Posted in books, Fantasy, Science fiction

Michael Moorcock

English science fiction and fantasy writer Michael John Moorcock was born 18 December 193. He is best known for his novels about the character Elric of Melniboné, a seminal influence on the field of fantasy in the 1960s and 1970s. Moorcock began writing whilst he was still at school, contributing to a magazine he entitled Outlaw’s Own during the 1950’s. In 1957 at the age of 17, Moorcock became editor of the Tarzan Adventures where he published at least a dozen of his own Sojan the Swordsman stories during that year and the next.

In 1958 he wrote the allegorical fantasy novel The Golden Barge. This remained unpublished until 1980, when it was issued by Savoy Books with an introduction by M. John Harrison. He also edited Sexton Blake Library (serial pulp fiction featuring Sexton Blake, the poor man’s Sherlock Holmes) and returned to late Victorian London for some of his books. Writing ever since, he has produced a huge volume of work. His first story in New Worlds was “Going Home” (1958; with Barrington J. Bayley). “The Sundered Worlds”, a 57-page novella published in the November 1962 number of Science Fiction Adventures became his 190-page paperback debut novel three years later, The Sundered Worlds

In 1964 Moorcock replaced Carnell as New Worlds editor and published “New Wave” science fiction, which promoted literary style and an existential view of technological change, in contrast to “hard science fiction”, which extrapolated on technological change itself. He occasionally wrote as “James Colvin”, a “house pseudonym” that was also used by other New Worlds critics. A spoof obituary of Colvin appeared in New Worlds #197 (January 1970), written by Charles Platt as “William Barclay”. Moorcock makes much use of the initials “JC”; these are also the initials of Jesus Christ, the subject of his 1967 Nebula award-winning novella Behold the Man, which tells the story of Karl Glogauer, a time-traveller who takes on the role of Christ. They are also the initials of various “Eternal Champion” Moorcock characters such as Jerry Cornelius, Jerry Cornell and Jherek Carnelian. Moorcock also uses “Warwick Colvin, Jr.” as a pseudonym. Moorcock discusses his writing in Death is No Obstacle by Colin Greenland and has also published pastiches of writers for whom he felt affection as a boy, including Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Brackett, and Robert E. Howard.

All his fantasy adventures have elements of satire and parody, while respecting what he considered the essentials. He became literary author, with the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1977 for The Condition of Muzak, and with Mother London later shortlisted for the Whitbread prize. Novels and series like the Cornelius Quartet, Mother London, King of the City, the Pyat Quartet and the short story collection London Bone established him as a major contemporary literary novelist alao revisits characters from his earlier works, such as Elric, with books like The Dreamthief’s Daughter or The Skrayling Tree. Following the publication of The White Wolf’s Son, he announced that he was “retiring” from writing heroic fantasy fiction, though he continues to write Elric’s adventures as graphic novels such as Elric: the Making of a Sorcerer, with his long-time collaborators Walter Simonson and the late James Cawthorn. He has also completed his Colonel Pyat sequence, dealing with the Nazi Holocaust, which began in 1981 with Byzantium Endures, continued through The Laughter of Carthage (1984) and Jerusalem Commands (1992), and finishes with The Vengeance of Rome (2006). Among other works by Moorcock are The Dancers at the End of Time, set on Earth millions of years in the future, and Gloriana, or The Unfulfill’d Queen, set in an alternative Earth history.

In 2008 Moorcock was named by a critics panel in The Times as one of the fifty best British novelists since 1945. Most of Moorcock’s earlier work consisted of short stories and relatively brief novels. Since the 1980s, Moorcock has tended to write longer, more literary ‘mainstream’ novels, such as Mother London and Byzantium Endures, but he continues to revisit characters from his earlier works, such as Elric, with books like The Dreamthief’s Daughter or The Skrayling Tree. Following the publication of The White Wolf’s Son, he announced that he was “retiring” from writing heroic fantasy fiction, though he continues to write Elric’s adventures as graphic novels with his long-time collaborators Walter Simonson and the late James Cawthorn, who also produced the graphic novel, Elric: the Making of a Sorcerer. He has also completed his Colonel Pyat sequence, dealing with the Nazi Holocaust, which began in 1981 with Byzantium Endures, continued through The Laughter of Carthage (1984) and Jerusalem Commands (1992), and now culminates with The Vengeance of Rome (2006).

other novels by Moorcock include The Dancers at the End of Time, Gloriana, or The Unfulfill’d Queen, The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams, The Pleasure Garden of Felipe Sagittarius, The Steel Tsar, Behold the Man, Mother London, King of the City, Hawkmoon, “Corum” and His Eternal Champion and the Pyat quartet. However the Elric of Melniboné stories areMoorcock’s most popular works, Elric is the reverse of what Moorcock saw as clichés commonly found in fantasy adventure novels inspired by the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, and Conan the Barbarian. the concept of an “Eternal Champion”, who has potentially multiple identities across multiple dimensions of reality and alternative universes appears in many novel and this cosmology within his novels is called the “Multiverse”. The Multiverse is based on a concept theorized in particle physics and concerns various primal polarities such as good and evil, Law and Chaos, order and Entropy.

