X-Men Apocalypse

X-Men Apocalypse is out on DVD.  It features an immortal psychic mutant named En Sabah Nur who ruled ancient Egypt until being betrayed by his worshippers, and being entombed alive. En Sabah Nur’s lieutenants, the Four Horsemen, die protecting and preserving him. However he is revived in 1983 and  decides to destroy the world and remake it in his image. So En Sabah Nur begins recruiting new Horsemen, beginning with Cairo pickpocket Ororo Munroe (storm).

Meanwhile in Berlin, while investigating an underground fight club, mutant Raven Darkhölme (mystique) discovers champion Angel, who possesses a pair of large feathered wings on his back, and the Nightcrawler, who can teleport. Raven rescues Nightcrawler. En Sabah Nur then recruits Psylocke who leads him to Angel, whose injured wings Nur replaces with metallic ones. Meanwhile, Alex Summers (Havoc) introduces his teenage younger brother Scott, (Cyclops) to Professor Charles Xavier’s at his educational insitutute in Westchester County, New York, where he meets Hank McCoy and Xavier’s protégé Jean Grey. Raven also brings Nightcrawler to the institute, and informs Xavier about the threat of En Sabah Nur, leading Xavier and Alex to consult with Moira MacTaggert.

Elsewhere Eric Lenshurr (Magneto) Assists in an attack upon the Whitehouse but is almost caught and  his family get tragically killed in the crossfire. Magneto vows revenge, so En Sabah Nur approaches the infuriated Erik and takes him to Auschwitz, where he upgrades his powers. Erik then destroys the camp and joins Sabah Nur, completing his new Four Horsemen. Then En Sabah Nur  destroys the Xavier Institute before kidnapping Xavier. Luckily Peter Maximoff (Quicksilver) manages to evacuate the mansion, however Alex (Havoc) dies. William Stryker’s forces mistakenly arrest Hank, Raven, Peter, and Moira, believing them to be involved in En Sabah Nur’s attack, and take them to the Weapon X facility however they are rescued byScott, Jean and Nightcrawler with help from Stryker’s brainwashed experiment Logan.

Meanwhile En Sabah Nur asks  Erik to disrupt Earth’s magnetic poles, which causes widespread destruction across the planet and mass casualties. Luckily the others arrive in Cairo and battle the Horsemen, while attempting to rescue the professor. Finally Erik (Magneto), realizes what he has done, so he, Storm, Professor Xavier and Jean Grey combine forces to battle Apocalypse (En Sabah Nur)in an exciting showdown.

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The Hobbit

hobbitI have recently watched Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien  which has been bulked up using Appendices from Lord of the Rings and The Unfinished Tales. It  concerns a home loving Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who is whisked away from the comforts of his home in Bag End, Hobbiton on a whirlwind adventure across middle Earth to help reclaim the the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf kingdom of Erabor which was taken over by an evil dragon named Smaug. Aiding him on his quest is Gandalf the wizard, and a company of dwarfs named Thorin Oakenshield, Oin, Gloin, Nori, Ori, Dori, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Kili and Fili. Also Helping them on this perilous journey are , the Elves Lord Elrond and Lady Galadriel and the Wizards Saruman and Radagast, Gwaihir the windlord, the Eagles and Beorn the shape changer.

Along the way they encounter many hazards including a large pack of bloodthirsty Gundabad Orcs and Wargriders led by Azog the defiler, who killed Thorin’s Grandfather. They also narrowly avoid being eaten by trolls before being captured by Goblins led by the vile Goblin King in the Misty mountains, where Bilbo gets lost and meets a crafty and corrupted soul named Gollum who is carrying a powerful ring. After escaping from the Goblins they are again attacked by Azog the Defiler and his pack of Orcs and Wargs, however after some assistance from the Eagles and Beorn the shape shifter, they eventually enter the disorientating woodland realm of Mirkwood where they are captured at first by Spiders and then by the Elf Lord Thranduil and imprisoned so that they cannot get to Erabor and annoy the dragon. In Mirkwood they meet Legolas and Tauriel.

