Monday, November 15, 2010

"Downtown" by Petula Clark

In choosing a video to air on this occasion it came down to this and one other video... This one, though a) had gay-boy dancers*, b) was in colour, and c) featured a beautiful yellow dress worn by our birthday girl herself, Petula Clark. So it wins.

And so do you, because you get to enjoy a bit of vintage Top of the Pops from 1964, its very first year on the air...

*An essential element in posted music videos, as in life!
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What's The Occasion? The King's Feast in Belgium!

The King's Feast has been celebrated in Belgium every year on this date since 1866, when King Leopold II first decreed it. It falls on this date because it's the name day of St. Leopold; it's also the name day of Saint Albert the Great... Both saints are of great importance to the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketEvents of this nature were once very common in Catholic monarchies, of which there are now only a few left. The King's Feast differs little from similar events such as the UK's Trooping the Colour in that it is also recognized as the King's Official Birthday; one large difference is that in Belgium the King and the Queen do not attend the King's Feast, as they should not be seen to celebrate themselves.

While most businesses in the country do not close on this date, government departments do.

The event typically consists of a morning church service at SS Michael & Gudula's Cathedral in Brussels, at which a Te Deum is sung; in the afternoon members of the Royal Family appear in the Belgian Senate alongside members of the government and various dignitaries for a ceremony, at the end of which is sung the Brabançonne.

In addition to honouring the King, the day honours the liberation of Belgium from Dutch rule beginning with the Opera Riot in August 1830, when the nation and its monarchy were established. The current King of the Belgians is Albert II (shown).
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Happy Birthday Peter Phillips

When they were married - four years and a day prior to the birth of their eldest child and only son - Princess Anne and then-Lieutenant (now Captain) Mark Phillips gave modern Britain its first real-life example of what was by then a rather creaky old fairy-tale; the notion of a Princess and a Palace guardsman swept up in a romance defied everything Britons had grown up thinking about class miscegenation...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe Queen's oldest grandchild, then, by right ought to be royal, but isn't. It was said to be at Princess Anne's insistence that Mark Phillips was to be given no titles save for the ones he would one day earn; there are two just as plausible other reasons why he wasn't...

The first states that Princes cannot be created, only Princesses - a rule broken at least once before in the creation of Prince Philip, who was at least a Greek and Danish Prince prior to his marriage in November 1947, just not an English one, and was after all marrying a woman who would one day become Queen. The second is simply that the Palace, eager not to arouse Republican sentiment in the more egalitarian times of the 1970s by tinkering with well-established precedent, refused to remake Mark Phillips as Prince Mark and foisted the blame for it on Anne*.

Since Princess Margaret's husband Antony Armstrong-Jones had been given a peerage upon their marriage in 1960 (at which time he was made Earl of Snowdon) there was a precedent for that; then again, Princess Margaret was both the child and sibling of sovereigns (and known to be royaller than royal as well), not merely the child of a monarch as is Princess Anne who - despite being said to never let you forget who you're talking to when talking to her - is nevertheless obviously far less uptight about rank than her aunt.

And so Peter Phillips (born on this day in 1977) has grown up with the comfortable life and access to the finer things in education and social set that are the prerogative of royalty without the crashing dullness of working for the Civil List; now eleventh in line for the throne - he was fifth at birth - he was also the first commoner in the succession for more than 500 years.

Employed by the Royal Bank of Scotland since September 2006, in May 2008 he married Autumn Kelly, a native of Montreal; shortly after the announcement of their engagement came a controversy... Under the terms of the Act of Settlement (1701) in order for him to marry Kelly (who was baptised Roman Catholic) either she would have to give up her religion or he would have to give up his claim to the throne. Since she is not, by her own admission, particularly religious (in a similar way, presumably, that he is not particularly royal) it could have gone either way; as it is Ms. Kelly was welcomed into the Church of England prior to their nuptials. Another controversy arose over the sale of the couple's engagement and wedding pictures to Hello magazine - for a reported £500,000 - which embroiled senior members of the royal family in the sort of situation they prefer to avoid; sadly, the happy (and comely) couple is keeping the honeymoon photos to themselves.

Close to his cousin Prince William (especially since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in August 1997) Peter Phillips may yet find himself on the receiving end of royal largesse, title-wise; only time will tell...

*A third theory, held only by me it seems, states that the only way someone can be legitimately called Prince Mark is if he's a rapper.

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"How We Go Out" by Leslie Hall

It was Mr. Gagne who first tipped me off with regards to birthday gal Leslie Hall... Thanks for that! To show my appreciation - both to him, and for her - here's a second video.
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"Poetry" by Marianne Moore

With my profoundest apologies for the butchery of its enjambement...

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all
this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
discovers in
it after all, a place for the genuine.
Hands that can grasp, eyes
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
they are
useful. When they become so derivative as to become
the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
do not admire what
we cannot understand: the bat
holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf
a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse that
feels a
flea, the base-
ball fan, the statistician--
nor is it valid
to discriminate against 'business documents and

school-books'; all these phenomena are important. One must
make a distinction
however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the
result is not poetry,
nor till the poets among us can be
'literalists of
the imagination'--above
insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, 'imaginary gardens with real toads in them', shall
we have
it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
the raw material of poetry in
all its rawness and
that which is on the other hand
genuine, you are interested in poetry.

See it in its original form here...

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Remembering... Marianne Moore

Marianne Moore read, wrote, taught, published, and promoted poetry all her life; one enchanting line has her describing the work of a poet as creating 'imaginary gardens with real toads in them'...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBorn on this day in 1887 in the Presbyterian manse of her grandfather in St. Louis, and graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1905, she began teaching at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School shortly thereafter, remaining for a decade. After 1915 she began to write poetry professionally, an easier task then than now, as there were then more markets for it.

Travelling extensively throughout Europe before the outbreak of World War I she made the acquaintance of many of the era's literary lights. Her first book, entitled simply Poems, was published without her knowledge in 1921 by H. D., who was one of those she'd met during her travels. From 1925 to 1929 Moore edited the poetry journal The Dial.

In 1933 Marianne Moore won the Helen Haire Levinson Prize from Poetry, a still-prominent journal; from that point the accolades continued to come. 1951 was the richest year of her life in this regard, as she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Bollingen Prize for that year's Collected Poems.

Never married, she cut an intriguing figure perpetually outfitted in a flowing black cape and tricorn hat. Unusual for a poet, she loved athletics and athletes, going so far as to provide the liner notes for an album recorded by Muhammad Ali (himself a gifted poet) called I Am the Greatest!; in 1968 she was invited to throw out the first pitch at a Yankees game.

It was shortly following this event that Marianne Moore suffered the first of a series of strokes; after her death in 1972 the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia preserved the room in which she worked for future generations. She is buried in Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery.
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"Gem Sweater" by Leslie Hall

I want to look away, but I can't*...

Anyway, birthday wishes go out today to Internet phenom Leslie Hall, lead singer of Leslie and the Ly's as well as being the coolest person by far in (or, indeed, even from) Ames, Iowa.

*That's a total lie: where my Bedazzler at, yo?
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In Memoriam: Franklin Pierce Adams

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFranklin Pierce Adams - by the middle of the 20th Century known to his friends as well as most of the English-speaking world as FPA - was a newspaper columnist, producing an influential column entitled The Conning Tower. He was also a noted wit; as a member of the Algonquin Round Table and as a panelist on the radio show Information Please he could entertain and enlighten with the best of them.

He was also one of the first proponents of trivia which, by breaking human knowledge into snippets, has provided some of us with a far superior method of learning. 'I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way,' he once said, which is as good a motto as any for me and this product of my fevered mind.
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