Tuesday, July 06, 2010

"Absolutely Fabulous" by Pet Shop Boys

Even though the ground-breaking sitcom Absolutely Fabulous has a perfectly good theme song - This Wheel's on Fire written by Bob Dylan and Rick Danko, performed by Julie Driscoll and Mr. Jennifer Saunders himself Adrian Edmondson - it was decided that Pet Shop Boys should then record a charity single inspired by the show for Comic Relief in 1994.

Containing sound and video clips from the show in addition to new dialogue specially recorded by Jennifer Saunders, the song exists in a peculiar kind of netherworld; it is not considered a Pet Shop Boys single and appears on none of their compilations, yet in many ways is the band's quintessential song, defining their sound and their ethos succinctly as well as their relationship with pop culture.
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Happy Birthday Jennifer Saunders

There are those of us who'll always think of her as the emotional trainwreck that was (and is) Edina Monsoon; maybe we're being small-minded about it, but when a show like the legendary sitcom Absolutely Fabulous is that good, its legacy tends to crowd out everything else...

PhotobucketYet prior to walking a mile in Edina's pumps, Jennifer Saunders had made a pretty good go of it goofing around with Dawn French - first as part of The Comic Strip* and then latterly on the pivotal sketch show French & Saunders...  And she's not done too badly since Patsy Stone snorted her way into perpetual syndication either, if we do say so ourselves!

Not content to rest on her laurels (not even if they'd been designed by Lacroix, sweetie!) Saunders has been madly scribbling - in between high-profile appearances on American sitcoms like Roseanne and Friends and lending her silky voice to Fairy Godmother in Shrek 2, that is - producing such varied works as Jam & Jerusalem and The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle.

*The seminal comedy troupe which launched all of its members' television careers and Saunders' own marriage - to fellow member Adrian Edmondson - as well!

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"What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong

Of him, Dizzy Gillespie once said: 'he was born poor, died rich, and made no enemies along the way'; I can think of no better epitaph with which to honour Louis Armstrong today.

When he died on this day in 1971 it was a loss acutely felt by the many millions of people who'd been touched by his music and its inherent humanitarianism; besides which, after the previous post, I figured my readers would appreciate something (not to mention someone) whose message, persona, and affect was entirely positive.

It's so easy to look at the world as a vast pit of entropy; the harder thing is to look at the beauty that's still there, to take pleasure in those people and even things in the world you love, and wherever possible continue to find new challenges and fresh vistas. Most difficult of all is to try and keep an unjaded perspective on it; if you can do that, only then can you sincerely agree with the message of the song - What a Wonderful World.
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It's My Birthday Today... Who Am I?

  • Every company I ever ran went bankrupt, including the United States, which racked up a trillion dollar debt on my watch despite having a massive budget surplus when I was elected.
  • I wanted to be commissioner of baseball, but my mother told me I should run for Governor of Texas instead so I did, because I always do what my mommy tells me.
  • I executed more teenagers, retards, and women than any other governor in the history of my state.
  • I let my campaign tell outrageous lies about my nearest opponent so I could win the pivotal South Carolina primary.
  • I let my cronies steal the election for me because I knew my opponents would play fair.
  • I never left the United States until after I was 'elected'.
  • I sat on my ass reading a children's book when my country was under attack because that's what I was told to do.
  • I was the first President to come to office with a criminal record.
  • I declared war on a sovereign nation based on a lie so that the Pentagon could burn off its surplus of five year old ordnance.
  • I staunchly defend the criminals I choose to serve under me.
  • I took more vacations than the past three presidents combined, one of whom is my Poppy.
Can you guess whose birthday it is today, boys and girls?
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In Memoriam: Frida Kahlo

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It's hard not to admire the scrappy surrealist Frida Kahlo - born on this day in 1907 - who, despite being a woman of her times as well as crippled by both illness and injury, painted with such honesty and verve; because her principal subject matter was often herself, her cult is still thriving today, as witnessed by the extraordinary success of the 2002 film Frida.  The film starred Salma Hayek as Kahlo and Alfred Molina as her husband Diego Rivera, with whom she had a famously stormy relationship.

This particular painting Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird depicts its artist as the Aztec Earth Goddess Coatlicue arriving at the opera; it was made in 1940.  Kahlo died in July 1954, one week after her 47th birthday.  Her ashes remain on display in La Casa Azul (The Blue House) - the home she and Rivera shared in Mexico City's Coyoacán neighbourhood, which since 1958 has served as a museum to her life and work.
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Brian Posehn on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien"

Comedian Brian Posehn - born on this day in 1966 - is an actor and stand-up comedian who has parlayed his geeky fanboy image into a bonafide archetype; in sitcoms such as Just Shoot Me!, Mr. Show, and The Sarah Silverman Program, Posehn became known for affecting a deadpan demeanour, but as the clip shows in person he is far from it. An outspoken fan of comic books and heavy metal music, Posehn has also expressed a fondness for marijuana.

Here's a clip from Late Night with Conan O'Brien - actually Posehn's first appearance on the show - in which he and host Conan O'Brien amusingly discuss many hilarious issues of the day, circa 2004.
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POPnews - July 6th

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[The life span of the American dollar bill is estimated at 21 months, during which time it accrues a great deal of cocaine, ends up in more than one g-string, and generally makes itself ubiquitous; given that, maybe Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington upon it should be replaced by one of William Jefferson Clinton.]

1415 - Jan Hus, a philosopher and theologian whose works were later studied and adapted by Protestants, was burned at the stake in Prague; in retaliation his followers, known as Hussites, started what is known as the Hussite Wars (since starting a war is what Jesus would have done.) This day is commemorated as a holiday in the Czech Republic.

1483 - Richard III was crowned king of England.

1535 - Sir Thomas More was executed for committing acts of treason against England's King Henry VIII.

1573 - Córdoba, Argentina was founded by Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera.

1785 - The dollar was unanimously chosen by Congress as the unit of currency for the United States.

1854 - The first convention of the Republican Party was held, in Jackson, Michigan, giving Satan a little something to smile about.

1887 - David Kalakaua, hereditary King of Hawai'i, was forced to sign the Bayonet Constitution at gunpoint; the document ceded more power to the occupiers of Hawaii while stripping native Hawai'ians of rights.

1892 - Dadabhai Naoroji became the first Indian ever elected to serve in the British Parliament.

1919 - The British dirigible R34 landed near New York City following a 108-hour flight, completing the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by air.

1933 - The first Major League Baseball All-Star Game was played, in Chicago's Comiskey Park, in which the American League defeated the National League, 4 to 2.

1942 - Anne Frank and her family were forced into hiding, events vividly described in her book The Diary of a Young Girl.

1944 - The Hartford Circus Fire killed approximately 168 and injured more than 700; among those spared, of course, was Charles Nelson Reilly, who later recounted his experience on stage.

1957 - John Lennon met Paul McCartney.

1964 - Malawi declared its independence from the United Kingdom.

1966 - Malawi became a republic; Hastings Banda served as the country's first President.

1975 - The Comoros declared their independence from France.

1978 - A fire broke out on England's Penzance to Paddington overnight train, killing twelve people.

1998 - Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport was closed when the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok became operational.

2000 - 16 year-old Euan Blair, son of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and [redacted] Cherie Booth Blair, was arrested for being drunk and disorderly in London's Leicester Square.
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