However Bilbo proves to be a resourceful fellow and thanks to his ingenuity they manage to escape from Mirkwood and arrive at Lake Esgaroth where they meet Bard the bowman, who finds out about Thorin’s mission and fears for the safety of Laketown should the Dwarfs get to Erabor and unwittingly wake the dragon up. So he reluctantly agrees to help them. They Arrive at Laketown which is run by the corrupt Master of Laketown and his Sycophantic sidekick Alfrid. After leaving Lake Town they make for Erabor where Bilbo manages to find a secret way into the kingdom. However he horrified to see that Smaug the dragon is alive and well, and Bilbo manages to antagonize him. After almost incinerating Bilbo and the company of Dwarves, Smaug then takes out his vengeful wrath on the innocent people of Lake Town. However Bard the Bowman discovers something which could defeat the dragon.

Elsewhere , after hearing rumors that a powerful Necromancer has moved into the supposedly abandoned fortress of Dol Guldur, Gandalf, Radagast, Saruman, Galadriel and Lord Elrond decide to visit, and are alarmed to see that Sauron the dark Lord and his nine followers have returned to Middle Earth and are raising an army of Orcs and other fell creatures to march on the Lonely Mountain and take over the worlds of Man, Dwarf and Elf.

Upon discovering that Thorin Oakenshield and a company of Dwarfs have successfully reached the dwarf kingdom of Erabor, the Woodland Elfs march on Erabor, led by King Thranduil, as do the men of Dale and Lake Town led by Bard, and the Dwarfs from the Iron Hills led by Thorin’s cousin Dain Ironfoot, who are all hoping for a share in the vast wealth of Erabor. However they discover that Sauron the Dark Lord has also sent forth legions of evil Orcs to destroy them all and Thorin Oakenshield pays a heavy price for his actions.

World Urbanism Day

World Urbanism Day takes place annually on 8 November. The international organisation for World Urbanism Day, also known as “World Town Planning Day”, was founded in 1949 by the late Professor Carlos Maria della Paolera of the University of Buenos Aires, a graduate at the Institut d’urbanisme in Paris, to advance public and professional interest in planning.

It is celebrated in more than 30 countries on four continents each November 8th. It is a special day to recognise and promote the role of planning in creating livable communities. World Urbanism Day presents an excellent opportunity to look at planning from a global perspective, an event which appeals to the conscience of citizens and public authorities in order to draw attention to the environmental impact resulting from the development of cities and territories.

John Milton

MPLBest known for the epic poems “Paradise Lost” and “Paradise Regained”, the English poet & polemicist, John Milton sadly passed away 8 November 1674. He was born on Bread Street, London, on 9th December 1608 and became a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, Milton’s poetry and prose reflect deep personal convictions, a passion for freedom and self-determination, and the urgent issues and political turbulence of his day. Writing in English, Latin, and Italian, he achieved international renown within his lifetime, and his celebrated Areopagitica, (written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship) is among history’s most influential and impassioned defenses of free speech and freedom of the press.

During Milton’s life their were many major historical and political divisions in Stuart Britain. Under the increasingly personal rule of Charles I and its breakdown in constitutional confusion and war, Milton studied, travelled, wrote poetry mostly for private circulation, and launched a career as pamphleteer and publicist. Under the Commonwealth of England, the shift in accepted attitudes in government placed him in public office, and he even acted as an official spokesman in certain of his publications. Milton’s views developed from his very extensive reading, as well as travel and experience, from his student days of the 1620s to the English Revolution. Very early on, though, he was championed by Whigs, and decried by Tories: with the regicide Edmund Ludlow he was claimed as an early Whig, while the High Tory Anglican minister Luke Milbourne lumped Milton in with other “Agents of Darkness” such as John Knox, George Buchanan, Richard Baxter, Algernon Sidney and John Locke.

