Richard Baxter

English Puritan church leader, poet, hymnodist, and theologian, Richard Baxter sadly died 8 December 1691. He was born born12 November 1615 in Rowton, Shropshire, and baptised at High Ercall. In February 1626 he went to his parents’ home (now called Baxter’s House) in Eaton Constantine. Richard’s early education was poor, being mainly in the hands of the local clergy, themselves virtually illiterate. He was helped by John Owen, master of the free school at Wroxeter, where he studied from about 1629 to 1632, and made fair progress in Latin. On Owen’s advice he went to Ludlow Castle to read with Richard Wickstead, chaplain to the Council of Wales and the Marches. He was reluctantly persuaded to go to court, and he went to London under the patronage of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels, but soon returned home, resolved to study divinity.

After three months spent working for Owen as a teacher at Wroxeter, Baxter read theology with Francis Garbet, the local clergyman, adding to his reading (initially in devotional writings, of Richard Sibbes, William Perkins and Ezekiel Culverwell, as well as the Calvinist Edmund Bunny at age 14, and then in the scholastic philosophers) orthodox Church of England theology in Richard Hooker and George Downham, and arguments from conforming puritans in John Sprint and John Burges. Around 1634, he met Joseph Symonds (assistant to Thomas Gataker) and Walter Cradock, two Nonconformists.

In 1638, Baxter became master of the free grammar school at Dudley, having been ordained and licensed by John Thornborough, Bishop of Worcester. His success as a preacher was at first small; but he was soon transferred to Bridgnorth, in Shropshire, assisting Mr Madstard and remained at Bridgnorth for nearly two years, during which time he took a special interest in the controversy relating to Nonconformity and the Church of England. He disagreed with the Church on several matters; and rejected episcopacy in its English form becoming a moderate Nonconformist. Though regarded as a Presbyterian, he was not exclusively tied to Presbyterianism, and often seemed prepared to accept a modified Episcopalianism. He regarded all forms of church government as subservient to the true purposes of religion.

One of the first measures of the Long Parliament was to reform the clergy; with this view, a committee was appointed to receive complaints against them. Among the complainants were the inhabitants of Kidderminster. The vicar George Dance agreed that he would give £60 a year, out of his income of £200, to a preacher who should be chosen by certain trustees. Baxter was invited to deliver a sermon before the people, and in 1641 was unanimously elected as the minister of St Mary and All Saints’ Church, Kidderminster, Where he stayed for 19 years; accomplishing many reforms in Kidderminster and the neighbourhood. He formed the ministers in the country around him into an association, uniting them irrespective of their differences as Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Independents.

On the outbreak of the First English Civil War in 1642, Baxter blamed both parties and recommended the Protestation; however Kidderminster is in Worcestershire which was a Royalist stronghold, however Baxter’s comments angered many in Kidderminster so He temporarily moved to Gloucester. On 23 October 1642, he was preaching at Alcester, during the Battle of Edgehill and was evicted again and moved to Coventry (a Parliamentary stronghold) and found himself with 30 fugitive ministers, among whom were Richard Vines, Anthony Burges, John Bryan and Obadiah Grew. He became chaplain to the garrison, preaching a sermon each to the soldiery, and the townspeople and strangers. Included among the congregants were Sir Richard Skeffington, Colonel Godfrey Bosvile, George Abbot the layman scholar. Following the Battle of Naseby he became chaplain to Colonel Edward Whalley’s regiment, until 1647, he also wrote the controversial novel Aphorisms of Justification.

Baxter joined the Parliamentary army to maintain a constitutional government rather than a republic. However He regretted rejecting Oliver Cromwell’s offer to become chaplain to the Ironsides. Cromwell avoided Baxter after he argued with Cromwell about liberty of conscience, and even defended the monarchy he had subverted. In 1647, Baxter was staying at the home of Lady Rouse, wife of Sir Thomas Rouse, 1st Baronet, of Rous Lench in Worcestershire. There, though debilitated by illness, he wrote the most of a major work, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest (1650). he was also an energetic campaigner for the establishment of a new University in Shrewsbury. After recovering he returned to Kidderminster, where he became a prominent political leader and his sensitive conscience led him into conflict with almost all the contending parties in state and church.

After the Restoration in 1660, Baxter, settled in London. He preached there until the Act of Uniformity 1662 took effect, and looked for such terms of comprehension as would have permitted the moderate dissenters with whom he acted to have remained in the Church of England. The goal of comprehension was obstructed by conforming churchmen and dissenters alike. The Savoy Conference resulted in Baxter’s Reformed Liturgy, and although it was rejected Baxter continued to advocate for a comprehensive “national church” until his death.

