Britney Spears Remembering Her First Kiss

Britney Spears Remembering Her First Kiss

The big news relayed to the nation via Good Morning America on September 17 was Britney Spears announcing her two year residency in Las Vegas. The official confirmation that the singer’s negotiations with Planet Hollywood had come to a satisfactory end. But Spears also did a little prompted reminiscing as well as remembering her first kiss.

 

Who’s the leader of the Band? Britney Spears!

Who’s the leader of the Band? Britney Spears!

Annette Funicello Gone Aged 70: Now it’s Time to Say Goodbye

Annette Funicello (born: October 22, 1942 - died April 8, 2013) RIP
Annette Funicello (born: October 22, 1942 – died April 8, 2013) RIP

When I was five years old, we lived in Sacramento California and I used to watch the reruns of the original Mickey Mouse club. In black and white. One of my favourite “Mouseketeers” was Annette Funicello. This dark-haired song bird stole my five-year old heart.

Of course by the time I saw the old Mickey Mouse show, Annette was already getting ready to make those “beach” movies with heart-throb Frankie Avalon.

But television is a sort of time machine and when I watched first the Mickey Mouse Show and later the Wonderful World of Disney, Annette would be the same age, even though years had passed. She exuded, through the magic of television, an ageless “girl-next-door” glow that made her special to an entire generation of Mouseketeer fans.

These same fans would go on to love her even more as the love interest in a swimming suit. But however you were introduced to Annette, it was her voice and they way she sang that impressed and made you fall in love with her all over again.

Bio’s will tell you that she was the last Mouseketeer chosen and that she was the most popular. But what they can’t tell you is the special magic that this young girl and then woman had. A magic that kept her in people’s hearts long after the Mouse Club and the Beach Party films ended.

She was a champion who fought for everyone who had Multiple Sclerosis, which she had been diagnosed with the disease in 1987 and after a five-year silence went public with the news. Her fans never stopped loving her and supporting her and she passed that love and support to others who suffered from the disease.

It was complications from this disease  that took her life aged 70.

It is with a lump in my throat and prayer for her family and friends that I write this short love letter to the Mouseketeer of my youth.

So long Annette. Like the song says, you made me love you; but with a pure childlike love that never grew up.

I’ll finish this by including a video from YouTube that, quite appropriately, features Annette and her fellow Mouseketeers singing the “Goodbye” sign-off song from the show.

11/22/63 by Stephen King: The Past Can be a Blast

I was 5 years old when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas Texas. I remember the day very well. I was annoyed that my usual fare of children’s television was not airing. Instead it was some boring news thing. I went into the kitchen to complain to my mother about it. She told me to play something since Superman and The Mickey Mouse show weren’t on.

Later that same day a lady from the nearby Air Force base housing area came and knocked on every house door in the neighbourhood, including ours. She said the same thing to everyone who answered their door, “The President’s been shot.”

Even at 5 years old, I could tell that this was bad. The grown-ups were crying and very upset. America changed on that day forever, as did the rest of the world. Stephen King’s book 11/22/63 looks at what could happen if someone was given a choice to change history or, to be even more basic, to change the past by travelling back to a time when things were easier and simpler.

Jake Epping finds out that his friend Al, the proprietor of Al’s Diner, has found a “doorway” into the past. A sunny September afternoon in 1958, 5 whole years before Jacqueline Kennedy is made a widow and her children orphans. Al shows Jake this doorway when he finds that he is dying of cancer and after his last trip, “down the rabbit hole” left him unable to save President Kennedy from dying at the hands of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Jake finds out that Al has been going through this doorway for years. Al also explains to Jake that no matter how long you stay in the past, when you return you’ve only been gone for 2 minutes. Al stayed for 4 years on his last trip in order to save JFK from getting killed. Unfortunately his heavy cigarette habit caught up with him before he could stop Oswald.

