Leo Tolstoy

Russian writer Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy tragically passed away 20 November [O.S. 7 November] 1910. He was Born 9 September [O.S. 28 August] 1828 at Yasnaya Polyana, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) southwest of Tula, Russia, and 200 kilometers (120 mi) south of Moscow. After his parents died during his childhood, Tolstoy and his siblings were brought up by relatives. In 1844, he began studying law and oriental languages at Kazan University. His time there was not a success however, with teachers describing him as “both unable and unwilling to learn.”Tolstoy left the university in the middle of his studies, returned to Yasnaya Polyana and then spent much of his time in Moscow, Tula and Saint Petersburg, leading a lax and leisurely lifestyle He began writing during this period, including his first novel Childhood, a fictitious account of his own youth, which was published in 1852. In 1851, after running up heavy gambling debts, he went with his older brother to the Caucasus and joined the army. Tolstoy served as a young artillery officer during the Crimean War and was in Sevastopol during the 11-month-long siege of Sevastopol in 1854–55, including the Battle of the Chernaya. During the war he was recognised for his bravery and courage and promoted to lieutenant. He was appalled by the number of deaths involved in warfare, and left the army after the end of the Crimean War.

His conversion from a dissolute and privileged society author to the non-violent and spiritual anarchist of his latter days was brought about by his experience in the army as well as two trips around Europe in 1857 and 1860–61. Others who followed the same path were Alexander Herzen, Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin. During his 1857 visit, Tolstoy witnessed a public execution in Paris, a traumatic experience that would mark the rest of his life. Writing in a letter to his friend Vasily Botkin: “The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens … Henceforth, I shall never serve any government anywhere.” Tolstoy’s concept of non-violence or Ahimsa was bolstered when he read a German version of the Tirukkural. He later instilled the concept in Mahatma Gandhi through his A Letter to a Hindu when young Gandhi corresponded with him seeking his advice.

His European trip in 1860–61 shaped both his political and literary development when he met Victor Hugo, whose literary talents Tolstoy praised after reading Hugo’s newly finished Les Misérables. The similar evocation of battle scenes in Hugo’s novel and Tolstoy’s War and Peace indicates this influence. Tolstoy’s political philosophy was also influenced by a March 1861 visit to French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, then living in exile under an assumed name in Brussels. Apart from reviewing Proudhon’s forthcoming publication, La Guerre et la Paix (War and Peace in French), whose title Tolstoy would borrow for his masterpiece, the two men discussed education, as Tolstoy wrote in his educational notebooks: “If I recount this conversation with Proudhon, it is to show that, in my personal experience, he was the only man who understood the significance of education and of the printing press in our time.”

In 1861 Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana and founded 13 schools for the children of Russia’s peasants, who had just been emancipated from serfdom. Tolstoy described the school’s principles in his 1862 essay “The School at Yasnaya Polyana”. Tolstoy’s educational experiments were short-lived, partly due to harassment by the Tsarist secret police. However, as a direct forerunner to A. S. Neill’s Summerhill School, the school at Yasnaya Polyana can justifiably be claimed the first example of a coherent theory of democratic education.

He primarily wrote novels and short stories. Tolstoy was a master of realistic fiction and is widely considered one of the world’s greatest novelists. He is best known for two long novels, War and Peace(1869) and Anna Karenina (1877). Tolstoy first achieved literary acclaim in his 20s for hisSevastopol Sketches (1855), based on his experiences in the Crimean War, followed by the publication of a semi-autobiographical trilogy of novels, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth(1855-1858). His fiction output also includes two additional novels, dozens of short stories, and several famous novellas, including The Death of Ivan Ilych, Family Happiness, andHadji Murad. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays.

Anna Karenina is the tragic story of a married aristocrat/socialite and her affair with the affluent Count Vronsky. The story starts when she arrives in the midst of a family broken up by her brother’s unbridled womanizing. Then a bachelor, Vronsky asks her to leave her husband Karenin, a senior government official and marry him instead, however she is vulnerable to the pressures of Russian social norms, the moral laws of the Russian Orthodox Church, her own insecurities, and Karenin’s indecision. Although Vronsky and Anna go to Italy, where they can be together, they have trouble making friends. Back in Russia, she is shunned, becoming further isolated and anxious, while Vronsky pursues his social life. Despite Vronsky’s reassurances, she grows increasingly possessive and paranoid about his imagined infidelity, fearing loss of control.

A parallel story within the novel is that of Konstantin Lëvin or Ljovin, a wealthy country landowner who wants to marry Princess Kitty, sister to Dolly and sister-in-law to Anna’s brother Oblonsky. Konstantin has to propose twice before Kitty accepts. The novel details Konstantin’s difficulties managing his estate, his eventual marriage, and his struggle to accept the Christian faith, until the birth of his first child. Anna Karenina is also an evaluation of the feudal system that existed in Russia at the time—politics, not only in the Russian government but also at the level of the individual characters and families, religion, morality, gender and social class.

Tolstoy is equally known for his complicated and paradoxical persona and for his extreme moralistic and ascetic views, which he adopted after a moral crisis and spiritual awakening in the 1870s, after which he also became noted as a moral thinker and social reformer.His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him in later life to become a fervent Christian anarchist and anarcho-pacifist. Tolstoy sadly passed away 29 November 1910 however His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr and his epic sweeping novels such as Anna Kerenina and War and Peace are still rightly regarded as classics and have also been adapted for film and television many times

The War of the Worlds

I am currently watching the BBC three part version of H.G.Wells The War of The Worlds which began 17 November. Based on H.G.Wells 1898 novel It takes place in 1905 (ten years after the original novel) and stars Rafe Spall as George, Eleanor Tomlinson as Amy and Robert Carlyle as Ogilvy

It begins when a group of Astronomers including Ogilvy from an Astronomical Observatory in Ottershaw and a journalist named George, notice a number of strange explosions on the planet Mars. Meanwhile everybody including George, his wife Amy and his Politician Brother, who works for the Admiralty in London, carry on with their everyday lives, blissfully unaware.

