2001: A Space Odyssey

I have recently watched the epic 1968 science-fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film was produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, partially inspired by Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel” and the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. It deals with the themes of existentialism, human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life.

It starts In an African desert millions of years ago, a tribe of ape-men is driven away from their water hole by a rival tribe. They awaken to find a featureless black monolith has appeared before them. Guided in some fashion by the monolith, they learn how to use a bone as a weapon and drive their rivals away from the water hole.

Millions of years later, a Pan Am space plane carries Dr. Heywood Floyd to a space station orbiting Earth for a layover on his trip to Clavius Base, a United States outpost on the moon. his Soviet scientist friend and her colleague ask about rumors of a mysterious epidemic at Clavius. At Clavius, Floyd heads a secret meeting of base personnel, His mission is to investigate a recently found artifact buried four million years ago. Floyd and others discover a monolith identical to the one encountered by the ape-men. Sunlight strikes the monolith and a loud high-pitched radio signal is heard.

Eighteen months later, mission pilots and scientists Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole, along with three other scientists in cryogenic hibernation are traveling to Jupiter aboard the United States spacecraft Discovery One. Most of Discovery’s operations are controlled by the ship’s computer, HAL 9000, Hal states that he is “foolproof and incapable of error”. However Hal seems reluctant to inform them of the purpose of the mission. After a technical glitch Mission Control advises the astronauts that Hal may have started malfunctioning. Hal insists that the problem is due to human error.

Becoming Concerned about Hal 9000’s increasingly erratic behavior, Bowman and Poole decide to disconnect it. However this proves very difficult when HAL9000 takes control and shuts off Poole’s air supply while is on a space walk outside. Then While Bowman attempts to rescue Poole Hal turns off the life support functions of all the other crewmen in suspended animation. After rescuing Poole, Hal 9000 refuses to let Bowman back in, stating that they are jeopardizing the mission. Bowman opens the ship’s emergency airlock manually, enters the ship, and attempts to deactivate HAL. At Jupiter, Bowman discovers another monolith in orbit around the planet, Bowman then travels through a strange vortex before landing. After landing on Jupiter he starts aging rapidly and encounters another monolith before evolving further and becoming the mysterious Star Child.

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John Constable

English Romantic painter John Constable sadly passed away on 31st March 1837. Born 11th June in 1776 in East Bergholt, Suffolk, He is known principally for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home—now known as “Constable Country”—which he invested with an intensity of affection. “I should paint my own places best”, he wrote to his friend John Fisher in 1821, “painting is but another word for feeling”. In his youth, Constable embarked on amateur sketching trips in the surrounding Suffolk and Essex countryside that was to become the subject of a large proportion of his art. In 1799, Constable persuaded his father to let him pursue art, and Golding even granted him a small allowance. Entering the Royal Academy Schools as a probationer, he attended life classes and anatomical dissections as well as studying and copying Old Masters. Among works that particularly inspired him during this period were paintings by Thomas Gainsborough, Claude Lorrain, Peter Paul Rubens, Annibale Carracci and Jacob van Ruisdael. He also read widely among poetry and sermons, and later proved a notably articulate artist. By 1803, he was exhibiting paintings at the Royal Academy. In 1802 he refused the position of drawing master at Great Marlow Military College, a move which Benjamin West (then master of the RA) counselled would mean the end of his career. In that year, Constable wrote a letter to John Dunthorne in which he spelled out his determination to become a professional landscape painter. His early style has many of the qualities associated with his mature work, including a freshness of light, colour and touch, and reveals the compositional influence of the Old Masters he had studied, notably of Claude Lorrain.

Constable’s usual subjects, scenes of ordinary daily life, were unfashionable in an age that looked for more romantic visions of wild landscapes and ruins. Constable quietly rebelled against the artistic culture that taught artists to use their imagination to compose their pictures rather than nature itself. Although Constable produced paintings throughout his life for the “finished” picture market of patrons and R.A. exhibitions, constant refreshment in the form of on-the-spot studies was essential to his working method, and he never satisfied himself with following a formula. “The world is wide”, he wrote, “no two days are alike, nor even two hours; neither were there ever two leaves of a tree alike since the creation of all the world; and the genuine productions of art, like those of nature, are all distinct from each other.”

