Tag Archives: author

Almanac – April 27

1759 – Mary Wollstonecraft born. British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights.

During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children’s book, though she   is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.

Wollstonecraft married the philosopher William Godwin, one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement, while her daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, later Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, would become an accomplished writer herself.

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1947 – Ann Peebles born.   American singer-songwriter who gained celebrity for her Memphis soul albums of the 1970s on the Hi Records label.

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1998 – Carlos Castaneda died. Peruvian author and student of anthropology.

Starting with The Teachings of Don Juan in 1968, Castaneda wrote a series of books that describe his alleged training in shamanism. The books, narrated in the first person, relate his supposed experiences under the tutelage of a Yaqui “Man of Knowledge” named Don Juan Matus.

 His 11 books have sold more than 28 million copies in 17 languages. Critics have suggested that they are works of fiction; supporters claim the books are either true or at least valuable works of philosophy and descriptions of practices which enable an increased awareness.

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Almanac – April 26

1886 – Ma Rainey born. One of the earliest known American professional blues singers and one of the first generation of such singers to record. she has been  billed as The Mother of the Blues.

She  was known for her very powerful vocal abilities, energetic disposition, majestic phrasing, and a ‘moaning’ style of singing similar to folk tradition, though her powerful voice and disposition are not captured on her recordings (due to her recording exclusively for Paramount, which was known for worse-than-normal recording techniques and among the industry’s poorest shellac quality), the other characteristics are present, and most evident on her early recordings, Bo-weevil Blues and Moonshine Blues. She also recorded with Louis Armstrong.

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1937 – Spanish Civil War: Guernica (or Gernika in Basque), Spain  bombed by German Luftwaffe, causing widespread destruction and civilian deaths – the Basque government reported 1,654 people killed.

The bombing was the subject of a famous anti-war painting by Pablo Picasso. It was depicted by Heinz Kiwitz, a German artist who made a woodcut of it  and later was killed fighting in the International Brigades.

The bombing shocked and inspired many artists: Guernica is also the name of one of the most violent of René Iché sculptures, one of the first electroacoustic music by Patrick Ascione, of a musical composition by René-Louis Baron and a poem by Paul Eluard (Victory of Guernica). There is also a short film from 1950 by Alain Resnais entitled Guernica.

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1938 – Duane Eddy born.  American guitarist. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he had a string of hit records, produced by Lee Hazlewood, which were noted for their characteristically “twangy” sound, including “Rebel Rouser”, “Peter Gunn”, and “Because They’re Young“. He had sold 12 million records by 1963.

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1940 – Giorgio Moroder born. Italian record producer, songwriter and performer.

When in Munich in the 1970s, he started his own record label called Oasis Records, which several years later became a subdivision of Casablanca Records.

 He collaborated with Donna Summer during the  disco era (including “Love to Love You Baby” and “I Feel Love“) and was the founder of the former Musicland Studios in Munich, which was used as a recording studio by artists including the Electric Light Orchestra, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Elton John.

Moroder also produced a number of electronic disco hits for The Three Degrees, two albums for Sparks, songs for performers including David Bowie, Irene Cara, Madleen Kane, Melissa Manchester, Blondie, Japan, and France Joli.

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1970 – Gypsy Rose Lee died.  American burlesque entertainer famous for her striptease act.

She was also an actress, author, and playwright whose 1957 memoir was made into the stage musical and film Gypsy.

Trying to describe what Gypsy was (a “high-class” stripper), H. L. Mencken coined the term ecdysiast.  Her style of intellectual recitation while stripping was spoofed in the number “Zip!” from Rodgers and Hart‘s Pal Joey, a play in which her sister June appeared.

Gypsy can be seen performing an abbreviated version of her act (intellectual recitation and all) in the 1943 film Stage Door Canteen.

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Thatcher Dead – Her Spawn Live On

Well, I suppose if I can find one good thing to say about Thatcher,  its that she didn’t  encourage the fruit of her loins – the terrible twins Carol and Mark – to follow her into politics.

Carol has followed some kind of career in journalism, as an author (biographies of mummy and daddy) and a “personality”.  A very annoying personality, and one no-one would have entertained on national media had it not been for her parentage.