The Restoration of 1660 deprived Milton, of his public platform, but this period saw him complete most of his major works of poetry.including Paradise Lost, and once this was published, Milton’s stature as epic poet was immediately recognised. He cast a formidable shadow over English poetry in the 18th and 19th centuries; he was often judged equal or superior to all other English poets, including Shakespeare. By the time of his death in 1674, Milton was impoverished and on the margins of English intellectual life, yet famous throughout Europe and unrepentant for his political choices.William Hayley’s 1796 biography called him the “greatest English author”, and he remains generally regarded “as one of the preeminent writers in the English language”; though critical reception has oscillated in the centuries since his death (often on account of his republicanism). Samuel Johnson praised Paradise Lost as “a poem which…with respect to design may claim the first place, and with respect to performance, the second, among the productions of the human mind,” though Johnson (a Tory and recipient of royal patronage) described Milton’s politics as those of an “acrimonious and surly republican”.

PARADISE LOST

Milton’s epic poem is separated into twelve “books” or sections, and the length of each book varies greatly (the longest being Book IX, with 1,189 lines, and the shortest Book VII, having 640). The Arguments at the head of each book were added in subsequent imprints of the first edition. Originally published in ten books, in 1674 a fully “Revised and Augmented” edition with a new division into twelve books was issued. This is the edition that is generally used today.The poem follows the epic tradition of starting in medias res (Latin for in the midst of things), the background story being recounted later.Milton’s story has two narrative arcs: one being that of Satan (Lucifer) and the other being that of Adam and Eve. It begins after Satan and the other rebel angels have been defeated and banished to Hell, or (as it is also called in the poem), Tartarus. In Pandæmonium, Satan employs his rhetorical skill to organise his followers; he is aided by Mammon and Beelzebub. Belial and Moloch are also present. At the end of the debate, Satan volunteers to poison the newly-created Earth and God’s new and most favoured creation, Mankind.

He braves the dangers of the Abyss alone in a manner reminiscent of Odysseus or Aeneas. After an arduous traverse of the Chaos outside Hell, he enters God’s new material World, and later the Garden of Eden.At one point in the story, an Angelic War over Heaven is recounted. Satan’s rebellion follows the epic convention of large-scale warfare. The battles between the faithful angels and Satan’s forces take place over three days. The final battle involves the Son of God single-handedly defeating the entire legion of angelic rebels and banishing them from Heaven. Following the purging of Heaven, God creates the World, culminating in his creation of Adam and Eve. While God gave Adam and Eve total freedom and power to rule over all creation, He gave them one explicit command: not to eat from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil on penalty of death.

The story of Adam and Eve’s temptation and fall is a fundamentally different, new kind of epic: a domestic one. Adam and Eve are presented for the first time in Christian literature as having a full relationship while still being without sin. They have passions and distinct personalities. Satan, disguised in the form of a serpent, successfully tempts Eve to eat from the Tree by preying on her vanity and tricking her with rhetoric. Adam, learning that Eve has sinned, knowingly commits the same sin. He declares to Eve that since she was made from his flesh, they are bound to one another so that if she dies, he must also die. In this manner, Milton portrays Adam as a heroic figure, but also as a greater sinner than Eve, as he is aware that what he is doing is wrong.

A fter eating the fruit, Adam and Eve have lustful sex, and at first, Adam is convinced that Eve was right in thinking that eating the fruit would be beneficial. However, they soon fall asleep and have terrible nightmares, and after they awake, they experience guilt and shame for the first time. Realizing that they have committed a terrible act against God, they engage in mutual recrimination. Eve’s pleas to Adam reconcile them somewhat. Her encouragement enables Adam and Eve both to approach God, to “bow and sue for grace with suppliant knee”, and to receive grace from God. Adam and Eve are cast out of Eden, and Michael says that Adam may find “a paradise within thee, happier far”.

