Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pop History Moment: Arsenal's Miracle Season Ends

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

On this day in 2004 Arsenal completed an entire regular season of 38 games undefeated under the coaching of Arsène Wenger; the only other time an England squad had been so successful was Preston North End in 1889 - which was only the Football League's first year!

The stars of the Gunners' miraculous season were Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, and Patrick Vieira as they chased Chelsea and Manchester United for league dominance.  Eventually Arsenal would be denied the FA Cup by Man United and the European Cup by Chelsea; they did, however, come within 1 point of their Mancunian rival's record of most points in a season, finishing with an impressive 90.
share on: facebook

"Beep" by Pussycat Dolls

I couldn't begin to tell you which of these ladies is Jessica Sutta*, whose birthday it is today; after all, I'm hardly the key demographic the Pussycat Dolls are meant to appeal to, am I? But I do like the song, and I have a readership to pander appeal to, so there you have it.

Beep is the third single from their 2005 debut album PCD; featuring guest vocals by (of Black Eyed Peas fame), it got all the way to #1 in Belgium, Israel, Indonesia, and New Zealand.

*To be honest, I'm not even sure if she's in the video.

share on: facebook

"Tubular Bells" by Mike Oldfield

Considered on its own, birthday boy Mike Oldfield's masterwork Tubular Bells isn't so bad...

When it was released in 1973 it launched the nascent Virgin Records and thus the career of showboating billionaire Richard Branson - as to how good or bad that is, well, I'll leave it up to you - but where it really achieved its full horrific potential was when, that same year, it was used as the theme music for The Exorcist; it's now been a decade since I last saw The Exorcist, and the opening bars of the above clip still managed to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. Also, as a pioneering work of what we now call New Age music* it can be said to be either innovative or as having blazed a trail better left unblazed - again, depending entirely upon your point of view.

Oldfield has expanded and adapted Tubular Bells numerous times over the years in accordance with his own vision for the piece, and seems likely to continue to do so for many years to come... First came Tubular Bells II (1992), then Tubular Bells III (1998) and finally The Millennium Bell (1999); 2003 saw the release of - you guessed it! - Tubular Bells 2003, a re-recording of the original piece using updated digital technology and containing several 'corrections' of what he saw as flaws in the first album's production. This version was also notable for replacing the late Vivian Stanshall's narration with a newly recorded one by John Cleese.

*And what still others of us call 'newage' music...
share on: facebook

POPnews - May 15th

[The tragedy of Van Gogh's life is nothing compared to the circumstances surrounding some of his works... While the private purchase and subsequent removal of this painting from its rightful place (namely, on public view) was bad enough, having changed hands at least twice since 1990 - it's thought to have been bought and sold by Austrian businessman Wolfgang Flöttl - its whereabouts are currently unknown.]

1252 - Pope Innocent IV issued a papal bull entitled Ad exstirpanda, authorizing the torture of heretics during the Medieval Inquisition - which is what Jesus would have done, I'm sure.

1514 - Jodocus Badius Ascensius published Christiern Pedersen's Latin version of Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum, making it the oldest known version of the work which chronicles Denmark's past from prehistory to the 12th Century.

1525 - The Battle of Frankenhausen ended the Peasants' War, when the mercenary troops of the Landgrave Philipp I of Hesse and George, Duke of Saxony were defeated by a rag tag group commanded by Anabaptist leader Thomas Müntzer.

1567 - Mary Queen of Scots married her third and worst husband James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, in the Great Hall at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

1602 - Bartholomew Gosnold became the first European to see Cape Cod; not only did he name it, he also named Martha's Vineyard after his daughter. Gosnold's voyage was written about by one of the adventurers who sailed onboard the barque Concord with him, John Brereton.

1776 - In an event considered to have prompted the American Revolution the Virginia Convention instructed its delegation to the Continental Congress - which was led by Richard Henry Lee - to propose a resolution of independence from Great Britain, paving the way for the Declaration of Independence.

1869 - Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association in New York City.

1905 - Las Vegas was founded when 44.5 hectares (110 acres) of what later would become downtown - owned by the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad - were auctioned off.

1918 - The Finnish Civil War - between the Social Democrats led by the People's Deputation of Finland (supported by Bolshevist Russia and known as the 'Reds') and the conservative forces of the Senate, (supported by the German Empire and commonly called the 'Whites') - ended; in the end, victory went to the Whites, but it was to be short-lived. Following the collapse of the German Empire in November 1918 the country became a sovereign republic.

1919 - The Winnipeg General Strike began; by 11AM virtually the entire working population of the city - as many as 35,000 - had walked off the job.

1932 - During the May 15 Incident - an attempted coup by radical, ultranationalist elements within the Japanese military - Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi was assassinated; some historians view this event as part of the larger League of Blood Incident, in which Finance Minister Inoue Junnosuke and businessman Takuma Dan were killed ten weeks earlier.

1935 - The Moscow Metro was opened to public.

1941 - New York Yankees center fielder Joe DiMaggio began a record-breaking 56-game hitting streak, earning him the sobriquet 'the Yankee Clipper'.

1954 - The Queen and Prince Philip returned to the United Kingdom after a six-month tour of the Commonwealth, making her the first British monarch to circumnavigate the globe. Having covered 43,618 miles by land, sea, and air the royal yacht HMY Britannia sailed triumphantly up the Thames, under Tower Bridge, and into the Pool of London; on board with the royal couple were their two children - Prince Charles and Princess Anne - as well as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who'd come aboard the previous night. Docking at the Tower of London, they were joined by the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret for the short jaunt to Westminster where, following a carriage ride to Buckingham Palace, they then made four appearances on the balcony to rapturous applause, the last at 11 PM.

1955 - The first successful ascent of Makalu - the world's fifth highest mountain, located near Mount Everest on the border between Nepal and Tibet - was made by French mountaineers by Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy.

1957 - Britain tested its first H-bomb high above Christmas Island, in the South Pacific.

1972 - Arthur Bremer shot Alabama Governor George Wallace four times at a campaign stop in Maryland during Wallace's bid for the Presidency, permanently paralyzing him from the waist down. Bremer eventually served 35 years of a 63 year sentence - a sentence which was reduced to 53 years on appeal; he was released from prison in November 2007, whereas Wallace was only released from his own prison when he died in September 1998.

1990 - Vincent van Gogh's Portrait of Doctor Gachet was sold to Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito for a record $82.5 million, making it the world's most expensive painting at the time.

1991 - Edith Cresson became France's first female prime minister.
share on: facebook