Dracula

The classic gothic horror novel Dracula by Bram Stoker was first published 26th May 1897. it features an Estate Agent named Jonathan Harker who is dispatched to Transylvania to finalize the move of a mysterious and enigmatic Romanian nobleman called Count Dracula to England. Unfortunately Harker encounters the deadly Brides of Dracula who almost kill him. Meanwhile the Count leaves Transylvania and travels to England aboard the vessel Dimeter, however all the crew mysteriously vanish and the ship runs aground at Whitby. Dracula successfully purchases multiple estates under the alias ‘Count De Ville’ throughout London. Dracula encounters Lucy Westenra, who lives in Whitby, and she begins suffering from episodes of sleepwalking and dementia. Lucy receives three marriage proposals from Dr. John Seward, Quincey Morris, and Arthur Holmwood (the son of Lord Godalming who later obtains the title himself. Dracula communicates with Seward’s mentally unstable patient Renfield. When Lucy begins to waste away suspiciously.

Seward invites his old teacher, Abraham Van Helsing, who immediately determines the true cause of Lucy’s condition. He diagnoses inexplicable blood loss. Helsing prescribes numerous blood transfusions to which Dr. Seward, Helsing, Quincy and Arthur all contribute over time. Helsing also prescribes flowers to be placed throughout her room and weaves a necklace of withered Garlic Blossoms for her to wear as well. She however continues to waste away – appearing to lose blood every night. Lucy and her mother are attacked by a wolf; Mrs. Westenra, dies of fright. Van Helsing attempts to protect her with garlic. The doctors find two small puncture marks about her neck, which Dr Seward is at a loss to understand. Helsing then places a crucifix around her neck, but soon after she is discovered dead with the crucifix missing.

Following Lucy’s death, the newspapers report children being stalked in the night Van Helsing, knowing Lucy has become a vampire, confides in Seward, Lord Godalming, and Morris. The suitors and Van Helsing track her down and confront her. Meanwhile Jonathan Harker arrives from Budapest, where Mina marries him after his escape. They team up to clobber Dracula however Dracula learns of the group’s plot against him, and attacks Mina on three occasions, and feeds Mina his own blood to control her. This curses Mina with vampirism but does not completely turn her into a vampire. Van Helsing attempts to cure Mina and hypnotized her into revealing Dracula’s whereabouts. Having discovered their actions Dracula flees back to his castle in Transylvania and They pursue him under the guidance of Mina leading to an exciting final showdown.

Bram Stoker was born 8 November 1847 in Clontarf, Dublin Ireland and was bed-ridden until he started school at the age of seven, when he made a complete recovery. Of this time, Stoker wrote, “I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years.” He was educated in a private school run by the Rev. William Woods.After his recovery, he grew up without further major health issues, even excelling as an athlete (he was named University Athlete) at Trinity College, Dublin, which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He graduated with honours in mathematics. He was auditor of the College Historical Society and president of the University Philosophical Society, where his first paper was on “Sensationalism in Fiction and Society”.

Stoker became interested in the theatre while a student through a friend, Dr. Maunsell. He became the theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail, co-owned by the author of Gothic tales Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Stoker also wrote stories, and in 1872 “The Crystal Cup” was published by the London Society, followed by “The Chain of Destiny” in four parts in The Shamrock. In 1876, while a civil servant in Dublin, Stoker wrote a non-fiction book (The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland, published 1879), which remained a standard work . Furthermore, he possessed an interest in art, and was a founder of the Dublin Sketching Club in 1874. On 31 December 1879, Stoker became acting manager and then business manager of Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, London, he became involved in London’s high society, and met Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (to whom he was distantly related)

Managing one of the most successful theatres in London made Stoker a notable if busy man. In London Stoker also met Hall Caine who became one of his closest friends – he dedicated Dracula to him. Although Stoker travelled the world, he never visited Eastern Europe, a setting for his most famous novel. Stoker enjoyed the United States,While working as a manager, secretary and director of London’s Lyceum Theatre, he began writing novels beginning with The Snake’s Pass in 1890 and Dracula in 1897. During this period, Stoker was also part of the literary staff of the London Daily Telegraph and wrote other fiction, including the horror novels The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911). In 1906, he managed productions at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Before writing Dracula, Stoker spent several years researching European folklore and mythological stories of vampires. At the time of its publication, Dracula was considered a “straightforward horror novel” based on imaginary creations of supernatural life. “It gave form to a universal fantasy and became a part of popular culture.” Stoker’s inspirations for the story, in addition to Whitby, may have included a visit to Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, a visit to the crypts of St. Michan’s Church in Dublin and the novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu.

Coincidentally The late great English Actor Peter Cushing OBE (Who starred in many film adaptations of Dracula was born on May 26th in 1913. He debuted in The Man in the Iron Mask, then returned in 1941 after roles in several films. In one, A Chump at Oxford (1940), he appeared alongside Laurel and Hardy. His first major film part was as Osric in Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948). During the 1950s, he also worked in television, notably as Winston Smith in the BBC’s adaptation of the George Orwell novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and the films The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958). He has also played the vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing many times, and the distinguished-looking but sinister scientist Baron Frankenstein amongst many other roles, often appearing opposite Christopher Lee, and occasionally Vincent Price. A familiar face on both sides of the Atlantic, his most famous roles outside of “Hammer Horror” include his many appearances as Sherlock Holmes.