Then a few months later a mysterious Elongated meteorite lands in nearby Horsell Common. At first their is great excitement as George, Ogilvy and many otherAstronomers From the observatory in Ottershaw investigate the fallen asteroid on Horsell Common and speculate whether there may be Technologically superior and super-intelligent Martians inside. Upon further examination of the impact crater and the asteroid they discover that it is in fact artificial, hollow and made of metal and what’s more there is something moving about inside.

Excitement soon turns to terror when the asteroid suddenly begins unscrewing, And opens To reveal a mysterious sphere which systematically incinerates  all onlookers with a heat ray. Soon the Army are called in however they too find themselves powerless against the heat ray. Then a gigantic tripod rises up from inside the metal cylinder in the Crater and wreaks widespread destruction around Woking  using a heat ray and spreading noxious clouds of poisonous black smoke, killing thousands of people. Suddenly plunging people’s Lives into chaos So George tells Amy to flee The carnage and head for his Brothers house in London and safety. Then news is received concerning a second asteroid which has landed in Byfleet and has cut off the route to London….

Mickey Mouse Day

Mickey Mouse day takes place November 18 to commemorate the anniversary of the first appearance of Mickey Mouse in the short film Steamboat Willie, on 18 November 1928,. Mickey Mouse was originally conceived by Walt Disney as a replacement for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, an earlier cartoon character created by the Disney studio for Universal Film producer Charles Mintz. Unfortunately In 1928, Disney fell out with Mintz and decided to restart from scratch determined to hold onto the rights of his characters. The new Disney Studio initially consisted of animator Ub Iwerks, Les Clark and Wilfred Jackson

In 1928, Ub Iwerks started drawing up new character ideas. Iwerks tried sketches of various animals, such as dogs and cats, such as Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar and Flip the Frog series. Walt Disney then got the inspiration for Mickey Mouse from a tame mouse at his desk at Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City, Missouri. Ub Iwerks then created a new mouse character for Disney. “Mortimer Mouse” However his wife, Lillian, convinced him to change it to Mickey Mouse.

Mickey mouse made his debut in a test screening of the cartoon short Plane Crazy, on May 15, 1928, Walt went on to produce a second Mickey short, The Gallopin’ Gaucho. The next cartoon short Steamboat Willie was first released on November 18, 1928, in New York. It was co-directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Iwerks assisted by Johnny Cannon, Les Clark, Wilfred Jackson and Dick Lundy. It parodied Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr., As a result of being one of the first cartoons with sound, Mickey would soon become the most prominent animated character of the time

The cartoon was not the first cartoon to feature a soundtrack connected to the action. Fleischer Studios, headed by brothers Dave and Max Fleischer, had already released a number of sound cartoons using the DeForest system in the mid-1920s. However, these cartoons did not keep the sound synchronized throughout the film. For Steamboat Willie, Disney had the sound recorded with a click track that kept the musicians on the beat. This is apparent during the “Turkey in the Straw” sequence when Mickey’s actions exactly match the accompanying instruments. Walt Disney then added sound to both Plane Crazy and The Gallopin’ Gaucho (which had originally been silent releases) and their new release added to Mickey’s success and popularity. A fourth Mickey short, The Barn Dance, was also made.

Mickey also featured as a comic strip character. His self-titled newspaper strip, drawn primarily by Floyd Gottfredson, ran for 45 years. Mickey has also appeared in comic books such as Disney Italy’s Topolino, MM Mickey Mouse Mystery Magazine, and Wizards of Mickey, and in television series such as The Mickey Mouse Club (1955–1996) and others. He also appears in other media such as video games as well as merchandising and is a meetable character at the Disney parks.

Mickey generally appears alongside his girlfriend Minnie Mouse, his pet dog Pluto, his friends Donald Duck and Goofy, and his nemesis Pete, among others. In Mickey’s early films he was often characterized not as a hero, but as an ineffective young suitor to Minnie Mouse. The Barn Dance is the first time in which Mickey is turned down by Minnie in favor of Pete. Walt Disney himself voiced both Mickey and Minnie and remained Mickey’s voice through 1946 for theatrical cartoons. Jimmy MacDonald took over the role in 1946, but Walt provided Mickey’s voice again from 1955 to 1959 for The Mickey Mouse Club television series on ABC.

The Opry House was the first time in which Mickey wore his white gloves. Mickey wears them in almost all of his subsequent appearances and many other characters followed suit. The three lines on the back of Mickey’s gloves represent darts in the gloves’ fabric extending from between the digits of the hand, typical of glove design of the era. When the Cat’s Away essentially a remake of the Alice Comedy, “Alice Rattled by Rats”, was an unusual appearance for Mickey. Although Mickey and Minnie still maintained their anthropomorphic characteristics, they were depicted as the size of regular mice and living with a community many other mice as pests in a home. The next Mickey short The Barnyard Battle (April 25, 1929) depict Mickey as a soldier and also the first to place him in combat. The Karnival Kid (1929) was the first time Mickey spoke. Before this he had only whistled, laughed, and grunted. His first words were “Hot dogs! Hot dogs!”. The next animated short Mickey’s Follies (1929) introduced the song “Minnie’s Yoo-Hoo” which became the theme song for Mickey Mouse films for the next several years. Mickey’s dog Pluto also appeared as Mickey’s pet in The Moose Hunt (1931) after previously appearing as Minnie’s dog “Rover” in The Picnic (1930). The Cactus Kid (1930) was the last film to be animated by Ub Iwerks at Disney.

