Posted in Fantasy, films & DVD, Science fiction

Alien Covenant

I would like to watch the American science-fiction horror film Alien Covenant which is out in cinemas. It is directed by Ridley Scott and written by John Logan and Dante Harper, with a story by Michael Green and Jack Paglen. It is A sequel to the 2012 film Prometheus, the film is the second installment in the Alien prequel series and the sixth installment overall in the Alien film series. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride and Demián Bichir.

In 2104 the crew of the colony ship Covenant is bound for a remote planet Origae-6 with two thousand colonists and a thousand embryos aboard. While en route to their destination, an energy surge damages the ship, killing its captain and waking the crew. As they repair the ship, the crew intercept a radio transmission from a nearby planet and decide to investigate as the transmission is human in origin but the planet is supposedly lifeless. Crew members Waters, Faris and Karine descend to the surface with a contingent of security personnel. Karine sets up an ecological survey station while the others track down the source of the signal. They discover it originates from an Engineer ship piloted by Elizabeth Shaw following the disastrous Prometheus mission. Two of the security team members are accidentally infected with an alien spore. The security team are then killed by a neomorph—a forerunner to the xenomorph—as they burst from their backs, and Karine and Faris are killed fighting the Neomorph.

The crew find the android David, the sole survivor of the ill-fated Prometheus mission as they radio Covenant for help. On the surface, a neomorph attacks a settler who has become separated from the main group and is killed by Covenant’s first mate Oram, who witnesses David trying to tame the alien. David shows Oram a chamber he has been using to incubate facehuggers.

The crew gradually uncover David’s sinister agenda and discover that David has been using the “black goo”, recovered during the Prometheus mission on local fauna for sinister purposes. The earliest xenomorphs came about after David experimented with a parasitic wasp that laid its eggs inside its prey; upon being born, the larvae ate the prey from the inside out. Elizabeth Shaw was also implanted with a facehugger, during Prometheus.

So the crew members attempt to evacuate. However They are attacked by adult protomorphs as Covenant arrives and Crew member Lope is implanted with a protomorph embryo, which has gestated and is now loose aboard Covenant. To make matters worse Walter—the ship’s android who resembles David, also has sinister plans for the crew regarding the Protomorphs…

Posted in music

Steve Winwood (Spencer Davis, Traffic)

English musicianStephen Lawrence “Steve” Winwood was born 12 May 1948 in Handsworth, Birmingham. His father, Lawrence, a foundryman by trade, was a semi-professional musician, playing mainly the saxophone and clarinet. Young Winwood became interested in swing and Dixieland jazz as a boy, began playing piano at age four, and also soon started playing drums and guitar. He first performed with his father and older brother, Muff, in the Ron Atkinson Band at the age of eight. Muff later recalled that when Steve began playing regularly with his father and brother in licensed pubs and clubs, the piano had to be turned with its back to the audience to try and hide him, because he was so obviously underage. Winwood was a choirboy at St John’s Church of England, Perry Barr. He later admitted to having “sneaked a few plays” of the organ there. While he was still young the family moved from Handsworth to the semi-rural suburb of Great Barr at the northern edge of the city. Winwood attended the Great Barr School which was one of the first comprehensive schools, where a teacher recalled him being a conscientious and able student who displayed ability in mathematics. He also attended the Birmingham and Midland Institute of Music to develop his skills as a pianist, but did not complete his course.

His played rock, blue-eyed soul, rhythm and blues, blues rock, pop rock, and jazz. Though primarily a vocalist and keyboardist, Winwood also plays bass guitar, drums, acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, violin, and other strings. While still a pupil at Great Barr School Winwood was a part of the Birmingham rhythm and blues scene, playing the Hammond B-3 organ and guitar, backing blues singers such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Eddie Boyd, Otis Spann, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. Winwood modelled his singing after Ray Charles.

Winwood joined the Spencer Davis Group at age 14, along with his older brother, Muff, who later had success as a record producer. Steve’s distinctive high tenor singing voice and vocal style drew comparisons to Ray Charles. At the end of 1965 the group had their first number one single with “Keep On Running” and the money from this success allowed Winwood to buy his own Hammond B-3 organ. Winwood also joined forces with guitarist Eric Clapton as part of the one-off group Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse. Songs were recorded for the Elektra label, but only three tracks made the compilation album, What’s Shakin’. Winwood co-wrote and recorded the hits “Gimme Some Lovin'” and “I’m a Man” before leaving the Spencer Davis Group.

Winwood met drummer Jim Capaldi, guitarist Dave Mason, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Wood when they jammed together at The Elbow Room, a club in Aston, Birmingham. After Winwood left the Spencer Davis Group in April 1967, the quartet formed Traffic. Early in Traffic’s formation, Winwood and Capaldi formed a songwriting partnership, with Winwood writing music to match Capaldi’s lyrics. This partnership was the source of most of Traffic’s material, including popular songs such as “Paper Sun” and “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys,”

He also had a successful solo career with hits including “While You See a Chance,” “Valerie,” “Back in the High Life Again” and two US Billboard Hot 100 number ones: “Higher Love” and “Roll with It.” He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Traffic in 2004. In 2005, Winwood was honoured as a BMI Icon at the annual BMI London Awards for his “enduring influence on generations of music makers.”In 2008, Rolling Stone ranked Winwood #33 in its 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Winwood has won two Grammy Awards. He was nominated twice for the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist: 1988 and 1989. .

Posted in music

Eric Singer (Kiss)

Best known as the Drummer for rock band Kiss, Eric Singer was born May 12, 1958 in Cleveland, Ohio. He grew up in Euclid, Ohio. His father, Johnny Mensinger, was of German descent and was a local big band leader who played around the area as well as on cruise ships from the States to Europe and back. Eric began playing drums from an early age, and was inspired by bands such as Humble Pie, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Beatles and Queen and drummers such as John Bonham, Keith Moon, Cozy Powell, Roger Taylor, Bill Ward, and Buddy Rich.

