tragic death at the age of 67 was undoubtedly brought on by her lifelong exposure to radiation, however her pioneering research has led the way for many improvements in the fields of Science, Chemistry and Medicine and in 1995 she became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Paris Panthéon.

Posted in Events

United States Independence day

United States Independence Day, takes place annually on 4 July in the United States to Commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. On this day The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire. Independence Day is a national holiday marked by patriotic displays. Similar to other summer-themed events, Independence Day celebrations often take place outdoors. all non-essential federal institutions (such as the postal service and federal courts) are also closed on that day. Many politicians make it a point on this day to appear at a public event to praise the nation’s heritage, laws, history, society, and people. Many firework displays, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches and ceremonies also take place in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States.

Families often celebrate Independence Day by hosting or attending a picnic or barbecue; many take advantage of the day off and, in some years, a long weekend to gather with relatives or friends. Decorations (e.g., streamers, balloons, and clothing) are generally colored red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag. Parades are often held in the morning, before family get-togethers, while fireworks displays occur in the evening after dark at such places as parks, fairgrounds, or town squares.

The night before the Fourth was once the focal point of celebrations, marked by raucous gatherings often incorporating bonfires as their centerpiece. In New England, towns competed to build towering pyramids, assembled from barrels and casks. They were lit at nightfall, to usher in the celebration. The highest were in Salem, Massachusetts (on Gallows Hill, the famous site of the execution of 13 women and 6 men for witchcraft in 1692 during the Salem witch trials), where the tradition of celebratory bonfires had persisted, with pyramids composed of as many as forty tiers of barrels. These made the tallest bonfires ever recorded. The custom flourished in the 19th and 20th centuries, and is still practiced in some New England towns. Independence Day fireworks are often accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner,”, “God Bless America,”, “America the Beautiful,” “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” “This Land Is Your Land,” “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and, regionally, “Yankee Doodle” in northeastern states and “Dixie” in southern states. Some of the lyrics recall images of the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812.

Firework shows are held in many states, and many fireworks are sold for personal use or as an alternative to a public show. Safety concerns have led some states to ban fireworks or limit the sizes and types allowed. In addition, local and regional weather conditions may dictate whether the sale or use of fireworks in an area will be allowed. Some local or regional firework sales are limited or prohibited because of dry weather or other specific concerns. On these occasions the public may be prohibited from purchasing or discharging fireworks, but professional displays (such as those at sports events) may still take place, if certain safety precautions have been taken.

A salute of one gun for each state in the United States, called a “salute to the union,” is fired on Independence Day at noon by any capable military base. In 2009, New York City had the largest fireworks display in the country, with more than 22 tons of pyrotechnics exploded. It generally holds displays in the East River. Other major displays are in Chicago on Lake Michigan; in San Diego over Mission Bay; in Boston on the Charles River; in St. Louis on the Mississippi River; in San Francisco over the San Francisco Bay; and on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. During the annual Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival, Detroit, Michigan hosts one of the world’s largest fireworks displays, over the Detroit River, to celebrate Independence Day in conjunction with Windsor, Ontario’s celebration of Canada Day. The first week of July is typically one of the busiest United States travel periods of the year, as many people use what is often a 3-day holiday weekend for extended holidays.

During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain in 1776 actually occurred on July 2, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain rule. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it two days later on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more”

Adams’s prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress Historians have long disputed whether members of Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, even though Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all later wrote that they had signed it on that day. Most historians have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believe. Coincidentally, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, James Monroe, another Founding Father who was elected as President, also died on July 4, 1831. He was the third President in a row who died on the anniversary of independence. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872; so far he is the only U.S. President to have been born on Independence Day.

