Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bye Ricky And Joe! You Will Be Missed!

Boxing and Hong Kong entertainment lost two major icons this week - Joe Frazier and Ricky Hui.

Read all about them here. From Wikipedia.

Joseph William Frazier, (January 12, 1944 - November 7, 2011) was a former Olympic and Undisputed World Heavyweight boxing champion, whose professional career lasted from 1965 to 1976, with a brief comeback in 1981.

Frazier emerged as the top contender in the late 1960s, defeating the likes of Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, Buster Mathis, Eddie Machen, Doug Jones, George Chuvalo and Jimmy Ellis en route to becoming undisputed heavyweight champion in 1970, and followed up by defeating Muhammad Ali on points in the highly-anticipated Fight of the Century in 1971.

Two years later Frazier lost his title when he was knocked out by George Foreman. He fought on, beating Joe Bugner, losing a rematch to Ali, and beating Quarry and Ellis again.

Frazier's last world title challenge came in 1975, but he was beaten by Ali in their brutal rubbermatch. He retired in 1976 following a second loss to Foreman. He made a comeback in 1981, fighting just once, before retiring for good.

The International Boxing Research Organisation (IBRO) rates Frazier among the ten greatest heavyweights of all time. He is an inductee of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

After retiring Frazier made cameo appearances in several Hollywood movies, and two episodes of The Simpsons.

His son Marvis became a boxer - trained by Frazier himself - although was unable to emulate his father's success.

Frazier continued to train fighters in his gym in Philadelphia. His later years saw the continuation of his bitter rivalry with Ali, in which the two periodically exchange insults, interspersed with brief reconciliations.

Frazier died of cancer on November 7, 2011.

He hailed from Beaufort in South Carolina.

Ricky Hui Koon Ying (August 3, 1946 - November 8, 2011), who died of a heart ailment last Tuesday, will always be remembered as a gifted comedian from Hong Kong.

He was one third of the iconic Hui Brothers who also included comedian, producer and director Michael and singer, composer, lyricist and producer Samuel Hui.

Ricky was born in Guangdong and migrated to Hong Kong in 1950. His father was a violinist. In 1972, he joined Shaw Brothers productions as an actor and his early films included The Lizard, The Sugar Daddies and Hong Kong 73.

He later appeared with his brothers in The Private Eyes (1976). Other notable films he starred in were Games People Play (1979), The Contract (1978) [with his brothers], From Riches To Rags (1979) [directed by John Woo], Chicken And Duck Talk (1988) [with his brothers] and The Magic Touch (1992).

Ricky was also a talented singer who released 7 albums.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Farewell Mr Jobs. You Will Go Down In History As A Modern Day Al-Ghazali.

RIP Steve Jobs. You will go down in history as a modern day Al-Ghazali, Rumi, Ibnu Sina, Ibnu Rushd, Ibnu Khaldun, Ibnu Haytham and Al-Razi.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Azizi Abdullah - Prolific Novelist

Thanks, New Straits Times.

Novelist Azizi Abdullah, who passed away of a long illness at 69 on August 11, 2011, will always be remembered as a prolific writer of the Malay language.

The author from Kulim, Kedah is best remembered for penning the Malay novel Seorang Tua Di Kaki Gunung (The Old Man By The Hill) which was a brutally honest critique of the rural-urban divide in the country. The novel was also made into a mini series starring veteran actor Tamam Idris in the 1980s. It was also made into a Form Five text 20 years ago.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

About Klang.

From Wikipedia.

Klang is the royal town and former capital of Selangor.
It is the namesake of the Klang Valley (the metropolitan area of Kuala Lumpur) and the Klang River which separates Klang town into north and south sections.
Klang is also the main port of Malaysia.
Klang borders Shah Alam to the east, Kuala Selangor to the north, the Straits of Melaka to the west and Banting (Kuala Langat) to the south.
Klang was one of Malaysia's earliest tin mining regions.
In 1880 it was replaced as capital of Selangor by Kuala Lumpur.
Klang is home to several museums and the famous fishing island Pulau Ketam. Its famous cusine includes Bak Kut Teh (pork ribs soup) and Chee Cheong Fun (fettucini-like noodles coated in mushroom sauce and sprinkled with fried shallots) and Cendol (green rice noodles soaked in a coconut milk and brown sugar soup).
Famous personalities from Klang include former Cabinet Ministers Datuk Seri Harun Idris and Tengku Adnan Mansor, singers Ahmad Jais, Azri Abdullah, Ellyana Emrizal and Guy Sebastian, actors Norlia Ghani, Hamid Gurkha, Rusdi Ramli and Eja, entertainment journalist Joe Lee and businessman Datuk Jason Goh.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Shammi Kapoor - Bollywood Idol.

From Wikipedia.

Shammi Kapoor, who passed away on Aug 14, 2011 will always be remembered as one of the screen gods of Bollywood.

The Punjabi actor and director was an icon of Hindi language cinema from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Born in Mumbai on Oct 21, 1931, he debuted in Bollywood in 1953 with the film Jeevan Jyoti, and went on to deliver hits like Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Dil Deke Dekho, Junglee, Dil Tera Diwana, Professor, China Town, Rajkumar, Kashmir Ki Kali, Janwar, Teesri Manzil, An Evening In Paris, Bramhachari, Andaz and Vidhaata.

He received the Filmfare Best Actor Award in 1968 for his performance in Brahmachari and Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor for Vidhaata in 1982.

Shammi was the second of the three sons born to Prithviraj Kapoor (the other two being Raj Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor), both successful Bollywood actors.

Though born in Mumbai, he spent a major portion of his childhood in Kolkata, where his father was involved with New Theatres Studios, acting in films.

Shammi was married twice.

His first wife was Geeta Bali (a Punjabi actress) whom he wed in 1955. They had two children. She died in 1965 of smallpox.

In 1969, he wed Neela Devi of Gujarat.

Shammi was also a businessman and the founder of the Internet Users Community Of India.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bubba Smith - Footballer Turned Actor

Charles Aaron "Bubba" Smith (February 28, 1945 – August 3, 2011) was an American actor and athlete. He was a professional football player in the 1960s and 1970s who became an actor in the late 1970s. He was well known for his height of 2 metres.

Smith was born in Beaumont, Texas. He played football at Michigan State University. After leaving professional football, Smith began his acting career in small movie and television roles in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His notable TV shows included Tales Of The Golden Monkey, Good Times and Blue Thunder. His best known film series was Police Academy where he played Moses Hightower. His brother Todd Smith was with the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills. From Wikipedia.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse - A Beautiful Voice Cut Short

It is sad to hear that the brilliant British singer Amy Winehouse passed away on July 23, 2011.

A beautiful voice she was, but she failed to face up to her inner demons and the perils of drug addiction.

Read all about her here.

Thanks, Wikipedia.

Amy Jade Winehouse (September 14, 1983 – July 23, 2011) was a British singer-songwriter known for her powerful contralto vocals and her eclectic mix of musical genres including R&B, soul and jazz.

Winehouse's 2003 debut album, Frank, was critically successful in the UK and was nominated for the Mercury Prize.

Her 2006 follow-up album, Back To Black, led to six Grammy Award nominations and five wins, tying the record for the most wins by a female artist in a single night, and made Winehouse the first British singer to win five Grammys, including three of the "Big Four": Best New Artist, Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year.

On February 14, 2007, she won a BRIT Award for Best British Female Artist.

She won the Ivor Novello Award three times, one in 2004 for Best Contemporary Song (Musically And Lyrically) for Stronger Than Me, one in 2007 for Best Contemporary Song for Rehab and one in 2008 for Best Song Musically And Lyrically for Love Is A Losing Game.

The album was the third biggest seller of the 2000s in the United Kingdom.

Winehouse was credited as an influence in the rise in popularity of female musicians and soul music, and also for revitalising British music.

Winehouse's distinctive style made her a muse for fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld.

The singer's problems with drug and alcohol abuse, as well as self-destructive behaviour, were regular tabloid news from 2007 until her death.

She and her former husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, were plagued by legal troubles that left him serving prison time.

Winehouse died at the age of 27 on July 23, 2011 at her home in London.

Winehouse was born in the Southgate area of north London to a Jewish family who were the source of her interest in jazz.

Winehouse was the younger of two children (elder brother Alex) of Mitchell Winehouse, a taxi driver and Janis Winehouse Seaton, a pharmacist.

Mitchell often sang Frank Sinatra songs to young Amy.

When Winehouse was 10, she founded a short-lived rap group called Sweet N Sour with childhood friend Juliette Ashby.

Winehouse received her first guitar when she was 13 and began writing music a year later.

She began working soon after, including as a showbiz journalist for the World Entertainment News Network, in addition to singing with local group the Bolsha Band.

Winehouse signed to Simon Fuller's 19 Management in 2002.

Winehouse's greatest love was 1960s girl groups.

She borrowed her "instantly recognisable" Beehive hairdo and Cleopatra makeup from The Ronettes.

Winehouse's debut album, Frank, was released on October 20, 2003.

Produced mainly by Salaam Remi, many songs were influenced by jazz and, apart from two covers, every song was co-written by Winehouse.

The album entered the upper levels of the UK album chart in 2004 when it was nominated for BRIT Awards in the categories of British Female Solo Artist and British Urban Act.

It went on to achieve platinum sales.

Later in 2004, she won the Ivor Novello Songwriting Award for Best Contemporary Song, alongside Salaam Remi, with her contribution to the first single, Stronger Than Me.

The singer won the 2008 Grammy Awards in the categories of Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single Rehab, while her album Back To Black was nominated for Album Of The Year and won the Best Pop Vocal Album award.

Producer Mark Ronson's work with her won the Grammy Award for Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical category.

The singer also earned a Grammy in the Best New Artist category.

This earned Winehouse an entry in the 2009 edition of the Guinness Book Of World Records for Most Grammy Awards won by a British Female Act.

British singer Adele credited Winehouse's success in the United States for making her and fellow British singer Duffy's journey to the United States "a bit smoother".

American singer Lady Gaga credited Winehouse with paving the way for her rise to the top of the charts.

Winehouse's last public appearance took place at Camden's Roundhouse, London on July 20, 2011, when she made a surprise guest appearance on stage to support her god daughter Dionne Bromfield.

