Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Hey Jude" by The Beatles

Hey Jude is by far the most famous song ever released on this date, and it was The Beatles' biggest hit as well, at least according to Wikipedia*; Paul McCartney wrote it to soothe Julian Lennon, whose father John and mother Cynthia Powell were divorcing owing to John's affair with Yoko Ono.

At more than seven minutes in length, Hey Jude is also the longest number one single in history; it spent a total of 16 weeks on the UK charts in 1968, but was removed from the top spot after two weeks by Mary Hopkin's Those Were the Days, which had been produced by Paul McCartney.

*Meaning that instead of being released on August 26th it was probably released on April 16th, since the contributors to that unique website seem to struggle with such basic rudiments as the date; but I bitterly digress... I was just taking a break from struggling through Wackypedia trying to confirm dates for tomorrow's POPnews.

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In Memoriam: Christopher Isherwood

Every writer writes for some posterity or other, yet few posterities have been as poignant as Christopher Isherwood's...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBerlin in the 1920s was as unique as was the eventual method of its destruction typical. In the capital of the nascent Weimar Republic there existed a sexual liberalism not to be rivalled for half a century; it was there, by some quirk of culture or circumstance - and more than thirty years before Stonewall - arose the first modern gay community.

It was to be short-lived.

What 1930s Berlin didn't manage to incarcerate, torture, or kill from the years of its decadent glory 1940s Berlin saw reduced to rubble. A hundred thousand or more gay men had been arrested in Germany from the rise of Hitler to the end of the Second World War, and as many as 15,000 of them died in prison, often killed for sport. Some of them may have been men with whom Isherwood shared intimate moments; hopefully those memories provided them some solace when it was needed most.

Today a plaque marks the house on Nollendorfstraße where Isherwood once lived, and where some of his assignations must have taken place; exquisite phantoms all now, given blood and breath, sinew and skin, by the words and in the works of one who survived it all - Christopher Isherwood, who was born on this day in 1904.
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Gratuitous Brunette: Jon Hensley

PhotobucketThe minute Jon Hensley first appeared as bad boy stable hand Holden Snyder on As the World Turns in 1985 I was riveted to the show; that first summer, as Holden wooed rich girl Lily Walsh (Martha Byrne) with a deadly combination of teenage brooding and pyroclastic hotness, there was very little could budge me from in front of the TV between 1 and 2 in the afternoon, just in case a glimpse of his twink pelt resulted - which it often did!

Born on this day in 1965, Hensley remains on As The World Turns as DILF Holden Snyder.
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"Special" by Garbage

Edinburgh's Shirley Manson - born on this day in 1966 - turned a moribund band with an unfortunate moniker from Wisconsin into a bonafide hit-making machine; after rewriting the lyrics to their existing songs, her debut album with the group went on to sell five million copies and spawned four Top Ten hits.

Special was the third single from the band's second album Version 2.0, released in 1998; the sci-fi themed video was directed by Dawn Shadforth.
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Happy Birthday Your Royal Highness

The Duchy of Gloucester originated in medieval times; until recently, the most famous Duke of Gloucester of them all was probably number three, a man better known to history as Richard III.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAlas, the first six Dukes weren't terribly prolific; only one of them - number five, younger brother of George III - even managed to pass his title on, although in 1834 the title lapsed to the Crown for the fifth time since it was first conferred upon Thomas of Woodstock, the thirteenth child of King Edward III, in 1397.

Only after George V bestowed the title upon his son Prince Henry - the present Duke's father - in 1928 did it manage to survive; not only did the title pass from father to son in 1974, His Royal Highness has both a son and a grandson who stand to inherit in their turn. Interestingly*, neither the Earl of Ulster (the son) or Baron Culloden (the grandson) are royal; this means that the next holder of the title will be the first non-royal Duke of Gloucester ever. However, should the fledgling dynasty crumble the title will become extinct, and revert back to the Crown until such time as it's given another go.

His Royal Highness never expected to become Duke; six weeks after he married Brigitte van Deurs - a Dane - in 1972, his brother was killed in an air crash near Wolverhampton. Despite the personal turmoil this tragedy must have caused, the Duke seems to have taken it all in his stride.