Another of Moorcock’s popular creations is Jerry Cornelius, a kind of hip urban adventurer of ambiguous gender; the same characters featured in each of several Cornelius books. These books were most obviously satirical of modern times, including the Vietnam War, and feature a variation of the Multiverse. The firstJerry Cornelius book The Final Programme (1968), was also made into a feature film in 1973 and is similar to two of the Elric stories: The Dreaming City and The Dead Gods’ Book. In 1998, Moorcock wrote new stories featuring Cornelius: The Spencer Inheritance, The Camus Connection, Cheering for the Rockets, and Firing the Cathedral, Moorcock’s most recent Cornelius story is, “Modem Times”, and a version of Cornelius also appeared in Moorcock’s 2010 Doctor Who novel The Coming of the Terraphiles.

Moorcock also collaborated with the British Prog rock band Hawkwind on many occasions including “The Black Corridor”, which includes verbatim quotes from Moorcock’s novel of the same name. He also worked with the band on their album Warrior on the Edge of Time and wrote the lyrics to “Sonic Attack”, Hawkwind’s album The Chronicle of the Black Sword was also largely based on the Elric novels. Moorcock appeared on stage with the band occasionally during the Black Sword tour and he can be seen performing on the DVD version of Chronicle of the Black Sword. Moorcock also collaborated with former Hawkwind frontman and resident poet, Robert Calvert (who gave the chilling declamation of “Sonic Attack”), on Calvert’s albums Lucky Leif and the Longships and Hype.

Moorcock has his own music project, Michael Moorcock & The Deep Fix, their first single was “Starcrusier/Dodgem Dude” and first album was New Worlds Fair, which included a number of Hawkwind regulars. The next album Roller Coaster Holiday was issued in 2004 and In 2008, The Entropy Tango & Gloriana Demo Sessions were released. These were sessions for planned albums based on two of his novels: Gloriana, or The Unfulfill’d Queen, and The Entropy Tango. Moorcock also wrote the lyrics to a few album tracks by the Blue Öyster Cult: “Black Blade”, “Veteran of the Psychic Wars”, “Warriors at the Edge of Time” and “The Great Sun Jester”, which is about his friend, the poet Bill Butler, who died of a drug overdose. Moorcock appeared on five tracks on the Spirits Burning CD Alien Injection, singing lead vocals and playing guitar and mandolin. The performances used on the CD were from the The Entropy Tango & Gloriana Demo Sessions. an audiobook series of unabridged Elric novels, read by Moorcock, has also Been released including The Sailor on the Seas of Fate

Posted in films & DVD, Science fiction

Steven Spielberg

imageProlific American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur Steven Spielberg was Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on 18th December 1946. Throughout his early teens, Spielberg made amateur 8 mm “adventure” films with his friends, the first of which he shot at the Pinnacle Peak Patio restaurant in Scottsdale. He charged admission to his home films while his sister sold popcorn. In 1958, he became a Boy Scout, and gained a photography merit badge by making a nine-minute 8 mm film entitled The Last Gunfight. At age thirteen, Spielberg won a prize for a 40-minute war film he titled Escape to Nowhere which was based on a battle in east Africa. In 1963, at age sixteen, Spielberg wrote and directed his first independent film, a 140-minute science fiction adventure called Firelight. The film, which had a budget of US$500, was shown in his local cinema . He also made several WWII films inspired by his father’s war stories. During the 1960s He became a student at California State University, Long Beach & also worked at Universal Studios as an unpaid, seven-day-a-week intern and guest of the editing department, and made his first short film for theatrical release, the 26-minute Amblin’. Spielberg became the youngest director ever to be signed for a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio (Universal). He dropped out of Long Beach State in 1969 to take up the television director contract at Universal Studios and began his career as a professional director.