She did have her moments.

In 2007 she travelled to the Falkland Islands and Argentina for the documentary Mummy’s War...

During her stay in Argentina she met a group of mothers who lost their sons during the conflict and stated, with all the sensitivity of her mother – “We were fighting a war; we won, you lost,” and reminded them that it was their country that invaded the islands, thus initiating the conflict. The interview ended with one of the women claiming that “God will punish her (Margaret Thatcher)”.

And diplomatic as ever, in 2009 she got the heave-ho from the BBC for making racist comments about a black tennis player.

Still, even with the insensitivity and casual racism, she’s like Snow White compared to her slimy sibling Mark.

During the mid- to late 1980s concerns were frequently expressed in relation to his business affairs. In 1984 his mother faced questions in the House of Commons in relation to his involvement in representing a British company Cementation, a subsidiary of Trafalgar House to build a university in Oman at a time when the prime minister was urging Omanis to buy British.

He has denied claims made that in 1985 he received millions of pounds in commission in relation to the £45 billion Al-Yamamah arms deal, a controversial arms sale by BAE to Saudi Arabia which was possibly the largest arms sale ever; he has not disputed that a house in Belgravia , London was purchased for him for £1 million in 1987 by an offshore company controlled by Wafic Said, a middleman in the deal.

In 1986 his mother faced questions in the House of Commons again over her son’s relationship with the Sultan of Brunei. The government’s PR advisers suggested that it would be best if he left the country !

So he was banished to Texas, and later spent time in Switzerland as a tax exile until he was forced to leave when the Swiss authorities started to question his residency qualifications.

Back in the USA in 1996 he was prosecuted for tax evasion, at which point he moved to South Africa.

In 1998 South African authorities investigated a company owned by Thatcher for allegedly running loan shark operations. According to the Star of Johannesburg’, the company had offered unofficial small loans to hundreds of police officers, military personnel and civil servants and then pursued them with debt collectors.

In 2003, following the death of his father he assumed the title of ‘Sir’ due to his Thatcher Baronetcy , a year before he was arrested in South Africa in connection with the 2004 Equatorial Guinea coup d’état attempt to which he pleaded guilty of breaking anti-mercenary legislation in January 2005. At this time the Sunday Times suggested that he had personal assets of £60 million, most of which was in offshore accounts.

He moved to Monaco on a temporary residency permit.His Monaco residency was not renewed as he was said to be on a list of ‘undesirables’ who would not be allowed further residency and he was required to leave by mid-2006.

He was refused a entry visa to the USA due to his conviction in South Africa.

He was refused residency in Switzerland and settled in Gibraltar where he married his second wife in 2008. In 2013 he was reported to spend most of his time in Marbella.  Arguably, anyone else with a comparable record would spend most of his time in prison.

I do hope someone at the Tax authorities is checking up to see how much UK tax he has avoided over the years.

My god, what a dysfunctional family !

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Almanac – April 10

1778 – William Hazlitt born. English writer, remembered for his humanistic essays and literary criticism, and as an art critic, drama critic, social commentator, and philosopher, he was also a painter.

 He is now considered one of the great critics and essayists of the English language,  placed in the company of Samuel Johnson and George Orwell, though  his work is currently little read and mostly out of print.

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1880 – Montague Summers born. English author and clergyman.

He is known primarily for his scholarly work on the English drama of the 17th century, as well as for his idiosyncratic studies on witches, vampires, and werewolves, in all of which he professed to believe.

He was responsible for the first English translation, published in 1928, of the notorious 15th-century witch hunter’s manual, the Malleus Maleficarum.

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1882 – Dante Gabriel Rossetti died. English poet, illustrator, painter and translator.

He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, and was later to be the main inspiration for a second generation of artists and writers influenced by the movement, most notably William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.

His work also influenced the European Symbolists and was a major precursor of the Aesthetic movement.

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Almanac – April 06

1992 – Isaac Asimov died.  American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.

Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards

Asimov is widely considered a master of hard science fiction and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke,  he was considered one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers during his lifetime.  Asimov’s most famous work is the Foundation Series;  his other major series are the Galactic Empire series and the Robot series.

