Posted in Events, nature

International Polar Bear Day

International Polar Bear Day is an annual event celebrated every February 27 by Polar Bears International. One of the aims of International Polar Bear Day is to raise awareness about the conservation status of the polar bear and raise awareness about the impact of global warming and reduced sea ice on polar bear populations.

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a carnivorous bear whose native range lies largely within the Arctic Circle, encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is a large bear, approximately the same size as the omnivorous Kodiak bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi) A boar (adult male) weighs around 350–700 kg (772–1,543 lb), while a sow (adult female) is about half that size. Although it is the sister species of the brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrower ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for moving across snow, ice and open water, and for hunting seals, which make up most of its diet. Although most polar bears are born on land, they spend most of their time on the sea ice. Their scientific name means “maritime bear” and derives from this fact. Polar bears hunt their preferred food of seals from the edge of sea ice, often living off fat reserves when no sea ice is present. Because of their dependence on the sea ice, polar bears are classified as marine mammals.

Climate change has effected the Polar bear greatly with a rise in temperature melting the ice on which the Polar Bear depends for hunting. Consequently this has resulted in habitat loss and the polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with at least three of the nineteen polar bear subpopulations currently in decline. However, at least two of the nineteen subpopulations are currently increasing, while another six are considered stable. For decades, large-scale hunting raised international concern for the future of the species, but populations rebounded after controls and quotas began to take effect. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of circumpolar peoples, and polar bears remain important in their cultures. Historically, the polar bear has also been known as the white bear.

Another aim of International Polar Bear day is to encourage people to find ways to reduce their carbon output, such as by turning down their thermostat or driving less. The day has also been used to encourage the installation of energy efficient insulation in houses. Many zoos also use the day to educate about polar bear conservation and to encourage visitation to polar bear exhibits. It has also had some political impact. Jack Shapiro, the deputy climate campaign manager under American president Barack Obama, used the day to argue for the need for Congressional action on the issue of climate change. The University of Saskatchewan announced in 2014 that it would be turning its thermostats up two degrees in the summer and down two degrees Celsius in the winter to honor International Polar Bear Day. The decision is expected to reduce the university’s carbon emissions by two-thousand tons and save the university over two-hundred thousand dollars per year.

Posted in Events, Health

Anosmia Awareness Day

Anosmia refers to the loss of sense of smell and Anosmia Awareness Day takes place each year on February 27 to spread awareness about Anosmia. Proponents of this event suggest that since there are relatively fewer visible and practical difficulties associated with olfactory disorders than with visual or auditory impairments, the nature of olfactory dysfunction and its consequences for an individual’s safety and quality of life are not widely understood. Anosmia Awareness Day aims to expose this situation, push for the development of successful treatments, and inform the general public about the serious impact that anosmia can have on a person’s life. Anosmia sufferers have been shown to be susceptible to dangerous situations such as gas leaks, fires, hazardous chemical vapors, and ingesting spoiled food. Additionally, people with smell loss can also experience difficulty with eating due to the close relationship between smell and taste. Studies also indicate that some individuals develop depression in response to feelings of social isolation, fears regarding safety and personal odor management, and a diminished connection to pleasure, emotion, and memory.

Anosmia Awareness Day was first launched by Daniel Schein, an American man with olfactory dysfunction, on February 27, 2012. The event page that he created on Facebook established the date and the practice of wearing red to show support for the cause. Subsequently, smell and taste centers (like The Monell Center in Philadelphia, PA) and charities (like Fifth Sense in the United Kingdom) have thrown their support behind the event, linking it to research and educational initiatives aimed at patients, doctors, and the general public. Fifth Sense, a UK-based charity that provides support and information to people with smell and taste disorders, has connected Anosmia Awareness Day to its international online awareness and fundraising campaign called #LongLostSmell.

Posted in books, films & DVD, Science fiction, Television

Leonard Nimoy

Best known for his role as Spock in the original Star Trek series (1966–69), and for his roles in multiple film, television series, Prolific actor, film Director, Poet, Singer and Photographer Leonard Nimoy sadly passed away February 27, 2015. Born March 26, 1931, in Boston, Massachusetts, Nimoy began acting at the age of eight in children’s and neighborhood theater. His parents wanted him to attend college and pursue a stable career, or even learn to play the accordion—with which, his father advised, Nimoy could always make a living—but his grandfather encouraged him to become an actor.His first major role was at 17, as Ralphie in an amateur production of Clifford Odets’ Awake and Sing! Nimoy took drama classes at Boston College in 1953 but failed to complete his studies, and in the 1970s studied photography at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Nimoy’s film and television acting career began in 1951. After receiving the title role in the 1952 film Kid Monk Baroni, a story about a street punk turned professional boxer, he played more than 50 small parts in B movies, television series such as Perry Mason and Dragnet and portrayed the semi-alien, Narab, one of three Martian invaders in the 1952 movie series Zombies of the Stratosphere. from 1953, until 1955 he served as a sergeant in the United States Army alongside fellow actor Ken Berry and architect Frank Gehry.