Posted in Uncategorized

Brian Jones (Rolling Stones)

The late, great Brian Jones, former member of the rock group The Rolling Stones tragically died 3 July 1969. He was born 28 February 1942 and joined The Rolling Stones after fellow members Keith Richards, Mick Taylor and Mick Jagger discovered him playing slide guitar with Alaxis Corner’s r&B band “Blue Incorperated along with Ian Stewart and Charlie Watts. The Rolling Stone were formed in London in 1962 When Keith Richards and Mick Jagger who were childhood friends and classmates, discovered that they shared a common interest in the music of Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. leading to the formation of a band with Dick Taylor (later of Pretty Things).On 12 July 1962 the band played their first gig at the Marquee Club billed as “The Rollin’ Stones” with Jagger, Richards and Jones, along with Stewart on piano, and Mick Taylor on bass.

Bassist Bill Wyman joined in December 1962 and drummer Charlie Watts in January 1963 .Their first single, was a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On” and their second single, was “I Wanna Be Your Man”, Their third single, Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”. The band’s second UK LP – The Rolling Stones No. 2, yielded the singles “The Last Time”, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Get Off of My Cloud”. The third album “Aftermath” was released in 1966, contained the singles “Paint It Black”, the ballad “Lady Jane” “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?” “Goin’ Home” and “Under My Thumb”. In 1967 the Rolling Stones released the album “Between the Buttons”, which included the double A-side single “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday”, and the release of the Satanic Majesties Request LP. the next album, Beggars Banquet was an eclectic mix of country and blues-inspired tunes,featuring the singles “Street Fighting Man” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Sympathy for the Devil. The Stones next album Let It Bleed featured the song “Gimmie Shelter”, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” “Midnight Rambler” and “Love in Vain”. The next album Sticky Finger was released in 1971 and featured an elaborate cover design by Andy Warhol, and contains the hits, “Brown Sugar”, and “Wild Horses”. sadly Brian Jones.

The Stones classic double album, Exile on Main St. was released in May 1972. their follow-up album Goats Head Soup, featured the hit “Angie”. Their next album was 1974′s It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll. Some Girls, which included the hit single “Miss You”, the country ballad “Far Away Eyes”, “Beast of Burden”, and “Shattered”. The band released their next albums Emotional Rescue and Tattoo You in 1980 which featured the single “Start Me Up”. in 1982 the Rolling Stones toured Europe to commemorate their 20th anniversary and released their next album Undercover in late 1983. In 1986′s the album Dirty Work was released,which contained the song “Harlem Shuffle”. The next album “Steel Wheels” included the singles “Mixed Emotions”, “Rock and a Hard Place”, “Almost Hear You Sigh” and “Continental Drift”. their next studio album 1994′s Voodoo Lounge went double platinum in the US. and won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. The Rolling Stones ended the 1990s with the album Bridges to Babylon which was released in 1997. In 2002, the band released Forty Licks, a greatest hits double album, to mark their forty years as a band.

In 2012 The Rolling Stones released the album Grrrr to celebrate their 50th anniversary and have also made a documentary called Crossfire Hurricane. They also played Glastonbury Festival in 2013. The Rolling Stones also released the rhythm and blues tinged Album Blue and Lonesome in 2017. The Rolling Stones are one of the of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music and In early 1989, the Rolling Stones, including Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood and Ian Stewart (posthumously), were inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Q magazine also named them one of the “50 Bands To See Before You Die”, and popular consensus has accorded them the title of the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.” Rolling Stone magazine ranked them 4th on their “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” list.

Posted in music

Vince Clarke (Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Erasure, VCMG)

Best known for being a member of the bands Depeche Mode, Yazoo, The Assembly, Erasure, and VCMG, the English singer-songwriter, musician, producer and Synthpop pioneer Vince Clarke was Born 3 July 1960. Clarke’s music career started in the-1970s, When he and schoolmate Andy Fletcher formed the short-lived band No Romance in China. In 1979, he teamed up with Robert Marlow & Martin Gore to form French Look. Next he formed the band Composition of Sound, in 1980 with Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher, providing vocals until singer Dave Gahan joined the band, which was then renamed Depeche Mode. At that time, he adopted the stage-name by which he is currently known: Vince Clarke. The band initially adopted a slick synthesised electro-pop sound, which produced the album Speak and Spell and the Clarke-penned singles “Dreaming of Me”, “New Life” and “Just Can’t Get Enough” in 1981.

