Monday, August 23, 2010

"High On You" by Survivor

Birthday wishes go out today to Jimi Jamison, the second of the band Survivor's three lead singers; Jamison replaced the band's original vocalist Dave Bickler after the latter developed problems with his voice, probably brought on by singing Eye of the Tiger tens of thousands of times*.

High on You was the second single from the band's 1984 album Vital Signs, Jamison's first on the roster, and the follow-up to I Can't Hold Back. The song made it all the way to #8 on the US charts; whether it was helped or hindered by this primo example of 1980s video-making I leave entirely up to you to decide.

Jamison left the band in 1989, later reunited with them for a tour in 2000, but left again in 2006 (when their last album was released) at which time he was replaced by Robin McAuley. In the intervening years, though, he had a minor success with a song unwittingly heard by billions of people; Jamison is the co-author and performer of I'm Always Here, among the many theme songs of the hit TV show Baywatch.

*Only kidding! Bickler developed polyps on his vocal chords, the removal of which required surgery and rest. After a few years on other endeavours, he returned to Survivor - performing with his old bandmates again from 1993-2000.

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Pop History Moment: Sally Makes Her "Peanuts" Debut


It was on this day in 1959 - a Sunday - when Charlie Brown's little sister Sally first appeared in the Peanuts comic strip; in case you were wondering*, that's her in the stroller in the very last frame...

Of course, the arrival of a new sibling is a commonplace enough occurrence (and in those days, at the height of the Baby Boom, even more so) but Charles Schulz's genius was in crafting a strip about such an everyday event that would not only render the ordinary extraordinary but do so with cross-generational appeal. In fact, doing that very thing - and consistently at that - quickly became and would remain Schulz's stock-in-trade throughout his entire career.

This post was first published in 2007, and has been 'improved' along the way**; I've published it here for a fourth time having once again offered a sacrifice to my principal deity, Fair Use. It's taken from The Complete Peanuts: 1959-1960, itself just one of 25 projected volumes in an ambitious undertaking by Fantagraphics to make available the entire 50-year run of Peanuts to collectors such as myself - a project about which I've written extensively in the past, and intend to continue writing about in the future, even (if the Fates allow) long after the last in the series has been published...

*Or are an utter thicko.
**For instance, I replaced a photograph of the above image I originally posted with a scan - actually a pair of scans, as there is a larger version of it behind the one you see before you; I've also rewritten the text subtly each time I've republished it.
I figure if I'm going to keep rehashing the same old stuff year in and year out the very least I can do is keep trying to make it the best it can be! I really should redo the scan because of the warp at the bottom left, but maybe I'll save that for another year...
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I Dream Of Barbara Eden


Birthday gal Barbara Eden, of course, was the focal point of the sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, even more than her navel was the focal point of much consternation by the network censors of the day. The show - which ran for 139 episodes from September 1965 to May 1970 - was much-loved by fans of slightly dizzy entertainment with just a hint of the supernatural, and much-reviled by anyone for whom implications are more important than what's actually being shown onscreen.

As with other supernatural sitcoms (My Favourite Martian, Bewitched, Nanny and the Professor) I Dream of Jeannie offered viewers a bit of escapism that a more reality-based show couldn't; yet aside from the fact that Jeannie called Tony Nelson (played with suave aplomb by a young Larry Hagman) 'master' and was ostensibly supposed to obey him, the show could be considered feminist in that while she was honour-bound to obey the letter of what he said she often did what she wanted anyway without any heed to the intention of his demands which, anyway, weren't many. As usual, of course, context is everything... To modern eyes the show seems an entirely retrograde male fantasy, yet to its contemporary viewers it was nothing short of a declaration of girl power.

Much of the show's success was due to the bubbly beauty of its star; sure she was pretty, but she was also sweet and kind - an assessment just as accurate offscreen as on. Unlike some stars who come to be so heavily identified with a character early in their career (often to the detriment of their later work) Eden has been unfailingly gracious with her fans over the years, appearing at autograph fairs and the like, only to be mobbed by people not even born when the show first aired - a testament to the show's (and her own) enduring popularity.

Now seeing as this is me and not, say, any straight guy who's ever seen I Dream of Jeannie I can reassure you that any dreams I've ever had about Barbara Eden have been entirely dry. Still, I feel that I owe it to my straight male readers to balance my around-the-c(l)ock coverage of gay porn stars by occasionally throwing them a bone; I can only, uh, dream that the above photo will help them return the favour.
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"Singin' in the Rain" by Gene Kelly

Birthday boy Gene Kelly* was an ever-jovial presence in the films of the 1950s; his boyish looks, quarterback's build, and supple style set him apart from the other dancers of the era, such as Fred Astaire, Donald O'Connor, or Ray Bolger...

