Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Kylie Minogue

For many years Kylie Minogue was as big a pop star in most of the English-speaking world - and a fair share of the rest of it as well - as Madonna, but because she wasn't an accepted presence in the United States, she was something of a secret amongst us Commonwealth cousins (although, to be quite fair, her fame in Canada was very much a gays-only affair); so while the monster success of a little ditty entitled Can't Get You Out Of My Head ruined the secret for all the rest of us, it finally brought her that one crucial market which had eluded her, and how could any of us begrudge her that? Especially after all she'd given us.

PhotobucketIt was therefore quite a shock when it was announced in 2005 that she had breast cancer; as has so often happened, it looked like just as she was poised to take on the whole world, she would be taken from it.

Well, if good wishes were chemotherapy - and in a very real way they are - then it's no wonder she pulled through her health scare with flying colours. No doubt every homo from Sydney to St. Ives lit candles and got on their knees in a way they never had before, and can therefore take their share of the credit for her quick recovery.

So loyal are Kylie's fans, in fact, that after it was announced she was breaking up with her boyfriend Olivier Martinez he had to go into hiding owing to a wave of harassment by waiters, shop assistants, and the like; only a press conference by our girl managed to quell the loathing. As terrible as it is, this is the kind of thing I find hilariously funny; they take away our rights left and right and we let them, but one greasy haired Frenchman dumps our diva and suddenly it's every man to the ramparts.

Today is Kylie's 42nd birthday, and it's my sincerest hope that I'll still be here writing about her on her 84th, as she tours the world performing her typically spirited rendition of Spinning Around on a Zimmer Frame.
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"Johnny Come Home" by Fine Young Cannibals

If I never hear the song She Drives Me Crazy again, it'll be too soon; in fact, I have renamed that particular number It Drives Me Crazy, which is how I sing along to it even now, twenty years after its release. Which is not to say that I don't like Fine Young Cannibals or the prodigious gifts of lead singer Roland Gift - whose birthday it is today - merely that the song has been ruined for me in perpetuity by excessive radio play.

That - plus the tendency by me to favour obscurity over ubiquity* - has driven me to choose Johnny Come Home to post here instead; from their self-titled 1985 debut album, the song made it all the way to #8 in the UK, and #9 on the US Dance Chart.

*Not to mention that this particular clip is introduced by a smoking cute VJ.

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Pop History Moment: The Opening of the Chrysler Building

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On this day in 1930 construction was completed on the Chrysler Building, the building having been officially opened the day before. Designed by William Van Alen, it wasn't as universally hailed upon its opening as it is now. The New Yorker's famed architectural grumblepot Lewis Mumford sniffed at its 'inane romanticism', 'meaningless voluptuousness', and 'void symbolism'. Indeed, the building is a triumphant celebration of the automobile, and even casts its shadow on Grand Central Terminal, itself the crowning achievement of the age of rail.

The Chrysler Building - located at the corner of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue - has the rare distinction of having had no deaths occur as a result of its construction. It was the world's tallest building for four weeks short of a year; the Empire State Building surpassed it on May 1st, 1931. It was, however, the first man-made structure to stand over 1000 feet tall, and remains an elegant Art Deco beacon in the Manhattan skyline.
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POPnews - May 28th

[It's hard to believe in an age when fertility drugs yield such bumper crops as McCaughey Septuplets, the Chukwu Octuplets, and the human Pez dispenser known as the Octomom, but once upon a time the Dionne Quintuplets were a medical marvel - made all the more marvelous by the fact that Annette, Cecile, Emilie, Marie, and Yvonne were born two months premature. Nevertheless, they were the first such babies born to survive infancy, which made them nearly as famous as their exploitation by the government of Ontario. Alas, the Quints were only five in number for twenty years; the first of the sisters to die was Emilie, who suffocated during an epileptic seizure at the convent where she was a postulant in August 1954.]

585 BCE - A solar eclipse occurred - as predicted by Greek philosopher and scientist Thales - while Alyattes was battling Cyaxares during the Battle of Halys, which later came to be known as the Battle of the Eclipse; according to Herodotus, in the midst of fighting the sky went dark, which the combatants took as an omen of divine disapproval of their ongoing 15-year war, following which a truce was hastily arranged. Since eclipses are regular phenomena, this is also one of the cardinal dates from which other dates can be calculated.

1533 - Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, declared the marriage of England's King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn valid.

1588 - The Spanish Armada - with 130 ships and 30,000 men under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia - set sail from Lisbon heading for the English Channel intent on the invasion of England in retribution for the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots; so vast was the flotilla it took two days for all of its vessels to leave port.

1830 - President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act which ordered Indians (especially those of the Five Civilized Tribes) removed to reservations; opposition to the Act in Congress was led by Davy Crockett, and the debate was rancourous.

1863 - The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first African American regiment to serve in the War Between the States, left Boston to fight for the Union under the command of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw.

1864 - Austrian-born Mexican Emperor Maximilian arrived in Mexico for the first time.

1892 - John Muir organized the Sierra Club in San Francisco.

1905 - Near the end of the Russo-Japanese War the Battle of Tsushima ended with the destruction of Russia's Baltic Fleet by Admiral Togo Heihachiro and the Imperial Japanese Navy.

1926 - Ditadura Nacional was established in Portugal to suppress the unrest of the First Republic as a result of that day's coup d'état; the resultant Estado Novo would remain in place until the Carnation Revolution of April 1974.

1930 - Manhattan's iconic Chrysler Building officially opened.

1934 - The Dionne quintuplets were born - to Olivia and Elzire Dionne - in the village of Corbeil (near Callender, Ontario) with the assistance of Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe and two midwives, Madame Legros and Madame Lebel; they later became the first quintuplets to survive infancy, at which time they were commercially exploited by the government of Ontario. The whole sordid story is best told in The Dionne Years, by Canada's own populist historian Pierre Berton.

1937 - San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge was officially opened to vehicle traffic by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who pushed a button at his desk in the White House which turned on the traffic lights.

1940 - Eighteen days after being invaded, the Kingdom of Belgium surrendered to Nazi Germany, at which time King Leopold III of the Belgians was placed under house arrest in Brussels.

1952 - The Memphis Kiddie Park opened in Brooklyn, Ohio; the park's Little Dipper roller coaster would become the oldest operating steel roller coaster in North America, and is still in operation.

1975 - Fifteen West African countries signed the Treaty of Lagos, thus creating the Economic Community of West African States.

1977 - The Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Kentucky, caught fire, killing 165 people inside and injuring 200 others just before the early show of headliner John Davidson.

1987 - 19-year-old West German pilot Mathias Rust evaded the Soviet Union's air defenses by landing a private plane in Moscow's Red Square; he was immediately detained and later sentenced to four years in prison, although he was released after 432 days following the intervention of Soviet leader Andrei Gromyko.

1999 - After 22 years of work intended to remove centuries of grime and undo the damage caused by previous restorations, Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece The Last Supper was put back on display in Milano.

2003 - Peter Hollingworth became the first Governor-General of Australia to resign his office as a result of criticism of his conduct.
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