Clarke left Depeche Mode shortly after. Clarke then teamed up with singer Alison Moyet (at the time known by the nickname of ‘Alf’) to form Yazoo (known as Yaz in the U.S.), and released the songs “Only You”, “Don’t Go”, “Situation”, “The Other Side of Love”, “Nobody’s Diary” and “Walk Away from Love”.Yazoo split in 1983, and Moyet went on to have a successful solo career. Yazoo reformed in 2008 for a series of live dates to celebrate 25 years since the duo’s split. Then In 1983 Clarke teamed up with Eric Radcliffe to form The Assembly, performing with many different artists including singer Feargal Sharkey on the song“Never Never”. He also founded the label Reset Records with Eric Radcliffe and produced four singles “The Face of Dorian Gray” “I Just Want to Dance”, “Claudette” and “Calling All Destroyers” for his friend Robert Marlow. an album called the Peter Pan Effect was eventually released in 1999. In 1985, Clarke collaborated with Paul Quinn of Bourgie Bourgie, on the single “One Day”

Vince Clarke teamed up with Andy Bell to form Erasure After placing an advert in Melody Maker for a singer. Erasure’s first three singles were commercial failures in the UK, although the third, “Oh L’amour”,was a hit and Their debut album, Wonderland, was released in June 1986 Followed by their fourth single, “Sometimes” which became another hit. Erasures ‘s next album The Circus was released in 1987 containing thE hit singles: “It Doesn’t Have To Be”, “Victim of Love” and “The Circus”. Erasure’s third album, The Innocents, was released in April 1988. Containing the singles “Ship of Fools”,”Chains of Love” and “A Little Respect”. This was follwed by , the Crackers International EP, containing the song “Stop!”, and The albums Wild! (1989) and Chorus (1991). In 1992 they released another EP, Abba-esque, covering four ABBA hits, and featuring avideo of the duo dressed in ABBA outfits, Erasure also contributed the song “Too Darn Hot” to the Cole Porter tribute album Red Hot + Blue produced by the Red Hot Organization. In 1992, a singles compilation, Pop! – the First 20 Hits, was released.In 1994, Erasure released the albu, I Say I Say I Say containing the songs, “Always”, “Run to the Sun” And “I Love Saturday”. The next album Erasure marked a determined shift away from Erasure’s signature three-minute synthpop to a more introspective and experimental sound. This featured the songS “Stay With Me”,”Fingers & Thumbs” and a remixed version of “Rock Me Gently”. In 1997 they released the album Cowboy featuring the songs “In My Arms”,”Don’t Say Your Love Is Killing Me” and “Rain”.

In 2000, Erasure released their ninth studio album Loveboat, featuring the song “Freedom”, In 2001 they released a limited EP “Moon & the Sky” containing new versions of the title song, a cover of the song “Baby Love” and some acoustic versions of Loveboat songs. In 2003 Erasure released Other People’s Songs, featuring covers of Peter Gabriel’s song “Solsbury Hill” and Steve Harley’s “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)”. In 2003 a new best-of compilation was released, called Hits! The Very Best of Erasure featuring a new version of “Oh L’amour”. In 2005 Erasure Released the album featuring the songs, “Breathe” and “Don’t Say You Love Me” and double A-side, features new versions of “Here I Go Impossible Again”/”All This Time Still Falling Out of Love”. In 2007 Erasure released the album Light at the end of the World featuring the songs “I Could Fall in Love with You”, “Sunday Girl”. The Storm Chaser EP was also released featuring an exclusive B-side “Early Bird”, a duet with Cyndi Lauper. In 2009 Total Pop! The First 40 Hits, a collection of Erasure’s first 40 hits plus a new remix of “Always” by Jeremy Wheatley, was released Erasure also released a six-track EP of classic remixes entitled Erasure.Club and To celebrate 21 years since its release, the album The Innocents was also remastered and re-released Andy Bell also released his second studio album, Non-Stop, on 7 June 2010.

