The Night Manager

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I am currently watching The Night Manager, an exciting six part BBC Adaptation based on the exciting John le Carre spy thriller The Night Manager. It stars Tom Hiddleston (The Hollow Crown, the Avengers, Crimson Peak) and Hugh Laurie (Blackadder, House) and is being co-produced by the network AMC, (Breaking Bad and Mad Men).

The Night Manager was first published in 1993, and follows a soldier turned hotel night auditor for a luxurious hotel, named Jonathan Pine (Hiddleston) who encounters Sophie, a French Arab woman who has ties with Richard Onslow Roper an English black marketeer who has made a fortune from the sale of weapons. Sophie provides Pine with confidential incriminating documents concerning Roper’s illegal activities, and Pine is presented with a difficult choice, so he forwards them to friends in the British causing events to spin out of control with tragic consequences.

Pine is then approached by intelligence operatives Angela Burr (Olivia Colman) and Rex Goodhew, who head a British anti-arms-smuggling organization, and are planning an elaborate and dangerous sting operation called “Limpet” to infiltrate Roper’s vast criminal empire. Pine is asked to infiltrate the inner circle of arms dealer Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie), Roper’s girlfriend Jed (Elizabeth Debicki), and associate Corcoran (Tom Hollander), to try and bring him down.

So Pine agrees to go undercover which takes him to both Whitehall and Washington, D.C. and as he wins Roper’s confidence he discovers that there is an alliance between the intelligence community and the secret arms trade. He then finds himself involved in an illegal arms deal to sell embargoed arms to the Colombian drug cartels in exchange for cocaine destined for Europe and discovers that corrupt factions within both the CIA and British Intelligence are profiting from the illegal arms trade, which compromises the operation leaving Pine in mortal danger…

 

Spectre

imageHaving recently read Trigger Mortis, the latest Bond novel by Anthony Horowitz, I would like to watch SPECTRE the twenty-fourth James Bond film, which is fInally out on DVD. It features Daniel Craig as James Bond, Lea Sedoux, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Feinnes, Monica Bellucci and Christoph Waltz.

It starts shortly after the unfortunate death of M (Dame Judy Dench) at the hands of Raoul Silva and it is revealed that M has left James Bond a cryptic message. Meanwhile Gareth Mallory, (Ralph Feinnes) the newly appointed M, continues fighting political pressures that threaten the future of MI6 in the face of a global surveillance initiative code-named “Nine Eyes”. Bond’s investigations take him from Mexico City to Rome, and Austria where he meets Madalaine Swann, (Lea Sedoux) a psychologist who is working at a mysterious private medical clinic in the Austrian Alps, whose Father Mr. White turns out to be a dangerous fugitive from MI6 and is also a senior figure in the mysterious Quantum Organisation and Bond would very much like to meet him.

Bond is then dispatched To track down Lucia Sciarra, (Monica Bellucci) the widow of a notorious former criminal and assassin named Marco (Alessandro Cremona) who Bond assassinated. Not surprisingly she is unwilling to help Bond, however after a bit of “persuasion” she helps him infiltrate a sinister organization named SPECTRE (SPecial Executivie for Counter-intelligence Terrorism and Extortion). Gradually Bond soon finds himself drawn into a lethal web of intrigue which bring him into conflict with the sinister assassin named Mr Hinx (Dave Bautista) and a mysterious and illusive chap named Franz Oberhauser (Christopher Waltz) who is hiding a rather big secret.

Bruce Welnick (Grateful Dead)

Grateful DeadVince Welnick, the keyboard player with the Grateful Dead was born 21 November 1951. the Grateful Dead were fomed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area and were known for their unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock. These various influences made the Grateful Dead “the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world.” They were ranked 57th rolling Stone’s Greatest Artists of all Time poll and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and their Barton Hall Concert at Cornell University was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.The founding members of the Grateful Dead were Jerry Garcia (guitar, vocals), Bob Weir (guitar, vocals), Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (keyboards, harmonica, vocals), Phil Lesh (bass, vocals), and Bill Kreutzmann (drums).