Ub Iwerks then left to start his own studio. The departure is considered a turning point in Mickey’s career, as well as that of Walt Disney. Walt lost the man who served as his closest colleague and confidant since 1919. Mickey lost the man responsible for his original design and for the direction or animation of several of the shorts. Disney and his remaining staff continued the production of the Mickey series, and he was able to eventually find a number of animators to replace Iwerks. Mickey’s popularity rose and by 1932 The Mickey Mouse Club would have one million members. At the 5th Academy Awards in 1932, Mickey received his first Academy Award nomination, received for Mickey’s Orphans (1931). Walt Disney also received an honorary Academy Award for the creation of Mickey Mouse. Despite being eclipsed by the Silly Symphonies short the Three Little Pigs in 1933, Mickey still maintained great popularity. Mickey Mouse next appeard In Orphan’s Benefit (1934) alongside Donald Duck who had been introduced earlier that year in the Silly Symphonies series. Mickey first appeared animated in color in Parade of the Award Nominees in 1932. Which was created for the 5th Academy Awards ceremony. Mickey’s official first color film came in 1935 with The Band Concert which features Mickey conducting the William Tell Overture, however the band is swept up by a tornado. In 1994, The Band Concert was voted the third-greatest cartoon of all time in a poll of animation professionals. In 1935, Walt also received a special award from the League of Nations for creating Mickey. Mickey, Donald Duck, and Goofy featured in some of Mickey’s most critically acclaimed films, including Mickey’s Fire Brigade (1935), Moose Hunters (1937), Clock Cleaners (1937), Lonesome Ghosts (1937), Boat Builders (1938), and Mickey’s Trailer (1938). Also during this era, Mickey starred in Brave Little Tailor (1938), an adaptation of The Valiant Little Tailor, which was nominated for an Academy Award.

Mickey was redesigned by animator Fred Moore, in The Pointer (1939). Mickey was given white eyes with pupils instead of black eyes, a Caucasian skin colored face, and a pear-shaped body. He changed once more in The Little Whirlwind, where he lost his tail, got more realistic ears that changed with perspective and a different body anatomy. But this change would only last for a short period of time before returning to the one in “The Pointer”, with the exception of his pants. In his final theatrical cartoons in the 1950s, he was given eyebrows, which were removed in the more recent cartoons.

In 1940 Mickey appeared in his first feature-length film, Fantasia. His screen role as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, set to the symphonic poem of the same name by Paul Dukas, is perhaps the most famous segment of the film and one of Mickey’s most iconic roles. The segment features no dialogue at all, only the music. The apprentice (Mickey), not willing to do his chores, puts on the sorcerer’s magic hat after the sorcerer goes to bed and casts a spell on a broom, which causes the broom to come to life and perform the most tiring chore—filling up a deep well using two buckets of water. When the well eventually overflows, Mickey finds himself unable to control the broom, leading to a near-flood. After the segment ends, Mickey is seen in silhouette shaking hands with Leopold Stokowski, who conducts all the music heard in Fantasia. Mickey has often been pictured in the red robe and blue sorcerer’s hat in merchandising. It was also featured into the climax of Fantasmic!, an attraction at the Disney theme parks.

After 1940, Mickey’s popularity would decline until his 1955 re-emergence as a daily children’s television personality.[36] Despite this, the character continued to appear regularly in animated shorts until 1943 (winning his only competitive Academy Award—with canine companion Pluto—for a short subject, Lend a Paw) and again from 1946 to 1953. The last regular installment of the Mickey Mouse film series came in 1953 with The Simple Things in which Mickey and Pluto go fishing and are pestered by a flock of seagulls.

In the 1950s, Mickey became more known for his appearances on television, particularly with The Mickey Mouse Club. Many of his theatrical cartoon shorts were rereleased on television series such as Ink & Paint Club, various forms of the Walt Disney anthology television series, and on home video. Mickey returned to theatrical animation in 1983 with Mickey’s Christmas Carol, an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in which Mickey played Bob Cratchit. This was followed up in 1990 with The Prince and the Pauper.

Throughout the decades, Mickey Mouse competed with Warner Bros.’ Bugs Bunny for animated popularity. But in 1988, the two rivals finally shared screen time in the Robert Zemeckis Disney/Amblin film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Disney and Warner signed an agreement stating that each character had the same amount of screen time in the scene.

Similar to his animated inclusion into a live-action film on Roger Rabbit, Mickey made a featured cameo appearance in the 1990 television special The Muppets at Walt Disney World where he met Kermit the Frog. The two are established in the story as having been old friends. The Muppets have otherwise spoofed and referenced Mickey over a dozen times since the 1970s. Eventually, The Muppets were purchased by the Walt Disney Company in 2004.

His most recent theatrical cartoon short was 2013’s Get a Horse! which was preceded by 1995’s Runaway Brain, while from 1999 to 2004, he appeared in direct-to-video features like Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas, Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers and the computer-animated Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas.

Many television series have centered on Mickey, such as the ABC shows Mickey Mouse Works (1999–2000), Disney’s House of Mouse (2001–2003), Disney Channel’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (2006–2016), and Mickey and the Roadster Racers (2017–). Prior to all these, Mickey was also featured as an unseen character in the Bonkers episode “You Oughta Be In Toons”.