In 1985 he joined Black Sabbath, replacing original drummer Bill Ward, who had left the band after the Live Aid reunion. Singer participated in the recording of the albums Seventh Star and The Eternal Idol and was invited by his Black Sabbath colleague Ray Gillen to join the latter’s new formed band Badlands.  Coincidentally American Rock singer Ray” Gillen was also born May 12, 1959  He is a best known for his work with Badlands and Black Sabbath in the mid-1980s and recording most of the vocals on Phenomena’s Dream Runner album.  Singer played on Badlands self-titled debut album but left the group in 1989 and joined Paul Stanley as his touring drummer on his solo tour of the United States and Canada. Singer alao toured with Queen guitarist Brian May. He was asked to rejoin Kiss in 2001 after Criss’ departure shortly before the Australian and Japanese leg of Kiss’ Farewell tour. Singer officially became the drummer for Kiss in 1992 after the death of Eric Carr and debuted in full “Catman” makeup and costume for the first time on the tour, which caused some controversy as the persona had previously been used only by Criss. Singer was replaced again by Criss in 2003 but returned to the band by the end of the year after Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley opted not to renew Criss’ contract Singer, debuted with the band on the album Revenge, on which he was originally slated to fill in on some tracks while Eric Carr recuperated from heart cancer. Singer played on Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions and toured with Kiss until 1996, when the band reunited with original drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley for the Alive/Worldwide Tour. He also played on the KISS album Sonic Boom, the first studio album to feature the new line-up. It included the track “All for the Glory” (written by Stanley and Simmons) with vocals by Singer.

When not touring with Kiss, Singer performed with Alice Cooper. Singer had been a member of Cooper’s band since the release of the album Brutal Planet in 2000. Singer had already performed with Cooper years earlier, during the tour for the album Hey Stoopid. Singer has been featured on three Alice Cooper albums to date, namely, Brutal Planet, The Eyes of Alice Cooper, and Along Came a Spider. Due to his growing commitments with Kiss as well as with the Eric Singer Project (ESP), he has not played in Alice Cooper’s band since 2008. He has also occasionally performed and recorded with his own band ESP, featuring, among others, his former Kiss bandmate Bruce Kulick and former Mötley Crüe lead singer John Corabi. They have released the albums Lost and Spaced (1998), consisting completely of covers from classic rock songs; the live album Live in Japan (2006); and the DVD Live at the Marquee (2006).

Singer has also played in the band Avantasia, replacing drummer Alex Holzwarth after a guest performance in the song “Into the Unknown” from the album The Metal Opera Part II. Two EPs and one full album have been released with Singer’s performance on the drums: Lost in Space Part I, Lost in Space Part II, and The Scarecrow, and on several songs from The Wicked Symphony and Angel of Babylon. In 1987, he served as Gary Moore’s drummer on the Wild Frontier tour. In 1989, he made a brief appearance in the Wes Craven film Shocker, as a member of a fictional rock band. In 2004 Singer was featured on Italian rock singer Chris Catena’s debut album, Freak Out. He recorded drums for two tracks, “Sweet Talker” (a Whitesnake cover) and “The Stronger You Are, The Harder You Fall”.

In October 2012, KISS released their 20th studio album Monster which includes a track called “All for the Love of Rock & Roll” sung by Singer (written by Stanley)In a 2008 interview, Peter Criss stated that he thought Singer was a great drummer, despite being upset about Singer using his image. Singer has also played with Olivia Newton-John in the music video for “Culture Shock”. He has also performed with artists such as Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Lita Ford, Badlands, and Gary Moore as well as his own band ESP. In 2015 Singer was elected to the jury of watch making’s highest awards, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). He is a well known in collectors circles as a collector of eclectic and expensive timepieces. During his career Singer has appeared on over 75 albums and 11 EPs.

Posted in music

Billy Duffy (The Cult)

Best known as the guitarist in The Cult. English guitarist and songwriter, Billy Duffy , was born 12 May 1961. he began playing guitar at the age of fourteen and got his start playing in different punk line-ups in the late1970s, but these earlier years were more notable for his introducing Johnny Marr (The Smiths) to the guitar and encouraging Morrissey to make his singing debut with Duffy in The Nosebleeds. When the initial punk rock movement (led by the Sex Pistols) died out, Duffy eventually settled as guitarist for the moodier and more arty Theatre of Hate. He eventually met Ian Astbury (the frontman for gothic rock band Southern Death Cult) who was impressed with Duffy’s playing and abandoned Southern Death Cult to start a new band with him. Together, they exploited the Southern Death Cult’s success by calling themselves Death Cult.

After initial fanfare and a couple of singles, Duffy, following a trip to New York, convinced Astbury to shorten the band’s name to The Cult in 1984. As early as The Cult’s debut single “Spiritwalker”, Duffy began establishing a distinctive sound and helped change the bands sound for the release of the album Love in 1985, which included singles such as “She Sells Sanctuary” and “Rain”.In the late 1980s, the band dropped their post-punk sound in favour of metal-blues with their third album, 1987′s Electric, which contained wonderful songs like “Fire Woman” “Li’l Devil” “Love Removal Machine“& “Wild Flower. credit for this change also goes to producer and AC/DC fan Rick Rubin who gave both Duffy and The Cult a new musical direction and facillitated a polish on this new sound and also produced the record.

