Happy Birthday Dan Brown

angels-and-demons-9780552150736Best known for writing the bestselling novels Digial Fortress, Angels and Demons The Lost Symbo land The Da Vinci Code American thriller Author Dan Brown was born June 22, 1964. Typically  Brown’s novels are fast paced treasure hunts set during a short period of time, which feature the recurring themes of history and Christianity as well as cryptography, keys, symbols, codes, and conspiracy theories. His interest in secrets and puzzles stems from their presence in his household as a child, where codes and ciphers were the linchpin tying together the mathematics, music and languages in which his parents worked. The young Brown spent hours working out anagrams and crossword puzzles, and he and his siblings participated in elaborate treasure hunts devised by their father on birthdays and holidays. On Christmas, for example, Brown and his siblings did not find gifts under the tree, but followed a treasure map with codes and clues throughout their house and even around town to find the gifts.Brown’s relationship with his father inspired that ofSophie Neveu and Jacques Sauniere in The Da Vinci Code, and Chapter 23 of that novel was inspired by one of his childhood treasure hunts. After graduating from Phillips Exeter, Brown attended Amherst College, where he was a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity. He playedsquash, sang in the Amherst Glee Club, and was a writing student of visiting novelist Alan Lelchuk. Brown spent the 1985 school year abroad in Seville, Spain, where he was enrolle in an art history course at the University of Seville. Brown graduated from Amherst in 1986.

After graduating from Amherst, Brown dabbled with a musical career, creating effects with a synthesizer, and self-producing a children’s cassette entitled SynthAnimals, which included a collection of tracks such as “Happy Frogs” and “Suzuki Elephants”; it sold a few hundred copies. He then formed his own record company called Dalliance, and in 1990 self-published a CD entitled Perspective, targeted to the adult market, which also sold a few hundred copies.In 1991 he moved to Hollywood to pursue a career as singer-songwriter and pianist. To support himself, he taught classes at Beverly Hills Preparatory School.He also joined the National Academy of Songwriters, and participated in many of its events. It was there that he met Blythe Newlon, a woman 12 years his senior, who was the Academy’s Director of Artist Development. Though it was not officially part of her job, she took on the seemingly unusual task of helping to promote Brown’s projects; she wrote press releases, set up promotional events, and put him in contact with people who could be helpful to his career. She and Brown also developed a personal relationship, though this was not known to all of their associates until 1993, when Brown moved back to New Hampshire, and it was learned that Newlon would accompany him. They married in 1997, at Pea Porridge Pond, near Conway, New Hampshire.

On 1993 Brown released the CD Dan Brown, which included songs such as “976-Love” and “If You Believe in Love.”In 1994 Brown released a CD titled Angels & Demons. Its artwork was the same ambigram by artist John Langdon which he later used for the novel Angels & Demons. The liner notes also again credited his wife for her involvement, thanking her “for being my tireless cowriter, coproducer, second engineer, significant other, and therapist.” The CD included songs such as “Here in These Fields” and the religious ballad “All I Believe.”[9]Brown and his wife moved to his home town in New Hampshire in 1993. Brown became an English teacher at his alma mater Phillips Exeter, and gave Spanish classes to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at Lincoln Akerman School, a small school for K–8th grade with about 250 students, in Hampton Falls.

