Tag Archives: fantasy

Almanac – April 09

1553 – François Rabelais died. French Renaissance writer, doctor, Renaissance humanist, monk and Greek scholar.

He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, the grotesque, bawdy jokes and songs. His best known work is Gargantua and Pantagruel. Rabelais is considered one of the great writers of world literature and among the creators of modern European writing.

There are diverging accounts of Rabelais’ death and his last words. According to some, he wrote a famous one sentence will: “I have nothing, I owe a great deal, and the rest I leave to the poor”, and his last words were “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”

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1926 – Zip the Pinhead died. American freak show performer.

His unusual appearance caused many to believe that he was a “pinhead“, or microcephalic. Microcephaly patients are characterized by a small, tapering cranium and often have impaired mental faculty, although it is arguable that Zip was not mentally deficient – his  sister, Sarah van Duyne, claimed in a 1926 interview that her brother would “converse like the average person, and with fair reasoning power”.

Zip’s early performances were set against a background story. It was told to the audience that a tribe of “missing links” had been discovered in Africa (he was actually born in New Jersey), and that Zip was one of these.
 
In his later years Zip eschewed traveling in favor of displaying himself at Coney Island. One Sunday afternoon in 1925, Zip heard a little girl cry for help. He noticed the girl waving her arms in the ocean and swam out to rescue her.

At the time, the vigorous Zip was at least in his late 70’s and most probably early 80’s . All who witnessed cheered his valor, but he left the scene to avoid their accolades.

He is partly the inspiration for Bill Griffith’s comics character, Zippy the Pinhead, which initially appeared in underground publications during the 1970s.

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1938 – Rockin’ Sidney born.  American R&B, zydeco, and soul musician.

His credits include “No Good Woman”, “You Ain’t Nothing But Fine”, “Tell Me”, and his biggest hit, “My Toot Toot“, which became a worldwide hit.

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Almanac – March 15

The Ides of March.

44 BC – Julius Caesar, Dictator of the Roman Republic, was stabbed to death by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus and several other Roman senators.

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1937 – H. P. Lovecraft died.  American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction.

Lovecraft’s guiding aesthetic and philosophical principle was what he termed “cosmicism” or “cosmic horror“, the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally inimical to the interests of humankind.

As such, his stories express a profound indifference to human beliefs and affairs. Lovecraft is the originator of the Cthulhu Mythos story cycle and the Necronomicon, a fictional magical textbook of rites and forbidden lore.

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1943 – Sly Stone born. American musician, songwriter, and record producer, most famous for his role as frontman for Sly and the Family Stone, a band which played a critical role in the development of soul, funk and psychedelia in the 1960s and 1970s.

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2008 – Mikey Dread died. Jamaican singer, producer, and broadcaster.

He was one of the most influential performers and innovators in reggae music. “His abilities, technical expertise, and unique vocal delivery combined to create a unique sound that tells the listener emphatically that it is the ‘Dread at the Controls’.”

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Almanac – March 13

1911 – L. Ron Hubbard born. American pulp fiction author and the founder of the Church of Scientology.

After establishing a career as a writer, becoming best known for his science fiction and fantasy stories, he developed a self-help system called Dianetics which was first published in May 1950.

He subsequently developed his ideas into a wide-ranging set of doctrines and rituals as part of a new religious movement that he called Scientology.

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1998 – Judge Dread died. English reggae and ska musician. He was the first white recording artist to have a reggae hit in Jamaica, and the BBC has banned more of his songs than any other recording artist due to his frequent use of sexual innuendo and double entendres.

After a brief spell as a professional wrestler (performing under the name “The Masked Executioner”), and as a debt collector for Trojan Records, he worked as a DJ on local radio and ran his own sound system.

When Prince Buster had a big underground hit in 1969 with “Big 5”,  Dread capitalized on it with the recording of his own “Big Six”, based on Verne & Son‘s “Little Boy Blue“, which was picked up by Trojan boss Lee Gopthal, and released on Trojan’s ‘Big Shot’ record label under the  name Judge Dread, the name taken from another of Prince Buster’s songs.

“Big Six” reached #11 in the UK Singles Chart in 1972, selling over 300,000 copies and spending six months on the chart, despite getting no radio airplay due to its lyrics.

Further hit singles followed with “Big Seven” (co-written by Rupie Edwards) and “Big Eight” — both following the pattern of lewd versions of nursery rhymes over a reggae backing.

Dread had 11 UK chart hits in the 1970s, which was more than any other reggae artist (including Bob Marley). The Guinness Book of World Records credits Judge Dread for having the highest number of banned songs of all time, 11.

He died from a heart attack as he walked off stage after performing at The Penny Theatre in Canterbury.

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Almanac – March 03

1756 – William Godwin born. English journalist, political philosopher and novelist. He is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism, and the first modern proponent of anarchism.

 Godwin is most famous for two books that he published within the space of a year: An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, an attack on political institutions, and Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, which attacks aristocratic privilege, but also is the first mystery novel. Based on the success of both, Godwin featured prominently in the radical circles of London in the 1790s.