He played an Army sergeant in the 1954 science fiction thriller Them! and a professor in the 1958 science fiction movie The Brain Eaters, and had a role in The Balcony (1963), a film adaptation of the Jean Genet play. With Vic Morrow, he produced a 1966 version of Deathwatch, an English-language film version of Genet’s play Haute Surveillance, adapted and directed by Morrow and starring Nimoy.

On television, Nimoy appeared as “Sonarman” in two episodes of the 1957–1958 military drama The Silent Service, based on actual events of the submarine section of the United States Navy. He had guest roles in the Sea Hunt series from 1958 to 1960 and a minor role in the 1961 The Twilight Zone episode “A Quality of Mercy”. In 1959, Nimoy was cast as Luke Reid in the “Night of Decision” episode of the western series Colt .45. Nimoy also appeared in TheWagon Train, portraying Bernabe Zamora in “The Estaban Zamora Story” (1959), “Cherokee Ned” in “The Maggie Hamilton Story” (1960), Joaquin Delgado in “The Tiburcio Mendez Story” (1961), and Emeterio Vasquez in “The Baylor Crowfoot Story” (1962).

Nimoy also appeared in Bonanza (1960), The Rebel (1960), Two Faces West (1961), Rawhide (1961), The Untouchables (1962), The Eleventh Hour (1962), Perry Mason (1963; playing murderer Pete Chennery in “The Case of the Shoplifter’s Shoe”, episode 13 of season 6), Combat! (1963, 1965), Daniel Boone, The Outer Limits (1964), The Virginian (1963–1965; first working with Star Trek co-star DeForest Kelley in “Man of Violence”, episode 14 of season 2, in 1963), Get Smart (1966) and Mission: Impossible (1969–1971). He appeared again in the 1995 Outer Limits series. He appeared in Gunsmoke in 1962 as Arnie and in 1966 as John Walking Fox.

In 1965, he made his first appearance in the rejected Star Trek pilot, The Cage alongside Star Trek co-star William Shatner with whom he had previously worked on an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., “The Project Strigas Affair” (1964). Portraying characters from opposite sides of the Iron Curtain. From 1966 to 1969 Nimoy appeared in Star Trek portraying the half-Vulcan, half-human character Spock which propelled Nimoy to stardom spawning eight feature films and numerous spin offs. The original series is also repeated. The character has garnered Nimoy three Emmy Award nominations; TV Guide named Spock one of the 50 greatest TV characters.

Following Star Trek in 1969, Nimoy immediately joined the cast of the spy series Mission: Impossible, which was seeking a replacement for Martin Landau. Nimoy was cast in the role of Paris, an IMF agent who was an ex-magician and make-up expert “The Great Paris”. He played the role during seasons four and five (1969–71). Nimoy had strongly been considered as part of the initial cast for the show but remained in the Spock role of Star Trek. He co-starred with Yul Brynner and Richard Crenna in the Western movie Catlow (1971). He also had roles in two episodes of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery (1972 and 1973) and Columbo (1973) where he played a murderous doctor who was one of the few criminals with whom Columbo became angry. Nimoy appeared in various made for television films such as Assault on the Wayne (1970), Baffled! (1972), The Alpha Caper (1973), The Missing Are Deadly (1974), Seizure: The Story Of Kathy Morris (1980), and Marco Polo (1982). He received an Emmy Award nomination for best supporting actor for the television film A Woman Called Golda (1982), for playing the role of Morris Meyerson, Golda Meir’s husband opposite Ingrid Bergman as Golda in her final role.

He went on to reprise the Spock character in Star Trek: The Animated Series and two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. When a new Star Trek series was planned in the late 1970s, Nimoy was to be in only two out of eleven episodes, but when the show was elevated to a feature film, he agreed to reprise his role. The first six Star Trek movies feature the original Star Trek cast including Nimoy, who also directed two of the films.

PART TWO

In the late 1970s, he appeared in the television series In Search of…, investigating paranormal or unexplained events or subjects and appeared as a psychiatrist Dr.David Kibner in Philip Kaufman’s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. he also voiced the character of Galvatron in the animated Transformers Movie in 1986 and was featured as the voice-over narrator for the CBS paranormal series Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories in 1991. He made his directorial debut in 1973, directing the “Death On A Barge” segment for an episode of Night Gallery and also directed the third and fourth Star Trek Installments (Search for Spock and Voyage Home) and Three Men and a Baby and His final directorial credit was in 1995 for the episode “Killshot”, the pilot from the TV series Deadly Games. In 1991, Nimoy produced and acted in a movie with Robert B. Radnitz for TNT about a pro bono publico lawsuit brought by public interest attorney William John Cox on behalf of Mel Mermelstein, an Auschwitz survivor, against a group of organizations engaged in Holocaust denial.