Dan-Brown-InfernoWhile on holiday in Tahiti in 1993, Brown read Sidney Sheldon’s novel The Doomsday Conspiracy, and was inspired to become a writer of thrillers. He started work on Digital Fortress, setting much of it in Seville, where he had studied in 1985. He also co-wrote a humor book with his wife, 187 Men to Avoid: A Guide for the Romantically Frustrated Woman, under the pseudonym “Danielle Brown.” The book’s author profile reads, “Danielle Brown currently lives in New England: teaching school, writing books, and avoiding men.” The copyright is attributed to Dan Brown.In 1996 Brown quit teaching to become a full-time writer. Digital Fortress was published in 1998. His wife, Blythe, did much of the book’s promotion, writing press releases, booking Brown on talk shows, and setting up press interviews. A few months later, Brown and his wife released The Bald Book, another humor book. It was officially credited to his wife, though a representative of the publisher said that it was primarily written by Brown. Brown subsequently wrote Angels & Demons and Deception Point, released in 2000 and 2001 respectively, the former of which was the first to feature the lead character, Harvard symbology expert Robert Langdon.Brown’s first three novels had little success, with fewer than 10,000 copies in each of their first printings. His fourth novel, The Da Vinci Code, became a bestseller, going to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list during its first week of release in 2003.  It is now credited with being one of the most popular books of all time, with 81 million copies sold worldwide as of 2009. Brown’s third novel featuring Robert Langdon, The Lost Symbol, was released on September 15, 2009. The story takes place in Washington D.C. over a period of 12 hours, and features the Freemasons. This repeats a theme from some of Brown’s earlier work. For example, a puzzle at the end of the book Deception Point decrypts to the message, “The Da Vinci Code will surface.”Brown’s fourth novel is the mystery thriller Inferno which also features Robert Langdon,

His books have been translated into 52 languages, and as of 2012, sold over 200 million copies. Two of them, have also  been adapted into films – The Da Vinci Code, directed by Ron Howard and and starring Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, Audrey Tautou as Sophie Neveu and Sir Ian McKellen as Sir Leigh Teabing And Angels & Demons, with Howard and Hanks returning. Filmmakers have also  expressed interest in adapting The Lost Symbol into a film as well.The screenplay is being written by Danny Strong, with pre-production expected to begin in 2013?

Don’t leave me this way (oooh baby)

Jimmy Somerville, Scottish singer-songwriter and musician with Bronski Beat and The Communards) was born June22nd 1961. He started his music career in 1983, Somerville co-founded the synth pop group Bronski Beat, who had several hits in the British charts. Their biggest hit was “Smalltown Boy” which reached #3 in the U.K. charts. Somerville played the song’s titular character in the music video who leaves his hostile ‘straight’ hometown for the friendlier city (..Alone on a platform, the wind and the rain…) Somerville left Bronski Beat in 1985, and formed The Communards with classically trained pianist Richard Coles (now a Church of England vicar).They had several hits, including a cover version of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, which spent four weeks at #1 in the UK charts, and became the biggest-selling single of 1986 in the UK. He also sang backing vocals on Fine Young Cannibals’ version of “Suspicious Minds”, which was a UK Top 10 hit.

The Communards split in 1988, and Somerville launched his solo career. He had several solo hits between 1989 and 1991, also singing on the second Band Aid project at the end of 1989. After releasing his 1989 album Read My Lips, which included a hit cover ofSylvester’s disco classic “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” as well as a cover of The Bee Gees’ hit song “To Love Somebody” a year later, Somerville left the limelight. In 1990, Somerville contributed the song “From This Moment On” to the Cole Porter tribute albumRed Hot + Blue produced by the Red Hot Organization, the proceeds from which benefitedAIDS research.

In 1991 Somerville provided backing vocals to a track called “Why aren’t you in love with me?” from the album “Ripe” by Communards offshoot band Banderas. The Banderas duo Caroline Buckley and Sally Herbert had previously been part of Somerville’s backing band.Somerville returned in 1995 with the album Dare to Love, which included “Heartbeat”, a #1 hit on the U.S. dance chart, “Hurts So Good” and “By Your Side”. Another album, entitled Manage The Damage, was released in 1999, and its companion remix album Root Beercame out a year later. His dance-oriented fourth solo album, Home Again, was released in 2005.May 2009 saw the release of Somerville’s Suddenly Last Summer album, which contained acoustic interpretations of other people’s songs. The album was initially only available as a digital download but in May 2010 was made available in a limited edition (3.000 copies) CD/DVD in the UK.In 2011 Somerville released a dance EP called “Bright Thing”.Somerville has also led an acting career, appearing in Sally Potter’s 1992 film of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, in Isaac Julien’s 1998 Looking for Langston, and in an episode of the cult science fiction television series Lexx (“Girltown”).