Winehouse married on-off boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil (born August 1978), a former video production assistant, on May 18, 2007, in Miami, Florida.

They divorced in 2009.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Facundo Cabral - Voice Of The Oppressed.

Thanks, Wikipedia.

Facundo Cabral (May 22, 1937 – July 9, 2011) was an Argentine singer and songwriter.

He was best known as the composer of "I'm Not From Here Nor There", which he improvised during one of his concerts.

His songs have been covered by Spanish language interpreters such as Alberto Cortez, who was also a friend of his, Juan Luis Guerra and Joan Manuel Serrat.

After touring the world, Cabral enjoyed popularity in his home country during the early 1980s, when Argentine radio demanded local content after the Falklands War.

He was enormously popular in all Latin American countries. When he performed in Peru or Mexico, which he called his second home, tickets were sold-out long before the performance date(s).

Facundo Cabral was named a United Nations Messenger Of Peace in 1996.

Cabral was born in La Plata.

He first sang in Tandil, 350 km from Buenos Aires.

From the most humble of beginnings he came to inspire millions around the world through his songs, poems and 66 books.

He walked 3,000 km at the age of nine to look for work to support his mother and six siblings after his father abandoned them.

When he left his mother told him "This is the second, and last gift I can give you. The first was to give you life, and the second one, the liberty to live it".

He wrote music that inspired millions. He met Mother Teresa and Jorge Luis Borges. He performed in over 165 countries in eight different languages.

His wife and one-year-old daughter were killed in a plane crash in 1978.

He was nearly blind and crippled, and was a cancer survivor.

He once said: I always ask God, why did you give me so much? You gave me misery, hunger, happiness, struggle, lights. I saw everything. I know there is cancer, syphilis and spring and apple fritters.

Cabral was shot and killed during a tour in Guatemala City while en route to La Aurora International Airport on July 9, 2011.

He was mourned throughout Latin America.

Guatemala's 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu described his death as a great loss for humanity. She likened Cabral as a man who walked the path of Jesus.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez described Cabral as the greatest troubadour of Latin America and the Che Guevara of music.

Dreamgirls - The Mowtown Musical

Thanks, Wikipedia.

Dreamgirls is a 2006 musical drama film, directed by Bill Condon and jointly produced and released by DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures.

Adapted from the 1981 Broadway musical of the same name by composer Henry Krieger and lyricist Tom Eyen, Dreamgirls is a roman a clef of the histories of the Motown record label and one of its acts, The Supremes.

The story follows the history and evolution of American R&B music during the 1960s and 1970s through the eyes of a Detroit, Michigan girl group known as "The Dreams" and their manipulative record executive.

The film adaptation of Dreamgirls stars Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson, who won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Effie White.

The film also features Danny Glover, Anika Noni Rose, Keith Robinson, Sharon Leal, and Hinton Battle.

Produced by Laurence Mark, the film's screenplay was adapted by director Bill Condon from the original Broadway book by Tom Eyen.

In addition to the original Kreiger/Eyen compositions, four new songs, composed by Krieger with various lyricists, were added for this film.

Dreamgirls is the most expensive film to feature an all African American starring cast in American cinema history.

Dreamgirls received three awards at the 64th Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture — Musical Or Comedy, and two Oscars at the 79th Academy Awards.

The plot of Dreamgirls is broken up into two sections or acts: The first taking place from 1962 to 1966, and the second taking place from 1973 to 1975.

Backstage at an amateur talent show at the Detroit Theatre in 1962, Cadillac salesman Curtis Taylor Jr (Jamie Foxx) meets a girl group known as "The Dreamettes": lead singer Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), and back-up singers Deena Jones (Beyonce Knowles) and Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose).

Curtis presents himself as the Dreamettes' new manager and arranges for the Dreamettes to become backup singers for local R&B star Jimmy "Thunder" Early (Eddie Murphy).

With ambitions of making Black singers mainstream successes among White audiences, Curtis starts his own record label, Rainbow Records, out of his Detroit car dealership, and appoints Effie's brother, CC (Keith Robinson), as his head songwriter.

However, when their first single fails after a White pop group releases a cover version, Curtis, CC and their producer Wayne (Hinton Battle) turn to payola to make Jimmy and the Dreamettes pop stars.

Offstage, Effie becomes infatuated with the slick-talking Curtis, while the married Jimmy begins an affair with Lorrell.

Jimmy's manager Marty (Danny Glover) grows weary of Curtis' plans to make his client more pop-friendly and walks out.

However, when Jimmy bombs in front of a mostly white Miami Beach audience, Curtis sends Jimmy out on the road alone, keeping the Dreamettes behind to headline in his place.

Feeling that Effie's large figure and voice will not attract White audiences, Curtis appoints the slimmer Deena lead singer and renames the group "The Dreams".

With the aid of new songs and a more glamorous image, Curtis and CC transform The Dreams into a top selling mainstream pop act by 1965.

However, Effie begins acting out, particularly when Curtis' affections also turn towards Deena.

Curtis drops Effie from the group, hiring his secretary, Michelle (Sharon Leal), to take her place.

Nine years later, in 1973, Effie has become an impoverished welfare mother, living in inner-city Detroit with her daughter Magic.

Meanwhile, Rainbow Records has moved to Los Angeles, where the Dreams - now "Deena Jones & The Dreams" - have become superstars.

Jimmy Early, on the other hand, has descended into drug addiction, his career neglected due to Curtis' preoccupation with Deena, now also his wife.

When Jimmy has a breakdown onstage at Rainbow's tenth anniversary TV special the following year, Curtis drops him from the label, and Lorrell ends their long affair.

Some time later, Jimmy is found dead in a hotel room from a heroin overdose.

Angered over Curtis' increasing control over his music, and his lack of sympathy upon learning of Jimmy's death, CC quits and returns to Detroit to find Effie, who has been rebuilding her career in music with Marty as her manager.

The two siblings reconcile, and CC writes and produces Effie's comeback single, "One Night Only".

Just as the record begins gaining radio play in Detroit, Curtis uses payola to force radio stations to play a disco cover of "One Night Only" by Deena Jones & The Dreams instead.

His plan falls apart when Deena, angry over Curtis' control of her career, finds evidence of his payola schemes and contacts Effie and CC.

Deena and Effie reconcile, while Curtis, wanting to avoid being reported to the FBI for his payola operation, agrees to give Effie's record national distribution.

Inspired by Effie's victory, Deena leaves Curtis to make it on her own.

As a result, Deena Jones & The Dreams give a farewell performance at the Detroit Theatre.

At the conclusion of the concert, Deena invites Effie to join the group onstage and sing lead for the final performance of the group's signature song, "Dreamgirls".

As the concert ends, Curtis notices Magic in the front row and realises that he is the girl's father.


Jamie Foxx as Curtis Taylor Jr - Based upon Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr.
Curtis is a slick Cadillac dealer-turned-record executive who founds the Rainbow Records label and shows ruthless ambition in his quest to make his Black artists household names with White audiences.
At first romantically involved with Effie, Curtis takes a professional and personal interest in Deena after appointing her lead singer of the Dreams in Effie's place.

Beyonce Knowles as Deena Jones - Based upon Motown star Diana Ross.
Deena is a shy young woman who becomes a star after Curtis makes her lead singer of The Dreams.
This, as well as her romantic involvement and later marriage to Curtis, draws Effie's ire, though Deena realises over time she is a puppet for her controlling husband.
Knowles was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role.

Eddie Murphy as James "Thunder" Early - Inspired by R&B/soul singers such as James Brown, Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye, Early is a raucous performer on the Rainbow label whom Curtis attempts to repackage as a pop-friendly balladeer.
Jimmy's star fades as The Dreams' star rises and he falls into drugs and an adulterous affair with Dreams member Lorrell.
Murphy won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the film.

Jennifer Hudson as Effie White - Inspired by Supremes member Florence Ballard and soul singers Etta James and Aretha Franklin.
The plus-sized Effie is a talented yet temperamental singer who suffers when Curtis, the man she loves, replaces her as lead singer of The Dreams and his love interest, and later drops her altogether.
With the help of Jimmy's old manager Marty, Effie attempts to resurrect her career a decade later, while raising her daughter Magic, the offspring of her union with Curtis.
Hudson won a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Effie.

Anika Noni Rose as Lorrell Robinso - Inspired by Supremes member Mary Wilson.
Lorell is a good-natured background singer with The Dreams who falls deeply in love with the married Jimmy Early and becomes his mistress.

Danny Glover as Marty Madison, Jimmy's original manager before Curtis steps into the picture.
Marty serves as both counsel and confidant to Jimmy, and later to Effie as well.

Keith Robinson as CC White - Inspired by Motown vice president, artist and songwriter Smokey Robinson.
CC is Effie's soft-spoken younger brother and his real name is Clarence Conrad.
He serves as the main songwriter for The Dreamettes and later the entire Rainbow roster.

Sharon Leal as Michelle Morris - Based on The Supremes member Cindy Birdsong.
Michelle replaces Effie in The Dreams and becomes CC's love interest.
She is at first Curtis' secretary until she becomes one of The Dreams' background singers.

Hinton Battle as Wayne, a salesman at Curtis' Cadillac dealership who becomes Rainbow's first record producer and Curtis' henchman.

Dreamgirls also features supporting performances from Mariah I. Wilson as Magic, Effie's daughter, Yvette Cason as May Jones, Deena's mother, Ken Page as club owner Max Washington and Alexander Folk as Ronald White, Effie and CC's father.

Cameo appearances in the film are made by John Lithgow and John Krasinski as a film producer and writer/director, Jaleel White as a talent booker at the Detroit Theatre, Dawnn Lewis as Melba Early, Jimmy's wife and Loretta Devine, who originated the role of Lorrell on Broadway, as a jazz singer in Max Washington's club.

Throughout the film, a number of musical acts depicted as allusions to or analogues of real-life R&B performers appear, among them Little Albert & The Tru-Tones (Little Anthony & The Imperials), Tiny Joe Dixon (BB King), The Family Funk (Sly & The Family Stone or the Motown house band The Funk Brothers) and The Campbell Connection (The Jackson 5).

The musical Dreamgirls was staged in the National Theatre, Malaysia from July 14-24, 2011.

