Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield

imageI would like to read the novel Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield, the New York Times best-selling author of The Thirteenth Tale, which has been described as a heart-thumpingly perfect and tense ghost story, which is beautifully and irresistibly written. The novels’ main protagonist is William Bellman, who as a boy goes out with his friends Luke, Charles and Fred and commits one small cruel act by deliberately killing a shiny black rook with his catapult. Despite dire warnings from superstitious people, William dismisses this event and eventually grows up to be someone, his neighbours think, “could go to the good or the bad.” And indeed, years later William Bellman’s life seems blessed by good fortune – he has a happy marriage to a beautiful woman, becomes father to a brood of bright, strong children, and owns a thriving business called Bellman’s Mill.

However His life gradually takes a turn for the worse and he starts to wonder if all his happiness is about to be eclipsed, when one by one, people around him start to die. And at each funeral, he is startled to see a strange man dressed in black, smiling at him. At first, the dead are distant relatives, but eventually his own children start to die, and then his wife, leaving behind only one child, his favourite, Dora. Unhinged by grief, William gets drunk and stumbles to his wife’s fresh grave—and who should be there waiting, but the smiling stranger in black, so William, who is Desperate to save the one thing he has left, enters into a bargain with The stranger who has a rather strange proposition for William, involving a mysterious and decidedly macabre business called “Bellman & Black” . . .

 

Jerry Martini (Sly and the Family Stone)

imageJerry Martini, American saxophonist (Sly & the Family Stone and Rubicon) was born 1 October 1943. Sly & the Family Stone, played a critical role in the development of soul, funk and psychedelia in the 1960s and 1970s, with songs like “Stand“, “I Want To Take You Higher”, “Sing A Simple Song”, “If You Want Me To Stay“, and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” In 1993, lead singer Sly Stone was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.FunkadelicAlong with James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic,Sly & the Family Stone were pioneers of late 1960s and early ’70s funk. Their fusion of R&B rhythms, infectious melodies, and psychedelia created a new pop/soul/rock hybrid the impact of which has proven lasting and widespread. Motown producer Norman Whitfield, for example, patterned the label’s forays into harder-driving, socially relevant material (such as The Temptations’ “Runaway Child” and “Ball of Confusion”) based on their sound.

The pioneering precedent of Stone’s racial, sexual, and stylistic mix, had a major influence in the 1980s on artists such as Prince and Rick James. Legions of artists from the 1990s forward — including Public Enemy, Fatboy Slim, Beck and many others — mined Stone’s seminal back catalog for hook-laden samples. After a mildly received debut album, A Whole New Thing (1967), Sly & The Family Stone had their first hit single with “Dance to the Music“, which was later included on an album of the same name (1968). Although their third album, Life (also 1968), also suffered from low sales, their fourth album, Stand! (1969), became a runaway success, selling over three million copies and spawning a number one hit single, “Everyday People“. By the summer of 1969, Sly & The Family Stone were one of the biggest names in music, releasing three more top five singles, “Hot Fun in the Summertime” and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” / “Everybody Is a Star”, before the end of the year, and appearing at Woodstock.

Sadly though With the band’s new found fame and success came numerous problems. Relationships within the band were deteriorating; there was friction in particular between the Stone brothers & Bass player Larry Graham. After moving to the Los Angeles area in fall 1969, Stone and his bandmates became heavy users of illegal drugs, As the members became increasingly focused on drug use and partying (Stone carried a violin case filled with illegal drugs wherever he went), recording slowed significantly. Between summer 1969 and fall 1971, the band released only one single, which was one of the first recordings to employ the heavy, funky beats that would be featured in the funk music of the following decade. It showcased Graham’s innovative percussive playing technique of bass “slapping”. During this time Stone’s behavior became increasingly erratic.New material was anticipated in 1970, but with none forthcoming, a Greatest Hits album was released that November. One year later, the band’s fifth album, There’s a Riot Goin’ On, was released. Riot featured a much darker sound as most tracks were recorded with overdubbing as opposed to The Family Stone all playing at the same time as they had done previously. Stone played most of the parts himself and performed more of the lead vocals than usual. It was also the first major label album to feature a drum machine. The band’s cohesion slowly began to erode, and its sales and popularity began to decline as well. Live bookings for Sly & the Family Stone had also steadily dropped since 1970. The final straw came In January 1975, after the band booked itself at Radio City Music Hall. The famed music hall was only one-eighth occupied, and Stone and company had to scrape together money to return home, Following the Radio City engagement, the band was dissolved.

