Friday, May 21, 2010

Standup by Noel Fielding

Although best known as Vince Noir in The Mighty Boosh, birthday boy Noel Fielding first came to the attention of the Pop Culture Institute as a stand-up comedian and from his appearances on panel shows - such as The Big Fat Quiz of the Year - as well as for his typically surreal appearance in The IT Crowd.

This very early clip shows him prior to the Goth persona which has lately overtaken him, although his trademark loopiness is present...
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Pop History Moment: The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi

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On this day in 1991 Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by Thenmuli Rajaratnam (also known as Dhanu and later as Gayatri), a female suicide bomber allied with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam; at the time, hostilities between India and Sri Lanka were at an all-time high.

Gandhi was killed while at Sriperumbudur (near Chennai) in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu to give a speech in support of a Congress Party candidate, Mrs. Maragatham Chandrasekhar, who was running for a seat in the Lok Sabha*. He was killed instantly at 10:10 PM, along with 14 others, including a photographer whose film of the killing survived even though he did not. The Rajiv Gandhi Memorial was later built in the small industrial town, and today is its biggest tourist attraction.

Gandhi was India's youngest Prime Minister when first elected in October 1984 at the age of 40; his mother was India's first female Prime Minister, and his grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru was India's first-ever Prime Minister following its independence from Britain in 1947. Alas, he was not the first Prime Minister of India to be assassinated; in the same way he followed his mother into office he also emulated her departure.

*Which she later won; Chandrasekhar died in October 2001, at the age of 84.
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POPnews - May 21st

[Upon his landing at Le Bourget Field near Paris, Charles Lindbergh was greeted by as many as 150,000 spectators, whose cheers and jostling nearly did in the exhausted pilot and his plane; only the quick thinking of the military, on hand for crowd control, managed to rescue Lindbergh from trampling and his now famous plane from being pulled to pieces by souvenir hunters. Alas, it was a far worse Fate that befell The White Bird, which had taken off from Le Bourget on May 8th seeking to trump Lindbergh's feat, only from the other direction... Neither the plane nor its pilots, Charles Nungesser and François Coli, were ever seen again - making them among the dozens of aviators who died trying to win the $25,000 Orteig Prize.]

996 CE - The sixteen-year-old King of Germany Otto III was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Gregory V, who was not only the first German pope but also His Majesty's cousin - the former Bruno of Carinthia, whose election to the papacy Otto II had engineered.

1502 - The island of Saint Helena was discovered by the Portuguese navigator João da Nova.

1554 - England's Derby School received its royal charter from Queen Mary I.

1674 - John Sobieski was crowned King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, two days after his election to the throne by the nobility.

1725 - The Order of St. Alexander Nevsky was instituted in Russia by the empress Catherine I; it would later be discontinued in 1917 following the Bolshevik Revolution and then reinstated by the Soviet government in 1942 as the purely military Order of Alexander Nevsky.

1758 - Mary Campbell, then aged about ten, was abducted from her home in Pennsylvania by members of the Lenape Nation during the French and Indian War; she was returned, unharmed, five years later.

1894 - England's Manchester Ship Canal was officially opened by Queen Victoria, who knighted its designer, Sir Edward Leader Williams, at the dedication ceremony.

1917 - During a disastrous fire much of Atlanta's Fourth Ward was destroyed in ten hours.

1924 - University of Chicago students Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks in notorious a 'thrill killing' which was later made the basis for Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 film Rope, as well as the 1992 film Swoon by Tom Kalin among others.

1927 - Charles Lindbergh's plane Spirit of St. Louis touched down at Le Bourget Field in Paris, having completed the world's first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

1932 - Owing to bad weather Amelia Earhart landed in a pasture in the Ulster village of Culmore, near Derry, making her the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean; the date of her flight was chosen purposely to emulate Lindbergh's own, five years earlier.

1941 - 950 miles off the coast of Brazil, the freighter SS Robin Moor became the first United States ship sunk by a German U-boat.

1945 - Screen legend Humphrey Bogart married up-and-coming model-actress Lauren Bacall.

1951 - The opening of the Ninth Street Show, otherwise known as the 9th Street Art Exhibition, was a gathering of a number of notable artists, and became the stepping-out of the post war New York avant-garde, collectively know as the New York School.

1972 - Michelangelo's masterpiece sculpture Pietà, at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, was damaged by a vandal named Laszlo Toth, who took a hammer to the exquisitely rendered marble shouting 'I am Jesus Christ!' Thanks to him, the work is now displayed behind bullet-proof glass.

1979 - During the White Night riots in San Francisco following the manslaughter conviction of Dan White for the assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk (handed down on what would have been Milk's birthday) the city's sizable gay community rioted, destroying 12 police cruisers and causing significant property damage around that city's Civic Centre; in retaliation, police officers raided the Elephant Walk bar in the largely gay Castro District, destroying fixtures and assaulting patrons. Strangely enough, a grand jury was unable to lay charges against the SFPD for lack of evidence. Like, say, dozens of eyewitnesses...

1996 - The MV Bukoba sank in Tanzanian waters on Lake Victoria, killing nearly 1000.

1998 - Suharto, the Indonesian dictator who had been in power for 32 years, resigned.

2004 - Sherpa Pemba Dorjie climbed Mount Everest in 8 hours 10 minutes, breaking his rival Sherpa Lakpa Gelu's record from the previous year.
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