Wednesday, December 08, 2010

"A Little Jive Is Good For You" by Martha Tilton

Although hers was the go-to voice when it came time to dub such actresses as Barbara Stanwyck, Martha O'Driscoll, and Anne Gwynne on film, here Martha Tilton (who died on this day in 2006) is all herself - to spectacular results!  Also appearing are the Slate Brothers, whose limited filmography belies their success as raconteurs; for years they ran a club on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles.

This precious little nugget of pop culture comes to us courtesy of Soundies - those grand-daddies of the music video that used to feature in the cinemas of yesteryear, which have been given a new lease on life courtesy of YouTube.
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In Memoriam: Martha Tilton

Of all the purveyors of ear candy in an era renowned for pure tones and elegant phrasing, few had a patch on the Liltin' Miss Tilton...

PhotobucketBorn in November 1915, Martha Tilton got her start performing with the vocal group Three Hits and a Miss, before hitting the big time as the girl singer with Benny Goodman's Orchestra on their radio showcase Camel Caravan. It was with them she recorded her breakthrough hit And the Angels Sing, and she was with them when they played their legendary gig at Carnegie Hall in 1938 - considered by many to be the beginning of the Swing Era.

As a recording artist, Tilton was lucky (and talented) enough to be signed by Capitol Records, which was established at the height of America's involvement in World War II, and not only survived but thrived (despite the wartime rationing of vinyl) owing to the superior artistry of the acts it signed.

Tilton's talents have also been preserved in a visual medium, thanks to her many appearances in film and Soundies shorts, which have gained a whole new life thanks to YouTube.

Martha Tilton died on this day in 2006, and may be gone but as long as there is music will never be forgotten...
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Gratuitous Brunette: Teri Hatcher


Once upon a time this image of birthday gal Teri Hatcher - taken when she portrayed Lois Lane in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman - was the hottest thing on the Internet, having been downloaded some 20,000 times...

I know this doesn't seem like much today, but in 1995 it was enough to make the shot legendary and Hatcher among the world wide web's first viral sensations. Having made a similar pop culture sensation via an episode of Seinfeld after the cancellation of Lois & Clark in 1997, Hatcher landed the role of accident-prone Susan Mayer on Desperate Housewives, which in 2004-5 was the hottest thing on TV. She remains resident on Wisteria Lane to this day...

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"Black Boys on Mopeds" by Sinead O'Connor

From the much-loved 1990 album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got by Sinéad O'Connor, it's Black Boys on Mopeds, done here live.

Breithla Shona Dhuit Sinéad!

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Christina: The Girl King

She was born, on this day in 1626, under what astrologers all agreed was an auspicious star; hers was to be the reign to end all reigns... Raised by her father Gustav II Adolf as a Prince (until the age of five, anyway) from 1632 to 1654 Christina reigned as King of Sweden; they called her the Girl King.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThing is, she wasn't very good at it. Damn astrology...

Bored of life in the relative cultural backwater of Stockholm, Christina abdicated her throne at the age of 28 in favour of her cousin, who became Charles X Gustav. She then exiled herself to Rome, where her palazzo became for a time a grand literary and artistic salon. While there she also converted to Catholicism; as the most famous convert of her day, she became a thing of fascination to Papists, this one woman counter-reformation whose father had once led the failed Protestant charge during the Thirty Years' War only to fall at the Battle of Lützen. Never a devoted Catholic, she was nevertheless a committed one.

Having lavished her immense fortune on the famously rapacious aristocracy of Rome, after just two years Christina realized she was broke, and so was forced to take her show on the road in an effort to drum up funds. Her assertive manner and masculine dress scandalized the ladies of Louis XIV's Versailles; while at Fontainebleau in 1656 she and the wily Cardinal Mazarin hatched a plot to make her Queen of Naples, which might have succeeded but for the murder of her Master of the Horse marchese Gian Rinaldo Monaldeschi in 1657 at the hands of two of her servants and by her order. Although technically legal, it was to make her very unpopular indeed.

Having burned her bridges in France she was rebuffed from visiting Cromwell's England and so made a humiliating return to Sweden in 1660 to ask for her old job back following the death of Charles X Gustav, even though the one thing that could have restored her popularity - a penis - was not to be possible there for another 300 years. Not only did the Swedes prefer to be ruled by the new Charles XI (a four-year-old boy) while there she was forced to sign a new instrument of renunciation, giving up all claim to a throne the vast majority of her former subjects didn't want her to have anyway.