In 1988 the two writing partners (with longtime bassist Jamie Stewart) turned to stadium rock and recorded Sonic Temple, which appealed to a larger, mainstream audience, but the public’s attention could not be sustained with their next album, Ceremony, at the dawn of the grunge age. Following the ‘Ceremonial Stomp’ tour of 1992, Astbury pressured Duffy to return to their roots, with The Cult’s The Cult album. This led to Astbury’s departure from Duffy and The Cult in 1995.Duffy reformed The Cult with Astbury in 1999, which led to a new recording contract with Atlantic Records, and the album Beyond Good and Evil was released. Sadly this did not do very well and the band split, reforming again In 2006, to perform a series of worldwide tours. In October 2007, the band released the album Born into This. In July 2009, Astbury announced that The Cult would not record or produce any more studio albums, focusing on LPs and Digital Releases instead for new material, and Their latest album, Choice of Weapon, was released on 22 May 2012.

THE CULT SAN DIEGO 2013 http://youtu.be/1gEJlRS0ino

Posted in music

“Hit me with your rhythm stick”

British musician and lead singer of The Blockheads, Ian Dury was born 12th May in 1942. The Blockheads were Originally fronted by vocalist Ian Dury as Ian Dury and the Blockheads, and quickly gained a reputation as one of the top live acts of New Wave music during the 1970’s. They built up a dedicated following in the UK and other countries and scored several hit singles, including “What a Waste“, “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” (which was a UK number one at the beginning of 1979, selling just short of a million copies), “Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3” (number three in the UK in 1979), and the rock and roll anthem, “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll“.

Dury’s lyrics were a distinctive combination of lyrical poetry, word play, observation of British everyday (working-class) life, acute character sketches, and vivid, earthy sexual humour. sound drew from its members’ diverse musical influences, which included jazz, rock and roll, funk, and reggae, and Dury’s love of music hall. The band was formed after Dury began writing songs with pianist and guitarist Chaz Jankel, who took Dury’s lyrics, fashioned a number of songs, and they began recording with members of Radio Caroline’s Loving Awareness Band—drummer Charley Charles, bassist Norman Watt-Roy, keyboard player Mick Gallagher, guitarist John Turnbull and former Kilburns saxophonist Davey Payne. An album was completed, but major record labels passed on the band. However, next door to Dury’s manager’s office was the newly formed Stiff Records, a perfect home for Dury’s maverick style. Their classic single, “Sex & Drugs & Rock and Roll”, marked Dury’s Stiff debut and although it was banned by the BBC it was named Single of the Week by NME on its release. It was soon followed by the debut album New Boots and Panties!!, which achieved platinum status.

The band’s second album Do It Yourself was released in June 1979 in a Barney Bubbles-designed sleeve of which there were over a dozen variations, all based on samples from the Crown wallpaper catalogue. Bubbles also designed the Blockhead logo which received international acclaim, during this time The group worked solidly between the release of “Rhythm Stick” and their next single, “Reasons To Be Cheerful”, which returned them to the charts, making the UK Top 10. Sadly The Blockheads disbanded in early 1982 after Dury secured a new recording deal with Polydor Records

Sadly In March 1996 Dury was diagnosed with cancer and, after recovering from an operation, he set about writing another album. In early 1998 he reunited with the Blockheads to record the well-received album Mr Love-Pants. In May, Ian Dury and the Blockheads hit the road again, and gigged throughout 1999, culminating in their last performance with Ian Dury on 6 February 2000 at the London Palladium. Dury sadly passed away six weeks later on 27 March 2000, since then the band have continued to perform and are best known for their hit singles “What a Waste”, “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”, “Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3” and “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll”.

Posted in Health

Florence Nightingale OM RRC

Celebrated English nurse, writer and statistician Florence Nightingale OM, RRC was born on 12 May 1820 . She came to prominence for her pioneering work in nursing during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers, and was dubbed “The Lady with the Lamp” after her habit of making rounds at night. Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, the first nursing school in the world, now part of King’s College London. the annual International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on her birthday.

She was born at the Villa Colombaia, near the Porta Romana at Bellosguardo in Florence, Italy, and was named after the city of her birth. Inspired by a call from God she announced her decision to enter nursing in 1844, and rebelled against the expected role for a woman of her status, which was to become a wife and mother. Nightingale worked hard to educate herself in the art and science of nursing, .In Rome she met Sidney Herbert, a brilliant politician who was instrumental in facilitating Nightingale’s nursing work in the Crimea, and she became a key adviser to him in his political career. Later in 1850, she visited a Lutheran religious community where she observed The Pastor and the deaconesses working for the sick and the deprived. , based on this experience She published her first book The Institution of Kaiserswerth on the Rhine, for the Practical Training of Deaconesses, and also received four months of medical training at the institute which formed the basis for her later career.

Florence Nightingale’s most famous contribution came during the Crimean War, which became her central focus in changing the horrific conditions present. On 21 October 1854, she and a staff of 38 women volunteer nurses, were sent to the Ottoman Empire, approx. 546 km (339 miles) across the Black Sea from Balaklava in the Crimea, where the main British camp was based. She arrived early in November 1854 and found wounded soldiers being badly cared for by overworked medical staff in the face of official indifference. Medicines were in short supply, hygiene was neglected, conditions were unsanitory, and there was no equipment to process food for the patients.This prompted Nightingale to send a plea to The Times for the government to produce a solution to the poor conditions, the British Government commissioned Isambard Kingdom Brunel to design a prefabricated hospital, which could be built in England and shipped to the Dardanelles. The result was Renkioi Hospital, a civilian facility which under the management of Dr Edmund Alexander Parkes had a death rate less than 1/10th that of Scutari. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was asserted that Nightingale reduced the death rate from 42% to 2% either by making improvements in hygiene herself or by calling for the Sanitary Commission. .

