Posted in music

Happy Birthday Dave Grohl (Nirvana & Foo Fighters)

nirvana-nevermind-album-coverAmerican rock musician, multi-instrumentalist, and singer-songwriter Dave Grohl was born on this day 14 January, in 1969.  Currently  the lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter for Foo Fighters, He was also the former drummer for Nirvana and Scream, and is also the current drummer for Them Crooked Vultures. His musical career started At the age of seventeen, when he auditioned with local DC band Scream & was asked to join. Grohl dropped out of high school & Over the next four years, Grohl toured extensively with the band, and they recording a couple of live albums. Grohl also penned and sang vocals on the song “Gods Look Down”.   While playing in Scream, Grohl became a fan of Melvins and eventually befriended the band. During a 1990 tour The Melvins’ Buzz Osborne took a couple of his friends, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic, to see the band. A few months later, Scream disbanded. Grohl called Osborne for advice, and the latter gave Grohl’s phone number to Krist Novoselic, who invited Grohl to Seattle. Grohl subsequently auditioned for Nirvana, and soon joined them full-time. At the time that Grohl joined Nirvana, the band had already recorded several demos for the follow-up to their debut album Bleach, They signed with DGC Records and entered the studio to record the album.   Upon its release, NEVERMIND exceeded all expectations & , catapulted the band to worldwide stardom with songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Grohl had been writing songs for several years, but declined to introduce them to the band for fear of damaging the band’s chemistry. Instead, Grohl compiled his songs and recorded them himself, releasing a cassette called Pocketwatch in 1992 on indie label Simple Machines. Grohl released the cassette under the pseudonym “Late!”.   In the later years of Nirvana, Grohl’s songwriting contributions increased, Cobain overheard him working on a song called “Color Pictures of a Marigold”, and the two ended up working on it, the band released this version as a b-side on the “Heart-Shaped Box” single, titled simply “Marigold”. Grohl contributed the main guitar riff for  “Scentless Apprentice”and the band recorded a demo of a song later named “You Know You’re Right” which was the band’s final studio recording.

Following Cobain’s untimely death in April 1994, Grohl retreated, unsure of where to go and what to do with himself. He recorded a fifteen-track demo. With the exception of a single guitar part on “X-Static” played by Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs, Grohl performed all of the instruments himself.   , Grohl considered drumming for other bands andl took a brief turn with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Petty asked him to join permanently, but Grohl realized that his future lay elsewhere, and declined the invitation. Grohl’s name was also rumored as a possible replacement for Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese, and Grohl even performed with the band for a song or two at three shows during Pearl Jam’s March 1995 Australian tour. However, by then, Pearl Jam had already settled on ex- Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer, Jack Irons, and Grohl had other solo plans in the works. Grohl then made a Demo tape which created considerable major label interest. However he did not want the effort to be considered the start of a solo career so he recruited other band members: former Germs and touring Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear, and two members of the band Sunny Day Real Estate, William Goldsmith (drums) and Nate Mendel (bass). Rather than re-record the album, Grohl’s demo was given a professional mix and was released in July 1995 as Foo Fighters’ debut album. After touring for more than a year, Grohl returned home and began work on the soundtrack to the 1997 movie Touch. Grohl performed all of the instruments and vocals himself, save for vocals from Veruca Salt singer Louise Post on the title track, and vocals and guitar by X’s John Doe on “This Loving Thing (Lynn’s Song)”. In the midst of the initial sessions for Foo Fighters’ second album, tension emerged between Grohl and Goldsmith. After which Goldsmith officially announced his departure from the band. The band’s second album, The Colour and the Shape,was released in 1997 and spawned hits, including “Everlong“, “My Hero“, and “Monkey Wrench“.

Just prior to the album’s release, former Alanis Morissette drummer Taylor Hawkins joined the band on drums, he was joined by Grohl’s former Scream bandmate Franz Stahl. In 2000, the band recruited Queen guitarist Brian May to add some guitar flourish to a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar”. The friendship between the two bands resulted in Grohl and Taylor Hawkins being asked to induct Queen into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Grohl and Hawkins joined May and Queen drummer Roger Taylor to perform “Tie Your Mother Down”, with Grohl standing in on vocals for Freddie Mercury. (May later contributed guitar work for the song “Tired of You” on the ensuing Foo Fighters album, as well as on an unreleased Foo Fighters song called “Knucklehead”.)Foo Fighters returned to the studio to work on their fourth album “One by One” in 2001. After which, Grohl accepted an invitation to join Queens of the Stone Age and helped them to record their 2002 album Songs for the Deaf. On November 23, 2002, Grohl achieved a historical milestone by replacing himself on the top of the Billboard Modern Rock chart, when “You Know You’re Right” by Nirvana was replaced by “All My Life” by Foo Fighters. When “All My Life” ended its run, after a one week respite, “No One Knows” by Queens of the Stone Age took the number one spot. Between October 26, 2002 and March 1, 2003 Grohl was in the number one spot on the Modern Rock charts for 17 of 18 successive weeks, as a member of three different groups.In 2005 Foo Fighters released their fifth album In Your Honor  Featuring collaborations with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and Norah Jones. the album was a departure from previous efforts, and included one rock and one acoustic disc