Peter Cushing also appeared as the villainous Imperial Officer Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars episode IV, which came out 25th May 1977 and which celebrates the 40th Anniversary of its release in 2017. His likeness was also digitally created for the film Rogue One.

Cushing also starred as the mysterious Timelord The Doctor in the film Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 AD in 1965 and 1966, both based on Doctor Who. Cushing is best rememberes for his  association with the roles of Baron Victor Frankenstein and Van Helsing in a long string of horror films produced by Hammer Film Productions, in which He was often cast opposite the actor Christopher Lee, with whom he became best friends and who also starred in Star Wars episodes II and III.

Return of the Jedi

Epic science fiction film Return of the Jedi was released 25 May 1983. six years to the day after the release of the first film, Star Wars. It was the third and final installment in the original Star Wars trilogy and is set one year after The Empire Strikes Back it stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew and Frank Oz.

It starts when Luke, Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2. Attempt to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the hutts palace on Tatooine. Leia disguised as a bounty hunter with Chewbacca as her prisoner releases Han from his carbonite prison, but she is captured and enslaved. Luke arrives soon afterward, but is also captured after a tense standoff. After Luke confronts Jabba’s Rancor, Jabba sentences him and Han to death by feeding them to the Sarlacc. Luke frees himself and battles Jabba’s guards. During the chaos, Leia confronts Jabba and Luke destroys Jabba’s sail barge as the group escapes. While the others rendezvous with the Rebel Alliance,

Luke returns to Dagobah to continue his Jedi training but finds that Yoda is dying. Before he dies, Yoda confirms that Darth Vader, once known as Anakin Skywalker, is Luke’s father, and that there is “another Skywalker”. The spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi confirms that this other Skywalker is Luke’s twin sister, Leia. Obi-Wan tells Luke that he must fight Vader again to defeat the Empire.

The Rebel Alliance learns that the Empire is constructing a new Death Star under the supervision of the Emperor himself. The station is protected by an energy shield, Generated by a shield generator on the forest moon of Endor. So Han Solo leads a team to destroy the shield generator enabling starfighters to destroy the Death Star. The strike team, accompanied by Luke and Leia, travels to Endor in a stolen Imperial shuttle. On Endor, Luke and his companions encounter a tribe of Ewoks and,eventually gain their trust. Later, Luke tells Leia that she is his sister, Vader is their father, and that he must go and confront him. Surrendering to Imperial troops, Luke is brought to Vader and unsuccessfully tries to convince him to turn from the dark side of the Force.

Vader takes Luke to the Death Star to meet the Emperor, intent on turning him to the dark side. The Emperor reveals that the Death Star is actually fully operational and the Rebel fleet will fall into a trap. On Endor, Han’s strike team is captured by Imperial forces, but a surprise counterattack by the Ewoks allows the Rebels to battle the Imperials. Meanwhile, Lando, piloting the Millennium Falcon, leads the Rebel fleet to the Death Star, only to find that the station’s shield is still active and the Imperial fleet is waiting for them. The Emperor tempts Luke to give in to his anger, and Luke engages Vader in a lightsaber duel. Vader senses that Luke has a sister, and threatens to turn her to the dark side. Enraged, Luke attacks Vader and severs his father’s prosthetic right hand. The Emperor entreats Luke to kill Vader and take his place, but Luke refuses, declaring himself a Jedi as his father had been. The furious Emperor tortures Luke with Force lightning. Unwilling to let his son die, Vader kills the Emperor but is mortally electrocuted in the process. At his request, Luke removes the redeemed Anakin’s mask before he dies in his arms.

As the battle between the Imperial and Alliance fleets continues, the strike team defeats the Imperial forces and destroys the shield generator, allowing the Rebel fleet to launch their assault on the Death Star. Lando leads a group of Rebel ships into the Death Star’s core to destroy the main reactor. Meanwhile Luke escapes on a shuttle with his father’s body,

Several home video and theatrical releases and revisions to the film followed over the next 20 years. Star Wars continued with Episode I: The Phantom Menace as part of the film series’ prequel trilogy. A sequel, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was released on December 18, 2015, as part of the new sequel trilogy.

Lilac Day

Fans of Terry Pratchett wear a lilac on 25 May in remembrance of the Glorious Revolution of Treacle Mine Road which took place during the novel Night Watch. Following Pratchett’s diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s in 2007, fans also Wear the Lilac in celebration of Pratchett and to raise awareness and funding for Alzheimer’s research.