Bram Stoker

2013-10-21-22-41-03-1996293285Best known for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula, the Irish novelist and short story writer Abraham “Bram” Stoker was Born 8th November 1847 in Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland. Stoker was bedridden until he started school at the age of seven, when he made a complete recovery. He was educated in a private school run by the Rev. William Woods. After his recovery, he grew up without further major health issues, even excelling as an athlete (he was named University Athlete) at Trinity College, Dublin, which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He graduated with honours in mathematics. He was auditor of the College Historical Society (‘the Hist’) and president of the University Philosophical Society, where his first paper was on “Sensationalism in Fiction and Society.

While a student Stoker became interested in the theatre & became the theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail, co-owned by the author of Gothic tales Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. After giving a favourable review of Henry Irving’s Hamlet Irving invited him to dinner and the two became friends. Stoker also wrote stories, and in 1872 “The Crystal Cup” was published by the London Society, followed by “The Chain of Destiny” in four parts and “The Shamrock”. while a civil servant in Dublin, Stoker wrote a non-fiction book (The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland. Stoker was also interested in art, and founded the Dublin Sketching Club. In 1874 The Stokers moved to London, where he became acting manager and then business manager of Henry Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, London, a post he held for 27 years. The collaboration with Irving was important for Stoker and through him he became involved in London’s high society, where he met James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (to whom he was distantly related)

DRACULA

Dracula1stWorking for Irving, the most famous actor of his time, and managing one of the most successful theatres in London made Stoker a notable if busy man. He was dedicated to Irving and his memoirs show he idolised him. In London Stoker also met Hall Caine, who became one of his closest friends – he dedicated Dracula to him. In the course of Irving’s tours, Stoker travelled the world, although he never visited Eastern Europe, a setting for his most famous novel, and began writing novels beginning with The Snake’s Pass in 1890 and Dracula in 1897. Stoker was also part of the literary staff of the London Daily Telegraph and wrote other fiction, including the horror novels The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911)

Stoker also met Ármin Vámbéry who was a Hungarian writer and traveler and the story may have been inspired by Vámbéry’s dark stories set among the Carpathian mountains. He also spent several years researching European folklore and mythological stories of vampires, particularly That of Vlad Tepes, a.k.a Vlad III Dracula, the ruler of Targoviste, in Wallachia, Romania, whose brutal regime And predilection for impaling his enemies gave him a fearsome reputation. He may also have learnt about Hoia Baciu forest which is said to be haunted and is well known for its disturbing and inexplicable Paranormal phenomenon. Stoker also visited Whitby Abbey, Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire and the crypts of St. Michan’s Church in Dublin and also read the novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. All of which gave him plenty of inspiration.

Sadly, after suffering a number of strokes, Stoker passed away on 20 April 1912 and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium where his ashes were place in a display urn . To visit his remains at Golders Green, visitors must be escorted to the room the urn is housed in, for fear of vandalism. However his Gothic novels, especially Dracula remain popular and have been adapted for film and television numerous time

International Day of Radiology

The International Day of Radiology (IDoR) is celebrated annually on November 8th to promote the role of medical imaging in modern healthcare and mark the anniversary of the discovery of x-rays on November 8th 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, who effectively layed the foundation for the new medical discipline of radiology.

It was first introduced in 2012, as a joint initiative, by the European Society of Radiology (ESR), the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), and the American College of Radiology (ACR). The International Day of Radiology is a successor to the European Day of Radiology which was launched in 2011. The first and only European Day of Radiology was held on February 10, 2011 to commemorate the anniversary of Röntgen’s death. The European day was organised by the ESR, who later entered into cooperation with the RSNA and the ACR to establish the International Day of Radiology.