Thus humbled, she returned to Rome, where she died in April 1689; she is buried at the Vatican, in St. Peter's Basilica.
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Rethinking Mary, Queen of Scots

That history is written by the victors is especially true when considering the life and achievements of Mary, Queen of Scots... Born on this day in 1542 at Linlithgow Palace, Mary ascended the throne of Scotland at the age of six days following the death of her father James V; even though most agreed he died of grief - some said over recent losses to his uncle Henry VIII at the Battle of Solway Moss, others that his hoped-for heir had been a girl - the official cause was cholera. She was raised thereafter by her formidable French mother, Marie de Guise.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketTo her contemporaries (not all of them fawning sycophants and courtiers) there was much that was commendable in and about the lively girl with the lush chestnut hair and long limbs; yet Mary's reputation has, until recently, suffered from the slings and arrows of scholarly hacks.

True, she made some terrible decisions in her life; then again, who hasn't? The trouble is, when you're Queen (and Mary was twice a Queen, having also been Queen of France from July 1559 to December 1560) your lousy decisions tend to blow up in your face not just in front of everyone but when everyone's watching you as well; since the state is only as infallible as the monarch, too much of this tends to be quite unnerving, and an unnerved governing class never governs well, so an unnerving sovereign is usually gotten rid of forthwith by hook or by crook.

Anyway, as if the events leading up to her abdication in July 1567 weren't bad enough (and they were) her ill-starred escape from Scottish custody at Loch Leven Castle, military defeat at the Battle of Langside, and inevitable capture by the English at Carlisle (all in May 1568) seem to pale in comparison to the humiliation of her two decades in English custody; a Queen almost from birth, her captivity may have cut her dignity as deeply as her death sentence, deeper in many ways than even the blade that would one day separate her head from her body.

The compatriots of Mary's archnemesis Elizabeth I and their successors have tended to remember the vanquished Queen (beheaded at Fotheringay Castle in February 1587) as everything their own mistress wasn't: frivolous, easily flattered, and a slut. Had things worked out a little better for the lively and passionate Mary, Queen of Scots - had she not been quite so gullible in her relationships with men, just as a for instance - it might be the reputation of her brittle, ambivalent cousin that would need rehabilitation today, and not the other way around.

Mary's reputation, though, has been in recovery for nearly forty years, ever since the appearance of Lady Antonia Fraser's epic 1969 biography, and is probably as good as it'll ever be today given the circumstances. In the 2007 film Elizabeth: The Golden Age Mary's death was given its rightful context as the event which triggered the Spanish Armada; Jane Dunn's excellent book Elizabeth & Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens revisits both women with unabashed fascination and adds both shading and dimension to the received view that, while Mary was crafty, Elizabeth was also crafty. Plus cunning, savvy, Machiavellian even...

(Everything, in other words, Mary was not but shoulda been to survive. ~ MSM)
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"Imagine" by John Lennon

Imagine was written and recorded by John Lennon in 1971, and was the first single from the album of the same name; it is the official anthem of all people who hope for a better world tomorrow than the one they knew yesterday.

Frequently criticized by the people it criticizes, the song has also suffered jibes from the cynical over the years; yet all the song asks of us is that we imagine, a task which is rendered impossible by cynicism, apparently.
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Pop History Moment: The Killing of John Lennon

Exactly what Mark David Chapman hoped to accomplish by killing John Lennon on this day in 1980 has never been made clear; obviously the product of disordered thinking, psychotic, and influenced by delusion, Chapman's violent murder of a person whose life was devoted to peace is one of the greatest tragedies of our time. Much of Chapman's 'excuse' for killing Lennon revolved around his fondness for the nihilistic novel The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger; that Chapman had hoped to model his life after the book's protagonist - a self-absorbed douchebag of epic proportions by the name of Holden Caulfield - goes a long way towards pointing at serious mental illness on Chapman's part.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketLennon was returning home to The Dakota from a recording session at Manhattan's Record Plant Studios at 10:50 PM when he passed Chapman - for whom he had signed an autograph only the day before - on the sidewalk outside the building. After calling out 'Mr. Lennon' Chapman fired five hollow point bullets at his supposed idol, hitting him with four of them, causing major damage to his internal organs, including a severed aorta which would eventually cause Lennon's death from hypovolemic shock.

As Lennon staggered into the building, Chapman withdrew his copy of the book, sat down, and began reading; when he was finally arrested he put up no fight. Lennon, meanwhile, was declared DOA at Roosevelt Hospital at 11:15 PM.