The Revolution of Treacle Mine Road ended the increasingly tough reign of Lord Winder. Tension had been rising, and while the nobility arranged a quiet succession by Lord Snapcase in the background, the people on the streets started a revolution and attacked Watch Houses all over the city. A few streets around Treacle Mine Road were barricaded at first. Soon more people started barricading streets, barricades were moved forward and merged together, covering at least a quarter of the city – including the food industry. The resulting area was called The People’s Republic of Treacle Mine Road. The watchmen of the Treacle Mine Road Watch House led the Republic together with some enthusiastic angry young men, among them the then-living Reg Shoe.

A change in history resulted in Sam Vimes under the name of John Keel saving the Republic until Lord Snapcase became Patrician. Unfortunately Many people died, after an attack planned by Carcer prompted by Snapcase’s concerns about what “Keel” could get up to if left alone for a month after serving as such a prominent leader after less than a week in the city. Each year, on the 25th of May, a group of survivors of the uprising gathers at Small Gods’ Cemetery to honor the casualties with lilacs and, affectionately, one hard-boiled egg (from Madam Roberta Meserole). The seven killed were mostly Watchmen from Treacle Mine Road : John Keel, Cecil Clapman, Horace Nancyball, Billy Wiglet, Dai Dickins, Ned Coates, and, temporarily, Reg Shoe. The 25th of May is also memorialized, among those who survive, by the wearing of lilac on that date. Persons known to wear it include Sam Vimes, Fred Colon, Nobby Nobbs, Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, and, improbably, Havelock Vetinari (he, at the time a young assassin, has kept his and his aristocratic aunt Lady Roberta Meserole’s, involvement secret.

A long time ago in a galaxy far away….

May 25 2017 celebrates the 40th anniversary of the release of epic science fiction film Star Wars, which was originally released 25 May 1977. Star Wars was the first film to be released in the series. (Although Technically it is the fourth film chronologically as the events in the  prequels take place before Star Wars, however they were released sixteen years afterwards). Star Wars is also the fifth film if you count Rogue One.

Star Wars sees a young farm boy named Luke Skywalker thrust unwittingly into a Rebellion to rid the galaxy of an evil empire after acquiring two droids C3POandR2D2. The droids have escaped from a spaceship which has come under attack from Darth Vader and the evil Empire, and crash landed on the desolate planet Tattooine. Along the way He meets an old Jedi Knight named Obi Wan Kenobi and discovers that one of the droids is carrying something very important -the technical data for the Empire’s terrifying new weapon ‘The Death Star’ which is capable of destroying whole planets. Luke also learns that he has a special power and asks Obi Wan to teach him to master it. On Tattoine he also meets charismatic smuggler Han Solo and his wookiee first mate Chewbacca, who are asked to take them to the planet Alderaaan, home of Princess Leia to help mount an attack on the Death Star. However Princess Leia has been captured by the evil Empire, led by The Evil Sith Lord Emperor Palpatine and his sinister apprentice Darth Vader and taken to theDeath Star and Alderaan has been destroyed. so the rebels mount a daring rescue attempt to free Princess Leia and Luke gets swept up in the battle to destroy the Death Star

Empire Strikes Back takes place Three years later, and sees the Rebels attacked by the Empire on the ice world of Hoth and Luke traveling to find Jedi Master Yoda, who is living in exile on the swamp-infested world Dagobah, to begin his Jedi training. The Rebels manage to escape Hoth hotly pursued by the Empire. However, Luke is interrupted from his training when Vader lures him into a trap by capturing Han and the others who have journeyed to Cloud City on Bespin seeking help from Han’s old acquaintance Lando Calrissian. During a fierce lightsaber duel, Vader reveals that he is in fact Luke’s father and used to be Anakin Skywalker, and attempts to turn Luke to the dark side.

Return of the Jedi sees, Luke journeys to Tattoine to save Han from the clutches of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt and then return to Yoda to complete his training. However, now over 900 years old, Yoda is on his deathbed. Before he passes away, Yoda confirms that Vader is Luke’s father; moments later, Obi-Wan’s spirit tells Luke that he must face his father before he can become a true Jedi, and that Leia is his twin sister. The Rebels then attempt to destroy a second Death Star which is being built near the forest moon of Endor and manage to pursuade the local inhabitants to help them. Meanwhile Luke confronts Vader as Palpatine watches; both Sith Lords intend to turn Luke to the dark side and take him as their apprentice. During the subsequent lightsaber duel, Luke succumbs to his anger and brutally overpowers Vader, but controls himself at the last minute; realizing that he is about to suffer his father’s fate, and he spares Vader’s life and declares his allegiance to the Jedi. An enraged Palpatine then attempts to kill Luke with Force lightning. However Darth Vader Redeems himself at the last moment, switching loyalties from the Empire to his Son, but pays the ultimate price. Subsequently Luke becomes a full-fledged Jedi, and the Rebels destroy the second Death Star.

The film series has become a worldwide pop culture phenomenon and has remained popular to this day, spawning an Expanded Universe including books, television series, computer and video games, and comic books, which have resulted in significant development of the series’ fictional universe. These media kept the franchise active in the interim between the film trilogies. In October 2012, The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion and announced that it would produce three new films, with the first film, Star Wars Episode VII, released in 2015 and the second “The Last Jedi” due December 2017. 20th Century Fox still retains the distribution rights to the first two Star Wars trilogies, owning permanent rights for the original film Episode IV: A New Hope, and holds the rights to Episodes I–III, V and VI until May 2020.

