Monthly Archives: November 2012

Almanac – November 30

1900 – Oscar Wilde died. Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Today he is remembered for his epigrams and plays, and the circumstances of his imprisonment which was followed by his early death of cerebral meningitis.

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1909 – Robert Nighthawk born. American blues musician, who also played and recorded under the name  Robert Lee McCoy.

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Almanac – November 29

St. Radbod’s Day – he was the great-grandson of another Radbod,  the last pagan king of the Frisians, who said he prefered the prospect of being in Hell with his ancestors than that of being in Heaven without them.

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Vampire Night in Romania, the undead are said to rise from their tombs and seek out their former homes. If they fail to find unprotected victims to leech off, they’ll instead fight among themselves, before returning to their graves.

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1781 –  The Zong Massacre took place,  a mass-killing by throwing overboard,  of approximately 142 slaves on the Zong, a slave ship owned by a Liverpool slave-trading syndicate.

The resulting court cases, brought by the ship-owners seeking compensation from the insurers for the slave-traders’ lost “cargo”, established that the deliberate killing of slaves could in some circumstances be legal. It was a landmark in the battle against the African slave trade of the eighteenth century, and inspired abolitionists such as Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson, leading to the foundation of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1787.

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1933 – John Mayall born.  English blues singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, whose musical career spans over fifty years. In the 1960s, he was the founder of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, a band which has included at different times  Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Mick Taylor, Aynsley Dunbar, Hughie Flint, Jon Hiseman, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Andy Fraser, and  Walter Trout.

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2009 – Robert Holdstock died. English novelist and author best known for his works of Celtic, Nordic, Gothic and Pictish fantasy literature, predominantly in the fantasy subgenre of mythic fiction. His breakthrough novel Mythago Wood was published in 1984 and began the Ryhope Wood series, which continued until the appearance of Avilion in 2009.

Between 2001 and  2007  Holdstock produced a trilogy of fantasy novels, the Merlin Codex, consisting of Celtika, The Iron Grail and The Broken Kings.
He died in hospital at the age of 61, following his collapse with an E. coli infection.

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Almanac – November 28

1757 – William Blake born.  English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic poetry has been said to form “what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language”.

 His visual artistry has led one contemporary art critic to proclaim him “far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced”. Although he lived in London his entire life except for three years spent in Felpham he produced a diverse and symbolically rich corpus, which embraced the imagination as “the body of God”, or “Human existence itself”.

Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England – indeed, to all forms of organised religion – Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions, as well as by such thinkers as Jakob Böhme and Emanuel Swedenborg. Despite these known influences, the singularity of Blake’s work makes him difficult to classify. The 19th-century scholar William Rossetti characterised Blake as a “glorious luminary,” and as “a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors”.

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1820 – Friedrich Engels born. German social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research. In 1848 he co-authored The Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx, and later he supported Marx financially to do research and write Das Kapital.

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1929 – Berry Gordy Jr. born. American songwriter,  record producer, and the founder of the Motown record label.

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Almanac – November 27

1703 – The first Eddystone Lighthouse was destroyed in the Great Storm of 1703.

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1940 – Bruce Lee born. Actor, martial arts instructor,  philosopher, and filmmaker.  Lee was the son of Cantonese opera star Lee Hoi-Chuen. He is widely considered by commentators, critics, media and other martial artists to be one of the most influential martial artists of all time,  and a pop culture icon of the 20th century.He is often credited with helping to change the way Asians were presented in American films.

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1942 – Jimi Hendrix born. American musician, singer and songwriter. Despite a limited mainstream exposure of four years, he is widely considered to have been the greatest electric guitarist in the history of popular music, and one of the most important musicians of the 20th century.

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1953 – Eugene O’Neill died. American playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature. His  plays were among the first to introduce into American drama techniques of realism earlier associated with Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish playwright August Strindberg and among the first to include speeches in American vernacular and involve characters on the fringes of society, where they struggle to maintain their hopes and aspirations, but ultimately slide into disillusionment and despair.

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1981 – Lotte Lenya died. Austrian singer, diseuse, and actress. In the German-speaking and classical music world she is best remembered for her performances of the songs of her husband, Kurt Weill. In English-language film she is remembered for her Academy Award-nominated role in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961) and as the sadistic and vengeful Rosa Klebb in the James Bond movie From Russia with Love (1963).

