John Connolly

imageProlific Irish Novellist John Connolly was born 31 May 1960. He is best known for his series of novels starring private detective Charlie Parker. Connolly graduated with a BA in English from Trinity College, Dublin, and an M.A. in journalism from Dublin City University. Before becoming a full-time novelist, he worked as a journalist, a barman, a local government official, a waiter and a gofer at Harrods department store in London. After five years as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times newspaper, he became frustrated with the profession, and began to write his first novel, Every Dead Thing, in his spare time. This novel introduced Charlie Parker, a former police officer hunting the killer of his wife and daughter.

The book was met with critical acclaim; it was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and went on to win the 2000 Shamus Award for Best First Private Eye Novel. (Connolly is the first author outside of the US to have won the award. Connolly has since written further books in the popular Parker series and a non-Parker thriller, as well as venturing outside of the crime genre with the publication of  an anthology of ghost stories and, a novel about a young boy’s coming-of-age journey through a fantasy realm during World War II England. Film and television adaptations of his works are currently in development; the earliest to appear to audiences was partially based on the short story “The New Daughter”, and starred Kevin Costner and Ivana Baquero.

Connolly also tours regularly to promote the launch of his books. In 2007, he made book store appearances in Ireland, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan to promote The Unquiet. The seventh book in the Charlie Parker series. The next book, The Reapers, was published in 2008. It differs from the earlier books in that the story is told from the point of view of Parker’s close friends and allies in combat, Louis and Angel, who make an unlikely couple, Louis is an enigimatic, large black man who was a hired killer but who now seems to be in semiretirement; Angel is a small white man and ex-burglar. They appear when Parker is in need of help and professional protection from his enemies.The ninth Parker novel, titled The Whisperers, was published in 2010; the tenth, The Burning Soul, in 2011. The Wrath of Angels, the eleventh Charlie Parker novel, was published in 2012 and his latest novels The Wolf in Winter and A Song of Shadows were published 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Connolly also writes for younger readers, his first novel The Gates was published 2009. Jells Bells, the sequel was published in 2011 as The Infernals in the US. The third book in the Samuel Johnson series, The Creeps, was published in 2013 and he also published Conquest, the first in a projected four-book fantasy series for teenaged readers by Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard. Connolly also collaborated with fellow Irish author Declan Burke on Books to Die For: The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels, a nonfiction anthology published in 2012, which was also nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America, and subsequently won the Agatha Award for Best Non-fiction,and the Anthony Award for Best Critical Nonfiction Work.

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Tintoretto

Jacopo_Tintoretto_-_Paradise_(detail)_-_WGA22639Italian Renaissance artist Tintoretto sadly Died May 31, 1594. born 29 September 1518 in Venice. His real name was Jacopo Comin, and he was a notable exponent of theRenaissance school. For his phenomenal energy in painting he was termed Il Fuioso. His work is characterized by its musculr figures, dramatic gestures, and bold use of perspective in the Mannerist style, while maintaining color and light typical of the Venetian School. In his youth, Tintoretto was also known as Jacopo Robusti as his father had defended the gates of Padua in a way that others called robust, against the imperial troops during the War of the League of Cambrai (1509–1516). Tintoretto was the eldest of 21 children. His father, Giovanni, was a dyer, or tintore; hence the son got the nickname of Tintoretto, little dyer, or dyer’s boy, which is anglicized as Tintoret.

The family originated from Brescia, in Lombardy, then part of theRepublic of Venice. In childhood Jacopo, a born painter, began daubing on the dyer’s walls; his father, noticing his talent took him to the studio of Titian to see how far he could be trained as an artist. Tintoretto had only been ten days in the studio when Titian sent him home once and for all, Titian mayhave judged that young Jacopo, although he might become a painter, would never be properly a pupil.From this time forward the two always remained upon distant terms, Tintoretto being indeed a professed and ardent admirer of Titian, but never a friend, and Titian and his adherents turning the cold shoulder to him. His noble conception of art and his high personal ambition were evidenced in the inscription which he placed over his studio Il disegno di Michelangelo ed il colorito di Tiziano (“Michelangelo’s design and Titian’s color”).

