Monday, November 08, 2010

Happy Birthday Parker Posey

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe Queen of the Indies - born on this day in 1968 - had the privilege of portraying one of my favourite characters in contemporary fiction...

In Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City (1993) Posey played Connie Bradshaw, one of the most dynamic characters in the legendary series of novels, who goes from the quintessential good-time girl to a tragic figure of redemption almost in a broken heart-beat. Although she is a minor character, her actions reverberate through the story and touch me still; the single mention of her in this year's Michael Tolliver Lives reduced me to tears. (Not that there's any chore to that, me being all in touch with my feelings and that.)

There have been other impressive turns - Dazed and Confused (1993), The House of Yes (1997) A Mighty Wind (2003), and a hilarious run on Will & Grace - but it was as Connie Bradshaw that she wormed her way into my heart.

[Need more Parker Posey?]
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"Loving You" by Minnie Riperton

For all that it may have obscured her past successes and inhibited her future ones, Loving You still manages to serve as a superlative showcase for the numerous gifts of Minnie Riperton.

Released by Epic Records in January 1975 with The Edge of a Dream on its B-side, it was also included on her second album, 1974's Perfect Angel; the song hit #1 in the US, #2 in the UK, and was a crossover hit as well, attaining the #3 spot on the R&B chart.

She's shown here performing the song on Soul Train in 1974, introduced by the coolest cat around, Don Cornelius...
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Remembering... Minnie Riperton

The curse of a smash hit single is that it obscures whatever success came before, and often makes any future success impossible; it's a curse that Minnie Riperton knew all too well. Despite having had a number of singles on the R&B chart before she released Loving You, it's that song for which she's most often remembered today.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBorn on this day in 1947, Riperton was possessed of a rare gift: a five-octave vocal range (which may even have been five-and-a-half), including the ability to sing and clearly enunciate in the whistle register. Additionally, she was a student of drama and dance, and briefly pondered a career in opera until she was discovered by Chess Records, where she worked as a secretary.

Married to composer Richard Rudolph, she is the mother of the talented comedian Maya Rudolph, whose own exotic beauty is an echo of her mother's, and whose abilities as a singer and impressionist prove there might be something to this DNA business after all.

In 1976 Riperton revealed that she had breast cancer. Having undergone a mastectomy in an effort to combat the disease, it was too late; the cancer had already spread to her lymphatic system. Refusing to give up, she became an advocate for cancer research and continued to tour until just weeks before her death, in July 1979, at the age of 31.
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In Memoriam: Esther Rolle

Best known for her portrayal of Florida Evans - first on Maude, then later on Good Times - Esther Rolle was as ill-suited to the shallow vocation of the sitcom as CBS seemingly was to giving that sitcom the challenging story lines it deserved...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBorn on this day in 1920, the 10th of 18 children (strangely enough, in Florida) Rolle moved to New York City to attend school - first Hunter College, then Spelman College, and finally the New School for Social Research.

She made her acting debut onstage in 1962's The Blacks, and thereafter acted with Negro Ensemble Company. In 1972 she was cast in Maude, and after one season her character - slightly reworked - was spun off into her own show, Good Times.

Good Times was a trail-blazer for network TV; set in a black household in the Cabrini-Green projects of Chicago, the show costarred John Amos as Rolle's TV husband, Jimmie Walker as J. J., Bern Nadette Stanis as Thelma, and Ralph Carter as Michael. For comic effect, Florida's best friend and neighbour Willona Woods was played by Ja'net Du Bois. Both Rolle and Amos absented themselves from later seasons when it became clear that the network was prepared to squander the opportunity it created to be socially relevant, preferring to exploit the popularity of Jimmie Walker. It would be a rare lapse in judgement for the show's pioneering producer, Norman Lear...

Rolle took occasional roles through the 1980s and 1990s, both on stage and screen; she died in November 1998, nine days after her 78th birthday.
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"I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt

I remember reading an article in a magazine once that said this song was the most dysfunctional love song ever; I remember thinking 'Uh, whuh-HUH?' If anything, this is the least dysfunctional love song ever... This is what I get for reading music reviews in Mirabella!

I Can't Make You Love Me was a monster hit for birthday gal Bonnie Raitt in 1991, from her breakthrough 11th album Luck of the Draw; it was later covered by George Michael, among others.
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POPnews - November 8th

[The distinctive round shape of the Bodleian Library amidst the splendour of Oxford's medieval quadrangles makes it a must-see destination for tourists, but belies its importance as one of six deposit libraries in Britain and the only deposit library for the Republic of Ireland within the United Kingdom.]

680 CE - The Sixth Ecumenical Council commenced in Constantinople.

1519 - Hernán Cortés entered Tenochtitlán as the guest of Aztec ruler Moctezuma II, who welcomed him with great a celebration; over the next few years Cortés would repay this hospitality by despoiling the city, plundering the country, and enslaving those who'd welcomed him.

1602 - Oxford University's Bodleian Library was first opened to the public... And by 'public' I mean certain scholars willing to undergo a spot of minor bureaucratic rigmarole for the privilege.

Photobucket1619 - The former Princess Elizabeth of Scotland and England - daughter of James VI and I and Anne of Denmark - was crowned Queen of Bohemia as consort to Frederick I, three days after his own coronation; best known to history as the 'Winter Queen', regular readers might also remember that Her Majesty had earlier been the focus of a misguided attempt to restore a Catholic monarchy to England when, at the age of only nine, the Gunpowder Plot was foiled in November 1605. Oddly enough, it would be her Hanoverian descendants who became the saviours of Britain's Protestant monarchy after the demise of the House of Stuart with the death of Queen Anne in August 1714.

1793 - The Louvre was first opened to the public as a museum, during the French Revolution.

1864 - Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected to a second term as US President over Democrat George B. McClellan.

1889 - Montana became the 41st US state.

1892 - 22nd US President Grover Cleveland - a Democrat - was elected 24th US President over Republican incumbent Benjamin Harrison and Populist James Weaver; Cleveland remains the only US President elected to non-consecutive terms.

1895 - While experimenting with electricity, Wilhelm Röntgen discovered the X-ray.

1904 - Republican Theodore Roosevelt was elected 26th US President over Democrat Alton Brooks Parker; having succeeded to the Presidency following the assassination of William McKinley in September 1901, Roosevelt became the first 'accidental President' to be elected of his own accord.

1923 - Adolf Hitler's abortive Beer Hall Putsch began, in München.

1932 - Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected 32nd US President over Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover.

1933 - US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt unveiled plans for the Civil Works Administration.

1939 - Adolf Hitler escaped an assassination attempt by Georg Elser in München, during a celebration of the anniversary of the failed Beer Hall Putsch.

1960 - Democrat John F. Kennedy was elected 35th US President over Republican Richard Nixon.

1966 - Edward Brooke became the first African-American elected to the US Senate.

1971 - Led Zeppelin released Stairway to Heaven, from their album Led Zeppelin IV.

1973 - The right ear of kidnapped oil heir John Paul Getty III was mailed to a newspaper along with a ransom note; Getty's abduction has been thought to be the work of 'Ndrangheta, but their connection to the crime has never been proven.

1977 - Archaeologist Manolis Andronikos uncovered the tomb of Philip II of Macedon at Vergina.
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