Foo Fighters’s sixth studio album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace was released on September 25, 2007. and spawned three singles  “The Pretender”, “Long Road to Ruin” and “Let It Die”. On November 3, 2009 Foo Fighters released their first Greatest Hits collection, consisting of 16 tracks including a previously unreleased acoustic version of “Everlong” and two new tracks “Wheels” and “Word Forward” which were produced by Nevermind’s producer Butch Vig. The Foo Fighters’ latest studio album, Wasting Light, was released in 2011, containing the single “Walk”. Grohl has also written all the music for his short-lived side projects Late! and Probot as well as being involved with Queens of the Stone Age. Furthermore, he has performed session work for a variety of musicians, including Garbage, Killing Joke, Nine Inch Nails, The Prodigy, Slash, Juliette Lewis, Tenacious D and Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead).

  • Happy Birthday Italian race car driver Giancarlo Fisichella, who was Born 14th January 1973
  • Happy Birthday Indian race car driver Narain Karthikeyan, who was Born 14th January 1977
Posted in books, Science-tech

Reading Classic literature boosts brain power

Scientists, psychologists and English academics at Liverpool University have found that reading the works of the Bard and other classical writers has a beneficial effect on the mind, catches the reader’s attention and triggers moments of self-reflection. Using scanners, they monitored the brain activity of volunteers as they read works by William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, T.S Eliot and others.They then “translated” the texts into more “straightforward”, modern language and again monitored the readers’ brains as they read the words.Scans showed that the more “challenging” prose and poetry set off far more electrical activity in the brain than the more pedestrian versions.Scientists were able to study the brain activity as it responded to each word and record how it “lit up” as the readers encountered unusual words, surprising phrases or difficult sentence structure. This “lighting up” of the mind lasts longer than the initial electrical spark, shifting the brain to a higher gear, encouraging further reading.The research also found that reading poetry, in particular, increases activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, an area concerned with “autobiographical memory”, helping the reader to reflect on and reappraise their own experiences in light of what they have read. The academics said this meant the classics were more useful than self-help books.Philip Davis, an English professor who has worked on the study with the university’s magnetic resonance centre, will tell a conference this week:

“Serious literature acts like a rocket-booster to the brain.The research shows the power of literature to shift mental pathways, to create new thoughts, shapes and connections in the young and the staid alike.”

In the first part of the research, the brain activity of 30 volunteers was monitored as they read passages from Shakespeare plays, including King Lear, Othello, Coriolanus and Macbeth, and again as they read the text rewritten in simpler form.While reading the plain text, normal levels of electrical activity were displayed in their brains. When they read Shakespeare, however, the levels of activity “jumped” because of his use of words which were unfamiliar to the readers. In one example, volunteers read a line from King Lear and then read a simpler version.Shakespeare’s use of the adjective “mad” as a verb sparked a higher level of brain activity than the ordinary prose.The study went on to test how long the effect lasted. It found that the “peak” triggered by the unfamiliar word was sustained onto the following phrases, suggesting the striking word had hooked the reader, with their mind “primed for more attention”. Working with psychologists at the university, the next phase of the research is looking at the extent to which poetry can provide therapeutic benefit, using the work of William Wordsworth, Henry Vaughan, John Donne, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, T.S. Eliot, Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes. Volunteers brains have been scanned while reading four lines by Wordsworth.

 “She lived unknown and few could know, when Lucy ceased to be. But she is in her grave and oh, the difference to me.”

Four translated lines were also provided:

“She lived a lonely life in the country, and nobody seems to know or care, but now she is dead, and I feel her loss.”