Towel Day

Towel Day takes place annually on 25 May to celebrate the life and works of English author Douglas Adams, who is most famous for writing the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Dirk Gently’s Hollistic Detective Agency and a couple of Doctor Who episodes starring Tom Baker. On this day, fans carry a towel with them, to demonstrate their appreciation of the books and the Author. The importance of Towels is described in chapter three of Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy thus:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (this mind-bogglingly stupid animal, assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost.” What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with. Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy. The emphasis on towels is a reference to Hitch-hiker’s Guide to Europe by Ken Welsh, which inspired Adams’ fictional guidebook and also stresses the importance of towels.

The first of five books in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction series by Douglas Adams was published 12th October 1979. Originally a radio comedy broadcast, it was later adapted to other formats, and over several years it gradually became an international multi-media phenomenon. Adaptations have included stage shows, a “trilogy” of five books, a sixth novel penned by Eoin Colfer, a 1981 TV series, a computer game, and three series of three-part comic book adaptations of the first three novels published by DC Comics between 1993 and 1996. A film version, produced and filmed in the UK, was released in April 2005, and radio adaptations of the third, fourth, and fifth novels were broadcast from 2004 to 2005. All versions, the series follows the adventures of Arthur Dent, a hapless Englishman, Ford Prefect, who named himself after the Ford Prefect car to blend in with what was assumed to be the dominant life form, automobiles, and is an alien from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse and a researcher for the eponymous guidebook; Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford’s semi-cousin and the Galactic President; the depressed robot Marvin the Paranoid Android; and Trillian, formerly known as Tricia McMillan, a woman Arthur once met at a party in Islington and the only other human survivor of Earth’s destruction.

In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the characters visit the legendary planet Magrathea, home to the now-collapsed planet-building industry, and meet Slartibartfast, a planetary coastline designer who was responsible for the fjords of Norway. Through archival recordings, he relates the story of a race of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings who built a computer named Deep Thought to calculate the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. When the answer was revealed to be 42, Deep Thought explained that the answer was incomprehensible because the beings didn’t know what they were asking. It went on to predict that another computer, more powerful than itself would be made to calculate the question for the answer. (Later on, referencing this, Adams would create the 42 Puzzle, a puzzle which could be approached in multiple ways, all yielding the answer 42.) The computer, was the Earth, and was destroyed by Vogons to make way for a hyperspatial express route, five minutes before the conclusion of its 10-million-year program. Two of a race of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings who commissioned the Earth in the first place, disguised themselves as Trillian’s mice, and want to dissect Arthur’s brain to help reconstruct the question, since he was part of the Earth’s matrix moments before it was destroyed, and so he is likely to have part of the question buried in his brain.

In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe , Zaphod gets separated from the others and finds he is part of a conspiracy to uncover who really runs the Universe. He then meets Zarniwoop, editor for The Guide, who knows where to find the secret ruler and is briefly reunited with the others for a trip to Milliways, the titular restaurant. Zaphod and Ford decide to steal a ship from there, however this turns out to be a stunt ship pre-programmed to plunge into a star as a special effect in a stage show and they are unable to change it’s course. Meanwhile Ford and Arthur, end up on a spacecraft full of the outcasts of the Golgafrinchan civilisation, which crashes on prehistoric Earth; leaving Ford and Arthur stranded, and it becomes clear that the inept Golgafrinchans are the ancestors of modern humans, having displaced the Earth’s indigenous hominids. Adams himself considered Restaurant to be his best novel of the five.

In Life, the Universe and Everything , Slartibartfast, enlists the aid of Ford, Arthur, Marvin, Zaphod and Trillian to prevent the people of the planet Krikkit from escaping their home planet, on which they have been imprisoned for trying to start a Galactic War and prevent them starting another Galactic War which will wipe out all life in the Universe. In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, Arthur returns home to Earth, where He meets and falls in love with a girl named Fenchurch, and discovers this Earth is a replacement provided by the dolphins in their Save the Humans campaign. Eventually he rejoins Ford, who claims to have saved the Universe in order to hitch-hike one last time and see God’s Final Message to His Creation. Along the way, they are also joined by Marvin, the Paranoid Android, who, although 37 times older than the universe itself (what with time travel and all), has just enough power left in his failing body to read the message and feel better about it all before expiring.

Finally, in Mostly Harmless, Vogons take over The Hitchhiker’s Guide (under the name of InfiniDim Enterprises), to finish the task of obliterating the Earth. Arthur loses Fenchurch and travels around the galaxy despondently, before crashing his spaceship on the planet Lamuella, where he settles in happily as the official sandwich-maker for a small village of simple, peaceful people. Meanwhile, Ford Prefect breaks into The Guide’s offices, gets himself an infinite expense account from the computer system, and then meets The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Mark II, an artificially intelligent, multi-dimensional guide with vast power and a hidden purpose. Trillian leaves her daughter, Random Frequent Flyer Dent with Arthur, but she then steals The Guide Mark II and uses it to get to Earth. Arthur, Ford, Trillian, and Tricia McMillan (Trillian in this alternate universe) give chase & follow her to a crowded club, where an anguished Random becomes startled by a noise and inadvertently fires her gun at Arthur. The shot misses Arthur and kills Agrajag. Soon afterwards, The Guide Mark II removes all possible Earths from probability, which is bad news for all the main characters, apart from Zaphod, who were all on Earth at the time.