Don’t fight it, feel it

ScreamadelicaBobby Gillespie, Scottish vocalist with Primal Scream was born June 22nd 1962. Primal Scream are a Scottish alternative rock band originally formed in 1982 in Glasgow by Bobby Gillespie (vocals) and Jim Beattie and now based in London. The current lineup consists of Gillespie, Andrew Innes (guitar), Martin Duffy (keyboards), and Darrin Mooney (drums). Barrie Cadogan has toured and recorded with the band since 2006 as a replacement after the departure of guitarist Robert “Throb” Young.

Primal Scream career not take off until Gillespie left his position as drummer of The Jesus and Mary Chain. The band were a key part of the mid-1980s indie pop scene, but eventually moved away from their more jangly sound, taking on more psychedelic and then garage rock influences, before incorporating a dance music element to their sound. Their 1991 album Screamadelica broke the band into the mainstream with songs like, “Loaded“, which became the band’s first major hit, reaching number 16 on the UK Singles Chart and “Come Together“, which reache number 19. They rleased two more singles, “Higher Than The Sun” and “Don’t Fight It, Feel It”, both of which were successful. The album, Screamadelica, was released in late 1991 to positive reviews.The band began work on their fourth album “Give out but Dont Give up” in Roundhouse Studios in London in September 1992.In March 1994, the first single from the new album, “Rocks”, was released. It was the band’s highest charting single to date, reaching number seven on the UK charts.

Two more singles were released from the album, “Jailbird” and “(I’m Gonna) Cry Myself Blind”, both of which charted progressively lower.After a short hiatus, the band returned with a new lineup. Gary “Mani” Mounfield, fresh from the well-publicised break-up of his previous band, The Stone Roses, was added as the band’s new bassist, and Paul Mulraney was added as their new drummer. The arrival of Mani revitalized the group, who were considering disbanding after the failure of Give Out but released a new album Vanishing Point which had a complex shoegazing dance/dub rhythm, harking back to the crossover success of Screamadelica, yet sounding significantly darker. Some songs on the album were inspired by cult 1971 film Vanishing Point; Gillespie said that they wanted to create an alternative soundtrack for the film. Other lyrics were inspired by the band’s past experiences with drug abuse. Gillespie described the album as “an anarcho-syndicalist speedfreak road movie record!” The first single released from the album, “Kowalski”, was released in May 1997, and reached number 8 on the British charts.the band’s sixth album XTRMNTR had a harsher and angrier musical direction. Many of the songs they wrote had overtly political lyrics, Gillespie said the band wished to convey “what it’s like to be in Britain in this day and age The album featured mulitiple guest appearances, including the Chemical Brothers, New Order’s Bernard Sumner, and former My Bloody Valentine guitarist Kevin Shields, who had become a semi-permanent member. The first single from XTRMNTR, was entitled “Swastika Eyes. their seventh album, Evil Heat, was released in 2002. On the album Kate Moss sang professionally for the first time with single “Some Velvet Morning” and The album also featured another guest appearance, Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant.

In 2003 the double CD album Dirty Hits was released containing the better known works and some previously unheard versions and remixes of those tunes.The next album Riot City Blues was said to contain “euphoric rock ‘n’ roll songs” which was intended to capture the energy of Primal Scream’s live performances.The album’s first single, “Country Girl”, was released on 22 May 2006. The album, Riot City Blues, was released in June and reached number five on the UK Album Charts. the band toured the UK, along with selected dates in Europe in support of the album and also released their first DVD, Riot City Blues Tour, which featured clips of the band’s performance in London, as well as all their music videos and an interview with Gillespie and Mani.Primal Scream spent most of 2011 touring in support of 20th Anniversary of Screamadelica, on 18 October Mani revealed he had left the band to follow his dream due to the reformation of his original band The Stone Roses And Debbie Googe (of My Bloody Valentine) was announced as his replacement. Primal Scream supported The Stone Roses at their Heaton Park concert in Manchester on 29 June 2012. Primal Scream are also playing at this years Glastonbury Festival and My Bloody Valentine are playing at T in the Park

 