Today the Duke and Duchess travel the UK extensively on behalf of their cousin The Queen, in support of various his-and-hers charitable causes, chiefly architecture and conservation (his) and medicine, education, and social welfare (hers).

*Or not, depending upon what you're into.

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POPnews - August 26th

[Michelangelo's Pietà balances classical ideals with naturalism;
it currently resides at
St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City

55 BCE - Julius Caesar invaded Britain.

1071 - At the Battle of Manzikert the Great Seljuk Sultanate under Alp Arslan defeated a Byzantine army commanded by Romanos IV, Nikephoros Bryennios, Theodore Alyates, and Andronikos Doukas at Manzikert - an engagement which resulted in the capture and benign eight-day imprisonment of the Byzantine Emperor, who was later released following the signing of a treaty and the payment of a hefty ransom.

1278 - Ladislaus IV of Hungary and Rudolph I of Germany defeated Premysl Ottokar II of Bohemia in the Battle of Marchfield near the Moravian town of Dürnkrut, a battle which would have a profound effect on the geopolitics of Central Europe for centuries by allowing for the rise of the Habsburg Dynasty.

1346 - During the Hundred Years' War, the military supremacy of the English longbow over the French combination of crossbow and armoured knights was established at the Battle of Crécy.

1498 - Michaelangelo was commissioned by Jean de Billheres, Cardinal of Santa Sabina, to create the La Pietà for his crypt in the Chapel of Santa Petronilla; it was later moved to its present location during the rebuilding of St. Peter's Basilica. The sculpture is considered among the world's foremost works of art, and is the only one of his works Michaelangelo ever signed.

1748 - The first Lutheran denomination in North America - the Pennsylvania Ministerium - was founded in Philadelphia.

1768 - Captain James Cook set sail on his First Voyage from Plymouth, England, on board HM Bark Endeavour; the mission's stated purpose was to observe the transit of Venus from Cape Horn, and then continue on, charting the Southern Hemisphere.

1778 – The first recorded ascent of Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia, was undertaken by Luka Korošec, Matija Kos, Štefan Rožič, and Lovrenc Willomitzer at the behest of Baron Sigismund Zois.

1883 - Mount Krakatoa entered the final phase of its cataclysmic eruption, killing more than 36,000 people.

1914 - The German colony of Togoland - which had been invaded by French and British forces on August 7th, during World War I - was forced to surrender; the puny German garrison (a commander and deputy commander, 10 German sergeants, 1 native sergeant and 660 Togolese policemen); meanwhile, half a world away, the British Expeditionary Force at the Battle of Le Cateau on August 26, 1914, during its withdrawal from the Battle of Mons.

1920 - The 19th amendment to the US Constitution took effect, giving women the right to vote.

1939 - The first Major League Baseball game was telecast, a doubleheader between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field.

1962 - Former Romper Room Lady and mother of four Sherri Finkbine returned home to Phoenix having undergone an abortion in Sweden which was denied to her in Arizona. Finkbine had been taking Thalidomide, which at the time was prescribed for morning sickness; during the early stages of her pregnancy it came to light that the medicine had profound physical side-effects for the fetus. In Finkbine's case, the baby girl would have been born without arms and only one leg and may in fact have not been born at all. Following her high-profile abortion, Finkbine went on to have a healthy fifth child. The incident became a made-for-TV movie in 1992, A Private Matter, with Sissy Spacek in the leading role.

1968 - The most tumultuous Democratic National Convention ever opened in Chicago, following the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. in April and the front-runner Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY) in June. The candidate chosen, Hubert Humphrey, did not excite the American electorate any more than his running mate Edmund Muskie; they were later massively defeated by Richard M. Nixon.

1972 - The Games of the XX Olympiad opened in Munich.

1977 - The Charter of the French Language was adopted by the National Assembly of Quebec.

1978 - Albino Luciani was elected Pope John Paul I at a papal conclave held, as is traditional, in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel.

1980 - John Birges planted a bomb at Harvey's Resort Hotel in Stateline, Nevada; although the subsequent explosion nearly destroyed the hotel, there were no casualties.

2003 - The final report on the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion was released by NASA; according to official findings, it crashed and burned.
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