Posted in books, films & DVD

The Life of Pi

I have recently watched Life of Pi. It was directed by Ang Lee with a screenplay by David Magee and it stars Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall, Tabu, Adil Hussain, and Gérard Depardieu. It is based on the novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist is Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, an Indian boy from Pondicherry who explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age.

It starts in In Canada, where novelist Yann Martel meets Pi Patel; Martel has been told that Pi’s life story would be a good subject for a book. Pi tells his story to Yann: Pi’s explains that his father named him Piscine Molitor after the swimming pool in France. In secondary school in Pondicherry, he adopts the name “Pi” (the Greek letter, π) to avoid the nickname “Pissing Patel”. He is raised in a Hindu family, but at 12 years old, is introduced to Christianity and then Islam, and decides to follow all three religions as he “just wants to love God”. His mother supports his desire to grow, but his rationalist father tries to secularize him. Pi’s family owns a zoo, and Pi takes interest in the animals, especially a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. However Pi gets dangerously close to Richard Parker,

When Pi is 16, his father announces that they must move to Canada, where he intends to settle and sell the animals. So The family books passage with the animals on a Japanese freighter. Unfortunately During a storm, in the Pacific Ocean the ship founders while Pi is on deck. He tries to find his family, but a crewman throws him into a lifeboat. A freed zebra also jumps onto the boat with him, breaking its leg and The ship sinks. Pi briefly sees what appears to be a survivor, which turns out to be Richard Parker. After the storm, Pi awakens in the lifeboat with the zebra, and is joined by a resourceful orangutan. A spotted hyena emerges from under a tarpaulin covering half of the lifeboat and snaps at Pi, forcing him to retreat to the end of the boat. The hyena kills the zebra and later the orangutan. Richard Parker also emerges from under the tarpaulin, killing the hyena and attempting to kill Pi, before retreating.

So Pi builds a small tethered raft from flotation vests to which he retreats to safety. He begins fishing, enabling him to sustain the tiger as well. When the tiger jumps into the sea to hunt for fish and then comes threateningly towards Pi, Pi considers letting him drown, but ultimately helps him back into the boat. One night, a humpback whale breaches near the boat, destroying the raft and its supplies. Pi trains Richard Parker to accept him in the boat, and realizes that caring for the tiger is also helping keep himself alive. After 227 days at sea they encounter a floating island of interconnected trees. It is a lush jungle of edible plants, fresh water pools and a large population of meerkats, enabling Pi and Richard Parker to eat and drink freely and regain strength however the island has a deadly secret threatening the lives of Pi, Richard Parker and the Meerkats so they all leave the island not knowing if they will ever reach safety….

Posted in Events

International Typing Day

Typing Day (also known as International Typing Day or World Typing Day) is an annual event that falls on 8 January in Malaysia. This date was chosen because it is one week after new year Which gives people enough time to think through and plan what they want to do for the following year and write it down on this day. For example, documents and ideas like resolution of the past year, vision, mission and objective for this year, compilations of ideas, opinions of the previous years etc. can be produced and shared with other. Typing Day was created in Malaysia and was co-organized by the STC (Speed Typing Contest) Team from JCI (Junior Chamber International) Mines and Team TAC (Typo Auto Corrector) to promote speed, accuracy and efficiency in written communication among the public.

Typing Day was first celebrated in 2011 with the aim of encouraging people to express themselves via written communication and also in commemoration of the Malaysian Speed Typing Contest 2011, which broke two records in the Malaysian Book of Records (MBR) i.e. the Fastest Typist and the Largest Participation for a Typing Event. Typing Day was originally conceived by Team TAC (Typo Auto Corrector), which consist of Jay Chong Yen Jye, Nicholas Koay Zhen Lin and Edwin Khong Wai Howe, the winner of the MSC Malaysia-IHL Business Plan Competition (MIBPC) 2010/2011’s Business Plan Category. With the aspiration to encourage everyday people especially the younger generation to type and learn proper English, Team TAC has designed and developed the SecondKey, a computer program that automatically corrects wrong English spellings in virtually any online and offline type-written interface (i.e. social network sites, word processing programs, etc.) Working closely together with Microsoft Malaysia, the software is currently being improved and expanded beyond the English language; with various add on features to enhance typing accuracy and efficiency.