In 1994 he narrated the IMAX documentary film, Destiny in Space, showcasing film-footage of space from nine Space Shuttle missions over four years time. And also performed as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in The Pagemaster. In 1998, he had a leading role as Mustapha Mond in the made-for-television production of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and also created Alien Voices alongside John de Lancie, an audio-production venture that specializes in audio dramatizations, which include The Time Machine, A Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Lost World, The Invisible Man and The First Men in the Moon. He also appeared in several television specials for the Sci-Fi Channel and also narrated Episodes of the the Ancient Mysteries series “The Sacred Water of Lourdes” and “Secrets of the Romanovs”. n 1997, Nimoy played the prophet Samuel, alongside Nathaniel Parker, in The Bible Collection movie David and has also appeared in several popular television series—including Futurama and The Simpsons—as both himself and Spock.In 2000 He appeared in Our 20th Century, which covers world news, sports, entertainment, technology, and fashion using original archive news clips from 1930 to 1975 from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. In 2001, Nimoy voiced the role of the Atlantean King Kashekim Nedakh in the Disney animated feature Atlantis: The Lost Empire alongside Michael J. Fox.

Nimoy also won acclaim for a series of stage roles. He appeared in such plays as Vincent (1981), Fiddler on the Roof, The Man in the Glass Booth, Oliver!, 6 Rms Riv Vu, Full Circle, Camelot, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The King and I, Caligula, The Four Poster, Twelfth Night, Sherlock Holmes, Equus, and My Fair Lady and also appeared in a short lived Gore Vidal production. Nimoy appeared in the television series Next Wave and the documentary film The Once and Future Griffith Observatory, currently running in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and In 2007, he produced the play, Shakespeare’s Will by Canadian Playwright Vern Thiessen. Starring Jeanmarie Simpson as Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway. In May 2009, he made an appearance as the mysterious Dr. William Bell in the television program Fringe, exploring the existence of a parallel universe. In 2009 Nimoy appeared as a surprise guest on the skit “Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live. He also voiced the Zarn in the 2009 film version of Land of the Lost starring Will Ferrell and Anna Friel and has also narrated for “Selected Shorts”, an ongoing series of programs at Symphony Space in New York City which features actors and authors reading works of short fiction and has provided voiceovers for many computer games including Star Trek Online, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep as Master Xehanort, the series’ leading villain. In 2011 he provided the voice of Sentinel Prime in Transformers: Dark of the Moon and made a cameo appearance in the alternate version music video of Bruno Mars’ “The Lazy Song” he also appears on an episode of The Big Bang Theory called “The Transporter Malfunction” and also made a cameo appearance in the film Star Trek in Darkness.

PART THREE

Nimoy was also a keen photographer, his interest in photography began in childhood. he also owned a camera that he rebuilt at the age of 13 and studied photography at UCLA And His work has been exhibited at the R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. He has also published two autobiographies The first entitled I Am Not Spock (1975) and the second entitled, I Am Spock (1995), along with several volumes of Poetry some of which were published along with his Photographs Including “A Lifetime of Love: Poems on the Passages of Life” (2002). He also adapted and starred in the one-man play Vincent (1981), based on the play Van Gogh (1979) by Phillip Stephens. In 1995, Nimoy was involved in the production of Primortals, a comic book series published by Tekno Comix about first contact with aliens, which was inspired by Isaac Asimov

Nimoy also released five albums of musical vocal recordings including Mr. Spock’s Music from Outer Space, and Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy and sang cover versions of popular songs, such as “Proud Mary” and Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line”. Nimoy’s voice also appeared in sampled form on a song by the pop band Information Society entitled, “What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy)”. In 1997, he narrated the documentary A Life Apart: Hasidism in America, about the various sects of Hasidic Orthodox Jews and published The Shekhina Project, a photographic study exploring the feminine aspect of God’s presence, inspired by Kabbalah.

Nimoy revealed that he had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). On Twitter, he said: “I quit smoking 30 yrs ago. Not soon enough. I have COPD. Grandpa says, quit now!! LLAP (Live Long and Prosper). In February 19, 2015, Nimoy was rushed to UCLA Medical Center for severe chest pains after a call to 911. According to accounts, he had been in and out of hospitals for the “past several months.”Nimoy died on February 27, 2015 in his Bel Air home from final complications of COPD, according to his wife Susan. He was 83 years old, and is survived by His wife Susan and his two children and six grandchildren from his first marriage.

Posted in books, films & DVD, music, Television

Sir Spike Milligan KBE

The late, great Comedian, writer, musician, poet, playwright, soldier and actor Sir Terence Alan “Spike” Milligan KBE Sadly passed away 27 February 2002. He was born 16 April 1918 in India, and was of Irish and English parentage and Irish nationality. His early life was spent in India where he was born. The majority of his working life was spent in the United Kingdom. He disliked his first name and began to call himself “Spike” after hearing the band Spike Jones and his City Slickers.