Baxter reputation grew in London, The power of his preaching was universally felt, and his capacity for business placed him at the head of his party. He had been made a king’s chaplain, and was offered the Position of Bishop of Hereford, but refused after which he was not allowed to be a curate in Kidderminster, and was prohibited from preaching in the Diocese of Worcester by Bishop George Morley. In 1662, Baxter married Margaret Charlton, sadly she died in 1681 whereupon Baxter composed the hymn Ye Holy Angels Bright. In 1687 He retired to Acton in Middlesex, where he was imprisoned for keeping a conventicle. After being freed He went to preach in London after the licences granted in 1672 were recalled by the King.

In 1680, he was taken from his house and books and goods were seized. In 1684, he was carried three times to the sessions house, being scarcely able to stand, and without any apparent cause was made to enter into a bond for £400 in security for his good behaviour. His worst encounter was with the Chief Justice, Sir George Jeffreys, in May 1685 when he was committed to the King’s Bench Prison on the charge of libelling the Church in his Paraphrase on the New Testament. Baxter was sentenced to pay 500 marks, and stay in prison till it was paid, and was bound to his good behaviour for seven years. Baxter was now approaching 70 years old, and remained in prison for 18 months, until the government, remitted the fine and released him.

Sadly Baxter’s health began to deteriorate however he wrote 168 or so separate works, including major treatises such as the Christian Directory, the Methodus Theologiae Christianae, the Catholic Theology and a Breviate of the Life of Mrs Margaret Baxter. He also published A slim devotional work in 1658 entitled Call to the Unconverted to Turn and Live which formed one of the core extra-biblical texts of evangelicalism until the 19th century. Richard Baxter sadly died in London and his funeral was attended by churchmen as well as dissenters

Tió de Nadal

The Tió de Nadal ( “Christmas Log”), also known simply as Tió (“Trunk” or “Log”, a big piece of cut wood) or Tronca (“Log”), is a character in Catalan mythology relating to a Christmas tradition widespread in Catalonia and some regions of Aragon. A similar tradition exists in other places, such as the Cachafuòc or Soc de Nadal in Occitania. In Aragon it is also called Tizón de Nadal or TozA. Tió de Nadal  is a hollow log about thirty centimetres long. Recently, the Tió has come to stand up on two or four stick legs with a broad smiling face painted on its higher end, enhanced by a little red sock hat (a miniature of the traditional barretina) and often a three-dimensional nose. Those accessories have been added only in recent times, altering the more traditional and rough natural appearance of a dead piece of wood.

Beginning with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), one gives the tió a little bit to “eat” every night and usually covers him with a blanket so that he will not be cold. The story goes that in the days preceding Christmas, children must take good care of the log, keeping it warm and feeding it, so that it will defecate presents on Christmas Day. On Christmas Day or, in some households, on Christmas Eve, one puts the tió partly into the fireplace and orders it to defecate. The fire part of this tradition is no longer as widespread as it once was, since many modern homes do not have a fireplace. To make it defecate, one beats the tió with sticks, while singing various songs of Tió de Nadal.

The tradition says that before beating the tió all the kids have to leave the room and go to another place of the house to pray, asking for the tió to deliver a lot of presents. This makes the perfect excuse for the relatives to do the trick and put the presents under the blanket while the kids are praying. The tió does not drop larger objects, as those are considered to be brought by the Three Wise Men. It does leave candies, nuts and torrons. Depending on the region of Catalonia, it may also give out dried figs. What comes out of the Tió is a communal rather than individual gift, shared by everyone there.

National Brownie Day

National Brownie Day takes place annually on 8 December. Brownies were created in the United States at the end of the 19th century. A cross between a cookie and cake, they soon became very popular across the country. There aretwo types of food based brownie chocolate brownies and  blonde brownies. A blonde brownie is made with brown sugar and no chocolate and is often called a blondie. Chocolate Brownies were created after a group of ladies a requested A small cake-like dessert that could be eaten from a boxed lunch while they were attending a fair in the late 1800s. So A Chicago chef, working at the Palmer House Hotel, created the first brownie for the ladies. This featured an apricot glaze and walnuts. The Palmer House Hotel still serves their original recipe for brownies on their menu.

