12 December 2008

Big Moon

Tonight's full moon will look the biggest it has done for 15 years, if only you could see it through the thick cloud covering the country! With the elipical orit around the Earth the moon is at it's closest orbit for a decade and a half and will appear bigger and brighter than normal.

Here is a list of other notable moons:

  • Sun Myung Moon: The Korean founder and leader of the world-wide Unification Church and of the larger Unification Movement, otherwise known as "the Moonies".
  • The Moon of Gomrath: The follow up to the children's book The Weidstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner. Set in the Manchester United footballer's favourite place to live, Alderley Edge. I wonder if Beckham had probelms with Svarts?
  • Keith Moon: crazy drummer with the legendary rock band The Who, considered by many to be the best drummer ever.
  • Moonstruck: Oscar winning 1987 film staring plastic warbler, Cher.
  • Ganymede: One of Jupiter's 62 moons and the largest moon in the solar system, with a diameter of 3,280 miles, even larger than either of the planets Mercury.
  • The Dark Side of the Moon: massive selling 1973 album by Pink Floyd, thought by some to fity almost exactly to the visuals of the film The Wizard of Oz, if started at the right time.

10 December 2008

The last classic feudal state.

The last bastion of feudalism in the Western world finally succumbed to voting for it's first Democratic government today. The Channel Island of Sark's government was, for half a millennium, a group of landowners. The smallest of the Channel Islands (actually a series of small islands occupying approximately two square miles), was split into 40 Tennants, original bestowed as a fiefdom by Elizabeth I in 1565. Helier De Carteret became it's first Seigneur.

Although The Queen is still sovereign, Sark has its own court, is not a member of the EU and has no income tax or national health service. As of today the people of Sark (population 600, electorate 474) go to the polls to fully elect its "Chief Pleas", or parliament, for the first time.
Year in which countries became democracies:
  • 2006 - Uganda
  • 2002 - Kenya
  • 1999 - Nigeria
  • 1998 - Indonesia
  • 1994 - South Africa, Malawi
  • 1990 - Yemen, Taiwan
  • 1985 - Brazil
  • 1983 - Argentina
  • 1978 - Spain
  • 1969 - UK (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) as may people in Northern Ireland were denied the vote before then
  • 1945 - Italy
  • 1944 - Iceland
  • 1921 - Sweden
  • 1949 - India
  • 1913 - USA (tricky one, but considered to be in 1913 with the passing of the 17th amendments)
  • 1901 - Denmark
  • 5th Century BC - Athenian Greece

09 December 2008

Tribute to Oliver Postgate

The genius that was Oliver Postgate died today.

Anyone my age or older will know the creator of some of the best loved children's television programmes ever made, Bagpuss and The Clangers being favourites of mine. In this Nintendo age Postgate's programmes were a very different affairs to the fast edit, flashy efforts of today. His career in television started in the 1950's, working for both the BBC and ITV. They mainly were made in a barn by Smallfilms, the company he set up with Peter Firmin.

His shows were a lot gentler and story based than that of modern programmes. Here's a list of his work, which he not only created but often directed, produced, voiced and even physically made the characters and sets:

  • Pinny's House (1986) (producer, director)
  • Tottie: The Story of a Dolls' House (1984) (director, voiceover)
  • Noggin the Nog colour version (1979) (writer, producer, director, voiceover)
  • Ivor the Engine colour version (1975) (writer, producer, director, voiceover)
  • Bagpuss (1974) (writer, producer, director, voiceover)
  • The Clangers (1969) (writer, producer, director, voiceover)
  • Little Laura (1968) (producer)
  • Pogles' Wood (1965) (writer, producer, director, voiceover)
  • The Seal of Neptune (1963) (creator)
  • The Pingwings (1961) (writer, director, voiceover)
  • Noggin the Nog (1959) (writer, producer, director, voiceover)
  • Ivor the Engine (1958) (writer, producer, director, voiceover)

08 December 2008

21 Popular Movie Characters and how many times they've been portrayed

Hitler: more popular than Elvis

There was a Robin Hood film on TV today. It got me wondering how many times he's been portrayed in film and which characters had been played more. So I checked it out and here's my list of enduringly iconic film characters and how many times they have appeared (according to the Internet Movie Database).

Interestingly by portaying God (the winner here) they are breaking one of the Ten Commandments!

  • 299 God
  • 241 Jesus Christ
  • 211 Sherlock Holmes
  • 230 Adolf Hitler
  • 195 Count Dracula
  • 157 Elvis Presley
  • 93 Winston Churchill
  • 88 Robin Hood
  • 81 Frankenstein's Monster
  • 78 Julius Caesar
  • 75 Tarzan
  • 71 Ebenezer Scrooge
  • 68 Zorro
  • 67 Queen Elizabeth II
  • 63 Cleopatra
  • 60 Queen Elizabeth I
  • 51 King Henry VIII
  • 43 James Bond
  • 43 William Shakespeare
  • 42 Dr. Fu Manchu
  • 23 Hercule Poirot

    These characters are ones I have thought of off the top of my head, can you think of any more popular ones?