Milligan was the co-creator, main writer and a principal cast member of the popular British radio comedy programme The Goon Show, performing a range of roles including the popular Eccles and Minnie Bannister characters. The Goon Show was originally produced and broadcast by the BBC Home Service from 1951 to 1960, with occasional repeats on the BBC Light Programme. The first series was entitled Crazy People; subsequent series had the title The Goon Show, a title inspired, according to Spike Milligan, by a Popeye character. The scripts mixed ludicrous plots with surreal humour, puns, catchphrases and an array of bizarre sound effects. Some of the later episodes feature electronic effects devised by the fledgling BBC Radiophonic Workshop, many of which were reused by other shows for decades. Many elements of the show satirised contemporary life in Britain, parodying aspects of show business, commerce, industry, art, politics, diplomacy, the police, the military, education, class structure, literature and film.

The show was released internationally through the BBC Transcription Services. It was heard regularly from the 1950s in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India and Canada, although these TS versions were frequently edited to avoid controversial subjects. NBC began broadcasting the programme on its radio network from the mid-1950s.The programme exercised a considerable influence on the development of British and American comedy and popular culture. It was cited as a major influence by The Beatles and the American comedy team The Firesign Theatre as well as Monty Python and many others.

Milligan also wrote and edited many satirical books, including Puckoon and his seven-volume autobiographical account of his time serving during the Second World War, beginning with Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall. He is also noted as a popular writer of comical verse; much of his poetry was written for children, including Silly Verse for Kids (1959). After success with the groundbreaking British radio programme, The Goon Show, Milligan translated this success to television with Q5, a surreal sketch show which is credited as a major influence on the members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Milligan also appears briefly in the Mony Python film “The Life of Brian”. Spike Milligan claimed a right to Irish citizenship (as a child of an Irish citizen) after the British government declared him stateless. Milligan sadly passed away 27 February 2002 but his work remains popular.

Posted in music

Neal Schon (Journey)

American guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Neal George Joseph Schon was born February 27, 1954. He is best known for his work with the bands Journey and Bad English. He is Journey’s only constant member, having participated in every album and tour to date. He was also a member of the rock band Santana before forming Journey. Schon was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame on August 23, 2013. Schon was born at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma Schon first picked up the guitar at “around the age of five.”A quick learner, he joined Santana as a teenager at 15. Schon has said he was asked by Eric Clapton to join Derek and the Dominos,but that he joined Santana instead, and performed on the album Santana III. Schon also played in Azteca before moving on in 1973 to form Journey, a group he continues to lead as of late 2013. Schon’s guitar style has been described as soulful, taking inspiration from 1960s-era soul singers such as Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight, and blending it with blues runs similar to B. B. King. He was influenced by guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and Wes Montgomery.

 

In addition to his five solo albums and 14 studio albums with Journey, his work also includes: a pair of albums with keyboardist Jan Hammer, short-term collaborations withSammy Hagar (HSAS and Planet Us) and Paul Rodgers, stints with Bad English (a supergroup that featured Journey’s Jonathan Cain and Deen Castronovo and Jonathan Cain’s former Babys bandmates John Waite and Ricky Phillips) and Hardline (which also featured Deen Castronovo). Even as Journey’s latest lineup plays to a still-faithful body of fans, Schon has immersed himself in side projects such as Piranha Blues (1999) and “Black Soup Cracker” a funk outfit that features former Prince associates Rosie Gaines and Michael Bland, and more recently Soul SirkUS with Jeff Scott Soto. Schon can also be heard on other albums including three tracks on Michael Bolton’s The Hunger, with the Schon sound most recognizable on “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”. He also joined Larry Graham to play in an all-star band for cult funk artist and ex-wife of Miles Davis,Betty Davis. In addition, Schon (along with then Journey manager Herbie Herbert) also contributed to Lenny White’s 1977 album “Big City”, specifically the instrumental jam “And we meet again”

Posted in music

Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden)

Adrian Smith, Guitarist with splendidly noisy English Heamy metal band Iron Maiden was born 27th February 1957. Iron Maiden hail from Leyton in east London and were formed in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter, Steve Harris. The band’s discography Includes thirty-eight albums, including sixteen studio albums, eleven live albums, four EPs, and seven compilations.

Pioneers of the new wave of British heavy metal, Iron Maiden achieved initial success during the early 1980s. After several line-up changes, the band went on to release a series of UK and US platinum and gold albums, including 1982’s The Number of the Beast, 1983’s Piece of Mind, 1984’s Powerslave, 1985’s live release Live After Death, 1986’s Somewhere in Time and 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.

Since the return of lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith in 1999, the band have undergone a resurgence in popularity, with their 2010 studio offering, The Final Frontier, peaking at No. 1 in 28 countries and receiving widespread critical acclaim. Their sixteenth studio album, The Book of Souls, was released on 4 September 2015. Despite little radio or television support, Iron Maiden are considered one of the most successful heavy metal bands in history, with The Observer reporting in 2015 that the band have sold over 90 million copies of their albums worldwide. As of October 2013, the band have played over 2000 live shows throughout their career. For the past 35 years, the band have been supported by their famous mascot, “Eddie”, who has appeared on almost all of their album and single covers, as well as in their live show. Iron Maiden have sold over 85 million records worldwide with little radio or television support. The band have also won the Ivor Novello Award for international achievement in 2002, and were also inducted into the Hollywood RockWalk in Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California during their United States tour in 2005. As of August 2011, the band have played almost 2000 live shows throughout their career.