The earliest recipes for brownies comparable to those familiar to us today are found published in regional cookbooks and newspapers around the turn of the last century. The 1904 Laconia, NH Home Cookery, the 1904 Chicago, IL Service Club Cook Book, and an April 2, 1905, edition of The Boston Globe are three early examples. In 1906, Fannie Merritt Farmer published a recipe in an edition of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book. There are Three myths that have gained popularity over the years, regarding the creation of the brownie, that A chef accidentally added melted chocolate to biscuit dough. Acook forgot to add flour to the batter and A housewife did not have baking powder and improvised with this new treat.

More events and holidays occurring on December 8

  • Take It in the Ear Day
  • National Brownie Day
  • National Christmas Tree Day
  • Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day

Oliver Postgate

Influential and Prolific English Animator Oliver Postgate sadly died in Broadstairs on 8 December 2008, aged 83. He was born in Hendon, Middlesex, England, on 12 April 1925. He was the younger son of journalist and writer Raymond Postgate and Daisy Lansbury, making him the cousin of actress Angela Lansbury and grandson of Labour politician, and sometime leader, George Lansbury. His other grandfather was the Latin classicist John Percival Postgate. His brother was the microbiologist and writer John Postgate FRS. Postgate was educated at the private Woodstock School on Golders Green Road in Finchley in north-west London and Woodhouse Secondary School, formerly known from 1923 onwards as Woodhouse Grammar School, also in Finchley (and now renamed Woodhouse College), followed by Dartington Hall School, a progressive private boarding school in Devon.

In 1942 Postgate joined the Home Guard while studying at Kingston College of Art, but when he became liable for military service during the Second World War the following year, he declared himself a conscientious objector, as his father had done during the First World War. He was initially refused recognition; he accepted a medical examination as a first step to call up, and then reported for duty with the Army in Windsor, but refused to put on the uniform. He was court-martialled and sentenced to three months in Feltham Prison. This qualified him to return to the Appellate Tribunal, where he was granted exemption conditional upon working on the land or in social service, the unserved portion of his sentence being remitted. He worked on farms until the end of the war, when he went to occupied Germany, working for the Red Cross in social relief work.

On return to the UK, from 1948 he attended drama school, but drifted through a number of different jobs, never really finding his niche. In 1957 he was appointed a stage manager with Associated-Rediffusion, which then held the ITV franchise for London. Attached to the children’s programming section, he thought he could improve upon the low budget black and white television productions. Postgate wrote Alexander the Mouse, a story about a mouse born to be king. Using an Irish-produced magnetic system – on which animated characters were attached to a painted background, and then photographed through a 45-degree mirror – he persuaded Peter Firmin, who was then teaching at the Central School of Art, to create the background scenes.

After the success of Alexander the Mouse, Postgate agreed a deal to make the next series on film, for a budget of £175 per programme. Making a stop motion animation table in his bedroom, he wrote the Chinese story The Journey of Master Ho. This was intended for deaf children, a distinct advantage in that the production required no soundtrack which reduced the production costs. He engaged an honorary Chinese painter to produce the backgrounds, but as the painter was classical Chinese-trained he produced them in three-quarters view, rather than in the conventional Egyptian full-view manner used for flat animation under a camera which made the characters look short in one leg, but the success of the production provided the foundation for Postgate with Firmin to start up his own company solely producing animated children’s programmes.

Postgate and Firmin Set up their business in a disused cowshed at Firmin’s home in Blean near Canterbury, Kent, producing children’s animation programmes. Firmin did the artwork and built the models, while Postgate wrote the scripts, did the stop motion filming and many of the voices. This enabled Smallfilms to produce two minutes of film per day, ten times as much as a conventional animation studio, with Postgate moving the cardboard pieces himself, and working his 16mm camera frame-by-frame with a home-made clicker. As Postgate wholly voiced many of the productions, including the WereBear story tapes, his distinctive voice became familiar to generations of children.

They started in 1959 with Ivor the Engine, a series for ITV about a Welsh steam locomotive who wanted to sing in a choir, based on Postgate’s wartime encounter with Welshman Denzyl Ellis, who used to be the fireman on the Royal Scot. (It was remade in colour for the BBC in 1976 and 1977.) This was followed by Noggin the Nog for the BBC, which established Smallfilms as a reliable source to produce children’s entertainment, when there were only two television channels in the UK. Postgate would go to the BBC once a year, show them the completed films and they would say: “Yes, lovely, now what are you going to do next?” We would tell them, and they would say: “That sounds fine, we’ll mark it in for eighteen months from now”. Postgate had strict views on story-line development, affecting each particular series development. The Clangers adventures were surreal but logical. Postgate disliked fantasy for its own sake and felt that Once things become unbelievable science fiction becomes science nonsense. Everything must be strictly logical aand abide by the laws of physics.