Posted in Fantasy, films & DVD, music

David Bowie

Late, great English musician, actor, record producer and arranger David Bowie A.K.A David Robert Jones was born 8 January 1947. He was A major figure for over four decades in the world of popular music, and is is also regarded as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. He was known for his distinctive voice, and the intellectual depth and eclecticism of his work.

He changed his name to Bowie in the 1960s, to avoid confusion with the then well-known Davy Jones (lead singer of The Monkees), During the 1960′s He tried music and other art forms such as acting, mime, painting, and playwriting. Then In July 1969 he released the song “Space Oddity” which was used by the BBC in their coverage of the moon landing. two albums followed Space Oddity including the song “The Man Who Sold The World,” which was covered by Lulu and Nirvana). His next album was the classic 1972 Glam Rock Concept Album the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, about a flamboyant androgynous space-age rock star named Ziggy Stardust. This contained Stardust and Ziggy Stardust and challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day” and “creating the biggest cult in popular culture.”

In 1975, Bowie released the song “Fame” and the album Young Americans, which he described as “plastic soul” before releasing the minimalist album Low in 1977-the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno called The Berlin Trilogy. Bowie’s next hit was Ashes to Ashes in 1980 from the album Scary Monsters( and Super Creeps) and Under Pressure with Queen. Then In 1983 he released the album Let’s Dance. throughout the 1980’s 90’s and 2000’s Bowie continued to experiment with new styles, and this continual reinvention, music innovation and Striking visual presentation has helped Bowie remain awesome. He also made an appearance as The Goblin King in the film Labyrinth alongside Jennifer Connelly. In 2003 he released the album Reality then to celebrate his 66th birthday. This was followed in 2013 by his 30th, album The Next Day, and the career spanning retrospective entitled Nothing Has Changed in 2014. Bowie’s latest album “Blackstar” was released 8th January 2016 to coincide with his birthday.

Bowie tragically died 11 January 2016 at the age of 69 after an 18 Month battle with cancer. However, Blackstar, The Next Day, Ziggy Stardust and Nothing has changed and his other albums all remain fitting tributes to a man whose contribution to music was immense and who influenced the course of popular music many times as well as inspiring many generations of musicians. His promotional videos in the 1970s and 80s are regarded as ground-breaking, as are his theatrical live concerts. In the BBC’s 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, Bowie was placed at number 29 In the UK, he has been awarded nine Platinum album certifications, 11 Gold and eight Silver, and in the US, five Platinum and seven Gold certifications and In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him 39th on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”, and 23rd on their list of the best singers of all-time.

Posted in Uncategorized

and now for something completely different: Graham Chapman (Monty Python)

The Late, Great Graham Chapman would have celebrated his birthday on 8th January had he not tragically died in 1989. He started out in the 1960′s writing professionally for the BBC alongside John Cleese, initially for David Frost, but also for Marty Feldman. Chapman also contributed sketches to the BBC radio series I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again and television programmes such as The Illustrated Weekly Hudd (starring Roy Hudd), Cilla Black, This is Petula Clark, and This Is Tom Jones. Chapman, Cleese, and Tim Brooke-Taylor later joined Feldman in the television comedy series At Last the 1948 Show. There, Chapman displayed a gift for deadpan comedy (particularly evident in the sketch “The Minister Who Falls to Pieces”) and for imitating various British dialects. Chapman and Cleese also wrote for the long-running television comedy series Doctor in the House. Chapman also co-wrote several episodes with Bernard McKenna and David Sherlock.

Chapman joined British sketch comedy series Monty Python alongside Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, which was first aired on BBC One on the 5th October 1969. The shows were composed of surreality, risqué or innuendo-laden humour, sight gags and observational sketches without punchlines. It also featured Terry Gilliam’s wonderful and imaginatively bizarre animations, often sequenced or merged with live action. Broadcast by the BBC. with 45 episodes airing over four series from 1969 to 1974, The show often targets the idiosyncrasies of British life, especially that of professionals, and is at times politically charged, and over the years many of the sketches have attained classic status including The Lumberjack Song, Ministry of Silly Walks, Upper class twit of the Year,Spam song, The Dead Parrot Sketch and Bicycle Repair Man. The members of Monty Python were all highly educated. Terry Jones and Michael Palin are Oxford University graduates; Eric Idle, John Cleese, and Graham Chapman attended Cambridge University; and American-born member Terry Gilliam is an Occidental College graduate. Chapman also played the lead roles in two of the Python’s Films – Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Life of Brian

After reuniting with the other Pythons in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Chapman began a lengthy series of American college tours where he would tell the audience anecdotes about Monty Python, the Dangerous Sports Club, Keith Moon, and other subjects. In 1988, he appeared in the Iron Maiden video Can I Play with Madness. Chapman also secured funding for his much cherished pirate project Yellowbeard in 1982. Once again, Chapman collaborated with writer Bernard McKenna and for the first time with Peter Cook. The film, which starred Chapman as the eponymous pirate, also featured appearances from Peter Cook, Marty Feldman, Cleese, Idle, Spike Milligan, and Cheech & Chong. It marks the last appearance of Feldman, who suffered a fatal heart attack during shooting. It was released in 1983 to mixed reviews. His final project was to have been a TV series called Jake’s Journey. Although the pilot episode was made, there were difficulties selling the project. Chapman was also to have played a guest role as a television presenter in the Red Dwarf episode “Timeslides”, but died before filming was to have started.

Posted in music

Dame Shirley Bassey DBE

Dame Shirley Bassey, DBE was born 8th January in 1937. She found fame in the late 1950s and is best known for recording the theme songs to the James Bond films Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and Moonraker and is a UNESCO Artist for Peace. She attended Moorland Road School where her strong voice was noticed by teachers and students alike She also sung in the school choir. After leaving Splott Secondary Modern School at the age of 14, Bassey first found employment packing at a local factory while singing in local public houses and clubs in the evenings and weekends.

In 1953, she signed her first professional contract, to sing in a touring variety show Memories of Jolson, a musical based on the life of Al Jolson. She next took up a professional engagement in Hot from Harlem, which ran until 1954. In 1955, a chance recommendation of her to Michael Sullivan, a booking agent, put her firmly on course for her destined career. He saw talent in Bassey, and decided he would make her a star. She toured various theatres until Jack Hylton put her firmly on the road to stardom. She starred in in Al Read’s Such Is Life at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End. During the show’s run she was offered a recording deal & her first single was “Burn My Candle”/“Stormy Weather”, and was banned by the BBC. in 1957, she had her first hit with “The Banana Boat Song” (DAAAAY OH!) which was followed by “If I Had a Needle and Thread” b/w “Tonight My Heart She Is Crying”. In 1958 she released “As I Love You”, “Hands Across the Sea” and “Kiss Me, Honey Honey, Kiss Me”. During the 1960′s she released “As Long As He Needs Me” from Lionel Bart’s Oliver! In 1962 she released the album produced the album Let’s Face the Music and the singles “What Now My Love”, “Reach for the Stars”/”Climb Ev’ry Mountain”, “I’ll Get By”, “I (Who Have Nothing)”. She also sang at a Washington gala celebrating the end of President Kennedy’s second year in office. In 1965, Bassey released the title song of the James Bond film, Goldfinger. In 1967 she released “Big Spender“.In 1968, she performed “La vita” at the Sanremo Festival

In 1970 Bassey released the album Something, (The single of the same name was more successful in the UK charts than the original Beatles recording – the only artist to have achieved this) plus the singles “For All We Know”and “Never Never Never”. She also released the albums Something Else, And I Love You So, , I Capricorn, Never Never Never, Good, Bad but Beautiful, Love, Life and Feelings, You Take My Heart Away and Yesterdays. Two compilations, The Shirley Bassey Singles Album (1975) and 25th Anniversary Album (1978) were also released. Between 1970 and 1979, Bassey had 18 hit albums in the UK Albums Chart.In 1973, her sold-out concerts at New York’s Carnegie Hall were recorded and released as a two-LP set, Shirley Bassey: Live at Carnegie Hall. This album and the majority of her recordings from this period have been re-mastered and released on CD by EMI and BGO Records. In 1971, she recorded the theme song for the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, which also featured as part of Sydney’s 2007 New Year’s celebration.In 1976 & 1979 Bassey starred in the Shirley Bassey Show which featured guests including Neil Diamond, Michel Legrand, The Three Degrees and Dusty”. in 1979 Bassey sung her third title theme for the Bond films, Moonraker. Throughout most of the 1980s, Bassey focused on charitable work and performing occasional concert tours throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States. In 1982 Bassey recorded an album entitled All by Myself and made a TV special for Thames Television called A Special Lady with guest Robert Goulet.In 1986, she released a single and video to support the London Tourist Board, “There’s No Place Like London”and in 1987 she recorded an album of James Bond themes, The Bond Collection. She also provided vocals for Swiss artists Yello on “The Rhythm Divine” and her 1991 album Keep the Music Playing displayed a grand, operatic pop style. In 1994 EMI released the five-CD box set Bassey – The EMI/UA Years 1959 – 1979.

In 1996, Bassey collaborated with Chris Rea in the film La Passione, appearing in the film as herself and releasing the single “‘Disco’ La Passione”, the remix proving a major club hit throughout Europe. In 1995 Bassey colaborated with The Propellorheads and released “History Repeating“. Bassey celebrated her 60th birthday in 1997 with two open-air concerts, at Castle Howard and Althorp Park, and another TV special, then in 1998 Bassey performed for a benefit at an open air concert close to the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid in Egypt. Bassey was one of three central figures In the 1998 film Little Voice, along with Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland. The following year, she performed the official song for the rugby World Cup, “World in Union”, with Bryn Terfel at the opening ceremony at The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff and also contributed two more songs to the official album Land of My Fathers. In 2001, Bassey was principal artiste at the Duke of Edinburgh’s 80th Birthday celebration. On 3 June 2002 Shirley Bassey was one of a prestigious line up of artists including Elton John, Paul McCartney, Queen, The Corrs, Annie Lennox, Eric Clapton, Tony Bennett, Cliff Richard, Joe Cocker, Rod Stewart, Ricky Martin, Phil Collins and Tom Jones who performed at the Queen’s 50th Jubilee Party at Buckingham Palace. A gala charity auction of her stage costumes was also held at Christie’s, called Dame Shirley Bassey: 50 Years of Glittering Gowns, it raised £250,000 (US$500,000) for the Dame Shirley Bassey Scholarship at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Appeal. Bassey also topped the bill at the 2005 Royal Variety Performance, introducing her new song “The Living Tree”. Bassey also performed at five arenas around the UK culminating at Wembley & also performed a concert in front of 10,000 people at the Bryn Terfel Faenol Festival in North Wales. Bassey performed a 45 minute set at the 2007 Glastonbury Festival wearing a pink Julien Macdonald dress, and customised Wellington boots and also released A new album, Get the Party Started. Bassey performed “Big Spender” with Elton John at his annual White Tie and Tiara Ball to raise money for The Elton John AIDS Foundation. In 2007, Bassey performed in Fashion Rocks in aid of The Prince’s Trust at the Royal Albert Hall.