Erasure’s next album Tomorrow’s World was released in 2011 featuring the songs “When I Start To (Break It All Down)” “Be with You” and “Fill Us with Fire”. Erasure also toured internationally in 2011 visiting Russia, Ukraine, and South America including two shows in Buenos Aires. In 2013, Erasure released the holiday album, Snow Globe featuring a cover of the 1973 Steeleye Span track “Gaudete”. In 2014 Erasure released, The Violet Flame and In 2015, Erasure released an updated version of “Sometimes” to celebrate their 30 years in the music industry plus a new compilation album entitled Always: The Very Best of Erasure. They also released an anthology box set entitled From Moscow To Mars to mark their 30th anniversary Erasure’s seventeenth studio album World Be Gone is released in 2017 featuring “Love you to the Sky”. Erasure also headlined at Glasgow’s O2 Academy, Manchester’s Albert Hall and London’s Roundhouse and embarked on a four-month European tour as special guests of Robbie Williams.

THE CIRCUS http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=2mfqh87kcTc
THE INNOCENTS http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=glsMO1kMNy8

Vince Clarke has also collaborated with Stephen Luscombe of Blancmange, Pandit Dinesh and Asha Bhosle. The group, West India Company, released a four track, self-titled EP. He also worked with synthpop producer Martyn Ware (Heaven 17, The Human League) in 1999 as “The Clarke & Ware Experiment” and released the album Pretentious. The duo collaborated again in 2001 for the album Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle. Clarke also wrote “Let’s Get Together” for the pop girl group Girl Authority for their second album, Road Trip and co-wrote “What Do I Want From You?” withFreeform Five, for their album Strangest Things.

In 2001, Clarke founded Illustrious Co. Ltd. with Martyn Ware, to create new forms of spatialised sound composition using their unique 3D AudioScape system For use by artists, educational establishments, the performing arts, live events, corporate clients and educational settings round the world. In 2004, Clarke provided additional music for an episode of Johnny Bravo entitled “The Time of My Life”. Clarke was also involved in a project called Family Fantastic who released the album Nice! And released a second album, entitled Wonderful in 2009, Clarke was awarded by an “Outstanding Song Collection” prize, during the Ivor Novello Awards ceremony, in recognition of 30 years in the music industry and was also featured in the BBC Four documentary Synth Britannia.

In 2012 Clarke collaborated with his former Depeche Mode colleague Martin Gore for the first time since 1981 as techno duo VCMG on an instrumental minimalist electronic dance album called Ssss, containing the songs Spock, Single Blip and Aftermaths In 2012, Vince collaborated with the band The Good Natured on a track called “Ghost Train”, and also produced a cover of the Depeche Mode song “Fly On The Windscreen” featuring Ane Brun.

Posted in music

Jim Morrison (The Doors)

Best known as the lead singer and lyricist of the rock band The Doors, TheAmerican musician, singer, and poet James Douglas “Jim” Morrison was Born December 8, 1943 Morrison studied Cinematography at UCLA before graduating in 1965 and forming The Doors with a fellow student Ray Manzarek. Thereafter, drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger joined. The musicians, apart from Morrison, also shared a common interest in the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s meditation practices.

Morrison began writing during his adolescence. At UCLA he studied the related fields of theater, film, and cinematography. He self-published two separate volumes of his poetry in 1969, entitled The Lords / Notes on Vision and The New Creatures. The Lords consists primarily of brief descriptions of places, people, events and Morrison’s thoughts on cinema., but The New Creatures verses are more poetic in tone. Jim Morrison’s vocal influences included Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, which is evident in his own baritone crooning style used in several of The Doors songs. It is mentioned that Morrison as a teenager was such a fan of Presley’s music that he demanded people be quiet when Elvis was on the radio. The Frank Sinatra influence is mentioned in the pages of “The Doors, The Illustrated History”, where Frank Sinatra is listed on Morrison’s Band Bio as being his favorite singer. Morrison was also well-known for often improvising spoken word poetry passages while the band played live.