During the 1970s and ’80s Postgate was active in the anti-nuclear campaign, addressing meetings and writing several pamphlets including The Writing on the Sky. In 1986, in collaboration with the historian Naomi Linnell, Postgate painted a 50-foot-long (15 m) Illumination of the Life and Death of Thomas Becket for a book of the same name, which is now in the archive of the Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury. In 1990 he painted a similar work on Christopher Columbus for a book entitled The Triumphant Failure. A Canterbury Chronicle, a triptych by Postgate commissioned in 1990 hangs in the Great Hall of Eliot College on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus

Postgate also narrated the six-part BBC Radio 4 comedy series Elastic Planet in 1995. In his later years, he blogged for the New Statesman. in 2003 Postgate narrated Alchemists of Sound, a television documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. In 2007, he was guest on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. He was also a guest on The Russell Brand Show on 19 January 2008 where he discussed the making of Bagpuss and his subsequent work in TV and Film. In 1987 the University of Kent at Canterbury awarded an honorary degree to Postgate, who stated that the degree was really intended for Bagpuss, who was subsequently displayed in academic dress. His autobiography, Seeing Things, was published in 2000.

Postgate had a huge influence and effect on British culture, and was held in great affection for the role his work had played in many people’s lives. His work was widely discussed in the UK media and many tributes were paid to him and his work across the internet. Charlie Brooker dedicated a portion of his Screenwipe show to Oliver Postgate, and the way he influenced his own childhood.

Jim Morrison (The Doors)

Best known as the lead singer and lyricist of the rock band The Doors, TheAmerican musician, singer, and poet James Douglas “Jim” Morrison was Born December 8, 1943 Morrison studied Cinematography at UCLA before graduating in 1965 and forming The Doors with a fellow student Ray Manzarek. Thereafter, drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger joined. The musicians, apart from Morrison, also shared a common interest in the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s meditation practices.

Morrison began writing during his adolescence. At UCLA he studied the related fields of theater, film, and cinematography. He self-published two separate volumes of his poetry in 1969, entitled The Lords / Notes on Vision and The New Creatures. The Lords consists primarily of brief descriptions of places, people, events and Morrison’s thoughts on cinema., but The New Creatures verses are more poetic in tone. Jim Morrison’s vocal influences included Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, which is evident in his own baritone crooning style used in several of The Doors songs. It is mentioned that Morrison as a teenager was such a fan of Presley’s music that he demanded people be quiet when Elvis was on the radio. The Frank Sinatra influence is mentioned in the pages of “The Doors, The Illustrated History”, where Frank Sinatra is listed on Morrison’s Band Bio as being his favorite singer. Morrison was also well-known for often improvising spoken word poetry passages while the band played live.

The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore. The band got its name, at Morrison’s suggestion from the title of Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception,[5] which itself was a reference to a quote made by William Blake, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”The Doors achieved national recognition after signing with Elektra Records in 1967. The single “Light My Fire” spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July/August 1967.Later, The Doors appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a popular Sunday night variety series that had introduced The Beatles and Elvis Presley to the United States. Ed Sullivan requested two songs from The Doors for the show, “People Are Strange”, and “Light My Fire”. They were unique and among the most controversial and influential rock acts of the 1960s, mostly because of Morrison’s lyrics and charismatic but unpredictable stage persona. . The Doors released eight albums between 1967 and 1971. All but one hit the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 and went platinum or better. Their self-titled debut album (1967) was their first in a series of Top 10 albums in the United States, followed by Strange Days (also 1967), Waiting for the Sun (1968), The Soft Parade (1969), Morrison Hotel (1970), Absolutely Live (1970) and L.A. Woman (1971), with 20 Gold, 14 Platinum, 5 Multi-Platinum and 1 Diamond album awards in the United States alone. By the end of 1971, it was reported that the Doors had sold 4,190,457 albums domestically and 7,750,642 singles. The band had three million-selling singles in the U.S. with “Light My Fire”, “Hello, I Love You” and “Touch Me”.

