Thursday, November 04, 2010

Happy Birthday Kathy Griffin

The all-too-meagre birthday wishes of this rinky-dink blog can't mean a hill of beans to D-List superstar Kathy Griffin, but that's not going to stop me from offering them...

I never would have thought - all those years ago when I was glued to the television watching Suddenly Susan in order to perv on Nestor Carbonell - that a decade later I would instead be hanging on every word the red-headed office loudmouth had on offer, not least of which appear on Bravo's Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.

Here Kathy Griffin appears on one of the last talk shows that'll still have her - The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson - in order to show off her growing family of Emmy Awards, dish the dirt, and generally be fabulous!

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"Anthem for Doomed Youth" by Wilfred Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
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Remembering... Wilfred Owen

The idea that war is somehow glamourous is not an opinion common among fighting men, no matter what the politicians who wage it at their expense would have us think; for striking a killing blow at the heart of such a misguided notion we have men like Wilfred Owen to thank.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIn verses like Anthem for Doomed Youth, Owen decries the horrors of modern warfare in no uncertain terms. Thematically daring, Owen's works are also structurally innovative; although only five of his poems were published during his lifetime, he is now generally thought of as one of the foremost poets of the era. To a large extent, Owen used poetry to help him recover from the worst effects of war which, in addition to its value in disabusing society at large of the nationalistic and patriotic brainwashing behind every bullet and bomb, makes his a very great talent indeed.

Born in March 1893, and enlisting in October 1915, by January 1917 he was back in England, suffering from shell-shock; when his friend and hero Siegfried Sassoon returned from the Front with a head injury, Owen decided it was his duty to take his place, so as to continue cataloguing the inhumanity of humanity's oldest sport at close range.

Alas, he got a little too close; Wilfred Owen was killed in action on this day in 1918, at the crossing of the Sambre-Oise Canal - one of the last Allied victories of World War I - just a week before the Armistice was signed. He was 25. As the bells of peace were ringing, his parents were receiving the telegram that their elder son wouldn't be coming home; he is buried in the communal cemetery at Ors, in France, near where he fell.

After Owen's death his brother and literary executor Harold Owen tried to eradicate all evidence of Wilfred Owen's homosexuality, failing miserably as this post attests; in doing so, Harold Owen gave aid and comfort to the myth that a man who loves men cannot be noble. It is a testament to Wilfred Owen's friends Robbie Ross, Osbert Sitwell, and C. K. Scott-Moncrieff (not to mention Siegfried Sassoon himself) that, even half a century before there was a community to do so, there was a culture that would nurture his whole memory.
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In Memoriam: Will Rogers

Maybe it's just my natural cynicism talking, but there's something about the homespun aw-shucks folksiness of Will Rogers that's never sat right with me; he is most famous for saying 'I never met a man I didn't like', yet every time I hear it my bullshit-detector starts a-quiverin' somethin' fierce. I mean, I am well into men, and I've met literally thousands of them I fairly despise...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOf course, he is a product of a different time and place than I am, which is the same Will Rogers-esque homily I often use to explain away any incongruities I might encounter, wherever whenever and in whomever I might encounter them.

Born on this day in 1879, Oklahoma's favourite son never let a lack of interest in book-learning slow him down; he left the Dog Iron Ranch where he was born (near present-day Oologah, Oklahoma) in 1901, setting out for Argentina, where he planned to be a gaucho. When that plan fell through, he headed to South Africa, where he broke horses for the British until the end of the Boer War.

Once his services were no longer needed, he hired himself out to a series of circuses - visiting Australia in the process. By the time he returned Stateside a few years later he was already a seasoned performer, doing tricks with a lariat while discussing the news of the day in a gentle, conversational tone and with a commonsensical insight which was in every way wiser than (and therefore preferable to) the more overtly intellectual (and therefore somewhat off-putting) approach favoured by the other pundits of that era.

