Sunday, December 05, 2010

Gratuitous Brunette: Shalom Harlow


Since the early 1990s Canada's own birthday gal Shalom Harlow has become the world's - whether as the face for Chanel's Coco fragrance, co-hosting (alongside pal Amber Valletta) MTV's House of Style, or with appearances in such films as 1997's In & Out among her many credits...

Add to that today's birthday and inclusion among the exclusive ranks of the Pop Culture Institute's Gratuitous Brunettes and that is one very impressive resume indeed!
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Jascha Heifetz performs Mozart's Rondo

Again, I make no claim to being any kind of expert when it comes to classical music; I know what I like (and I like this). I also know that it's high time someone classed this joint up a bit and that I'm sure as shit not the one to do it.

The other day it was Maria Callas and a bit of opera, today it's Jascha Heifetz and his fancy fiddle. (And in answer to you longhair types out there, yes, I know it's called a violin... You see, what I was doing there is called a joke. That's something people who don't listen to a lot of classical music do.)
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Requiem for Mozart

In keeping with the times in which he lived, Mozart was no stranger to illness; during his short life he'd been afflicted with smallpox, tonsillitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, typhoid fever, rheumatism and gum disease. Yet he was resilient, having beaten them all back in their turn. His final illness, though, proved a little stronger...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMozart left Vienna for Prague in August 1791 to supervise progress on his latest opera La clemenza di Tito; while there he began to feel ill, although he was well enough upon his return to conduct what would be his final opera, The Magic Flute, at the Theater auf der Wieden on the occasion of its debut performance in September.

By November he was bedridden; although able to complete his Clarinet Concerto, while he continued to work on his Requiem (a commission from Count Walsegg) Mozart was gradually coming to terms with the fact that he was writing it for himself. Whenever his illness manifested itself, though, it did so in horrible ways, leaving him unable to do anything (let alone work) but only suffer: swelling in the hands and feet, immobilization, then sudden vomiting...

Mozart became certain he was being poisoned - but with what and by whom? His one-time teacher, the hapless Antonio Salieri, generally gets the blame - at least as far as Peter Shaffer's 1979 play Amadeus is concerned. Shaffer's slander, though, is far from new; Alexander Pushkin's own play Mozart and Salieri (1830) and the 1897 opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov based on it are the originators of that particular rumour.

The truth is, we may never know what caused the death of Mozart; if it was poison it had an effect unlike any other poison of its day, if it was illness, it's equally unique. Whatever it was that killed him, Mozart finally succumbed to it on this day in 1791, attended by his wife Constanze, her mother and sister; he was 35. Although his Requiem is generally cited as his last completed work, there remains a debate over how much of it was composed by Mozart, and how much, if any, had to be completed by his pupil Franz Xaver Süssmayr.
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Happy Birthday Your Majesty

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketToday Thailand's beloved King turns 83, after several years of challenges for His Majesty; with a political crisis in 2005-6, a coup in 2006, and yet another crisis in 2008 who knows what state the country would be in today without the moderating influence of the King who has already been proclaimed Bhumibol the Great.

Then, of course, there was that video that caused so much trouble on YouTube (so much that it caused YouTube to be banned in Thailand) followed by the ill health and subsequent death of his beloved sister, Princess Galyani Vadhana - not to mention an ongoing health crisis of his own.

As usual, though, the King is weathering it with grace and aplomb - and with the serene presence of Queen Sirikit beside him; he even managed to emerge from one hospital stay a fashion plate, making pink pajamas the must-have garment for patriotic Thai men.

Currently the longest-reigning monarch in the world, the ninth sovereign of the Chakri Dynasty ascended the throne in June 1946 following the mysterious death of his brother Ananda Mahidol.
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Margaret Cho Reads The Christianists To Filth

Providing the utmost contrast to the previous post is birthday girl Margaret Cho, whose sermon today is little more than preaching to the queer. Er, choir. Same diff...

A n y h o o... What is there to say about Margaret Cho that she hasn't already said?

Naturally, Mr Barr, Mr Gagne, Mr Davey, Mr Eaton, and myself all love her like lunch; Messrs. Barr and Gagne were lucky enough to see her when the show this clip is taken from - Assassin - blew through Vancouver. Myself, I had to settle for the DVD.
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Lichfield Cathedral Choir performs "In The Bleak Midwinter"

At the risk of turning these proceedings into Songs of Praise* - let alone being all Northern Hemispherist and shit - 'tis totally the season, y'all!

Here we see In The Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti at its most Anglican, as performed by the Lichfield Cathedral Choir in 1995.

*Albeit the most unrepentantly vulgar edition of that show in its history...