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1998 – Barbara Acklin died. American soul singer and songwriter who was most successful in the 1960s and 1970s. Her biggest hit as a singer was “Love Makes a Woman” in 1968. As a songwriter, she is best known for co-writing “Have You Seen Her” with Eugene Record, lead singer of the Chi-Lites.

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Almanac – November 26

1909 – Eugène Ionesco born.  Romanian and French playwright and dramatist, and one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd. Beyond ridiculing the most banal situations, Ionesco’s plays depict in a tangible way the solitude and insignificance of human existence.

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1922 – Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years. 

With Carnarvon, Carnarvon’s daughter, and others in attendance, Carter made the “tiny breach in the top left hand corner” of the doorway, and was able to peer in by the light of a candle and see that many of the gold and ebony treasures were still in place.

He made the breach into the tomb with a chisel his grandmother had given him for his seventeenth birthday. He did not yet know at that point whether it was “a tomb or merely a cache”, but he did see a promising sealed doorway between two sentinel statues. When Carnarvon asked “can you see anything?”, Carter replied with the famous words: “Yes, wonderful things.”

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1923 – Pat Phoenix born. English actress who became one of the first sex symbols of British television through her role of Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street – described by Prime Minister James Callaghan as “the sexiest thing on television”.  She also featured her on the cover of one of the Smiths‘ singles, “Shakespeare’s Sister”.

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1939 – Tina Turner born. American singer whose career has spanned more than half a century, earning her widespread recognition and numerous awards.Turner started out her music career in the mid-1950s as a featured singer with Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm, first recording in 1958 under the name Little Ann with the song, “Box Top”. Her introduction to the public as Tina Turner began in the early 1960s with Ike as a member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue.

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1977 – ‘Vrillon’, claiming to be the representative of the ‘Ashtar Galactic Command’, took over Britain’s Southern Television for six minutes at 5:12 pm.  Generally considered to be a hoax, but the identity of the intruder is unknown.

The voice, which was disguised and accompanied by a deep buzzing, broke into the broadcast , over-riding the UHF audio signal of the early-evening news to warn viewers that “All your weapons of evil must be destroyed” and “You have but a short time to learn to live together in peace.”

The interruption ceased shortly after the statement had been delivered, transmissions returning to normal shortly before the end of a Looney Tunes cartoon. Later in the evening, Southern Television apologised for what it described as “a breakthrough in sound” for some viewers.

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The message in full-

    This is the voice of Vrillon, a representative of the Ashtar Galactic Command, speaking to you. For many years you have seen us as lights in the skies. We speak to you now in peace and wisdom as we have done to your brothers and sisters all over this, your planet Earth.

    We come to warn you of the destiny of your race and your world so that you may communicate to your fellow beings the course you must take to avoid the disaster which threatens your world, and the beings on our worlds around you. This is in order that you may share in the great awakening, as the planet passes into the New Age of Aquarius. The New Age can be a time of great peace and evolution for your race, but only if your rulers are made aware of the evil forces that can overshadow their judgments.

    Be still now and listen, for your chance may not come again.

    All your weapons of evil must be removed. The time for conflict is now past and the race of which you are a part may proceed to the higher stages of its evolution if you show yourselves worthy to do this. You have but a short time to learn to live together in peace and goodwill.

    Small groups all over the planet are learning this, and exist to pass on the light of the dawning New Age to you all. You are free to accept or reject their teachings, but only those who learn to live in peace will pass to the higher realms of spiritual evolution.

    Hear now the voice of Vrillon, a representative of the Ashtar Galactic Command, speaking to you. Be aware also that there are many false prophets and guides operating in your world. They will suck your energy from you – the energy you call money and will put it to evil ends and give you worthless dross in return.

    Your inner divine self will protect you from this. You must learn to be sensitive to the voice within that can tell you what is truth, and what is confusion, chaos and untruth. Learn to listen to the voice of truth which is within you and you will lead yourselves onto the path of evolution.

    This is our message to our dear friends. We have watched you growing for many years as you too have watched our lights in your skies. You know now that we are here, and that there are more beings on and around your Earth than your scientists admit.