imageHis first professional TV job came when he was hired to direct one of the segments for the 1969 pilot episode of Night Gallery starring Joan Crawford. He also directed an episode of Marcus Welby, M.D. & an episode of The Name of the Game called “L.A. 2017”. This futuristic science fiction episode impressed Universal Studios and they signed Spielberg to do four TV films. The first , Duel, was about a psychotic Peterbilt 281 tanker truck driver who chases a terrified driver (Dennis Weaver) and tries to run him off the road. Next he made the TV film “Something Evil” which capitalized on the popularity of The Exorcist. Spielberg’s debut feature film was The Sugarland Express, about a married couple who are chased by police as they try to regain custody of their baby. Next Spielberg directed Jaws, a thriller-horror film Starring Richard Dreyfus and based on the Peter Benchley novel about an enormous killer shark.It was an enormous success, winning three Academy Awards and grossing more than $470 million worldwide, it was also nominated for Best Picture. Spielberg and actor Richard Dreyfuss then worked on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). which gave Spielberg his first Best Director nomination from the Academy & won Oscars in two categories. His next film, 1941, was a big-budgeted World War II farce. Next, Spielberg teamed with Star Wars creator and friend George Lucas on an action adventure film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It became the biggest film at the box office in 1981, and received numerous Oscar nominations.

imageA year later, Spielberg made E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, about a young boy and the alien he befriends. It went on to become the top-grossing film of all time & was also nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Between 1982 and 1985, Spielberg produced three high-grossing films: Poltergeist, a big-screen adaptation of The Twilight Zone (for which he directed the segment “Kick The Can”), and The Goonies. His next directorial feature was the Raiders prequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. In 1985, Spielberg released The Color Purple, an adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, the film was a box office smash and received eleven Academy Award nominations.Next Spielberg shot an adaptation of J. G. Ballard’s autobiographical novel Empire of the Sun, starring John Malkovich and a young Christian Bale, which was nominated for several Oscars.After two forays into more serious dramatic films, Spielberg then directed the third Indiana Jones film, 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In 1991, Spielberg directed Hook, starring Robin Williams and in 1993 Spielberg directed a film version of Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park, about a theme park with genetically engineered dinosaurs. Spielberg’s next film, Schindler’s List, was based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a man who risked his life to save 1,100 Jews from the Holocaust & earned Spielberg his first Academy Award for Best Director (it also won Best Picture) & was a huge success at the box office and the American Film Institute listed it among the 10 Greatest American Films ever Made.

In 1997, he directed The Lost World: Jurassic Park. His next film, Amistad, was based on a true story (like Schindler’s List), specifically about an African slave rebellion. In 1998 he released the World War II film Saving Private Ryan, which was a huge box office success. In 2001, Spielberg filmed fellow director and friend Stanley Kubrick’s final project, A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Next Spielberg and Tom Cruise collaborated in the futuristic neo-noir Minority Report, based upon the science fiction short story written by Philip K. Dick. Spielberg’s next film Catch Me If You Can was about the daring adventures of a youthful con artist (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) & earned Christopher Walken an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Spielberg collaborated with Tom Hanks again as well as Catherine Zeta-Jones and Stanley Tucci in 2004’s The Terminal.

In 2005, Spielberg directed a modern adaptation of War of the Worlds based on the H. G. Wells book of the same name which starred Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning. Spielberg’s next film Munich, was about the events following the Massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. It received five Academy Awards nominations & was Spielberg’s sixth Best Director nomination and fifth Best Picture nomination. Spielberg next film was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Next Spielberg shot a film based on The Adventures of Tintin & followed that with War Horse, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, which was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture. Spielberg then directed the historical drama film Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. The film is Based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s bestseller Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, which covers the final four months of Lincoln’s life and was released 2013.

Posted in Events

United Nations Arabic Language Day

UN Arabic Language Day is observed annually on 18th December. The event was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2010 “to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six of its official working languages throughout the organization”. December 18 was chosen as the date for the Arabic language as it coincides with the day in 1973 when the General Assembly approved Arabic as an official UN language.

Taghreedat is a regional and international Arabic digital content community building initiative. With currently a community of over 2,500 Arab volunteers residing in 31 countries around the world, of which are 20 Arab countries, Taghreedat is aimed at building an active Arabic digital content creation community that contributes directly and significantly to increasing the quality and quantity of Arabic content on the web, through the implementation of the concept of crowd-sourcing to increase Arab users’ contribution to enriching Arabic content on the web through both original content projects, as well as projects geared towards localization and Arabization.

Taghreedat was started on May 31, 2011 on Twitter, as a call to action to increase the quality and quantity of Arabic e-content on Twitter via the hashtag #letstweetinarabic, Taghreedat has created a community of Arabic digital content enthusiasts from all parts of the Arab world, through its account on Twitter: @Taghreedat, which currently has over 100,000 followers. Taghreedat has worked with a number of international and regional stakeholders, among which are San Francisco-based organizations and companies including: Twitter, The Wikimedia Foundation and Storify, in addition to New-York-based TED and Abu Dhabi based twofour54 – the supporting organization which currently funds this initiative.

Posted in Events

International Migrants Day

lnternational Migrants Day is an international day observed on December 18 which was appointed by the General Assembly of United Nations on December 4, 2000 to take into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world. On December 18, 1990, the General Assembly adopted the international convention on the protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families day is observed in many countries, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations through the dissemination of information on human rights and fundamental political freedoms of migrants, and through sharing of experiences and the design of actions to ensure the protection of migrants.