The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore. The band got its name, at Morrison’s suggestion from the title of Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception,[5] which itself was a reference to a quote made by William Blake, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”The Doors achieved national recognition after signing with Elektra Records in 1967. The single “Light My Fire” spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July/August 1967.Later, The Doors appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a popular Sunday night variety series that had introduced The Beatles and Elvis Presley to the United States. Ed Sullivan requested two songs from The Doors for the show, “People Are Strange”, and “Light My Fire”. They were unique and among the most controversial and influential rock acts of the 1960s, mostly because of Morrison’s lyrics and charismatic but unpredictable stage persona. . The Doors released eight albums between 1967 and 1971. All but one hit the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 and went platinum or better. Their self-titled debut album (1967) was their first in a series of Top 10 albums in the United States, followed by Strange Days (also 1967), Waiting for the Sun (1968), The Soft Parade (1969), Morrison Hotel (1970), Absolutely Live (1970) and L.A. Woman (1971), with 20 Gold, 14 Platinum, 5 Multi-Platinum and 1 Diamond album awards in the United States alone. By the end of 1971, it was reported that the Doors had sold 4,190,457 albums domestically and 7,750,642 singles. The band had three million-selling singles in the U.S. with “Light My Fire”, “Hello, I Love You” and “Touch Me”.

Sadly though Morrison tragically died in Paris on July 3 1971 at the age of 27 after developing a severe alcohol and drug dependency although The exact cause of his death is sill disputed by many to this day and continues to be the subject of controversy, and although A Heroin overdose seems likely no autopsy was performed on his body after death. After Morrison’s death in 1971, the remaining members continued as a trio until disbanding in 1973 And releasd two albums Other Voices and Full Circle with Manzarek and Krieger sharing lead vocals. The three members also collaborated on the spoken word recording of Morrison’s An American Prayer in 1978 and on the “Orange County Suite” for a 1997 boxed set. Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore reunited in 2000 for an episode of VH1’s “Storytellers” and subsequently recorded Stoned Immaculate: The Music of The Doors with a variety of vocalists. In 2002, Manzarek and Krieger started playing together again, renaming themselves as the Doors of the 21st Century, with Ian Astbury of the Cult on vocals. Densmore opted to sit out and, along with the Morrison estate, sued the duo over proper use of the band’s name and won. After a short time as Riders On the Storm, they settled on the name Manzarek-Krieger and continued to tour until Manzarek’s death in 2013 at the age of 74.

Although the Doors’ active career ended in 1973, their popularity has persisted. According to the RIAA, they have sold 33 million certified units in the US and over 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. The Doors have been listed as one of the greatest artists of all time by many magazines, including Rolling Stone, which ranked them 41st on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” and Three of the band’s studio albums, the self-titled debut, L.A. Woman, and Strange Days, were featured in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, at positions 42, 362, and 407 respectively. According to The Washington Post’s Martin Weil, the band rose to the center of the counterculture of the 1960s. The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

Due to his wild personality and performances, Morrison is also regarded by some people as one of the most iconic, charismatic and pioneering frontmen and continues to remain, one of the most popular and influential singer-songwriters in rock history. The Doors’ catalog has also become a unequivocal staple of classic rock radio stations. To this day Morrison is widely regarded as the prototypical rock-star: surly, sexy, scandalous and mysterious. The leather pants he was fond of wearing both onstage and off have since become stereotyped as rock-star apparel. In 2011, a Rolling Stone readers’ pick placed Jim Morrison in fifth place of the magazine’s “Best Lead Singers of All Time”. Morrison was ranked number 47 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”, and number 22 on Classic Rock Magazine’s “50 Greatest Singers In Rock”

Posted in films & DVD, Science fiction

Passengers

have recently rewatched the science fiction film Passengers. It stars Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, and Laurence Fishburne as passengers travelling On a 120 year journey aboard The starship Avalon With 5,000 colonists and 258 crew members all in hyper sleep who are all hoping for a new life on the planet Homestead II.

Unfortunately Thirty years into its journey, the ship passes through a meteor storm, which severely damages the ship. This awakens mechanical engineer Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), 90 years early who sets about fixing the damage. He then avails himself of every luxurious amenity aboard the ship. however After a year of isolation, with no company except Arthur (Michael Sheen), an android bartender, he gets bored and depressed. Then One day, he notices another colonist Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) in her pod. so he revives her early, claiming her pod must have also malfunctioned. At first they get on really well, however Aurora eventually finds out the truth and gets understandably angry and distraught at having the chance of a new life on Homestead II taken away from her.