He makes Jake promise that he will try to save Kennedy from assassination. Jake goes back and changes one thing; he stops the school janitor’s father from murdering his mother and his siblings. He comes back to see what has changed for the janitor only to find that he died in Vietnam. Despite this minor setback, Jake decides to live up to his promise to Al and go back.

President Kennedy and the First Lady (Dallas 22/11/63)

This is Stephen King at his finest. For years I have always declared that The Stand was his best book. Probably because it was the first one of his books that I read. But I now stand corrected. 11/22/63 is without a doubt his best book to date.

King has always had a talent for making his characters seem alive and breathing. His cinematic style of writing also make his stories just as alive as his characters. He still lets us into the minds of the people he writes about, which helps to make them seem more real.

In this book he manages to keep track of all the threads of the story (or strings, as it were) and tie them up in a bow at the end of the story. King is really the only writer who can consistently make me cry and laugh at his stories. His books also make me partake in one continuous “read-a-thon” where I cannot put the book down until I’ve finished it. Once I’ve finished it and read his afterword notes, I pick it up and read it again.

I think I got so swept away by the story because of the time period that is was set in. I was a small child in the 60’s and became a teenager in the 70’s. Apart from living in Sacramento California when I was 5, I grew up in the south. The picture he paints of the time, people and area is spot on.

When he writes of the small Texas town where Jake meets Sadie, I can “see” the teenagers with their flat tops and Ked sneakers and penny loafers (with a dime stuck in the front of the shoe) and I can taste the king size Cokes and smell the ever present cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke. As Jake points out, everyone smoked in the 50’s and 60’s. These were the last days of innocence in America. We’d won the war. John Wayne was still number one at the box office and America was the golden land of opportunity.

It was also the days of racial segregation, the KKK and “better dead than red.” There were towns in the south that did not allow black people to live within their hallowed city limits. A time when the Army and the police and the National Guard had to escort black students to a white school. It was also Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best. Russia was the “big bad” that the world faced and nuclear weapons were what we dropped on Japan and Russia beat us into space and had atomic weapons.

I can still remember the signs of restaurants and cafes that said, “No Coloured’s” and of course the all-purpose catch-all, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anybody.” This would change in the 70’s when it was no longer deemed appropriate to be racially bigoted. The signs were replaced with the, “No shirt, No shoes, No service.” This prejudice against the long-haired, peace-loving, hippies was acceptable.

It is this backdrop that Jake has to inhabit. And we are there with him, every step of the way. But Jake is not alone, he feels like the past is actively fighting him every step of the way on his journey to save the US president from assassination.

He learns that the past doesn’t want to be changed.

If I used a star system for rating books I’ve read, 11/22/63 would get a 5 out of 5 stars. So okay the idea isn’t necessarily original, King himself writes about Jack Finney‘s Time and Again. But it is the way it is written that makes this a classic tale and one worth reading.

In my humble opinion, Stephen King is, as his name suggests, the crowned head of popular fiction. I don’t think that he is in any danger of losing his crown.

Stephen King.

Of Singing Mice and De Loy’s Ape

I love the information one can glean from the internet. A lot of the information is of the ‘news’ variety. Stories put out by different websites that live to pass on the latest in homicides, celebrity scandal, economic woes, video game  releases, et al.

Then there are the websites that are just there for the purpose of relating educational news. How to construct a good sentence in English. Google translate (or it’s equivalent) for help in reading sentences that aren’t in English or for translating your non-English sentence. Definitions of words, their synonyms and antonyms.

You have websites that specialize in the weird and wonderful. Crazy news from around the world. How a ghost is keeping the rent down in Thailand. How a man in Pakistan can subsist on eating light bulbs and nothing else. A woman in Japan has been found guilty of misleading her clients on the correct use of Feng Shui.