He also studied from models of Michelangelo’s Dawn, Noon, Twilight and Night, and became expert in modelling in wax and clay method. The models were sometimes taken from dead subjects dissected or studied in anatomy schools; some were draped, others nude, and Tintoretto was to suspend them in a wooden or cardboard box, with an aperture for a candle. Now and afterwards he very frequently worked by night as well as by day. Tintoretto also helped the young painter Andrea Schiavone, in wall-paintings; . The two earliest mural paintings of Tintoretto are said to have been Belshazzar’s Feast and a Cavalry Fight. . The first work of his to attract some considerable notice was a portrait-group of himself and his brother playing a guitar. Another of Tintoretto’s early pictures is in the church of the Carmine in Venice, thePresentation of Jesus in the Temple. In the S. Benedetto is the painting Annunciation and Christ with the Woman of Samaria. Tintoretto also painted four subjects from Genesis For the Scuola della Trinity (the scuole or schools of Venice were more in the nature of hospitals or charitable foundations than of educational institutions). Two of these, now in the Venetian Academy, are Adam and Eve and the Death of Abel.

The Embarkation of St Helena in the Holy Land was one of a series of three paintings by Tintoretto, depicting the legend of St Helena And The Holy Cross. The Embarkation of St Helena was acquired by the V&A in 1865. Its sister paintings, The Discovery Of The True Cross and St Helen Testing The True Cross, are held in galleries in the USA.Towards 1546 Tintoretto painted three of his best known works – the Worship of the Golden Calf, thePresentation of the Virgin in the Temple, and the Last Judgment for the church of the Madonna dell’Orto, and settled down in a house by the church overlooking the Fondamenta de Mori, which is still standing. In 1548 he was commissioned for four pictures in the Scuola di S. Marco: the Finding of the body of St Mark, the St Mark’s Body Brought to Venice,  St Mark Rescuing a Saracen from Shipwreck and the Miracle of the Slave. (these three are in Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice). Having painted these He was financially secure and was able to marry Faustina de Vescovi , daughter of a Venetian nobleman who was the guardian grande of the Scuola Grande di San Marco, who bore him several children. Between 1565 and 1567, and again from 1575 to 1588, Tintoretto produced a large number of paintings for the walls and ceilings of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco .

In 1560 five painters, including Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese, were invited to send in trial-designs for the centre-piece in the smaller hall named Sala dell’Albergo, In 1565 he resumed work at the scuola, painting the magnificent Crucifixion, In 1576 he presented another centre-piece—that for the ceiling of the great hall, representing the Plague of Serpents; and completed this ceiling with pictures of the Paschal Feast and Moses striking the Rock . Next Tintoretto paintedthe entire scuola and of the adjacent church of San Rocco. In total the scuola and church contain fifty-two memorable paintings, such as Adam and Eve, the Visitation, the Adoration of the Magi, the Massacre of the Innocents, the Agony in the Garden, Christ before Pilate, Christ carrying His Cross, the Assumption of the Virgin. Tintoretto also did numerous paintings in the Doge’s Palace; including a portrait of the doge, Girolamo Priuli, the Excommunication of Frederick Barbarossa by Pope Alexander III, the Victory of Lepanto and The Deliverance of Arsenoe. Sadly though most were destroyed by a fire.

With help from Paolo Veronese, his colleague at the Sala dell Anticollegio, Tintoretto painted four masterpieces – Bacchus, with Ariadne crowned by Venus, the Three Graces and Mercury. He also painted, Minerva discarding Mars, the Forge of Vulcan, Queen of the Sea , theEspousal of St Catherine to Jesus , St George and St Nicholas, with St Margaret and St Jerome and St Andrew and nine large compositions, chiefly battle-pieces including the Capture of Zara from the Hungarians in 1346 amid a Hurricane of Missiles and arguably the crowning production of Tintoretto’s life, “Paradise” which is reputed to be the largest painting ever done upon canvas. A fter the completion of the Paradise Tintoretto rested for a while, and he never undertook any other work of importance. In 1592 he became a member of the Scuola dei Mercanti. In 1594, he developed severe stomach pains, and a fever, that prevented him from sleeping and eating much and was buried in the church of the Madonna dell’Orto by the side of his favorite daughter Marietta, who had died in 1590 at the age of thirty. Tradition suggests that as she lay in her final repose, her heart-stricken father had painted her final portrait.

Karl Bartos and Fritz Hilpert (Kraftwerk)

Karl Bartos, the German singer-songwriter and keyboard player with German Electronic music pioneers Kaftwerk and Electronic Was Born 31 May 1952 and Fritz Hilpert, The German drummer with Kraftwerk was Born 31 May 1956. Kraftwerk (meaning power plant or power station) are an influential electronic music band from Düsseldorf, Germany.

