A long time ago in a galaxy far away…

DarthVader

…Well May 14th 1944 in Modesto California actually, American Film producer, screenwriter, director, and entrepreneur George Lucas was born. He is best known as the creator of the space opera franchise Star Wars and the archaeologist-adventurer character Indiana Jones and is one of the American film industry’s most financially successful directors/producers.Lucas grew up in Modesto and his early passion for cars and motor racing would eventually serve as inspiration for his USC student film 1:42.08, as well as his Oscar-nominated low-budget phenomenon, American Graffiti.  Lucas originally wanted to be a race-car driver. However, a near-fatal accident  on June 12, 1962, changed his mind and he attended Modesto Junior College instead and got accepted into a junior college where he developed a passion for cinematography and camera tricks.After George Lucas graduated from USC in California he met an experimental filmmaker  who toured local coffee houses and screened the work of underground, avant-garde 16 mm filmmakers.   Lucas regularly went to San Francisco to hang out in jazz clubs and find news of these screenings. Already a promising photographer, Lucas became infatuated with these abstract films and transferred to the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.  where he became very good friends with fellow acclaimed student filmmaker and future Indiana Jones collaborator, Steven Spielberg. Lucas was also deeply influenced by the Filmic Expression course taught at the school & saw many great films, which inspired him to make many 16 mm nonstory noncharacter visual tone poems and cinéma vérité concentrating on camerawork and editing, defining himself as a filmmaker as opposed to being a director.

After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in film, Lucas re-enrolled as a USC graduate student in film production. and directed the short film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, which won first prize at the 1967–68 National Student Film Festival, and was later adapted into his first full-length feature film, THX 1138. Lucas was also awarded a student scholarship by Warner Brothers.Aside from the nine short films he made in the 1960s, he also directed six major features. His work from 1971 and 1977 as a writer-director, which established him as a major figure in Hollywood, and consists of just three films: THX 1138, American Graffiti, and Star Wars.  Lucas acted as a writer and executive producer on another successful Hollywood film franchise, the Indiana Jones series.In addition, he established his own effects company, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), to make the original Star Wars film. Lucas also co-founded the studio American Zoetrope with Francis Ford Coppola—whom he met at Warner Brothers, and then created his own company, Lucasfilm, Ltd. His new-found wealth and reputation enabled him to develop a story set in space – Star Wars, which quickly became the highest-grossing film of all-time, displaced five years later by Spielberg’s E.T.the Extra-Terrestrial. Due to the overwhelming success of Star Wars George was able to finance the sequel “Empire Strikes Back” himself.Since Star Wars, Lucas has  worked extensively as a writer and/or producer, on the many Star Wars spinoffs made for film, TV, and other media, and was also executive producer for the next two Star Wars films as well as as executive producer and story writer on all four of the Indiana Jones films.

For the 20th anniversary of Star Wars, Lucas was able to enhance the trilogy and add certain scenes using newly available digital technology, which were released as the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition.  In 1994, Lucas began work on the prequel Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which was released in 1999, beginning a new trilogy of Star Wars films. Lucas also directed Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. In 2008, he also reteamed with Spielberg for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullThe American Film Institute awarded Lucas its Life Achievement Award on June 9, 2005, shortly after the releaseof Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and On June 5, 2005, Lucas was named among the 100 “Greatest Americans” by the Discovery Channel,and was also nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Directing and Writing for American Graffiti, and Best Directing and Writing for Star Wars. He received the Academy’s Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1991. He appeared at the 79th Academy Awards ceremony in 2007 with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola to present the Best Director award to their friend Martin Scorsese.On June 17, 2006, the Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted George Lucas and three others andOn August 25, 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver announced that Lucas would be one of 13 California Hall of Fame inductees in The California Museum’s yearlong exhibit. Then On September 6, 2009, Lucas, along with the the Pixar team was presented  with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2009 Biennale Venice Film Festival.

Happy Birthday Ian Astbury (The Cult)

best known as the lead vocalist for the rock band The Cult, theEnglish rockmusician and songwriter  Ian Robert Astury was (born 14 May 1962, Heswall, Merseyside.The Cult are a Post Modern Rock band formed by Billy Duffy and Ian Astbury After the initial punk rock movement (led by the Sex Pistols) died out, They met while Duffy was guitarist for the moodier and more arty Theatre of Hate and Ian Astbury was frontman for gothic rock band Southern Death Cult. Astbury  was impressed with Duffy’s playing and abandoned Southern Death Cult to start a new band with him.Together, they exploited the Southern Death Cult’s success by calling themselves Death Cult.After initial fanfare and a couple of singles, Duffy, following a trip to New York, convinced Astbury to shorten the band’s name to The Cult in 1984.