Mickey has recently been announced to star in two films. One is being based on the Magic Kingdom theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort, while the other features Mickey, Donald, and Goofy. Since 2013, Disney Channel has been airing new 3-minute Mickey Mouse shorts, with animator Paul Rudish at the helm, incorporating elements of Mickey’s late twenties-early thirties look with a contemporary twist. on November 4, 2018. ABC television aired a two-hour prime time special, Mickey’s 90th spectacular, in honor of Mickey’s 90th birthday. The program featured never-before-seen short videos and several other celebrities who wanted to share their memories about Mickey Mouse and performed some of the Disney songs to impress Mickey.

Mickey Mouse has received ten nominations for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. These are Mickey’s Orphans (1931), Building a Building (1933), Brave Little Tailor (1938), The Pointer (1939), Lend a Paw (1941), Squatter’s Rights (1946), Mickey and the Seal (1948), Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983), Runaway Brain (1995), and Get a Horse! (2013). Among these, Lend a Paw was the only film to actually win the award. Walt Disney also received an honorary Academy Award in 1932 in recognition of Mickey’s creation and popularity.

In 1994, four of Mickey’s cartoons were included in the book The 50 Greatest Cartoons which listed the greatest cartoons of all time as voted by members of the animation field. The films were The Band Concert (#3), Steamboat Willie (#13), Brave Little Tailor (#26), and Clock Cleaners (#27). On November 18, 1978, in honor of his 50th anniversary, Mickey became the first cartoon character to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star is located on 6925 Hollywood Blvd. Melbourne (Australia) runs the annual Moomba festival street procession and appointed Mickey Mouse as their King of Moomba. Although immensely popular with children, there was controversy with the appointment: some Melburnians wanted a ‘home-grown’ choice, e.g. Blinky Bill. Patricia O’Carroll (from Disneyland’s Disney on Parade show) was performing the mouse,

Mickey was the Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day 2005. He was the first cartoon character to receive the honor and only the second fictional character after Kermit the Frog in 1996. Mickey Mouse went on to appear in over 130 films, Ten of Mickey’s cartoons were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, one of which, Lend a Paw, won the award in 1942.

Peter Cook

The late great English actor, satirist, writer and comedian Peter Cook was born 17 November 1937. He is regarded as An extremely influential figure in modern British comedy & a leading light of the British satire boom of the 1960s & has been described by Stephen Fry as “the funniest man who ever drew breath”. Cook was closely associated with anti-establishment comedy which emerged in Britain and the United States in the late 1950s. Educated at Radley College and Pembroke College, Cambridge, Cook joined the Cambridge University Liberal Club & It was at Pembroke thatCook performed and wrote comedy sketches as a member of the Cambridge Footlights Club, of which he became president in 19which was60′s, & wrote for Kenneth Williams, before joining a four-man group satirical stage show, Beyond the Fringe, with Jonathan Miller, Alan Bennett and Dudley Moore, which included Cook impersonating the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan.In 1961 Cook opened the Establishment club in central London. Cook said it was a satirical venue modelled on “those wonderful Berlin cabarets… which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the outbreak of the Second World War”. Cook befriended and supported Australian comedian and actor Barry Humphries, who began his British solo career at the club. Cook’s chiselled looks and languid manner led Humphries to observe that whereas most people take after their father or mother, Cook seemed more like an aunt. Dudley Moore’s jazz trio also played in the basement of the club during the early 1960s.

In 1962, the BBC commissioned a pilot for a television series of satirical sketches based on the Establishment club, cacook That Was The Week That Was ‘.Around this time, Cook provided financial backing for the satirical magazine Private Eye. For a time, the magazine was produced from the premises of the Establishment club. Cook ‘s first regular television spot was on Granada Television’s Braden Beat with Bernard Braden, where he featured his most enduring character: the static, dour and monotonal E.L. Wisty.Cook’s comedy partnership with Dudley Moore led to Not Only… But Also. Using few props, they created dry and absurd television. Cook played characters such as Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling and the two men created their Pete and Dud alter egos. Other sketches included “Superthunderstingcar”, a parody of the Gerry Anderson marionette TV shows, and Cook’s pastiche of 1960s trendy arts documentaries – satirised in a TV segment on Greta Garbo. A compilation of six half-hour programmes, The Best of What’s Left of Not Only…But Also. Cook and Moore began to act in films together such as With The Wrong Box (1966) and Bedazzled (1967) , the underlying story of Bedazzled is a comic parody of Faust, which stars Cook as George Spigott (The Devil) who tempts Stanley Moon (Moore), a frustrated, short-order chef, with the promise of gaining his heart’s desire – the unattainable beauty and waitress at his cafe, Margaret Spencer (Eleanor Bron) – in exchange for his soul, but repeatedly tricks him. The film features cameo appearances by Barry Humphries as Envy and Raquel Welch as Lust. Moore composed the soundtrack music and co-wrote (with Cook) the songs performed in the film. In 1968, Cook and Moore did four one-hour programmes entitled Goodbye Again with John Cleese ,which were based on the Pete and Dud characters.

ln 1970, Cook took over a a satirical film called The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer . As a reult Cook became a favourite of the chat show circuit sadly his own effort at hosting one for the BBC in 1971, Where Do I Sit? didn’t work and He was replaced by Michael Parkinson, which started Parkinson’s career as a chat show host. Cook and Moore used sketches from Not Only….But Also and Goodbye Again with new material for a stage revue called Behind the Fridge. Which proved very popular and won Tony and Grammy Awards. When it finished, Moore stayed in the U.S. to pursue a film career in Hollywood. Cook returned to Britain and recorded the more risqué humour of Pete and Dud like “Derek and Clive”. One of these audio recordings was also filmed Two further Derek and Clive albums were released, the last accompanied by a film.In 1978 Cook appeared on British music series Revolver where emerging punk and new wave acts played . Cook also played multiple roles on the 1977 concept album Consequences, which was A mixture of spoken comedy and progressive rock with an environmental subtext. Cook appeared at the first three fund-raising galas staged by humourists John Cleese and Martin Lewis on behalf of Amnesty International. The benefits were dubbed The Secret Policeman’s Balls, where he performed on all three nights of the first show in April 1976, A Poke in the Eye (with a Sharp Stick), as an individual performer and as a member of the cast of Beyond The Fringe, which reunited for the first time since the 1960s. He also appeared in a Monty Python sketch, taking the place of Eric Idle. Cook was on the cast album of the show and in the film, Pleasure At Her Majesty’s. He was in the second Amnesty gala in May 1977, An Evening Without Sir Bernard Miles. It was retitled The Mermaid Frolics. Cook performed monologues and skits with Terry Jones.