    We are deeply concerned about you and your path towards the light and will do all we can to help you. Have no fear, seek only to know yourselves, and live in harmony with the ways of your planet Earth. We of the Ashtar Galactic Command thank you for your attention. We are now leaving the plane of your existence. May you be blessed by the supreme love and truth of the cosmos.

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Almanac – November 25

Historically a day of storms… which gives me an excuse (as if i need one) to play this Northern Soul classic.

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1703 – The Great Storm of 1703, the greatest windstorm ever recorded in the southern part of Great Britain, reached its peak intensity which it maintained through November 27. Winds gusted up to 120 mph, and 9,000 people died. Observers at the time recorded barometric readings as low as 973 millibars (measured by William Derham in South Essex), but it has been suggested that the storm may have deepened to 950 millibars over the Midlands.

 The storm, unprecedented in ferocity and duration, was generally reckoned by witnesses to represent the anger of God—in recognition of the “crying sins of this nation”, the government declared 19 January 1704 a day of fasting, saying it “loudly calls for the deepest and most solemn humiliation of our people”. It remained a frequent topic of moralizing in sermons well into the nineteenth century.

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1839 – A cyclone hit India with high winds and a 40 foot storm surge, destroying the port city of Coringa (which has never been completely rebuilt). The storm wave swept inland, taking with it 20,000 ships and thousands of people. An estimated 300,000 deaths resulted from the disaster.

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1950 – The Great Appalachian Storm of November 1950, otherwise known at the time as the “Storm of the Century”, struck  New England with hurricane force winds resulting in massive forest blow-downs and storm surge damage along the Northeast coast including New York City. This storm also brought blizzard conditions to the Appalachian Mountains and Ohio Valley, becoming one of the worst storms of all time. 353 people died in the event.

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1974 – Nick Drake died.  English singer-songwriter and musician, known for his gentle guitar-based songs. He failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime but his work has gradually achieved wider notice and recognition. Died from an overdose of amitriptyline, a prescribed antidepressant; he was 26 years old. Whether his death was an accident or suicide has never been resolved.

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1987 – Typhoon Nina hit  the Philippines with category 5 winds of 165 mph and a surge that destroyed entire villages. At least 1,036 deaths are attributed to the storm.

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2008 – Cyclone Nisha struck northern Sri Lanka, killing 15 people and displacing 90,000 others while dealing the region the highest rainfall in 9 decades.

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2009 – Devastating floods, known as the 2009 Saudi Arabian Floods, following freak rains swamped the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia during an ongoing Hajj pilgrimage. 3,000 cars are swept away and 122 people perished in the torrents, with 350 others missing.

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Almanac – November 24

1859 – Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species.

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1868 – Scott Joplin born. American composer and pianist. Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions, and was later dubbed “The King of Ragtime”. During his brief career, he wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first pieces, the “Maple Leaf Rag”, became ragtime’s first and most influential hit, and has been recognized as the archetypal rag.

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1941 – Donald “Duck” Dunn born.  American bass guitarist, session musician, record producer, and songwriter. Dunn was notable for his 1960s recordings with Booker T. & the M.G.’s and as a session bassist for Stax Records, playing on thousands of records including hits by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, William Bell, Eddie Floyd, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, and many others.

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1944 – Candy Darling born. American actress, best known as a Warhol Superstar.  A male-to-female transsexual, she starred in Andy Warhol’s films Flesh (1968) and Women in Revolt (1971), and was also immortalized in the Velvet Underground‘s  ‘Candy Says’, Lou Reed‘s ‘Walk On the Wild Side’, the Rolling Stones song ‘Citadel’, and some claim she was the inspiration for  The Kinks ‘Lola’.

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1947 – For refusing to co-operate with the House Un-American Activities Committee, the US Congress cited 10 Hollywood Writers, directors and producers – the Hollywood 10 – for contempt.

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1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald, accused of assassinating John F. Kennedy, was himself murdered by Jack Ruby.

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1985 – Big Joe Turner died.  American blues shouter from Kansas City, Missouri. According to the songwriter Doc Pomus, “Rock and roll would have never happened without him.”  Although  his greatest fame came  in the 1950s with his pioneering rock and roll recordings, particularly “Shake, Rattle and Roll”, Turner’s career as a performer stretched from the 1920s into the 1980s

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