07 December 2008

Which Beatles album cover did Stuart Sutcliffe appear on?

Now there's a pub quiz question if I ever saw one. Stuart Sutcliffe was an early member of The Beatles who left before they hit the big time. Yet he still appeared on the iconic cover of the band's 1967 album cover, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

It's difficult to imagine how utterly different not only the music but also the cover of this album was at the time of release: it was the first gatefold sleeve ever and also the first to print the lyrics for the songs. In this age of cd's and downloads the role of the album cover has diminished to some extent but Sgt Pepper will always stand out as a classic, a work of art in itself packaging one of the most influential records ever.

But all the people depicted (as life sized cardboard cutouts or waxwork figures), who are they? My first list in a long time is a list of people shown on the collage created by influential Pop Artist Peter Blake (it even won a Grammy for the artwork).

  • Sri Yukestawar Giri (guru)
  • Aleister Crowley (occultist, writer, mountaineer, poet, drug experimenter and yogi)
  • Mae West (actress)
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen (composer)
  • W.C. Fields (actor/comedian)
  • Carl Gustav Jung (psychologist)
  • Edgar Allen Poe (writer)
  • Fred Astaire (actor)
  • Richard Merkin (artist)
  • Das Varga Girl (by Artist Alberto Vargas)
  • Leo Gorcey (actor) - painted out because he demanded a fee!
  • Huntz Hall (actor)
  • Simon Rodia (architect)
  • Bob Dylan (singer/songwriter)
  • Aubrey Beardsley (illustrator)
  • Sir Robert Peel (politician and creator of the police force)
  • Aldous Huxley (writer)
  • Dylan Thomas (poet)
  • Terry Southern (writer)
  • Dion (di Mucci) (singer)
  • Tony Curtis (actor)
  • Wallace Berman (actor)
  • Tommy Handley (comedian)
  • Marilyn Monroe (actress)
  • William Burroughs (ariter)
  • Sri Mahavatara Babaji (guru)
  • Stan Laurel (actor/comedian)
  • Richard Lindner (writer)
  • Oliver Hardy (actor/comedian)
  • Karl Marx (philosopher/Socialist)
  • H.G. Wells (writer)
  • Sri Paramahansa Yoganandu (guru)
  • Stuart Sutcliff (artist and former Beatle)
  • Max Miller (music hall comedian)
  • Marlon Brando (actor)
  • Tom Mix (actor)
  • Oscar Wilde (writer)
  • Tyrone Power (actor)
  • Larry Bell (artist)
  • Dr. David Livingstone (missionary/explorer)
  • Johnny Weismuller (swimmer and Tarzan!)
  • Stephen Crane (writer)
  • Issy Bonn (comedian)
  • Sir George Bernhard Shaw (writer)
  • H.C. Westermann (sculptor)
  • Albert Stubbins (footballer)
  • Sri Lahiri Mahasaya (guru)
  • Lewis Carroll (writer)
  • T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)
  • Sonny Listen (boxer)
  • Wax model of George Harrison
  • Wax model of John Lennon
  • Wax model of Ringo Starr
  • Wax model of Paul McCartney
  • Shirley Temple (actress)
  • Albert Einstein (physicist)
  • John Lennon (holding a french horn)
  • Ringo Starr (holding a trumpet)
  • Paul McCartney (holding a cor anglais)
  • George Harrison (holding a flute)
  • Bobby Breen (singer)
  • Marlene Dietrich (actress)
  • Mohandas Karamchand Ghandi (Indian political and spiritual leader) - painted out by request of EMI as they feared it would offend record buyers in India.
  • Diana Dors (actress)

As well as the known "famous" people the collage also includes:
a wax hairdressers' dummy, Legionnaire from the Order of the Buffalos, The Petty Girl (by Artist George Petty), a cloth Grandmother Figure of Jann Haworth, a cloth figure of Shirley Temple by Jann Haworth, a Mexican candlestick, a television set, a stone figure of a girl, a statue from John Lennon's house, a trophy, a four-armed Indian doll, a drumskin designed by Joe Ephgrave, a hookah water tobacco pipe, a velvet snake, a Japanese stone figurine, a stone figure of Disney's Snow White, a garden gnome and a tuba! A guitar and the word "Beatles" are made of flowers.

Have I missed anything/anyone out?

It's been a while!

It's been a long time since I posted. There have been lots of things going on in my personal life and then for some reason Blogger blocked me from posting (probably for not contributing for a while!). But I'm back and better start with the lists again!

So, if you read, please comment on any list that you like, inspires you or even if you have a list of your own you would like me to create.

Comments keep Bloggers blogging!