In 1979, Cook performed all four nights of The Secret Policeman’s Ball – teaming with John Cleese. Cook also performed a couple of solo pieces and a sketch with Eleanor Bron, PLUS the “End Of The World” sketch from Beyond The Fringe., he also wrote and voiced radio commercials to advertise the film in the UK. He also hosted a spoof film awards ceremony that was part of the world première of the film in London in March 1982. Following Cook’s 1987 stage reunion with Moore for the annual U.S. benefit for the homeless, Comic Relief (not related to the UK Comic Relief benefits), Cook repeated the reunion for a British audience by performing with Moore at the 1989 Amnesty benefit The Secret Policeman’s Biggest Ball. In 1980, Cook moved to Hollywood and appeared as an uptight English butler to a wealthy American woman in a short-lived U.S. television sitcom The Two of Us, In 1980, Cook starred in l Peter Cook & Co. which included memorable, comedy sketches, such as a Tales of the Unexpected parody “Tales Of The Much As We Expected”. The cast included John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, Beryl Reid, Paula Wilcox and Terry Jones. ln 1983 Cook played the role of Richard III in the first episode of Blackadder, “The Foretelling”, which parodies Laurence Olivier’s portrayal. He narrated the short film “Diplomatix” by Norwegian comedy trio Kirkvaag, Lystad and Mjøen, which won the “Special Prize of the City of Montreux” at the Montreux Comedy Festival in 1985. In 1986 he partnered Joan Rivers on her UK talk show. He appeared as Mr Jolly in 1987 in The Comic Strip Presents’ Mr Jolly Lives Next Door.In 1988, Cook appeared as a contestant on the improvisation comedy show, Whose Line Is It Anyway? Cook was declared the winner, his prize being to read the credits in the style of a New York cab driver. Cook returned to the BBC as Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling for an appearance with Ludovic Kennedy in A Life in Pieces. The 12 interviews saw Sir Arthur recount his life based on the Twelve Days of Christmas. Unscripted interviews with Cook as Streeb-Greebling and satirist Chris Morris were recorded in late 1993 and broadcast as Why Bother? on BBC Radio 3. On 17 December 1993, Cook appeared on Clive Anderson Talks Back as four characters – biscuit tester and alien abductee Norman House, football manager and motivational speaker Alan Latchley, judge Sir James Beauchamp and rock legend Eric Daley. he also read links for Arena’s “Radio Night”. He also appeared, in the 1993 Christmas special of One Foot in the Grave (“One Foot in the Algarve”), playing a muckraking tabloid journalist.

Cook made his last TV appearance in November 1994. Cook died on 9 January 1995, aged 57, having suffered a gastrointestinal haemorrhage in the intensive-care unit of the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, North London. Days earlier he had been taken in and announced, “I feel a bit poorly”. Dudley Moore attended Cook’s memorial service in London in May 1995 and he and Martin Lewis presented a two-night memorial for Cook in Los Angeles the following November, to mark what would have been Cook’s 58th birthday.Cook is acknowledged as the one of the main influence on British comedians from amateur dramatic clubs of British universities to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and then to the radio and television.ln 1999 the minor planet 20468 Petercook, in the main asteroid belt, was named after him.Ten years after his death, Cook was ranked at number one in the Comedians’ Comedian, a poll of 300 comics, comedy writers, producers and directors. Channel 4 broadcast Not Only But Always, a TV film dramatising the relationship between Cook and Moore, with Rhys Ifans portraying Cook. At the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe a play, , examined the relationship from Moore’s view, Pete and Dud: Come Again. Tom Goodman-Hill played Cook.At the 2007 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Goodbye – the (after)life of Cook & Moore was presented at the Gilded Balloon. The play imagined the newly dead Moore meeting Cook in Limbo, also inhabited by other comic actors with whom they had worked, including Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock, Frankie Howerd and Kenneth Williams. In May 2009 the play was seen again in London’s West End at the Leicester Square Theatre ) with Jonathan Hansler as Cook, Adam Bampton Smith as Moore and Clive Greenwood as everyone else. A green plaque was unveiled by the Heritage Foundation at the site of the Establishment club on 15 February 2009.

Excelsior

American comic book writer editor, actor, producer, publisher, television personality, and Founder of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee tragically passed away 12 November 2018. He was born 28th December 1922 in New York City. As a child Lee was influenced by books and movies, especially Errol Flynn, He was also A voracious reader who enjoyed writing as a teen. During his youth he worked such part-time jobs as writing obituaries for a news service and press releases for the National Tuberculosis Center; delivering sandwiches for the Jack May pharmacy to offices in Rockefeller Center; working as an office boy for a trouser manufacturer; ushering at the Rivoli Theater on Broadway; and selling subscriptions to the New York Herald Tribune newspaper.

He graduated from high school early, at age 16½ in 1939, and joined the WPA Federal Theatre Project.Lee became an assistant at the new Timely Comics, which evolved into Marvel Comics. He made his comic-book debut with the text filler “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge” in Captain America Comics #3, Which introduced Captain America’s trademark ricocheting shield-toss. He graduated from writing filler to actual comics & two issues later. Lee co-created his first superhero the Destroyer.

