The Wizard of Menlo Park – Thomas Edison

American inventor and businessman Thomas Alva Edison Sadly died October 18, 1931 of complications of diabetes, in his home, “Glenmont” in Llewellyn Park in West Orange, New Jersey. Born February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio, he grew up in Port Huron, Michigan. In school, the young Edison’s mind often wandered, and his teacher, the Reverend Engle, was overheard calling him “addled”. This ended Edison’s three months of official schooling. Edison recalled later, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” His mother taught him at home. much of his education came from reading R.G. Parker’s School of Natural Philosophy. Edison developed hearing problems at an early age. The cause of his deafness has been attributed to a bout of scarlet fever during childhood and recurring untreated middle-ear infections. Around the middle of his career, Edison attributed the hearing impairment to being struck on the ears by a train conductor when his chemical laboratory in a boxcar caught fire and he was thrown off the train in Smiths Creek, Michigan, along with his apparatus and chemicals. In 1854 Edison’s family moved to Port Huron, Michigan, He sold candy and newspapers on trains running from Port Huron to Detroit, and he sold vegetables to supplement his income. He also studied qualitative analysis, and conducted chemical experiments on the train until an accident prohibited further work of the kind. He obtained the exclusive right to sell newspapers on the road, and, with the aid of four assistants, he set in type and printed the Grand Trunk Herald, which he sold with his other papers.This began Edison’s long streak of entrepreneurial ventures, as he discovered his talents as a businessman. These talents eventually led him to found 14 companies, including General Electric, which is still one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world.

Thomas Edison began his career as an inventor in Newark, New Jersey, with the automatic repeater and his other improved telegraphic devices, but the invention that first gained him notice was the phonograph in 1877. This accomplishment was so unexpected by the public at large as to appear almost magical. Edison became known as “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” New Jersey.His first phonograph recorded on tinfoil around a grooved cylinder, but had poor sound quality and the recordings could be played only a few times. In the 1880s, a redesigned model using wax-coated cardboard cylinders was produced by Alexander Graham Bell, Chichester Bell, and Charles Tainter. This was one reason that Thomas Edison continued work on his own “Perfected Phonograph.” In 1877–78, Edison invented and developed the carbon microphone used in all telephones along with the Bell receiver until the 1980s. After protracted patent litigation, in 1892 a federal court ruled that Edison and not Emile Berliner was the inventor of the carbon microphone which was also used in radio broadcasting and public address work through the 1920s.

He also developed many other devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb Edison also patented a system for electricity distribution in 1880, which was essential to capitalize on the invention of the electric lamp, he was also one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large-scale teamwork to the process of invention, and because of that, he is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.Edison is the fourth most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. He is credited with numerous inventions that contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications. These included a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music and motion pictures.His advanced work in these fields was an outgrowth of his early career as a telegraph operator. Edison developed a system of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses, and factories – a crucial development in the modern industrialized world. He also developed the first power station on Pearl Street in Manhattan, New York and is credited with designing and producing the first commercially available fluoroscope, a machine that uses X-rays to take radiographs. Until Edison discovered that calcium tungstate fluoroscopy screens produced brighter images than the barium platinocyanide screens originally used by Wilhelm Röntgen, the technology was capable of producing only very faint images, The fundamental design is still in use today.

Edison was active in business Just months before his death, the Electrical transmission for the Lackawanna Railroad inaugurated suburban electric train service from Hoboken to Montclair, Dover, and Gladstone in New Jersey. was by means of an overhead catenary system using direct current, which Edison had championed. Despite his frail condition, Edison was at the throttle of the first electric MU (Multiple-Unit) train to depart Lackawanna Terminal in Hoboken in September 1930, driving the train the first mile through Hoboken yard on its way to South Orange.This fleet of cars would serve commuters in northern New Jersey for the next 54 years until their retirement in 1984. A plaque commemorating Edison’s inaugural ride can be seen today in the waiting room of Lackawanna Terminal in Hoboken, which is presently operated by New Jersey Transit. Edison was said to have been influenced by a popular fad diet in his last few years; “the only liquid he consumed was a pint of milk every three hours”. He is reported to have believed this diet would restore his health. Edison became the owner of his Milan, Ohio, birthplace in 1906. On his last visit, in 1923, he was reportedly shocked to find his old home still lit by lamps and candles. He is buried behind the home. Edison’s last breath is reportedly contained in a test tube at the Henry Ford Museum. Ford reportedly convinced Charles Edison to seal a test tube of air in the inventor’s room shortly after his death, as a memento.