Although he was given no funeral, John Lennon has been given a memorial; Central Park's Strawberry Fields Memorial, situated across the street from where Lennon was killed, opened in October 1985. It is one of the most popular scenes of pilgrimage in New York City.

Despite the fact that Chapman had planned his crime for years, and even spoken about it to friends and family, he was charged with second degree murder; he has been denied parole six times, thanks as much to a grassroots effort by fans as it is to the efficacy of Yoko Ono's legal team.

Mark David Chapman is currently incarcerated in seclusion at Attica.
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POPnews - December 8th

[The Monument of the Hand was erected in the Cretan prefecture of Chania to remember those who died when the car ferry SS Heraklion sank off Falkonera en route from the port of Souda to Piraeus near Athens.]

1609 - The reading room at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana opened its doors in Milan; after Oxford University's Bodleian Library - which first opened its doors in November 1602 - it was the second public library in Europe.

1660 - Margaret Hughes became the first actress to appear on an English public stage when she assayed the role of Desdemona in a production of Shakespeare's play Othello by Thomas Killigrew's new King's Company at their theatre, Gibbon's Tennis Court, in London's Vere Street.

1854 - Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Roman Catholic dogma of Immaculate Conception, which holds that the Virgin Mary was born free of original sin.

1869 - Timothy Eaton founded the T. Eaton Co. Limited at 178 Yonge Street in Toronto, which would eventually run the tony Eaton's department store chain throughout Canada before his heirs ran it into the ground in August 1999.

1886 - The American Federation of Labor was established in Columbus, Ohio.

1889 - The Royal Netherlands Football Association was founded.

1904 - Denmark's Konservativ Ungdom (Young Conservatives) was founded by Carl F. Herman von Rosen; still in existence today, not only is it that country's oldest political youth organization it's believed to be one of the oldest in the world.

1907 - King Gustaf V acceded to the Swedish throne following the death of his father, Oscar II.

1914 - Near the beginning of World War I the German Kaiserliche Marine under the command of Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee was engaged by Britain's Royal Navy under Doveton Sturdee in the Battle of the Falkland Islands.

1941 - The US Congress declared war on the Empire of Japan following the latter's bombing of Pearl Harbor the previous day.

1953 - Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his Atoms for Peace speech at the UN General Assembly.

1966 - The Greek ship SS Heraklion sank during a storm in the Aegean Sea, killing over 200.

1974 - A plebiscite in Greece abolished that country's monarchy for the second and final time since it had been established in 1832.

1982 - Activist Norman Mayer threatened to blow up the Washington Monument, before being killed by United States Park Police; future White House Press Secretary George Stephanopoulos - then an intern at the nearby Carnegie Endowment for International Peace - made his first appearance on Nightline that evening to discuss the incident.

1987 - Melbourne was rocked by news of the Queen Street Massacre, a shooting spree by Frank Vitkovic which killed 8 and injured five - but not Con Margelis, the one he was gunning for - at the Queen Street offices of the Australia Post; after finally being disarmed by Frank Carmody, Vitkovic jumped eleven stories to his death. The involvement of Australia's Church of Scientology in this incident has never been satisfactorily investigated...

1993 - The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed into law by US President Bill Clinton.

1995 - Philip Lawrence, headmaster of St. George's Roman Catholic School in North London's Maida Vale district, was murdered by Learco Chindamo of the mostly Filipino local street gang Wo Shing Wo; Lawrence had come to the aid of one of his pupils, William Njoh, who was seriously injured in the attack.

Photobucket2004 - Darrell Abbott - known professionally as Dimebag Darrell, lead singer and founding member of such heavy metal stalwarts Pantera and Damageplan - was shot and killed by deranged fan Nathan Gale on stage at Columbus, Ohio's Alrosa Villa while performing with Damageplan. The band's drum technician, John 'Kat' Brooks, and tour manager, Chris Paluska, were injured in the fray, while their head of security, Jeff 'Mayhem' Thompson, Alrosa Villa employee Erin Halk, and audience member Nathan Bray (who'd been performing CPR on Abbott) were all killed; as for the shooter, he was handily despatched by Officer James D. Niggemeyer (shown, at right). The entire story is told in Chris Armold's 2007 book A Vulgar Display of Power: Courage and Carnage at the Alrosa Villa.

2008 - Kirsty Williams was elected leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, making her the first female leader of a political party in Wales.
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