It was produced by Broadway Academy and starred among others, TV personalities Cheryl Samad and Azura Zainal and reality show graduates Dina Nadzir and Dafi Ismail Sabri.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Jim Morrison - Troubled Rocker, Troubled Genius

From Wikipedia.
James Douglas Morrison (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971) was an American lead singer and lyricist of the rock band The Doors, as well as a poet.
Born in Melbourne, Florida, he was of British and Native American ancestry.
In 1947, Morrison, then four, witnessed a car accident in the desert, where a family of Native Americans perished.
He referred to this incident in the song Dawn's Highway from the album An American Prayer, and again in the songs Peace Frog and Ghost Song.
Morrison believed the incident to be the most formative event of his life and made repeated references to it in his songs, poems and interviews.
With his father in the United States Navy, Morrison's family moved often. He spent his childhood in San Diego, California.
In 1958, Morrison attended Alameda High School in Alameda, California. He graduated from George Washington High School (now George Washington Middle School) in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1961.
Jim was inspired by the writings of philosophers and poets. He was influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Rimbaud, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Patchen, Michael McClure and Gregory Corso.
In 1964, Morrison moved to Los Angeles, California, to attend the University Of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Morrison completed his undergraduate degree at UCLA's College Of Fine Arts in 1965.
Morrison subsequently led a bohemian lifestyle in Venice Beach. Living on the rooftop of a building inhabited by his old UCLA cinematography friend Dennis Jakobs, he wrote the lyrics of many of his band's songs there.
The Doors, formed in 1965 by Morrison, took their name from the title of Aldous Huxley's The Doors Of Perception (a reference to the "unlocking" of "doors of perception" through psychedelic drug use).
Morrison was its lead singer and songwriter. The group's best known songs included Light My Fire, Love Me Two Times, Love Her Madly and Touch Me.
Light My Fire eventually reached number one on the Billboard Pop Singles chart.
In 1967, Morrison and The Doors produced a promotional film for Break On Through (To The Other Side), their hit single.
The Doors also made music videos for The Unknown Soldier, Moonlight Drive and People Are Strange.
Morrison became addicted to drugs over the course of his singing career and in 1969, he was seriously overweight.
His close friends nicknamed him Jumbo Jim. During his early days, Morrison was nicknamed the Lizard King.
Morrison self-published two volumes of poetry in 1969.
In 1971, Morrison visited Paris and lost some weight. He was found dead by his girlfriend, Pamela Courson, on July 3, 1971 in his bathroom.
He was believed to have overdosed on drugs. Courson died of an overdose three years later. Like Morrison, she was also 27.
Morrison was buried in Paris' Pere Lachaise Cemetery.
In 1991, Val Kilmer played Morrison in Oliver Stone's film The Doors.

Madonna Louise Ciccone - Queen Of Pop

From Wikipedia.
Madonna Louise Ciccone (born August 16, 1958) is an American recording artiste, actress and entrepreneur also known as the Queen Of Pop.
Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance.
After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her debut album in 1983.
She... followed it with a series of albums in which she found immense popularity by pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream popular music and imagery in her music videos, which became a fixture on MTV.
Throughout her career, many of her songs have hit number one on the record charts, including Like A Virgin, Papa Don't Preach, Like A Prayer, Vogue, Frozen, Music, Hung Up, and 4 Minutes.
She is widely admired by liberal people for speaking her mind and challenging cultural orthodoxy.
Her career was further enhanced by film appearances that began in 1979.
She won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress In A Motion Picture Musical Or Comedy for her role in Evita (1996).
Madonna's other ventures include being a fashion designer, children's book author, film director and producer.
Madonna has sold more than 300 million records worldwide and is recognised as the world's top-selling female recording artiste by the Guinness World Records.
In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked Madonna at number two, behind only The Beatles, on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artistes, making her the most successful solo artiste in the history of the Billboard chart.
She was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in the same year.
Considered one of the "25 Most Powerful Women Of The Past Century" by Time for being an influential figure in contemporary music, Madonna is known for continuously reinventing both her music and image.
Madonna's mother Louise Fortin was of French descent from Canada and a relative of Canadian singer Celine Dion.
Her father Anthony Ciccone, is a first-generation Italian American.
The Ciccone family originated from Pacentro, Italy.
She is the third of six siblings.
Her mother died of breast cancer at the age of 30 in 1963.
Madonna attended Rochester Adams High School, and was a straight-A student.
She went to New York in 1977 to learn dance.
She formed a rock band called The Breakfast Club, and served as its vocalist and guitarist.
Her debut single, Everybody, was released on October 6, 1982.
IN the same year she started developing her debut album Madonna, which was primarily produced by Reggie Lucas of Warner Bros.
It contained the chart-topping hit Like A Virgin and was released in 1983.
In 1985, Madonna acted in the film Desperately Seeking Susan which featured her hit song Into The Groove.
In the same year she married Lithuanian-American actor and producer Sean Penn.
They were divorced in 1987.
True Blue, Madonna's third studio album, was released in 1986. It spawned three number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100: Live To Tell, Papa Don't Preach and Open Your Heart.
It also had two top five singles, True Blue and La Isla Bonita.
In 1990, Madonna starred as Breathless Mahoney in the film Dick Tracy, with Warren Beatty playing the title role. To accompany the film, she released the soundtrack album I'm Breathless, which included songs inspired by the film's 1930s setting.
In 2000, Madonna starred in the film The Next Best Thing, and contributed two songs to the film's soundtrack: Time Stood Still and American Pie, a cover version of Don McLean's 1971 song.
She released her eighth studio album, Music, in September 2000.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Farewell Clarence Clemons, Noor Azian Ahmad Said And Zami Ismail

The weekend of June 18 and 19, 2011 saw the loss of three great people who helped develop art and music in Malaysia and the United States.

They were Clarence Clemons, Bruce Springsteen's band member, saxophonist and mentor, Noor Azian Ahmad Said, the mother of Malaysia's King of Cartoonists Datuk Mohamad Noor Khalid or Lat and film maker Mamat Khalid, and veteran Malaysian actor and comedian Zami Ismail.

Clemons, 69, also released solo albums and in 1985 he had a hit with You're A Friend Of Mine. He also starred in films as Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure with Keanu Reeves, and TV series as The Simpsons and Different Strokes. Clemons was married five times and has four sons.

Zami, 68, of Tapah, Perak, was best known for starring in long-running sitcom Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu. He also advertised Mamee noodles in television commercials in the 1970s where he voiced the Mamee monster and the Mamee singing chef. He is survived by his wife Hanizan Ibrahim and nine children including actor Opie Zami and director Latiff 'Hitler' Zami.

Noor Azian, 90, of Gopeng, Perak is survived by five children including eldest son Lat and youngest son Mamat.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Largest Malaysian Towns And Cities 2011

1 Subang Jaya 1 553 589
2 KUALA LUMPUR 1 475 337
3 Kajang 1 299 115
4 Klang 1 113 851
5 Ampang Jaya 804 901
6 Selayang 785 527
7 IPOH 704 572
8 KUCHING 674 281
9 SHAH ALAM 671 282
10 Petaling Jaya 638 516
11 JOHOR BARU 610 940
12 KOTA KINABALU 604 078
13 Sandakan 501 195
14 GEORGETOWN 482 976
15 SEREMBAN 477 908
16 Sekudai 465 360
17 MELAKA 433 047
18 KUANTAN 422 020
19 Tawau 381 736
20 Pasir Gudang 376 283
21 KOTA BARU 356 615
22 Sungai Petani 347 761
23 Bukit Mertajam 321 172
25 Miri 280 518
26 Muar 237 134
27 Batu Pahat 237 037
28 ALOR SETAR 231 045
29 Kulim 228 662
30 Taiping 212 562
31 Sibu 210 879
32 Kulai 201 861
33 Bintulu 199 514
34 Kluang 188 521
35 Penampang 169 769
36 Nibong Tebal 143 151
37 Temerloh 132 467
38 Lahad Datu 128 589
39 Bagan Serai 124 697
40 Sitiawan 122 329
41 Butterworth 122 322
42 Keningau 120 578
43 Kuala Selangor 119 648
44 Cukai 118 529
45 Port Dickson 102 259
46 Kuala Kubu Baru 96 611
47 Dungun 94 291
48 Segamat 94 255
49 Banting 93 497
50 Pontian Kecil 88 230
51 Labuan 81 151
52 Alor Gajah 77 521
53 KANGAR 74 396
54 Sungai Besar 73 290
55 Kuala Kangsar 72 625
56 Jitra 69 743
57 Semporna 68 839
58 Bentong 66 996
59 Tapah 66 511
60 Kota Tinggi 64 739
61 Teluk Intan 58 431
62 Batu Gajah 58 098
63 Banting 57 731
64 Raub 49 333
65 Kuah 41 605
66 Salak Tinggi 40 364
67 Jerantut 40 092
68 Papar 39 625
69 Labis 37 826
70 Bahau 36 645
71 Kampar 35 566
72 Limbang 34 351
73 Kudat 33 378
74 Pekan 33 089
75 Tampin 32 917
76 Tumpat 32 194
77 Sarikei 30 083
78 Tanah Merah 28 565
79 Sri Aman 26 110
80 Kunak 22 912
81 Marang 21 360
82 Mersing 21 309
83 Tanjung Malim 19 710
84 Ranau 19 521
85 Pasir Mas 19 231
86 Gua Musang 19 173
87 Kuala Krai 19 153
88 Simpang Renggam 18 711
89 Kuala Pilah 18 382
90 Beaufort 17 954
91 Kapit 16 689
92 Kuala Lipis 16 285
93 Jasin 15 113
94 Kota Belud 14 522
95 Besut 13 654

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Happy 85th Birthday Marilyn Monroe

From Wikipedia.

The late great Marilyn Monroe was one of the great sex goddesses of the modern era. Her 85th birthday is June 1, 2011.

Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jean Mortenson (June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962) was an American actress, singer and model.

After spending much of her childhood in foster homes, Monroe began a career as a model, which led to a film contract in 1946.

Her early film appearances were minor, but her performances in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve (both 1950) were well received.

By 1953, Monroe had progressed to leading roles.

Her "dumb blonde" persona was used to comedic effect in such films as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How To Marry A Millionaire (1953) and The Seven Year Itch (1955).

Limited by typecasting, Monroe studied at the Actors Studio to broaden her range, and her dramatic performance in Bus Stop (1956) was hailed by critics, and she received a Golden Globe nomination.

