Sunday, July 31, 2016
"Contact" is the eleventh studio album released by my girls in July 1985. It is their second most successful album and has been certified platinum. The Pointer Sisters won an American Music Award for "Favorite Video Group" in 1986.
Saturday, July 30, 2016
Toho Company released Mothra, July 30, 1961. An expedition leader to Infant Island (Beiru, in this movie) kidnaps the Cosmos, the tiny twins, and takes them back to Japan to perform in his vaudeville show. Their cute little song is actually a telepathic summons to Mothra, a gigantic moth, who comes to their rescue and leaves a path of destruction in its wake.
Mothra goes on to appear in a number of movies, including Godzilla where they are usually pitted against each other, except for Godzilla: The Final Wars where they are fighting on the same side.
Friday, July 29, 2016
Warning: Contains spoilers!
I don’t know if Margaret Frazer intended this to be the last Dame Frevisse novel, since she passed away in 2013, the final book ends on a high note. Without giving away the mystery, I’ll just say the last words in the book are “Domina Frevisse, prioress of St. Frideswide’s”. Okay, enough of the spoilers.
Other than the non-surprising ending, The Apostate’s Tale was a let-down given the excitement of the previous novel, The Traitor’s Tale. This final installment lacked the politics and intrigue of Henry VI’s disastrous reign, but it also lacked its enjoyability.
The story takes place entirely within the confines of St Frideswide. Frevisse isn’t sent away on an errand and her cousin Lady Suffolk isn’t even mentioned. That being said, there really wasn’t much mystery to this novel. The story centered around an apostate nun who had fled St. Frideswide nine years before with a man, and is back with young son in tow.
The sisters are none too happy to see her and send for Abbot Gilberd, Domina Elisabeth’s brother to help them with what to do with Sister Cecely. Thrown into the mix are a young woman who wants to be a nun (much against her mother’s wishes) and Sister Cecely’s paramour’s family, who think she has stolen important papers from them.
All right, one more spoiler: There is no murder in The Apostate’s Tale. Only two close calls. And the solution isn’t a total surprise.
I was really expecting something more from Frazer’s final Frevisse tale.
Wil Wheaton, born July 29, 1972, is probably best known as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Lately, he has been appearing as himself as Sheldon cooper's arch-nemesis on The Big Bang Theory, He starred in Sharknado 2 albeit briefly.
Wil won the Young Artist Award in 1987 for his performance in Stand By Me and in 1989 for Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Handsome actor Jerry Doyle, who played the tough Michael Garibaldi on Babylon 5, has passed away at his home in Las Vegas. He was 60. He had some ultra-conservative views that I didn't agree with but I was a big fan of his. He will be missed.
May he rest in peace.
The ninth studio album by my girls, So Excited, was released July 1982. It includes a cover by Prince, I Feel For You (covered by Chaka Kahn two years later) and the hit American Music. It was the first release for I'm So Excited which was re-mixed and released on the next album Break Out, when it started soaring up the charts.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Bugs Bunny made his first official appearance July 27, 1940 in a short "A Wild Hare". He isn't named in the short nor is Elmer Fudd, but Bugs delivers his famous line "What's up, doc?" Mel Blanc voiced Bugs Bunny and gave him a "Flatbush accent an equal blend of Bronx and Brooklyn dialects".
The short "A Wild Hare" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons. Bugs received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, December 21, 1985. At 76, he still looks as young as a bunny!
Bugs Bunny - "A Wild Hare" - FIRST OFFICIAL and... by cosmo2161
Mannheim Steamroller released "To Russia With Love" on July 27, 1994. It is a mix of Mannheim Steamroller tunes and Russian music such as Troika from Lieutenant Kizheh and The Great Gate of Kiev. Among the Mannheim songs is my favorite - Dancing Flame. It first appeared on Fresh Aire IV, but they remixed it for this album.
Listen to this and dance like no one is watching. Dance even if someone is.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
My man Billy Joel said "What Iron Curtain?" and knocked the sucker down. He performed a concert in the Soviet Union, July 26, 1987 in Leningrad, which is now St. Petersburg. During this tour, he also performed in Moscow. A few years before, such an event would have been impossible.
He released his performance on an album, the name of which is "concert" in Russian.
Lovely and talented actress Nana Visitor, born July 26, 1957, is probably best known for her role as Bajoran Kira Nerys in "Star Trek: Deep Space 9." She also appeared in "Torchwood" in the "Miracle Day" series with the gorgeous John Barrowman. I liked her as Kira in DS9 because she was the first second-in-command who wasn't a 'Yes' man. Kira and Cisco (played by Avery Brooks) often butted heads and argued but that added to the allure of the show.