Author Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl) wrote a sixth instalment entitled And Another Thing, which sees the characters awoken from virtual reality as death rays bear down on Earth before being picked up by Zaphod and joined by Bowerick Wowbagger, the Infinitely Prolonged. Zaphod then travels to Asgard to get Thor’s help, to deal with the Vogons, who are heading to the planet Nano in order to destroy a colony of people who also escaped Earth’s destruction. So Arthur, Wowbagger, Trillian and Random head to Nano during the journey Wowbagger and Trillian fall in love, then Zaphod arrives with Thor, who becomes the planet’s God. Wowbagger then marries Trillian and Thor manages to stop the first Vogon attack. Then Arthur get flung across alternate universes during a hyperspace jump but ends up exactly where he’d want to be unfortunately the Vogons turn up again….

The popularity of the radio series gave rise to a six-episode television series, which first aired on BBC 2 in 1981. It employed many of the actors from the radio series and was based mainly on the radio versions of Fits the First through Sixth. A second series was also planned, although it was never made. On 21 June 2004, BBC Radio announced that a new series of Hitchhiker’s based on the third novel would be broadcast followed by a further series based on the fourth and fifth novels. A movie adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was also released in 2005 starring Martin Freeman as Arthur, Mos Def as Ford, Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox and Zooey Deschanel as Trillian, with Alan Rickman providing the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android (and Warwick Davis acting in Marvin’s costume), and Stephen Fry as the voice of the Guide/Narrator. The plot of the film adaptation of Hitchhiker’s Guide differs widely from that of the radio show, book and television series and visits to Vogsphere, the homeworld of the Vogons (which, in the books, was already abandoned), and Viltvodle VI are inserted. The film covers events in the first four radio episodes, and ends with the characters en route to Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, leaving the opportunity for a sequel open.

Duke Ellington

American composer, pianist, and big-band leader Duke Ellington sadly died 24 May 1974. He was Born 29th April in 1899 in Washington, D.C. Ellington was born on April 29, 1899, to James Edward Ellington and Daisy (Kennedy) Ellington in Washington, D.C. Both his parents were pianists. Daisy primarily played parlor songs and James preferred operatic arias. They lived with his maternal grandparents  in the West End neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Duke’s father  James Ellington made blueprints for the United States Navy. At the age of seven, Ellington began taking piano lessons from Marietta Clinkscales. Ellington’s  casual, offhand manner, his easy grace, and his dapper dress gave him the bearing of a young nobleman, earning him the nickname “Duke.” Ellington credited his chum Edgar McEntree for the nickname. Though Ellington took piano lessons, he was more interested in baseball. Ellington went to Armstrong Technical High School in Washington, D.C. He gained his first job selling peanuts at Washington Senators baseball games. ELlington composed his first peice in 1914, while working as a soda jerk at the Poodle Dog Café, entitled Soda Fountain Rag” (also known as the “Poodle Dog Rag”) and would play the ‘Soda Fountain Rag’ as a one-step, two-step, waltz, tango, and fox trot”,

In 1913 Ellington started sneaking into Frank Holiday’s Poolroom. Hearing the poolroom pianists play ignited Ellington’s love for the instrument, and he began to take his piano studies seriously. Among the many piano players he listened to were Doc Perry, Lester Dishman, Louis Brown, Turner Layton, Gertie Wells, Clarence Bowser, Sticky Mack, Blind Johnny, Cliff Jackson, Claude Hopkins, Phil Wurd, Caroline Thornton, Luckey Roberts, Eubie Blake, Joe Rochester, and Harvey Brooks. Ellington began listening to, watching, and imitating ragtime pianists, he saw in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Atlantic City. Dunbar High School music teacher Henry Lee Grant gave him private lessons in harmony. With the additional guidance of Washington pianist and band leader Oliver “Doc” Perry, Ellington learned to read sheet music, project a professional style, and improve his technique. Ellington was also inspired by his first encounters with pianists James P. Johnson and Luckey Roberts. Later in New York he took advice from Will Marion Cook, Fats Waller, and Sidney Bechet. Ellington started playing gigs in cafés and clubs in and around Washington, D.C. And also turned down an art scholarship to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Three months before graduating he dropped out of Armstrong Manual Training School, where he was studying commercial art.

