Posted in films & DVD, Television

Tribute to Omar Sharif

Charismatic Hollywood Actor and renowned Bridge player Omar Sharif has sadly died at the age of 83. The Egyptian actor, best known for roles in Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, suffered a heart attack in Cairo on Friday 10 July 2015. Sharif was born Michel Chalhoub in Alexandria, the son of well-to-do Lebanese-Syrian Christians, Claire (nee Saada) and Joseph Chalhoub, and educated at a private school and at Cairo University. He worked briefly in his father’s lumber business but went into acting when director offered him a role in the film Struggle in the Valley (1954). His co-star Youssef Chahine, later became his wife, In a marriage which lasted for 20 years and they had a son Tarek, who made a brief appearance in Doctor Zhivago in the guise of Yuri Zhivago’s childhood self. Sharif became established as a principal figure in Egyptian cinema appearing in over 20 Egyptian films, he also starred in the French-backed Goha (1958), which afforded him wider recognition, in the arthouses.

His acting breakthrough came when he was cast by the producer Sam Spiegel and director David Lean to play Arab Chieftain Sharif Ali in David Lean’s epic film Lawrence of Arabia and was introduced to the international screen in one of the most dramatic star entrances of film history a daringly protracted sequence, in which Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) first makes contact with the Arab chieftain Sherif Ali (Sharif), who goes from being a speck on the horizon into a towering, huge horseman. The role of Sherif Ali was pivotal in the film’s dramatic scheme, and Sharif’s swarthy, romantic aura was played off to great effect against the blue-eyed blondness of O’Toole’s Lawrence. The two became close friends while making the film. Sharif’s performance won him Golden Globe awards as best supporting actor and most promising newcomer, as well as an Academy Award nomination,

Thanks to Lawrence of Arabia He soon became a major Hollywood player and followed his breakthrough performance with roles in Behold a Pale Horse alongside Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn, Fluent in English and French, he worked steadily for the next few years as an All-purpose foreigner. He played the title role in the 1965 epic Genghis Khan, and in 1965 he reunited with Lean to star in Doctor Zhivago, which earned him another Golden Globe. Sharif also starred as shady Gambler Nicky Arnstein alongside Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl and its sequel, Funny Lady. He also played a Spanish priest in Behold a Pale Horse (1964), and a Yugoslav partisan in The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964), and even, a little later, a Nazi officer, complete with blond-streaked hair, in The Night of the Generals (1967). But it was as the Russian hero of Lean’s Doctor Zhivago that he achieved his best-remembered screen role, a brooding, magnetic presence.

He also starred alongside Ava Gardner, in Mayerling (1968), in which he portrayed the doomed Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria. He also starred In Che! (1969), The Last Valley (1971), The Horsemen (1971) and The Burglars (1971) and was cast opposite Jean-Paul Belmondo, as a stereotypical scheming villain, then In 1974 he portrayed the captain of a stricken cruise liner in Juggernaut and in 1975 he reprised the role of Arnstein in the Funny Girl sequel, Funny Lady. his last role was in 2013 drama Rock the Casbah. He has one film still to be released: a short called 1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham.

Off-screen he led an eventful life too, and Sharif became associated with the game of bridge than with acting. Though he took it up in adult life, he developed into a world-class player. In addition to competing in international tournaments, he wrote a syndicated column on the subject for several years for the Chicago Tribune, was the author of several books on bridge, and licensed his name to a bridge computer game. He was also an inveterate high-stakes gambler, a regular at the casinos of Paris and elsewhere, and at the racetrack in Deauville. He was often overtaken by his own success, to the extent that in order to service the debts incurred by gambling and a playboy lifestyle, he entered a downward spiral into trivial and meretricious movies. His lavish lifestyle encompassed heavy drinking and smoking more than 50 cigarettes a day, at least until he underwent heart bypass surgery in 1993. And the cost was high in financial terms as well. Throughout the 2000’s he drifted from one minor role to the next in a run of TV movies, mini-series, and costume dramas until In 2003 he portrayed an elderly Turkish Muslim shopkeeper in the French movie Monsieur Ibrahim, which earned him a best actor César award, the French equivalent of an Oscar.

His private life was also littered with controversial moments. In 2003 the star was given a one-month suspended prison sentence and a €1,500 fine for head-butting a policeman in a Parisian casino. In 2005 he was ordered to attend anger management classes and served two years probation after assaulting a Beverly Hills parking valet and was caught on video in 2011, apparently slapping a journalist at the Doha international film festival. In 2006 he abandoned gambling and bridge in favour of family life, and described himself as semi-retired from the screen.In 2005 he received a Unesco medal in recognition of his contributions to world cinema and cultural diversity. Lawrence and Zhivago are still rightly regarded as classics and Sharif’s reputation remained undimmed. He is survived by his son and two grandsons.

