Star Wars

originalCreated by George Lucas, Star Wars The first film in the original Star Wars Trilogy was originally released 25 May 1977. (Technically it is the fourth film, and chronologically the prequels take place before Star Wars, however they were released sixteen years after this date). Star Wars is described as taking place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away and sees a young farm boy named Luke Skywalker thrust unwittingly into a Rebellion to rid the galaxy of an evil empire after acquiring two droids C3POandR2D2, who have escaped from a spaceship which has come under attack from the Empire and landed on the desolate planet Tattooine. Along the way He meets an old Jedi Knight named Obi Wan Kenobi and discovers that one of the droids is carrying the technical data for the Empire’s terrifying new weapon ‘The Death Star’ which is capable of destroying whole planets. Luke also learns that he has a special power and asks Obi Wan to teach him to master it. On Tattoine he also meets charismatic smuggler Han Solo and his wookiee first mate Chewbacca, who are asked to take them to the planet Alderaaan, home of Princess Leia to help mount an attack on the Death Star. However Princess Leia has been captured by the evil Empire, led by The Evil Sith Lord Emperor Palpatine and his sinister apprentice Darth Vader and taken to theDeath Star and Alderaan has been destroyed. so the rebels mount a daring rescue attempt to free Princess Leia and Luke gets swept up in the battle to destroy the Death Star

Empire Strikes Back takes place Three years later, and sees the Rebels attacked by the Empire on the ice world of Hoth and Luke traveling to find Jedi Master Yoda, who is living in exile on the swamp-infested world Dagobah, to begin his Jedi training. The Rebels manage to escape Hoth hotly pursued by the Empire. However, Luke is interrupted from his training when Vader lures him into a trap by capturing Han and the others who have journeyed to Cloud City on Bespin seeking help from Han’s old acquaintance Lando Calrissian. During a fierce lightsaber duel, Vader reveals that he is in fact Luke’s father and used to be Anakin Skywalker, and attempts to turn Luke to the dark side.

Return of the Jedi sees, Luke journeys to Tattoine to save Han from the clutches of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt and then return to Yoda to complete his training. However, now over 900 years old, Yoda is on his deathbed. Before he passes away, Yoda confirms that Vader is Luke’s father; moments later, Obi-Wan’s spirit tells Luke that he must face his father before he can become a true Jedi, and that Leia is his twin sister. The Rebels then attempt to destroy a second Death Star which is being built near the forest moon of Endor and manage to pursuade the local inhabitants to help them. Meanwhile Luke confronts Vader as Palpatine watches; both Sith Lords intend to turn Luke to the dark side and take him as their apprentice. During the subsequent lightsaber duel, Luke succumbs to his anger and brutally overpowers Vader, but controls himself at the last minute; realizing that he is about to suffer his father’s fate, and he spares Vader’s life and declares his allegiance to the Jedi. An enraged Palpatine then attempts to kill Luke with Force lightning. However Darth Vader Redeems himself at the last moment, switching loyalties from the Empire to his Son, but pays the ultimate price. Subsequently Luke becomes a full-fledged Jedi, and the Rebels destroy the second Death Star.

The film series has become a worldwide pop culture phenomenon and has remained popular to this day, spawning an Expanded Universe including books, television series, computer and video games, and comic books, which have resulted in significant development of the series’ fictional universe. These media kept the franchise active in the interim between the film trilogies. In October 2012, The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion and announced that it would produce three new films, with the first film, Star Wars Episode VII, planned for release in 2015.20th Century Fox still retains the distribution rights to the first two Star Wars trilogies, owning permanent rights for the original film Episode IV: A New Hope, while holding the rights to Episodes I–III, V and VI until May 2020.

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

American essayist, lecturer, and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was born May 25, 1802. He led the transcendentalist movement in the 19th century and was a champion of individualism and critic of the pressures of society. He published dozens of essays and gave more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.Emerson also formulated the philosophy of Transcendentalism in his 1836 essay Nature. His first two collections of essays – Essays: First Series and Essays: Second Series include Self-Reliance, The Over-Soul, Circles, The Poet andExperience.Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, such as individuality, freedom, the ability for humankind to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world. His essays greatly influenced the thinkers, writers and poets and He was also well known as a mentor and friend of fellow Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau.