 In the ensuing conservative reaction to British radicalism, Godwin was attacked, in part because of his marriage to the pioneering feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft in 1797 and his candid biography of her after her death.

Their daughter, Mary Godwin (later Mary Shelley) would go on to write Frankenstein and marry the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

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1765 – William Stukeley died. English antiquarian who pioneered the archaeological investigation of the prehistoric monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury, work for which he has been remembered as “probably… the most important of the early forerunners of the discipline of archaeology”.

Becoming involved in the newly fashionable organisation of Freemasonry, he also began to describe himself as a “druid“, and incorrectly believed that the prehistoric megalithic monuments were a part of the druidic religion. However, despite this he has been noted as being a significant figure in the early development of the modern movement known as Neo-druidry.

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1863 – Arthur Machen born.  Welsh author and mystic of the 1890s and early 20th century. He is best known for his influential supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction. His novella “The Great God Pan” (1890; 1894) has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror (Stephen King has called it “Maybe the best [horror story] in the English language”). He is also well known for his leading role in creating the legend of the Angels of Mons.

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1951 – Jackie Brenston, with Ike Turner and his band, recorded “Rocket 88″, often cited as the first rock and roll record, at Sam Phillips‘ recording studios in Memphis, Tennessee.

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2006 – Ivor Cutler died. Scottish poet, songwriter and humorist. He became known for his regular performances on BBC radio, and in particular his numerous sessions recorded for John Peel‘s influential radio programme, and later for Andy Kershaw‘s programme. He appeared in The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour film in 1967 and on Neil Innes‘ television programmes.

The hallmarks of Cutler’s work are surreal, bizarre juxtapositions and close attention to small details of existence, all described in seemingly naive language. In performance his delivery was frail, halting and minimally inflected. His writing sometimes edged into whimsy or the macabre. Many of his poems and songs are in the form of conversations delivered as a monologue

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Almanac – February 22

1797 – The Last Invasion of Britain began,  near Fishguard, Wales,  by Revolutionary France during the War of the First Coalition. The brief campaign, which took place between 22 February and 24 February 1797, was the most recent effort by a foreign force that was able to land on British soil.

The invasion was the plan of General Lazare Hoche, who had devised a three-pronged attack on Britain in support of Irish Republicans under Wolfe Tone. Two forces would land in Britain as a diversionary effort, while the main body would land in Ireland. While poor weather and indiscipline halted two of the forces, the third, aimed at landing in Wales and marching on Bristol, went ahead.

The invasion force consisted of 1,400 troops from the La Legion Noire (The Black Legion) under the command of Irish American Colonel William Tate, 800 of whom were irregulars.

Upon landing discipline broke down amongst the irregulars, many of whom deserted to loot nearby settlements. The remaining troops were met by a quickly assembled group of around 500 British reservists, militia and sailors under the command of John Campbell, 1st Baron Cawdor. After brief clashes with the local civilian population and Lord Cawdor’s forces on 23 February, Tate was forced into an unconditional surrender by 24 February.

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1900 – Luis Buñuel born. Spanish filmmaker . Often associated with the Surrealist movement of the 1920s, Buñuel created films in six decades, from the 1920s through the 1970s.

His work spans two continents, three languages, and nearly every film genre, including experimental film, documentary, melodrama, satire, musical, erotica, comedy, romance, costume dramas, fantasy, crime film, adventure, and western.

Despite this variety, filmmaker John Huston believed that, regardless of genre, a Buñuel film is so distinctive as to be instantly recognizable, or, as Ingmar Bergman put it, “Buñuel nearly always made Buñuel films.”

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1918 – Robert Wadlow born. The tallest person in history for whom there is irrefutable evidence.  He  reached 8 ft 11.1 in (2.72 m) in height and weighed 439 lb (199 kg) at his death at age 22.

His great size and his continued growth in adulthood were due to hyperplasia of his pituitary gland, which results in an abnormally high level of human growth hormone. He showed no indication of an end to his growth even at the time of his death.

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1950 – Genesis Breyer P-Orridge born. English singer-songwriter, musician, poet, writer and performance artist.

In the latter capacity s/he was the founder of the COUM Transmissions artistic collective, which operated from 1969 through to 1975, while as a musician, P-Orridge fronted the pioneering industrial band Throbbing Gristle, from 1975 through to 1981, and then the acid house band, Psychic TV, from 1981 through to 1999.

An occultist, s/he is also a founding member of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth.

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1987 – Andy Warhol died. American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist.

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Almanac – July 27

1880 – The Battle of Maiwand, one of the principal battles of the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Under the leadership of Ayub Khan, the Afghans defeated two brigades of British and Indian troops under Brigadier-General George Burrows.

 Doctor  John Watson, companion of Sherlock Holmes, was wounded in the Battle of Maiwand, as described in the opening chapter of A Study in Scarlet, which led to him being invalided  out of the military and into a life of  a fictional detective’s side-kick.

1890 – Vincent van Gogh shot himself  (and died two days later).



1949 – Robert Rankin, born.  British humorous novelist. His books are a mix of science fiction, fantasy, the occult, urban legends, running gags, metafiction, steampunk and outrageous characters.

Mr. Frankenstein

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