Her production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, released The Prince And The Showgirl (1957), for which she received a BAFTA Award nomination and won a David Di Donatello Award.

She received a Golden Globe Award for her performance in Some Like It Hot (1959).

The final years of Monroe's life were marked by illness, personal problems and a reputation for being unreliable and difficult to work with.

The circumstances of her death, from an overdose of barbiturates, have been the subject of conjecture.

Though officially classified as a "probable suicide", the possibility of an accidental overdose, as well as the possibility of homicide, have not been ruled out.

In 1999, Monroe was ranked as the sixth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute.

In the years and decades following her death, Monroe has often been cited as a pop and cultural icon as well as an eminent American sex symbol.

Monroe was born in the Los Angeles County Hospital, the third child of Gladys Pearl Baker (May 27, 1902 – March 11, 1984).

Monroe's birth certificate names her father as Martin Edward Mortensen.

Baker had married Mortensen in 1924, but they had separated before Gladys' pregnancy.

Throughout her life, Monroe denied that Mortensen was her father.

She said that she had been shown a photograph of a man that Gladys identified as her father, Charles Stanley Gifford.

Gladys was mentally unstable and financially unable to care for the young Norma Jean, so she placed her with foster parents Albert and Ida Bolender of Hawthorne, California, where she lived until she was seven.

While living with the Bolenders, an unusual incident occurred.

One day, Gladys came to the Bolenders and demanded that Norma Jean be released back into her care.

Ida knew that Gladys was unstable at that time and insisted that this situation would not benefit Norma Jean.

Unwilling to cooperate, Gladys managed to pull Ida into the yard while she ran inside the house, locking the door behind her.

After several minutes, Gladys walked out of the front door with one of Albert Bolender's military duffel bags.

To Ida's horror, Gladys had stuffed the now screaming Norma Jean inside the bag, zipped it up, and proceeded to leave the house. Ida charged towards Gladys and the quarrel resulted in the bag splitting open.

Norma Jean fell out and began weeping loudly as Ida grabbed her and pulled her back inside the house, away from Gladys.

In 1933, Gladys bought a house and brought Norma Jean to live with her.

A few months after moving in, Gladys suffered a mental breakdown.

Norma Jean was declared a ward of the state, and Gladys' best friend, Grace McKee, became her guardian.

It was Grace who had told Monroe that someday she would become a movie star.

Grace was captivated by Jean Harlow.

Grace married Ervin Goddard in 1935, and nine-year-old Norma Jean was sent to the Los Angeles Orphans Home (later renamed Hollygrove).

In 1937, Grace took Norma Jean back to live with her, Goddard, and one of Goddard's daughters from a previous marriage.

This arrangement did not last for long, as Goddard attempted on several occasions to sexually assault her.

Disturbed by this, Grace sent her to live with her great-aunt, Olive Brunings in Compton, California.

This arrangement also did not last long, as 12-year-old Norma Jean was assaulted (sexually) by one of Olive's sons.

In early 1938, Grace sent her to live with yet another one of her aunts, Ana Lower, who lived in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles.

The time with Lower provided the young Norma Jean with one of the few stable periods in her life.

By 1942, the elderly Lower developed serious health problems, and thus Norma Jean went back to live with the Goddards.

While attending Van Nuys High School, she met a neighbour's son, James Dougherty and began a relationship with him.

They got married that year.

In 1943, with World War II raging, he enlisted in the Merchant Marine and was shipped out to the Pacific.

Norma Jean found employment in the Radioplane Munitions Factory. She sprayed airplane parts with fire retardant and inspected parachutes.

During this time, Army photographer David Conover snapped a photograph of her for a Yank magazine article.

He encouraged her to apply to The Blue Book Modeling Agency.

She signed with the agency and began researching the work of Jean Harlow and Lana Turner.

She was told that they were looking for models with lighter hair, so Norma Jean bleached her brunette hair to a golden blonde.

Norma Jean became one of Blue Book's most successful models, appearing on dozens of magazine covers.

Jim Dougherty was oblivious of his wife's new job until he discovered one of his shipmates admiring a revealing photo of Norma Jean in a magazine.

Dougherty corresponded with her via several letters stating that once he returned from service, she would have to give up her modeling.

A dissatisfied Norma Jean, who now saw the possibilities of a modeling and acting career, decided then to divorce Dougherty.

The marriage ended when he returned from overseas in 1946.

Her successful modeling career brought her to the attention of Ben Lyon, a 20th Century Fox executive, who arranged a screen test.

Lyon was impressed and commented, "It's Jean Harlow all over again."

Lyon did not like the name Norma Jean and chose Marilyn Monroe (Monroe is her mother's maiden name) for Norma Jean.

Marilyn Monroe's first movie role was an uncredited role as a telephone operator in The Shocking Miss Pilgrim in 1947.

She won a brief role that year in Dangerous Years and extra appearances in Green Grass Of Wyoming and You Were Meant For Me.

In 1948, Monroe signed a contract with Columbia Pictures and was introduced to the studio's head drama coach Natasha Lytess, who became her acting coach for several years.

She starred in the low-budget musical Ladies Of The Chorus.

She had a small role in the Marx Brothers film Love Happy (1949).

Love Happy brought Monroe to the attention of the talent agent, Johnny Hyde, who arranged for her to audition for John Huston's drama The Asphalt Jungle, playing the young mistress of an aging criminal.

Her performance brought strong reviews and was seen by the writer and director, Joseph Mankiewicz.

He accepted Hyde's suggestion of Monroe for a small comedic role in All About Eve as Miss Caswell, an aspiring actress.

Monroe enrolled at UCLA in 1951 where she studied literature and art appreciation, and appeared in several minor films playing opposite long-established performers as Mickey Rooney, Constance Bennett, June Allyson, Dick Powell and Claudette Colbert.

In 1951, she appeared as a presenter at the 23rd Academy Awards.

In 1952, Monroe appeared on the cover of Look magazine.

In March 1952, Monroe faced a possible scandal when one of her nude photos from a 1949 session with photographer Tom Kelley was featured in a calendar.

The press speculated about the identity of the anonymous model and commented that she closely resembled Monroe.

As the studio discussed how to deal with the problem, Monroe suggested that she should simply admit that she had posed for the photograph but emphasised that she had done so only because she had no money to pay her rent.

She gave an interview in which she discussed the circumstances that led to her posing for the photographs, and the resulting publicity elicited a degree of sympathy for her plight as a struggling actress.

She made her first appearance on the cover of Life magazine in April 1952, where she was described as "The Talk Of Hollywood".

Stories of her childhood and upbringing portrayed her in a sympathetic light.

It was during this time that she began dating baseball player Joe DiMaggio. They were married in 1954.

Four films in which Monroe featured were released in 1952.

First, Clash By Night, a Barbara Stanwyck drama, directed by Fritz Lang. It was favourably received by critics.

Next came We're Not Married!, Don't Bother To Knock and Monkey Business.

Darryl F. Zanuck cast her in Niagara, as a femme fatale scheming to murder her husband, played by Joseph Cotten.

Her next film in 1953 was Gentlemen Prefer Blondes co-starring Jane Russell and directed by Howard Hawks.

This was followed by How To Marry A Millionaire, River Of No Return and There's No Business Like Show Business.

In 1954, shortly after There's No Business Like Show Business, she starred in The Seven Year Itch.

Not long after the film, she and DiMaggio were divorced.

In 1955, Monroe dated playwright Arthur Miller. She studied at the Actors Studio, and befriended actors Kevin McCarthy and Eli Wallach.

In Bus Stop, Monroe played Cherie, a saloon singer with little talent who falls in love with a cowboy, Beauregard "Bo" Decker, played by Don Murray.

She received a Golden Globe nomination.

She married Miller in 1956. A year later she co-starred with Lord Laurence Olivier in The Prince And The Showgirl. In 1959 came Some Like It Hot which earned her a Golden Globe for Best Actress.

From 1959 onwards, Monroe became addicted to drugs. She became an ardent fan of the new United States President John F. Kennedy and had an affair with him.

Marilyn Monroe was found dead of a drug overdose at her home on August 5, 1962. The last person she spoke to was Kennedy. Many fans believe the CIA killed her in order to implicate Kennedy. She and Miller had been divorced in earlier that year.

She was buried on August 8, 1962 at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, Los Angeles.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Farewell Jeff Conaway And Joseph Brooks.

We've lost two great, underrated American celebrities this weekend. Actor Jeff Conaway of Taxi and Grease fame and Joseph Brooks who wrote and composed Debbie Boone's hit song You Light Up My Life.

Read all about them here. From Wikipedia.

Jeff Conaway.

Jeffrey Charles William Michael Conaway (October 5, 1950 – May 27, 2011) was an American actor, best known for his roles in the movie Grease and the television series Taxi and Babylon 5.

Conaway began acting on Broadway at two. He appeared in the play All The Way Home in 1960 and the 1977 Disney film, Pete's Dragon.

He was best known for playing Kenickie in the 1978 motion picture musical Grease and for his role in the television series Taxi, where he played cocky, vain, struggling actor Bobby Wheeler from 1978 to 1981.

He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 1978 for his role as Wheeler.

From 1994-1999, he played Sergeant Zack Allan, on Babylon 5. From 1989-1990, he was cast on The Bold And The Beautiful, in the role of Mick Savage.

In the mid-1960s, he was the lead singer and guitarist for a rock band, The 3 1/2.

He was married thrice and his second marriage from 1980 to 1985 was to Olivia Newton-John's sister Rona.

A drug addict for most of the 1980s, he died of a drug overdose.

Joseph Brooks.

Joseph Brooks (March 11, 1938 – May 22, 2011) was an American screenwriter, director, producer and composer.
He composed the song You Light Up My Life for the film of the same name that he also wrote, directed and produced.

In his later years he became the centre of a scandal after being accused of a series of casting-couch rapes.

He was indicted in 2009, but committed suicide on May 22, 2011, before he could be brought to trial.

In the 1960s, Brooks composed advertising jingles for clients including Pepsi (You've Got A Lot To Live) and Maxwell House (Good To The Last Drop Feeling).

He received numerous Clio Awards for his work, as well as a People's Choice Award.

In October 1977 You Light Up My Life reached Number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts and held the top position for 10 consecutive weeks, then the longest run in the chart's history.