During her first winter at Scutari, 4,077 soldiers died. Ten times more soldiers died from illnesses such as typhus, typhoid, cholera and dysentery than from battle wounds.Conditions at the temporary barracks hospital were so fatal because of overcrowding, defective sewers and lack of ventilation. A Sanitary Commission had to be sent out by the British government to Scutari in March 1855, and effected flushing out the sewers and improvements to ventilation. Death rates were sharply reduced. During the war she did not recognise hygiene as the predominant cause of death, and she never claimed credit for helping to reduce the death rate. Nightingale continued believing the death rates were due to poor nutrition and supplies and overworking of the soldiers. It was not until after she returned to Britain and began collecting evidence before the Royal Commission on the Health of the Army that she realised most of the soldiers at the hospital were killed by poor living conditions and advocated sanitary living conditions as of great importance. Consequently, she reduced deaths in the army during peacetime and turned attention to the sanitary design of hospitals. During the Crimean war, Florence Nightingale gained the nickname “The Lady with the Lamp”, deriving from a phrase in a report in The Times and The phrase was further popularised by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1857 poem “Santa Filomena”.

While she was in the Crimea, the Nightingale Fund for the training of nurses was established. Nightingale pioneered medical tourism as well, and wrote of spas in the Ottoman Empire, and directed less well off patients there (where treatment was cheaper than in Switzerland). Nightingale also set up the Nightingale Training School at St. Thomas’ Hospital. (Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery at King’s College London.) and campaigned for the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital in Aylesbury. She also wrote Notes on Nursing, a slim 136-page book that served as the cornerstone of the curriculum at the Nightingale School and other nursing schools,and though written specifically for the education of those nursing at home, it sold well to the general reading public and is considered a classic introduction to nursing.Nightingale was an advocate for the improvement of care and conditions in the military and civilian hospitals in Britain. One of her biggest achievements was the introduction of trained nurses into the workhouse system from the 1860s onwards. This meant that sick paupers were now being cared for by properly trained nursing staff and was the forerunner of the National Health Service in Britain. By 1882, Nightingale nurses had a growing and influential presence in the embryonic nursing profession. Some had become matrons at leading hospitals, including, in London, St Mary’s Hospital, Westminster Hospital, St Marylebone Workhouse Infirmary and the Hospital for Incurables at Putney, Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley; Edinburgh Royal Infirmary; Cumberland Infirmary and Liverpool Royal Infirmary, as well as at Sydney Hospital in New South Wales, Australia.

In 1883, Nightingale was awarded the Royal Red Cross by Queen Victoria. In 1904, she was appointed a Lady of Grace of the Order of St John (LGStJ) and in 1907, she became the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit. In 1908, she was given the Honorary Freedom of the City of London. Florence Nightingale sadly Passed away on 13th August 1910, however her contributions to medical science, nursing care and sanitary conditions have improved hospitals the world over and are still in use today and her birthday is now celebrated as International CFS Awareness Day

Posted in Art, books, Humour

Edward Lear

British artist, illustrator, author, and poet Edward Lear was born 12 May 1812, he is renowned today for his literary nonsense, in poetry and prose, and especially his limericks, a form that he popularised. Lear was born into a middle-class family in the village of Holloway, and was raised by his eldest sister, 21 years his senior. Due to the family’s failing financial fortune, at age four he and his sister had to leave the family home and set up house together. Ann doted on Edward and continued to mother him until her death, when he was almost 50 years of age. Lear suffered from health problems. From the age of six he suffered frequent grand mal epileptic seizures, and bronchitis, asthma, and in later life, partial blindness. Lear experienced his first seizure at a fair near Highgate with his father this event scared and embarrassed him. Lear felt lifelong guilt and shame for his epileptic condition. His adult diaries indicate that he always sensed the onset of a seizure in time to remove himself from public view. How Lear was able to anticipate them is not known, but many people with epilepsy report a ringing in their ears (tinnitus) or an aura before the onset of a seizure. In Lear’s time epilepsy was believed to be associated with demonic possession, which contributed to his feelings of guilt and loneliness. When Lear was about seven he began to show signs of depression, possibly due to the constant instability of his childhood. He suffered from periods of severe depression which he referred to as “the Morbids.

Lear was already drawing by the time he was aged 16 and soon developed into a serious “ornithological draughtsman” employed by the Zoological Society and then from 1832 to 1836 by the Earl of Derby, who kept a private menagerie at his estate Knowsley Hall. Lear’s first publication, published when he was 19 years old, was Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots in 1830.His paintings were well received and he was compared favourably with the naturalist John James Audubon.He was also widely travelled and visited Greece and Egypt during 1848–49, and toured India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) during 1873–75. While travelling he produced large quantities of coloured wash drawings in a distinctive style, which he converted later in his studio into oil and watercolour paintings, as well as prints for his books.His landscape style often shows views with strong sunlight, with intense contrasts of colour. Throughout his life he continued to paint seriously. He had a lifelong ambition to illustrate Tennyson’s poems; near the end of his life a volume with a small number of illustrations was published

In 1846 Lear published A Book of Nonsense, a volume of limericks that went through three editions and helped popularize the form. In 1865 The History of the Seven Families of the Lake Pipple-Popple was published, and in 1867 his most famous piece of nonsense, The Owl and the Pussycat, which he wrote for the children of his patron Edward Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby. Many other works followed. Lear’s nonsense books were quite popular during his lifetime, but a rumor developed that “Edward Lear” was merely a pseudonym, and the books’ true author was the man to whom Lear had dedicated the works, his patron the Earl of Derby. Promoters of this rumour offered as evidence the facts that both men were named Edward, and that “Lear” is an anagram of “Earl.” Lear travelled widely throughout his life and eventually settled in Sanremo, on his beloved Mediterranean coast, in the 1870s, at a villa he named “Villa Tennyson.” The closest he came to marriage was two proposals, both to the same woman 46 years his junior, which were not accepted. For companions he relied instead on a circle of friends and correspondents, and especially, in later life, on his Albanian Souliote chef, Giorgis, a faithful friend and, as Lear complained, a thoroughly unsatisfactory chef. Another trusted companion in Sanremo was his cat, Foss, who died in 1886 and was buried with some ceremony in a garden at Villa Tennyson.