Emerson’s formal schooling began at the Boston Latin School in 1812 when he was nine. In October 1817, Emerson went to Harvard College and was appointed freshman messenger for the president.Midway through his junior year, Emerson began keeping a list of books he had read and started a journal in a series of notebooks that would be called “Wide World”. He took outside jobs to cover his school expenses. By his senior year, Emerson decided to go by his middle name, Waldo.Emerson served as Class Poet And graduated on August 29, 1821, when he was 18. In 1826, Emerson went to seek out warmer climates, travelling to Charleston, South Carolina and St. Augustine, Florida, where he met Prince Achille Murat. Murat, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, and they became extremely good friends and engaged in enlightening discussions on religion, society, philosophy, and government, and Emerson considered Murat an important figure in his intellectual education

Emerson met his first wife, Ellen Louisa Tucker, in Concord, New Hampshire on Christmas Day, 1827, sadly Ellen died at the age of 20 on February 8, 1831, After his wife’s death, he began to disagree with the church’s methods, His disagreements with church officials over the administration of the Communion service and misgivings about public prayer eventually led to his resignation in 1832. Emerson toured Europe in 1833 and later wrote of his travels in English Traits (1856). Leaving on Christmas Day, 1832, sailing first to Malta, spending time in Italy, visiting Rome, Florence and Venice,  before sailing north to England, Emerson met William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Thomas Carlyle. He returned to the United States on October 9, 1833, and lived with his mother in Newton, Massachusetts, until October, 1834, when he moved to Concord, Massachusetts, to live with his step-grandfather Dr. Ezra Ripley. Seeing the budding Lyceum movement, Emerson saw a possible career as a lecturer. On November 5, 1833, he made the first of what would eventually be some 1,500 lectures, discussing The Uses of Natural History in Boston. This was an expanded account of his experience in Paris.

In May 1843 Emerson purchased a 90-acre (360,000 m2) farm in Harvard, Massachusetts, for what would become Fruitlands, a community based on Utopian ideals inspired in part by Transcendentalism. The farm would run based on a communal effort, using no animals for labor; its participants would eat no meat and use no wool or leather. In 1844, Emerson published his second collection of essays, entitled “Essays: Second Series.” This collection included “The Poet,” “Experience,” “Gifts,” and another essay entitled “Nature,” Emerson made a living as a popular lecturer And by the 1850s he was giving as many as 80 per year.Emerson was also introduced to Indian philosophy when reading the works of French philosopher Victor Cousin. He also read the Bhagavad Gita and Henry Thomas Colebrooke’s Essays on the Vedas, which influenced much of his writing. From 1847 to 1848, he toured England, Scotland, and Ireland.He also visited Paris between the February Revolution and the bloodyJune Days. On May 21 he stood on the Champ de Mars in the midst of mass celebrations for concord, peace and labor and this trip influenced Emerson’s later work. His 1856 book English Traits is based largely on observations recorded in his travel journals and notebooks. Emerson later came to see the American Civil War as a ‘revolution’ that shared common ground with the European revolutions of 1848. In February 1852 Emerson, James Freeman Clarke and William Henry Channing edited an edition of the works and letters of Margaret Fuller, and In 1855  he published an innovative poetry collection called Leaves of Grass.

Emerson—earned the nicknamed the Concord Sage— and became the leading voice of intellectual culture in the United States because of his ability to influence and inspire others, his work not only influenced his contemporaries, such as Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, but would continue to influence thinkers and writers worldwide to the present. Notable thinkers who recognize Emerson’s influence include Nietzsche and William James. Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau. Several of Emerson’s poems were included in Bloom’s The Best Poems of the English Language and Self-Reliance, Circles, Experience, and Conduct of Life” are considered his best essays. Emerson was staunchly anti-slavery and from 1837 give a number of lectures during the pre-Civil War years and in 1844. He gave a number of speeches and lectures, and notably welcomed John Brown to his home during Brown’s visits to Concord. Once the American Civil War broke out, Emerson made it clear that he believed in immediate emancipation of the slaves. Around this time, in 1860, Emerson published The Conduct of Life, his seventh collection of essays. In this book, Emerson “grappled with some of the thorniest issues of the moment,” and “his experience in the abolition ranks is a telling influence in his conclusions.