Throughout her long and distinguished carreer Dame Shirley Bassey has won many awards for her music. In 1974 she was voted Best Female Entertainer by the American Guild of Variety Artists. In 1976 she won the EMI Award for twenty years as a recording artist. In 1977 she won a BRIT Award for being Best British Female Solo Artist in the previous 25 years. In 1977 she garnered a Golden Rose of Montreux nomination. In 1991 a plaque unveiled in Rotterdam’s Walk of Fame, Star Boulevard, Commemorating Dame Shirley Bassey. In 1993 Bassey was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the New Years honours List and in 1995 she won the Variety Club of Great Britain’s award for Showbusiness Personality of the Year, In 1997 she recieved a Grammy nomination for the The Birthday Concert (recorded live at Althorp Park) and in 1998 she was also given an award for the Longest run by a solo artist at th Royal Festival Hall, London. on 31 December 1999 . Bassey was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) by Queen Elizabeth II “For services to entertainment” and was invited to perform in 2002 at the Party at the Palace, a public celebration of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. She was awarded France’s top honour, the Legion d’Honneur.She is also the Most Successful British Female Singer according to the Guinness Book of Records. She was given an award for Outstanding Contribution to Music at the National Music Awards, UK and in 2003 she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award (inaugural award) – Western Mail Welsh Woman of the Year. in that same yearShe also became UNESCO’s Artist for Peace and in 2005 a Plaque was unveiled on the Avenue of Stars in London and In 2008 the song “Goldfinger”was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Posted in films & DVD, music, Television

Elvis Presley 🕺

often referred to as the “King of Rock and Roll” or simply “the King”, Elvis Presley was born 8th January, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. At the age of 13 Presley moved to Memphis, Tennessee, with his family and began his career there in 1954, working with Sun Records owner Sam Phillips, who wanted to bring the sound of African American music to a wider audience. Accompanied by guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, Presley was one of the originators of rockabilly, an uptempo, backbeat-driven fusion of country and rhythm and blues. Presley’s rise to national attention in 1956 transformed the field of popular music and had a huge effect on the broader scope of popular culture.

Presley’s first RCA single, “Heartbreak Hotel“, was released in January 1956, and was a number one hit. He became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll with a series of network television appearances and chart-topping records. His energized interpretations of songs, many from African American sources, and his uninhibited performance style made him enormously popular—and controversial. In November 1956, he made his film debut in Love Me Tender. He was Conscripted into military service in 1958, and relaunched his recording career two years later with some of his most commercially successful work. He staged few concerts however, and guided by Colonel Tom Parker, he proceeded to devote much of the 1960s to making Hollywood movies and soundtrack albums, most of them critically derided. In 1968, after seven years away from the stage, he returned to live performance in a celebrated comeback television special that led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of profitable tours. In 1973 Presley staged the first concert broadcast globally via satellite, Aloha from Hawaii, seen by approximately 1.5 billion viewers.

Presley is regarded as one of the most important figures of 20th-century popular culture. He had a versatile voice and unusually wide success encompassing many genres, including country, pop ballads, gospel, and blues. He is the best-selling solo artist in the history of popular music. Nominated for 14 competitive Grammys, he won three, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36. He has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame, and is regarded As the catalyst for the cultural revolution that was rock and roll, he was central not only to defining it as a musical genre but in making it a touchstone of youth culture and rebellious attitude. His name, image, and voice are instantly recognizable around the globe, and in In polls and surveys, he is recognized as one of the most important popular music artists and influential Americans.

“Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century”, said composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. “He introduced the beat to everything and he changed everything—music, language, clothes. It’s a whole new social revolution—the sixties came from it.” Bob Dylan described the sensation of first hearing Presley as “like busting out of jail”. A New York Times editorial on the 25th anniversary of Presley’s death observed, “All the talentless impersonators and appalling black velvet paintings on display can make him seem little more than a perverse and distant memory. But before Elvis was camp, he was its opposite: a genuine cultural force. … Elvis’s breakthroughs are underappreciated because in this rock-and-roll age, his hard-rocking music and sultry style have triumphed so completely.” Not only Presley’s achievements, but his failings as well, are seen by some cultural observers as adding to the power of his legacy.

Sadly Prescription drug abuse severely compromised his health, and this together with poor diet led to his sudden death in August 1977 at the age of 42. Despite this Elvis Presley remains a supreme figure in American life, one whose presence, no matter how banal or predictable, brooks no real comparisons, The cultural range of his music has expanded to the point where it includes not only the hits of the day, but also patriotic recitals, pure country gospel, and really dirty blues. Elvis emerged as a great artist, a great rocker, a great purveyor of schlock, a great heart throb, a great bore, a great symbol of potency, a great ham, a great nice person, and a great American.