Lear’s most fervent and painful friendship involved Franklin Lushington. He met the young barrister in Malta in 1849 and then toured southern Greece with him. Lear developed an undoubtedly homosexual passion for him that Lushington did not reciprocate. Although they remained friends for almost forty years, until Lear’s death, the disparity of their feelings for one another constantly tormented Lear. Indeed, none of Lear’s attempts at male companionship were successful; the very intensity of Lear’s affections seemingly doomed the relationships. The closest he came to marriage with a woman was two proposals, both to the same person 46 years his junior, which were not accepted. For companions he relied instead on friends and correspondents, and especially, during later life, on his Albanian Souliote chef, Giorgis, a faithful friend and, as Lear complained, a thoroughly unsatisfactory chef. Another trusted companion in Sanremo was his cat, Foss, who died in 1886 and was buried with some ceremony in a garden at Villa Tennyson. Lear eventually settled in San Remo, on his beloved Mediterranean coast, in the 1870s, at a villa he named “Villa Tennyson.” Lear was known to introduce himself with a long pseudonym: “Mr Abebika kratoponoko Prizzikalo Kattefello Ablegorabalus Ableborinto phashyph” or “Chakonoton the Cozovex Dossi Fossi Sini Tomentilla Coronilla Polentilla Battledore & Shuttlecock Derry down Derry Dumps” which he based on Aldiborontiphoskyphorniostikos.

After a long decline in his health, Lear died at his villa in 1888, of the heart disease. Lear’s funeral was said to be a sad, lonely affair by the wife of Dr. Hassall, Lear’s physician, none of Lear’s many lifelong friends being able to attend. Lear is buried in the Cemetery Foce in San Remo. The centenary of his death was marked in Britain with a set of Royal Mail stamps in 1988 and an exhibition at the Royal Academy. Lear’s birthplace area is now marked with a plaque at Bowman’s Mews, Islington, in London.

Posted in Art, films & DVD

H. R. Giger

Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor and set designer Hans Rudolf “Ruedi” Giger sadly passed away 12 May 2014. He was born 5 February 1940 in Chur, capital city of Graubünden, the largest and easternmost Swiss canton. His father, a chemist, viewed art as a “breadless profession” and strongly encouraged him to enter pharmaceutics, Giger recalls. Yet he moved in 1962 to Zürich, where he studied Architecture and industrial design at the School of Applied Arts until 1970. Giger Started with small ink drawings before progressing to oil paintings. For most of his career, Giger has worked predominantly in airbrush, creating monochromatic canvasses depicting surreal, nightmarish dreamscapes.

he gradualy bandoned large airbrush works and worked with pastels, markers or ink. His most distinctive stylistic innovation is that of a representation of human bodies and machines in a cold, interconnected relationship, he described as “biomechanical”. His paintings often display fetishistic sexual imagery His main influences were painters Ernst Fuchs, Salvador Dalí and the American horror fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft, particularly his first compendium of images Necronomicon, he was also a personal friend of Timothy Leary. Giger suffered from night terrors and his paintings are all to some extent inspired by his experiences with that particular sleep disorder. He studied interior and industrial design at the School of Commercial Art in Zurich (from 1962 to 1965) and made his first paintings as a means of art therapy.

Giger’s style and thematic execution have been influential. His design for the Alien was inspired by his painting Necronom IV and earned him an Oscar in 1980. His books of paintings, particularly Necronomicon and Necronomicon II (1985) and the frequent appearance of his art in Omni magazine continued his rise to international prominence. Giger is also well known for artwork on several music recording albums.In 1998 Giger acquired the Château St. Germain in Gruyères, Switzerland, and it now houses the H. R. Giger Museum, a permanent repository of his work and was inducted to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2013. During the 1960s and 1970s, Giger directed a number of films, including Swiss Made (1968),Tagtraum (1973), Giger’s Necronomicon (1975) and Giger’s Alien (1979). Giger has created furniture designs, particularly the Harkonnen Capo Chair for a movie of the novel Dune. Many years later, David Lynch directed the film, using only rough concepts by Giger. Giger had wished to work with Lynch. Giger has also applied his biomechanical style to interior design and a “Giger Bar” sprang up in Tokyo, Sadly though Within a few years, the establishment was out of business. However two more Giger Bars were built in Gruyères and Chur, under Giger’s close personal supervision and reflect his original concepts for them accurately.

At The Limelight in Manhattan, Giger’s artwork also decorates the VIP room, the uppermost chapel of the landmarked church, but it was never intended to be a permanent installation and As of 2009 only the two authentic Swiss Giger Bars remain. His art has greatly influenced tattooists and fetishists worldwide. Under a licensing deal Ibanez guitars released an H. R. Giger signature series: the Ibanez ICHRG2, an Ibanez Iceman, features “NY City VI”, the Ibanez RGTHRG1 has “NY City XI” printed on it, the S Series SHRG1Z has a metal-coated engraving of “Biomechanical Matrix” on it, and a 4-string SRX bass, SRXHRG1, has “N.Y. City X” on it.Giger is often referred to in pop culture, especially in science fiction and cyberpunk. William Gibson (who wrote an early script forAlien 3) seems particularly fascinated: a minor character in Virtual Light, Lowell, is described as having New York XXIV tattooed across his back, and in Idoru a secondary character, Yamazaki, describes the buildings of nanotech Japan as Giger-esque. Giger’s artwork continues to inspire film makers and artists alike and his work can be seen at the Château St. Germain in Gruyères, Switzerland, which houses the H. R. Giger Museum, a permanent repository of his work. Giger was also inducted to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2013.