KRAFTWERK LIVE TORONTO 2014

The group was formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1970, and was fronted by them until Schneider’s departure in 2008. The signature Kraftwerk sound combines driving, repetitive rhythms with catchy melodies, mainly following a Western Classical style of harmony, with a minimalistic and strictly electronic instrumentation. The group’s simplified lyrics are at times sung through a vocoder or generated by computer-speech software. and they are considered pioneers in the field of electronic music/synthpop and were one of the first groups to popularize electronic music during the 70′s when their distinctive sound was considered revolutionary

Kraftwerk’s inspirations continue to be contemporary. They are always revisiting previous songs and revamping and overhauling them in order to keep them sounding fresh. Today Kraftwerk remain as popular as ever and their influence has had a long lasting effect across many genres of modern music and has paved the way for many of todays electro/Techno bands and their influence can often stll be heard in much of today’s music and thanks to the ongoing popularity of songs like The Robots, Autobahn, Tour De France, Trans Europe Express and Computer Love they still remain relevent today. The last album was the 2003 album Tour de France. Their next LP will be their 11th studio album and their first without Florian Schneider, who left the group three years ago.

W.Heath Robinson

Best known for his wonderfully outlandish illustrations of all sorts of wierd & wonderful contraptions, the English cartoonist W. Heath Robinson, was born May 31st 1872 In the UK, the term “Heath Robinson” has entered the language as a description of any unnecessarily complex and implausible contraption, similar to “Rube Goldberg” in the U.S. “Heath Robinson” is perhaps more often used in relation to temporary fixes using ingenuity and whatever is to hand, often string and tape, or unlikely cannibalisations. Its popularity is undoubtedly linked to Second World War Britain’s shortages and the need to “make do and mend”.William Heath Robinson was born into a family of artists His father and brothers (Thomas Heath Robinson and Charles Robinson) all worked as illustrators. His early career involved illustrating books – among others: Hans Christian Andersen’s Danish Fairy Tales and Legends (1897); The Arabian Nights, (1899); Tales From Shakespeare (1902), and Twelfth Night (1908), Andersen’s Fairy Tales (1913), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1914), Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies (1915), and Walter de la Mare’s Peacock Pie (1916). In the course of his work Heath Robinson also wrote and illustrated three children’s books, The Adventures of Uncle Lubin (1902), Bill the Minder (1912) and Peter Quip in Search of a Friend (1922).

Uncle Lubin is regarded as the start of his career in the depiction of unlikely machines. During the First World War he drew large numbers of cartoons, collected as Some “Frightful” War Pictures (1915), Hunlikely! (1916), The Saintly Hun (1917) and Flypapers (1919), depicting ever-more-unlikely secret weapons being used by the combatants. He also produced a steady stream of humorous drawings for magazines and advertisements. In 1934 he published a collection of his favourites as Absurdities, such as: “The Wart Chair. A simple apparatus for removing a wart from the top of the head”, “Resuscitating stale railway scones for redistribution at the station buffets” and “The multimovement tabby silencer”, which automatically threw water at serenading cats.

Most of his cartoons have since been reprinted many times in multiple collections, and the machines he drew were frequently powered by steam boilers or kettles, heated by candles or a spirit lamp and usually kept running by balding, bespectacled men in overalls. There would be complex pulley arrangements, threaded by lengths of knotted string. Robinson’s cartoons were so popular that in Britain the term “Heath Robinson” is used to refer to an improbable, rickety machine barely kept going by incessant tinkering. (The corresponding term in the U.S. is Rube Goldberg, after an American cartoonist with an equal devotion to odd machinery. Similar “inventions” have been drawn by cartoonists in many countries, with the Danish Storm Petersen being on par with Robinson and Goldberg.) One of his most famous series of illustrations was that which accompanied the Professor Branestawm books by Norman Hunter. The stories told of the eponymous professor who was brilliant, eccentric and forgetful and provided a perfect backdrop for Robinson’s drawings.One of the automatic analysis machines built for Bletchley Park during the Second World War to assist in the decryption of German message traffic was named “Heath Robinson” in his honour. It was a direct predecessor to the Colossus, the world’s first programmable digital electronic computer.

Jon Bonham (Led Zeppelin)

images-4Best remembered as the drummer of Led Zeppelin, The late great Jon Bonham was born 31st May 1948. Led Zeppelin are widely considered to be one of the most successful, innovative and influential rock groups in the history of music. They were formed in 1968 after former Yardbirds Guitarist Jimmy Page recruited vocalist Robert Plant, drummer John Bonham, and John Paul Jones. The name Led Zeppelin stemmed from an old joke by Keith Moon and John Entwistle, of “The Who”, and Page stuck with that name to use for his new band. The name was subsequently changed to “Led Zeppelin”, to avoid a mispronunciation of “eed Zeppelin.”Page had a very specific idea in mind as to what he wanted Led Zeppelin to be, and wanted to add acoustic textures. Zeppelin’s sound became a marriage of blues, hard rock and acoustic music topped with heavy choruses – a combination that had never been done back in the 1960′s. Led Zeppelin’s sound has since become a prototype for countless rock bands ever since, and was one of the major driving forces behind the rock sound of the 1970′s.Led Zeppelin released relatively few singles, preferring their albums to be viewed as indivisible, whole listening experiences, helping to promote the concept of album-orientated rock.