With sales of over four million copies in the US, the song became the biggest hit of the 1970s.

The passionate ballad earned Brooks a Grammy Award for Song Of The Year, as well as an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Golden Globe Award and an American Society Of Composers, Authors And Publishers Award.

The song was Debby Boone's first solo hit record and only top 40 pop hit.

Brooks was married with two children. His brother is Institutional Investor Magazine founder Gilbert Kaplan.

In June 2009, Brooks was arrested on charges of raping or sexually assaulting 11 women lured to his East Side apartment from 2005 to 2008.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bonnie And Clyde - Notorious Criminal Couple

From Wikipedia.

Bonnie Parker (October 1, 1910 – May 23, 1934) and Clyde Barrow (March 24, 1909 – May 23, 1934) were well-known robbers and criminals who travelled the Central United States with their gang during the Great Depression.

Their exploits captured the attention of the American public during the "public enemy era" between 1931 and 1934.

Barrow preferred to rob small stores or rural gas stations.

The gang is believed to have killed at least nine police officers and committed several civilian murders.

The couple themselves were eventually ambushed and killed in Louisiana by law officers.

Their reputation was cemented in American pop folklore by Arthur Penn's 1967 film Bonnie And Clyde with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway portraying the criminal couple.

Bonnie Elizabeth Parker was born in Rowena, Texas, the second of three children.

Her father, Charles Parker, a bricklayer, died when Bonnie was four.

Her mother, Emma Krause, moved with the children to her parents' home in Cement City, an industrial suburb of Dallas.

Parker was one of the best students in her high school, winning top prizes in spelling, writing and public speaking.

Parker did not date until she was in her second year of high school, but in that year she fell in love with a classmate, Roy Thornton.

The two quit school and were married on September 25, 1926, six days before Parker's sixteenth birthday.

Their marriage, marked by his frequent absences and brushes with the law, was short-lived, and after January 1929 their paths never crossed again.

But they were never divorced, and Parker was wearing Thornton's wedding ring when she died.

Thornton was in prison in 1934 when he learned of his wife's ambush.

His reaction was, "I'm glad they went out like they did. It's much better than being caught."

In 1929, between the breakdown of her marriage and her first meeting with Clyde Barrow in January 1930, Parker lived with her mother and worked as a waitress in Dallas.

One of her regular customers in the cafe was postal worker Ted Hinton, who would join the Dallas Sheriff's Department in 1932, and as a posse member would participate in her ambush in 1934.

Clyde Chestnut Barrow was born in Ellis County, Texas, near Telico, a town just south of Dallas.

He was the fifth of seven children, from a desperately poor farming family that emigrated, piecemeal, to Dallas in the early 1920s.

Clyde was first arrested in late 1926, after running when police confronted him over a rental car he had failed to return on time.

His second arrest, with brother Marvin "Buck" Barrow, came soon after, this time for possession of stolen goods (turkeys).

Despite having legitimate jobs during the period 1927 to 1929, he also cracked safes, robbed stores and stole cars.

After sequential arrests in 1928 and 1929, his luck ran out and he was sent to Eastham Prison in April 1930.

While in prison, he was sexually assaulted repeatedly for over a year by a dominant inmate, whose skull he eventually fractured with a length of pipe.

It was Clyde Barrow's first killing.

Paroled in February 1932, Barrow emerged from Eastham a hardened and bitter criminal.

In his post-Eastham career, he focused on smaller jobs, robbing grocery stores and gas stations.

Barrow's favoured weapon was the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (called BAR).

Barrow's goal in life was not to gain fame or fortune from robbing banks, but to seek revenge against the Texas prison system for the abuses he suffered while serving time.

Bonnie Parker met Clyde Barrow in January 1930 at a friend's house.

Parker was out of work and was staying in West Dallas to assist a girlfriend with a broken arm.

Barrow dropped by the girl's house while Parker was supposedly in the kitchen making hot chocolate.

When they met, both were smitten immediately.

After Barrow was released from prison in February 1932, he and Ralph Fults assembled a rotating core group of associates and began a series of small robberies, primarily of stores and gas stations.

Their goal was to collect enough money and firepower to launch a raid of liberation against Eastham prison.

On April 19, Bonnie Parker and Fults were captured in a failed hardware store burglary in Kaufman, Texas, and subsequently jailed.

On April 30, Barrow was the wheelman in a robbery in Hillsboro, Texas, during which the store's owner, JN Bucher, was shot and killed.

When shown mugshots, the victim's wife identified Barrow as one of the shooters, even though he had stayed outside in the car.

Meanwhile, Parker remained in jail until June 17.

When the Kaufman County grand jury convened, it declined to indict her, and she was released. Within a few weeks, she reunited with Barrow.

On August 5, while Parker was visiting her mother in Dallas, Barrow, Hamilton and Ross Dyer were drinking alcohol at a country dance in Stringtown, Oklahoma, when Sheriff CG Maxwell and his deputy, Eugene C Moore, approached them in the parking lot.

Barrow and Hamilton opened fire, killing the deputy and gravely wounding the sheriff.

It was the first killing of a lawman by Barrow and his gang, a total eventually amounting to nine officers.

Another civilian was added to the list on October 11, when storekeeper Howard Hall was killed during a robbery of his store in Sherman, Texas.

The take, twenty-eight dollars and some groceries.

WD Jones had been a friend of the Barrow family since childhood, and though he was only 16 years old on Christmas Eve 1932, he persuaded Barrow to let him join up with the pair and ride out of Dallas with them that night.

The very next day, Jones was initiated into homicide when he and Barrow killed Doyle Johnson, a young family man, in the process of stealing his car in Temple, Texas.

Less than two weeks later, on January 6, 1933, Barrow killed Tarrant County Deputy Sheriff Malcolm Davis when he, Parker and Jones wandered into a police trap set for another criminal.

The total murdered by the gang since April was now five.

On March 22, 1933, Buck Barrow was granted a full pardon and released from prison.

Within days, he and his wife, Blanche, had set up housekeeping with Clyde Barrow, Parker and Jones in a temporary hideout in Joplin, Missouri.

Lawmen assembled a two-car, five-man force on April 13 to confront the suspected bootleggers living in their rented apartment over a garage.

Though taken by surprise, Clyde, noted for remaining cool under fire, was gaining far more experience in gun battles than most lawmen.

He, Jones and Buck quickly killed Detective McGinnis and fatally wounded Constable Harryman.

During the escape from the apartment, Parker laid down covering fire with her own BAR, forcing Highway Patrol sergeant GB Kahler to duck behind a large oak tree while slugs slammed into the other side, forcing wood splinters into the sergeant's face.

Parker then got into the car with the others.

The car slowed long enough to pull in Blanche Barrow from the street, where she was pursuing her fleeing dog, Snow Ball.

The surviving officers later testified that their side had fired only fourteen rounds in the conflict, although one of these hit Jones in the side, one struck Clyde and was deflected by his suitcoat button, and one grazed Buck after ricocheting off a wall.

The group escaped the police at Joplin, but left most of their possessions at the rented apartment: Buck and Blanche's marriage license, Buck's parole papers (only three weeks old), a large arsenal.

For the next three months, they ranged from Texas as far north as Minnesota.

In May, they robbed banks in Lucerne, Indiana and Okabena, Minnesota. Previously they had kidnapped Dillard Darby and Sophia Stone at Ruston, Louisiana, in the course of stealing Darby's car.

This was one of several incidents between 1932 and 1934 in which they kidnapped lawmen or robbery victims, usually releasing them far from home, sometimes with money to help them return.

Stories of these encounters made headlines, but so too did the darker encounters.

The Barrow Gang would not hesitate to shoot anyone, lawman or civilian, who got in their way.

Other members of the Barrow Gang known or thought to have committed murders included Raymond Hamilton, WD Jones, Buck Barrow and Henry Methvin.

Eventually, the cold-bloodedness of the killings would not only sour the public perception of the outlaws, but lead directly to their undoing.

On June 10, while driving with Jones and Parker near Wellington, Texas, Barrow missed warning signs at a bridge under construction and flipped their car into a ravine.

Parker sustained horrific third degree burns to her right leg.

The burn was so severe, the muscles contracted and caused the leg to "draw up".

Near the end of her life, Parker could hardly walk and would either hop on her good leg or be carried by Clyde.

After getting help from a nearby farm family and kidnapping two local lawmen, the three outlaws rendezvoused with Blanche and Buck Barrow again and they hid out in a tourist court near Fort. Smith, Arkansas.

Then Buck and Jones bungled a local robbery and killed Town Marshall Henry D Humphrey in Alma, Arkansas.

With the renewed pursuit from the law, they had to flee again, despite the grave condition of Bonnie Parker.

On July 18, 1933, the gang checked into the Red Crown Tourist Court south of Platte City, Missouri (now within the city limits of Kansas City).

The Red Crown Court was just two brick cabins joined by garages and the gang rented both.

To the south stood the Red Crown Tavern, a popular restaurant and a favourite watering hole for Missouri Highway Patrolmen.

When Clyde and Jones went to town to purchase bandages and atropine sulfate to treat Bonnie's leg, the druggist contacted Sheriff Holt Coffey, who put the cabins under watch.

Coffey had been alerted by Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas to be on the lookout for strangers seeking such supplies.

The sheriff contacted Captain Baxter, who called for reinforcements from Kansas City including an armoured car.

At 11pm that night, Sheriff Coffey led a group of officers armed with Thompson submachine guns toward the cabins.

But in a pitched gunfight at considerable distances, the submachine guns proved no match for Clyde Barrow's preferred Browning Automatic Rifles, stolen July 7 from the National Guard armoury at Enid, Oklahoma.

The Barrows laid down withering fire and made their escape when a bullet short-circuited the horn on the armoured car and the lawmen mistook it for a cease-fire signal.

They did not pursue the retreating Barrow automobile.

Although the gang evaded law enforcement once again, Buck Barrow had sustained a horrific wound in the side of the head and Blanche Barrow was nearly blinded from glass fragments in both her eyes.

Their prospects for holding out against the ensuing manhunt dwindled.

Five days later, on July 24, the Barrow Gang was camped at Dexfield Park, an abandoned amusement park near Dexter, Iowa.

So plainly mortal was Buck's head wound that Clyde and Jones dug a grave for him.