Constable painted many full-scale preliminary sketches of his landscapes in order to test the composition in advance of finished pictures. These large sketches, with their free and vigorous brushwork, were revolutionary at the time, and they continue to interest artists, scholars and the general public.The oil sketches of The Leaping Horse and The Hay Wain, for example, convey a vigour and expressiveness missing from Constable’s finished paintings of the same subjects. Possibly more than any other aspect of Constable’s work, the oil sketches reveal him in retrospect to have been an avant-garde painter, one who demonstrated that landscape painting could be taken in a totally new direction. Constable’s watercolours were also remarkably free for their time: the almost mystical Stonehenge, 1835, with its double rainbow, is often considered to be one of the greatest watercolours ever painted. When he exhibited it in 1836, Constable appended a text to the title: “The mysterious monument of Stonehenge, standing remote on a bare and boundless heath, as much unconnected with the events of past ages as it is with the uses of the present, carries you back beyond all historical records into the obscurity of a totally unknown period.”

Some of Constable’s most famous paintings include Dedham Vale of 1802 and The Hay Wain of 1821. Although his paintings are now among the most popular and valuable in British art, he was never financially successful and did not become a member of the establishment until he was elected to the Royal Academy at the age of 52. He sold more paintings in France than in his native England. He could never have imagined how influential his honest techniques would turn out to be. Constable’s art inspired not only contemporaries like Géricault and Delacroix, but the Barbizon School, and the French impressionists of the late nineteenth century

Angus Young (Ac/DC)

Scottish born Australian heavy metal guitarist Angus Young was born 31st March 1955. He along with brother Malcolm founded rock band AC/DC in 1973. The band are commonly considered pioneers of heavy metal, though they themselves have always classified their music as simply “rock and roll”. To date they are one of the highest grossing bands of all time. AC/DC underwent several line-up changes before releasing their first album, High Voltage, on 17 February 1975.

Bass player Cliff Williams replaced Mark Evans in 1977 for the album Powerage. Within months of recording the album Highway to Hell, lead singer and co-songwriter Bon Scott died on 19 February 1980, after a night of heavy alcohol consumption. The group briefly considered disbanding, but Scott’s parents urged them to continue and hire a new vocalist. Ex-Geordie singer Brian Johnson was auditioned and selected to replace Scott. Later that year, the band released their highest selling album, and ultimately the third highest-selling album by any artist, Back in Black. The band’s next album, For Those About to Rock We Salute You, was their first album to reach number one in the United States. AC/DC declined in popularity soon after drummer Phil Rudd was fired in 1983 and was replaced by future Dio drummer Simon Wright, though the band resurged in the early 1990s with the release of The Razors Edge. Phil Rudd returned in 1994 (after Chris Slade, who was with the band from 1989–1994, was asked to leave in favour of him) and contributed to the band’s 1995 album Ballbreaker.

Since then, the band’s line-up has remained the same. Stiff Upper Lip was released in 2000 and was well received by critics, and the band’s latest studio album, Black Ice, was released on 20 October 2008. It was their biggest hit on the charts since For Those About to Rock, reaching No.1 on all the charts eventually. As of 2010, AC/DC had sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, including 71 million albums in the United States alone. Back in Black has sold an estimated 49 million units worldwide, making it the third highest-selling album by any artist, and the second highest-selling album by any band, behind Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The album has sold 22 million units in the U.S. alone, where it is the fifth-highest-selling album of all-time. AC/DC ranked fourth on VH1′s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” and were named the seventh “Greatest Heavy Metal Band of All Time” by MTV. In 2004, AC/DC were ranked number 72 in the Rolling Stone list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. In 2010, AC/DC were ranked number 23 in the VH1 list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time

AC/DC live at River Plate Buenos Aires 2009 http://youtu.be/ZwwRtXqM5IE

Charlotte Bronte

English novelist and poet Charlotte Brontë Sadly passed away on 31 March 1855, at the young age of 38. Born 21st April 1816 She was the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood, whose novels are English literature standards. She wrote Jane Eyre under the pen name Currer Bell. Charlotte was born in Thornton, Yorkshire in 1816, the third of six children. In August 1824, Charlotte was sent with three of her sisters, Emily, Maria, and Elizabeth, to the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire (Charlotte later used the school as the basis for the fictional Lowood School in Jane Eyre). She and the other surviving children — Branwell, Emily, and Anne – created their own literary fictional worlds, and began chronicling the lives and struggles of the inhabitants of these imaginary kingdoms. Charlotte and Branwell wrote Byronic stories about their imagined country (“Angria”) and Emily and Anne wrote articles and poems about theirs (“Gondal”). The sagas which they created were elaborate and convoluted (and still exist in partial manuscripts) and provided them with an obsessive interest during childhood and early adolescence, which prepared them for their literary vocations in adulthood.