LED ZEPPELIN LIVE 1975

Their first two albums, with their heavy, guitar-driven blues rock sound, led to Led Zeppelin being regularly cited as one of the progenitors of heavy metal and hard rock, even though the band’s individualistic style drew from varied sources and transcends any single music genre. Their next two albums incorporated wider musical influences, particularly from folk music; the tracks “Stairway to Heaven“, and “Kashmir” are among the most popular and influential works in rock music, and cemented the status of the group as “superstars”. Sadly though Bonham tragically died in 1980 as a result of his wild lifestyle and Led Zeppelin broke up following the death of drummer John Bonham,

Throughout their career, Led Zeppelin collected many honours and awards. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2006. Among the band’s awards are an American Music Award in 2005, and the Polar Music Prize in 2006. Led Zeppelin were the recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and four of their recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. They have been awarded five Diamond albums, as well as fourteen Multi-Platinum albums, four Platinum albums and one Gold album in the United States, while in the UK they have five Multi-Platinum albums, six Platinum albums, one Gold album and four Silver albums.

Jimmy Page was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of his charity work in 2005 and Robert Plant was honoured as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to popular music in 2009. The band are ranked number one on VH1′s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock and Classic Rock’s “50 Best Live Acts of All Time”. They were awarded an Ivor Novello Award for “Outstanding Contribution to British Music” in 1977, as well as a “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the 42nd Annual Ivor Novello awards ceremony in 1997. The band were honoured with the “Best Live Act” prize for their one-off reunion at MOJO Awards 2008, where they were described as the “greatest rock and roll band of all time”.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

imageThe epic magic and fantasy novel Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell, by Suasanna Clark Has been adapted for Television By the BBC, so I thought I would read the original novel. It is set In nineteenth-century England amidst the Nepoleonic Wars. It starts after a reclusive practicing Magician named Mr Gilbert Norrell, is approached by The Learned Society of York Magicians, made up of “theoretical magicians” who believe that magic died out several hundred years earlier, who ask him to perform a feat of Magic. So Norrell proves his skill as a practicing magician by bringing the statues in York Cathedral to life.John Childermass, Mr Norrell’s long-time servant, convinces a member of the group, John Segundus, to write about the event for the London newspapers making Mr Norrell a celebrity overnight. Then he brings the deceased bride of Cabinet Minister Sir Walter Pole, Emma Winterdown, back from the dead, by summoning a faerie, however he pays a heavy price and later this has terrible consequences.

After news spreads of Emma’s resurrection and happy marriage to Sir Walter, magic becomes respectable and Mr Norrell performs various feats to aid the government in their ongoing war against Napoleon. Then While living in London, Mr Norrell encounters A street-magician, named Vinculus who relates a prophecy about a nameless slave and two magicians in England, but Norrell ignores it.

Meanwhile another Magician from Shropshire named Jonathan Strange turns up, he also encounters Vinculus who tells him the same prophecy prompting Strange to become a Magician and he becomes Mr Norrell’s Apprentice. They join forces in the war against France. However despite Norrell’s warnings Strange is drawn to the darker and more dangerous forms of Magic and learns about John Uskglass, the legendary Raven King a medieval lord-magician of the North of England. So he pursues his desire to summon a faerie servant to the edge of madness. Meanwhile, a mysterious gentleman with thistle-down hair takes a liking to Stephen Black, Sir Walter’s capable black butler, and promises to make him a king. Meanwhile Emma (now Lady Pole) becomes mysteriously unwell, but the cause of her condition confounds every Doctor and Mr Norrell states that her problems cannot be solved by magic either. Unbeknownst to anyone Lady Pole and Stephen Black have been bewitched by the mysterious gentleman with Thistle-Down Hair, who turns out to be a Faerie and must spend each night Dancing at Costumed Balls held at the Faerie Kingdom of Lost Hope as part of the bargain they made.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell later disagree about the importance that John Uskglass (the legendary Raven King) has in English magic. Meanwhile Lady Pole and Strange’s wife, Arabella, soon become friends and Arabella also meets the gentleman with thistle-down hair at the Poles’ who deviously plots to enchant her too. Later the Government Send Strange to assist the Duke of Wellington on his Peninsular Campaign, and he creates roads, moves towns, and makes dead men speak. After he returns, he fails to cure George III’s madness, although Strange manages to save the king from becoming enchanted by the gentleman with thistle-down hair, who is determined to make Stephen a king. Strange then helps defeat Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo and then parts company with Norrell and returns home and works on his own book, The History and Practice of English Magic. Then Arabella goes missing, and dies shortly after being found sick and weak. Then an increasingly deranged Lady Pole attempts to shoot Mr Norrell as he is returning home but the bullet hits Childermass instead. She is taken for respite in the country where she is cared for by John Segundus, who suspects sinister magical forces are at work. Whilst travelling North Stephen meets Vinculus, who again recites his prophecy: “the nameless slave shall be a king in a strange country …”