The first version caused a greater degree of brain activity, lighting up not only the left part of the brain concerned with language, but also the right hemisphere that relates to autobiographical memory and emotionIntense activity is this area of the brain suggests that the poetry triggers “reappraisal mechanisms” causing the reader to reflect and rethink their own experiences in light of what they read. The findings will be presented at the North of England education conference in Sheffield next week. The findings reinforce the argument for serious language in serious literature for serious human situations, instead of self-help books or the easy reads that merely reinforce predictable opinions and conventional self-images. Research is now being carried out to see whether revisions Charles Dickens made to his prose spark greater brain activity than the original text. the charity The Reader Organisation also wants to establish reading aloud groups in GP drop-in centres, care homes, prisons, libraries, schools and mother and toddler groups and University College London is also currently carrying out reearch to study the effects of reading on people with dementia.

Posted in Events, locomotives

London Underground celebrates 150th Anniversary

The first stretch of the world-famous London Underground network between Paddington and Farringdon  opened on January 9 1863 making it The oldest sections of the London Underground and To mark the 150th anniversary  Specially invited passengers, including London Mayor Boris Johnson travelled from Kensington Olympia to Moorgate, on what is  now part of the Northern, Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines, on a train pulled by the Metropolitan Locomotive No.1.

Meanwhile Hundreds of spectators stood in stations and on bridges, hoping to catch a glimpse of the 19th Century Met Locomotive 1 as it made its way along the same track used by modern day Tube services. Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who was on-board, said: This was a most amazing, pioneering bit of kit when it was devised. When they first came up with the idea of trains in drains in the 1840s, no one on the planet had done any such thing, the train was barely 30 or 40 years old.

The Underground system, colloquially known as the Tube,  serves a large part of Greater London and some parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex. The London Underground was also the first line  to operate electric trains, in 1890 and is commonly used today.The earlier lines of the present London Underground network were built by various private companies. They became part of an integrated transport system in 1933 when the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) or London Transport was created. The underground network became a separate entity in 1985, when the UK Government created London Underground Limited (LUL). Since 2003 LUL has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL), the statutory corporation responsible for most aspects of the transport system in Greater London, which is run by a board and a commissioner appointed by the Mayor of London.

The Underground serves 270 stations and has 402 kilometres (250 mi) of track, 45 per cent of which is underground It is the fourth largest metro system in the world in terms of route miles, after the Seoul Metropolitan Subway, the Shanghai Metro and the Beijing Subway.[10] It also has one of the largest numbers of stations. In 2007, more than one billion passenger journeys were recorded, and in the year 2011/12 passenger numbers were just under 1.2 billion making it the third busiest metro system in Europe, after Moscow and Paris. The tube is an international icon for London, with the tube map, considered a design classic, having influenced many other transport maps worldwide. As part of the extended TfL rail network and per the standard tube map, the London Underground is usually considered to incorporate the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground, and the Emirates Air Line.Currently, 86% of operational expenditure on the London Underground is covered by passenger fares. Almost all London Underground trains currently lack air-conditioning, which leads to the network getting very hot in the summer, although plans are under way to mitigate this problem with new air-conditioned trains and other schemes. Because of engineering work being carried out under the 2010–2012 upgrade plan, lines were regularly closed during weekends. In June 2012, it was announced that stations along the network would get Wifi coverage.

Posted in Events, films & DVD, music, Television

Golden Globe Awards 2013

.Adele triumphed at this years Golden Globes with a win for best original song for the theme to James Bond film Skyfall. Daniel Day-Lewis  won best actor in a drama, for Lincoln. Other British actors honoured included Dame Maggie Smith for Downton Abbey, and Damian Lewis for Homeland. However Downton Abbey lost out to Homeland for best TV drama series. Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey, lost out to Homeland’s Claire Danes in the best actress category. Iran hostage drama Argo won the top prize, best dramatic movie, and Ben Affleck was named best director for the film, three days after he failed to get an Oscar nomination in the same category.

Argo was nominated for seven Oscars including best picture. “Les Miserables, the big screen version of the hit stage show about French revolutionaries, won three Golden Globes – best comedy or musical, and acting honours for Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman. Jessica Chastain won best actress in a drama for her role as a young female CIA agent who tracks down Osama bin Laden in thriller Zero Dark Thirty. In the best comedy or musical category, Jennifer Lawrence won best actress for Silver Linings Playbook.In television awards Homeland was triumphant as best drama series, with Damian Lewis and Claire Danes as best actor and actress. Game Change, about Sarah Palin’s 2008 run for US vice president won best TV film, while Julianne Moore won an award for her portrayal of the former Alaska governor.Former US President Bill Clinton got a standing ovation from Hollywood stars when he appeared to introduce clips from Lincoln and Jodie Foster, 50, was given a lifetime achievement award.