Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pop History Moment: The Queen Visits Ulster (1977)

[Hillsborough Castle is the official royal residence in Northern Ireland.]

Refusing to be dissuaded by threats of terrorist thuggery, the Queen was determined to visit Belfast and Coleraine during her Silver Jubilee tour; arriving on this day 1977 - her first visit to Northern Ireland since 1966 - it took as many as 35,000 auxiliary troops and police to protect her, making it the largest royal security operation to date.

While Her Majesty inspected an honour guard of the Ulster Defence Regiment, conducted an investiture, and attended a garden party for several thousand guests, the Duke of Edinburgh toured Belfast's legendary Harland and Wolff Shipyard on the first day of the two-day visit. Despite threats by the IRA to give the Queen 'a visit to remember' the goodwill tour - which began with a brief helicopter trip to Hillsborough Castle - went off without a hitch.

Her next visit to Ulster, however, wouldn't be until 1991...
share on: facebook

"Tshinanu" by Kashtin

Birthday wishes go out today to Florent Vollant*, one half of Canada's Innu blues-rock duo Kashtin (the other half being Claude McKenzie); although the band's name literally means 'tornado on the horizon' in the Innu-aimun language, it was chosen because it sounded like 'cashed in' - a reference to charges that they'd sold out, made mainly by jealous losers who had neither the ability nor the opportunity to do so themselves.

Though their career as a duo was short their influence has been mighty; formed on the Maliotenam reserve in northern Quebec prior to 1988, Vollant and McKenzie recorded their first album Kashtin together in 1989, a second entitled Innu in 1991, and a third Akua Tuta in 1994 before going their separate ways (although they have occasionally reunited to perform together). In that short span of years Kashtin toured the world, winning fans wherever they went.

Since the band's hiatus, Vollant has recorded two solo albums as well: Nipaiamianan in 1999, and Katak in 2003.

*In the video, he's the one with the mustache.

share on: facebook

In Memoriam: Norma Shearer

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBorn in Montreal on this day in 1902, young Norma left that fair city at the age of 16 when her mother, Mrs. Shearer - disgusted at the business reversals which had befallen Mr. Shearer and therefore all of them - took herself and her two daughters* and moved to New York to get into show business, leaving her son Douglas (eventually a Hollywood legend himself) behind with his father.

One of the first stars ever put under contract to MGM, Norma Shearer was signed by Irving Thalberg in 1924; she would later marry him, and together they would direct her career masterfully, taking her from 'girl next door' to 'good girl gone bad' to Queen of Hollywood until his own untimely death in September 1936.

Having made her last film in 1942, at the top of her career, Norma Shearer died in June 1983.

*The Shearer's other daughter was named Athole.
share on: facebook

Happy Birthday Justin Theroux

I could list Justin Theroux's film and television credits (which are extensive) here; I could also go into those causes he supports (which are good ones) here as well. I could even go so far as to attempt some fancy syntax about the actor's art or the beauty of a soul shining through, fooling myself into believing that I've pulled one over on you...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBut let's face it. You all know why he's here. It's right there in that picture, as surely as it was in his guest appearance as one of Carrie Bradshaw's boyfriends (and Valerie Harper's son!) in a classic 1999 episode of Sex and the City entitled Shortcomings, or even in his combination star-turn cameo as a villainous DJ in the 2001 film Zoolander.

In my defense: if he wasn't talented or activist, he wouldn't be quite so hot. There's an awful lot of cute out there these days, and on its own it don't buy jack no more. Yes, I'm talking to you, Josh Hartnett...

Theroux looks to be joining what could be called his family business... His uncle is Paul Theroux, the esteemed travel writer whose novel The Mosquito Coast was later made into a film; one of the nephew's recent projects was the Ben Stiller vehicle Tropic Thunder, which screenplay Justin Theroux co-wrote, although there are no plans I can discover to turn it into a book.  He also wrote the screenplay to Iron Man 2; he was suggested for the job to director Jon Favreau by none other than its star Robert Downey, Jr..

Having played John Hancock in the HBO mini-series John Adams in 2008 and someone cleverly named Justin on NBC's sleeper hit sitcom Parks and Recreation, Theroux is scheduled to make a return to acting on the big screen with the film Your Highness, which is slated for release in April 2011.

share on: facebook