Then, another pod failure awakens Chief Deck Officer Gus (Laurence Fishburne)
The three discover multiple failures throughout the ship’s systems which If not repaired, will eventually cause critical system failures killing everyone on board the Starship Avalon. They also discover a series of holes through the ship’s hull and that The computer module controlling the ships fusion reactor has also been damaged.
Gus, Jim and Aurora then find themselves having to resort to increasingly desperate and potentially fatal measures in order to repair the fusion reactor and repair the damaged ship before more systems fail and everyone else on board dies before reaching Homestead II…

Posted in books

Franz Kafka

German novellist and short story writer Franz Kafka was born 3 July 1883 into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He trained as a lawyer and, after completing his legal education, obtained employment with an insurance company. He began to write short stories in his spare time. For the rest of his life, he complained about the little time he had to devote to what he came to regard as his calling and regretted having to devote so much attention to his Brotberuf (“day job”, literally “bread job”). Kafka preferred to communicate by letter and wrote hundreds of letters to family and close female friends, including his father, his fiancée Felice Bauer, and his youngest sister Ottla. He had a complicated and troubled relationship with his father that had a major effect on his writing. He also suffered conflict over being Jewish, feeling that it had little to do with him, although critics argue that it influenced his writing.

Only a few of Kafka’s works were published during his lifetime: the story collections betrachtung (Contemplation and Ein Landarzt (A Country Doctor), and individual stories (such as “Die Verwandlung”) in literary magazines. He prepared the story collection Ein Hungerkünstler (A Hunger Artist) for print, but it was not published until after his death. Kafka’s unfinished works, including his novels Der Process, Das Schloss and Amerika (also known as Der Verschollene, The Man Who Disappeared), were published posthumously, mostly by his friend Max Brod, who ignored Kafka’s wish to have the manuscripts destroyed. Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre are among the writers influenced by Kafka’s work; the term Kafkaesque has entered the English language to describe surreal situations like those in his writing. Kafka sadly passed away on 3 June 1924 but his literature had a big impact on literature and film making.

Metamorphosis concerns Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman, who wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant insect (the most common translation of the German description ungeheuer Ungeziefer, literally “monstrous vermin”). Gregor’s mother becomes concerned when Gregor fails to go to work. His sister, Grete, to whom he is very close, begs him to open the door But he discovers that he can’t get out of bed. Then his office manager, the chief clerk, has shown up to check on him. Unaware of Gregor’s predicament The clerk warns him of the consequences of missing work. Nobody understands a word Gregor says and they conclude that he is seriously ill. Finally, Gregor manages to unlock and open the door with his mouth. He apologizes to the office manager for the delay. Horrified by Gregor’s appearance, his mother faints, and the manager bolts out of the apartment. Gregor tries to catch up with him, but his father drives him back into the bedroom with a shoe and a rolled magazine. Gregor injures himself squeezing back through the doorway, then exhausted, falls asleep.

The next morning, Gregor’s sister comes in, sees that he has not touched the milk which she left and replaces it with rotting food scraps, which Gregor happily eats. This begins a routine in which his sister feeds him and cleans up while he hides under the couch, afraid that his appearance will frighten her. Gregor spends his time listening through the wall to his family members talking about the dire financial situation they find themselves in now and that Gregor can’t provide them any help. Gregor had plans of sending Grete to the conservatory to pursue violin lessons, however his incapability of providing for his family, coupled with his speechlessness proves a bit of an impediment Gregor also learns that his mother wants to visit him, but his sister and father will not let her.

Gregor grows more comfortable with his changed body. He begins climbing the walls and ceiling for amusement. Discovering Gregor’s new pastime, Grete decides to remove some of the furniture to give Gregor more space. She and her mother begin taking furniture away. However Gregor’s mother sees him hanging on the wall and passes out. Grete angrily calls out to Gregor – the first time anyone has spoken directly to him since his transformation. Gregor runs out of the room and into the kitchen. He encounters his father, who has just returned home from work. The father throws apples at Gregor, and one of them sinks into a sensitive spot in his back and Gregor is severely injured.