Working as a freelance sign-painter from 1917, Ellington began assembling groups to play for dances. In 1919 he met drummer Sonny Greer from New Jersey, who encouraged Ellington to become a professional musician. Ellington built his music business through his day job: ask customers if they had musical entertainment; if not, Ellington would offer to play for the occasion. He also had a messenger job with the U.S. Navy and State departments. Ellington moved out of his parents’ home and bought his own as he became a successful pianist and in 1917 formed his first group, “The Duke’s Serenaders” their first gig was at the True Reformer’s Hall. Ellington played throughout the Washington, D.C. area and into Virginia for private society balls and embassy parties. The band included childhood friend Otto Hardwick, who began playing the string bass, then moved to C-melody sax and finally settled on alto saxophone; Arthur Whetsol on trumpet; Elmer Snowden on banjo; and Sonny Greer on drums.

From the mid-1920s onward, Ellington was based in New York City and gained a national profile through his orchestra’s appearances at the Cotton Club in Harlem. In the 1930s, his orchestra toured in Europe. Though widely considered to have been a pivotal figure in the history of jazz, Ellington embraced the phrase “beyond category” as a liberating principle, and referred to his music as part of the more general category of American Music, rather than to a musical genre such as jazz. Some of the musicians who were members of Ellington’s orchestra, such as saxophonist Johnny Hodges, are considered to be among the best players in jazz. Ellington melded them into the best-known orchestral unit in the history of jazz. Some members stayed with the orchestra for several decades. A master at writing miniatures for the three-minute 78 rpm recording format, Ellington often composed specifically to feature the style and skills of his individual musicians.

Often collaborating with others, Ellington wrote more than one thousand compositions; his extensive body of work is the largest recorded personal jazz legacy, with many of his works having become standards. Ellington also recorded songs written by his bandsmen, for example Juan Tizol’s “Caravan”, and “Perdido”, which brought a Spanish tinge to big band jazz. After 1941, Ellington collaborated with composer-arranger-pianist Billy Strayhorn, whom he called his writing and arranging companion. With Strayhorn, he composed many extended compositions, or suites, as well as additional short pieces. Following an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival, in July 1956, Ellington and his orchestra enjoyed a major career revival and embarked on world tours. Ellington recorded for most American record companies of his era, performed in several films, scoring several, and composed stage musicals.

Ellington was A major figure in the history of jazz, and his music stretched into various other genres, including blues, gospel, film scores, popular, and classical. His career spanned more than 50 years and included leading his orchestra, composing an inexhaustible songbook, scoring for movies, composing stage musicals, and world tours. Several of his instrumental works were adapted into songs that became standards.

Due to his inventive use of the orchestra, or big band, and thanks to his eloquence and extraordinary charisma, he is generally considered to have elevated the perception of jazz to an art form on a par with other traditional genres of music. His reputation increased after his death and the Pulitzer Prize Board bestowed on him a special posthumous honor in 1999. Ellington called his music “American Music” rather than jazz, and liked to describe those who impressed him as “beyond category.” These included many of the musicians who were members of his orchestra, some of whom are considered among the best in jazz in their own right, but it was Ellington who melded them into one of the most well-known jazz orchestral units in the history of jazz.

He often composed specifically for the style and skills of these individuals, such as “Jeep’s Blues” for Johnny Hodges, “Concerto for Cootie” for Cootie Williams, which later became “Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me” with Bob Russell’s lyrics, and “The Mooche” for Tricky Sam Nanton and Bubber Miley. He also recorded songs written by his bandsmen, such as Juan Tizol’s “Caravan” and “Perdido” which brought the “Spanish Tinge” to big-band jazz. Several members of the orchestra remained there for several decades. After 1941, he frequently collaborated with composer-arranger-pianist Billy Strayhorn, whom he called his “writing and arranging companion.” Ellington recorded for many American record companies, and appeared in several films. Ellington led his band from 1923 until his death in 1974. His son Mercer Ellington, who had already been handling all administrative aspects of his father’s business for several decades, led the band until his own death in 1996. At that point, the original band dissolved. Paul Ellington, Mercer’s youngest son and executor of the Duke Ellington estate, kept the Duke Ellington Orchestra going from Mercer’s death onwards

Heavy D

Jamaican-born American rapper, record producer, singer, actor, and former leader of Heavy D & the Boyz, Dwight Errington Myers (AKA Heavy D) was born May 24, 1967 in Mandeville, Middlesex, Jamaica. In the early 1970s, his family moved to Mount Vernon, New York, where he was raised. In an interview, his mother stated that he spent most of his childhood hanging out with his brother Floyd and his childhood friend Mo.

