Some time back I had the pleasure of interviewing Stef Conner regarding her work on reconstructing Sumerian and Babylonian music. Now, she has taken on another project, more modern, so to speak.
The projects concerns the Immortal Bard, William Shakespeare himself, and Stef is taking him into the 21st century. This is what the project is about in detail:
So, what we have here are several ridiculously talented people, pooling their skills to produce music that is classic and contemporary and brand new at the same time. What is not to like here?
But, as Stef has mentioned, this project needs our help, so please sidle over to IndiGoGo and support, every little helps.
You can also find out more about the parties involved here:
Any reason to post about Zeppelins is a good reason and this time the reason is excellent.
Indy Neidell, who host the superb and highly recommendable Great War Youtube Channel (check it out and subscribe) has compiled a host of information on Zeppelins and their use during the First World War and put them into a special episode:
Zeppelins – Majestic and Deadly Airships of WW1
And now, please go and check The Great War Channel out, it is a bit of a time-sink with all those well-researched and interesting videos on there, but hey, what can you do…
2015 really is a catastrophic year for living legends.
Lemmy Kilminster, legendery frontman of Heavy Metal pioneers and pillars of the scene Motörhead has passed away at the age of 70.
According to The Guardian, he had been diagnosed with cancer on the 26th of December and was at home when the Valkyries took him. Lemmy was one of the most recogniseable rock and metal artists of all time. His career spanned five decades, his contribution to music and his influence by sheer weight of personality are things few artists can match these days.
Lemmy, you will be sorely missed but you can play Metal with Christopher Lee in Valhalla now!
Let’s remember this legend by playing his music LOUD!
When I heard that a biography of Gary Gygax, the father of Dungeons & Dragons had been published, I of course rushed to get it. Just for the off chance that you are unaware who Gary Gygax is, as I said, he is the inventor of Dungeons & Dragons, the first tabletop (pen & paper) role playing game.
Thus, he created a genre that would spawn everything from Advanced Dungeons & Dargons, to Star Wars the Role Playing Game, to Magic the Gathering and every computer and online role playing game you have ever played. He set it all in motion, it started in a small house in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Gary Gygax is the godfather of one of the greatest popculture phenomena of the 20th century.
Now for the content of the biography: Empire of Imagination tells the story of Gary’s life and it tells it in a very fitting way: Like an adventure. Every chapter has an intro from a scene of a role playing adventure that reflects the situation Gary is in at the moment. It is just beautiful and sets the mood. The biographical data is deep and broad, I learned plenty about Gary’s life that I had never heard of before, like him being a Jehova’s Witness. I also found the genesis of the first Dungeons & Dragons set fascinating, but I am not going to spoil it for you if you have no idea about the history of role playing games. Let’s just say, even before role playing games, you could be a game nerd and there were plenty around and Gary was one of them.
I guess Michael Witwer took some liberty imagining some of the scenes in the book since some of the information in the book is probably very hard to come by, especially with 40 years of time passing between Gary coming to prominence and the event. It does not matter, though, after all, Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons is about a guy with a highly active imagination, so there can be imagination in the book as well.
The biography is also really engaging, well done, Michael Witwer, you really feel with Gary. It is like you are looking over his shoulder the whole time. You are not a distant observer or historian, you are part of his life. You dive into this biography as if Empire of Imagination was a novel and Gary the protagonist. Every time something good happened to Gary, I cheered inside. I felt warm inside my chest when he got married or when one of his children was born and every time his tumultuous handed him lemons, I felt sad. When Lorraine Williams reared her ugly head and booted Gary out of TSR, I was seething, but like every epic adventure, there is some light at the end, a recovery and it ends with Gary passing on a living legend.
Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons is a book no geek or role player of any sort should miss out on. Get it! It is an excellent read and you owe it to the creator of the genre to read the story of his life. It is also a very motivating tale, because Gary always managed to work himself out of bad situations by his own strength.
So many layers to this book, such an epic life, Gary lived, so many lives he touched…
Oh the high-octane concentrated awesome! Today marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein presenting his Theory of General Relativity to the Prussian Academy of Science, and the Theory has stood the test of time so far. Now, since most of us have only a vague idea what this theory is all about, the Tenth Doctor (Doctor Who? you ask, I guess…) chimes in to explain. Well, David Tennant does, which is just as well.
Watch, listen, learn and enjoy! Science is so much fun…
Today ist the 101st birthday of Golden Age of Hollywood Actress Hedy Lamarr, and I would like to take the opportunity and point your attention to today’s animated Google Doodle:
As you can see, Hedy Lamarr far more than one of the favorite actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She was also an accompolished scientist who contributed significantly to the discovery of principles and to inventions that form the basis of WiFi, sattelite communication and other such areas without which the internet in its current form could not exist.
So please people: If you think of Hedy Lamarr, think of her as the scientist first and as the actress second. Glamour fades, glory in science is forever!
2015 is not a good year for living legends, it seems. Christopher Lee has passed on at the venerable age of 93.
Christopher Lee was one of those actors that do not need an introduction and he has very likely played more iconic roles over a greater period of time than any other actor in living memory, if ever.
Hammer Films‘ Dracula, Saruman, Count Dooku, to just name a few. On top of that, he had his own heavy metal project and was with British Intelligence during World War 2.
Rest in Peace, Sir, your memory will live on, you will be sorely missed. Send my best regards to your friend Peter Cushing.
Let me introduce you to a wonderful little craft from the dawn of the Atompunk Age and the Cold War, the Convair XY-1 Pogo:
The Convyair XFY-1 is another of those fantastic designs which emerged just after the end of the Second Word War and the beginning of the Cold War.
An experimental aircraft, if it would have been adopted for military service, it would have provide first line of airborne defense and reconnaissance capability for ships and convois operating without aircraft carriers, as it could theoretically be launched from any ship, military or civilian that was big enough. To be able to be launched from any ship, the Pogo was designed to be a VTOL aircraft, which explains the strange and memorable shape.
Ultimately, only three Pogos were built in 1954 and only one of them flew before the project was scrapped.
The cancellation had several reasons:
The design was relatively light since it had to be able to be carried by regular freighters without specially reinforced decks. The light airframe proved unstable at higher speeds
Handling and especially landing proved complicated.
Only the most experienced pilots would have been able to operate the Pogo safely, which made the planned one ship – one Pogo unrealistic.
The rapid advancement in jet engine technology and the tremendous speed advantage of jet fighters against the Pogo cancelled out its effectiveness as an interceptor.
So, the Pogo remains a footnote in the anals of aviation, just like Lockeeds parallelly developed VTOL fighter, the Lockheed XFV, which I will feature next.
Luckily, there is still footage around of the Pogo being tested, enjoy!
And these are the general stats of the craft:
Length: 32 ft 3 in (9.8 m)
Wingspan: 27 ft 8 in (8.4 m)
Height: ft in (m)
Wing area: 355 ft² (33 m²)
Empty weight: 11,139 lb (5,060 kg)
Loaded weight: 14,250 lb (6,470 kg)
Useful load: 13,250 lb (6,016 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 16,250 lb (7,370 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Allison YT40-A-14 turboprop engine, 5,100 shp (3,803 kW)
Propellers: 3-bladed contra-rotating propellers
Maximum speed: 474 mph (412 kn, 763 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4,600 m)
Range: ≈500 mi (308 nmi, 805 km)
Service ceiling: 37,500 feet (11,440 m)
Rate of climb: 9,980 ft/min to 20,000 ft (3,045 m/min)
Max. wing loading: 38.1 lb/ft² (186 kg/m²)
Minimum power/mass: 0.34 hp/lb (560 W/kg)
Guns: 4 × 20mm (0.79 in) cannon, or
Rockets: 48 × 2.75 in (70 mm) Mk 4 Folding-Fin Aerial Rockets
Once again, my heart is heavy as I have the passing of another living legend to report:
Sir Terence David John „Terry“ Pratchett, OBE passed away today at the age of 66, far too early.
His work has been an integral part of the literature I enjoy ever since I first read Guards! Guards! back in 1998 in a little house in Chandos Street, Nottingham. I have not missed a single discworld novel since and I mourn not only Terry’s passing but also the witty, social commentary filled fantasy stories that will never be written.
Terry, I hope you met some friends on the other side and were greeted by a cheerful SQUEAK!
It is with a heavy heart I report the death of Leonard Nimoy. A living legend has passed on. We will remember him in our hearts, our minds and our souls.
StarTrek.com is deeply saddened to report the passing of Leonard Nimoy. The legend — an actor, writer, producer, director, poet, host, voiceover artist, photographer, husband, father and grandfather, as well as Star Trek’s beloved Spock — died today at the age of 83 at his home in Los Angeles. Nimoy succumbed to the end stages of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), an illness that resulted from years of smoking and which afflicted him despite having quit smoking three decades ago.