Pink Floyd – The Wall

The Wall is the eleventh studio album by English progressive rock group Pink Floyd and was Released as a double album on 30 November 1979. It was subsequently performed live with elaborate theatrical effects, and adapted into a feature film, Pink Floyd—The Wall. As with the band’s previous three LPs, The Wall is a concept album and deals largely with themes of abandonment and personal isolation. It was first conceived during their 1977 In the Flesh Tour, when bassist and lyricist Roger Waters’s frustration with the spectators’ perceived boorishness became so acute that he imagined building a wall between the performers and audience.

The album is a rock opera that centres on Pink Floyd, a character Waters modelled after himself, with some aspects based on the band’s original leader, Syd Barrett. Pink’s life experiences begin with the loss of his father during the Second World War, and continue with ridicule and abuse from his schoolteachers, an overprotective mother and finally, the breakdown of his marriage. All contribute to his eventual self-imposed isolation from society, represented by a metaphorical wall.

The Wall features a notably harsher and more theatrical style than Pink Floyd’s previous releases. Keyboardist Richard Wright left the band during the album’s production but remained as a salaried musician, performing with Pink Floyd during The Wall Tour. Commercially successful upon its release, the album was one of the best selling of 1980, and as of 1999, it had sold over 23 million RIAA certified units (11.5 million albums) in the United States. Rolling Stone magazine placed The Wall at number 87 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Tribute to Jonathan Swift

gulltravSatirist, essayist, poet and cleric Jonathan Swift was born 30 November 1667. He is remembered for works such as Gulliver’s Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier’s Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift’s family had several interesting literary connections: His grandmother, Elizabeth (Dryden) Swift, was the niece of Sir Erasmus Dryden, grandfather of the poet John Dryden. The same grandmother’s aunt, Katherine (Throckmorton) Dryden, was a first cousin of Elizabeth, wife of Sir Walter Raleigh. His great-great grandmother, Margaret (Godwin) Swift, was the sister of Francis Godwin, author of The Man in the Moone which influenced parts of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. His uncle, Thomas Swift, married a daughter of the poet and playwright Sir William Davenant, a godson of William Shakespeare. He is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, and is less well known for his poetry. Swift originally published all of his works under pseudonyms – such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, MB Drapier – or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire: the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.

In February 1702, Swift received his Doctor of Divinity degree from Trinity College, Dublin. That spring he traveled to England and returned to Ireland in October, accompanied by Esther Johnson and his friend Rebecca Dingley, another member of William Temple’s household. During his visits to England in these years Swift published A Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books (1704) and began to gain a reputation as a writer. This led to close, lifelong friendships with Alexander Pope, John Gay, and John Arbuthnot, forming the core of the Martinus Scriblerus Club. Swift also became increasingly active politically in these years & went to London many times & The Tory Party recruited him to support their cause as editor of The Examiner when they came to power in 1710. In 1711, Swift published the political pamphlet “The Conduct of the Allies & became part of the inner circle of the Tory government, and often acted as mediator between Henry St John (Viscount Bolingbroke) the secretary of state for foreign affairs (1710–15) and Robert Harley (Earl of Oxford) lord treasurer and prime minister (1711–14). Swift recorded his experiences and thoughts during this difficult time in a long series of letters to Esther Johnson.

============================================================================================

GULLIVER’S TRAVELS (1939)

============================================================================================

After the death of Queen Anne in 1714 and accession of George I, the Tory leaders were tried for treason for conducting secret negotiations with France so Swift left England rapidly and returned to Ireland. Once back in Ireland he began to turn his pamphleteering skills in support of Irish causes, producing some of his most memorable works: Proposal for Universal Use of Irish Manufacture (1720), Drapier’s Letters (1724), and A Modest Proposal (1729), earning him the status of an Irish patriot.Also during these years, he began writing his masterpiece, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts, by Lemuel Gulliver, first a surgeon, and then a captain of several ships, better known as Gulliver’s Travels. Much of the material reflects his political experiences of the preceding decade. For instance, the episode in which the giant Gulliver puts out the Lilliputian palace fire by urinating on it can be seen as a metaphor for the Tories’ illegal peace treaty; having done a good thing in an unfortunate manner. In 1726 he paid a long-deferred visit to London, taking with him the manuscript of Gulliver’s Travels. During his visit he stayed with his old friends Alexander Pope, John Arbuthnot and John Gay, who helped him arrange for the anonymous publication of his book. First published in November 1726, it was an immediate hit, with a total of three printings that year and another in early 1727. French, German, and Dutch translations appeared in 1727, and pirated copies were printed in Ireland.