On Sunday, January 14, 2007 Stone made a short guest appearance at a show of The New Family Stone band he supports at the House of Blues. On April 1, 2007, Stone appeared with the Family Stone at the Flamingo Las Vegas Showroom, after George Wallace’s standup act. On July 7, 2007 Stone also made a short appearance with the Family Stone at the San Jose, CA Summerfest. On Labor Day, September 7, 2009, Stone emerged at the 20th annual African Festival of the Arts in Chicago, Ill. He performed a 15 minute set during George Clinton’s Performance. He performed his popular hits along with George Clinton’s band. He left immediately after his short performance. On December 6, 2009, Sly signed a new recording contract with the LA based Cleopatra Records and on August 16, 2011, I’m Back! Family & Friends was released, the first Sly Stone album since 1982′s Ain’t But the One Way. The album features re-recorded versions of Sly & the Family Stone’s greatest hits with guest appearances from Jeff Beck, Ray Manzarek, Bootsy Collins, Ann Wilson, Carmine Appice and Johnny Winter, as well as three previously unreleased songs.

Youssou N’Dour

Senegalese singer-songwriter, actor, and politician Youssou N’Dour, was born 1 October 1959. In 2004, Rolling Stone described him as, “perhaps the most famous singer alive” in Senegal and much of Africa. Since April 2012, he has been Senegal’s Minister of Tourism and Culture.N’Dour helped to develop a style of popular Senegalese music known in the Serer languageas mbalax, which derives from the conservative Serer music tradition of “Njuup”. He is the subject of the award-winning films Return to Goree directed Pierre-Yves Borgeaud and Youssou N’Dour. He started his music career in 1979, when he formed his own ensemble, the Étoile de Dakar. His early work with the group was in the Latin style popular all over Africa during that time. In the 1980s he developed a unique sound with his ultimate group, Super Étoile de Dakar featuring Jimi Mbaye on guitar, bassistHabib Faye, and Tama (talking drum) player Assane Thiam.By 1991 he had opened his own recording studio, Xippi, and, by 1995, his own record label, Jololi.N’Dour is one of the most celebrated African musicians in history. His mix of traditional Senegalese mbalax with eclectic influences ranging from Cuban rumba to hip hop, jazz and soul won him an international fan base of millions. In the West, N’Dour collaborated withPeter Gabriel, Axelle Red, Sting, Alan Stivell, Bran Van 3000, Neneh Cherry, Wyclef Jean, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen,Tracy Chapman, Branford Marsalis, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Dido and others.r.

Youssou N’Dour Festival de Fes http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dAEVwoDSxJs

The New York Times described his voice as an “arresting tenor, a supple weapon deployed with prophetic authority”. N’Dour’s work absorbed the entire Senegalese musical spectrum, often filtered through the lens of genre-defying rock or pop music from outside Senegalese culture.In July 1993, an African opera composed by N’Dour premiered at the Opéra Garnier for the French Festival Paris quartier d’été.He wrote and performed the official anthem of the 1998 FIFA World Cup with Axelle Red “La Cour des Grands”.[4]Folk Roots magazine described him as the African Artist of the Century. He toured internationally for thirty years. He won his first American Grammy Award (best contemporary world music album) for his CD Egypt in 2005. He is the proprietor of L’Observateur, one of the widest-circulation newspapers in Senegal, the radio station RFM (Radio Future Medias) and the TV channel TFM.In 2006, N’Dour played the role of the African-British abolitionist Olaudah Equiano in the movie Amazing Grace, which chronicled the efforts of William Wilberforce to end slavery in the British Empire. In 2008, N’Dour offered one of his compositions, Bébé, for the French singer Cynthia Brown. In 2011, N’Dour was awarded an honorary doctorate in Music from Yale University. In 2013, N’Dour won a share of Sweden’s $150,000 Polar music prize for promoting understanding between faiths as well as for his music.

In 16 October 2000 N’Dour was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) . In Senegal, N’Dour became a powerful cultural icon, actively involved in social issues. In 1985, he organized a concert for the release ofNelson Mandela. He was a featured performer in the 1988 worldwide Amnesty International Human Rights Now! Tour collaborating withLou Reed on a version of the Peter Gabriel song Biko which was produced by Richard James Burgess and featured on the Amnesty International benefit album The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball. He worked with the United Nations and UNICEF, and he started Project Joko to open internet cafés in Africa and to connect Senegalese communities around the world. He performed in three of the Live 8concerts (in Live 8 concert, London, Live 8 concert, Paris and at the Live 8 concert, Eden Project in Cornwall) on 2 July 2005, withDido.

He covered John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” for the 2007 CD Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur. He appeared in a joint Spain-Senegal ad campaign to inform the African public about the dramatic consequences of illegal immigration.[citation needed] N’Dour participated in the Stock Exchange of Visions project in 2007.[15]In 2007 he became a council member of the World Future Council.[citation needed]In 2008, he joined the Fondation Chirac’s honour committee.[16] The same year, Youssou N’Dour’s microfinance organization namedBirima (Birima is also a song’s title) was launched with the collaboration of Benetton United Colors.In 2009, he released his song “Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling)” under a Creative Commons license to help IntraHealth International in theirIntraHealth Open campaign to bring open source health applications to Africa. The song was remixed by a variety of artists including Nas, Peter Buck of R.E.M, and Duncan Sheik to help raise money for the campaign.