Charlotte continued her education at Roe Head, Mirfield, from 1831 to 32, where she met her lifelong friends and correspondents, Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor. During this period, she wrote her novella The Green Dwarf (1833) under the name of Wellesley. Charlotte returned to Roe Head as a teacher from 1835 to 1838. In 1839, she took up the first of many positions as governess to various families in Yorkshire, a career she pursued until 1841. In 1842 Charlotte and Emily travelled to Brussels to enroll in a boarding school run by Constantin Heger In return for board and tuition, Charlotte taught English and Emily taught music. Their time at the boarding school was cut short when Elizabeth Branwell, their aunt who joined the family after their mother died Charlotte returned alone to Brussels in January 1843 to take up a teaching post at the boarding school but returned to Haworth in January 1844 and later used her time at the boarding school as the inspiration for some experiences.

In May 1846, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne self-financed the publication of a joint collection of poetry under the assumed names of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Charlotte’s first manuscript, called The Professor, did not secure a publisher, although she was heartened by an encouraging response she received from Smith, Elder & Co of Cornhill, who expressed an interest in any longer works which “Currer Bell” might wish to send. Charlotte responded by finishing and sending a second manuscript in August 1847, and six weeks later this second manuscript (titled Jane Eyre: An Autobiography) was published. Jane Eyre was a success, and initially received favourable reviews. It was followed by the subsequent publication of the first novels by Charlotte’s sisters: Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey.

In June 1854, Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father’s curate and, in the opinion of many scholars, the model for several of her literary characters such as Jane Eyre’s Edward Rochester and St. John Rivers. She became pregnant soon after the marriage. Sadly Her health declined rapidly during this time, and according to Gaskell, her earliest biographer, she was attacked by “sensations of perpetual nausea and ever-recurring faintness.” Charlotte Sadly passed away shortly afterwoods on 31 March 1855, at the young age of 38. Her death certificate gives the cause of death as phthisis (tuberculosis), but many biographers suggest she may have died from dehydration and malnourishment, caused by excessive vomiting from severe morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum. Charlotte may have died from typhus she may have caught from Tabitha Ackroyd, the Bronte household’s oldest servant, who died shortly before her. Charlotte was interred in the family vault in The Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Haworth, West Yorkshire, England. Her enduring popularity & legacy stll lives on To this day and all Charlotte Bronte’s novels Particularly Jane Eyre, are still as popular as ever. There have also been many Television Radio and Film adaptations of her novels and her classic novel’s are stll widely taught in schools

Francisco Goya

Spanish romantic painter and Printmaker Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was born 30 March 1746 in the village of Fuendetodos in Aragon. He studied painting from age 14 under José Luzán y Martinez and moved to Madrid to study with Anton Raphael Mengs. He married Josefa Bayeu in 1773; the couple’s life together was characterised by an almost constant series of pregnancies and miscarriages. He became a court painter to the Spanish Crown in 1786 and this early portion of his career is marked by portraits of the Spanish aristocracy and royalty, and Rococo style tapestry cartoons designed for the royal palace.

Goya was a guarded man and little is known about his thoughts. He suffered a severe and undiagnosed illness in 1793 which left him completely deaf. After 1793 his work became progressively darker and more pessimistic. His later easel and mural paintings, prints and drawings appear to reflect a bleak outlook on personal, social and political levels, and contrast with his social climbing. He was appointed Director of the Royal Academy in 1795, the year Manuel Godoy made an unfavorable treaty with France. In 1799 Goya became Primer Pintor de Cámara, the then-highest rank for a Spanish court painter. In the late 1790s, commissioned by Godoy, he completed his La maja desnuda, a remarkably daring nude for the time and clearly indebted to Diego Velázquez. In 1801 he painted Charles IV of Spain and His Family.

In 1807 Napoleon led the French army into Spain. Goya remained in Madrid during the Peninsular War, which seems to have affected him deeply. Although he did not vocalise his thoughts in public, they can be inferred from his “Disasters of War” series of prints (although published 35 years after his death) and his 1814 paintings The Second of May 1808 and The Third of May 1808. Other works from his mid period include the “Caprichos” and Los Disparates etching series, and a wide variety of paintings concerned with insanity, mental asylums, witches, fantastical creatures and religious and political corruption, all of which suggest that he feared for both his country’s fate and his own mental and physical health.