Swift returned to England one more time in 1727 but The visit was cut short when Swift received word that Esther Johnson was dying and rushed back home to be with her. On 28 January 1728, Esther Johnson died. Sadly After this, Death became a frequent feature in Swift’s life. In 1731 he wrote Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift. In 1738 Swift began to show signs of illness, and in 1742 he may have suffered a stroke, losing the ability to speak. Swift sadly passed away three years later on 19 October 1745 (aged 77). After being laid out in public view for the people of Dublin to pay their last respects, he was buried in his own cathedral by Esther Johnson’s side, in accordance with his wishes. The bulk of his fortune (twelve thousand pounds) was left to found a hospital for the mentally ill, which opened in 1757, and which still exists as a psychiatric hospital. There have also been many film Animation and Television adaptations made of of the novel. including the 1939 version and the more recent Hallmark version starring Ted Danson as Lemuel Gulliver, which was offered with one of the newspapers a few years ago (There might still be copies on Ebay).

Tribute to Evel Knievel

American motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel Sadly died of pulmonary disease on November 30th, 2007 in Clearwater, Florida, aged 69. According to the obituary in The Times Newspaper , Knievel was one of the greatest American icons of the 1970s and was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999. Born Robert Craig Knievel in Butte, Montana onOctober 17, 1938  and raised by his grandparents. After watching a Joie Chitwood auto daredevil show as a child, he took to jumping using a pedal bike, later moving on to motorcycles. As a troubled youth, he earned his stagename after occupying a jail cell next to a man named Knofel, leading the jailer to refer to the pair as Awful Knofel and Evil Knievel (Knievel later changed the spelling of the first name to Evel). In addition to stunt riding at local shows, his early life including a spell in the United States Army at the behest of a magistrate, as well as jobs as a hunting guide and an insurance salesman, while also becoming an ice-hockey team owner. Knievel notably staged an exhibition match against the Czechoslovakian hockey team ahead of the 1960 Winter Olympics. After moving into sports full time, he had moderate success on the motocross circuit.

Knievel moved into the entertainment business in 1966 by setting up his own touring daredevil show, initially using a variety of performers and later converting it to a solo show with his jumps as the center-piece. He came to national attention when he persuaded the owners of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to let him jump their fountains on New Year’s Eve 1967. After a failed landing, which was caught on film, Knievel spent 29 days in a coma. After his recovery, he continued to make high profile and lucrative jumps, and began lobbying the government for permission to jump the Grand Canyon. Unable to obtain permission, he settled on a jump over the Snake River in Twin Falls, Idaho, which he attempted on September 8, 1974 in the X-2 Skycycle. The parachute deployed immediately after launch and the vehicle crashed just a few feet away from the river’s edge. Knievel suffered minor injuries and avoided drowning. Knievel then traveled to Britain, and on May 26, 1975, attempted to jump 13 buses in front of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium, again crashing but with severe injuries. His longest completed career jump came at Kings Island theme park in Ohio on October 25, 1975, jumping 14 buses, marking his peak television audience.