Posted in music

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Johnny van Zant, the lead singer with Lynyrd Skynyrd was born 27th February 1959. Best known for popularizing the Southern hard rock genre during the 1970s Lynyrd Skynyrd were Originally formed In the summer of 1964, when teenage friends Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, and Gary Rossington formed the band “The Noble Five” in Jacksonville, Florida. The band changed in 1965 to “My Backyard”, when Larry Junstrom and Bob Burns joined. In 1968, the group won a local Battle of the Bands contest and the opening slot on several Southeast shows for the California-based psychedelic rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock. the group eventually settled on the name “Leonard Skinner”, a mocking tribute to a physical-education teacher at Robert E. Lee High School, Leonard Skinner, who was notorious for strictly enforcing the school’s policy against boys having long hair.

During the 1970′s the band experienced many line-up changes and in 1972 the band was discovered at one of their shows at a club in Atlanta, GA. They soon changed the spelling of their name to “Lynyrd Skynyrd”and their fan base continued to grow rapidly throughout 1973, largely due to their opening slot on The Who’s Quadrophenia tour in the United States. Their 1974 follow-up, Second Helping, was the band’s breakthrough hit, and featured their most popular single, “Sweet Home Alabama” helping them rise to worldwide recognition. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s third album, Nuthin’ Fancy, was released in 1975 and the fourth album Gimme Back My Bullets was released in January 1976, but did not achieve the same success as the previous two albums. Steve Gaines joined the band in June 1976 and the newly-reconstituted band recorded the double-live album One More From the Road at the Fox Theatre (Atlanta, Georgia) in Atlanta, and performed at the Knebworth festival, which also featured The Rolling Stones. The next album 1977′s Street Survivors turned out to be a showcase for guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines and included the iconic rock anthem “Free Bird”.

Sadly though, On October 20, 1977, just three days after the release of Street Survivors, and at the peak of their success, three members (Including Gaines and Zant) all died in an airplane crash, Following the crash and the ensuing press, Street Survivors became the band’s second platinum album and reached No. 5 on the U.S. album chart. The single “What’s Your Name” reached No. 13 on the single airplay charts in January 1978. Surviving members re-formed in 1987 for a reunion tour with lead singer Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother Johnny as frontman. A version of the band continues to tour and record, with only Gary Rossington of its original members remaining as of 2012. Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 13, 2006

Posted in books, films & DVD, Television

John Steinbeck

American author John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was Born February 27, 1902 in Salinas California, He is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and East of Eden (1952) and the novella Of Mice and Men (1937). As the author of twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and five collections of short stories, Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

The Grapes of Wrath was published in 1939 and won the annual National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize and was cited prominently when he won the Nobel Prize in 1962. Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in financial and agricultural industries. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, and in part because they were trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other “Okies”, they sought jobs, land, dignity, and a future.The Grapes of Wrath is frequently read in American high school and college literature classes due to its historical context and enduring legacy. A celebrated Hollywood film version, starring Henry Fonda and directed by John Ford, was made in 1940.

East of Eden is Often described as Steinbeck’s most ambitious novel East of Eden is set primarily between the beginning of the 20th century and the end of World War I, It is the story of warmhearted inventor and farmer Samuel Hamilton his wife Liza, and their nine children who live on a rough, infertile piece of land in the Salinas Valley, California,. As the Hamilton children begin to grow up and leave the nest, a wealthy stranger, Adam Trask, purchases the best ranch in the Valley, Adam joined the military and then wandered the country until He was caught for vagrancy, escaped from a chain gang and burgled a store for clothing to use as a disguise. Then he learns that his father has died and left him an inheritance of $50,000.

A parallel story introduces a girl named Cathy Ames, who grows up in a town not far from the brothers’ family farm who is cold, cruel, and utterly incapable of feeling for anyone but herself. She leaves home after killing both of her parents. Finally, she is viciously beaten by a pimp and is left close to death on the brothers’ doorstep. Although Charles Hamilton is repulsed by her, Adam, unaware of her past, falls in love with and marries her and goes to California where he settles with the pregnant Cathy in the Salinas Valley, near the Hamilton family ranch. Cathy does not want to be a mother or to stay in California, but Adam is so ecstatically happy with his new life that he does not realize there is any problem. Shortly after Cathy gives birth to twin boys, she shoots Adam in the shoulder and flees. Adam recovers, but remains in a deep and terrible depression until he becomes good friends with Cantonese Cook Lee and Samuel Hamilton and learns the story of Cain & Abel and the Hebrew word “Timshel” which means “thou mayest” suggesting that mankind is neither compelled to pursue sainthood nor doomed to sin, but rather has the power to choose.