Other characters he created include Jack Frost and Father Time. He showed a knack for business that led him to remain as the comic-book division’s editor-in-chief, as well as art director for much of that time, until 1972, when he became publisher. During In the mid-1950s, Lee wrote stories in a variety of genres including romance, Westerns, humor, science fiction, medieval adventure, horror and suspense.In the 1950s Lee was assigned to create a new superhero team in response to DC Comics Justice League of America. Lee responded by giving his superheroes a flawed humanity, a change from the ideal archetypes that were typically written for preteens and introduced complex, naturalistic characters who could have bad tempers, melancholy fits, vanity; they bickered amongst themselves, worried about paying their bills and impressing girlfriends, got bored or even were sometimes physically ill.

The first superhero group Lee and artist Jack Kirby created was the Fantastic Four. He also collaborated with several artists, most notably Steve Ditko, and co-created Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, Daredevil, Doctor Strange and many other fictional characters introducing complex, naturalistic characters and a thoroughly shared universe into superhero comic books. wrote a monthly column called “Stan’s Soapbox,” and wrote endless promotional copy, often signing off with his trademark phrase “Excelsior!”

Lee also supported using comic books to provide some measure of social commentary about the real world, often dealing with issues of discrimination, intolerance, prejudice, racism and bigotry. Lee became the figurehead and public face for Marvel Comics & made appearances at comic book conventions around America. He has also been an executive producer for, and has made cameo appearances in various Marvel film adaptations. In the 2000s, Lee did his first work for DC Comics, launching the Just Imagine… series, in which Lee reimagined the DC superheroes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the Flash. In 2006, Marvel published a series of one-shot comics starring Lee himself meeting and interacting with many of his co-creations, including Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the Thing, Silver Surfer and Doctor Doom.

In 2008, Lee wrote humorous captions for the political fumetti book Stan Lee Presents Election Daze: What Are They Really Saying? Lee also collaborated with Hiroyuki Takei on the manga Karakuridôji Ultimo. In 2009, he collaborated with the Japanese company Bones to produced its first manga feature, Heroman, and In 2010 The Stan Lee Foundation was founded which focused on literacy, education and the arts, and In August 2011, Lee announced his support for the Eagle Initiative, a program to find new talent in the comic book field. He was inducted into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995.

Sesame Street Day

National Sesame Street Day takes place on November 10. It commemorates the anniversary of the first broadcast of Sesame Street on November 10, 1969. It was created in New York City, by a Mayoral Proclamation from Michael Bloomberg, who established November 10, 2009 as “Sesame Street Day,” a day to mark the show’s 40th Anniversary. To celebrate the occasion, the corner of 64th Street and Broadway in Lincoln Square was temporarily renamed 123 Sesame Street with a dedication ceremony on November 9, 2009.

Sesame Street is an American educational children’s television series that combines live action, sketch comedy, animation and puppetry. It is produced by Sesame Workshop (formerly known as the Children’s Television Workshop until June 2000) and was created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett. The program is known for its images communicated through the use of Jim Henson’s Muppets, and includes short films, with humor and cultural references. It was conceived in 1966 during discussions between television producer Joan Ganz Cooney and Carnegie Foundation vice president Lloyd Morrisett. Their goal was to create a children’s television show that would “master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them” such as helping young children prepare for school. After two years of research, the newly formed Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) received a combined grant of US$8 million ($53 million in 2017 dollars) from the Carnegie Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the U.S. Federal Government to create and produce a new children’s television show. The program premiered on public television stations on November 10, 1969. was the first preschool educational television program to base its contents and production values on laboratory and formative research. Initial responses to the show included adulatory reviews, some controversy,and high ratings. The series premiered on November 10, 1969, to positive reviews, some controversy, and high viewership; it has aired on the U.S.’s national public television provider PBS since its debut,

Sesame Street has evolved from its initial inception. According to writer Michael Davis, by the mid-1970s the show had become “an American institution”. The cast and crew expanded during this time, with emphasis on the hiring of women crew members and the addition of minorities to the cast. The show’s success continued into the 1980s. In 1981, when the federal government withdrew its funding, CTW turned to, and expanded, other revenue sources, including its magazine division, book royalties, product licensing, and foreign broadcast income. Sesame Street’s curriculum has expanded to include more affective topics such as relationships, ethics, and emotions. Many of the show’s storylines were taken from the experiences of its writing staff, cast, and crew, most notably, the 1982 death of Will Lee—who played Mr. Hooper and the marriage of Luis and Maria in 1988

The format of Sesame Street consists of a combination of commercial television production elements and techniques which have evolved to reflect the changes in American culture and the audience’s viewing habits. With the creation of Sesame Street, producers and writers of a children’s television show used, for the first time, educational goals and a curriculum to shape its content. It was also the first time a show’s educational effects were formally studied. The show, therefore, has undergone significant changes in its history as adjustments to the format and content have been made to reflect change sources to the curriculum. Sesame Street Became the fifteenth-highest-rated children’s television show in the United States. A 1996 survey found that 95% of all American preschoolers had watched the show by the time they were three years old.

By the end of the 1990s, Sesame Street faced societal and economic challenges, including changes in viewing habits of young children, competition from other shows, the development of cable television, and a drop in ratings.After the turn of the 21st century, Sesame Street made major structural changes and from 2002, its format became more narrative and included ongoing storylines. After its thirtieth anniversary in 1999 and due to the popularity of the Muppet Elmo, the show also incorporated a popular segment known as “Elmo’s World”.