Sadly though Morrison tragically died in Paris on July 3 1971 at the age of 27 after developing a severe alcohol and drug dependency although The exact cause of his death is sill disputed by many to this day and continues to be the subject of controversy, and although A Heroin overdose seems likely no autopsy was performed on his body after death. After Morrison’s death in 1971, the remaining members continued as a trio until disbanding in 1973 And releasd two albums Other Voices and Full Circle with Manzarek and Krieger sharing lead vocals. The three members also collaborated on the spoken word recording of Morrison’s An American Prayer in 1978 and on the “Orange County Suite” for a 1997 boxed set. Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore reunited in 2000 for an episode of VH1’s “Storytellers” and subsequently recorded Stoned Immaculate: The Music of The Doors with a variety of vocalists. In 2002, Manzarek and Krieger started playing together again, renaming themselves as the Doors of the 21st Century, with Ian Astbury of the Cult on vocals. Densmore opted to sit out and, along with the Morrison estate, sued the duo over proper use of the band’s name and won. After a short time as Riders On the Storm, they settled on the name Manzarek-Krieger and continued to tour until Manzarek’s death in 2013 at the age of 74.

Although the Doors’ active career ended in 1973, their popularity has persisted. According to the RIAA, they have sold 33 million certified units in the US and over 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. The Doors have been listed as one of the greatest artists of all time by many magazines, including Rolling Stone, which ranked them 41st on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” and Three of the band’s studio albums, the self-titled debut, L.A. Woman, and Strange Days, were featured in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, at positions 42, 362, and 407 respectively. According to The Washington Post’s Martin Weil, the band rose to the center of the counterculture of the 1960s. The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

Due to his wild personality and performances, Morrison is also regarded by some people as one of the most iconic, charismatic and pioneering frontmen and continues to remain, one of the most popular and influential singer-songwriters in rock history. The Doors’ catalog has also become a unequivocal staple of classic rock radio stations. To this day Morrison is widely regarded as the prototypical rock-star: surly, sexy, scandalous and mysterious. The leather pants he was fond of wearing both onstage and off have since become stereotyped as rock-star apparel. In 2011, a Rolling Stone readers’ pick placed Jim Morrison in fifth place of the magazine’s “Best Lead Singers of All Time”. Morrison was ranked number 47 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”, and number 22 on Classic Rock Magazine’s “50 Greatest Singers In Rock”

Diego Rivera

Controversial Mexican artist Diego Rivera was born on December 8, 1886 in Guanajuato, Mexico. He was a prominent Mexican painter who became an active communist, and His large frescoes helped establish the Mexican Mural Movement in Mexican art. He arrived in Europe in 1907, and studied in Madrid, Spain, and from there went to Paris to live and work in Montparnasse where cubism in paintings by such eminent painters as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque was becoming popular, & Rivera embraced this new school of art, later, inspired by Cézanne’s paintings, Rivera shifted toward Post-Impressionism with simple forms and large patches of vivid colors. His paintings began to attract attention, and he was able to display them at several exhibitions.In 1920, Rivera traveled through Italy studying its art, including Renaissance frescoes. He returned to Mexico in 1921 to become involved in the government sponsored Mexican mural program planned by Vasconcelos and painted his first significant mural Creation in the Bolívar Auditorium of the National Preparatory School in Mexico City.

In 1922, Rivera participated in the founding of the Revolutionary Union of Technical Workers, Painters and Sculptors, and also joined the Mexican Communist Party . His murals, subsequently painted in fresco only, dealt with Mexican society and reflected the country’s 1910 Revolution. Rivera developed his own native style based on large, simplified figures and bold colors with an Aztec influence clearly present in murals at the Secretariat of Public Education in Mexico City.In the autumn of 1927, Rivera arrived in Moscow, to take part in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution & painted a mural for the Red Army Club in Moscow, but in 1928 he was expelled and returned to Mexico where he was expelled from the Mexican Communist Party too. Between 1922 and 1953, Rivera painted murals in Mexico City, Chapingo, Cuernavaca, San Francisco, Detroit, and New York City. In 1931, a retrospective exhibition of his works was also held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Some of Rivera’s most famous murals are featured at the National School of Agriculture at Chapingo near Texcoco, in the Cortés Palace in Cuernavaca, and the National Palace in Mexico City. In 1930, Rivera accepted an invitation from architect Timothy L. Pflueger to paint for him in San Francisco. After arriving in November Rivera painted a mural for the City Club of the San Francisco Stock Exchange and a fresco for the California School of Fine Art, later relocated to what is now the Diego Rivera Gallery at the San Francisco Art Institute. In November 1931, Rivera also had a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Between 1932 and 1933, he completed a famous series of fresco panels entitled Detroit Industry on the walls of an inner court at the Detroit Institute of Arts. ”