Emerson also embraced the idea of war as a means of national rebirth and in 1862 he visited Washington, D.C, and gave a public lecture at the Smithsonian and also met Lincoln at the White House. Lincoln was familiar with Emerson’s work, having previously seen him lecture.Emerson’s misgivings about Lincoln began to soften after this meeting. In 1865, he spoke at a memorial service held for Lincoln in Concord. Emerson also met a number of high-ranking government officials, including Salmon P. Chase, the secretary of the treasury, Edward Bates, the attorney general, Edwin M. Stanton, the secretary of war, Gideon Welles, the secretary of the navy, and William Seward, the secretary of state. On May 6, 1862, Emerson’s protégé Henry David Thoreau died of tuberculosis at the age of 44 and Emerson delivered his eulogy.  Another friend, Nathaniel Hawthorne, died in 1864. Emerson served as one of the pallbearers as Hawthorne was buried in Concord. That same year Emerson was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

From 1867, Emerson’s health began declining; he wrote much less in his journals and also started having memory problems then in 1872 Emerson’s Concord home caught fire And theEmersons ended up staying with family at the Old Manse, The fire marked an end to Emerson’s serious lecturing career; from then on, he would lecture only on special occasions and only in front of familiar audiences. While the house was being rebuilt, Emerson took a trip to England, continental Europe, and Egypt with his daughter Ellen, and returned in 1873 on the ship Olympus along with friend Charles Eliot Norton. In late 1874 Emerson published an anthology of poetry called Parnassus. Sadly Emerson ceased his public appearances by 1879 and on April 21, 1882, Emerson was diagnosed with pneumonia and died on April 27, 1882. He is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts.

KlausMeine (Scorpions)

The lead singer of German Rock group “the Scorpions”, Klaus Meine, celebrates his birthday 25th May. The Scorpions were formed in 1965 by guitarist Rudolf Schenker, and are known for their 1980s rock anthem “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and many singles, such as “No One Like You”, “Send Me an Angel”, “Still Loving You”, and “Wind of Change”. On January 24, 2010, after 46 years of performing, the band announced that they will be retiring after touring in support of their new album Sting in the Tail and recently performed their last concert Live from Morocco.

During their long career The band have been phenomenally successful and have so far sold over 100 million albums worldwide. At first, the band had beat influences and Schenker himself did the vocals. Things began to come together in 1970 when Schenker’s younger brother Michael and vocalist Klaus Meine joined the band. In 1972, the group recorded and released their debut album Lonesome Crow.Sadly The departure of Michael Schenker led to the breakup of the band In 1973, however In 1974 a new line-up of Scorpions released Fly to the Rainbow. This album proved to be more successful than Lonesome Crow and established the band’s sound. In 1975 the band released In Trance, The album was a huge step forward for Scorpions and established their heavy metal formula. It garnered a fan base at home and abroad with songs such as “Dark Lady”, “Robot Man”. In 1976, Scorpions releaed Virgin Killer, which featured rather ontroversial artwork, that brought the band considerable media exposure but resulted in the album being “pulled” in some countries. The music itself garnered demographic praise for its music from select critics and fan base. The follow-up albumwas Taken by Force, They also recorded material during the band’s Japanese tour, and the resultant double live album was called Tokyo Tapes.In 1979 The Scorpions released the album “Love Drive” which some critics consider to be the pinnacle of their career. Containing such fan favourites as “Loving You Sunday Morning”, “Always Somewhere”, “Holiday” and the instrumental “Coast to Coast”, it firmly cemented the ‘Scorpions formula’ of hard rock songs mixed with melodic ballads. The album’s provocative artwork was also named “Best album sleeve of 1979″ by Playboy magazine but was changed for American release.In 1980 the band released Animal Magnetism, with another provocative cover, this contained classics such as “The Zoo” and “Make It Real”. In 1981 the band began working on their next album, Blackout, which was released in 1982 and quickly became the band’s best selling to date eventually going platinum, the album spawned three singles “Dynamite”, “Blackout”, and “No One Like You”, but It was not until 1984 and the release of Love at First Sting that the band finally cemented their status as metal musicians.

Propelled by the single “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, Love at First Sting climbed the charts and went double platinum in the USA a few months after its release.The band toured extensively supporting the album and decided to record and release their second live album, World Wide Live in 1985. Recorded over a year-long world tour and released at the height of their popularity, the album was another success for the band. the band returned to the studio to record Savage Amusement which was Released in 1988 and represented a more polished and mature sound. During the Savage Amusement tour, Scorpions became only the second Western group (not American) to play in the Soviet Union. Uriah Heep had performed in December, 1987 in Leningrad. The following year the band returned to perform at the Moscow Music Peace Festival. As a result, Scorpions developed an extended Russian fan base and still return to perform.In 1990. Crazy World was released and displayed a less polished sound. The album was propelled in large part by the massive success of the ballad “Wind of Change”. The song muses on the socio-political changes that were occurring in Eastern Europe and in other parts of the world at the end of the Cold War. On July 21, 1990 they joined many other guests for Roger Waters’ massive performance of The Wall in Berlin. Scorpions performed both versions of “In the Flesh” from The Wall. In 1993, Scorpions released Face the Heat but this did not come close to matching the success of “Wind of Change” and was only a moderate success. In 1995, a new album, Live Bites, was produced. The disc documented retro live performances from their Savage Amusement Tour in 1988, all the way through to the Face the Heat Tour in 1994.Their 13th studio album, 1996s Pure Instinct, had many ballads, and the album’s singles “Wild Child” and the soothing ballad “You and I” both enjoyed moderate success.