One evening, the cleaning lady leaves Gregor’s door open while three boarders, whom the family has taken on for additional income, lounge about the living room. Grete has been asked to play the violin for them, and Gregor creeps out of his bedroom to listen however Gregor is seen. As Gregor’s father tries to shove the boarders back into their rooms, the three men leave without paying. Grete, eventually tires of taking care of Gregor and the burden his existence puts on each one in the family, so she tells her parents they must get rid of Gregor…

Kafka is regarded by many critics as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. Kafka strongly influenced genres such as existentialism. His works, such as “Die Verwandlung” (“The Metamorphosis”), Der Process (The Trial), and Das Schloss (The Castle), are filled with the themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent–child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, labyrinths of bureaucracy, and mystical transformations.

Posted in locomotives, steam locomotives, Trains

LNER A4 Pacific locomotive 4468 Mallard

On 3 July 1938 the London and North Eastern Railway A4 Class 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive Number 4468 “Mallard” set the official world speed record for steam locomotives at 125.88 mph (202.58 km/h) . The record was achieved on the slight downward grade of Stoke Bank south of Grantham on the East Coast Main Line, and the highest speed was recorded at milepost 90¼, between Little Bytham and Essendine. It broke the German (DRG Class 05) 002’s 1936 record of 124.5 mph (200.4 km/h) Mallard still officially holds the record and as plaques affixed to each side of the locomotive commemorate the feat. LNER 4468 Mallard was built at Doncaster, England in 1938. It was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley as an express locomotive to power high-speed streamlined trains. Its wind-tunnel-tested, aerodynamic body and high power allowed it to reach speeds of over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), though in everyday service it was relatively uncommon for any steam hauled service to reach even 90mph, much less 100.

In 1948, the newly formed British Railways, decided to test locomotives from all of the former ‘Big Four’ companies to find the best attributes of speed, power and efficiency with coal and water. There were two ways of testing and comparing locomotives: either at the Rugby Locomotive testing plant, which was not ready until late 1948 or by testing in the field itself. The results of these trials would be used to help design the British Railways Standard design of locomotives. The express passenger locomotive designs which would be compared were: London Midland Region (former LMS) Princess Coronation class, Eastern Region (former LNER) Class A4, Southern Region (former Southern) Merchant Navy class and Western Region (former GWR) 6000 Class or King class. Three Gresley A4 locomotives were chosen to represent the Eastern Region: E22 Mallard, 60033 Seagull and 60034 Lord Faringdon. All of the locomotives had the Kylchap double blastpipe chimney arrangement and were fresh from Doncaster works. Mallard had emerged from Doncaster with a fresh coat of post-war garter blue livery, stainless steel numbers 22 with a small ‘E’ painted above them (for Eastern region), new boiler (her fourth) and third tender of her career.

E22 Mallard was used on 8 June 1948 on the Waterloo-Exeter route. Driver Marrable took the famous A4 with a load of 481 tons tare, 505 tons full, the same that had been used on the previous trip by 35018 British India Line. Mallard got through Clapham Junction in 6 minutes 57 seconds, Woking in 28 minutes 47 seconds. At Hook there were adverse signals, causing Mallard to slow to a crawl. Even so, Salisbury was reached in 108 minutes and 28 seconds. Despite the signals earlier, the train was only 5-and-a-half minutes late. The net time was 95.5 minutes. Mallard failed after this trial and 60033 Seagull took over. 10 June saw Seagull achieve the run in 96 minutes 22 seconds, but had departed 3 minutes late, meaning Seagull had arrived with the same load 3.5 minutes early. For Mallard, the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials were over, but Mallard was to return to the Waterloo-Exeter line for a Locomotive Club of Great Britain (LCGB) railtour in 24 February 1963 after wch it was retired, having covered almost one and a half million miles (2.4 million km).