By 2006, there were independently produced versions, or “co-productions”, of Sesame Street broadcast in twenty countries. In 2001, there were over 120 million viewers of various international versions of Sesame Street, and by the show’s 40th anniversary in 2009, it was broadcast in more than 140 countries. In 2008, it was estimated that 77 million Americans had watched the series as children and Upon its fortieth anniversary in 2009, the show received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy at the 36th Daytime Emmy Awards and it was estimated that 77 million Americans had watched the series as children and Sesame Street had been broadcast in over 120 countries, and 20 international versions had been produced.

In 2015, as part of a five-year programming and development deal, Sesame Workshop announced that first-run episodes of Sesame Street would move to premium television service HBO beginning with season 46, which premiered In 2016. HBO will hold first-run rights to all newer episodes of the series, after which they will air on PBS member stations following a nine-month exclusivity window, with no charge to the stations for airing the content. The agreement also gives HBO exclusive rights to stream past and future Sesame Street episodes on HBO Go and HBO Now – assuming those rights from Amazon Video and Netflix. Sesame Workshop also announced that it would phase out its in-house subscription streaming service, Sesame Go, as a standalone service; the service will remain in operation, likely with its offerings reduced to a slate content available for free or serving as a portal for Sesame Street’s website. As of 2014, Sesame Street has won 167 Emmy Awards and 8 Grammy Awards—more than any other children’s show. In April 2017, Sesame Street introduced Julia, a new Muppet who has autism, performed by Stacey Gordon, who has a son on the autism spectrum.

Neil Gaiman

English author Neil Gaiman was born 10 November 1960 in Portsmouth. After living for a period in the nearby town of Portchester, Hampshire, where Neil was born in 1960, the Gaimans moved in 1965 to the West Sussex town of East Grinstead, where his parents studied Dianetics at the town’s Scientology centre; one of Gaiman’s sisters works for the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles.

Gaiman was able to read at the age of four. For his seventh birthday, Gaiman received C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series and by the time he was about ten years old, he read his way through the works of Dennis Wheatley, such as The Ka of Gifford Hillary and The Haunting of Toby Jugg. Another novel that made a particular impression on him was J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings which also inspired his desire to become an author. Narnia also introduced him to literary awards, specifically the 1956 Carnegie Medal won by the concluding volume. Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was another childhood favourite, and He also enjoyed reading Batman comics as a child.

Gaiman was educated at several Church of England schools, including Fonthill School in East Grinstead, Ardingly College (1970–74), and Whitgift School in Croydon (1974–77). His father’s position as a public relations official of the Church of Scientology was the cause of the seven-year-old Gaiman being blocked from entering a boys’ school, forcing him to remain at the school that he had previously been attending. He lived in East Grinstead from 1965 to 1980 and again from 1984 to 1987. He met his first wife, Mary McGrath, while she was studying Scientology and living in a house in East Grinstead that was owned by his father. The couple were married in 1985 after having their first child, Michael.

As a child and a teenager, Gaiman read the works of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, Mary Shelley, Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Allan Poe, Alan Moore, Steve Ditko, Will Eisner, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison, Lord Dunsany and G. K. Chesterton. He was also inspired by Roger Zelazny, Michael Moorcock, Samuel R. Delany, Angela Carter, and R.A. Lafferty Whom he contacted When he was 19–20 years old, asking for advice on becoming an author along with a Lafferty pastiche he had written. The writer sent Gaiman an encouraging and informative letter back, along with literary advice.

During the 1980s, Gaiman worked as a journalist, conducting interviews and writing book reviews, as a means to learn about the world and to make connections that he hoped would later assist him in getting published. He wrote and reviewed extensively for the British Fantasy Society. His first professional short story publication was “Featherquest”, a fantasy story, in Imagine Magazine in May 1984. When waiting for a train at London’s Victoria Station in 1984, Gaiman noticed a copy of Swamp Thing written by Alan Moore, and carefully read it. Moore’s fresh and vigorous approach to comics inspired Gaiman and he began visiting London’s Forbidden Planet to buy comics. In 1984, he wrote his first book, a biography of the band Duran Duran, as well as Ghastly Beyond Belief, a book of quotations, with Kim Newman. he was also offered a job by Penthouse but refused. He also wrote interviews and articles for many British magazines, including Knave using pseudonyms, including Gerry Musgrave and Richard Grey.

Gaiman ended his journalism career in 1987 andIn the late 1980s, he wrote Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion in what he calls a “classic English humour” style. In 1987 Gaiman started writing comic-books, for comic-book writer Alan Moore picking up Miracleman after Moore finished his run on the series. Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham collaborated on several issues of the series before its publisher, Eclipse Comics, collapsed, leaving the series unfinished. His first published comic strips were four short Future Shocks for 2000 AD in 1986–87. He wrote three graphic novels with his favourite collaborator and long-time friend Dave McKean: Violent Cases, Signal to Noise, and The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch. Impressed with his work, DC Comics hired him in February 1987, and he wrote the limited series Black Orchid.

Karen Berger, head of DC Comics’s Vertigo, then read Black Orchid and offered Gaiman a job: to re-write The Sandman. This tells the tale of the ageless, anthropomorphic personification of Dream that is known by many names, including Morpheus and is a mixture of fantasy, horror, and ironic humour. In the eighth issue of The Sandman, Gaiman and artist Mike Dringenberg introduced Death, the older sister of Dream, who would become as popular as the series’ title character and In 1993 DC launched Vertigo with The limited series Death: The High Cost of Living. The 75 issues of the regular series, along with an illustrated prose text and a special containing seven short stories, have been collected into 12 volumes that remain in print, 14 if the Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life spin-offs are included. Artists include Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Jill Thompson, Shawn McManus, Marc Hempel and Michael Zulli, lettering by Todd Klein, colours by Daniel Vozzo, and covers by Dave McKean. The series became one of DC’s top selling titles, eclipsing even Batman and Superman. Gaiman and Jamie Delano were due to become co-writers of the Swamp Thing series following Rick Veitch. However An editorial decision by DC to censor Veitch’s final storyline caused both Gaiman and Delano to withdraw. Gaiman then produced two stories for DC’s Secret Origins series in 1989. A Poison Ivy and a Riddler. A Riddler was originally written for Action Comics Weekly but was shelved due to editorial concerns however it was finally published in 2000 as Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame.