1999 saw the release of Eye II Eye and a significant change in the band’s style, mixing in elements of pop and techno sadly fans were unsure what to make of the band, responding negatively to almost everything from pop-soul backup singers to the electronic drums present on several songs. The following year, Scorpions had an artistic collaboration with the Berlin Philharmonic that resulted in a 10-song album named Moment of Glory. The album went a long way toward rebuilding the band’s reputation after the harsh criticism of Eye II Eye. In 2001, Scorpions released Acoustica, a live unplugged album featuring acoustic reworkings of the band’s biggest hits, plus new tracks.In 2004, the band released Unbreakable, an album that was hailed by critics as a long-awaited return to form. The album was the heaviest the band had released since Face the Heat, and fans responded well to tracks such as “New Generation”, “Love ‘em or Leave ‘em” and “Deep and Dark”. Scorpions released their 17th studio album, Sting in the Tail, on March 23, 2010 and announced that it would be their last album and that the tour supporting it will be their final tour. On 6 April 2010, Scorpions were enshrined in Hollywood’s Rock Walk in a handprint ceremony, with the band members placing their hands in a long slab of wet cement. The slab will be placed in the ground next to other musical artists on the Rock Walk. According to bassist Paweł Mąciwoda, Scorpionss released Comeblack on 7 November 2011 and headlined the Wacken Open Air Festival on 4 August 2012 Alongside Saxon, Sepultura, Napalm Death and Dio Disciples.

Robert Ludlum

I can’t resist an exciting espionage spy thriller so I thought I would blog about The late great American spy thriller writer Robert Ludlum who was Born May 25th 1927. Most famous for writing The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and the Bourne Ultimatum, He was very prolfc and wrote 23 thriller novels. Hs books reman hugely popular The number in print is estimated between 290–500 million copies. They have been published in 33 languages and 40 countries. Ludlum also published books under the pseudonyms Jonathan Ryder and Michael Shepherd. Ludlum was born in New York City. He was educated at The Rectory School then Cheshire Academy and Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. While at Wesleyan, Ludlum joined the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. After becoming an author later in life, Ludlum would set his mystery novel Matlock Paper at the fictitious Carlyle University in Connecticut, a thinly-disguised Wesleyan.

Prior to becoming an author, he had been a United States Marine, theatrical actor and producer. His theatrical experience may have contributed to his understanding of the energy, escapism and action that the public wanted in a novel. Ludlum’s novels typically feature one heroic man, or a small group of crusading individuals, in a struggle against powerful adversaries whose intentions and motivations are evil and who are capable of using political and economic mechanisms in frightening ways. The world in his writings is one where global corporations, shadowy military forces and government organizations all conspire to preserve (if it is evil) or undermine (if it is good) the status quo. They were often inspired by conspiracy theories, both historical and contemporary. Some novels also reflected the theory that terrorists, rather than being merely isolated bands of ideologically motivated extremists, are actually pawns of governments or private organizations who are using them to facilitate the establishment of authoritarian rule.

Among hs best known novels are The Osterman Weekend, The Chancellor Manuscrot, The Bourne Identity, The Holcroft Covenant, The Bourne Supremacy, The Icarus Agenda, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Scorpio Illusion, The Apocolypse watch and The Prometheus Deception.Some of his novels have also been made into films – The Osterman Weekend was turned into a 1983 film starring Rutger Hauer, John Hurt and Dennis Hopper, and The Bourne trilogy was made into a highly successful series of movies, starring Matt Damon in the title role, which were commercially and critically successful (The Bourne Ultimatum won three Academy Awards in 2008), although the story lines depart significantly from the source material.Robert Ludlum Sadly passed away on March 12, 2001, at his home in Naples, Florida, while recovering from injuries he sustained in a fire