One of my favorite lines ever:
Monday, July 25, 2016
The Mars 5 spacecraft was launched by the Soviet Union, July 25, 1973. It was launched just 4 days after its twin, Mars 4. However, unlike Mars 4, Mars 5 was considered a success. Mars 4 was supposed to Mars but its retro-rockets failed to fire so it could settle into orbit. It took pictures and made some measurements on its flyby.
Mars 5 performed almost perfectly. It reached Mars on February 12, 1974 and obtained an elliptical orbit. It made 22 revolutions of the planet before the transmitter housing depressurized and ended the mission.
Here are some of the 60 images that successfully transmitted.
Watch the country’s worst governor deadpan her speech at the Republican National Convention in the clip below. How could she keep a straight face? Fortunately, we can tell she did not plagiarize anyone because nobody could pen a speech that stupid.
At one point she delivers what she thinks is a powerful message, but the audience waits several seconds before thinking: "Oh, we were supposed to applaud her? Okay."
She talked about the importance of education while Oklahoma's educational system is in critical condition, not certain if it is going to survive.
Did she even read her speech before she went out there? Did she intend to make herself look bad? I doubt it. From what I understand the RNC was all about fear. Failing goes onto say that we ‘live in fear’ and ‘our spirit is almost broken’. Who was she talking to? We do live in fearsome times but not all of us live in fear nor are our spirits even close to being broken.
Thanks for the fear-mongering, Failing! Let’s keep it un-real!
Sunday, July 24, 2016
"Godzilla vs Hedorah" was released in Japan July 24, 1971 but American audiences would get tos ee it the following February. The eleventh movie in the Godzilla franchise had a strong anti-pollution message but the movie itself seems as if it was made from the same pollution featured in it. This is my second-least favorite Godzilla movie (Godzilla's Revenge being the worst). It has inconsistencies and editing problems that remove any entertainment value.
It is the only movie to feature Godzilla flying, using his breath to propel him backwards. It was supposed to lighten up a mostly dark movie. The inserted animated shorts are a bit bizarre.
Three wonder women celebrate their birthdays today, July 24; Kristin Chenoweth (1968), Lynda Carter (1951) and Ruth Buzzi (1936).
Kristin Chenoweth, native Oklahoman, was born in Broken Arrow. She has won a Tony for her performance as Sally in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" and a Prime Time Emmy for Olive Snook in "Pushing Up Daisies". She got her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Live Theatre on her birthday in 2015.
Lynda Carter, born in Phoenix, Arizona, is best known for her role as Wonder Woman, one of the most iconic female heroines on screen. She served as Grand Marshall for the 2011 Phoenix Pride, 2011 New York Pride and 2013 Capital Pride parade in Washington, DC.
Ruth Buzzi, born in Rhode Island, made audiences laugh while starring in Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In from 1968 to 1973. Her comedic talent has rarely been matched. She won a Golden Globe in 1973 for Supporting Actress for her appearances in Laugh-In.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
For the past fifty years, we’ve been sending spacecraft tour next-door neighbor, Mars. Starting with Mariner 4 in 1965, which did the first flyby. The Soviets achieved the first soft landing with the Mars 3 probe in 1971. Long before those milestones, sci-fi authors have looked to the Red Planet with their own speculative fiction such as Mars being inhabited by aliens (Percival Lowell’s 1895 Mars) and Earthlings on Mars (Ray Bradbury’s 1950 The Martian Chronicles).
Now such fiction could become reality in the next twenty years. Although the minimum distance between Earth and Mars is roughly 35 million miles, NASA believes the Red Planet is within our grasp. Their scientists have established three steps for our trip to Mars.
The first, Earth Reliant, is already in place with the International Space Station (ISS). Research is focused on human health and behaving in space as well as extra-vehicular activities (EVA). Since explorers in deep space and Mars won’t have access to Earth’s resources habitations have to be self-sufficient to help crews remain healthy and safe.
In Proving Ground, second step, NASA will conduct operations in deep space beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO), with missions that will last up to a year, but can return to Earth in a matter of days. Objectives include transportation of crews and large cargo, working in space and continuing studies on staying healthy. One of the goals is the In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU). The Mars 2020 Rover set for launch in..well…2020 will carry an ISRU payload to demonstrate how oxygen can be generated from the Martian atmosphere to product rocket propellant. More than half of a 35mt Mars Ascension Vehicle (MAV) is the propellant, so being able to manufacture it on the Martian surface is an enormous advantage. More advanced ISRU technology will enable humans to use local resources such as ice crystals or hydrated minerals to produce water.