Meanwhile, Cathy has become a prostitute and embarks on a devious plan to ingratiate herself with the owner, murder her and inherit the business. She makes her new brothel infamous and is not concerned that Adam might look for her, and has no feelings her children Caleb and Aron – echoing Cain and Abel – who grow up oblivious of their mother’s situation. Aron then meets a girl named Abra and the two fall in love. Soon after Samuel Hamilton passes away but Adam is inspired by the memory of his inventiveness. As the boys reach the end of their school days, Caleb decides to pursue a career in farming and Aron goes to college to become an Episcopalian priest. Soon Caleb discovers that his mother is alive and the head of a brothel. Caleb then goes into business with Will Hamilton, as an automobile dealer and also makes a fortune selling beans grown in the Salinas Valley. A successful Aron returns from Stanford for the holiday. intending to drop out of college and Caleb takes Aron to see their mother, who Wracked with self-hatred, signs her estate over to Aron, who then enlists in the army to fight in World War I, but is killed in battle and Adam is overcome with grief. A now bedridden Adam is asked to forgive his only remaining son, responds by giving Caleb his blessing in the form of the word Timshel.

Of Mice and Men tells the tragic story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression in California, USA.Based on Steinbeck’s own experiences as a bindlestiff in the 1920s (before the arrival of the Okies he would vividly describe in The Grapes of Wrath), the title is taken from Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse”, which read: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley.” (The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry.). John Steinbeck sadly passed away on December 20th, 1968. however his novels are regarded as classics by many, and are Required reading in many schools and Mice and Men, East of Eden and Grapes of Wrath have also been adapted for stage, film amd television. Due to some of the language used Of Mice and Men has also been a frequent target of censors for vulgarity and for using what some consider offensive and racist language; consequently, it appears on the American Library Association’s list of the Most Challenged Books of 21st Century.

Posted in books, films & DVD, Television

Victor Hugo

French poet, novelist, and dramatist Victor Marie Hugo was born 26 February 1802 in Besançon, France. Hugo’s childhood was a period of national political turmoil. Napoléon was proclaimed Emperor two years after Hugo’s birth, and the Bourbon Monarchy was restored before his eighteenth birthday. The opposing political and religious views of Hugo’s parents reflected the forces that would battle for supremacy in France throughout his life. Since Hugo’s father was an officer in the army, the family moved frequently and Hugo learned much from these travels. On a childhood family trip to Naples, Hugo saw the vast Alpine passes and the snowy peaks, the magnificently blue Mediterranean, and Rome during its festivities.ugo published his first novel the year following his marriage (Han d’Islande, 1823), and his second three years later (Bug-Jargal, 1826). Between 1829 and 1840 he would publish five more volumes of poetry (Les Orientales, 1829; Les Feuilles d’automne, 1831; Les Chants du crépuscule, 1835; Les Voix intérieures, 1837; and Les Rayons et les ombres, 1840), cementing his reputation as one of the greatest elegiac and lyric poets of his time.Like many young writers of his generation, Hugo was profoundly influenced by François-René de Chateaubriand, the famous figure in the literary movement of Romanticism and France’s preeminent literary figure during the early 19th century.

In his youth, Hugo resolved to be “Chateaubriand or nothing,” and his life would come to parallel that of his predecessor in many ways. Like Chateaubriand, Hugo would further the cause of Romanticism, become involved in politics as a champion of Republicanism, and be forced into exile due to his political stances. The precocious passion and eloquence of Hugo’s early work brought success and fame at an early age. His first collection of poetry (Odes et poésies diverses) was published in 1822, when Hugo was only twenty years old, and earned him a royal pension from Louis XVIII. Though the poems were admired for their spontaneous fervor and fluency, it was the collection that followed four years later in 1826 (Odes et Ballades) that revealed Hugo to be a great poet, a natural master of lyric and creative song.

Victor Hugo’s first popular work of fiction appeared in 1829, and reflected the acute social conscience that would infuse his later work. Le Dernier jour d’un condamné (The Last Day of a Condemned Man) would have a profound influence on later writers such as Albert Camus, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Claude Gueux, a documentary short story about a real-life murderer who had been executed in France, appeared in 1834, and was later considered by Hugo himself to be a precursor to his great work on social injustice, Les Misérables. Hugo’s first full-length novel would be the enormously successful Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame), which was published in 1831 and quickly translated into other languages across Europe. One of the effects of the novel was to shame the City of Paris into restoring the much-neglected Cathedral of Notre Dame, which was attracting thousands of tourists who had read the popular novel. The book also inspired a renewed appreciation for pre-Renaissance buildings, which thereafter began to be actively preserved. Hugo also began planning a major novel about social misery and injustice as early as the 1830s, but it would take a full 17 years for Les Misérables to be realized and finally published in 1862.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame begins on Epiphany (6 January), 1482, the day of the Feast of Fools in Paris, France. Quasimodo, a deformed hunchback who is the bell-ringer of Notre Dame, is introduced by his crowning as the Pope of Fools.Esmeralda, a beautiful Gypsy with a kind and generous heart, captures the hearts of many men, including those of Captain Phoebus and Pierre Gringoire, a poor street poet, but especially those of Quasimodo and his adoptive father, Claude Frollo, the Archdeacon of Notre Dame. Frollo is torn between his obsessive love and the rules of the church. He orders Quasimodo to kidnap her, but the hunchback is suddenly captured by Phoebus and his guards who save Esmeralda. Quasimodo is sentenced to be flogged and turned on the pillory for one hour, followed by another hour’s public exposure. He calls for water. Esmeralda, seeing his thirst, offers him a drink. It saves him, and she captures his heart.Esmeralda is later charged with the attempted murder of Phoebus, whom Frollo actually attempted to kill in jealousy after seeing him about to have sex with Esmeralda, and is tortured and sentenced to death by hanging.