His late period culminates with the “Black Paintings” of 1819–1823, applied on oil on the plaster walls of his house the “Quinta del Sordo” (house of the deaf man) where, disillusioned by political and social developments in Spain he lived in near isolation. Goya eventually abandoned Spain in 1824 to retire to the French city of Bordeaux, accompanied by his much younger maid and companion, Leocadia Weiss, who may or may not have been his lover. There he completed his “La Tauromaquia” series and a number of other, major, canvases. Following a stroke which left him paralyzed on his right side, and suffering failing eyesight and poor access to painting materials, he died and was buried on 16 April 1828 aged 82. His body was later re-interred in Spain.

Goya is considered the most important Spanish artist of late 18th and early 19th centuries and throughout his long career was a commentator and chronicler of his era. Immensely successful in his lifetime, Goya is often referred to as both the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns. He was also one of the great portraitists of modern times.

Graeme Edge (Moody Blues)

Graeme Edge, British drummer and songwriter with the Moody Blues was born 30th March 1941. Graeme Edge, Mike Pinder, Justin Heywood and John Lodge formed The Moody Blues on4 May 1964, in Erdington, Birmingham, England. The name developed from a hoped-for sponsorship from the M&B Brewery and was also a subtle reference to the Duke Ellington song, “Mood Indigo. They released a single, “Steal Your Heart Away” in 1964 and appeared on the cult UK series “Ready Steady Go!” singing the uptempo “Lose Your Money (But Don’t Lose your Mind)”. Their second single, “Go Now” became a hit in the United Kingdom and Their debut album The Magnificent Moodies had a strong Merseybeat/R&B flavour. It contained the hit singles “Go Now” and “Bye Bye Bird” together with one side of classic R&B covers. including a cover of “I Don’t Want To Go On Without You”,”From The Bottom of My Heart (I Love You)”, “Everyday”,”This is My House (But Nobody Calls)” and and “Boulevard de la Madeleine”. The group released the singles “Fly Me High” and “Really Haven’t Got the Time” in 1967 followed by “Love And Beauty” & “Leave This Man Alone”. The Moody Blues were then offered a deal to make a rock and roll version of Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony, and although executives were initially skeptical about the hybrid style of the resulting concept album. Days of Future Past became one of the most successful pop/rock releases of the period, earning a gold record award. It takes place over the course of a single day & drew inspiration from the pioneering use of the classical instrumentation by The Beatles. It includes the songs “Nights in White Satin” & “The Sun Set” “Another Morning”, “Twilight Time”,”Peak Hour” and “Evening (Time To Get Away)”. The 1968 follow-up LP, In Search of the Lost Chord included the songs “Legend of a Mind”,”House of Four Doors”,”Voices in the Sky”, “Ride My See-Saw” and “The Best Way To Travel”.

The next album “On the Threshold of a Dream” contained the songs “In The Beginning”,”Lovely To See You”,”Never Comes The Day”,”Dear Diary” and “Lazy Day”,”So Deep Within You”,”The Dream”&”Have You Heard”. The band’s music became more complex and symphonic, resulting in 1969′s To Our Children’s Children’s Children, inspired by the first moon landing featuring the songs “Higher And Higher” “Floating” and “Eternity Road” “Gypsy”,”Out And In” the two part “Eyes of A Child” and “Candle of Life””Sun is Still Shining”. and “Watching and Waiting”. the Moodies next album was A Question of Balance (1970) this contained the songs “Question” and “Melancholy Man”. Their next two albums, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1971) and “Seventh Sojourn” featured their signature orchestral sound .These contained the songs “Procession”, “Story in Your Eyes” “Our Guessing Game”,”You Can Never Go Home”, “One More Time To Live”, “My Song” and “Nice To Be Here”. The Album “After You Came” (1971) featured “Isn’t Life Strange?”,”I’m Just A Singer (in A Rock ‘n’ Roll Band)”,”Sojourn”,”Lost in A Lost World” “When You’re A Free Man”, “For My Lady”, and “New Horizons”. In late 1972, a re-issue of Nights in White Satin became the Moody Blues’ biggest US hit.