The third and final stage is becoming Earth Independent. NASA is working to come up with new technologies to produce water, air, fuel and materials for building. The European Space Agency (ESA) is also getting into the action, with support from NASA, with their ExoMars orbiter and lander, which will search for the chemical origins of life. Currently, the goal for putting boots on the ground on Mars is sometime in the 2030’s.
So simply put, the ISS studying EVA for NASA to put humans into LEO and beyond, with the help of ESA to establish ISRU by 2030.
Get it? Got it? Good.
Friday, July 22, 2016
Susan Eloise (S. E.) Hinton, born July 22, 1948 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is best known for her books about young adults set in Oklahoma. At least three of her novels "The Outsiders" "Rumble Fish"and "That Was Then, This Is Now" have been made into movies, starring Hollywood's A-List actors.
"The Outsiders" was required reading when I was in 7th grade and went on to read "Rumble Fish" and "That Was Then, This is Now". All very good books!
She was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers' Hall of Fame in 1998.
Oftentimes referred to as the worst movie of all time, "Plan 9 from Outer Space" was released July 22, 1959. Its director Ed Wood, Jr. (aka worst director of all time) said this was his pride and joy. If you've seen the movie, you understand why. From Maili Nurmi's silent performance (her wishes) to chiropractor Tom Mason replacing Bela Lugosi, who passed away before the movie was completed. Mason goes through the entire movie, with a cape over his face, never showing his face since he loooked nothing like Lugosi.
But the movie is so bad, it's very entertaining.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Mollie Sugden, born on July 21, 1922, is probably most beloved for her role as the plucky Mrs. Slocombe in the British comedy "Are You Being Served?" She appeared in all 69 episodes of the sitcom, set in Grace Brothers Department Store, along with Frank Thornton (Capt. Peacock), John Inman (Mr. Humphreys), Wendy Richard (Miss Brahms) and Nicholas Smith (Mr. Rumbold). All five of them starred in the 1977 movie as well.
Mollie passed away July 1, 2009, just months after her friend and co-star Wendy Richard died.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Apollo XI Crew: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin
I remember watching this on television at a friend's house while the events unfolded. While Michael Collins circled the moon in the lunar orbiter, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men ever to walk on the moon. Neil stepped onto the surface about 11am ET (they hadn't established lunar time yet) proclaiming in a speech that was not plagiarized, "That is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Twenty minutes later, Aldrin joined him on the moon. Their total EVA was about 2 1/2 hours taking samples of the lunar surface and conducting experiments. After almost 22 hours on the moon, Aldrin and Armstrong took off to rendezvous with Collins. They splashed down July 24.
Monday, July 18, 2016
One of the best movies of all times and one of my all-time favorites, "Aliens" was released July 18, 1986. This is one of the few times the sequel surpassed the original movie. Reading the trivia notes on imdb.com, it's amazing this movie got made at all. The crew in London apparently didn't like James Cameron and was openly hostile. It took quite a lot to get Sigourney Weaver to agree to make the film. Various crew members were fired. Wow!
However, the result is fantastic! Just don't watch it on Blu-Ray, because it is so hi-def, it loses the other-worldly effect and looks like actors on a sound stage. Stick with the plain ol' DVD version.
This time, it's war!
Sunday, July 17, 2016
"Gamera vs. Zigra", released in Japan July 17, 1971, pitted the giant atomic turtle against Zigra, an alien determined to take over the Earth. Groundbreaking cinema. Zigra's spaceship which looks as if it has gumballs attached to its dome, destroys a moon base before heading to Earth, where he kidnaps two children and their fathers. Then Zigra has to contend with Gamera.
The special effects make Toho's look as great as CGI, but it's a feel good movie at the very least: Aliens get destroyed by a giant earth monster.
Saturday, July 16, 2016
I think this is one of the best Dame Frevisse novels Margaret Frazer has written. “The Traitor’s Tale” takes Frevisse out of St. Frideswide for most of the novel (as usual) and puts her into the midst of the scandals and treasons of the lords surrounding King Henry VI.