As she is being led to the gallows, Quasimodo swings down by the bell rope of Notre Dame and carries her off to the cathedral under the law of sanctuary. Frollo later informs Pierre Gringoire that the Court of Parliament has voted to remove Esmeralda’s right to sanctuary so she can no longer seek shelter in the church and will be taken from the church and killed. Clopin, a street performer, hears the news from Gringoire and rallies the Truands (criminals of Paris) to charge the cathedral and rescue Esmeralda.When Quasimodo sees the Truands, he assumes they are there to hurt Esmeralda, so he drives them off. Likewise, he thinks the King’s men want to rescue her, and tries to help them find her. She is rescued by Frollo and her phony husband Gringoire. But after yet another failed attempt to win her love, Frollo betrays Esmeralda by handing her to the troops and watches while she is being hanged.When Frollo laughs during Esmeralda’s hanging, Quasimodo pushes him from the heights of Notre Dame to his death.

Les Misérables remains Hugo’s most enduringly popular work. It is popular worldwide, and has been adapted for cinema, television and stage shows. The story begins in 1815 in Digne, as the peasant Jean Valjean, is released from Toulon prison by Inspector Javert after spending 19 years imprisoned for stealing bread. Myriel The Bishop of Digne is the only person to offer the convict food and shelter, and saves his life when he is caught stealing the bishop’s silver. Valjean Promises Bishop Myriel to start a new life elsewhere. Eight years later, Valjean has become a factory owner and mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. Fantine , one of his workers, is dismissed by the foreman because of her illigitimate daughter Cossette and is forced to become a prostitute. However During an argument with an abusive customer, Javert, now a police inspector in Montreuil, arrests Fantine, but Valjean takes her to a hospital and promises a dying Fantine he will care for Cosette. After a brief confrontation with Javert, Valjean flees and pays innkeeper Madame Thénardier and her dodgy husband to take Cosette in and raise her.sadly though they mistreat Cosette while indulging their own destitute daughter Éponine. Nine years later, Paris is in turmoil because Jean Maximilien Lamarque, the only man in the government who shows any sympathy for the poor, is nearing death. So a street urchin named Gavroche, incites the prostitutes and beggars to take action, while a student revolutionary and young firebrand named Marius Pontmercy and his friend Enjolras organize a group of idealistic students to protest against the Governments treatment of the poor. While organising the protest Marius becomes friends with the Thenardiers’ daughter,

Éponine, then he meets Cosette and they fall in love. Later The Thénardiers gang are prevented from robbing Valjean and Cosettes ‘s house by Javert, who does not recognise Valjean until after he escapes. Valjean refuses to tell Cosette about his past or Fantine and decides to flee Paris with Cosette. Later, Éponine laments that her love for Marius will never be reciprocated as he joins the other students who are preparing for the upcoming conflict; while Javert briefs his soldiers as he reveals his plans to spy on the students. With the June Rebellion underway, the students interrupt Lamarque’s funeral and begin their assault on the army. They build a barricade when Javert, disguised as one of the rebels, volunteers to “spy” on the government troops. When Javert lies that the government will attack the next morning, he is exposed as a spy. Éponine, mortally wounded, returns to the barricades and professes her love for Marius before her death. Valjean, searching for Marius in the barricades, saves Enjolras. Despite being allowed to execute Javert, Valjean tells the inspector that he is not in his debt. As the students reminisce for the night, Valjean prays to God to save Marius from the oncoming assault.Although most Parisians have abandoned the rebels, Enjolras resolves to fight on, however When Gavroche is killed, Enjolras and the students realize they could end up paying a heavy price if they resist and some escape into the sewers hotly pursued by Javert and his men

The shortest correspondence in history is said to have been between Hugo and his publisher Hurst and Blackett Following the publication of Les Misérables in 1862. Hugo was on vacation when. He queried the reaction to the work by sending a single-character telegram to his publisher, asking “?”. The publisher replied with a single “!” to indicate its success.After the success of Les Misérables Hugo turned away from social/political issues for his next novel, Les Travailleurs de la Mer (Toilers of the Sea), published in 1866, which depicts Man’s battle with the sea and the horrible creatures lurking beneath its depths and this spawned an unusual fad in Paris: Squids. From squid dishes and exhibitions, to squid hats and parties, Parisians became fascinated by these unusual sea creatures, which at the time were still considered by many to be mythical. Hugo returned to political and social issues in his next novel, L’Homme Qui Rit (The Man Who Laughs), which was published in 1869 and painted a critical picture of the aristocracy.