He formed Heavy D and the Boyz a hip hop group with dancers/background vocalists G-Whiz (Glen Parrish), “Trouble” T. Roy (Troy Dixon), and Eddie F (born Edward Ferrell). Heavy D & the Boyz were the first group signed to Uptown Records, with Heavy D as the frontman and only rapper. Eddie F was his business partner in the group, DJ, and one of the producers. The other two members, T-Roy and G-Wiz were the dancers. Their debut, Living Large, was released in 1987. The album was a commercial success; Big Tyme was a breakthrough that included four hits. “Trouble T. Roy” died at age 22 in a fall on July 15, 1990, in Indianapolis. Dixon’s death led to a tribute on the follow-up platinum album, Peaceful Journey. Pete Rock & CL Smooth created a tribute to Trouble T. Roy called “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” which is regarded as a hip hop classiy

In 1989 Heavy D performed a guest rap on Janet Jackson’s hit single “Alright”. It and Blondie’s “Rapture”, recorded in 1980, were notably the first pop singles to feature a rapper, setting the trend for future hip-hop and pop collaborations. In 1992 he appeared on Michael Jackson’s single “Jam” and sang the theme song for the television program In Living Color and also MADtv. Heavy D then began focusing on his acting, appearing in various television shows before returning to the music charts with Nuttin’ But Love. After appearing in the off-Broadway play Riff Raff at Circle Repertory Company, Heavy D returned to recording with the hit Waterbed Hev.

In 1997, Heavy D collaborated with B.B. King on his duets album Deuces Wild, rapping in the song “Keep It Coming”. Heavy D was referred to in the song “Juicy” by the Notorious B.I.G., and appeared in his music video for “One More Chance. Heavy D was also partly responsible for giving Sean “Diddy” Combs and Jodeci their first big break in the music business. Heavy D also became the president of Uptown Records. During this time, and also developed the boy band Soul for Real, and was the executive producer and principal writer of several songs on the group’s breakout album, Candy Rain and became senior vice president at Universal Music. Heavy D and Eddie F also performed at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards on October 11, 2011 which was their first televised live performance in 15 years and would be his final live performance.

Myers sadly died on November 8, 2011, in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 44. He collapsed outside his home in Beverly Hills, California, and was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. His death was initially thought to be connected to pneumonia An autopsy report, released on December 27, 2011, stated that the cause of death was a pulmonary embolism (PE). The coroner’s office found that Myers died of a PE that had broken off from a deep vein thrombosis in the leg. He also suffered from heart disease. Craig Harvey, chief of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner, said that the blood clot that resulted in the PE was “most likely formed during an extended airplane ride”. Heavy D had recently returned from a trip to Cardiff, Wales, where he performed at a tribute to Michael Jackson. Shortly after his death, MC Hammer and others led tributes for Heavy D on Twitter. Hammer tweeted, “We had a lot of great times touring together. He had a heart of gold. He was a part of what’s good about the world.” His funeral was held in his hometown of Mount Vernon, NY at Grace Baptist Church. He was then laid to rest in Hartsdale, NY.

Larry Blackmon (Cameo)

American Musician Lawrence Ernest Blackmon was born May 24, 1956. He is the lead singer and founder frontman of the funk and R&B band, Cameo. Starting the band “East Coast”, Blackmon and Tomi Jenkins formed the “New York City Players” as compliment to the Ohio Players. Having to rename the group due to a conflict, the band later called itself Cameo. Blackmon lived in Harlem and played drums on several hits for the band Black Ivory. He is the son of Lee Black, a former boxer.

Along with his unique vocal style, Blackmon’s other personal touches included sporting an elaborate hi-top fade haircut and a codpiece over his pants. His signature “ow!” was used as the intro for some of the band’s songs. Blackmon appeared as a backing vocalist on Ry Cooder’s 1987 album “Get Rhythm” and Cyndi Lauper’s 1989 album, A Night to Remember. He also had co-producer credits for Eddie Murphy’s 1989 album So Happy.

The snare drum sound that Blackmon created for “Word Up!” and “Candy” was duplicated on releases by a wide range of artists. The group Cameo appeared at Adventureland Palace sponsored by Black Pride, Inc., on April 26, 1978.One of his sons is heavily involved in the New York political scene, while another son is currently involved in the hip hop music industry.

Guy Fletcher (Dire Straits)

Multi instrumentalist and keyboard player with rock band Dire Straits, Guy Fletcher was born May 24th 1960 in Maidstone, Kent, England. He was born into a musical family and is the namesake of his uncle, Guy Fletcher, who has written several hit songs for other artists with composing partner Doug Flett. His mother Barbara was a session singer and his father Ted Fletcher, a well established audio designer, (Orbitsound) created a line of audio equipment named after Joe Meek with whom he had worked. Whilst learning a trade as an audio engineer at DJM Studios in London Guy also had a succession of his own bands and learned to play keyboards, guitars, and a variety of stringed instruments. He joined and toured with Steve Harley’s ‘Cockney Rebel’ in 1979 and in 1981, Roxy Music for their ‘Avalon’ world tour.

In 1983, Guy was recruited by Dire Straits’ lead guitarist Mark Knopfler to work on the music for the films Cal and ‘Comfort and Joy, he joined Dire Straits in 1984. The group released their first album, Dire Straits and toured with the Talking Heads. Upon it’s rerelease “Sultans of Swing” became one of Dire Straits’ biggest hits and has since become a fixture in the band’s live performances. “ The group’s second album, Communique was Released in June 1979, it Featured the singles “Lady Writer” and Once Upon a Time in the West”.