After their bloody bandages were noticed by local citizens, it was determined that the campers were the Barrow gang.

Surrounded by local lawmen and approximately one hundred spectators, the Barrows once again found themselves under fire.

Clyde Barrow, Parker and WD Jones escaped on foot.

Buck was shot again, in the back, and he and his wife were captured by the officers.

Buck died five days later, at Kings Daughters Hospital in Perry, Iowa, of pneumonia after surgery.

For the next six weeks, the remaining trio ranged far afield of their usual area of operations — west to Colorado, north to Minnesota, southeast to Mississippi — keeping a low profile and pulling only small robberies for daily-bread money.

They restocked their arsenal when Barrow and Jones burglarised an armoury at Plattville, Illinois on August 20 and scored three BARs, handguns and lots of ammunition.

By early September, they risked a run back in to Dallas to see their families for the first time in four months, and Jones parted company with them, continuing on to Houston, where his mother had moved.

He was arrested there without incident on November 16 and returned to Dallas.

Through the autumn, Barrow executed a series of small-time robberies with a series of small-time local accomplices while his family, and Parker's, attended to her considerable medical needs.

On November 22, 1933, they narrowly evaded arrest — but not bullets — while attempting to hook up with family members near Sowers, Texas.

This time, it was their hometown Sheriff, Dallas' Smoot Schmid and his squad, lying in wait nearby.

As Barrow drove up, he sensed a trap and drove right past his family's car, at which point Schmid and his deputies stood up and opened fire with machine guns and a BAR.

The family members in the crossfire were not hit, but not so the outlaws.

A single BAR slug penetrated the car — and the legs of both Parker and Barrow.

The couple made their getaway that night, but the attempted ambush would prove to be a dry run for deputies Ted Hinton and Bob Alcorn, who would get another shot at the pair six months hence in Louisiana.

Bonnie Parker crossed an ominous personal threshold the following week when on November 28, a Dallas grand jury delivered a murder indictment on her and Barrow for the January 1933 killing of Tarrant County Deputy Malcolm Davis.

It was the first murder warrant issued for Parker.

On January 16, 1934, Barrow finally made his long-contemplated move against the Texas Department of Corrections as he orchestrated the escape of Raymond Hamilton, Henry Methvin and several others in the infamous "Eastham Breakout" of 1934.

The Texas prison system received national negative publicity from the brazen raid, and Barrow appeared to have achieved what Phillips describes as the burning passion in his life, exacting revenge on the Texas Department of Corrections.

During the jailbreak, escapee Joe Palmer shot prison officer Major Joe Crowson and this act would eventually bring the full power of the Texas and federal governments to bear on the manhunt for Barrow and Parker.

As Crowson struggled for life, prison chief Lee Simmons reportedly promised him that all persons involved in the breakout would be hunted down and killed, and all were, except for Henry Methvin, whose life would eventually be exchanged for turning Barrow and Parker over to authorities.

The Texas Department of Corrections then contacted former Texas Ranger Captain Frank A. Hamer, and persuaded him to accept an assignment to hunt down the Barrow Gang.

Though retired, Hamer had retained his commission, which had not yet expired.

He accepted the assignment as a Texas Highway Patrol officer, secondarily assigned to the prison system as a special investigator, and given the specific task of hunting down Bonnie, Clyde and the Barrow Gang.

Frank Hamer was tall, burly, cryptic and taciturn, unimpressed by authority, driven by an "inflexible adherence to right, or what he thinks is right."

For twenty years Hamer had been feared and admired throughout the Lone Star State as "the walking embodiment of the 'One Riot, One Ranger' ethos.

In accomplishing the aims of Texas law enforcement he "had acquired a formidable reputation as a result of several spectacular captures and the shooting of a number of Texas criminals.

He was officially credited with fifty-three kills (and seventeen wounds to himself).

Although prison boss Simmons always said publicly that Hamer had been his first choice for the Barrow hunt, there's evidence he approached two other Rangers first, both of whom had been queasy about shooting a woman and declined.

Hamer apparently had no such qualms.

Starting February 10, he became the constant shadow of Barrow and Parker, living out of his car, just a town or two behind the bandits.

Three of Hamer's brothers were also Texas Rangers, and while brother Harrison was the best shot of the four, Frank was considered the most tenacious.

On April 1, 1934, Easter Sunday, Barrow and Henry Methvin killed two young highway patrolmen, HD Murphy and Edward Bryant Wheeler, in an area of Grapevine, Texas now called Southlake.

A contemporary eyewitness account stated that Barrow and Parker fired the fatal shots and this story got widespread coverage in the press before it was discredited.

Henry Methvin later admitted he fired the first shot, after assuming Barrow wanted the officers killed.

He also admitted that Parker approached the dying officers intending to help them, not to administer the cold-blooded point-blank coup de grace the discredited eyewitness had described.

Having little choice once Methvin had shot Wheeler, Barrow then joined in, firing at Patrolman Murphy.

Most likely, Parker was asleep in the back seat when Methvin started shooting and took no part in the assault.

Five days later, Barrow and Methvin killed 60-year-old Constable William "Cal" Campbell, a widower single father, near Commerce, Oklahoma.

They kidnapped Commerce police chief Percy Boyd, drove around with him, crossing the state line into Kansas, and then let him out with a clean shirt, a few dollars and a request from Parker to tell the world she didn't smoke cigars.

The outlaws didn't realise at their upbeat parting that Boyd would identify both Barrow and Parker to authorities — he never learned the name of the sullen youth who was with them — and when the resultant arrest warrant was issued for the Campbell murder, it specified Clyde Barrow, Bonnie Parker and John Doe.

Barrow and Parker were ambushed and killed on May 23, 1934 on a rural road in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.

The couple appeared in daylight in an automobile and were shot by a posse of four Texas officers (Frank Hamer, BM "Manny" Gault, Bob Alcorn and Ted Hinton) and two Louisiana officers (Henderson Jordan and Prentiss Morel Oakley).

The posse was led by Hamer, who had begun tracking the pair on February 10, 1934. They were mutilated.

Word of the ambush quickly got around when Hamer, Jordan, Oakley and Hinton drove to town to telephone their respective bosses.

A crowd soon gathered at the spot, and Gault and Alcorn, who were left to guard the bodies, lost control of the jostling curious.

One woman cut off bloody locks of Parker's hair and pieces from her dress, which were sold as souvenirs.

Hinton returned to find a man trying to cut off Barrow's trigger finger, and was sickened by what was occurring.

One eager man had opened his pocket knife, and was reaching into the car to cut off Clyde's left ear.

The coroner enlisted Hamer for help in controlling the "circus-like atmosphere," and only then did people move away from the car.

Bonnie and Clyde wished to be buried side by side, but the Parker family would not allow it.

Mrs. Parker had wanted to grant her daughter's final wish, which was to be brought home, but the mobs surrounding the Parker house made that impossible.

Over 20,000 people turned out for Bonnie Parker's funeral, making it difficult for her family to reach the grave site.

Parker's family used the now defunct McKamy-Campbell Funeral Home, then located on Forest Avenue in Dallas, to conduct her funeral.

Hubert “Buster” Parker accompanied his sister’s body back to Dallas in the McKamy-Campbell ambulance.

Her services were held Saturday, May 26, at 2pm in the funeral home, directed by Allen D Campbell.

His son, Dr Allen Campbell, later remembered that flowers came from everywhere.

Thousands of people gathered outside both Dallas funeral homes hoping for a chance to view the bodies.

Barrow’s private funeral was held at sunset on Friday, May 25, in the funeral home chapel.

He was buried in Western Heights Cemetery in Dallas, next to his brother, Marvin.

They share a single granite marker with their names on it and a four-word epitaph previously selected by Clyde: “Gone but not forgotten.”

The life insurance policies for both Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were paid in full by American National of Galveston.

Blanche Barrow's injuries left her permanently blinded in her left eye.

After the 1933 shootout at Dexfield Park, she was taken into custody on the charge of "Assault With Intent To Kill."

She was sentenced to ten years in prison but was paroled in 1939 for good behaviour.

She returned to Dallas, leaving her life of crime in the past, and lived with her invalid father as his caregiver.

She married Eddie Frasure in 1940, worked as a taxi cab dispatcher and a beautician, and completed the terms of her parole one year later.

She lived in peace with her husband until he died of cancer in 1969.

Warren Beatty approached her to purchase the rights to her name for use in the 1967 film.

While she agreed to the original script, she objected to her characterisation.

She died from cancer at the age of 77 on December 24, 1988, and was buried in Dallas's Grove Hill Memorial Park under the name "Blanche B. Frasure".

Henry Methvin's ambush-earned Texas pardon didn't help him in Oklahoma, where he was convicted of the 1934 murder of Constable Campbell at Commerce.

He was paroled in 1942 and killed by a train in 1948.

Bonnie Parker's husband Roy Thornton was sentenced to five years in prison for burglary in March 1933.

He was killed by guards on October 3, 1937, during an escape attempt from Eastham.

Prentiss Oakley, who all six possemen agree fired the first shots, was reported to have been troubled by his actions.

He often admitted to his friends that he had fired prematurely and he was the only posse member to express regret publicly.

He would go on to succeed Henderson Jordan as Bienville Parish sheriff in 1940.

Frank Hamer returned to a quieter life as a freelance security consultant — a strikebreaker — to oil companies, although, according to Guinn, "his reputation suffered somewhat after Gibsland" because many people felt he had not given Barrow and Parker a fair chance to surrender.

He made headlines again in 1948 when he and Governor Coke Stevenson unsuccessfully challenged Lyndon Johnson's vote totals during the election for the US Senate.

He died in 1955 at 71.

His possemate Bob Alcorn died on May 23, 1964 — exactly thirty years to the day after the Gibsland ambush.

The criminal couple's enduring appeal to the public was due to their revolt against an uncaring system.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Seve Ballesteros - Spanish Golf Legend

From Wikipedia.

Severiano Ballesteros Sota, who died after a long battle with cancer on May 7, 2011, will always be remembered as Spain's greatest golf icon.

A World No. 1 who was one of the sport's leading figures from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, he gained attention in the golfing world in 1976, when at 19 he finished second at The Open Championship.

A member of a gifted golfing family, Ballesteros won five major championships between 1979 and 1988, The Open Championship three times, and The Masters twice.

He was also successful in the Ryder Cup, helping the European team to five wins both as a player and captain, and won the World Match Play Championship a record-tying five times.

He is best known for his great short game, and his erratic driving of the golf ball.

Ballesteros was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for the second time at the BBC Sports Personality Awards 2009.

Ballesteros was born in Pedrena, Cantabria, Spain.

He learned the game while playing on the beaches near his home, mainly using a 3-iron given to him by one of his elder brothers.

His uncle Ramon Sota was Spanish professional champion four times and finished sixth in The Masters in 1965.

Seve's elder brother Manuel finished in the top 100 on the European Tour order of merit every year from 1972 to 1983, and later became Seve's manager.

Brothers Vicente and Baldomero, and nephew Raul are also professional golfers.

Ballesteros turned professional in March 1974 at the age of 16.

In 1999, Ballesteros was inducted into the World Golf Hall Of Fame.

He was instrumental in introducing the Seve Trophy in 2000, a team competition similar to the Ryder Cup pitting a team from Great Britain and Ireland against one from continental Europe.

In 2000, Ballesteros was ranked as the 16th greatest golfer of all time by Golf Digest magazine. He was the top golfer from the continent of Europe.

Ballesteros was married to Carmen Botin O'Shea, daughter of Emilio Botin, from 1988 until their divorce in 2004.

They have three children.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Congrats Wills And Kate.

Long live Diana.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Alan Tang - HK's Alain Delon

Alan Tang Kwong Wing's death from a stroke on March 29, 2011 has robbed Hong Kong and Taiwan of a brilliant leading man, producer and director.

Read all about him here. Thanks Wikipedia.

Alan Tang Kwong Wing (September 20, 1946 – March 29, 2011) was a Hong Kong film actor, producer and director.

Tang was born in Shunde, Guangdong, China, the youngest of four children.

His first starring role was actually at 16 in the 1963 film The Student Prince.

Upon graduation from secondary school, Tang acted in Hong Kong youth films starring Josephine Hsiao, Chen Chen, and Connie Chan throughout the 1960s.

Tang was often voted Best Actor by film magazines.

Tang found greater fame when he moved to Taiwan during the 1970s, and made over 60 feature films, often dramas and romances.

He often co-starred with Brigette Lin.

In 1974, Tang produced and starred in Splendid Love In Winter with Chen Chen, and Dynamite Brothers with American footballer Timothy Brown.

In 1977, he formed The Wing-Scope Company.

A decade later, Tang established In-Gear Film Productions, with his brother Rover Tang.

Well-known films of Tang during this time included Flaming Brothers, Gangland Odyssey, Return Engagement, Gun N Rose and The Black Panther Warriors.

He also produced two films directed by Wong Kar Wai, As Tears Go By and Days Of Being Wild.

In the 1990s, Tang became a restaurant businessman. He also became the godfather of Adam Cheng's daughter, actress Joyce Cheng.

Tang was a generous celebrity who devoted much of his time to philanthropy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor - Grand Dame Of British Cinema

Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011) will always be remembered as the grand dame of British cinema.

The former child star who passed away after a long illness recently, was known for both her acting talent and beauty.

She was also frequently in the spotlight because of her Hollywood lifestyle, and many marriages.

Taylor is considered one of the greatest actresses of Hollywood's golden age.

She was born in Hampstead, a wealthy district of North West London, the second child of Francis Lenn Taylor (1897–1968) and Sara Viola Warmbrodt (1895–1994), who were Americans residing in the United Kingdom.

She was of British, Jewish (Israeli), Spanish, Portuguese, Iranian and Native American heritage.

Taylor's family came from Arkansas City, Kansas.

Her father was an art dealer and her mother a former actress.

She was a dual citizen of the UK and the US for life.

At three, Taylor took ballet lessons. Shortly before World War II, her parents returned to the United States.

The Taylors were family friends of Andrea Berens, a wealthy British socialite and the fiancee of Cheever Cowden, chairman of Universal Pictures in Hollywood.

Berens introduced Sara and Elizabeth to Cowden, and he had her signed to Universal as an actress.

Taylor appeared in her first film at nine, There's One Born Every Minute.

Not long after, she joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and starred in Lassie Come Home.
This 1943 film featured her lifelong pal Roddy McDowall.

In 1944, she starred in Jane Eyre.

At 12, she played Velvet Brown in National Velvet. Velvet was a young girl who trains her horse to win the Grand National.

The film also rocketed Mickey Rooney and Angela Lansbury to fame.

In 1946, she starred in The Courage Of Lassie.

Other notable films in the 1940s were Life With Father (1947), Cynthia (1947), A Date With Judy (1948) and Julia Misbehaves (1948).

In 1949, she starred in Conspirator which bombed at the box office.

But her portrayal of 21-year-old debutante Melinda Grayton was praised by critics.

Her first major box office success in an adult role was Kay Banks in the romantic comedy Father Of The Bride (1950).

In late 1949, Taylor starred in A Place In The Sun as a spoiled socialite.

The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) saw her reunited with her Big Hangover co-star Van Johnson.

Following a substantial role opposite Rock Hudson and James Dean in Giant (1956), Taylor was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. She was also nominated for her roles in Raintree County (1957), Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Suddenly Last Summer (1959).

In 1960, she starred in Cleopatra as the title character. Her future husband, British actor Richard Burton played Mark Antony.

Taylor won her first Academy Award for Best Actress for Butterfield 8 (1960), which co-starred then husband Eddie Fisher.

Her second Best Actress award was in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966), which co-starred Burton.

Burton and Taylor starred in six films during the decade – The VIPs (1963), The Sandpiper (1965), The Taming Of The Shrew (1967), Doctor Faustus (1967), The Comedians {1967} and Boom! (1968).

Taylor appeared in Reflections In A Golden Eye (1967) opposite Marlon Brando and Secret Ceremony (1968) opposite Mia Farrow.

Taylor continued to star in numerous theatrical films throughout the 1970s, such as Zee And Co (1972) with Michael Caine, Ash Wednesday (1973), The Blue Bird (1976) with Jane Fonda and Ava Gardner and A Little Night Music (1977).

With then-husband Burton, she co-starred in the 1972 films Under Milk Wood and Hammersmith Is Out and the 1973 made-for-TV movie Divorce His, Divorce Hers.
Taylor starred in the 1980 mystery film The Mirror Cracked, based on an Agatha Christie novel.

In 1985, she played movie gossip columnist Louella Parsons in the TV film Malice In Wonderland.

Her last theatrical film was 1994's The Flintstones.

In the 2000s she starred in television series such as General Hospital, All My Children and The Simpsons.

Taylor made her Broadway and West End debuts in 1982 in The Little Foxes.

She also starred in Noel Coward's Private Lives (1983) with Burton.

On December 5, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inducted Taylor into the California Hall Of Fame, located at The California Museum For History, Women And The Arts.

Taylor devoted much time and energy to AIDS-related charities and fundraising. She helped start the American Foundation for AIDS Research after the death of her former co-star and friend, Rock Hudson.

She also created her own AIDS foundation, the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation (ETAF).

By 1999, she had helped to raise an estimated US$50 million to fight the disease.

She also became a close pal of Michael Jackson, and attended his funeral in 2009.

Taylor was married seven times to Conrad Hilton (1950-51), Michael Wilding (1952-57), Michael Todd (1957-58, he died), Eddie Fisher (1959-64), Richard Burton (1964-74, 1975-76), John Warner (1976-82) and Larry Fortensky (1991-1996).

She is survived by two sons (from Wilding) and two daughters (one each from Todd and Burton).

She has nine grandchildren.

Monday, March 14, 2011

About Japan

Thanks Wikipedia.

Japan is an island nation in East Asia.

Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south.

The characters that make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes referred to as the "Land Of The Rising Sun".

Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands.

The four largest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku, together accounting for ninety seven percent of Japan's land area.

Japan has the world's tenth largest population, with over 127 million people.

Since adopting its revised constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament called the Diet.

A major economic power, Japan is the world's fourth largest exporter and fifth largest importer.

Although Japan has officially renounced its right to declare war, it maintains an extensive modern military force in self-defense and peacekeeping roles.

Japan has the highest life expectancy of any country in the world.

The English word Japan is an exonym.

The Japanese names for Japan are Nippon and Nihon.

Japanese people refer to themselves as Nihonjin and to their language as Nihongo.

Both Nippon and Nihon mean "sun-origin".

The British coined the name Japan from the Malay word Jepang which is derived from the Shanghai Chinese word for the country, Zepen.

The Japanese are of Chinese and Mon origin.

The Ryukyu Islanders in the south of Japan are the same people as the aboriginals of Taiwan and the people of the Philippines.

They are Austronesians of the Bajau subgroup (Kenyah in Sarawak and Kayan in Indonesian Borneo aka Banjarmasin).

Japan received Buddhism from the Koreans.

During the 16th century, traders and missionaries from Portugal reached Japan, initiating direct commercial and cultural exchange between Japan and the West (Nanban trade).

On March 31, 1854, the United States' representative Matthew Perry inked a business treaty with the Japanese monarch.

Emperor Meiji subsequently introduced a constitution for Japan and modernised the country extensively.

After victories in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895), Japan gained control of Taiwan and Korea.

World War I enabled Japan, which joined the side of the victorious Allies, to widen its influence and territorial holdings.

It occupied Manchuria in 1931, and in 1940, joined Adolf Hitler's Germany fighting the Allies in World War II.

Japan invaded China in 1937, precipitating the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).

In 1940, it took South East Asia and on December 7, 1941, attacked the United States' naval base at Pearl Harbour.

After the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and the American atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies.

The Allies (led by the United States ) repatriated millions of ethnic Japanese from colonies and military camps throughout Asia.

The Allies also convened the International Military Tribunal For The Far East on May 3, 1946 to prosecute some Japanese leaders for war crimes.

However, the bacteriological research units and members of the imperial family involved in the war were exonerated from criminal prosecutions by the Supreme Allied Commander despite calls for trials for both groups.

In 1947, Japan adopted a new constitution emphasising liberal democratic practices.

The Allied occupation ended with the Treaty Of San Francisco in 1952 and Japan was granted membership in the United Nations in 1956.

Japan later achieved rapid growth to become the second largest economy in the world.