In 1977, Knievel served six months in jail for assaulting promoter Shelly Saltman for writing an unflattering book. After this conviction, Knievel’s career suffered, causing him to declare bankruptcy following a $13 million award for damages to Saltman. After cancelling an attempt to jump a tank full of live sharks in Chicago after injuring a cameraman during a practice jump, Knievel eventually withdrew from doing major shows. He instead concentrated on touring with and training his son Robbie Knievel, also a daredevil, eventually making his last jump in March 1981. Knievel’s nationally televised motorcycle jumps were four of the twenty most-watched ABC’s Wide World of Sports events to date. He became a celebrity, recognizable for his use of a Stars-and-Stripes red, white and blue V-shaped set of motorcycle leathers and cape. On the back of this fame, Knievel gained endorsements from Harley-Davidson and a toy line by the Ideal Toy Company. A 1971 film Evel Knievel starred George Hamilton as Knievel, and he starred as himself in the 1977 film Viva Knievel!. Knievel later said of his career that he had “earned $60 million, and spent $62 million”. In total he attempted over 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps between 1965 and 1980, and in 1974, a failed jump across Snake River Canyon in the Skycycle X-2, a steam-powered rocket. The 35 broken bones he suffered during his career earned him an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of “most bones broken in a lifetime”.

 

Tribute to Oscar Wilde

Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde Sadly  died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six on 30th November 1900. Born 16 October 1854. He became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Today he is remembered for his epigrams and plays, and the circumstances of his imprisonment which was followed by his early death.

Wilde’s parents were successful Dublin intellectuals. Their son became fluent in French and German early in life. At university Wilde read Greats; he proved himself to be an outstanding classicist, first at Dublin, then at Oxford. He became known for his involvement in the rising philosophy of aestheticism, led by two of his tutors, Walter Pater and John Ruskin. After university, Wilde moved to London into fashionable cultural and social circles. As a spokesman for aestheticism, he tried his hand at various literary activities: he published a book of poems, lectured in the United States and Canada on the new “English Renaissance in Art”, and then returned to London where he worked prolifically as a journalist. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress, and glittering conversation, Wilde had become one of the most well-known personalities of his day.

At the turn of the 1890s, he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays, and incorporated themes of decadence, duplicity, and beauty into his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). The opportunity to construct aesthetic details precisely, and combine them with larger social themes, drew Wilde to write drama. He wrote Salome (1891) in French in Paris but it was refused a licence. Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London.

At the height of his fame and success, while his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), was still on stage in London, Wilde had the Marquess of Queensberry, the father of his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, prosecuted for libel, a charge carrying a penalty of up to two years in prison. The trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency with other men. After two more trials he was convicted and imprisoned for two years’ hard labour. In prison he wrote De Profundis (written in 1897 and published in 1905), a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. Upon his release he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life.

Tolkien artwork

hobbitJ.R.R Tolkien, Author of The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, was also a gifted illustrator, creating abstract and subtly beautiful works of art. Tolkien imagined his otherworld of hobbits, elves and wizards in pictures, as well as words. The Hobbit was first published in 1937, he made drew many beguiling pictures and designs that map and depict the landscapes through which Bilbo Baggins was to journey.

Tolkien also designed the cover for that first edition of The Hobbit. It immediately promises a rich and strange world within: layers of trees in green, white and purple fold over one another towards stylised mountain peaks and the great disc of the sun. Runes are inscribed along the edges of the design. Runic writing is the script of the elves in Middle Earth – but Tolkien did not invent it. Runes were used by the Vikings to inscribe memorials and spells. The Viking connection is telling, for Tolkien’s art has a Scandinavian quality. The dreamlike elegance of The Hobbit’s original cover is reminiscent of modern northern European art as well as ancient Viking designs.

One artistic cousin of Tolkien is the Russian early 20th-century painter Nicolas Roerich, who was fascinated by the journeys of the Vikings into medieval Russia. Roerich’s pictures of the Vikings share the intense quality of Tolkein’s art. Roerich is most famous for designing the revolutionary ballet The Rite of Spring. The affinity between his vision of The Rite of Spring and Tolkien’s images of Middle Earth is striking.

Tolkien, in other words, is a fine modern artist. His vision of The Hobbit in his original illustrations is very different from the bog-standard digitised fantasy art of today. Tolkien’s Hobbit pictures are subtle, even abstract. A scene called The Trolls that he drew for The Hobbit depicts a curling, fantastical flame rising amid a nocturnal labyrinth of stippled trees. His painting Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft Elves is a misty golden landscape you just want to walk into.It is this sense of place, of a place so real in his mind that he can map or draw it, that makes Tolkien the greatest of all modern fantasy writers. His beautiful works of art reveal the crystalline eye of his genius.