Howard Shore

2013-09-02-18-32-03--1399042736I am a big fan of Prolific Canadian Composer Howard Shore who was born on October 18 1946 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Shore started studying music at the age of 8 or 9 and was playing in bands by the age of 13. He studied music at Berklee College of Music in Boston after graduating from Forest Hill Collegiate Institute. From 1969 to 1972, Shore was a member of the jazz fusion band Lighthouse. In 1970, he became the music director for Lorne Michaels and Hart Pomerantz’s short-lived TV program The Hart & Lorne Terrific Hour. In 1974 Shore wrote the music for Canadian magician Doug Henning’s magical/musical Spellbound and from 1975 until 1980, he was the musical director for Saturday Night Live appearing in Howard Shore and His All-Nurse Band, and dressed as a beekeeper for a John Belushi/Dan Aykroyd performance of the Slim Harpo classic I’m a King Bee. Shore also suggested the name for The Blues Brothers to Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.

 

hbbitShore’s first film score was for David Cronenberg’s first major film The Brood (1979). Followed by Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, and The Fly (1986), again directed by Cronenberg. Two years later, he composed the score to Big (1988), directed by Penny Marshall and starring Tom Hanks. He then scored two more of David Cronenberg’s films: Dead Ringers (1988) and Naked Lunch (1991) and also composed the score for The Silence of the Lambs, starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, and directed by Jonathan Demme, for which He received his first BAFTA nomination. The film also won five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress). Shore is the only living composer to have scored a “Top Five” Oscar winning film. During 1993, he composed the scores for M. Butterfly (another collaboration with Cronenberg), Philadelphia (his second collaboration with Jonathan Demme), and Mrs. Doubtfire, directed by Chris Columbus and went on to write the music for another three films in 1994: The Client, Ed Wood, and Nobody’s Fool. In 1997 Shore wrote the scores for two David Fincher films, Seven (1995) The Game and also wrote the scores for The Truth About Cats and Dogs (1996), Tom Hanks’ directorial debut, That Thing You Do and David Cronenberg’s film the Cell.

two-towers-posterHe also wrote the Grammy and Oscar winning score to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Which was also nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA and also composed the scores to Panic Room, Gangs of New York and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, receiving a BAFTA nomination for Gangs of New York. In 2003 he composed the score for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and won his second Oscar for Best Original Score, as well as a third for Best Original Song for “Into the West”, which he shared with Fran Walsh and Annie Lennox. Shore also won his first Golden Globe, his third and fourth Grammy (the fourth for Best Song), and was nominated for a third BAFTA. In 2004, Shore again collaborated with Martin Scorsese, scoring his epic film The Aviator. For which He won a second Golden Globe for the score, becoming the third composer to have won consecutive Golden Globes in the Original Score category. He also received his sixth Grammy nomination, and his fifth BAFTA nomination. He collaborated again with David Cronenberg in 2005 for the Oscar nominated film A History of Violence, starring Viggo Mortensen and In 2006, he collaborated for the fourth time with Martin Scorsese, this time to score the Oscar winning film The Departed. Shore has a cameo in Peter Jackson’s King Kong as the conductor of the orchestra in the theater, performing portions of Max Steiner’s score to the original 1933 version of the film.

In 2007, Shore composed the music for the video game Soul of the Ultimate Nation, which features Lydia Kavina on the theremin. He also composed the scores for The Last Mimzy and David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, which earned Shore his fourth Golden Globe nomination. In 2008 he scored the Oscar nominated film Doubt, starring Meryl Streep and directed by John Patrick Shanley. He also composed the score to the third installment in the highly popular Twilight film series, as well as Edge of Darkness, starring Mel Gibson and A Dangerous Method, starring Viggo Mortensen and directed by David Cronenberg. Shore also wrote the score to Martin Scorsese’s film Hugo, his fifth collaboration with the director, which earned him a sixth Golden Globe nomination and fourth Oscar nomination. Shore’s current projects include Robert Sigl’s The Spider and Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. He is also set to compose the music to Sinatra, and The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, both of which are being directed by Martin Scorsese.

Chuck Berry

American guitarist, singer and songwriter Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry was born October 18, 1926. He is considered one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as “Maybellene” , “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Rock and Roll Music” and “Johnny B. Goode”, Chuck Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, with lyrics focusing on teen life and consumerism and utilizing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music.Born into a middle-class family in St. Louis, Missouri, Berry had an interest in music from an early age and gave his first public performance at Sumner High School. While still a high school student he served a prison sentence for armed robbery between 1944 and 1947. On his release, Berry settled into married life and worked at an automobile assembly plant. By early 1953, influenced by the guitar riffs and showmanship techniques of blues player T-Bone Walker, he was performing in the evenings with the Johnnie Johnson Trio. His break came when he traveled to Chicago in May 1955, and met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess of Chess Records. With Chess he recorded “Maybellene” — Berry’s adaptation of the country song “Ida Red” — which sold over a million copies, reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s Rhythm and Blues chart.