In 1997, Filipino and other Asian migrant organizations began celebrating and promoting December 18 as the International Day of Solidarity with Migrants. This date was chosen because it was on December 18, 1990 that the UN adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrants Workers and Members of Their Families.Building on this initiative, December 18 with support from Migrant Rights International and the Steering Committee for the Global Campaign for Ratification of the International Convention on Migrants’ Rights and many other organizations – began late 1999 campaigning online for the official UN designation of an International Migrant’s Day, which was finally proclaimed on December 4, 2000.

The (UN) proclamation of the International Migrants’ Day is an important step, offering a rallying point for everyone across the world who is concerned with the protection of migrants. The UN invited all UN member states, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations to observe this day by disseminating information on human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, sharing experiences, and undertaking action to ensure the protection of migrants.The International Migrants Day is seen firstly as an opportunity to recognize the contributions made by millions of migrants to the economies of their host and home countries, and secondly to promote respect for their basic human rights.

Posted in music

Keith Richards (Rolling Stones)

album-Rolling-Stones-Exile-On-Main-StreetKeith Richards, Guitarist with Rock band The Rolling Stones was born December 18th 1943. The Rolling Stones were formed in London in 1962 after Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, who were childhood friends and classmates, discovered that they shared a common intereest in the music of Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. This led to the formation of a band with Dick Taylor (later of Pretty Things). Later on Richards, Taylor, and Jagger found Brian Jones as he sat in playing slide guitar with Alexis Korner’s R&B band, Blues Incorporated, which also had two other future members of the Rolling Stones: Ian Stewart and Charlie Watts. On 12 July 1962 the band played their first gig at the Marquee Club billed as “The Rollin’ Stones”.The line-up was Jagger, Richards and Jones, along with Stewart on piano, and Taylor on bass. Bassist Bill Wyman joined in December 1962 and drummer Charlie Watts the following January 1963 to form the band’s long-standing rhythm section.

sg-rsTheir first single, was a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On” and their second single, was “I Wanna Be Your Man”, Their third single, Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”. The band’s second UK LP – The Rolling Stones No. 2, yielded the singles “The Last Time”, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Get Off of My Cloud”. The third album “Aftermath” was released in 1966, contained the singles “Paint It Black”, the ballad “Lady Jane” “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?” “Goin’ Home” and “Under My Thumb”. 1967 saw the release of “Between the Buttons”, which included the double A-side single “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday”, and the release of the Satanic Majesties Request LP. the next album, Beggars Banquet was an eclectic mix of country and blues-inspired tunes,featuring the singles “Street Fighting Man” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Sympathy for the Devil.



lib-rsThe Rolling Stones next album Let It Bleed featured the songs “Gimmie Shelter”, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” “Midnight Rambler” and “Love in Vain”. The next album Sticky Finger was released in 1971.and featured an elaborate cover design by Andy Warhol, and contains the hits, “Brown Sugar”, and “Wild Horses”. The Stones classic double album, Exile on Main St. was released in May 1971 and their follow-up album Goats Head Soup, featured the hit “Angie”. Their next album was 1974′s It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll. The next album was Some Girls, which included the hit single “Miss You”, the country ballad “Far Away Eyes”, “Beast of Burden”, and “Shattered”. In 1980 the band released their next albums Emotional Rescue and Tattoo You which featured the single “Start Me Up”. in 1982 the Rolling Stones toured Europe to commemorate their 20th anniversary and released their next album Undercover in late 1983. In 1986′s the album Dirty Work was released,which contained the song “Harlem Shuffle”.The next album “Steel Wheels” included the singles “Mixed Emotions”, “Rock and a Hard Place”, “Almost Hear You Sigh” and “Continental Drift”.

imageTheir next studio album 1994′s Voodoo Lounge, went double platinum in the US. and went on to win the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album.The Rolling Stones ended the 1990s with the album Bridges to Babylon which was released in 1997. In 2002, the band released Forty Licks, a greatest hits double album, to mark their forty years as a band. On 12th November 2012 The Rolling Stones released the album Grrrr to celebrate their 50th anniversary and made a documentary called Crossfire Hurricane and they also played at Glastonbury Music Festival. The Rolling Stones latest album Blue and Lonesome is a collection of Blues Covers and was released in 2016. The Rolling Stones are one of the of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music and In early 1989, the Rolling Stones, including Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood and Ian Stewart (posthumously), were inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Q magazine also named them one of the “50 Bands To See Before You Die”, and popular consensus has accorded them the title of the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.” Rolling Stone magazine ranked them 4th on their “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” list.