St Andrew’s Day

800px-Flag_of_Scotland.svgSaint Andrew (Greek: manly, brave, from ἀνδρεία, Andreia, “manhood, valour”),is the patron saint of Scotland, and St. Andrew’s Day (Scots: Saunt Andra’s Day, Scottish Gaelic: Latha Naomh Anndra) takes place on 30th November & is Scotland’s official national day. Although most commonly associated with Scotland, at least in the English-speaking world, Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine Barbados, Scotland, Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Patras in Greece, Amalfi in Italy, Luqa in Malta, and Esgueira in Portugal and of the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The New Testament states that Andrew is a Christian Apostle & was the brother of Simon Peter, by which it is inferred that he was likewise a son of John, or Jonah. He was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Both he and his brother Peter were fishermen by trade, hence the tradition that Jesus called them to be his disciples by saying that he will make them “fishers of men”. At the beginning of Jesus’ public life, they were said to have occupied the same house at Capernaum.The Gospel of John states that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him, and another unnamed disciple of John the Baptist to follow Jesus. Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and hastened to introduce him to his brother. Thenceforth, the two brothers were disciples of Christ. On a subsequent occasion, prior to the final call to the Apostolate, they were called to a closer companionship, and then they left all things to follow Jesus.

In the gospels, Andrew is referred to as being present on some important occasions as one of the disciples more closely attached to Jesus, Andrew told Jesus about the boy with the loaves and fishes (John 6:8), with Philip told Jesus about the Greeks seeking Him, and was one of four (the others being Peter, James, and John) to hear Jesus’ teaching about what would soon happen.
Eusebius quotes Origen as saying Andrew preached along the Black Sea and the Dnieper and Volga rivers as far as Kiev and Novgorod Hence he became a patron saint of Ukraine, Romania and Russia. According to tradition, he founded the See of Byzantium (Constantinople) in AD 38, installing Stachys as bishop. According to Hippolytus of Rome, he preached in Thrace, and his presence in Byzantium is also mentioned in the apocryphal Acts of Andrew, written in the 2nd century; Basil of Seleucia also knew of Apostle Andrew’s mission in Thrace, as well as Scythia and Achaia. This diocese would later develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Andrew is recognized as its patron saint.

Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras (Patræ) in Achaea, on the northern coast of the Peloponnese. Early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew known to Gregory of Tours, describe Andrew as bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified; yet a tradition developed that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross, or “saltire”), now commonly known as a “Saint Andrew’s Cross” — supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been. “The familiar iconography of his martyrdom, showing the apostle bound to an X-shaped cross, does not seem to have been standardized before the later Middle Ages,” Judith Calvert concluded after re-examining the materials studied by Louis Réau.

Jimi Hendrix’s favourite guitar sells for £250,000

One of the most famous rock ‘n’ roll guitars – that was so good Jimi Hendrix couldn’t bring himself to burn it – recently sold for almost £250,000. Music memorabilia fans lined up at the Playboy Club in Park Lane, London recently to bid on Hendrix’ iconic favourite Black Fender Stratocaster which he played for most of the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967.

However he swapped it during the final song to a hand-painted Fender Stratocaster and told the crowd that he was going to sacrifice something for them that he “really loved”. He actually holds up the guitar to the crowd during the opening feedback intro of the song to show off the hand-painted customised finish on the guitar. before dousing it in lighter fluid as a stunt to mark the end of his set and setting it on fire, and this has since become one of the most iconic images in rock history and is one of only two occasions when Hendrix burns guitars – the one at the Astoria and the one at Monterey.

Hendrix, had been originally been planning on smashing up a guitar at the end of his set at the 1967 concert in California.But having seen Pete Townsend of The Who shove the neck of his guitar into an amplifier earlier on at the festival, he felt he had to go one better. Mr Wright, who was also a roadie for The Animals, said: ‘The Who went on before Hendrix and Townshend smashed his guitar up and put the neck into the amp. Jimi was annoyed at this and asked for some lighter fuel. He just wanted to outdo Pete Townshend.