The International Day of Radiology 2012 marked the 117th anniversary of Röntgen’s discovery of x-rays and the main theme was medical imaging in oncology. The day was celebrated with events in many countries, mostly organised by national professional societies which represent radiologists. Many public lectures on the role of imaging in oncology took place across Europe. In the UK, the Royal College of Radiologists organised a free public lecture at the Wellcome Collection by Dr. Phil O’Connor, who served as head of musculoskeletal imaging at the London 2012 Olympics. The ESR also published two booklets to mark the occasion, ‘The Story of Radiology’, which was created in cooperation with the International Society for the History of Radiology, and ‘Making Cancer Visible: the role of cancer in oncology’

Fred Dibnah

Charismatic Engineer, Steeplejack and British television personality Fred Dibnah sadly passed away from cancer at Bolton Hospice in November 7 2004, aged 66. Born 29th April 1938, As a child, Dibnah was fascinated by the steam engines which powered the many textile mills in his home town of Bolton and developed a keen interest in mechanical engineering, Steam Engines and chimneys and the men who worked on them. He began his working life as a joiner, before becoming a steeplejack. From age 22, he served for two years in the armed forces, as part of his national service. Once demobilised, he returned to steeplejacking but met with limited success until he was asked to repair Bolton’s parish church. The resulting publicity provided a welcome boost to his business, ensuring he was almost never out of work.

Dibnah’s interest in steam power stemmed from his childhood observations of the steam locomotives on the nearby railway line, and his visits to his father’s workplace—a bleach works in Bolton—where he was fascinated by the steam engines used to drive the line shafting. He later became a steam enthusiast, befriending many of the engine drivers and firemen who worked on the nearby railway. As a teenager he met a driver who invited him onto the footplate of his locomotive and who asked him to keep the boiler supplied with fuel. Dibnah became so enamoured with steam engines that he eventually looked for one he could buy. He learnt of a steamroller kept in a barn near Warrington and which the owners had bought from Flintshire County Council. He had the boiler pressure-tested and, despite it being in poor condition, bought it for £175. He towed it to a friend’s house, spent a fortnight making various repairs and drove it to his mother’s house in Bolton.

After he married and bought his own property on Radcliffe new Road, he cut an access road to the garden of his new house and moved the steamroller there. Restoring the engine took many years, as Dibnah had to create his own replacement parts, using Victorian engineering techniques and equipment he built in his garden. The boiler was in poor condition and needed serious work, but Dibnah used local knowledge and was eventually able to build a new boiler. Once restored, he used the 1910 Aveling & Porter steamroller together with a living van he bought and restored, to take his family around the local steam fairs In 1978, while making repairs to Bolton Town Hall, Dibnah was filmed by a regional BBC news crew. The BBC then commissioned an award-winning documentary, which followed the rough-hewn steeplejack as he worked on chimneys, interacted with his family and talked about his favourite hobby—steam.

Since then he has gone on to make many more Television programmes about Steam Engines & Locomotives and In 1998, he presented a programme on Britain’s industrial history and went on to present a number of fascinating series, largely concerned with the Industrial Revolution and its mechanical and architectural legacy. In mid-2000, Dibnah was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Technology for his achievement in engineering by Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, and on 19 July 2004 he was made an honorary Doctor of the University by the University of Birmingham. He was also awarded an MBE for services to heritage and broadcasting. He said “I’m looking forward to meeting the Queen but I shall probably have to get a new cap. And I’d like to meet Prince Charles because we share the same views about modern architecture.”On 7 July 2004, Dibnah went to Buckingham Palace to receive his award from the Queen.

Sadly Fred’s health was failing at this point although filming continued at various locations around the country, with sons Jack and Roger, who had become essential members of the tour, providing much-needed support for their father. By the end of July, the crew had filmed only 34 days with Dibnah, out of a planned 60. It was becoming more difficult by the day for Dibnah to fulfil his filming duties and the crew decided to cut short the schedule and he tragically died shortly after and is sadly missed. He is survived by his five children from three marriages and his television programmes concerning industrial heritage and steam locomotives continue to be popular.