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"In The Bleak Midwinter" by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

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Remembering... Christina Rossetti

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBorn on this day in 1830 in London into a creative family - her father was the exiled poet Gabriele Rossetti, one brother the painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti and cofounder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with her other brother William Michael Rossetti, her sister the author Maria Francesca Rossetti, and her mother Frances Polidori - Christina Rossetti's childhood was shaped by her father's descent into madness; he died in 1854.

Although Christina began writing at the age of seven, she remained unpublished until 1862, when Goblin Market and Other Poems appeared. She published widely thereafter, preferring to write children's and devotional verse; after her death in 1894 Rossetti garnered much posthumous renown for her poem In the Bleak Midwinter, which was later set to music and has been sung as a Christmas carol ever since.
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"Tutti Frutti" by Little Richard

One of Little Richard's biggest hits was also his first; Tutti Frutti first appeared in 1955, at the dawn of the rock and roll era, following a string of poorly received records he'd made at small labels, which he promoted by touring gay clubs throughout the American South. It was producer Robert 'Bumps' Blackwell who first heard the promise in the flamboyant performer's voice, who also saw the potential in his persona; overnight one of Peacock Records' weakest acts became one of Specialty Records' finest, and more than just history was made, possibly even rock and roll itself...

Even though Tutti Frutti would become an even bigger hit for the white artists who covered it - namely Pat Boone - it's Little Richard's version we remember today, on the legend's 78th birthday. It's shown here in an excerpt from the 1956 film Don't Knock the Rock, starring Alan Dale and legendary disc jockey Alan Freed.
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POPnews - December 5th

[Ippolit Giliarovsky's refusal to eat maggoty meat during the Russian Revolution of 1905 may have only indirectly led to the Revolution of 1917, but it directly led to the creation of Russian cinema which, in the hands of such visionary filmmakers as Sergei Eisenstein, extended the national knack for storytelling to an entirely new medium.]

1082 - Ramon Berenguer II, Count of Barcelona, was assassinated; he was succeeded by his twin brother and co-ruler Berenguer Ramon II, who may have orchestrated the killing.

1484 - Pope Innocent VIII issued the Summis desiderantes, a papal bull that deputized Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger as inquisitors to root out alleged witchcraft in Germany, leading to genocide, courtesy of one of the most oppressive witch hunts in European history.

1492 - Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola.

1590 - Niccolò Sfondrati was elected Pope Gregory XIV following the death of Urban VII.

1766 - James Christie held the first sale at his auction house.

1776 - Phi Beta Kappa - the first scholastic fraternity in the United States - was founded in the Apollo Room of the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia, by students from the College of William and Mary.

1892 - Conservative Sir John Thompson became the fourth Prime Minister of Canada upon the retiremet of his predecessor, John Abbott; not only was he Canada's first Roman Catholic premier, he was the only one to die at Windsor Castle.

1926 - Sergei Eisenstein's classic film The Battleship Potemkin had its American debut.

1932 - Albert Einstein was granted a US visa, apparently.

1933 - Prohibition was repealed in the United States when Utah ratified the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution, which itself repealed the 18th Amendment, which had mandated Prohibition in 1919 and introduced it in 1920.

1945 - Flight 19 disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle.

1952 - During what came to be known as the Great Smog, a cold fog descended upon London which, when combined with an inversion layer and the greater burning of coal necessitated by the chill temperatures, caused fatal air pollution which killed at least 12,000 - many of them children, the elderly, and infirm - in the weeks and months that followed. The calamity brought about the Clean Air Acts of 1956, which went a long way to preventing similar conditions from recurring in the future.

For an informative account of the Great Smog, why not visit our blog friend
Another Nickel in the Machine?

1958 - Subscriber Trunk Dialling was inaugurated in the UK by Queen Elizabeth II when she spoke to the Lord Provost in a call from Bristol to Edinburgh without first having to go through an operator.

1970 - Dario Fo's play Morte accidentale di un anarchico received its world premiere in the Italian city of Varese.

1979 - Sonia Johnson was formally excommunicated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for her outspoken criticism of the church concerning its position on the proposed Equal Rights Amendment. Because that's what Jesus would have done.

1983 - ICIMOD was established and inaugurated with its headquarters in Kathmandu, and legitimized through an Act of Parliament in Nepal later the same year.

2005 - The UK's Civil Partnership Act came into effect.

2006 - Commodore Frank Bainimarama overthrew the government of Fiji.

2007 - Nineteen-year-old Robert A. Hawkins opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska, killing eight people and wounding four others (two critically) before taking his own life.
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