It continued in a similar vein as the first and was nominated for two Grammy Awards In 1980, For Best New Artist and Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for “Sultans Of Swing. Dire Straits third album. Making Movies was release in 1980 and featured longer songs with more complex arrangements, a style which would continue for the rest of the band’s career. The album featured many of Mark Knopfler’s most personal compositions. The most successful being “Romeo and Juliet”

Dire Straits’ fourth studio album Love Over Gold, was released in 1982 and contained lengthy, experimental passages, including Private Investigations. It went gold in America and spent four weeks at number one in the United Kingdom. “Private Investigations”, became another of the band’s most popular live songs. along with “Industrial Disease”, a song that looks at the decline of the British manufacturing industry in the early 1980s. In 1983, a four-song EP titled ExtendedancEPlay was released while Love Over Gold was still in the album charts. It featured the hit single “Twisting By the Pool”. Dire Straits also embarked on a world tour, and the resulting double album Alchemy Live, a recording of two live concerts of the group at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in July 1983, was released in March 1984.

Dire Straits hugely popular album Brothers in Arms, was released in 1985 containing the tracks “Money for Nothing”, “Walk of Life”, “So Far Away”, “Your Latest Trick” and “Brothers in Arms”. It entered the UK Albums Chart at number 1 and spent a total of 228 weeks in the charts, Going on to become the best-selling album of 1985 in the UK. “Money for Nothing” was also one of the first videos ever to be played on MTV in Britain and featured guest vocals by Sting, who is credited with co-writing the song with Mark Knopfler, although in fact, it was just the inclusion of the melody line from “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”.Brothers in Arms was among the first albums recorded on digital equipment due to Knopfler pushing for improved sound quality The album’s title track is reported to be the world’s first CD single. The album is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first compact disc to sell a million copies, and has been credited with helping to popularise the CD format.

The Dire Straits sound drew from a variety of musical influences, including jazz, folk, blues, and came closest to beat music within the context of rock and roll. Despite the prominence of punk rock during the band’s early years, the band’s stripped-down sound contrasted with punk, demonstrating a more “rootsy” influence that emerged out of pub rock. Many of Dire Straits’ compositions have made them one of the world’s most commercially successful bands, with worldwide album sales of over 120 million. Their fifth album, Brothers in Arms, has won many accolades. In November 2009, Dire Straits were honoured by the new PRS for Music Heritage Award. A special blue plaque was erected at Farrer House, Church Street, Deptford in south London, where the original group, Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler, John Illsley and Pick Withers once shared a council flat and performed their first ever gig in 1977. PRS for Music has set up the Heritage Award to recognise the unusual “performance birthplaces” of famous bands and artists. Dire Straits have also won numerous music awards during their career, including four Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards—winning Best British Group twice, and two MTV Video Music Awards.

After Dire Straits disbanded in 1995, Fletcher continued his association with former band founder, Mark Knopfler, as a core member of his band after launching his solo career. Between late February and August, 2005, Fletcher completed a world tour as his sideman, promoting Knopfler’s 2004 solo album, Shangri-La, and in 2006 rounded off the duets tour with Knopfler and Emmylou Harris. Fletcher also toured as part of Bryan Ferry´s band on his Mamouna world tour.Fletcher co-produced and played keyboards on Knopflers solo album, Get Lucky, and was again part of his subsequent world tour in 2010. Fletcher’s first solo album, Inamorata, was released on 28 January 2008. Mark Knopfler guests as lead guitarist for two tracks, and various musicians who have been associated with Knopfler’s band also make appearances.On 24 May 2010, Fletcher released his second solo album, titled Natural Selection.

Bob Dylan

Influential American musician, singer-songwriter, music producer, artist, and writer Bob Dylan was born; May 24, 1942. He has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly reluctant figurehead of social unrest. A number of Dylan’s early songs, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’”, became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements. Leaving his initial base in the culture of folk music behind, Dylan’s six-minute single “Like a Rolling Stone” radically altered the parameters of popular music in 1965.

His recordings employing electric instruments attracted denunciation and criticism from others in the folk movement.Dylan’s lyrics have incorporated a variety of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences. They defied existing pop music conventions and appealed hugely to the then burgeoning counterculture. Initially inspired by the performance style of Little Richard, and the songwriting of Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, and Hank Williams, Dylan has both amplified and personalized musical genres. His recording career, spanning fifty years, has explored many of the traditions in American song—from folk, blues, and countryto gospel, rock and roll, and rockabilly to English, Scottish, and Irish folk music, embracing even jazz and swing. Dylan performs with guitar, keyboards, and harmonica. Backed by a changing line-up of musicians, he has toured steadily since the late 1980s on what has been dubbed the Never Ending Tour. His accomplishments as a recording artist and performer have been central to his career, but his greatest contribution is generally considered to be his songwriting. Since 1994, Dylan has published three books of drawings and paintings, and his work has been exhibited in major art galleries.

As a songwriter and musician, Dylan has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and received numerous awards over the years including Grammy, Golden Globe, and Academy Awards; he has been inducted into theRock and Roll Hall of Fame, Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2008 awarded him a special citation for “his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.” In May 2000, Dylan was awarded thePolar Music Prize. In May 2012, Dylan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama

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