Posted in Science-tech

Nikola Tesla Day

Nikola Tesla day, is celebrated annually on July 10 to mark the birth of Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist Nikola Tesla who was born 10 July 1856. He is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. Tesla gained experience in telephony and electrical engineering before emigrating to the United States in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison. He soon struck out on his own with financial backers, setting up laboratories/companies to develop a range of electrical devices. His patented AC induction motor and transformer were licensed by George Westinghouse, who also hired Tesla as a consultant to help develop apower system using alternating current. Tesla is also known for his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs which included patented devices and theoretical work used in the invention of radiocommunication, for his X-ray experiments, and for his ill-fated attempt at intercontinental wireless transmission in his unfinished Wardenclyffe Towerproject.

Tesla’s achievements and his abilities as a showman demonstrating his seemingly miraculous inventions made him world-famous.Although he made a great deal of money from his patents, he spent a lot on numerous experiments. He lived for most of his life in a series of New York hotels although the end of his patent income and eventual bankruptcy led him to live in diminished circumstances. Despite this Tesla still continued to invite the press to parties he held on his birthday to announce new inventions he was working and make (sometimes unusual) statements. Because of his pronouncements and the nature of his work over the years, Tesla gained a reputation in popular culture as the archetypal “mad scientist”.

Sadly Tesla  passed away on 7 January 1943 in room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel and his work fell into relative obscurity after his death, but since the 1990s, his reputation has experienced a comeback in popular culture. His work and reputed inventions are also at the center of many conspiracy theories and have also been used to support various pseudosciences, UFO theories and New Age occultism. In 1960, in honor of Tesla, the General Conference on Weights and Measures for the International System of Units dedicated the term “tesla” to the SI unit measure for magnetic field strength. There is also an Electric Car named after him.

Posted in books

The Corners of the Globe by Robert Goddard

I would like to read Robert Goddard’s latest novel The Corners of the Globe which has been described as A thrilling mix of espionage, treachery and murder set in the aftermath of the First World War. It takes place Spring, 1919 and sees former Great War flying ace James ‘Max’ Maxted, return to the trail of murder, treachery and half-buried secrets he set out on in The Ways of the World. He left Paris after avenging the murder of his father, Sir Henry Maxted, a senior member of the British delegation to the post-war peace conference. But he was convinced there was more — much more to be discovered about what Sir Henry had been trying to accomplish. And he suspected elusive German spymaster Fritz Lemmer knew more than he was letting on.

Now, enlisted under false colours in Lemmer’s service but with his loyalty pledged to the British Secret Service, Max is tasked with liaising with an American Naval Lieutenant in Orkney, and is taken on board one of the German high seas fleet of warships currently being held captive by the Royal Navy in Scapa Flow. its fate to be decided at the conference-table in Paris. Max has been sent to recover a document held aboard one of the German ships. However What that document contains forces him to break cover and he is forced to flee Orkney on a desperate race south, towards London, with information that could destroy Lemmer.

He alerts his contact in Special Branch, Horace Appleby, who travels to London. However he faces many dangers as there are many of Lemmer’s associates en-route, and Appleby realises when he gets to London that some senior Secret Service people are also working for Lemmer. Max’s position is further complicated when someone from Max’s old school recognises him on Orkney (where Max is going under a pseudonym) and threatens to inform the authorities. He then vanishes. But his sister is determined to pursue Max to find the truth.

Eventually Max returns to Paris to bring Lemmer to justice and avenge the murder of his father Sir Henry, Much to the annoyance of his elder brother (who is now head of the Country House) and his wife. He then encounters the deadly Nadia Bukayeva now working for Lemmer and he hasn’t seen the last of his father’s mistress Corrine Doxbreux either, who just happens to be the wife of a French spy and traitor.

Posted in aviation

Howard Hughes

On July 10, 1938 American business magnate, investor, aviator, aerospace engineer, film maker and philanthropist Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. Set a world record by completing a flight around the world in just 91 hours (3 days, 19 hours), beating the previous record by more than four hours. Born December 24, 1905 his many ventures helped him become one of the wealthiest people in the world. He was also a maverick film producer, And gained prominence in Hollywood from the late 1920s, making big-budget and often controversial films like The Racket (1928), Hell’s Angels (1930), Scarface (1932) and The Outlaw (1943). Hughes was one of the most influential aviators in history: he set multiple world air speed records, built the Hughes H-1 Racer and H-4 “Hercules” ( the “Spruce Goose”) and acquired and expanded Trans World Airlines, which later merged with American Airlines.