The Moodies also pioneered the idea that a successful rock band could promote itself through their own label, so following the Beatles’ creation of Apple Records, they created Threshold Records. However it proved unsuccessful although They did lay the groundwork for other major acts to set up similar personal labels and distribution deals including The Rolling Stones’ own label and Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song Record label.In 1974, after completing a vast world tour that culminated with a tour of Asia, the group took an extended break and released a compilation album This Is The Moody Blues. Justin Hayward and John Lodge then released the album, Blue Jays, and a single, “Blue Guitar”. Mike Pinder released a album The Promise.” Edge produced two albums with guitarist Adrian Gurvitz, Kick Off Your Muddy Boots and Paradise Ballroom; Hayward composed the albums Songwriter, followed by Night Flight, Moving Mountains, Classic Blue, The View From The Hill and Live In San Juan Capistrano; Lodge released Natural Avenue; Pinder produced The Promise; and Thomas produced From Mighty Oaks and Hopes, Wishes and Dreams. In 1977, the group reunited and despite many problems The album Octave was released in 1978 contining “Steppin’ in a Slide Zone” & “Driftwood”, Justin Hayward also had a solo hit with the song “Forever Autumn” from Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.

During 1979 The Moodies toured the US and Europe. The next album ,Long Distance Voyager,was released in 1981 containing the hits, “The Voice” &”Gemini Dream” the band started using a more modern, less symphonic approach, while still retaining a lush keyboard-led sound. The next album The Present yeilded the singles “Blue World” and”Sitting at the Wheel”. In 1986 they released the album The Other Side of Life, containing the songs “Your Wildest Dreams” “House of Four Doors”, “Candle of Life”,”One More Time To Live” “Here Comes The Weekend”, “Rock and Roll Over You”, “Love is On The Run (From Me)”, “The Actor”, “Dawning is the Day”, “You Can Never Go Home”& “The Land of Make Believe”. The Moody Blues also performed live at the Birmingham Heart Beat Charity Concert 1986 which raised money for the Birmingham Children’s Hospitals, and also provided backup with the Electric Light Orchestra for George Harrison. The Moodies released Sur La Mer in 1988 containing the single, “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere”.

In 1991 they released the album Keys of the Kingdom contained the songs “Say It With Love”, “Never Blame The Rainbows For The Rain”,”Bless the Wings (That Bring You Back)”,”Magic” “Shadows On the Wall” “Lean On Me (Tonight)”and “Say What You Mean.”They also played at the Montreux Jazz Festival and made a series of recordings of their Night at Red Rocks concert. The next album Strange Times, was released in 1999 with the songs”English Sunset”,”Nothing Changes” and”This is The Moment”.The Moody Blues also appeared in one episode of “The Simpsons” called “Viva Ned Flanders”.In 2000, the band released “Hall of Fame”, a new live concert from Royal Albert Hall. In 2001, an IMAX film was released, entitled Journey into Amazing Caves. In 2006, they released remastered versions of  Days of Future Passed, Seventh Son, Octave, Long Distance Voyager, The Present Plus a compilation of sessions recorded at BBC Studios, rarities & various TV appearances, entitled Live at the BBC: 1967-1970. The Moody Blues have sold more than 70 million albums worldwide and have been awarded 14 platinum and gold discs. As of 2012 they remain active and continue to tour.

Vincent van Goch

Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent Willem van Gogh was born 30th March 1853, his work is notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. After years of painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, he died aged 37 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted (although no gun was ever found).His work was then known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still.Van Gogh began to draw as a child, and he continued to draw throughout the years that led up to his decision to become an artist. He did not begin painting until his late twenties, completing many of his best-known works during the last two years of his life. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, consisting of 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints. His work included self portraits, landscapes, still lifes, portraits and paintings of cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers.

Van Gogh spent his early adulthood working for a firm of art dealers, traveling between The Hague, London and Paris, after which he taught for a time in England. One of his early aspirations was to become a pastor and from 1879 he worked as a missionary in a mining region in Belgium where he began to sketch people from the local community. In 1885, he painted his first major work The Potato Eaters. His palette at the time consisted mainly of somber earth tones and showed no sign of the vivid coloration that distinguished his later work. In March 1886, he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists. Later, he moved to the south of France and was influenced by the strong sunlight he found there.

His work grew brighter in color, and he developed the unique and highly recognizable style that became fully realized during his stay in Arles in 1888. The extent to which his mental health affected his painting has been a subject of speculation since his death. Despite a widespread tendency to romanticize his ill health, modern critics see an artist deeply frustrated by the inactivity and incoherence brought about by his bouts of illness. According to art critic Robert Hughes, Van Gogh’s late works show an artist at the height of his ability, completely in control and “longing for concision and grace”. Van Goch sadly passed away 29 July 1890 at the age of 37 years old in Auvers-sur-Oise, France.