Lesh was the last member to join the Warlocks before they became the Grateful Dead; he replaced Dana Morgan Jr., who had played bass for a few gigs. With the exception of McKernan, who died in 1973, the core of the band stayed together for its entire 30-year history. The Grateful Dead began their career as the Warlocks, in early 1965 from the remnants of a jug band called Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, although The band later changed their name to The Grateful Dead, I.e “the soul of a dead person, or his angel, showing gratitude to someone who, arranged their burial.”One of the group’s earliest major performances in 1967 was at the Avalon Ballroom by the San Francisco Hare Krishna temple, where The Grateful Dead performed alongside the Hare Krishna founder Bhaktivedanta Swami, poet Allen Ginsberg, bands Moby Grape and Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, donating proceeds to the Krishna temple.

The band’s first LP, The Grateful Dead, was released in 1967. 1970 included tour dates in New Orleans, Louisiana, where the band performed at The Warehouse for two nights. Mickey Hart quit the Grateful Dead in February 1971, leaving Kreutzmann once again as the sole percussionist. However Hart rejoined the Grateful Dead in October 1974. Tom “TC” Constanten was added as a second keyboardist from 1968 to 1970, while Pigpen also played various percussion instruments and sang. Following the Grateful Dead’s “Europe ’72″ tour, Pigpen’s health seriously deteriorated and he could no longer tour with the band. His final concert appearance was June 17, 1972 at the Hollywood Bowl, in Los Angeles and died in March, 1973 of complications from alcohol abuse. The Grateful Dead formed their own record group, Grateful Dead Records & released the album, the jazz influenced Wake of the Flood in 1973 and in 1974 they released the classic album, Grateful Dead from the Mars Hotel. Then the Grateful Dead decided to take a break from live touring, however This hiatus was short lived, and they resumed touring in 1976, and released the album Terrapin Station in 1977. During the 1980s the bands sound transformed. Sadly though Garcia’s health began to decline. His drug habits caused him to lose his liveliness on stage. After kicking his drug habit in 1985, he slipped into a diabetic coma for several days in July 1986. After he recovered, the band released In the Dark in 1987, which resulted as their best selling studio album release, and also produced their only top-10 chart single, Touch of Grey. Inspired by Garcia’s improved health and a successful album, the band’s energy and chemistry peaked in the late 1980s and 1990 and they enjoyed a resurgence in their popularity.

Sadly The band’s “high time” came to a sudden halt when Mydland died in 1990. So Vince Welnick, joined on keyboards and vocals and Bruce Hornsby joined the band on Piano and vocals on September 15, 1990.The fans of the Grateful Dead, some of whom followed the band from concert to concert for years, are known as “Deadheads” and are known for their dedication to the band’s music. From 2003 to 2009 former members of the Grateful Dead, along with other musicians, toured as The Dead and The Other Ones. There are many contemporary incarnations of the Dead, with the most prominent touring acts being Furthur and Phil Lesh & Friends and although Jerry Garcia, Brent Mydland and Bruce Welnick have passed away, the Grateful Dead have a cult following and remain popular and during 2015 The Grateful Dead played a final series of concerts on the Fare thee Well tour to celebrate 50 years before finally disbanding.

Malcolm X

On February 21, 1965, Human Rights Activist Malcolm X was assassinated, as he prepared to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom, after a disturbance broke out in the 400-person audience. As Malcolm X and his bodyguards moved to quiet the disturbance, a man seated in the front row rushed forward and shot him once in the chest with a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun. Two other men charged the stage and fired semi-automatic handguns, hitting Malcolm X several times. Born 19th May in 1925. To his admirers, he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. Detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacy, antisemitism, and violence. Malcolm X’s father died—killed by white supremacists, it was rumored—when he was young, and at least one of his uncles was lynched.