Strange moves to Venice and meets Flora. Then after experimenting with dangerous magic to gain access to Faerie he discovers that Arabella is alive and being held captive by the Mysterious Man with Thistle-Down hair at the Faerie Kingdom of Lost Hope and is then cursed with Eternal Night, an eerie darkness that engulfs him and follows him wherever he goes. He decides to rescue Arabella however this takes a heavy toll on him. On Strange’s orders, Flora moves with her family to Padua and secludes herself inside her home, along with a mirror given to her by Strange. In England,John Uskglass returns sparking a magical renaissance. Strange and Childermass then endeavour to free Lady Pole from the faerie’s enchantment and asks Norrell to help him undo Arabella’s enchantment by summoning John Uskglass. Sadly this does not go to plan and Norrell and Strange find themselves trapped in “Eternal Night,” and unable to move more than a certain distance from each other. Meanwhile Arabella tries to escape her enchantment and Stephen confronts the mysterious gentleman with thistle-down hair…..

Dune

DuneI recently watched the Epic science fiction film Dune again. Based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name, It takes place In the year 10,191, the known universe is ruled by Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV (José Ferrer). The most important substance in his galactic empire is the spice melange, which has many special properties, including extending life and expanding consciousness. The most profitable of its properties is its ability to fold space and allow safe interstellar travel to any part of the universe instantaneously.

Sensing a potential threat to spice production, the Spacing Guild secretly send a Navigator emissary to negotiate, and they secretly plot to destroy House Atreides, whose leader Duke Leto Atreides (Jürgen Prochnow) is amassing a secret army and could pose a threat to the Emperor. They plan to give the Atreides control of the planet Arrakis (also known as Dune), the only source of spice and have their longtime archenemies, the Harkonnens attack them. The Navigator commands the Emperor to kill the Duke’s son, Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan), a young man who dreams prophetic visions of his purpose and is part of a centuries long breeding program by the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, to produce a Superbeing (Kwisatz Haderach)

Meanwhile, on the industrial world of Giedi Prime, the sadistic Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Kenneth McMillan) tells his nephews Glossu Rabban (Paul Smith) and Feyd-Rautha (Sting) about his plan to eliminate the Atreides, The Atreides meanwhile leave their home planet Caladan bound for Arrakis, a barren desert planet populated by gigantic sandworms and the Fremen, a mysterious people who have long held a prophecy that a messiah would come to lead them to freedom. Upon arrival on Arrakis, Leto is informed by one of his right-hand men, Duncan Idaho (Richard Jordan), that theFremen could prove to be powerful allies, so Leto gains the trust of Fremen.

The Harkonnens launch their attack.supported by the Emperor’s elite troops, the Sardaukar, and aided by the traitorous, Dr. Wellington Yueh (Dean Stockwell). The Atreides and Fremen are unable to withstand the attack, and Duke Leto is captured by the Harkonnen and dies trying to assassinate Baron Harkonnen. Luckily Leto’s concubine Lady Jessica (Francesca Annis) and his son Paul escape into the deep desert, where they manage to join a band of Fremen, led by Stilgar (Everett McGill). Paul is elected as Muad’Dib, the leader for whom the Fremen have been waiting and teaches the Fremen to use sonic weapons called weirding modules and they begin targeting mining production of spice.

Within two years, spice production is effectively halted. The Emperor is warned by the Spacing Guild of the situation on Arrakis. The Guild fears that Paul will consume the Water of Life and After doing just that Paul gains control of the sandworms of Arrakis. He then discovers water kept in huge caches by the Fremen can be used to destroy the spice. Paul learns that the Emperor is amassing a huge invasion fleet above Arrakis to regain control of the planet and the spice. Upon the Emperor’s arrival at Arrakis, he executes Rabban and Paul launches a final attack against the Harkonnens and the Emperor’s elite Sardaukar shock troops at the capital city of Arrakeen hoping to defeat the combined troops of the Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV and Baron Harkonnen and fulfil the Fremen Prophecy…