Saturday, May 01, 2010

Happy Birthday Joanna Lumley

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPop culture-wise she was Purdey in The New Avengers, a Bond Girl in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Sapphire in Sapphire and Steel, and Miss French in Are You Being Served?; she also played silent film scenarist Elinor Glyn in Peter Bogdanovich's 2001 film The Cat's Meow and a female Doctor in the 1999 Doctor Who/Comic Relief special The Curse of Fatal Death.

But what else am I missing...?  Oh yeah, she also played the Hell out of Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous.  Sweetie! Darling!!
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POPnews (UK) - May 1st

[Because Britain was the first to introduce the postage stamp, British stamps are the only ones in the world today not to bear the name of their country of origin on the face, but rather a profile of the ruling sovereign.]

1328 - The Wars of Scottish Independence ended with the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, under the terms of which the Kingdom of England recognized the Kingdom of Scotland as an independent state.

1707 - The Act of Union joined the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

1840 - The Penny Black, the world's first official adhesive postage stamp, was issued by the United Kingdom. Part of Rowland Hill's 1837 proposal to reform the British postal system, the Penny Black represented a fundamental shift in the way people paid for their mail; prior to its introduction postage was always due upon delivery, its payment the responsibility of the receiver.

1851 - London's Great Exhibition was opened by Queen Victoria.

1875 - Alexandra Palace - named for Alexandra of Denmark, Princess of Wales - reopened after a fire in June 1873 burnt it down.

1973 - A one-day strike involving 1.6 million members of the Trades' Union Congress was called by its president, Vic Feather.

1982 - RAF bombers mounted Operation Black Buck began with an attack on the Argentine Air Force during the Falklands War.

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Now Showing - "The Windy City" from "Calamity Jane"

If Calamity Jane is remembered at all today - at least around the Pop Culture Institute - it's because of one movie: David Butler's nearly perfect 1953 musical Calamity Jane, which was produced by Warner Bros. and starred Doris Day as the lady herself and Howard Keel as Wild Bill Hickok.  As indelible as Day's performance is, though, she was neither the only nor even the first person in movie history to play the legendary frontierswoman*...

Jean Arthur played her in the 1936 Gary Cooper film The Plainsman, and Jane Russell took her best shot at the character in the 1948 Bob Hope comedy The Paleface.  Other filmic performances include those of Catherine O'Hara (opposite Patrick Swayze as Pecos Bill) in the 1995 film Tall Tale and Ellen Barkin in the same year's Wild Bill, which starred Jeff Bridges as Hickok.  Television has not been immune to the charms of Calamity Jane either; in that medium she's been portrayed by such diverse lovelies as Stefanie Powers, Jane Alexander, Robin Weigert, and Anjelica Huston.

All of which means that the woman born Martha Jane Cannary on this day in 1852 has been portrayed on film for more years than the 51 she actually lived, and while most of those movies are nearly as interesting as the truth of her life, most of them also contain about as much truth as the stories she told about that life - which is to say not much!

*Although she was both the first and only person to play her as likely to burst into song without any notice! 
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POPnews (US) - May 1st

[An event which would normally be the most embarrassing of another person's entire life wasn't even the most cringe-inducing incident in the eight long years of George W. Bush's presidency. His arrival on-board an aircraft carrier wearing a flight suit (and a codpiece besides!) was a PR stunt which did considerably more for comedy and/or umbrage than it did morale; to be fair, though, he later admitted he'd been wrong to do it, which was mighty white of him...]

1778 - The Battle of Crooked Billet began in Hatboro, Pennsylvania.

1848 - The fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta was founded at Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.

1893 - The World's Columbian Exposition opened in Chicago; as many as 27 million people - a number equivalent to half the US population at the time - would visit the fair during its six-month duration.

1898 - At the outset of the Spanish-American War, during the Battle of Manila Bay, the US Navy destroyed Spain's Pacific fleet; even though it was just the first major engagement of the war, it proved to be a pretty good indicator of how the rest of the hostilities would play out...

1900 - Utah's Scofield Mine Disaster killed 200, in what is the fifth-worst mining accident in US history to date.

1901 - The Pan-American Exposition opened in Buffalo, New York.

1915 - RMS Lusitania departed New York City on her two hundred and second crossing of the North Atlantic; it would also be her last...

1927 - The Union Labor Life Insurance Company was founded by the American Federation of Labor.

1930 - The name of the dwarf planet Pluto - chosen on March 24th from a suggestion by English schoolgirl Venetia Burney - was formally announced by the staff of Arizona's Lowell Observatory, where the existence of Percival Lowell's fabled Planet X had been discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh only that February; contrary to popular belief the Disney character Pluto was named after the planetoid and not the other way around, which means Miss Burney also indirectly named Mickey Mouse's dog after the Greek god of the Underworld. For doing so, incidentally, she was given the considerable sum of £5 by her grandfather, Falconer Madan, who was himself a librarian at Oxford's Bodleian Library.

1960 - Francis Gary Powers, piloting a Lockheed U-2 spyplane, was shot down over the Soviet Union; the incident set in motion one the Cold War's foremost diplomatic schamozzle, the U-2 Crisis.