When he was thirteen, his mother was placed in a mental hospital, and he was placed in a series of foster homes. In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for breaking and entering. In prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam and after his parole in 1952 he quickly rose to become one of its leaders.For a dozen years Malcolm X was the public face of the controversial group, but disillusionment with Nation of Islam head Elijah Muhammad led him to leave the Nation in March 1964. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, he returned to the United States, where he founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. In February 1965, less than a year after leaving the Nation of Islam, he was assassinated by three members of the group. Malcolm X’s expressed beliefs changed substantially over time. As a spokesman for the Nation of Islam he taught black supremacy and advocated separation of black and white Americans—in contrast to the civil rights movement’s emphasis on integration. After breaking with the Nation of Islam in 1964—saying of his association with it, “I was a zombie then … pointed in a certain direction and told to march”—and becoming a Sunni Muslim, he disavowed racism and expressed willingness to work with civil rights leaders, though still emphasizing black self-determination and self defense.

The funeral was held on February 27 at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ in Harlem and Malcolm X was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.Malcolm X has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history and is credited with raising the self-esteem of black Americans and reconnecting them with their African heritage. He is largely responsible for the spread of Islam in the black community in the United States. Many African Americans, especially those who lived in cities in the Northern and Western United States, felt that Malcolm X articulated their complaints concerning inequality better than the mainstream civil rights movement did.

International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day (IMLD) (Bengali: আন্তর্জাতিক মাতৃভাষা দিবস Antôrjatik Matribhasha Dibôs) is a worldwide annual observance held on 21 February to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. First announced by UNESCO on 17 November 1999, it was formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution establishing 2008 as the International Year of Languages. International Mother Language Day has been being observed since 2000 to promote peace and multilingualism. The date corresponds to the day in 1952 when students from the University of Dhaka, Jagannath University and Dhaka Medical College, demonstrating for the recognition of Bengali as one of the two national languages of East Pakistan, were shot dead by police near the Dhaka High Court in the capital of present-day Bangladesh.

“Mother language” is the calque of a term used in several Romance languages: lengua materna (Spanish), lingua madre (Italian) and langue maternelle (French). A more literal English translation would be “mother tongue”, although “native language” is the most comprehensible term in English. In linguistics, “mother language” refers to an ancestral (or proto-language) of a language family. The 2015 Mother Tongue Day in Islamabad, saw demonstrators demanding that Punjabi (the mother tongue of a plurality of Pakistanis) be made an official language of Pakistan

International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 On 16 May 2009 the United Nations General Assembly, called on its member states “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by people of the world”.In the resolution, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages to promote unity in diversity and international understanding through multilingualism and multiculturalism. The resolution was suggested by Rafiqul Islam,a Bengali living in Vancouver, Canada. He wrote a letter to Mr. Kofi Anan on 9 January 1998 asking him to take a step for saving all the languages of the world from the possibility of extinction and to declare an International Mother Language Day. Rafiq proposed the date as 21 February on the pretext of 1952 killing in Dhaka on the occasion of Language Movement. Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

Pen-y-Darren

Pen-y-Darren
Pen-y-Darren

On 21 February 1804, the world’s first self propelling locomotive, the Pen-y-Darren, built by Cornish engineer Richard Trevithick ran along the Merthyr Tydfil treatment road from Pen-y-Darren to Abercynon a distance of 9.75 miles(16 kilometres). It all started n 1802, when Trevithick built one of his high-pressure steam engines to drive a hammer at thePen-y-Darren Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, Mid Glamorgan . With the assistance of Rees Jones, an employee of the iron works and under the supervision of Samuel Homfray, the proprietor, he mounted the engine on wheels and turned it into a locomotive. In 1803, Trevithick sold the patents for his locomotives to Samuel Homfray.

Homfray was so impressed with Trevithick’s locomotive that he made a bet with another ironmaster, Richard Crawshay, for 500 guineas that Trevithick’s steam locomotive could haul ten tons of iron along the Merthyr Tydfil Tramroad from Penydarren to Abercynon. Amid great interest from the public, on 21 February 1804 it successfully carried 10 tons of iron, 5 wagons and 70 men the full distance in 4 hours and 5 minutes, an average speed of approximately 2.4 mph (3.9 km/h). as well as Homfray, Crawshay and the passengers, other witnesses includedMr. Giddy, a respected patron of Trevithick and an ‘engineer from the Government’. the engineer from the government was probably a safety inspector and particularly interested in the boiler’s ability to withstand high steam pressures.

