Wednesday, March 02, 2011

"We've Only Just Begun" by The Carpenters

Born on this day in 1950, Karen Carpenter's sweet voice - which I've always found a curious blend of haunting and soothing - made The Carpenters into superstars of 1970s radio; similarly, her gentleness is often on display in television appearances, such as this hippy-riffic performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1970, which also demonstrates her abilities as a drummer.

Carpenter's February 1983 death while recovering from anorexia nervosa was one of the first such celebrity deaths to have an impact on me; because I'd grown up listening to her, not to mention the fact that I used to be an even more melodramatic whoopsie than I am even now, I had a little bit of a breakdown when I heard the news, and got to miss school that day as a result.
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Happy Birthday Laraine Newman

Laraine Newman's pioneering work as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live will always ensure her a place in the hearts and minds of - ahem - people of a certain age, myself wholeheartedly included, even though I am very much on the young end of that particular spectrum, thank you very much.

PhotobucketBorn on this day in 1952, Newman's comedy career began with the legendary comedy troupe The Groundlings, and her character-driven work on SNL definitely benefited from that. In fact, she was one of the first people on television to impersonate the verbal cadences and mannerisms of that peculiar breed of young lady most often found at the Sherman Oaks Galleria - the Valley Girl.

Since leaving the cast of SNL after five seasons in 1980 Newman's career has been spotty at best; still, whenever she does appear, it's always a delightful surprise.

To read her many trenchant (not to mention occasionally bitter and often hilarious) insights into her time on the show, read the excellent Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, edited by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller; or, you can always watch her in action. The first five seasons of SNL are available in their glorious commercial-free entirety on DVD.
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POPnews - March 2nd

[87 km (54 miles) southeast of Seattle the highest peak in the Cascade Range rises above a primordial rain forest of uncommon lushness and beauty; on clear days it towers over a similarly lovely urban jungle as well, serving as a constant reminder of our frailty as humans on this planet. Part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc - along with its fellows Baker, Jefferson, Shasta and Garibaldi - Rainier could in theory get uppity like Mount St. Helens and play tag with the approximately 10 million people living in the region using nothing but molten rock. Then again, it probably won't...]

986 CE - Louis V - the last Carolingian monarch and remembered today as Louis le Fainéant (Louis Do-Nothing) - became King of the Franks.

1127 - Charles the Good, Count of Flanders, was assassinated for distributing bread to the poor during a famine. The bastard...

1808 - The first meeting of the Wernerian Natural History Society - the Scottish learned society founded the previous January 12th which closed down in April 1858 - was held in Edinburgh.

- The Kandyan Convention was signed by the British (represented by John d'Oyly) and Sri Lanka's last King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha; the treaty was not popular with the people of Kandy, a kingdom in mountainous central Sri Lanka, who had been holding off the invasion of their island since 1796. Its signing and implementation would bring about the Uva Rebellion against the colonial Governor, Robert Brownrigg.

1836 - The Texas Declaration of Independence was adopted at the Convention of 1836, held at Washington-on-the-Brazos; this opening salvo of the Texas Revolution - owing in large part to the tyrannical rule of Mexico's President-General Antonio López de Santa Anna - resulted in the creation of the Republic of Texas.

1865 - The Volkner Incident - the murder of missionary Carl Völkner during New Zealand's Second Taranaki War - brought about the mass confiscation of land occupied by the Maori of Whakatohea.

1867 - The US Congress passed the first of four Reconstruction Acts, which were intended to return the country to normalcy following the US Civil War during the period known as Reconstruction.

1877 - Just two days before the Inauguration was scheduled to occur, the US Congress declared Rutherford B. Hayes the winner of the election even though Samuel J. Tilden had won the majority of the popular vote in November 1876.

1888 - The Convention of Constantinople was signed signed by Great Britain, Germany, Austro-Hungary, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire, guaranteeing free maritime passage through the Suez Canal during war and peace.

1899 - Mount Rainier National Park was established in the US state of Washington.

1903 - New York City's Martha Washington Hotel opened at 30 E. 30th Street, becoming the first hotel exclusively for women; it's still in business under the name Hotel 30 30, although the women-only policy has been dropped.

1939 - Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli was elected Pope following the death of Pius XI, taking the name Pius XII.

1955 - King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia abdicated in favor of his father, King Norodom Suramarit, opting to serve as Prime Minister instead.

1956 - Morocco declared its independence from France.

1962 - Wilt Chamberlain set an NBA record by scoring 100 points in a single game.

1969 - The first test flight of the Anglo-French Concorde was conducted in the skies over Toulouse, France.

1970 - Ian Smith declared Rhodesia a republic, breaking that country's last links with Britain.

1978 - Czech Vladimír Remek became the first non-Russian or non-American to go into space aboard Soyuz 28.

1996 - Ranabima Royal College was established in Kandy, Sri Lanka, on the anniversary of the signing of the Kandyan Convention.
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