Frevisse’s cousin Lady Alice de la Pole has once again summoned the good sister from her idyllic life in St. Frideswide to help her with a conundrum. The former duchess of Suffolk feels the enemies of her late husband, who was hated by just about everyone, may not be satisfied with his murder and might exact their revenge on her and her son. She feels Frevisse is the only one she can confide in.
Meanwhile, Joliffe is being sent on his own mission by the duke of York. The powers that surround the king are trying to discredit him and find evidence (i.e. make up something) to charge him with treason, truth and facts notwithstanding. It isn’t long before Joliffe and Frevisse meet and their paths become intertwined, whether they want them to or not.
The biggest mystery here is a letter, written by the duke of Suffolk, which supposedly calls out a number of people involved in a treasonous plot. The previous king, Henry V, scored a major victory over the French, but in a generation his son has lost everything. Not so much Henry VI’s fault as much as the corrupt, greedy lords around him.
Joliffe and Lady Alice’s man Vaughn risk a lot to find the letter and deliver it to the duke of York and Frevisse is right in the middle of it.
As Joliffe is nearly killed retrieving the letter but manages to get the letter to Frevisse, Frazer’s writing style turns from mystery to action. “The Traitor’s Tale” becomes an exciting page-turner. Toward the end I had trouble putting it down. Usually Frazer has twists and turns as Frevisse reveals ‘whodunit’, but the excitement builds as Frevisse, Joliffe and Vaughn near their destination.
Frazer takes Frevisse in a different path from her usual cozy murders and it works.
Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9
Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, discovered in March 1993, by amateur astronomers, first impacted Jupiter July 16, 1994. It was orbiting the giant planet and had been torn apart probably in 1992, when Jupiter's gravity tore it apart.
Twenty-one fragments struck the planet over the next 6 days. The largest came on July 18.
Friday, July 15, 2016
Mariner 4 made the first flyby of Mars July 15, 1965. After Mariner 3 was lost, Mariner 4 was successfully launched November 18, 1964. It took the first close-up pictures of the Martian surface.
Communications were terminated December 21, 1967.
"Superman" the first movie starring the super hero, was released July 15, 1948. It starred Kirk Alyn in the title role and Noel Neill (who passed away just days ago) as Lois Lane. Alyn and Neill had cameos in the 1978 "Superman" movie as Lois Lane's parents, riding on a train when a teen-aged Clark Kent outruns it.
Special effects being what they were in the late 1940's were costly so Superman's flying sequences were animated to make them seem more realistic.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
One year ago today, the New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to Pluto and its moon Charon. Since then, NASA scientists have made numerous discoveries about the now-dwarf planet, such as craters, mountains and seas of solid nitrogen.
Last month, scientists discovered super-grand canyon on Charon that makes Arizona's Grand Canyon look like a scratch!
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Patrick Stewart and Harrison Ford share birthdays on July 13. Stewart, who plays Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men movies and Jean-Luc Piccard in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" was born in 1940 in Yorkshire, England. Harrison Ford, best known as Han Solo in the Star Wars movies and Indiana Jones, was born Chicago, Ill in 1942. Both in their 70's, they are still very handsome men!
Monday, July 11, 2016
July 11, 1979, Skylab returned to Earth in a display not quite what NASA had expected, but spectacular anyway, if you were up after midnight in Australia. Despite being damaged when launched, Skylab was a successful mission for NASA. It hosted three crews, each of three men, over the course of its life, logging 700 hours observing the sun.
The last mission was in 1974 and Skylab's orbit started deteriorating sooner that NASA had expected, due to increased sunspot activity.
I was on a tractor in the middle of a field in western Oklahoma when it came down and I kept looking to the skies to see it fall. Unfortunately for me, it entered the atmosphere on the other side of the world. Oh, well.
Electric Light Orchestra dedicated their song, "Don't Bring Me Down", released just a few weeks before to Skylab.
Saturday, July 9, 2016
Voyager 2, launched August 20, 1977, flew by Jupiter July 9, 1979. It was launched 16 days before its twin Voyager 1, but it took longer to get to Jupiter since it took a different trajectory, because it was on the way to Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
It's still in operation but may run out of power and stop sending signals about 2025.
Friday, July 8, 2016
The Go-Go's released "Beauty and the Beat" July 8, 1981 and the album is considered one of the best break-through albums of all time. It certainly put the Go-Go's on the pop chart maps, and helped them become one of the top selling all-girl groups ever. "Beauty and the Beat" made it to #1 on the Billboard 200 in 1982, knocking off J. Geils Band's "Freeze-Frame" and remained there for six weeks. It went double-platinum and produced two hit singles "We Got the Beat" and "Our Lips Are Sealed".