Arguably Kelly's most famous number was Singin' in the Rain - as shown here in the 1952 film of the same name - a song sung with much bitterness on the three hundred days a year it rains in Vancouver, but offered here in the dog days of summer with a kind of wistful foreboding.

*Who was born on this day in 1912 but who left this world in February 1996...
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Happy Birthday Your Majesty

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketQueen Noor-al-Hussein may indeed have been the light of Hussein; since His Majesty's untimely death in February 1999, though, she's had to content herself with being the light of the world instead...

Since she has no constitutional role in Jordan - the present King, Abdullah II is her stepson - Her Majesty spends most of her time in Washington, lobbying on behalf of causes such as civil rights for children and women, the arts and culture, and ecology, as well as being the current president of the United World Colleges.

Her Majesty's autobiography, entitled Leap of Faith: Memoirs Of An Unexpected Life, tells the unforgettable story of the all-American girl who became a Queen.
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POPnews - August 23rd

[The case of Sacco and Vanzetti electrified the punditocracy of
the 1920s - including the artist Ben Spahn, who created
this portrait of them in their honour in 1931-2.

1305 - Scottish patriot William Wallace was executed by order of England's King Edward I at London's Smithfield for high treason following a show trial; a plaque on the wall of the city's St. Bartholomew's Hospital marks the site today, and is itself a place of pilgrimage for his modern-day compatriots.

1328 - At the Battle of Cassel French troops under King Philip VI stopped a peasant revolt in Flanders led by Nicolaas Zannekin.

1514 - The Battle of Chaldiran - in what is now north-western Iran - ended with a decisive victory for Sultan Selim I of the Ottoman Empire over Shah Ismail I, founder of the Safavid Dynasty.

- Jacques Cartier made landfall at Stadacona (near the future Quebec City) during his Third Voyage to the New World.

1595 - Romania's Michael the Brave confronted an Ottoman army led by Sinan Pasha at the Battle of Calugareni, yielding a tactical victory for the Wallachian commander during the so-called Long War.

1614 - Holland's University of Groningen was established.

1708 - Meidingnu Pamheiba was crowned King of Manipur.

1784 - Eight counties in western North Carolina (now eastern Tennessee) declared themselves an independent state under the name of Franklin, with its capital at Greeneville... Despite appeals to its namesake, Benjamin Franklin, the fledgeling state never garnered much support; after just four years it became part of the Southwest Territory, while the would-be state's governor, John Sevier, went on to become the first governor of Tennessee.

1793 - During the French Revolution a levée en masse (or mass conscription) was decreed by the National Convention.

1813 - At the Battle of Grossbeeren, a combined force of Prussians and Swedish under Friedrich von Bülow and Crown Prince Charles John fought off the French army commanded by Nicolas Oudinot during the War of the Sixth Coalition. While Napoleon had ordered the battle in hopes of removing Prussia from the Sixth Coalition by capturing their capital the swampy terrain south of Berlin combined with poor weather and the ill-health of Marshal Oudinot all conspired against him.

1839 - The United Kingdom captured Hong Kong for use as a base of operations while it prepared to go to war with Qing China; the ensuing 3-year conflict would later become known as the First Opium War.

1873 - London's Albert Bridge, connecting Chelsea on the north bank of the River Thames with Battersea on the south, was opened without ceremony... Designed and built by Rowland Mason Ordish as an Ordish-Lefeuvre Principle modified cable-stayed bridge, when it soon proved structurally unsound - soldiers from the Chelsea Barracks who marched over it caused the bridge to shimmy, earning it the sobriquet 'The Trembling Lady' - it was redesigned as a suspension bridge by Sir Joseph Bazalgette; further modifications made in 1973 gave it elements of a beam bridge, making the current structure a rather unique hybrid of three different styles rarely seen in a single bridge.

1921 - Faisal I was crowned King of Iraq.

1927 - Sacco and Vanzetti were executed for the murders of Frederick Parmenter and Alessandro Berardelli and the the theft of $15,776.51 from the Slater-Morrill Shoe Company of South Braintree, Massachusetts.

1944 - Romania's King Michael dismissed the pro-Nazi government of General Ion Antonescu, who was then arrested, in what came to be known as King Michael's Coup; Romania then switched sides from the Axis to the Allies. The action distracted the Nazis long enough to allow the Red Army to occupy Romania, and may in fact have shortened World War II in Europe by as much as six months.

1948 - The World Council of Churches was formed, in Amsterdam, by the merger of the Faith and Order Movement and Life and Work Movement.

1977 - The Gossamer Condor won the Kremer prize for human powered flight.
1979 - Soviet dancer Alexander Godunov defected to the United States while on tour with the Bolshoi Ballet in New York City.

2006 - Natascha Kampusch - who was abducted in March 1998 at the age of 10 - managed to escape from her captor Wolfgang Priklopil after more than 8 years of captivity.

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