In 1990, Gaiman wrote The Books of Magic, a four-part mini-series that provided a tour of the mythological and magical parts of the DC Universe through a frame story about an English teenager who discovers that he is destined to be the world’s greatest wizard. The miniseries was popular, and sired an ongoing series written by John Ney Rieber. Sadly Gaiman’s adaptation of Sweeney Todd, illustrated by Michael Zulli for Stephen R. Bissette’s publication Taboo, was discontinued. In the mid-1990s, he also created a number of new characters and a setting that was to be featured in a title published by Tekno Comix. The concepts were then altered and split between the titles: Lady Justice, Mr. Hero the Newmatic Man, and Teknophage, Gaiman then wrote a semi-autobiographical story about a boy’s fascination with Michael Moorcock’s anti-hero Elric of Melniboné for Ed Kramer’s anthology Tales of the White Wolf.

In 1996, Gaiman and Ed Kramer co-edited The Sandman: Book of Dreams. This was Nominated for the British Fantasy Award and featured stories and contributions by Tori Amos, Clive Barker, Gene Wolfe, Tad Williams. Gaiman then wrote two series for Marvel Comics. Marvel 1602, an eight-issue limited series and The Eternals a seven-issue limited series drawn by John Romita Jr. In 2009, Gaiman wrote a two-part Batman story for DC Comics to follow Batman R.I.P. titled “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? Referencing the classic Superman story “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” by Alan Moore. Gaiman contributed a twelve-part Metamorpho serial drawn by Mike Allred for Wednesday Comics. Gaiman and Paul Cornell also co-wrote Action Comics #894 featuring an appearance by Death. In 2013, DC Comics released The Sandman: Overture with art by J. H. Williams III and Gaiman’s Angela character was introduced into the Marvel Universe in the last issue of the Age of Ultron miniseries in 2013

Neil Gaiman also collaborated with Terry Pratchett on his first comic novel Good Omens which was published in 1990. The 1996 novelisation of Gaiman’s teleplay for the BBC mini-series Neverwhere was his first solo novel. The novel was released in tandem with the television series though it presents some notable differences from the television series. Gaiman has since revised the novel twice, the first time for an American audience unfamiliar with the London Underground, the second time because he felt unsatisfied with the original. In 1999, Gaiman published his fantasy novel Stardust, which was highly influenced by Victorian fairytales and culture and has been released as a standard novel and in an illustrated graphic novel. Gaiman’s next novel American Gods was published in 2001 and has become one of Gaiman’s best-selling and multi-award-winning novels. Gaiman’s characters from American Gods also Crop up in a short story set in Scotland, which applies the same concepts developed in American Gods to the story of Beowulf.

Gaiman’s next novel Anansi Boys was published in 2005 and deals with Anansi (‘Mr. Nancy’), tracing the relationship of his two sons, one semi-divine and the other an unassuming Englishman, as they explore their common heritage. In 2008, Gaiman published The Graveyard Book which follows the adventures of a boy named Bod after his family is murdered and he is left to be brought up by a graveyard. It is heavily influenced by Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. In 2013 Gaiman published The Ocean at the End of the Lane which follows an unnamed man who returns to his hometown for a funeral and remembers events that began forty years earlier and was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards. In 2017 Neil Gaiman published the novel Norse Mythology.

Gaiman has also written prolifically for television. In 1996 wrote BBC dark fantasy television series Neverwhere and cowrote the screenplay for the movie MirrorMask with his old friend Dave McKean for McKean to direct. In addition, he wrote the localised English language script to the anime movie Princess Mononoke, based on a translation of the Japanese script. He alsomcowrote the script for Robert Zemeckis’s Beowulf with Roger Avary, And has expressed interest in collaborating on a film adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Neil Gaiman was featured in the History Channel documentary Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked. He also wrote the script for the Babylon 5 episode “Day of the Dead. Gaiman’s novel Stardust has also been made into a film starring Charlie Cox, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes, and directed by Matthew Vaughn. A stop motion version of Coraline was released in 2009, with Henry Selick directing and featuring the voices of Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher. Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery Medal winning book The Graveyard Book will also be made into a movie, directed by Ron Howard.

In 2011 Gaiman wrote an episode of Doctor Who, called The Doctor’s Wife Featuring Matt Smith and Alex Kingston which won the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form). Gaiman also appeared as himself on The Simpsons episode “The Book Job” broadcast on 20 November 2011. In 2013 Gaiman wrote another episode of Doctor Who titled “Nightmare in Silver”. A six-part radio play of Neverwhere was broadcast in March 2013, adapted by Dirk Maggs for BBC Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra. Featured stars include James McAvoy as Richard, Natalie Dormer, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Bernard Cribbens and Johnny Vegas. Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods has also been adapted for television. In 2014, Gaiman and Terry Pratchett joined forces with BBC Radio 4 to make the first ever dramatisation of their co-penned novel Good Omens. A television adaptation of Good Omens starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen has also been made in association with Amazon Prime.

Throughout his prolific career Neil Gaiman has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book (2008). In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards.