Tribute to Amy Winehouse

The Late Great Amy Winehouse was born 14th September  1983 in London. She joined the Brit School and by 16 her otherworldly soul voice – deep, full and knowing but light and fresh and fragile at the same time – had won her a contract with Simon Fuller’s management company, which led to her being signed by Island Records. In 2003, she released her first album – The jazz-influenced album entitled ‘Frank’,- it garnered much critical acclaim earning an Ivor Novello songwriting award, two Brit nominations and a spot on the shortlist for the Mercury Music Prize. It was also around this time that Amy met Blake Fielder-Civil and began an infamously tempestuous on-off relationship with him, involving drug and drink binges.

By 2006, after three years with Blake, rapid weight loss, an ever-expanding beehive hairdo and documented drug and drink problems, Winehouse released Back to  Black, her breakthrough album, which made her a huge star across the world, fusing soul, jazz, doo-wop, it went on to win five Grammy awards, including song and record of the year for Rehab. Even back  then, Winehouse’s performances were sometimes shambolic, and she admitted to being ‘a terrible drunk., her personal life  Increasingly began to overshadow her career. She also acknowledged struggling with eating disorders and said that she had been diagnosed as manic depressive but refused to take medication. Soon accounts of her erratic behavior, canceled concerts and drink and drug-fueled nights began to appear forcing Winehouse’s managers to go to increasingly desperate lengths to keep the wayward star on the straight and narrow.

Sadly she was not able to follow up the success of Back to Black, Her rendition of The Zutons’ Valerie was a hit for producer Mark Ronson but sadly other recording projects with Ronson, came to nothing. Though she was often reported to be working on new material, fans got tired of waiting for the much-promised follow up to Back to Black. Her increasingly erratic behaviour also led to numerous run-ins with the law, it was also at this time that she broke up with Blake, going out with chef Alex Claire, but got back together with her former lover, whom she married in Miami. Unfortunately this renewed relationship with Blake led to more cancelled tours and hospital visits after overdosing on drugs. A day after being told she had received three MTV Video Music Award nods, the singer was rushed to the University College London Hospital after one such overdose, which was initially dismissed as ‘exhaustion’.  This prompted worried relatives to say ‘ they both need to get medical help before one of them, if not both of them, eventually dies.’

Fielder-Civil also had many run-ins with the law, and was arrested on numerous occasions. with his excessive drinking and drug use leading to many stays in Hospital for Amy. In June 2008 after one of many hospital stays She left to perform at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday concert in Hyde Park,  and at the Glastonbury festival the next day, where she received a rousing reception. Sadly though most of her performances were increasingly shambolic and she had pulled out of her European tour after she was jeered while appearing drunk on stage at her comeback gig in Serbia.She left the stage frequently, with her band having to improvise in her absence, and was said to have mumbled through parts of her songs.

Her excessive drinking and Drug Abuse were also taking their toll on her health too and in a bid to save her ailing health and desperate addiction problems, Winehouse most recently booked herself into rehab at The Priory in May where it was hoped finally to refocus the young singer. Winehouse, however, checked herself out after just one week. It appears that despite her prodigious talent She never found serenity through her music and her amazing natural talent, and turned to drugs, alchohol instead as a means of escaping her troubles, with tragic consequences. In just 27 years, Amy Winehouse has managed to leave behind her a soul legacy, Sadly, however, the immeasurably gifted singer is unlikely to be remembered for her singing but for her tempestuous relationship, excessive drinking, drug abuse and troubles with the Law.

Happy Birthday Walter Koenig

I am a big Science Fiction fan so I thought I would mention American actor, writer, teacher and director Walter Koenig. who was born September 14, 1936 and is best known for his roles as Pavel Chekov in Star Trek and Alfred Bester in Babylon 5. He wrote the script for the 2008 science fiction legal thriller InAlienable. Born in Chicago, Illinois, He attended Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa with a pre-med major. He transferred to UCLA and received a BA in psychology. After a professor encouraged Koenig to become an actor, he attended the Neighborhood Playhouse with fellow students Dabney Coleman, Christopher Lloyd, and James Caan.

Koenig played Ensign Pavel Chekov, navigator on the USS Enterprise, in the original Star Trek television series (starting in Season 2) and in several movies featuring the original cast. One of only two actors to audition, he was cast as Chekov almost immediately primarily because of his resemblance to British actor/musician Davy Jones of the Monkees, to attract a younger audience. As the 30-year old’s hair was already receding, costume designers fashioned a Davy Jones-style “moptop” hairpiece for him. In later episodes, his own hair grew out enough to accomplish the look with a comb-over. Gene Roddenberry asked him to “ham up” his Russian accent to add a note of comic relief to the series. Chekov’s accent has been criticized as inauthentic, in particular Koenig’s substituting the “w” sound in place of a “v” sound (e.g., “wodka” for “vodka”). Koenig has said the accent was inspired by his father, who had the same difficulty with the “v” sound.

Having been told that Chekov would be a recurring role based on his popularity, Koenig was pleasantly surprised when he immediately became a regular cast member, and most of his fan mail indeed came from children.When the early Season 2 episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series were shot, George Takei (who played Sulu) was delayed completing the movie The Green Berets, so Chekov is joined at the Enterprise helm by a different character. When Takei returned, the two had to share a dressing room and a single episode script. This reportedly angered Takei to the point where he nearly left the show. But the two actors have since become good friends, and the image of their two characters manning the helm of the Enterprise became iconic.Koenig is also credited for writing the Star Trek: The Animated Series installment “The Infinite Vulcan”, making him the first “original cast” member to write a Star Trek story for television. The character of Pavel Andreievich Chekov never appeared in the animated version of Star Trek due to budget reasons, so Koenig never got to reprise his character on the animated series.

After Chekov, Koenig had a starring role as Psi Cop Alfred Bester on the television series Babylon 5 in twelve episodes and, at the end of the third season and a handful of episodes for TV shows: Star Trek: The Animated Series, Land of the Lost, Family and The Powers of Matthew Star. He has also written several books, including Warped Factors: A Neurotic’s Guide to the Universe (an autobiography), Chekov’s Enterprise (a journal kept during the filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture) and Buck Alice and the Actor-Robot (a science fiction novel), which was re-released in 2006. He created his own comic book series called Raver, which was published by Malibu Comics in the early 1990s, and appeared as a “special guest star” in an issue of the comic book Eternity Smith, which features him prominently on its cover

In 1987, Koenig and his wife directed his original one-act plays The Secret Life of Lily Langtree, Tech Night: Hands on Demo and Encore: Long Distance Lady — all under the umbrella title Public Moments at the Theatre of N.O.T.E. in Los Angeles. In 1997, Koenig starred in Drawing Down the Moon, an independent film about a Wiccan woman who attempts to open a homeless shelter in a small Pennsylvania town. In 2004, Koenig co-starred in Mad Cowgirl, an independent movie about a meat-packing health inspector dying from a brain disorder in which he played televangelist Pastor Dylan, a character described as “a sleazy, slimy, sex-addict”.

In 2007, Koenig was asked by the human rights group U.S. Campaign for Burma to help in their grassroots campaign about the humanitarian crisis in Burma. As detailed on his official website, he visited refugee camps along the Burma-Thailand border from July 16 to July 25, 2007 and on September 10, 2012 Koenig received the 2,279th star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame

He received Saturn Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor in a Film for both Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Koenig reprised his role of Pavel Chekov for the fan webseries Star Trek: New Voyages, To Serve All My Days and the independent Sky Conway/Tim Russ film Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, both in 2006.

Tribute to Sir Peter Scott

British naturalist ornithologist, conservationist, painter, naval officer sportsman. and explorer Sir Peter Scott CH, CBE, DSC and Bar, MID, FRS, FZS was born in London 14th September 1909 , The only child of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott and sculptor Kathleen Bruce and was only two years old when his father died. Robert Scott, in a last letter to his wife, advised her to “make the boy interested in natural history if you can; it is better than games.” and his godfather was J. M. Barrie, creator of Peter Pan.

He was educated at Oundle School and Trinity College, Cambridge, initially reading Natural Sciences but graduating in the History of Art in 1931.Like his mother, he displayed a strong artistic talent and had his first exhibition in London in 1933. His wealthy background allowed him to follow his interests in art, wildlife and many sports, including sailing and ice skating. He represented Great Britain and Northern Ireland at sailing in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal in the O-Jolle class dinghy. During World War II, Scott served in the Royal Navy, emulating his father. He served first in destroyers in the North Atlantic but later moved to commanding the First (and only) Squadron of Steam Gun Boats against German E-boats in the English Channel. He is also partly credited with designing ‘shadow camouflage’, which disguised the look of ship superstructure. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery.

In 1948, he founded the organisation with which he was ever afterwards closely associated, the Severn Wildfowl Trust (now the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) with its headquarters at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire. In the years that followed, he led ornithological expeditions worldwide, and became a television personality, popularising the study of wildfowl and wetlands. His BBC natural history series, Look, ran from 1955 to 1981 and made him a household name. He wrote and illustrated several books on the subject, including his autobiography, The Eye of the Wind (1961). In the 1950s, he also appeared regularly on BBC radio’s Children’s Hour, in the series, “Nature Parliament”.

Scott was also one of the founders of the World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly called the World Wildlife Fund), and designed its panda logo. His pioneering work in conservation also contributed greatly to the shift in policy of the International Whaling Commission and signing of the Antarctic Treaty, the latter inspired by his visit to his father’s base on Ross Island in Antarctica. Scott was a long-time Vice-President of the British Naturalists’ Association, In June 2004, Scott and Sir David Attenborough were jointly profiled in the second of a three part BBC Two series, The Way We Went Wild, about television wildlife presenters and were described as being largely responsible for the way that the British and much of the world views wildlife.Scott’s life was also the subject of a BBC Four documentary called “Peter Scott – A Passion for Nature” produced in 2006

In 1943, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) “for skill and gallantry in action with enemy light forces”, and was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 1942 King’s Birthday Honours. He was promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1953 Coronation Honours. In the 1987 Queen’s Birthday Honours, he was appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) “for services to conservation”.He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 1973 for his contribution to the conservation of wild animals. He had been a founder of the World Wildlife Fund, a founder of several wetlands bird sanctuaries in Britain, and an influence on international conservation. He received the WWF Gold Medal and the J. Paul Getty Prize for his work. Scott Sadly passed away on 29 August 1989, but to this day, he along with Sir David Attenborough inspired me, to take a great interest in nature and wildlife, which, I still find absolutely fascinating.