Of course there are other websites that are not so glamorous or amusing. These sites deal with porn. Not just grown up porn but porn of a sort that will appeal to every taste, legal or not. Don’t worry if you don’t see something you like, free trailers and teasers are available for anyone who will tick the “over 18” box and enter. Not everyone’s cup of tea and not websites that are generally discussed in polite circles. *Unless it is to damn them or to express amazement that they are allowed at all.* 

Then you have scientific or technological sites. These are the most fascinating and entertaining to read.Just today I learned about singing mice. Animals in the world are broken into singing and non-singing camps. People, birds, apes, et al are in the singing group. Mice are not. Or at least they haven’t been. Scientists now believe that mice use song to woo their prospective mate. The male mice serenade the female mouse of their choice and she either responds enthusiastically (presumably like a Justin Bieber fan since the warbling of the mice is also high-pitched and squeaky) or not.

This discovery has only come about with new technology which allows the scientists to hear the mice better. What they previously thought was a high-pitched squealing ‘call’ was actually a mouse version of  Barry White‘s You’re the First, the Last, My Everything.

On the other side of the discovery coin, old news if you will, was the mystery of De Loys’ Ape.

English: Justin Bieber at the Sentul Internati...
English: Justin Bieber at the Sentul International Convention Center in West Java, Indonesia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whoops, sorry wrong picture!

De Loys’ Ape

The story of De Loys’ ape comes to us courtesy of David Bressan’s article De Loy’s Ape on The History Of Geology.

The readers digest version is as follows: De Loy, a noted geologist, was in South America looking for oil. As he and his band of fellow geologist’s, guides, and locals traveled deeper into the jungle, disease, predators, poor food and accidents caused his band’s number to dwindle to just four men.

These men arrived exhausted at the bank of Tarra River and there they encountered a pair of strange creatures. “One day de Loys spotted along the shores of the Rio Tarra two large monkeys covered with reddish fur and lacking a tail. More strangely the two animals walked upright and approached slowly the expedition, visibly irritated, shouting, brandishing the arms and using they own excrements as projectiles against the frightened men. The men decided to respond to the attack and shoot in direction of the two apes, killing the female.” *David Bressan De Loys’ Ape*

Amazed at this possible missing link, the ape was over 5 feet tall, De Loys took many pictures including the one above. He intended to bring the body back to civilization to show the scientific world. Unfortunately the body rapidly deteriorated and on the way back their boat capsized causing all the photographs but one to be washed away.

Once back in the civilized world De Loys never mentioned the curious ‘ape man’ that he had encountered in South America. It was only years later that a friend, the Swiss anthropologist George Alexis Montandon (1879-1944), accidentally rediscovered this photo that the ‘ape’ became an issue.

Montandon was convinced that this creature in De Loys’ photograph was a new hitherto undiscovered primate that could be a ‘missing link.’ Montandon decided to approach the scientific community with his findings. Interestingly, only the French agreed with his findings and the rest of the scientific community decided that Montandon was incorrect in his assumptions.

Fast forward to 1999 and a letter from 1962 purports that the picture is a hoax and that the 5 foot humanoid ape is a myth that came about as a practical joke by De Loys. It does make a certain amount of sense. De Loys himself had forgotten about the mysterious creature and never attempted to solve the mystery.

The real De Loys’ ape?

If, in fact, the picture and the resulting myth are the result of a prank, I think it is nothing less than brilliant. This man, De Loys has managed to lose most of his team and his remaining team are exhausted and more than likely scared and nervous. That he could even think of such a funny joke at such a time is uplifting and touching.

I can imagine him telling the others of just how funny it will be when they return telling everyone that the spider monkey they just shot was really a 5 foot tall humanoid creature that they’d never seen before. Spirits bolstered by the school boy prank, I imagine them slapping one another on the back and laughing.

Of course I could be wrong, but I’d rather think that is how it went.

As for the singing mice?

I’ve always known that mice could sing. I’ve always known that they can whistle as well. I saw  Mickey Mouse do it in a film when I was little. He sang and whistled in the film Steamboat Willie made by the prestigious Walt Disney.

And Uncle Walt would never lie.

Steamboat Willie 1928