Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Your Majesty

Although there are American royals by virtue of marriage - most notably Queen Noor of Jordan - there is only one royal family native to the United States...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe head of the House of Kawananakoa - and therefore the strongest claimant to the title King of Hawai'i - is Quentin Kawananakoa, a Republican state politician and party organizer; an alternative claim by the House of Kamehameha (to which he is also related) exists, and has many supporters, likely because it isn't allied with anything as corrupt and grotesque as the Republican Party. He is related as well to the House of Kalakaua and is an heir to the landholder James Campbell, whose estate he oversees.

All of these royal families, though, are merely branches of the Hawai'ian monarchy; any direct descent from actual Kings or Queens went extinct decades ago. Alas, none of them were prolific when it came to securing heirs.

Being the ardent royalist that I am, it takes some gritting of teeth and intestinal fortitude to support the claims of a smarmy Republican real estate developer with a prior conviction for cocaine possession. Yet, somehow, I do.
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"Stand By Me" by Ben E. King

Rob Reiner's 1986 film Stand By Me made such a huge impact on me when I first saw it in its initial release that years would pass before I fully understood why; it wasn't until I bought the film on DVD in 2000 and watched it again (having not seen it in some years) that I was blessed with the necessary insight that finally allowed me to come to terms with the feelings this relatively straightforward little fable* of Stephen King's still conjures in me more than twenty years later.

The film, of course, is rare enough in that it's unashamedly a paean to boyhood; stories of this ilk are two-a-penny for girls, but boys don't often rate such empowering stuff. The film's rites of passage - shared by Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell - are the stuff of shared male mysteries, common enough experiences to many men. Growing up gay, of course, means that I was denied many of these opportunities, except in the limited context of the film; male company always was - and to a certain extent still is - fraught with peril of one kind or another. Whether sexual or not, my relationships with men are still the principal source of my considerable neurosis.

The song Stand by Me, of course, was a big part of the film; selecting it today is a no-brainer, since it's Ben E. King's 72nd birthday. Although a gospel song first composed in 1905, King himself first took it up the charts in 1961 - making it something of an anachronism, since the film takes place in 1959. The song was, if anything, an even bigger hit in 1987 when re-released on the soundtrack to Stand By Me.

*Adapted from his novella The Body and taken from the same 1982 collection, Different Seasons, that also yielded the story Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption which later became The Shawshank Redemption.

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Where Are You, Mark Everett?

Born on this day in 1969, Mark Everett was a child actor also known as both Mike Evers and Manuel Velasco for roles in the films Pee-wee's Big Adventure and Stand and Deliver.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHis career had dried up by 1988, and by 1996 Everett was a drug dealer. That's the year he met Stephanie Spears; they subsequently had a child together.

On Father's Day - June 20th - 2004 Spears decided she'd had enough of his life of crime, and tried to leave him. When he discovered her attempting to flee he beat her to death with a dumbell in front of their child.

Along with his son and mother Elizabeth Velsaco, Mark Everett went into hiding; because he is fluent in English, Spanish, German, French, and Cantonese he could be hiding anywhere these languages are spoken.

If anyone should read this and knows of the whereabouts of Mark Everett, please contact the police, and help bring this murderer to justice.

UPDATE: In the three years since I first published this I have gotten many hits on it, mainly from Southern California. My assumption is Everett is precisely the kind of guy who'd Google his own name for some kind of thrill. I hope someday you read this, Mark Everett; furthermore, I hope someday you get what's coming to you - if, that is, you haven't already. ~ MSM
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Pop History Moment: The Death of Pope John Paul I

Born Albino Luciani in October 1912, John Paul I was the first Pontiff to have been born in the 20th Century; at 34 days, his papacy was also one of the shortest in history, resulting in the most recent Year of Three Popes. Mainly I remember 1978 as the Year of No Cartoons, since for some reason they always had to hold their dang ol' conclave on Saturday morning!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketKnown as 'The Smiling Pope' for his gentle manner, John Paul I chose his name - the first double-barrelled moniker in papal history - to honour the two Popes who came before him, John XXIII and Paul VI, both of whom had been instrumental in furthering his vocation. Oddly, he also referred to himself as John Paul I when custom would have him referred to simply as John Paul.

The circumstances surrounding his death - on this day in 1978 - remain mysterious; though the cause of his death was officially a myocardial infarction, the halls of the Vatican have never been intrigue-free. Conspiracy or not, officials have drawn fire ever since for the way they mis-handled his death.

Practically from the moment he died there were whispers that despite Luciani's own conservatism he was determined to ease restrictions against contraception to alleviate suffering in the Third World and also clean up what he viewed as corruption in the Vatican; therefore, his would have been a modernizing, liberal papacy (relatively speaking), unlike the judgmental hypocrisy of his successor, who smiled beatifically while advocating misogyny, homophobia, and intolerance toward Eastern religions in particular. In the end, about the only reform John Paul I managed to carry out was the abolition of the Papal Coronation.

