Monday, December 13, 2010

"Chim Chim Cher-ee" by Dick Van Dyke

It's hard to believe today - when one can barely get through a quiz, panel, or chat show without one's ears being assailed by the curiously estuarian tones of the seemingly ubiquitous mockney - but back in the day when one wanted to hear a bad version of an unattractive accent one had to wait for this to turn up on telly...

Chim Chim Cher-ee - at least as performed by Dick Van Dyke in the 1964 film Mary Poppins - is a curious blend of magic and bullshit; without his presence I feel certain the magic would be gone. The only thing that redeems the song in my opinion isn't the Best Song Oscar it earned but the presence of Dick Van Dyke himself - one of the most charming performers to grace whatever the age that came right after the Golden Age of Television was called*, when his classic sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show was destination television.

Today is Dick Van Dyke's 85th birthday, and here's t'many more guv'nor!

*The Silver Age?

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Remembering... Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent

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Born on this day in 1906, the much-loved Princess Marina was the last foreign-born Princess to marry into the British Royal Family; already a Princess of both Greece and Denmark she became a Princess of Great Britain when she married the current Queen's handsome and dashing uncle Prince George, The Duke of Kent, in November 1934.

Together they had three children: Edward, the current Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy, and Prince Michael of Kent, who famously married a monster. Throughout the years of their brief marriage the Duke and Duchess cut a pair of dashing figures in London society, during which time she was frequently photographed by Cecil Beaton.

Following her husband's untimely death in August 1942, Princess Marina maintained a steady calendar of royal duties, the highlight of which was the celebration of the independence of Ghana in March 1957, which she attended on behalf of her niece. She also attended the independence of Botswana in September 1966, and so grateful were the people of the capital Gaborone that they named their brand new hospital after her. For many years Her Royal Highness was president of Wimbledon's All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

The year after her August 1968 death she was mentioned in a song by The Kinks; She's Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina appears in their 1969 rock opera Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire).

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In Memoriam: Emily Carr

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketCanada's western coastline is home to some of the most epic nature on Earth; craggy mountains looming over quixotic black waters, valleys lushly forested and shorelines teeming with life, it is scenery made succulent by the sweetness of its lavish rains and unforgettable for the resultant jewel-like tones of its sunny days...

The first artist to capture British Columbia and show its beauty to the world was Emily Carr, born on this day in 1871. Fortunately for the world her talent was more than up to the challenge of capturing a wilderness as wild as Haida Gwaii, yet it belied the modesty of her demeanour.

Emily Carr was also an accomplished writer: in addition to her memoir of life among the Nuu-chah-nulth (entitled Klee Wyck - their nickname for her, meaning 'the laughing one') she wrote The Book of Small (1942) and The House of All Sorts (1944). Carr died in 1945, but her written works continued to appear, such as Growing Pains (1946), Pause and The Heart of a Peacock (1953), and Hundreds and Thousands (1966).

Largely unappreciated in her lifetime, Carr's paintings now fetch among the highest prices for any Canadian art; in May 1999 Heffel sold her War Canoes, Alert Bay (1912) for $1.1 million.
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"Bring Me To Life" by Evanescence

It was on this day in 1981 that John Lee and Sara Cargill brought Amy Lee to life, and I'm sure this is neither the first nor the last time she's heard that one...

Anyway, the Goth songstress and vocalist for Evanescence first burst onto the music scene with this powerhouse single, Bring Me to Life, which was the first single from the band's 2003 debut album Fallen. She was inspired to write it, she says, following a particularly bad relationship, during which time she felt she was losing her life by just going through the motions.

Both Lee and the band have followed up their initial success with a 2006 sophomore effort called The Open Door, which spawned five singles, including Call Me When You're Sober; having brought her career to life, there's no telling what Amy Lee might do with it next!
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POPnews - December 13th

[If you think this is undignified you should have seen his execution!]

1294 - Saint Celestine V abdicated the papacy after only five months in office, hoping to return to his previous life as an ascetic hermit. Imagine something like that happening today... I know I do.

Photobucket1545 - The Council of Trent began, called and presided over at first by Pope Paul III, then Pope Julius III, and finally Pope Pius IV; the Roman Catholic Church's 19th Ecumenical Council, it was held at the behest of Martin Luther (shown, at left) in order to examine so-called Protestant heresies. Alas, the princes of the church were uninterested in self-examination, and thus used the time to devise greater and more evil punishments for those responsible (because that's what Jesus would have done) rather than examining their own decadence and other laxities as the real cause of the Reformation. Not only did the Council of Trent reflect the highest ideals of the Counter-Reformation - namely bigotry, corruption, and greed - when it ended in December 1563 (just nine days shy of its own 18th birthday) it would be the church's last such navel-gazing session until Pope Pius IX called the First Vatican Council to order in December 1869.

1577 - Sir Francis Drake left Plymouth aboard the Pelican, (which was renamed the Golden Hind mid-voyage) intent on circumnavigating the Earth upon the orders of Elizabeth I.

1636 - The Massachusetts Bay Colony organized three militia regiments to defend the colony against the Pequot nation; this necessary precaution is recognized today as the foundation of the US National Guard.

1642 - Abel Janszoon Tasman became the first European to reach New Zealand.

1769 - Dartmouth College was founded by Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, with a Royal Charter from King George III, on land donated by Royal Governor John Wentworth.

1937 - The Japanese military initiated the Nanjing Massacre, a genocidal killing spree which claimed more than 200,000 (mostly civilian) lives in the six weeks that followed their capture of the Chinese capital.

1938 - The Neuengamme concentration camp opened in the Bergedorf district of Hamburg.

1951 - Margaret Hilda Roberts married Denis Thatcher at London's City Methodist, making her Margaret Thatcher; the marriage would result in twin national embarassments named Carol and Mark, but nothing like her copulation with Satan in 1959, which would bring about her election to Parliament on behalf of Finchley and, twenty years later, the country's cruellest government since Cromwell.

1959 - Archbishop Makarios III became the first President of Cyprus.

1967 - King Constantine II of Greece led a successful counter-coup against the Regime of the Colonels.

1974 - Malta became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations.

1977 - A DC-3 aircraft chartered from the Indianapolis-based National Jet crashed near Evansville Regional Airport, killing 29, including the University of Evansville basketball team, support staff and boosters of the team.

1979 - The minority government of Canada's Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Joe Clark fell following a vote of non-confidence sponsored by NDP Finance Critic (and future Ontario premier) Bob Rae.

1981 - Poland's General Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law in order to suppress the pro-democracy Solidarity movement. It, uh, didn't work...

1996 - Kofi Annan was elected Secretary-General of the United Nations.

2000 - The so-called Texas Seven - led by George Rivas - escaped from the John Connally Unit near Kenedy, Texas, and went on a robbery spree during which police officer Aubrey Hawkins was shot and killed.

2003 - Saddam Hussein was captured near his hometown of Tikrit by US troops as part of Operation Red Dawn.

2006 - The Baiji, or Chinese River Dolphin, was announced as being functionally extinct.
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