The Cult’s debut single “Spiritwalker”,and Their first album, Dreamtime was released in 1984, and Duffy began establishing a distinctive  sound and helped change the bands sound for the release of the next album Love in 1985, which included singles such as “She Sells Sanctuary” and “Rain”., which introduced them to an international audience. On their third album,Electric, The Cult the band dropped their post-punk sound in favour of  metal-blues , which contained wonderful songs like “Fire Woman” “Li’l Devil” “Love Removal Machine“& “Wild Flowed with the help of producer and AC/DC fan Rick Rubin.who gave both Duffy and The Cult a new musical direction and facillitated a polish on this new sound and  produced the record.

In 1988 the two writing partners (with longtime bassist Jamie Stewart) turned to stadium rock and recorded Sonic Temple, which appealed to a larger, mainstream audience, but the public’s attention could not be sustained with their next album, Ceremony, at the dawn of the grunge age. Following the ‘Ceremonial Stomp’ tour of 1992, Astbury pressured Duffy to return to their roots, with The Cult’s The Cult album. This led to Astbury’s  departure from Duffy and The Cult in 1995.Duffy reformed The Cult with Astbury in 1999, which led to a new recording contract with Atlantic Records, and the album Beyond Good and Evil was released. Sadly this did not do very well and the band split, reforming again In 2006,  to perform a series of worldwide tours. In October 2007, the band released the album Born into This. In July 2009, Astbury announced that The Cult would not record or produce any more studio albums, focusing on LPs and Digital Releases instead for new material, and Their latest album, Choice of Weapon, was released on 22 May 2012

Tribute to Thomas Gainsborough

English painter Thomas Gainsborough was christened on ths date 14 May in 1727. He s best remembered as an English portrait and landscape painter. He was born the youngest son of John Gainsborough, a weaver in Suffolk, and, in 1740, left home to study art in London with Hubert Gravelot, Francis Hayman, and William Hogarth. In 1746, he married Margaret Burr, and the couple became the parents of two daughters. He moved to Bath in 1759 where fashionable society patronised him, and he began exhibiting in London.In 1769, he became a founding member of the Royal Academy, but his relationship with the organisation was thorny and he sometimes withdrew his work from exhibition. Gainsborough moved to London in 1774, and painted portraits of the King and Queen, but the King was obliged to name as royal painter Gainsborough’s rival Joshua Reynolds. In his last years, Gainsborough painted relatively simple landscapes and is credited (with Richard Wilson) as the originator of the 18th century British landscape school.Gainsborough sadly passed away from the effects of cancer in 1788 and is interred at St. Anne’s Church, Kew, Surrey. However he has left the world with some wonderful paintings most of which are characterised by a light palette and easy strokes. He preferred landscapes to portraits. There have also been many films based on his life and Cecil Kellaway portrayed him in the 1945 film Kitty.

NSPCC

On 14th May 1889, The children’s charity National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was launched in London to campaign for and work towards child protection in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands.It was founded after Liverpool businessman Thomas Agnew visited the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. He was so impressed by the charity, that he returned to England determined to provide similar help for the children of Liverpool. In 1883 he set up the Liverpool Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (LSPCC). Other towns and cities began to follow Liverpool’s example, leading in 1884 to the founding of the London Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (London SPCC) by Lord Shaftesbury, Reverend Edward Rudolf and Reverend Benjamin Waugh.

After five years of campaigning by the London SPCC, Parliament passed the first ever UK law to protect children from abuse and neglect in 1889.The London SPCC was renamed the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in 1889, because by then it had branches across Great Britain and Ireland.   The NSPCC was granted its Royal Charter in 1895, when Queen Victoria became its first Royal Patron. It did not change its title to “Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children” or similar, as the name NSPCC was already well established, and to avoid confusion with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), which had already existed for more than fifty years. Today, the NSPCC works in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Channel Islands. Children 1st – formerly the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children – is the NSPCC’s equivalent in Scotland. The NSPCC’s organisation in the Republic of Ireland was taken up by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), founded in 1956 as a replacement for the NSPCC. The NSPCC is the only UK charity which has been granted statutory powers under the Children Act 1989, allowing it to apply for care and supervision orders for children at risk.