Posted in films & DVD, music, Television

Burt Bacharach

American composer, songwriter, record producer, pianist, and singer Burt Freeman Bacharach was born May 12, 1928 in Kansas City Missouri. He grew up in the Forest Hills section of New York City, graduating from Forest Hills High School in 1946. Bacharach showed a keen interest in jazz as a teenager, disliking his classical piano lessons, and often using fake id to gain admission into 52nd Street nightclubs such as Spotlite, and listened avidly to bebop musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Bacharach studied music (Bachelor of Music, 1948) at Montreal’s McGill University, under Helmut Blume, at the Mannes School of Music, and at the Music Academy of the West in Montecito, California where he studied a range of music, including jazz harmony. His composition teachers included Darius Milhaud, Henry Cowell, and Bohuslav Martinů.

Following a tour of duty in the United States Army, Bacharach worked as a pianist, both as a soloist and as an accompanist for singers such as Vic Damone, Polly Bergen, Steve Lawrence, the Ames Brothers and Paula Stewart (who became his first wife). For some years, he was musical arranger for Marlene Dietrich, as well as touring as her musical director. In 1957, Bacharach and lyricist Hal David met each other while at the Brill Building.Almost a year later, they received a significant career breakthrough when their song “The Story of My Life” was recorded by Marty Robbins for Columbia Records, becoming a number 1 hit on the U.S. country music chart and reaching #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1957. Soon afterwards, “Magic Moments” was recorded by Perry Como for RCA Records, and became a number 4 U.S. hit in February of that year. These two songs were back-to-back No. 1 singles in the UK (“The Story of My Life” in a version by Michael Holliday). Bacharach also worked with other lyricists at first, including Bob Hilliard and Hal David’s brother, Mack David. Bacharach’s career was boosted when Calvin Carter,the chief of A&R at Vee-Jay Records, called saying that Jerry Butler wanted to do his song Make it Easy on Yourself.

In the early and mid-1960s, Bacharach wrote well over a hundred songs with David. He produced a number of songs on New York soul singer Lou Johnson, including the original recordings of “Always Something There To Remind Me”, “Kentucky Bluebird (Message To Martha)” and “Reach Out For Me”, but the two were mainly associated throughout the decade with Dionne Warwick, a conservatory-trained vocalist. Bacharach and David started writing a large portion of their work with Warwick in mind, leading to one of the most successful teams in popular music history. He also composed duo work with Marty Robbins, Perry Como, Gene McDaniels, and Jerry Butler. Following the initial success of these collaborations, Bacharach went on to write hits for Gene Pitney, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Bobbie Gentry, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert, B. J. Thomas, The Carpenters, among numerous other artists. Over a 20-year period, Warwick charted 38 singles co-written or produced by Bacharach and David, including 22 Top 40, 12 Top 20 and nine Top 10 hits on the American Billboard Hot 100 charts. During the early 1960s, Bacharach also collaborated with Bob Hilliard on a number of songs, including “Please Stay” and “Mexican Divorce” for The Drifters, “Any Day Now” for Chuck Jackson, “Tower of Strength” for Gene McDaniels, and “Dreamin’ All the Time” and “Pick Up the Pieces” for Jack Jones. In 1965 Bacharach released his first solo album in 1965 . “Hit Maker! Burt Bacharach Plays His Hits” which included his version of “Trains and Boats and Planes”.

Other singers of Bacharach songs in the ’60s and ’70s included Bobby Vinton (“Blue on Blue”); Dusty Springfield (“The Look of Love” from Casino Royale), (a cover of Dionne Warwick’s “Wishin’ and Hopin’”); Cilla Black (a cover of Dionne Warwick’s “Anyone Who Had a Heart”), the Delfonics, and Cher (“Alfie” – originally recorded by Cilla Black); The Shirelles, The Beatles (“Baby, It’s You”); The Carpenters (“(They Long to Be) Close to You”); Aretha Franklin (“I Say a Little Prayer”); Isaac Hayes (“Walk on By”, from the Hot Buttered Soul album); B. J. Thomas (“Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, “Everybody’s Out of Town”); Tom Jones (“What’s New Pussycat?”); Engelbert Humperdinck (“I’m a Better Man”); Sandie Shaw (“Always Something There to Remind Me”); Jack Jones (“Wives and Lovers”); Jackie DeShannon (“What the World Needs Now Is Love”); Gene Pitney (“Only Love Can Break a Heart”, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, “24 Hours from Tulsa” and “True Love Never Runs Smooth”); Herb Alpert, (“This Guy’s in Love with You”);[8] Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (“The Look of Love”); The Stylistics, (“You’ll Never Get To Heaven If you Break My Heart”); Jerry Butler, the Walker Brothers (“Make It Easy on Yourself”); and the Fifth Dimension (“One Less Bell to Answer”).

Many Bacherach songs have been adapted by jazz artists, such as Stan Getz, Cal Tjader and Wes Montgomery. The Bacharach/ David composition “My Little Red Book”, originally recorded by Manfred Mann for the film What’s New Pussycat?, was promptly covered by Love in 1966. Bacharach composed and arranged the soundtrack of the 1967 film Casino Royale, which included “The Look of Love”, performed by Dusty Springfield, and the title song, an instrumental Top 40 single for Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Bacharach and David also collaborated with Broadway producer David Merrick on the 1968 musical Promises, Promises, on the songs Promises Promises and I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”, for Dionne Warwick. In 1969 Bacharach-David collaborated on, the Oscar-winning “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, from the acclaimed film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The two were awarded a Grammy for Best Cast album of the year for “Promises, Promises” and the score was also nominated for a Tony award. There were other Oscar nominations for Best Song for “The Look Of Love”, “What’s New Pussycat” and “Alfie”. During the 1960s and early 1970s, Bacharach continued to write and produce for artists, compose for stage, TV, and film, and release his own albums. In 1973, Bacharach and David were commissioned to score the disastrous revival of the 1937 film, Lost Horizon and Bacherach and David split acrimoniously. Bacharach tried several solo projects (including the 1977 album Futures). He and David reunited briefly in 1975 to write and produce Stephanie Mills’s second album For the First Time released on Motown Records.