Tribute to H.Rider Haggard

king-solomons-minesEnglish novellist Sir Henry Rider Haggard,KBE was born 22 June 1856 in Bradenham, Norfolk, the eighth o ten children, to Sir Wiliam Meybohm Rider Haggard, a barrister, and Ella Doveton, an author and poet. He was initially sent to Garsington Rectory in Oxfordshire to study under Reverend H. J. Graham but unlike his lder brothers who graduated from various private schools, he attended Ipswich Grammar School. In 1875, Haggard’s father sent him to what is now South Africa, to take up an unpaid position as assistant to the secretary to Sir Henry Bulwer, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Natal. In 1876 he was transferred to the staff of Sir Theophilus Shepstone, Special Commissioner for the Transvaal. I was in this role that Haggard was present in Pretoria in April 1877 for the official announcement of the British annexation of the Boer Republic of the Transvaal.1878 he became Registrar of the High Court in the Transvaal, and wrote to his father informing him that he intended to return to England.When Haggard eventually returned to England, he married a friend of his sister, (Mariana) Louisa Margitson in 1880. And they settled in Ditchingham, Norfolk, Louisa’s ancestral home. Later they lived in Kessingland and had connections with the church in Bungay, Suffolk.

After returning to England in 1882, Haggard published a book on the political situation in South Africa and handful of unsuccessful novels, before writing the book for which he is most famous, King Solomon’s Mines. He accepted a 10% royalty rather than ₤100 for the copyright. A sequel, Allan Quatermain, soon followed, and She and its sequel Ayesha, swashbuckling adventure novels set in the context of the Scramble for Africa (the action of Ayesha however happens in Tibet). Due to this The hugely popular King Solomon’s Mines is sometimes considered the first of the Lost World genre and features the heroic Zulu warrior Umslopogaas and Ignosi, the rightful king of Kukuanaland, while Sheon the other hand  is generally considered to be one of the classics of imaginative literature .  He is also remembered for Nada the Lily (a tale of adventure among the Zulus) and the epic Viking romance, Eric Brighteyes. Three of Haggard’s novels were written in collaboration with his friend Andrew Lang who shared his interest in the spiritual realm and paranormal phenomena.

Haggard also studied law and was called to the bar in 1884 and He stood unsuccessfully for Parliament as a Conservative candidate for the Eastern division of Norfolk in the 1895 summer election, losing by only 198 votes.Haggard was also heavily involved in reforming agriculture and was a member of many commissions on land use and related affairs, work that involved several trips to the Colonies and Dominions Haggard also wrote about agricultural and social reform, in part inspired by his experiences in Africa, but also based on what he saw in Europe and this eventually led to the passage of the 1909 Development Bill.

Haggard’s Lost World genre influenced popular American pulp writers such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard,Talbot Mundy, Philip José Farmer, and Abraham Merritt andhis stories are still widely read today. Ayesha, the female protagonist of She, has been cited as a prototype by psychoanalysts as different as Sigmund Freud (in The Interpretation of Dreams) and Carl Jung. Her epithet “She Who Must Be Obeyed” is used by British author John Mortimer in his Rumpole of the Bailey series as the private name which the lead character uses for his wife, Hilda, before whom he trembles at home (despite the fact that he is a barrister with some skill in court). Allan Quatermain, the adventure hero ofKing Solomon’s Mines and its sequel Allan Quatermain, was a template for the American character Indiana Jones, featured in the films Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Quatermain has gained recent popularity thanks to being a main character in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.Haggard was praised in 1965 by Roger Lancelyn Green, one of the Oxford Inklings, as a writer of a consistently high level of “literary skill and sheer imaginative power” and a co-originator with Robert Louis Stevenson of the Age of the Story Tellers. The first chapter of his book People of the Mist is credited with inspiring the motto of the Royal Air Force (formerly the Royal Flying Corps), Per ardua ad astra.

In recognition of his agricultural reforms he was made a Knight Bachelor in 1912 and a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1919? and towards the end of his life he was also a staunch opponent of Bolshevism, a position he shared with his friend Rudyard Kipling, with whom he had bonded upon Kipling’s arrival at London in 1889, largely on the strength of their shared opinions, and the two remained lifelong friends.  He sadly passed away on 14 May 1925 at age 68. His ashes were buried at Ditchingham Church and his papers are held at the Norfolk Record Office