Rivera”s radical political beliefs, attacks on the church and clergy made him a controversial figure even in communist circles. His mural Man at the Crossroads, for the Rockefeller Center in New York City, was removed after a furor erupted in the press over a portrait of Vladimir Lenin it contained. As a result of the negative publicity, a further commission to paint a mural for an exhibition at the Chicago World’s Fair was canceled. In December 1933, Rivera returned to Mexico, & repainted Man at the Crossroads in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. In 1940, Rivera returned for the last time to the US to paint a ten-panel mural for the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco & The mural and its archives reside at City College of San Francisco. As well as having some controversial political views Diego Rivera was also an atheist who considered religions to be a form of collective neurosis. and some of his work caused a big fuss particularly his mural Dreams of a Sunday in the Alameda depicted Ignacio Ramírez holding a sign which read, “God does not exist”. This painting was not shown for 9 years – until Rivera agreed to remove the inscription. He stated: “To affirm ‘God does not exist’, I do not have to hide behind Don Ignacio Ramírez .” Sadly Rivera eventually passed away on November 24 in 1957.

Georges Méliès

French film Pioneer and innovator Georges Méliès was born December 8th 1861. After completing his education, Méliès joined the family shoe business. Later he visited London And,after visiting the Egyptian Hall, run by the famous London illusionist John Nevil Maskelyne, he developed a lifelong passion for stage magic. Méliès returned to Paris in 1885 Where he studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts, also attending performances at the Théâtre Robert-Houdin, founded by the famous magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, he tookmagic lessons from Emile Voisin. In 1888 Georges Méliès purchased the Théâtre Robert-Houdin Which was equipped with lights, levers, trapdoors, and several automata, and Over the next nine years, Méliès created over 30 new illusions including the Recalcitrant Decapitated Man, bringing comedy and melodramatic pageantry to performances which all proved popular. Méliès also worked as a political cartoonist for the liberal newspaper La Griffe.

CONQUEST OF THE POLE http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CtrELhltAwo

Méliès began working more behind the scenes & acted as director, producer, writer, set and costume designer as well as inventing many of the magical tricks. He also brought many famous magicians to the theatre. As well as performing fairy pantomimes, an automaton performance during intermissions, magic lantern shows, and special effects such as snowfall and lightning. In 1895, Méliès was elected president of the Chambre Syndicale des Artistes Illusionistes and Between 1896 and 1913, Méliès directed 531 films. Which were similar to the magic theatre shows and contained tricks” and impossible events, such as objects disappearing or changing size, and by experimenting with multiple exposures he was also able to play seven different characters simultaneously in film. After seeing the Lumière brothers’ films he bought several films and an Animatograph film projector & By April 1896 the Théâtre Robert-Houdin was showing films. Méliès built a film camera using parts from automata and special effect equipment. And developed and printed the films himself. In 1896 he patented the Kinètographe Robert-Houdin, an iron-cast camera-projector, which Méliès referred to as his “coffee grinder” and “machine gun” and began shooting his first films in May 1896, and screening them at the Théâtre Robert-Houdin and founded the Star-Film Company. His earliest films included Playing Cards and A Terrible Night

Whereas The Lumière brothers intended their invention to be used for scientific and historical study dispatching camera operators across the world to document it as ethnographic documentarians,’ Méliès’s Star-Film Company, catered for the “fairground clientele” who were intersted in magic, Art and illusion and Méliès began to experiment with special effects in his filmmaking using them in The Vanishing Lady, where a person seemed to turn into a skeleton before disappearing and then reappearing later. Then In 1896, Méliès built a film studio on his property in Montreuil, just outside of Paris. which had glass walls and ceilings so as to allow in sunlight for film exposure, and also included a shed for dressing rooms and a hangar for set construction. In 1896 Méliès made 78 films and 53 in 1897 covering every genre, including documentaries, comedies, historical reconstructions, dramas, magic tricks and féeries (fairy stories).Méliès also made advertisements for whiskey, chocolate, and baby cereal. Although he only made 30 films in 1898 his films were becoming more ambitious and elaborate, including the historical reconstruction of the sinking of the USS Maine, Divers at Work on the Wreck of the “Maine”, the magic trick film The Famous Box Trick, the féerie The Astronomer’s Dream, the religious satire TheTemptation of Saint Anthony And A Dinner Under Difficulties.