By the early 1980s, Bacharach’s marriage to Angie Dickinson had ended, but a new partnership with lyricist Carole Bayer Sager He collaborated on several major hits during the decade, including “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” (Christopher Cross); “Heartlight” (Neil Diamond); “Making Love” (Roberta Flack); “On My Own” (Patti LaBelle with Michael McDonald), and That’s What Friends Are For” in 1985, which reunited Bacharach and singer Warwick. The profits for the latter song were given to AIDS research. Other artists continued to revive Bacharach’s earlier hits in the 1980s and 1990s such as Luther Vandross’ recording of “A House is Not a Home”; Naked Eyes’ 1983 pop hit version of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me”, and Ronnie Milsap’s 1982 country version of “Any Day Now”. Bacharach continued a concert career, appearing at auditoriums throughout the world, often with large orchestras. He occasionally joined Warwick for sold-out concerts in New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.

In 1990, Deacon Blue released an EP entitled “Four Bacharach & David Songs”, contains the song, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” . In 1996, jazz pianist McCoy Tyner recorded an album of nine Bacharach standards that featured Tyner’s trio with an orchestra arranged and conducted by John Clayton. In 1998, Bacharach co-wrote and recorded a Grammy-winning album with Elvis Costello, Painted from Memory, In 2006, he recorded a jazz album with Trijntje Oosterhuis and the Metropole Orchestra called The Look of Love (Burt Bacharach Songbook) Bacharach collaborated with Cathy Dennis in 2002 to write an original song for the Pop Idol winner Will Young. This was “What’s in Goodbye”, and it appears on Young’s debut album From Now On. In 2002, Young was a guest vocalist at two of Bacharach’s concerts, one at the Hammersmith Apollo and the other at Liverpool Pops.In 2003, he teamed with Ronald Isley to release the album Here I Am, Bacharach also released his 2005 solo album At This Time , Guest stars on the album included Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright, and hip-hop producer Dr. Dre. In 2008 Bacharach opened the BBC Electric Proms at The Roundhouse in London, performing with the BBC Concert Orchestra accompanied by guest vocalists Adele, Beth Rowley and Jamie Cullum. The concert was a retrospective look back at his six-decade career, including classics such as “Walk On By”, “The Look of Love”, “I Say a Little Prayer”, “What the World Needs Now Is Love”, “Anyone Who Had a Heart”, “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa” and “Make It Easy on Yourself”, featuring Jamie Cullum. In early 2009, Bacharach worked with Italian soul singer Karima Ammar and produced her debut single Come In Ogni Ora.

Bacharach and David were awarded the 2011 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song bestowed by the Library of Congress, the first time that a songwriting team has been given the honor.David died the following year on September 1 at age 91. In 2015, Bacharach performed at the Glastonbury Festival UK and appeared on stage at the Menier Chocolate Factory to launch ‘What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined’,

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Bacharach was featured in a dozen TV musical and variety specials videotaped in the UK for ITC, several were nominated for Emmy awards for direction (by Dwight Hemion). The guests included artists such as Joel Grey, Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, and Barbra Streisand. Bacharach and David did the score for an original musical for ABC-TV titled On the Flip Side, starring Ricky Nelson as a faded pop star trying for a comeback. In 1969, Harry Betts arranged Bacharach’s instrumental composition “Nikki” (named after Bacharach’s daughter) into a new theme for the ABC Movie of the Week, a TV series which ran on the U.S. network until 1976.During the 1970s, Bacharach and then-wife Angie Dickinson appeared in several TV commercials for Martini & Rossi beverages, Bacharach also occasionally appeared on TV/variety shows, such as The Merv Griffin Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and many others. In the 1990s and 2000s, Bacharach had cameo roles in Hollywood movies, including all three Austin Powers movies. His music is credited as providing inspiration for these movies, partially stemming from Bacharach’s score for the 1967 James Bond parody film Casino Royale. During subsequent Bacharach concert tours, each show would open with a very brief video clip from the movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, with Mike Myers (as Austin Powers) uttering “Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Burt Bacharach.” Bacharach appeared as a celebrity performer and guest vocal coach for contestants on the television show, “American Idol” during the 2006 season. In late 2006, Bacharach appeared as the celebrity in a Geico auto insurance commercial. In 2008, Bacharach featured in the BBC Electric Proms at The Roundhouse with the BBC Concert Orchestra.performing similar shows at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. As of 2014, Bacharach had written 73 US and 52 UK Top 40 hits.His autobiography, Anyone Who Had a Heart, was published in 2013. He lives in Brookville, New York.

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti

English Poet, illustrator and translator Dante Gabriel Rossetti was Born 12 May 1828 Like all his siblings, he aspired to be a poet and attended King’s College School, in its original location near the Strand. He also wished to be a painter, having shown a great interest in Medieval Italian art. He studied at Henry Sass’s Drawing Academy from 1841 to 1845 when he enrolled at the Antique School of the Royal Academy, leaving in 1848. After leaving the Royal Academy, Rossetti studied under Ford Madox Brown, with whom he retained a close relationship throughout his life. Following the exhibition of William Holman Hunt’s painting The Eve of St. Agnes, Rossetti sought out Hunt’s friendship. The painting illustrated a poem by the little-known John Keats. Rossetti’s own poem, “The Blessed Damozel”, was an imitation of Keats, and he believed Hunt might share his artistic and literary ideals. Together they developed the philosophy of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which they founded along with John Everett Millais. The group’s intention was to reform English art by rejecting what they considered to be the mechanistic approach first adopted by the Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo and the formal training regime introduced by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Their approach was to return to the abundant detail, intense colours, and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian and Flemish art. For the first issue of the brotherhood’s magazine, The Germ, published early in 1850, Rossetti contributed a poem, “The Blessed Damozel”, and a story about a fictional early Italian artist inspired by a vision of a woman who bids him combine the human and the divine in his art.Rossetti was always more interested in the medieval than in the modern side of the movement, working on translations of Dante and other medieval Italian poets, and adopting the stylistic characteristics of the early Italians.