My man Toby Keith was born in my hometown by the same doctor as me, Clinton, Oklahoma, July 8, 1961, Although a year older than me, he's a LOT better looking! LOL I got to meet him once while attending a New York Jets game. Really cool guy!
Here's my favorite video:
Thursday, July 7, 2016
Styx released their 7th studio album, "The Grand Illusion" July 7, 1977 (7/7/77). It is considered their breakthrough album since it went triple-platinum and scored two releases, "Come Sail Away" which reached #8 and "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)" which reached #26.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Beautiful Jennifer Saunders, born July 6, 1958, is the creator of "Absolutely Fabulous" one of the funniest sticoms to ever air. Her comedic talent is tremendous! Listen to some of these lines. And I don't think these are even the funniest, but there are so many to choose from.
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
July 4, although an important day in America's independence, is also a banner day for NASA.
Yesterday, Juno reached Jupiter, spacecraft launched in August 5, 2011 to study the largest planet in our solar system. From now until October, scientists will work to calibrate on-board instruments and conduct some testing of Juno's subsystems. The real analysis will start in October.
Sojourner on Mars
July 4, 1997, the Mars Pathfinder landed on the Red Planet and deployed the rover Sojourner. Talk about the "Little Engine that Could", Sojourner, which was supposed to operate from a week to a month, worked for over 3 months before sending its last transmission in September 1997.
Over the past few books, Frazer has concentrated mainly on the corruption that surrounded Henry VI. Her sleuth, Dame Frevisse, is cousin to the duchess of Suffolk, Alice de la Pole. Alice’s husband was the duke of Suffolk, who was murdered after years of usurping the king’s power and treasuries for his own gain. Frazer’s novels have taken an interesting turn from Frevisse solving murders in and around the quiet nunnery St. Frideswide, which is a safe distance from the dangerous London, to her in the midst of the court intrigue with its backstabbing and vices, usually culminating in someone’s murder. A series that started out as cozy mysteries is now historical fiction based on the life of King Henry VI.
In "The Sempter’s Tale" (‘sempster’ a medieval term meaning ‘seamster’), Frazer addresses the vile hatred toward the Jewish in mid-fifteenth century England, where Jews had been banned, but lived in utmost secrecy to save their skins. The sempter/widow Anne is hopelessly in love with Daved, a secret Jew. She knows who he is and knows the dangers to him will also be hers if they are found out.
Against her will, Frevisse is forced to become a pawn yet again, in another of her cousin’s troubles. This time, Alice wants her husband’s gold to be secretly brought back into England, without paying the required taxes but also without attracting the attention of the late duke’s enemies. Anne and Daved are part of this plan to return Alice’s gold to her as well.
Then a boy, who is part of Anne’s household disappears and is found later murdered, with wounds that are similar to a crucifixion. Immediately, suspicion falls on the Jews, although there aren’t supposed to be any in London. Later, when Daved is unsurprisingly discovered, a fanatical priest blames him for the murder. Frevisse, again, must sort through the convoluted clues and events to discover what happened to the young man.
Frevisse has her own doubts about Jewish people, but having known some in her youth, she isn’t as prejudice as almost everyone around her. I found it interesting some of the horrible arguments and feelings that Londoners used to justify their oppression of the Jews. But as Daved points out in his ‘discussion’ with the fanatical priest, Christians don’t mind them when Jews are helping them make money.
Frevisse does not get into any arguments about faith, but has to withhold her own judgment when she discovers the depth of Anne and Daved’s relationship.
Not much on mystery in this one, but definitely another great insight into the environment of fifteenth-century England, Henry VI included and not included.
Noel Neill, who appeared as the first Lois Lane in "Superman" (1948) and "Atom Man vs. Superman" (1950), passed away Sunday, July 3 at 95 in Tuscon, Arizona. Her last two appearances were as Aunt Lois is the hysterical "Surge of Power" and as Gertrude Vanderworth in "Superman Returns".
Monday, July 4, 2016
Kevin Durant announced on The Players Tribune website that he is leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors. :( He helped put Oklahoma onto the major sports league map, so how will the Thunder fare now that their top-scorer has left? So much for a happy holiday.
Saturday, July 2, 2016
One of my favorite albums of all time, "4" was released July 2, 1981. "Urgent" is probably my favorite song from the album, but "Jukebox Hero" is a close second. I remember listening to this in my dorm room in Jefferson Hall on the campus of Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford.