No More Original Sound

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One of my favorite movies, so was interested to hear this:

Maria Franziska von Trapp, the last surviving sibling of seven brothers and sisters who were portrayed in the Broadway musical and the film “The Sound of Music,” died on Tuesday at her home in Stowe, Vt. She was 99.

Her death was confirmed by her half-brother, Johannes von Trapp.

She was the third oldest child of seven born to Baron Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe, who died of scarlet fever. The 1965 film was based on the real story of how the baron fell in love with the children’s governess, also named Maria, and the family toured together as a choir.

Ms. von Trapp was the reason the governess came to work for the family — she needed a tutor at home because she also had scarlet fever and was too ill to walk to school. After her father married the governess in 1927, they had three children together.

In the film, which starred Julie Andrews as the governess (Mary Martin played the role on Broadway), Ms. von Trapp was named Louisa and was played by Heather Menzies. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the score.

She and her siblings learned to play musical instruments at a young age, Ms. von Trapp wrote in an essay on the family’s website. “Sometimes our house must have sounded like a musical conservatory,” she wrote. “You could hear us practice piano, violin, guitar, cello, clarinet, accordion, and later, recorders.”

The family fled Nazi-occupied Austria and performed across Europe and the United States. They eventually settled in Stowe, where they bought a 660-acre farm that they later turned into a ski lodge.

The film was based on a book published in 1949 by the elder Maria von Trapp, who died in 1987. She had praised the film for truthfully showing her life story.

But the younger Ms. von Trapp told Reuters in 2008 that she and her siblings were shocked that the movie portrayed their father as strict and obsessed with discipline. He was “so completely different,” she said and “always looked after us a lot, especially after our mother died.”

She said on the family website that the movie was a musical and was “never meant to be a documentary about our life.”

Maria Franziska von Trapp was born on Sept. 28, 1914 in Zell am See, Austria. In addition to touring with the family choir, she worked as a lay missionary in Papua New Guinea. She adopted a son, Kikuli Mwanukuzi, after meeting him there. She eventually moved back to Vermont to be close to family.

She is survived by her son and three half-siblings: Mr. von Trapp, Rosmarie Trapp and Eleonore von Trapp Campbell.

In 2008, Ms. von Trapp traveled to Salzburg, Austria, to visit her family’s villa when it opened to the public for the first time as a hotel and museum. The family had lived there for more than a decade until the Nazis confiscated it in 1939.

She told Reuters that returning to the home had been an emotional experience.

“Our whole life is in here, in this house,” she said. “Especially here in the stairwell, where we always used to slide down the railings.”

NY Times, February 23,2014

 

Historical Accuracy in Downton

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I found this article and thought I would pass it along-very interesting!

Historical accuracy can be tricky to discuss in terms of a period drama, so perhaps “credibility” is a better word. But semantics aside, there are a few aspects of “Downton Abbey” Season 4, that raise some questions, as the period drama attempts to tackle such issues as rape and unwanted childbirth. Huff Post TV spoke to a few historians to get an idea how closely the plot resembles Britain in the 1920s. Here’s what we found:

Lady Mary’s excessive period of mourning was at least unusual.
University of Leeds historian Dr. Jessica Meyer noted that Mary’s behavior was definitely anachronistic, “harking back to Victorian practices which had gone out of style in the years preceding the First World War.” Her drawn out impression of a wayward ghost would have been more realistic prior to “criticism of Victoria whose prolonged withdrawal from public life following Albert’s death was seen as harmful to British international prestige and influence,” says Meyer. Dr. Peter Mandler of the University of Cambridge agreed that “Victorian mourning practices [were] in this period being dumped overboard,” adding that, “Remarriage was always acceptable, and quite common.”

And she would have had more power over the estate than Lord Grantham lets on.
Although the laws of guardianship were in flux at the time, Meyer notes that Mary would “wield more power as mother of the heir, with legal rights of guardianship, than daughter to Lord Grantham, with the estate entailed away from her.” It all depends upon the way in which the estate is entailed. As for Matthew’s will, “if his entail provided for an allowance for Mary, she would probably lose it on remarriage.”

Anna would have been at much greater risk of being assaulted by the upstairs folk.
When the now-infamous rape episode aired in the U.K., it sparked discussion of whether the scene was necessary, to which creator Julian Fellowes responded it was a historical reality. He’s not entirely wrong, but Anna would have been in much more danger of being violated by one of her superiors. Julia Laite, an historian from Birkbeck, University of London, explained that the concept of the “ruined maid” was quite pervasive at the time. Perhaps the most common version of sexual harassment involved “women who were seduced by their masters, convinced into have consensual sex.”

And she would have had a solid case, if she chose to go to the police.
To be fair, it seems that Anna primarily chooses to avoid police involvement because she is fearful of Bates’ reaction. It is interesting to note that if the rape were to be taken to a court of law, she would have a fantastic case. According to Laite, many rape cases were judged based on behavior. Anna would face no scrutiny in this regard, because her beloved position in the Crawley estate would lend her many character witnesses.

Edith and Michael’s marriage scheme makes sense, though she’d be required to become a German citizen.
Men could not divorce women for reason of incurable insanity and women could only divorce their husbands, if they were able to prove they had been excessively beaten. Laite said that it would not have been until the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1937 that things like adultery would be grounds for divorce. Unlike British civil code, German law did allow for divorce on the grounds of incurable insanity, however, it would have required both Michael and Edith to become German citizens, which is a important issue considering the prominence of nationalism at the time.

 

Although the London train ticket wouldn’t be enough to convict Bates, it could have potentially raised a case against him.
Lady and Mrs. Hughes spend quite a bit of time deliberating what they ought to do with the London train ticket found in Bates’ coat pocket, and their reactions are not overly dramatized. They suspect that he is lying about his trip to London because he is responsible for Mr. Green’s mysterious death — he was pushed into the street. Mandler says the key point is that “Bates denied he had been in London that day. So the ticket is prima facie evidence that he is lying — and then this does raise further suspicion.” Laite notes that thought it might not have been enough to convict him, it would have been enough to raise him as a suspect.

Generally speaking, servants are far too close with the folks upstairs.
”The relationship they have with their employers is totally wrong,” historian Jennifer Newby told The Telegraph. “There was one butler who said that even if in a moment of weakness an employer could ask for advice they wouldn’t give it because it could be held against them” — an observation which paints a far different picture from the cavorting we’ve seen across the series.

Also, in real life, they would have been, like, really dirty.
”The servants in the program are far too clean,” Newby said. “The reality would have been a lot more grubby, I don’t think people realize that the servants stank.”

The Tonight Show Today

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I have special feelings for the Tonight Show as when it was filmed in NYC and the host was Johnny Carson -Ed McMahon and Doc Severinsen lived in my hometown of Larchmont and even went to my church. My Dad also looked a lot like Johnny Carson and if someone asked for an autograph as he was walking to work in NYC, he would say “do you think  I am Johnny Carson?” and if they said yes he would sign! Tonight will be the premiere of Jimmy Fallon as host.It is scheduled to make its debut tonight, on Monday, February 17, 2014, following Jay Leno’s second retirement as host ofThe Tonight Show on February 6, and will be the seventh incarnation of the franchise.

The show is to be broadcast from Studio 6B at NBC Studios in New York City, the same studio whereJack Paar hosted The Tonight Show throughout his tenure and where Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show from 1962 to 1972 before moving the show to Burbank. The show is being produced by former Daily Show executive producer Josh Lieb and executive produced by Lorne Michaels. Fallon’s house band on Late Night, The Roots, will serve as The Tonight Show Band, with Questlove serving as  bandleader.Steve  Higgins will follow Fallon to The Tonight Show to serve as Fallon’s announcer and sidekick.

On April 3, 2013, NBC announced that Jay Leno will retire in 2014, with Jimmy Fallon taking over The Tonight Show beginning on February 24, 2014. At Leno’s suggestion, the date was moved forward by one week to February 17, 2014 to use NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics as a springboard for Fallon’s tenure. The date was later moved up a week to February 17, midway through the Olympics.

NBC spent approximately $5 million renovating Studio 6B, where Fallon had been taping Late Night, for The Tonight’s show return to New York City. On September 3, 2013, Late Night moved to Studio 6A, built as an exact replica of Studio 6B. The upgraded 6B is expected to have a new look and infrastructure and will be able to seat 240 people, up from 189.The larger audience also meant NBC could take advantage of a newly enacted New York state tax credit for talk shows that are “filmed before a studio audience of at least 200, as long as they carry a production budget of at least $30 million and have been shot outside New York for at least five seasons.”

The Beatles 50 years later….

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On Feb. 9, 1964, a little band called the Beatles performed for the first time on “Ed Sullivan.” It was a rilly big shew, as Ed used to say, and it’s not even slightly hyperbolic to say that it changed pop culture forever. Half a century later, the effects of that one monumental night are still being felt.

 

And roughly half a century later, on Jan. 27, the Recording Academy hosted “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles” at the Los Angeles Convention Center, making full use of the all-stars in town from the previous night’s Grammy Awards, including surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr themselves. The concert aired on this past Sunday — exactly 50 years to the day, date, and time of the Fab Four’s original “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance — on Sullivan’s old network, CBS.

“We’re not really trying to recreate that night; all we can do is celebrate it,” explained Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich at the start of the historical concert, before a rotating cast of very different A-list artists, all united by their love for the Beatles, took the stage with very different results.

Among the best tributes of the night were the reunited Eurythmics doing “Fool on the Hill,” with Annie Lennox, resplendent in a floor-sweeping bronze ball gown, delivering a theatrical and borderline-unhinged performance; piano soul stylists Alicia Keys and John Legend teaming up for a positively stunning “Let It Be”; Stevie Wonder, perfectionist that he is, running through two attempts at a funky remake of “We Can Work It Out”; George Harrison’s onetime Traveling Wilburys crony Jeff Lynne and Eagles’s Joe Walsh joining George’s son Dhani for a lovely cover of “Something,” while George’s widow Olivia beamed in the audience; and another George tribute, an absolutely incendiary “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” by Joe Walsh and Gary Clark Jr., with the Foo Fighters’s Dave Grohl on drums.

excerpts from article by Lyndsay Parker, Yahoo Music

 

Just Sit Right Back…..

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Russell Johnson, the actor whose genius Professor Roy Hinkley was always one coconut away from inventing a way off “Gilligan’s Island,” has died this week of natural causes. He was 89.

Dawn Wells, who played fellow castaway Mary Ann, said her friend passed away this morning after being in hospice for a short period of time.

“Russell was 100 percent a gentleman,” she told “The Insider.” “A genuine, dear, wonderful man.”

The Professor’s backstory identifies him as a high school science teacher who was born in Cleveland. His principal expertise was as a botanist, whose purpose in joining the ill-fated voyage that stranded the castaways was to write a book to be titled Fun With Ferns. His main function on the show was to devise many ways for the castaways to live more comfortably on the island. Many of his inventions (including a method for recharging the batteries in the ubiquitous radio) utilized coconuts and bamboo, both of which were in plentiful supply. Aside from his proficiency in science, he was also adept and well-versed in law,literature, social sciences, and the arts. Besides a list of degrees from various schools he provides in one episode, little was ever learned about his past and nothing was ever learned about his family. In several episodes there are brief remarks on his past: in the pilot he is described as a research scientist and “well-known scoutmaster”; in another when a big game hunter comes to the Island and asks the Professor what sports he took, the answer is “chess club”; after kissing Ginger for a prolonged period (during filming of a silent movie) he claims to be a “scuba diver”; in another when the castaways try to recreate who killed “Randolph Blake”, the Professor threatens to “…cancel his subscription to the Science Quarterly“.

The Professor was portrayed as the most neutral and level-headed character. He usually displayed more patience with Gilligan than the other castaways, and was often called upon to settle disputes. As a result, he often served as the leader of the castaways whom the others respected because of his great store of knowledge, although the castaways rarely mentioned this. For unexplained reasons—possibly for research purposes in writing his book (although titled Fun with Ferns, ferns may not have been its sole topic)—the Professor brought a large number of books on diverse subjects  on a three hour pleasure-cruise in Hawaii. On many occasions, he conveniently pulls out a book which has exactly the facts needed to fix or explain a particular problem they are having. In several episodes electric power for phonographs or washing machines is generated by employing someone (usually Gilligan) to manually pedal, or turn, a pulley, which the Professor has engineered.

A running joke about the Professor was his ability to build anything from coconuts and bamboo, yet he was somehow unable to create a raft or other means to leave the island. This was parodied in the sitcom Roseanne, when one of the characters playing The Professor stated after they crashed, “This hole on the boat defies all of my advanced knowledge. To fix it would be impossible…now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go create explosive fillings out of sand.”  Also, in “Weird Al” Yankovic‘s song “Isle Thing” (a parody of Tone Lōc‘s “Wild Thing“), he sings: “She said ‘That guy’s a genius’/I shook my head and laughed/’If he’s so fly/then tell me why/he couldn’t build a lousy raft?'”

In an interview with Larry KingBob Denver explained that the Professor simply “had no talent for boat-building.” This is the logical answer, since the island was stated to be 1000 miles from civilization, and an inexpert repair would be risky on such a long journey. Furthermore, in an early episode, “Goodbye Island”, he attempts to do so with a native tree syrup, which proves a disastrous failure that results in the boat being completely destroyed. (Also, earlier in the series, Gilligan and Skipper built a raft in order to sail for help, however it was revealed that the island was near a shark-filled area that made such a journey too dangerous for anything other than an actual boat or rubber raft.)

(excerpts from NY Daily News and Wikipedia)