He also experimented with superimposition In the films Cave of the Demons and The Four Troublesome heads, and the early horror film Cleopatra depicts her mummy being resurrected in modern times. Méliès also made The Dreyfus Affair, and Cinderella, which were popular in both Europe and The United States. At first US filmmakers such as Thomas Edison resented the competition from foreign companies & attempted to block Méliès from screening most films in the US prompting Méliès and other film makers to established a trade union Chambre Syndicale des Editeurs Cinématographiques as a way to defend themselves in foreign markets using Théâtre Robert-Houdin as the group’s headquarters. In 1900 Méliès made 33 films, including Joan of Arc, The One-Man Band and The Christmas Dream, and In 1901 Méliès made the Bus, The Brahmin and the Butterfly, Little Red Riding Hood and Bluebeard, both based on stories from Charles Perrault. In1902 Méliès made The Devil and the Statue, The Man with the Rubber Head and A Trip to the Moon, Which was loosely based on Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and H. G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon, in which Méliès himself stars as Professor Barbenfouillis, president of the Astronomer’s Club, who oversees an expedition to the Moon where they encounter a group of Moon Men.

Méliès also produced three other films The Coronation of Edward VII, using actual footage of the carriage procession in the film, Gulliver’s Travels, based on the novel by Jonathan Swift and Robinson Crusoe, based on the novel by Daniel Defoe. In 1903 Méliès made Fairyland: A Kingdom of Fairies, Ten Ladies in one Umbrella, The Melomaniac and Faust in Hell, based on the opera by Berlioz, and In 1904 he made a sequel, Faust and Marguerite. based on an opera by Charles Gounod, the Barber of Seville and The Impossible Voyage Which was about an expedition around the world, into the oceans and even to the sun. Méliès also create a special effects film for a theatre revue, entitled The Adventurous Automobile Trip. In 1905 Méliès contributed two short films to The Merry Deeds of Satan : The Space Trip and The Cyclone, and also made The Palace of Arabian Knights and the féerie Rip’s Dream for the 100th birthday of Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. in 1906, he made a film version of The Merry Deeds of Satan and The Witch. In 1907 Méliès made nineteen films, including a parody of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and a short version of Hamlet and in 1908 Méliès made one of his most ambitious films: Humanity Through the Ages, which retells the history of humans from Cain and Abel to the Hague Peace Conference of 1907.

Méliès made three films in 1909 and In 1910 his brother Gaston set up a studio called the Star Films Ranch in Texas, where he began to produce Westerns. By 1911 Gaston had renamed his branch of Star Films American Wildwest Productions & produced over 130 films between 1910 and 1912. Between 1910 and 1912, Georges Méliès produced 20 films including Whimsical Illusions and Spiritualist Phenomena.The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and The Haunted Window & In 1912, Méliès made Conquest of the Pole, inspired by Robert Peary’s expedition to the North Pole in 1909 and Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole in 1911. This included giant monsters and also has elements of Jules Verne’s The Adventures of Captain Hatteras he also made The Snow Knight and Le Voyage de la famille Bourrichon.

Unfortunately in the autumn of 1910, Méliès made a fateful deal with Charles Pathé that would eventually destroy his film career, whereby he accepted a large amount of money to produce films while Pathé Frères distributed and reserved the right to edit these films, and also held the deeds to both Méliès’s home and his Montreuil studio as part of the deal. Later he also started having financial trouble thanks to his brother Gaston’s poor financial decisions, and he lost $50,000 and was forced to sell the American branch of Star Films to Vitagraph Studios. As a result Méliès was unable to pay the money he owed Pathé thus breaking the contract and he was declared bankrupt and stopped making films. the Théâtre Robert-Houdin was shut down for a year and Méliès left Paris for several years. In 1917 the French army turned the main studio building at his Montreuil studio into a hospital for wounded soldiers. He and his family then turned the second studio set into a theatrical stage and performed over 24 variety show revues there until 1923 when it was torn down in order to rebuild the Bouvevard Haussmann. The French army also confiscated over 400 of the original prints of Star-Films’s catalog of films in order to melt them down and retrieve their celluloid and silver content. The final straw came In 1923, when Pathé took over Star-Films and the Montreuil studio. And In a rage, Méliès personally burned all of the negatives of his films that he had stored at the Montreuil studio, as well as most of the sets and costumes. As a result many of his films do not exist today. Nonetheless, just over 200 Méliès films have been preserved and are available on DVD. After being driven out of business, Méliès disappeared from public life. By the mid-1920s he was making a meager living as a candy and toy salesman at the Montparnasse station in Paris.