Taking off from New York City, Hughes set his round the world record via Paris, Moscow, Omsk, Yakutsk, Fairbanks, Minneapolis, and continued to New York City. For this flight he flew a Lockheed Super Electra (a twin-engine transport with a four-man crew) fitted with the latest radio and navigational equipment. Hughes wanted the flight to be a triumph of American aviation technology, illustrating that safe, long-distance air travel was possible. New York City now gave Hughes a ticker-tape parade in the Canyon of Heroes. In 1938, the William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas, known at the time asHouston Municipal Airport, was renamed Howard Hughes Airport, but the name was changed back after people objected to naming the airport after a living person.

Aside from being fabulously wealthy Hughes also dated Katharine Hepburn and is also remembered for his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle in later life, caused in part by a worsening obsessive–compulsive disorder and chronic pain. He sadly passed away April 5, 1976 but his legacy is maintained through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and many of his aircraft including the Spruce Goose are also on display

Posted in music

Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys)

Neil Tennant, vocalist with The Pet Shop Boys celebrates his birthday on 10th July. Over the years The Pet Shop Boys have become one of the most commercially and critically acclaimed British groups ever, this prolific song-writing and recording duo have so far achieved eight platinum, two gold and four silver albums in the UK alone, consisting of Neil Tennant keyboards and occasional guitar, and Chris Lowe on keyboards.

The Pet Shop Boys have sold over 100 million records worldwide, and are listed as the most successful duo in UK music history by The Guinness Book of Records. Three-time Brit Award winners and six-time Grammy nominees, since 1986 they have achieved 42 Top 30 singles and 22 Top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart, including four number ones: “West End Girls“, “It’s a Sin“, “Always on My Mind” and “Heart”.(Which features a great cameo appearance by Magneto…Gandalf…er…Sir Ian McKellen)



At the 2009 BRIT Awards, Pet Shop Boys received an award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. The duo released the album, Yes in 2009. They released the album Format in 2012 which contains a less well-known but equally great collection of b-sides and bonus tracks, which have been remastered and the album follows on from the 1995 release, “Alternative”, which collected the duo’s b-sides from 1985 to 1994. So far an incredible 38 b-sides and bonus tracks have now been collected together from singles released between 1996 and 2009 The band’s eleventh studio album, Elysium was released 2012, the first single ‘Winner, was released during the 2012 Summer Olympics. Pet Shop Boys latest album is entitled Electric

Posted in Events, music

T in the Park 2015

imageThis yearsT in the Park festival, takes place from Friday 10 until Sunday 12 July 2015 and is being held for the first time at Strathallan Castle in Perthshire after moving from its traditional Balado home when fears were raised about an oil pipeline running under the site.

Acts set to perform this year include the Libertines, Kasabian, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and David Guetta, Admiral Fallow, Alabama Shakes, Alt-J, Annie Mac, Avicii, Benjamin Booker, Black Rivers, Blossoms, Catfish & The Bottlemen, Circa Waves, Claude VonStroke, Clean Bandit, Coasts, Courteeners, Daisy & Lewis, David Guetta, Ella Eyre, Enter Shikari, Everything Everything, Fort Hope, Fuse ODG, Gavin James, George Ezra, George The Poet, Gorgon City, Hannah Wants, Hozier, Indiana, Jack Savoretti, James Bay, Jamie T, Jessie J, Jungle, Kasabian, Kitty, Lonely The Brave, Lower Than Atlantis , Lucy Rose, Maceo Plex, Marina & The Diamonds, Mark Ronson (DJ Set), Marmozets, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Palma Violets, Paloma Faith, Prides, Rae Morris, Rudimental, Saint Raymond, Sam Smith, SIGMA, Slaves, Stereophonics, Sunset Sons, The Beaches, The Coronas, The Cribs, The LaFontaines, The Libertines, The Prodigy, The Riptide Movement, The Script, The Strypes, The Twilight Sad, The War on Drugs , The Wombats, Twin Atlantic, Vaults, Walking on Cars and Wolf Alice

The move to the Strathallan Estatate sparked some local controversy concerning wildlife and transport, however after a lengthy planning battle DF Concerts won permission to hold the festival for the next three summers. Nature groups including RSPB Scotland and the Woodland Trust Scotland have also criticised the choice of venue. To minimise any negative impacts of the Festival, Police and festival organisers have issued extensive advice to revellers ahead of the event, with strict rules in place including bans on selfie sticks, flagpoles, flares, nitrous oxide and so-called legal highs.