One interesting anecdote: at the papal conclave in which he was elected, a beam of light fell across the head of a fellow cardinal who was praying nearby; commenting to a companion, Luciani is said to have remarked upon the man: 'That is your next Pope.' Sure enough, he would be succeeded by that man - Karol Wojtyla - who took the name John Paul II following a second conclave in October 1978.
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Happy Birthday Janeane Garofalo

More an observer rather than a typical stand-up comedian (she has no shtick, for instance, and often refers to notes while performing), despite a pronounced downcast point of view, when her puppet was brutally murdered in the 2004 film Team America: World Police she claims she was able to see the humour in it. I mean, I laughed at it too, but if it had been me I doubt I would have.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOnce named the Funniest Person in Rhode Island - an honour almost as dubious as the Gratuitous Brunette which I've spared her today - Janeane Garofalo's humour comes from pessimism, which is likely what makes her so appealing to me; also, despite the fact that she is often in hot water for being an outspoken liberal, she's refreshingly un-bitchy.

Her latest gig, co-hosting The Majority Report on Air America Radio ended somewhat acrimoniously, although the rift has reportedly been healed. She has made similar waves as both a guest and co-host on The View. Surely that's the kind of controversy that comes from speaking one's mind, especially a woman.

Garofalo's movie career has suffered from the influence of her integrity but she's had better luck on television; despite a difficult half season on Saturday Night Live (1994-5) she was great on The Larry Sanders Show, and most recent gig was a recurring role as an FBI agent on the seventh season of 24.

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POPnews - September 28th

[Sides 1 and 2 of Stevie Wonder's landmark album Songs in the Key of Life kick ass, while sides 3 and 4 take names.]

48 BCE - Having been lured ashore from his warship under false pretenses, Roman general and rival of Julius Caesar Pompey the Great was assassinated by Achillas and Lucius Septimius - or possibly by the eunuch Pothinus (Wikipedia isn't clear, surprise surprise) - on the orders of Theodotus of Chios, tutor to Egypt's boy-king Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator.

935 CE - Saint Wenceslas was murdered by his brother, Boleslaus I the Cruel, Duke of Bohemia; honestly, he shoulda seen it coming.

995 CE - Members of the Slavník Dynasty - Spytimír, Pobraslav, Pořej and Čáslav - were murdered by the somewhat misnamed Boleslaus II the Pious.

1066 - The Duke of Normandy, William the Bastard, landed at Pevensey in order to claim both the English throne and a cooler moniker - William the Conqueror.

1106 - England's King Henry I defeated his brother, Robert Curthose at the Battle of Tinchebrai in France.

1322 - Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV defeated Austria's King Frederick I in the Battle of Mühldorf.

1448 - Christian I was crowned King of Denmark following the death of Christopher of Bavaria; the dead king's widow, Dorothea of Brandenburg, loved being queen so much she later married his successor.

1779 - Samuel Huntington was elected the sixth President of the Continental Congress, succeeding John Jay.

1867 - Toronto became the capital of the Canadian province of Ontario; exactly when it became the centre of the universe has yet to be determined.

1928 - Sir Alexander Fleming noticed a bacteria-killing mold growing in his laboratory, discovering what later became known as penicillin.

1944 - Soviet troops liberated Klooga concentration camp in the Estonian town of Klooga.

1961 - A military coup in Damascus effectively ended the United Arab Republic, a political union between Egypt and Syria.

1962 - The Paddington tram depot fire destroyed 65 trams in Brisbane.

1972 - Team Canada famously triumphed over the USSR at the so-called Summit Series of hockey, when Paul Henderson scored the winning goal.

1973 - Manhattan's ITT Building was bombed to protest ITT's involvement in the 1973 coup d'état in Chile.

1975 - The Spaghetti House siege, in which nine people were taken as hostages, took place in London.

1976 - Stevie Wonder released his landmark double album Songs in the Key of Life.

1987 - The first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation - entitled Encounter at Farpoint - aired.

Photobucket2002 - With the publication of her diaries, former UK Cabinet Minister Edwina Currie - who resigned in scandal when she accused the British egg industry of being rife with salmonella even though it wasn't* - admitted she'd had a romantic relationship with former Prime Minister John Major between 1984 and 1988, when he was chief government whip under then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; that the revelation came after years of denial by both of those involved only proves that Tories are pathological liars and whores who'll do any shocking thing (up to and including actually telling the truth for a change) all for a book deal and a pot of filthy lucre.

*And whose Spitting Image is shown at right.
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