1971 - Amtrak (the National Railroad Passenger Corporation) was formed to take over US passenger rail service.

1982 - The 1982 World's Fair opened in Knoxville, Tennessee; its theme was 'Energy Turns the World'.  The fair is probably more famous, however, for its inclusion in the twentieth episode of the seventh season of The Simpsons - Bart on the Road.

1989 - The Disney-MGM Studios theme park opened at Walt Disney World near Orlando.

2003 - In what became notorious as the 'Mission Accomplished' speech, President George W. Bush declared that 'major combat operations in Iraq have ended' on board the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of California.

2007 - The May Day Mêlée occurred in Los Angeles' MacArthur Park when the LAPD's not unpredictable response to a peaceful pro-immigration rally was to use rubber bullets to break it up.

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"Turn, Turn, Turn" by Judy Collins

Birthday wishes go out today to Seattle native Judy Collins, folk singer par excellence, who here lends her unique touch to Pete Seeger's classic Turn, Turn, Turn. A longtime social activist, following the 1992 suicide of her son Clark she wrote a book, entitled Sanity & Grace, which attempts to help people coping with such a loss in their own lives.
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Pop History Moment: The Empire State Building Was Opened

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The Empire State Building was officially opened on this day in 1931 when its ribbon was cut by the grandchildren of former New York governor Alfred E. Smith.

Designed by Gregory Johnson of Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, site excavation began in January 1930, with construction symbolically beginning (thanks to Al Smith) on St. Patrick's Day. It took just 401 days to erect the 101-storey structure, with only five deaths* among the crew of 3,400.

Filling it, on the other hand, would take much longer. First conceived in the giddy days before the Crash of 1929, the building soon took on the moniker 'The Empty State Building' for the difficulty it had in attracting renters; in its first year of operation the observation deck produced as much revenue as all the rents in the building - $2 million.

*A more typical casualty figure would be one dead worker per floor.

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POPnews - May 1st

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[Europe had its biggest day ever in terms of membership growth on this day in 2004 when ten nations joined its union under the terms of the Treaty of Accession, expanding the European family from 15 to 25 members.]

305 CE - Diocletian and Maximian retired from the office of Roman Emperor; Diocletian had served as Emperor in the East whereas Maximian had served in the West. They were succeeded by Galerius and Constantius Chlorus respectively.

880 CE - The Nea Ekklesia was inaugurated in Constantinople, setting the model for all later cross-in-square Orthodox churches.

1576 - Stephen Báthory, the reigning Prince of Transylvania, married Anna Jagiellon; together they became co-rulers of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, rendering the Union of Lublin obsolete.

1753 - Carl Linnaeus' book Species Plantarum was published, marking the formal start date of plant taxonomy adopted by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.

1776 - The Illuminati were established in Ingolstadt, a village in Upper Bavaria, by the Jesuit-trained Adam Weishaupt.

1786 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro opened at Vienna's Burgtheater.

1852 - The Philippine peso was introduced into circulation by what is now known as the Bank of the Philippine Islands; called the peso fuerte it replaced the real at a rate of 8 reales to the peso.

1925 - The All-China Federation of Trade Unions was officially founded; today it is the largest trade union in the world, with 134 million members.

1945 - A German newsreader officially announced that Adolf Hitler had 'fallen at his command post in the Reich Chancellery fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism and for Germany' when in fact what he actually did is watch Eva Braun take cyanide and then shot himself in the head, choosing to die like a rat beneath the ruins of Berlin rather than take responsibility for having (whether directly or indirectly) caused the deaths of some 50 million people.

1946 - 800 Indigenous Australians began waging the 3-year-long Pilbara Strike against station owners in Western Australia's Pilbara region, who'd been using them as slave labour to tend sheep.

1960 - India created the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.

1961 - The Prime Minister of Cuba, Fidel Castro, proclaimed Cuba a socialist nation and abolished elections.

1965 - The Battle of Dong-Yin - a naval conflict between Taiwan and China - took place around the island of Dongyin in China's Fukien Province; in the ensuing melee four Chinese gunboats of the People's Liberation Army Navy were sunk, although both sides later claimed victory.

1977 - 36 people were killed in Istanbul's Taksim Square during that year's Labour Day celebrations.

1987 - Pope John Paul II controversially beatified Edith Stein, a Jewish-born Carmelite nun who was gassed in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.

1994 - Brazilian race car driver Ayrton Senna died following a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix; at the same meet Austrian Roland Ratzenberger died and Senna's fellow countryman Rubens Barrichello was seriously injured.

1995 - Croatian forces launched Operation Flash during the Croatian War of Independence.

2000 - Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared the existence of 'a state of rebellion' hours after thousands of supporters of her arrested predecessor, Joseph Estrada, stormed the official residence of the President - Malacañang Palace - at the height of the EDSA III rebellion.

2004 - Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia joined the European Union - an event which was celebrated at Áras an Uachtaráin, the official residence of Irish President Mary McAleese, in Dublin.
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