However in 1920s several journalists began to research Méliès and his life’s work, creating new interest in him. As his prestige began to grow in the film world, he was given more recognition and in December 1929 a gala retrospective of his work was held at the Salle Pleyel. Eventually Georges Méliès was awarded the Légion d’honneur (Legion of Honor) which was presented to him in 1931 by Louis Lumière. Lumière himself said that Méliès was the “creator of the cinematic spectacle. In 1932, the Cinema Society arranged a place for Méliès, his granddaughter Madeleine and Jeanne d’Alcy at La Maison du Retrait du Cinéma, the film industry’s retirement home in Orly, where Méliès worked with several younger directors on scripts for films including a new version of Baron Münchhausen with Hans Richter and a film called Le Fantôme du métro (Phantom of the Metro) In his later years.

He also acted in a few advertisements . In 1936 an abandoned building was rented on the property of the Orly retirement home to store the collection of film prints. They then entrusted the key to the building to Méliès and he became the first conservator of what would eventually become the Cinémathèque Française. Although he was never able to make another film after 1913 or stage another theatrical performance after 1923, he continued to draw, write and advise younger film and theatrical admirers until the end of his life. By late 1937 Méliès had become very ill and he was admitted to the Léopold Bellan Hospital in Paris. one of Méliès last drawings was of a champagne bottle with the cork popped and bubbling over. Méliès died of cancer on 21 January 1938 just hours after the passing of Émile Cohl, another great French film pioneer, and was buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

John Lennon (The Beatles)

English musician, singer and songwriter John Ono Lennon, MBE, was tragically shot and killed by Mark Chapman in New York on 9 December 1980. John Winston Lennon was born 9 October 1940 and raised in Liverpool. As a teenager, Lennon became involved in the skiffle craze; his first band, the Quarrymen, evolved into the Beatles in 1960 and went on to become the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed act in the history of popular music and have had more number-one albums on the British charts and sold more singles in the UK than any other act. The band’s best-known lineup consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Rooted in skiffle and 1950s rock and roll, the group later utilised several genres, ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical and other elements in innovative ways. In the early 1960s, their enormous popularity first emerged as “Beatlemania”, but as their songwriting grew in sophistication, they came to be perceived by many fans and cultural observers as an embodiment of the ideals shared by the era’s socio-cultural revolutions.

They built their reputation playing clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg over a three-year period from 1960. Manager Brian Epstein moulded them into a professional act and producer George Martin enhanced their musical potential. They gained popularity in the United Kingdom after their first single, “Love Me Do”, became a modest hit in late 1962. They acquired the nickname the “Fab Four” as Beatlemania grew in Britain over the following year, and by early 1964 they had become international stars, leading the “British Invasion” of the United States pop market. From 1965 on, they produced what many critics consider their finest material, including the innovative and widely influential albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), The Beatles (1968), and Abbey Road (1969).

After their break-up of the Beatles in 1970, Lennon embarked on a solo career that produced the critically acclaimed albums John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, and iconic songs such as “Give Peace a Chance” and “Imagine”. Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. He was also Controversial through his political and peace activism, he moved to New York City in 1971, where his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a lengthy attempt by Richard Nixon’s administration to deport him, while some of his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement.After his marriage to Yoko Ono in 1969, he changed his name to John Ono Lennon. Lennon disengaged himself from the music business in 1975 to devote time to raising his infant son Sean, (Who was also born October 9th thirty five years later in 1975) but re-emerged with Ono in 1980 with the new album Double Fantasy. Sadly though. Sadly though Lennon was tragically murdered three weeks after the release of Double Fantasy.

As of 2012 Lennon’s solo album sales in the United States exceed 14 million units, and as writer, co-writer or performer, he is responsible for 25 number-one singles on the US Hot 100 chart. In 2002 a BBC poll on the 100 Greatest Britons voted him eighth, and in 2008, Rolling Stone ranked him the fifth-greatest singer of all-time. He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. The Beatles topped Billboard magazine’s list of the all-time most successful Hot 100 artists In 2008, The Beatles also hold the record for most number-one hits on the Hot 100 chart with 20. They have received 7 Grammy Awards from the American National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score and 15 Ivor Novello Awards from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. They were collectively included in Time magazine’s compilation of the 20th century’s 100 most influential people.