LNER 4468 “Mallard” was restored to working order in the 1980s, and ran some specials between York and Scarborough in July 1986 and a couple of runs between York and Harrogate/Leeds around Easter 1987. Mallard is now part of the National Collection at the United Kingdom’s National Railway Museum in York. On the weekend of 5 July 2008, Mallard was taken outside for the first time in years and displayed alongside her A4 sisters, thus reuniting all four A4s extant in the UK for the first time since preservation. She departed the museum for Locomotion, the NRM’s outbase at Shildon on the 23 June 2010, where she was a static exhibit, until she was hauled back to York on 19 July 2011 and put back on display in its original location in the Great Hall.

LNER 4468 Mallard

In 2013, To celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Mallard achieving the world record speed for a steam locomotive of 126mph in 1938, LNER 4468 Mallard was reunited with the only other surviving A4 locomotives for theGreat Gathering inside the Great Hall at the National Railway Museum, It was joined by the temporarily repatriated A4′s Dwight D Eisenhower and Dominion of Canada as well as A4′s No 60019 (LNER 4464) Bittern, 60007 (LNER 4498) Sir Nigel Gresley and 60009 Union of South Africa in the Great Hall at the National Railway Museum in York on 3 July 2013. Dwight D Eisenhower and Dominion of Canada eventually went home in Spring 2014. Bittern, Sir Nigel Gresley and union of South Africa were busy doing various Rail Tours and Steam Galas up until the start of 2020. While Mallard is on display at the National Railway Museum (which is currently closed due to the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic).

Posted in films & DVD

The Artist

I have recently watched the enjoyable black and white silent comedy/ drama “The Artist”. Written directed and co-edited by Michel Hazanavicius, and produced by Thomas Langmann, the film stars Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, James Cromwell and John Goodman. The story takes place in Hollywood, between 1927 and 1932, and focuses on the relationship between a rising young actress and an older silent film star as silent cinema falls out of fashion and is replaced by talking pictures. It features Jean Dujardin as a silent movie superstar named George Valentin who meets an up and coming actress named Peppy Miller (Berenice Bijo). Who auditioning as a dancer. Valentin insists that she have a part in Kinograph Studios’ next production, despite objections from the studio boss, Al Zimmer. While performing a scene together, Valentin and Peppy show great chemistry. Gradually Peppy rises through the industry, earning more prominent starring roles.

Two years later, Zimmer announces the end of production of silent films at Kinograph Studios, So Valentin decides to produce and direct his own silent film, Tears of Love, financing it himself. However The film opens on the same day as Peppy’s new film Beauty Spot, as well as the 1929 Stock Market Crash. In order to avoid bankruptcy Tears of Love needs to be a hit film, sadly the film flops leaving Valentin bankrupt, then his wife Doris evicts him and he moves into an apartment with his valet/chauffeur, Clifton, (James Cromwell) and his dog and Valantin hits rock bottom while Peppy goes on to become a major Hollywood star.

Now bankrupt Valentin is forced to auction off all of his personal effects, and after realizing he has not paid Clifton in over a year, gives him the car and fires him, telling him to get another job. Depressed and drunk, Valentin angrily tries to commit suicide. Luckily though Valantin is rescued and after a short stay in hospital Peppy tries to help him and he recuperates at Peppy’s house, and then discovers that his chauffeur Clifton is also working for Peppy. To aid Valantin’s recovery further Peppy then persuades Zimmer to cast Valantin as her co-star in her latest musical.

The Artist received widespread critical acclaim and won many accolades. Dujardin won Best Actor at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where the film premiered. The film was nominated for six Golden Globes, winning three: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Original Score, and Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Dujardin. In January 2012, the film was nominated for twelve BAFTAs, winning seven, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor for Dujardin, and Best Original Screenplay for Hazanavicius.It was also nominated for ten Academy Awards winning five, including Best Picture, Best Director for Hazanavicius, and Best Actor for Dujardin In France it was nominated for ten César Awards, winning six, including Best Film, Best Director for Hazanavicius and Best Actress for Bejo.