On March 11, 2011, Japan suffered the strongest earthquake in its recorded history.

It had a magnitude of 9.0 and was aggravated by a tsunami, affecting the northeast area of Honshu, including the capital city Tokyo.

About 73 percent of Japan is forested, mountainous and unsuitable for agricultural, industrial, or residential use.

As a result, the habitable zones, mainly located in coastal areas, have extremely high population densities.

The islands of Japan are located in a volcanic zone on the Pacific Ring Of Fire.

The climate of Japan is predominantly temperate, but varies greatly from north to south.

Japan's geographical features divide it into six principal climatic zones: Hokkaido, Sea Of Japan, Central Highlands, Seto Inland Sea, Pacific Ocean, and Ryukyu Islands.

The northernmost zone, Hokkaido, has a temperate climate with long, cold winters and cool summers.

In the Sea Of Japan zone on Honshu's west coast, northwest winter winds bring heavy snowfall.

In the summer, the region is cooler than the Pacific area, though it sometimes experiences extremely hot temperatures.

The Central Highlands has a typical inland climate, with large temperature differences between summer and winter, and between day and night.

The mountains of the Chugoku and Shikoku regions shelter the Seto Inland Sea from seasonal winds, bringing mild weather year-round.

The Pacific coast experiences cold winters with little snowfall and hot, humid summers.

The Ryukyu Islands have a subtropical climate, with warm winters and hot summers.
Japan has nine forest ecoregions which reflect the climate and geography of the islands.

They range from subtropical forests in the Ryukyu Islands, to temperate forests in the mild climate regions of the main islands and the cold northern islands.

Japan has over 90,000 species of wildlife, including the brown bear, the Japanese macaque, the raccoon dog, and the Japanese giant salamander.

Japan is one of the world's leaders in the development of new environment-friendly technologies, and is ranked 20th best in the world in the 2010 Environmental Performance Index.

Japan is a constitutional monarchy where the power of the Emperor is very limited.

As a ceremonial figurehead, he is defined by the constitution as "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people".

Power is held chiefly by the Prime Minister of Japan and other elected members of the Diet, while sovereignty is vested in the Japanese people.

Japan's legislative organ is the National Diet, a bicameral parliament.

The Diet consists of a House of Representatives with 480 seats, elected by popular vote every four years or when dissolved, and a House of Councillors of 242 seats, whose popularly-elected members serve six-year terms.

There is universal suffrage for adults over 20 years of age.

Japan consists of forty seven prefectures, each overseen by an elected governor, legislature and administrative bureaucracy.

Each prefecture is further divided into cities, towns and villages.

Japan has a large industrial capacity, and is home to some of the largest and most technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronics, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemical substances, textiles and processed foods.

Agricultural businesses in Japan often utilise a system of terrace farming, and crop yields are high.

Japan is the second largest producer of automobiles in the world.

Its main exports are transportation equipment, motor vehicles, electronics, electrical machinery and chemicals.

Japan is a leading nation in scientific research, particularly technology, machinery and biomedical research.

Some of Japan's more prominent technological contributions are in the fields of electronics, automobiles, machinery, earthquake engineering, industrial robotics, optics, chemicals, semiconductors and metals.

Primary schools, secondary schools and universities were introduced in 1872.

Since 1947, compulsory education in Japan comprises elementary and middle school, which together last for nine years (from ages 6 to 15).

Japanese music is eclectic and diverse.

Many instruments, such as the koto, were introduced in the 9th and 10th centuries.

The accompanied recitative of the Noh drama dates from the 14th century and the popular folk music, with the guitar-like shamisen, from the sixteenth.

Historically, the primary ingredient of Japanese cuisine has been Japanese rice.

In the early modern era ingredients such as red meats that had previously not been widely used in Japan were introduced.

Japanese cuisine offers a vast array of regional specialties.

Traditionally, sumo is considered Japan's national sport.

Japanese martial arts such as judo, karate and kendo are also widely practiced and enjoyed by spectators in the country.

Japan hosted the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 1964.

The Japanese professional baseball league was established in 1936.

Today baseball is the most popular spectator sport in the country.

One of the most famous Japanese baseball players is Ichiro Suzuki, who plays for the Seattle Mariners.

Since the establishment of the Japan Professional Football League in 1992, association football has also gained a wide following.

Japan was a venue of the Intercontinental Cup from 1981 to 2004 and co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup with South Korea.

Japan has one of the most successful football teams in Asia, winning the Asian Cup four times.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mutual Acceptance Key To Success - Tuanku Mizan

Thanks, Malaysian National News Agency.

The King of Malaysia Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin says Malaysians should accept each other's cultural and religious differences and not harbour prejudiced thoughts.

Failure to do so, he says, results in a deadly social cancer.

“We must not destroy the unity and harmony that we have built all this while for short-term gains," he said in his recent Maulud message.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gary Moore - Gifted Guitar Man

Thanks, Wikipedia.

The sudden death of British guitarist Gary Moore has robbed the music world of a brilliant genius.

Moore, who died of a heart attack on February 6 at the age of 59, was a versatile guitarist who excelled in rock, pop, jazz, country, blues and folk music.

Born on April 4, 1952 in Belfast, he played with various musicians since his teens, and they included Phil Lynott and Brian Downey, who later inducted him into their group Thin Lizzy, BB King, Albert King, Colosseum II, Greg Lake, Skid Row (not to be confused with the glam metal band of the same name), Jimmy Nail, Jack Bruce, The Beach Boys, Ozzy Osbourne, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Traveling Wilburys.

Moore learnt the guitar at eight and when he was 14, he learnt the play the instrument with his right hand despite being left-handed.

At 16, he moved to Dublin, Ireland, and watched Jimi Hendrix and John Mayall perform. He also joined the group Skid Row, which was formed by Lynott.

Moore's early influences included Elvis, The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac whose guitarist Peter Green became his mentor.

Moore released his first solo album in 1973, Grinding Stone.

In 1978 his collaboration with Lynott, Parisienne Walkways, reached the Top Ten in the UK Singles Chart.

In 1987, he collaborated on the UK charity record Let It Be, a cover of The Beatles' track.

After a series of rock records, Moore returned to blues music with Still Got The Blues in 1990.

He stayed with the blues format until 1997, when he decided to experiment with modern dance beats on Dark Days In Paradise.

With Back To The Blues, Moore return to his tried and tested blues format in 2001.

He continued with this style on Power Of The Blues (2004), Old New Ballads Blues (2006), Close As You Get (2007) and Bad For You Baby (2008).

Moore was twice married and is survived by three children.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

About Muse, Britain's Super Band Of Today

Thanks, Wikipedia.

Muse is a British rock band from Teignmouth, Devon, formed in 1994.

The band consists of Matthew Bellamy (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards) [born June 9, 1978], Christopher Wolstenholme (bass, backing vocals, keyboards, guitar, harmonica) [born December 2, 1978] and Dominic Howard (drums, percussion, synthesisers, backing vocals, sampling) [born December 7, 1977].

Muse is known for its energetic and extravagant live performances, and its fusion of progressive rock, alternative rock, pop, heavy metal and electronica.

Muse has released five studio albums: Showbiz (1999), Origin Of Symmetry (2001), Absolution (2003), Black Holes And Revelations (2006) and The Resistance (2009).

The band has also issued three live albums, Hullabaloo Soundtrack (2002), Absolution Tour (2005) and HAARP (2008).

Muse has also won numerous music awards, including five MTV Europe Music Awards, five Q Awards, eight NME Awards, two BRIT awards an MTV Video Music Award, four Kerrang! Awards and an American Music Award.

Muse had sold over 10 million albums worldwide.

The members of Muse played in separate school bands during their stay at Teignmouth Community College in the early 1990s, but the formation of Muse began when Bellamy successfully auditioned for the part of guitarist in Howard's band.

They asked Wolstenholme – who played the drums – to learn to play bass guitar for the band.

Matt and Dom's first band name was Gothic Plague.

After Gothic Plague came Fixed Penalty and Rocket Baby Dolls.

In 1994, the band adopted Muse as its name.

The name was inspired by Bellamy's art teacher Samuel Theoun who mentioned the word Muse to him.

Muse played its first gigs in London and Manchester.

The band had a significant meeting with Dennis Smith, the owner of Sawmills Studio, situated in a converted water mill in Cornwall.

He had seen the boys grow up as he knew their parents.

This meeting led to their first proper recordings and the release of the Muse EP.

Its second EP, the Muscle Museum, reached number 3 in the indie singles chart.

Smith introduced the band to Safta Jaffery with whom he had recently started the record label Taste Media.

Muse signed with Smith and Jaffery and recorded three albums, Showbiz, Origin Of Symmetry and Absolution with Taste Media.

In 1998, Muse signed a deal with Maverick Records.

Upon their return from America, Taste Media arranged deals for Muse with various record labels in Europe and Australia, allowing them to maintain control over their career in individual countries.

During production of Origin Of Symmetry, the band experimented with instrumentation such as a church organ.

Bellamy cites guitar influences such as Jimi Hendrix and Tom Morello (of Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave) in the band's works.

Absolution (produced by Rich Costey) was released in 2003 and debuted at number one in the UK.

The album yielded its first top ten hit with Time Is Running Out.

The band played at the Glastonbury Festival in June 2004. After the festival, the band described the concert as "the best gig of our lives".

However, Howard's father, William Howard, who was at the festival to watch the band, died from a heart attack shortly after the performance.

The single Butterflies & Hurricanes was dedicated to Dom's father.

Muse won two MTV Europe awards, including Best Alternative Act and a Q Award for Best Live Act that year.

Muse also received an award for Best Live Act at the 2005 BRIT Awards.

In 2006, Muse released Black Holes And Revelations, co-produced by Muse and Rich Costey.

The album's title and themes are the result of the band's fascination with science fiction and political outrage.

The album charted at No. 1 in the UK, much of Europe and Australia.

It was also a success in the United States, reaching number nine on the Billboard 200 album chart.

In 2008, the band members received honorary doctorates of arts from the University of Plymouth for their contributions to music.

In 2010, Muse came up with the song Love Is Forever for the soundtrack of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

Muse has cited Queen as an influence.

Queen guitarist Brian May has praised Muse's work, calling the band "extraordinary musicians" who "let their madness show through, always a good thing in an artiste."