The configuration of the Pen-y-darren engine differed from the Coalbrookdale engine. The cylinder was moved to the other end of the boiler so that the firedoor was out of the way of the moving parts. This obviously also involved putting the crankshaft at the chimney end. The locomotive comprised a boiler with a single return flue mounted on a four wheel frame at one end, a single cylinderwith very long stroke was mounted partly in the boiler, and a piston rod crosshead ran out along a slidebar, an arrangement that looked like a giant trombone. As there was only one cylinder, this was coupled to a large flywheel mounted on one side. The rotational inertia of the flywheel would even out the movement that was transmitted to a central cog-wheel that was, in turn connected to the driving wheels. It used a high-pressure cylinder without a condenser, the exhaust steam was sent up the chimney assisting the draught through the fire, increasing efficiency even more.

Despite many people’s doubts, he won the bet and showed that, provided that the gradient was sufficiently gentle, it was possible to successfully haul heavy carriages along a “smooth” iron road using the adhesive weight alone of a suitably heavy and powerful steam locomotive. Trevithick’s was probably the first to do so; however some of the short cast iron plates of the tramroad broke under the locomotive as they were intended only to support the lighter axle load of horse-drawn wagons and so the tramroad returned to horse power after the initial test run. Homfray was pleased he won his bet. The engine was placed on blocks and reverted to its original stationary job of driving hammers. In modern Merthyr Tydfil, behind the monument to Trevithick’s locomotive is a stone wall, the sole remainder of the former boundary wall of Homfray’s Penydarren House. A full-scale working reconstruction of the Pen-y-darren locomotive was commissioned in 1981 and delivered to the Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum in Cardiff; when that closed, it was moved to the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea. Several times a year it is run on a 40m length of rail outside the museum.

Jean-Jacques Burnel (The Stranglers)

imageJean-Jacques Burnel, the Bass Player with the Stranglers was born 21 February 1952. The Stranglers are an English punk rock music group Comprising of Hugh Cornwell, JeanJacques Burnel, Jet Black and Dave Greenfield. Scoring some 23 UK top 40 singles and 17 UK top 40 albums to date in a career spanning four decades, the Stranglers are the longest-surviving and most “continuously successful” band to have originated in the UK punk scene of the mid to late 1970s. Beginning life as the Guildford Stranglers on 11 September 1974 in Guildford, Surrey, they originally built a following within the mid-1970s pub rock scene. While their aggressive, no-compromise attitude identified them as one of the instigators of the UK punk rock scene that followed, their idiosyncratic approach rarely followed any single musical genre and the group went on to explore a variety of musical styles, from New Wave,art rock and gothic rock through the sophisticated pop of some of their 1980s output.

They had major mainstream success with their single “Golden Brown”. Their other hits include “No More Heroes”, “Peaches”, “Always the Sun” and “Skin Deep”.The Stranglers’ early sound was driven by Jean-Jacques Burnel’s mselodic bass, but also gave prominence to Dave Greenfield’s keyboards at a time when the instrument was seen as unfashionable. Their early music was also characterised by the growling vocals and sometimes misanthropic lyrics of both Jean-Jacques Burnel and Hugh Cornwell. Over time, their output gradually grew more refined and sophisticated. Summing up their contribution to popular music, critic Dave Thompson later wrote: “From bad-mannered yobs to purveyors of supreme pop delicacies, the group was responsible for music that may have been ugly and might have been crude – but it was never, ever boring.”

Jet Black’s style is usually simple and jazz-influenced, although “Duchess” and “Down in the Sewer” are examples of Stranglers songs that feature more frantic drumming. In the mid-1980s, Black elected to cease playing acoustic drums in the recording studio and used aSimmons kit triggered by pick-ups, most notably on the Feline and Aural Sculpture albums. Black is still currently drumming for The Stranglers, despite his advancing years. His name is frequently chanted by the crowd at concerts. The Stranglers Went on a 16-date tour in February and March 2010 and toured the UK in 2011 and will be embarking on the March On tour over the course of 2015.

The Stranglers live Alexandra Palace 1990 http://youtu.be/l1MoR3j5M_I