Thursday, May 27, 2010

"I Got You" by Split Enz

Birthday wishes go out today to Neil Finn, the guitarist and lead singer formerly with New Zealand's pioneering New Wave band Split Enz, also formerly with Crowded House, and currently with himself, recording and touring as a solo act.

Taken from the band's 1980 album True Colours, I Got You was written by Neil Finn and, until the advent of their 1982 single Six Months in a Leaky Boat* was their biggest hit internationally.

*Despite its reputation as a comment against the Falklands War, the song was actually released a month before the outbreak of that particular hostility which, let's face it, no one outside of Casa Rosada saw coming...

share on: facebook

In Memoriam: Dashiell Hammett

Although he only published five novels in his writing career, they are five of the best detective novels in the American canon, and Dashiell Hammett - born on this day in 1894 - is rightly a legend for writing them.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Despite that, his novels are probably better known these days for the movie versions made of them: The Thin Man (1934) starring William Powell and Myrna Loy who played Nick and Nora Charles to giddy perfection, The Glass Key, made twice (first in 1935 with George Raft and again in 1942 starring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake) as well as The Maltese Falcon - also made twice - first in 1931 starring Ricardo Cortez, and in a more famous version in 1941 starring Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade.

The movies are today considered classics of film noir and the novels are even grittier. They are written with a bracing verve that reading them actually got my heart pounding, especially Red Harvest. Only Red Harvest and The Dain Curse have never received the Hollywood treatment, although the latter was made into a mini-series for American TV in 1978, starring James Coburn.

Hammett's reputation today owes as much to his 30-year relationship to Lillian Hellman as his talent. She out-lived him by 32 years, and in that time worked as hard at burnishing his reputation as she did at perfecting her own myth. A 1999 TV movie made by A&E entitled Dash & Lilly memorably starred Sam Shepard and Judy Davis as the literary lovers.
share on: facebook

Pop History Moment: The Death of Nehru

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

On this day in 1964 Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India, died suddenly of a suspected heart attack; he was succeeded on an interim basis by Gulzarilal Nanda until, 13 days later, Lal Bahadur Shastri was elected to lead the Congress Party.

Following his lying-in-state, Nehru was cremated according to Shantivana rites on the banks of the Yamuna River near the capital of New Delhi, a ceremony watched by tens of thousands of mourners. The subject of numerous books and films, he was probably most notably portrayed by Roshan Seth, who played him in Richard Attenborough's 1982 film Gandhi.

share on: facebook

Disney's Silly Symphony: "The Three Little Pigs"

On this day in 1933 Walt Disney (via United Artists) released this little cartoon - actually a cleverly disguised parable of defiance in the face of mass angst brought on by the Great Depression - as part of its Silly Symphonies series; Three Little Pigs also introduced the song Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?, composed by Frank Churchill, which became something of an anthem for the times. The film was highly popular, running in some theaters for months, and went on to win an Academy Award in 1934 in the category Best Short Subject: Cartoons.

Notable for depicting the way the menaced pigs help each other during a time of financial crisis (especially as it relates to the challenges faced in regards to housing), it's this very tendency which the Pop Culture Institute fears has been bred out of people following thirty years' indoctrination by a neoconservative agenda. Still, the message is apt, even today, when a return to cooperation might be just the thing to help people out of the morass caused by competition.

share on: facebook

POPnews - May 27th

[Among the more bizarre aspects of the Century of Progress Fair included having its lights turned on by the star Arcturus, whose beams had been said to leave their source during Chicago's previous fair, the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. (Although owing to an error in calculation, they would have actually left in 1896... Oops!) Unlike the earlier fair - the so-called 'White City', which was built to a neo-classical Grecian design and featured an all-white colour scheme - this one was both a riot of colour and a triumph of ultra-modern Art Deco. The fair's principal attraction was the Sky Ride, a transporter bridge running parallel to Lake Michigan and designed to ferry visitors from one end of the 171.5 hectare (424 acre) grounds to the other while offering outstanding views of the entire site along the way.]

927 CE - During the Battle of the Bosnian Highlands the forces of Bulgarian Tsar Simeon the Great led by Duke Alogobotur were decisively defeated by those of Tomislav, first King of Croatia.

1153 - Malcolm IV became King of Scotland following the death of his grandfather, David I; the 12 year-old who came to be known as Malcolm the Maiden was crowned at Scone.

1647 - Peter Stuyvesant was inaugurated as Director-General of New Netherland; there might have been a party, but one of his first official acts was closing all the taverns.

1703 - Russia's Tsar Peter the Great founded the city of Saint Petersburg.

1798 - At the outset of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 the Battle of Oulart Hill took place in Wexford.

1860 - Giuseppe Garibaldi entered the Sicilian capital of Palermo with his Redshirts as part of his campaign for Italian Unification known as the Expedition of the Thousand, following both a successful siege of the city and a plebiscite by its population to forsake the Kingdom of Two Sicilies for the Kingdom of Italy.

1896 - The F4-strength St. Louis-East St. Louis Tornado struck, killing at least 255 people; it has the distinction of being one of the first tornadoes whose devastation was extensively photographed after the fact.

1905 - The Battle of Tsushima - the last and most decisive sea battle of the Russo-Japanese War - began; Japanese admiral Heihachiro Togo destroyed two-thirds of the Russian Fleet, commanded by Zinovy Rozhestvensky.

1933 - The Century of Progress World's Fair opened at Chicago's Burnham Park.

1937 - San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge - creating a vital link between the city and neighbouring Marin County - was opened to pedestrian traffic by Mayor Angelo Rossi; more than 200,000 people walked across on that day to the lilting strains of the bridge's specially written theme song, There's a Silver Moon on the Golden Gate.

1939 - DC Comics published Detective Comics #27, which introduced Batman - co-created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger - who went on to become one of the most popular comic book superheroes of all time.

1941 - The German battleship Bismarck was sunk during a fierce fight in the North Atlantic, killing almost 2,100 men - fortunately, all of them Nazis. The event is dramatized in the enthusiastically titled if factually inaccurate 1960 film Sink the Bismarck!, directed by Lewis Gilbert, which was itself based on the book The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck by C. S. Forester.

1942 - During Operation Anthropoid a combined Czechoslovakian-British effort to assassinate Reichssicherheitshauptamt Chief Reinhard Heydrich carried out by Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík near Bulovka Hospital in Prague failed to kill him on that day, although he did die eight days later of blood poisoning. As for the assassins, they committed suicide three weeks later during a siege on Prague's Church of St. Cyril and St. Methodius rather than surrender.

1957 - Toronto's 1050 CHUM AM became the first radio station in Canada to broadcast a Top 40 rock n' roll format.

1960 - In Turkey, a military coup led by General Cemal Gürsel removed President Celal Bayar and the rest of his democratically elected government from office.

1967 - The US Navy aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy was christened by his widow Jacqueline Kennedy and their daughter Caroline at Newport News, Virginia.

1980 - During the Gwangju Massacre, airborne and army troops retook the South Korean city of Gwangju from civil militias, killing at least 207.

1995 - Actor Christopher Reeve was paralyzed from the neck down after falling from his horse Eastern Express (eerily nicknamed Buck) during the Commonwealth Dressage and Combined Training Association finals at the Commonwealth Park equestrian center in Culpeper, Virginia.

1998 - Michael Fortier was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $200,000 for failing to warn authorities about the Oklahoma City bombing terrorist plot.
share on: facebook