F-86 Sabre

F-86 Sabre
F-86 Sabre

The maiden flight of The North American F-86 Sabre fighter, ( Sabrejet) occurred on 1 October 1947 with George Welch at the controls, from Muroc Dry Lake (now Edwards AFB), California. Produced by North American Aviation, the Sabre is best known as the United States’ first swept wing fighter which could counter the similarly-winged Soviet MiG-15 in high-speed dogfights over the skies of the Korean War (1950-53). Considered one of the best and most important fighter aircraft in that war, the F-86 is also rated highly in comparison with fighters of other eras.Although it was developed in the late 1940s and was outdated by the end of the ’50s, the Sabre proved versatile and adaptable, and continued as a front-line fighter in numerous air forces until the last active operational examples were retired by the Bolivian Air Force in 1994. Its success led to an extended production run of more than 7,800 aircraft between 1949 and 1956, in the U.S., Japan and Italy. Variants were built in Canada and Australia. The Canadair Sabre added another 1,815 airframes, and the significantly redesigned CAC Sabre (sometimes known as the Avon Sabre or CAC CA-27), had a production run of 112. The Sabre was by far the most-produced Western jet fighter, with total production of all variants at 9,860 units.

North American had produced the propeller-powered P-51 Mustang in World War II, which saw combat against some of the first operational jet fighters. By late 1944, North American proposed its first jet fighter to the U.S. Navy which became the FJ-1 Fury. It was an unexceptional transitional jet fighter which had a straight wing derived from the P-51. Initial proposals to meet a United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) requirement for a medium-range, single-seat, high-altitude jet-powered day escort fighter/fighter bomber were drafted in mid-1944.In early 1945, North American Aviation submitted four designs. The USAAF selected one design over the others, and granted North American a contract to build three examples of the XP-86 (eXperimental Pursuit). Deleting specific requirements from the FJ-1 Fury, coupled with other modifications, allowed the XP-86 to be lighter and considerably faster than the Fury, with an estimated top speed of 582 mph (937 km/h), versus the Fury’s 547 mph (880 km/h).[6] Despite the gain in speed, early studies revealed the XP-86 would have the same performance as its rivals, the XP-80 and XP-84. It was also feared that, because these designs were more advanced in their development stages, the XP-86 would be canceled.

Crucially, the XP-86 would not be able to meet the required top speed of 600 mph (970 km/h); North American had to quickly come up with a radical change that could leapfrog it over its rivals. The North American F-86 Sabre was the first American aircraft to take advantage of flight research data seized from the German aerodynamicists at the end of World War II. This data showed that a thin swept wing could greatly reduce drag and delay compressibility problems which had bedeviled even prop-powered fighters such as the Lockheed P-38 Lightning approaching the speed of sound. By 1944, German engineers and designers had established the benefits of swept wings based on experimental designs dating back to 1940. Study of the data showed that a swept wing would solve their speed problem, while a slat on the wing’s leading edge which extended at low speeds would enhance low-speed stability.

However the idea of changing the sweep of the wing was met with resistance from some senior North American staff. Despite stiff opposition, after good test results were obtained in wind tunnel tests, the swept-wing concept was eventually adopted. Performance requirements were met by incorporating a 35° swept-back wing, and using Modified Aerofoils with an automatic slat design and an electrically adjustable stabilizer, as used by the Messerschmidt Me 262A. Delays caused by the major redesign meant that manufacturing did not begin until after World War II. The XP-86 prototype, which would lead to the F-86 Sabre, was rolled out on 8 August 1947.The United States Air Force’s Strategic Air Command had F-86 Sabres in service from 1949 through 1950. The F-86s were assigned to the 22nd Bomb Wing, the 1st Fighter Wing and the 1st Fighter Interceptor Wing. The F-86 was the primary U.S. air combat fighter during the Korean War. The F-86 Sabre was also produced under license by Canadair, Ltd as the Canadair Sabre. The final variant of the Canadian Sabre, the Mark 6, is generally rated as having the highest capabilities of any Sabre version made anywhere.

The F-86A also set the first official world speed record of 670 miles per hour (1,080 km/h) in September 1948, still some 32 miles per hour (51 km/h) short of the 702 miles per hour (1,130 km/h) unofficial rocket-powered aircraft speed record set with an Me 163B prototype in early July 1944 tests, which itself had a 23.3° wing sweepback angle. Several people involved with the development of the F-86, including the chief aerodynamicist for the project and one of its other test pilots, claimed that North American test pilot George Welch had unofficially broken the sound barrier in a dive with the XP-86 while on a test flight on 1 October 1947. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier on 14 October 1947 in the rocket-propelled Bell X-1 during level flight, making it the first true supersonic aircraft. Five years later, on 18 May 1953, Jacqueline Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier, flying a “one-off” Canadian-built F-86 Sabre Mk 3, alongside Chuck Yeager, while Col. K. K. Compton won the 1951 Bendix air race in an F-86A with an average speed of 553.76 mph.