His last novel, Quatre-vingt-treize (Ninety-Three), published in 1874, dealt with a subject that Hugo had previously avoided: the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. Though Hugo’s popularity was on the decline at the time of its publication, many now consider Ninety-Three to be a work on par with Hugo’s better-known novels. Victor Hugo sadly passed away 22 May 1885 but To this day Hugo is still considered one of the most well-known French Romantic writers. In France, Hugo’s literary fame comes first from his poetry but also rests upon his novels and his dramatic achievements. Among many volumes of poetry, Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles stand particularly high in critical esteem. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and Notre-Dame de Paris, 1831 (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame).

Posted in Art

Pierre Auguste Renoir

 

French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born 25 February 1841. He became a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style. As a celebrator of beauty, and especially feminine sensuality, it has been said that “Renoir is the final representative of a tradition which runs directly from Rubens to Watteau.”Pierre-Auguste was the father of actor Pierre Renoir (1885–1952), filmmaker Jean Renoir (1894–1979) and ceramic artist Claude Renoir (1901–69). He was the grandfather of the filmmaker Claude Renoir (1913–1993), son of Pierre. born in Limoges, Haute-Vienne, France. As a boy, he worked in a porcelain factory where his drawing talents led to his being chosen to paint designs on fine china Before he enrolled in art school, he also painted hangings for overseas missionaries and decorations on fans and often visited the Louvre to study the French master painters.

In 1862, he began studying art under Charles Gleyre in Paris. There he met Alfred Sisley, Frédéric Bazille, and Claude Monet. At times, during the 1860s, he did not have enough money to buy paint. Although Renoir first started exhibiting paintings at the Paris Salon in 1864, recognition did not come for another ten years, due, in part, to the turmoil of the Franco-Prussian War. During the Paris Commune in 1871, while Renoir painted on the banks of the Seine River, some Communards thought he was a spy and were about to throw him into the river when a leader of the Commune, Raoul Rigault, recognized Renoir as the man who had protected him on an earlier occasion.In 1874, a ten-year friendship with Jules Le Cœur and his family ended, and Renoir lost not only the valuable support gained by the association, but also a generous welcome to stay on their property near Fontainebleau and its scenic forest. This loss of a favorite painting location resulted in a distinct change of subject. six of Renoir’s paintings were hung in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 and two of his works were also shown with Durand-Ruel in London. In 1881, he traveled to Algeria, a country he associated with Eugène Delacroix, then to Madrid, to see the work of Diego Velázquez. Following that, he traveled to Italy to see Titian’s masterpieces in Florence and the paintings of Raphael in Rome. On 15 January 1882 Renoir met the composer Richard Wagner at his home in Palermo, Sicily. Renoir painted Wagner’s portrait in just thirty-five minutes. Sadly Renoir contracted pneumonia which permanently damaged his respiratory system, And convalesced in Algeria. In 1883, Renoir spent the summer in Guernsey, creating fifteen paintings in little over a month. Most of these feature Moulin Huet, a bay in Saint Martin’s, Guernsey. These paintings were the subject of a set of commemorative postage stamps issued by the Bailiwick of Guernsey in 1983.

While living and working in Montmartre, Renoir employed Suzanne Valadon as a model, who eventually became a leading painter herself and In 1887, during Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, Renoir donated several paintings to the “French Impressionist Paintings” catalog as a token of his loyalty. In 1890, he married Aline Victorine Charigot, who, had already served as a model for Le Déjeuner des canotiers (Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881), and with whom he had already had a child, Pierre, in 1885. Renoir painted many scenes of his wife and daily family life including their children and their nurse, Aline’s cousin Gabrielle Renard. The Renoirs had three sons, Jean Renoir became a filmmaker and Pierre Renoir, became a stage and film actor.

Around 1892, Renoir developed rheumatoid arthritis. So In 1907, he moved to the warmer climate of “Les Collettes,” a farm at Cagnes-sur-Mer, close to the Mediterranean coast. Renoir painted during the last twenty years of his life even when he was wheelchair-bound and arthritis severely limited his movement. He developed progressive deformities in his hands and ankylosis of his right shoulder, requiring him to change his painting technique. Renoir remained able to grasp a brush, although he required an assistant to place it in his hand.The wrapping of his hands with bandages, apparent in late photographs of the artist, served to prevent skin irritation. During this period, he created sculptures by cooperating with a young artist, Richard Guino, who worked the clay. Due to his limited joint mobility, Renoir also used a moving canvas, or picture roll, to facilitate painting large works. Renoir’s portrait of Austrian actress Tilla Durieux (1914) contains playful flecks of vibrant color on her shawl that offset the classical pose of the actress and highlight Renoir’s skill just 5 years before his death.In 1919, Renoir visited the Louvre to see his paintings hanging with those of the old masters. He died in the village of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, on 3 December 1919.