By 1915, Rogers was appearing in Florenz Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolic, a nightly revue at a cabaret built on the top floor of the fabled New Amsterdam Theatre in the heart of Times Square, which was then the epicentre of American show business; contacts he made there quickly became fans, and those fans in high places were to serve him very well indeed as he made his way from stage to screen and then to radio.

Friend to Kings and cowboys, Presidents and postmen alike, when Rogers died in August 1935 at the outset of a round-the-world flight with his friend Wiley Post, it was said to be the greatest single outpouring of public grief America had seen since the death of Lincoln; to this day tributes to him abound throughout Oklahoma and beyond. He's been revived on Broadway (portrayed by Keith Carradine) and lives on through the magic of DVD, even within the collection of the Pop Culture Institute, which is curated by none other than cynical old me.
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POPnews - November 4th

[Anyone who thinks former California governor Ronald Reagan's landslide victory over incumbent Democratic president Jimmy Carter on this day in 1980 is too much Republican red for their liking should definitely not click on the image and see the mandate he was given upon his 1984 re-election over Carter's former Vice President Walter Mondale.]

1501 - Catherine of Aragon met Arthur Tudor - to whom she'd been betrothed and married by proxy for years - at the Hampshire village of Dogmersfield; they were married at St. Paul's Cathedral ten days later, and following Arthur's death in April 1502 she married his younger brother, who would grow up to become Henry VIII.

1677 - The woman who would later become England's Queen Mary II married William, Prince of Orange; during their brief co-reign (less than six years) they would be known as William and Mary, and after her death in 1694 he would reign alone as William III.

1737 - The Teatro di San Carlo was inaugurated; built by Giovanni Antonio Medrano and Angelo Carasale for Charles III of Naples it was the largest opera house in its day, seating 3,300, and today it is the oldest still-active opera house in Europe.

1856 - James Buchanan was elected 15th US President over Republican John C. Frémont and former Whig president Millard Fillmore of the Know-Nothing Party.

1861 - The University of Washington opened in Seattle as the Territorial University, just a decade after the arrival of the first white settlers to the area.

1884 - Grover Cleveland was elected 22nd US President over Republican James G. Blaine.

1918 - The German Revolution began when 40,000 sailors took over the port in Kiel, and ended just days later with the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

1921 - Japanese Prime Minister Hara Takashi was assassinated in Tokyo.

1922 - British archaeologist Howard Carter and his men found the entrance to the tomb of King Tutankhamun in Egypt's Valley of the Kings following a fifteen year search, although he would wait three weeks for his patron, Lord Carnarvon, to arrive before opening it.

1924 - Calvin Coolidge was elected to a second term as US President over Democrat John W. Davis and Progressive Robert M. La Follette, Sr.. Also in that election, both Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming and Miriam 'Ma' Ferguson of Texas were elected governor of their states; since Ross was inaugurated 16 days before Ferguson, though, she wins the title of the first female governor in US history.

1928 - Arnold Rothstein, New York City's most notorious gambler, died of injuries he received the previous day when he was shot while playing poker at the Park Central Hotel.

1952 - Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected 34th US President over Democrat Adlai Stevenson.

1960 - Filming wrapped on the troubled production of The Misfits - written by Arthur Miller and directed by John Huston - starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach, and Thelma Ritter. It would be the last film for Monroe and Gable.

1970 - 'Genie', a 13-year-old feral child whose actual name is Susan Wiley, was seized by the authorities in Temple City, California, having been locked in a bedroom for most of her life.

1979 - The Iran hostage crisis began when Iranian radicals, mostly students, invaded the US embassy in Tehran and took 90 hostages (53 of whom were American).

1980 - Ronald Reagan was elected 40th US President in a landslide over Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter, independent John B. Anderson, and Libertarian Ed Clark.

1993 - Jean Chrétien took office as Prime Minister of Canada.

1995 - Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir, an extreme right-wing Israeli opposed to Rabin's support for the Oslo Accords.

2008 - Barack Obama was elected 44th US President over Republican Senator John McCain.
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