By the end of the 1950s, Berry was an established star with several hit records and film appearances to his name as well as a lucrative touring career. He had also established his own St. Louis-based nightclub, called Berry’s Club Bandstand. But in January 1962, Berry was sentenced to three years in prison for offenses under the Mann Act — he had transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines.After his release in 1963, Berry had several more hits, including “No Particular Place to Go,” “You Never Can Tell,” and “Nadine,” but these did not achieve the same success, or lasting impact, of his 1950s songs, and by the 1970s he was more in demand as a nostalgic live performer, playing his past hits with local backup bands of variable quality. His insistence on being paid in cash led to a jail sentence in 1979 — four months and community service for tax evasion.Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986, with the comment that he “laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance.” Berry is included in several Rolling Stone “Greatest of All Time” lists, including being ranked fifth on their 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll included three of Chuck Berry’s songs: “Johnny B. Goode,” “Maybellene,” and “Rock and Roll Music.” , Berry still continues to play live.

Call me Ishmael

Considered to be a classic of American Literature, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, was fiirst published as The Whale by Richard Bentley of London On 18 October 1851. The story tells the adventures of wandering sailor Ishmael who finds work on a whaling ship . So On a cold, gloomy night in December, he arrives at the Spouter-Inn in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and ends up sharing a room with a, a heavily tattooed Polynesian harpooner named Queequeg. Over time the two become close friends and decide to sail together from Nantucket, Massachusetts, on an ill fated whaling voyage, aboard the Pequod, commanded by the illusive Captain Ahab, who is nowhere to be seen. The two friends encounter a mysterious man named Elijah on the dock after they sign their papers who hints  that Ahab could be trouble. Then Ishmael spots dark figures in the mist, apparently boarding the Pequod shortly before it sets sail on Christmas Morning. The ship’s officers direct the early voyage while Ahab stays in his cabin. The chief mate is, Starbuck, a serious, sincere Quaker and fine leader; second mate is Stubb, happy-go-lucky and cheerful and always smoking his pipe; the third mate is Flask, short and stout but thoroughly reliable. Some time after sailing, Ahab finally appears on the quarter-deck one morning, an imposing, frightening figure whose haunted visage sends shivers over the narrator. One of his legs is missing from the knee down and has been replaced by a prosthesis fashioned from a sperm whale’s jawbone.

After gathering the crewmen together, with a rousing speech Ahab secures their support for his single, secret purpose for this voyage: hunting down and killing Moby Dick, an old, very large sperm whale, with a snow-white hump and mottled skin, that crippled Ahab on his last whaling voyage and destroyed Ahab’s ship, driving Ahab to take revenge. Only Starbuck shows any sign of resistance to the charismatic but monomaniacal captain. . Eventually even Starbuck acquiesces to Ahab’s will, though harboring serious misgivings. Ahab meanwhile, has secretly brought along his own boat crew, including a mysterious harpooneer named Fedallah (also referred to as ‘the Parsee’), an inscrutable figure with a sinister influence over Ahab, who predicts bad things will occur during the voyage.

After entering the Pacific Ocean. Queequeg becomes deathly ill and requests that a coffin be built for him by the ship’s carpenter. Just as everyone has given up hope word is heard from other whalers of Moby Dick. The jolly Captain Boomer of the Samuel Enderby has lost an arm to the whale, and is stunned at Ahab’s burning need for revenge. Next they meet the Rachel, which has seen Moby Dick very recently and has lost many crew as a result of the encounter, but Ahab is resolute in his quest. They then meet another vessel ‘Delight” who have had a crew member killed by Moby Dick.

The next day, the Pequod encounterS Moby Dick,  and Ahab gives the order to clobber him. Moby Dick on the other hand has decided that he is having none of it and wreaks havoc causing widespread destruction And inadvertently drowning many people in the process, and it becomes clear that while Ahab is a vengeful whale-hunter, Moby Dick, while dangerous and fearless, is not motivated to hunt humans but by self preservation. So Starbuck exhorts Ahab one last time to desist, sadly though Ahab decides to ignore the voice of reason and continue with his ill-fated chase  which predictably ends in tragedy and it is not long before most of the crew and the Pequod meet a watery fate…

Moby Dick has also been adapted for screen and television numerous times, most notably starring Gregory Peck and Patrick Stewart as Captain Ahab.