His  robot stories promulgated a set of rules of ethics for robots and intelligent machines that greatly influenced other writers and thinkers in their treatment of the subject.

Asimov notes in one of his biographical pieces that he was largely inspired by the almost relentless tendency of robots up to that time to fall consistently into a Frankenstein plot in which they destroyed their creator.

The Three Laws of Robotics

1 – A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2 – A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3 – A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

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Almanac – April 04

1913 – Muddy Waters born. American blues musician,  considered the “father of modern Chicago blues“. He was a major inspiration for the British blues explosion in the 1960s and is ranked No. 17 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

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1928 – Maya Angelou born. American author and poet, whose list of occupations includes pimp, prostitute, night-club dancer and performer, castmember of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, author, journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization, and actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs.

She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

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1939 – Major Lance born. American R&B singer. After a number of US hits in the 1960s, including “The Monkey Time” and “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um”, he became an iconic figure in Britain in the 1970s among followers of Northern Soul.

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1968 – Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee. At 6:01 p.m., a shot rang out as King stood on the motel’s second-floor balcony. The bullet entered through his right cheek, smashing his jaw, then traveled down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder.

After emergency chest surgery, King was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital at 7:05 p.m.  According to biographer Taylor Branch, King’s autopsy revealed that though only 39 years old, he “had the heart of a 60 year old“, which Branch attributed to the stress of 13 years in the civil rights movement.

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Almanac – April 02

742 – Charlemagne born. King of the Franks from 768, the King of Italy from 774, the first Holy Roman Emperor,  called the “Father of Europe” (pater Europae),  his empire united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Roman Empire.

His rule spurred the Carolingian Renaissance, a revival of art, religion, and culture through the medium of the Catholic Church. Through his foreign conquests and internal reforms, Charlemagne encouraged the formation of a common European identity.  Both the French and German monarchies considered their kingdoms to be descendants of Charlemagne’s empire.

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1725 – Giacomo Casanova born.  Italian adventurer and author from the Republic of Venice.

He was, by vocation and avocation, a lawyer, clergyman, military officer, violinist, con man, pimp, gourmand, dancer, businessman, diplomat, spy, politician, medic, mathematician, social philosopher, cabalist, playwright, and writer. He wrote over twenty works, including plays and essays, and many letters. His novel Icosameron is an early work of science fiction.

He has become so famous for his often complicated and elaborate affairs with women that his name is now synonymous with “womanizer“.

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1891 – Max Ernst born. German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst was a primary pioneer of the Dada movement and Surrealism.

Ernst developed a fascination with birds that was prevalent in his work. His alter ego in paintings, which he called Loplop, was a bird. He suggested that this alter-ego was an extension of himself stemming from an early confusion of birds and humans.

 He said that one night when he was young he woke up and found that his beloved bird had died, and a few minutes later his father announced that his sister was born. Loplop often appeared in collages of other artists’ work, such as Loplop presents André Breton.

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1928 – Serge Gainsbourg born. French singer, songwriter, poet, composer, artist, actor and director. Regarded as one of the most important figures in French popular music, he was renowned for his often provocative and scandalous releases, as well as his diverse artistic output, which embodied genres ranging from jazz, chanson, pop and yé-yé, to reggae, funk, rock, electronic and disco music.

Gainsbourg’s extremely varied musical style and individuality make him difficult to categorize. His legacy has been firmly established, and he is often regarded as one of the world’s most influential popular musicians.

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1941 – Dr. Demento born. American radio broadcaster and record collector specializing in novelty songs, comedy, and strange or unusual recordings dating from the early days of phonograph records to the present.

He is credited with introducing new generations of listeners to artists of the early and middle twentieth century whom they may not have otherwise discovered, such as Haywire Mac, Spike Jones, Benny Bell, Yogi Yorgesson, and Tom Lehrer, as well as with bringing parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic to national attention.

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2003 – Edwin Starr died.  American soul music singer. Starr is most famous for his Norman Whitfield produced Motown singles of the 1970s, most notably the number one hit “War”.

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