He started out painting in oils with water-colour brushes, as thinly as in water-colour, on canvas which he had primed with white till the surface was a smooth as cardboard, and every tint remained transparent. I saw at once that he was not an orthodox boy, but acting purely from the aesthetic motive. The mixture of genius and dilettantism of both men shut me up for the moment, and whetted my curiosity.Stung by criticism of his second major painting, Ecce Ancilla Domini, exhibited in 1850, and the “increasingly hysterical critical reaction that greeted Pre-Raphaelitism” that year, Rossetti turned to watercolours. Although his work subsequently won support from John Ruskin. For many years, Rossetti worked on English translations of Italian poetry including Dante Alighieri’s La Vita Nuova . These and Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur inspired his art of the 1850s. He created a method of painting in watercolours, using thick pigments mixed with gum to give rich effects similar to medieval illuminations. He also developed a novel drawing technique in pen-and-ink. His first published illustration was “The Maids of Elfen-Mere” (1855), for a poem by his friend William Allingham. Rossetti also painted the upper wall of the Oxford Union debating-hall with scenes from Le Morte d’Arthur and to decorate the roof between the open timbers. Seven artists were recruited,and the work was hastily begun and they are now barely visible. Rossetti also contributed two illustrations to the 1857 edition of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Poems and illustrations for works by his sister Christina Rossetti.His visions of Arthurian romance and medieval design also inspired William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones who were much influenced by his works, and met him by recruiting him as a contributor to their Oxford and Cambridge Magazine which Promoted his ideas about art and poetry.

Around 1860, Rossetti returned to oil painting, abandoning the dense medieval of the 1850s in favour of powerful close-up images of women in flat pictorial spaces characterised by dense colour. These paintings became a major influence on the development of the European Symbolist movement. Rossetti’s depiction of women became almost obsessively stylised. He portrayed his new lover Fanny Cornforth as the epitome of physical eroticism, whilst Jane Burden, the wife of his business partner William Morris, was glamorised as an ethereal goddess. “As in Rossetti’s previous reforms, the new kind of subject appeared, These new works were based on the Italian High Renaissance artists of Venice, Titian and Veronese.In 1861, Rossetti became a founding partner in the decorative arts firm, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. with Morris, Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown, Philip Webb, Charles Faulkner and Peter Paul Marshall.Rossetti contributed designs for stained glass and other decorative objects. Sadly Rossetti’s wife Elizabeth Siddal died of an overdose of laudanum in 1862, shortly after giving birth to a stillborn child. Rossetti became increasingly depressed, and on the death of his beloved Lizzie, buried the bulk of his unpublished poems with her at Highgate Cemetery, though he later had them dug up. He idealised her image as Dante’s Beatrice in a number of paintings, such as Beata Beatrix. Rossetti lived in Chelsea for 20 years surrounded by extravagant furnishings and a parade of exotic birds and animals and was fascinated with wombats, frequently visiting the “Wombat’s Lair” at the London Zoo in Regent’s Park. In September 1869 he acquired the first of two pet wombats, which he named “Top”. Rossetti’s fascination with exotic animals continued throughout his life, culminating in the purchase of a llama and a toucan.

Rossetti also maintained Fanny Cornforth (described delicately by William Allington as Rossetti’s “housekeeper” inher own establishment nearby in Chelsea, and painted many voluptuous images of her.In 1865 he discovered auburn-haired Alexa Wilding, a dressmaker and would-be actress who was engaged to model for him on a full-time basis and sat for The Blessed Damozel and other paintings. Rossetti also used Jane Morris,as a model for the Oxford Union murals he painted with William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones in 1857, and she also sat for him during these years, she “consumed and obsessed him in paint, poetry, and life”. Rossetti was prevailed upon by Charles Augustus Howell, to exhume his poems from his wife’s grave which he did, collating and publishing them in 1870 in the volume Poems by D. G. Rossetti. This included the poems Nuptial Sleep, the House of Life and The Ballad of Dead Ladies which all created offence and controversy With their eroticism and sensuality but became Rossetti’s most substantial literary achievement. In 1881, Rossetti published a second volume of poems, Ballads and Sonnets, which included the remaining sonnets from The House of Life sequence. Unfortunately The savage reaction of critics to Rossetti’s first collection of poetry contributed to a mental breakdown in June 1872. After he recovered he began creating a soulful series of dream-like portraits featuring Alexa Wilding and Jane Morris

He spent his last days at Cheyne Walk battling deppression , exacerbated by his drug addiction to chloral hydrate and increasing mental instability, until finally On Easter Sunday, 1882, he sadly passed away 9 April 1882 at the country house of a friend, where he had gone in a vain attempt to recover his health, which had been destroyed by chloral as his wife’s had been destroyed by laudanum. He died of Brights Disease, a disease of the kidneys from which he had been suffering for some time. He is buried at Birchington-on-Sea, Kent, England. His work influenced went on to influence many including the European Symbolists and the Aesthetic movement. Rossetti’s art was characterised by its sensuality and its medieval revivalism. His early poetry was influenced by John Keats. Among his most famous paintings are he Girlhood of Mary Virgin (1849) and Astarte Syriaca (1877). He also created art to illustrate poems such as Goblin Market by his sister, the celebrated poet Christina Rossetti.