Monday, 3 April 2017

A Bit of History and Pop Culture Books

I'll start this post off with my normal look at the history of the Americas via a book I bought a couple of weeks back, that being Treasures of Use and Beauty, focusing on the sections entitled Great Historical Events and Miscellaneous Letters from Eminent Persons. After that it's Pop Culture, music and movie books that the missus and I have gathered over time.

In my last post, I covered 1519 to 1525, continuing to focus on the Spanish conquests of America, with special interest shown about Cortez and Montezuma. (Cortez = not a very nice guy). Today we move on to 1525 and onwards.

"Pizarro and the Conquest of Peru
1525. Francisco Pizarro sailed from Panama to attempt the conquest of Peru. Ponce de Leon commissioned by Charles V. proceeds to Mexico to inquire into the conduct of Cortez, and if guilty of treason to arrest and bring him to Spain...
Ponce de Leon dies without executing his mission.
1525. Sebastian Cabot sails along the coast of Brazil, enters the Rio de La Plata and follows it up 120 leagues, finding numerous inhabitants.
1526. Pizarro explores Peru, the inhabitants were decently clad and cultivated the soil; gold and silver were abundant and were used by the natives as materials for vessels of common use.
1528. Pizarro returns to Spain and meets Cortez.
1531. Pizarro with three small vessels and 180 men sails upon an expedition to conquer Peru.
1532. Pizarro founds the first colony in Peru, naming it St. Michael. Athualapa and Huascar, sons of the former of Peru being at war with each other for the supremacy, did not disturb Pizarro, but each made overtures to him, but he preferred to remain neutral until he should learn the strength of each. Under professions of friendship, Pizarro marched to Caxamalca, the seat of Athualapa, who receives him with much display, offering him many valuable presents. Inflamed by the sight of so much gold Pizarro and his soldiers resolve to imprison Athualapa in his own capital and take possession of the country. Father Vincent Valverde, a Spanish priest with a crucifix in his hand, demanded submission to the Catholic religion and the King of Spain; refusing to accept the Spanish religion upon such authority, Pizarro and his soldiers rushed upon Athualapa, taking him prisoner and destroying thousands of his subjects. Pizarro proceeded to plunder the city, the booty exceeding his greatest expectations. The captive monarch, perceiving their thirst for gold offered Pizarro an incredible ransom for his liberty. He proposed to fill the room in which he was imprisoned (which was 22 feet long and by 16 feet wide) with golden vessels as high as he could reach. Pizarro agrees to the terms and the golden treasures pour in for the ransom of the King...
1533. Pizarro melted the gold and divided it among his soldiers according to their rank. So vast was the quantity, that after reserving one-fifth for the crown, there remained over $1,500,000 to be divided between Pizarro and his soldiers....
Pizarro on pretense, refuses to release Athualapa, who submits to baptism by Father Valverde, and is condemned to be strangled.
1533. Pizarro's success inflames the minds of the Spaniards in Panama and Nicaragua, who rush in, in great numbers.
1534. King Charles extends dominion of Pizarro and confers great power upon him.
James Cartier circumnavigated the island of Newfoundland and soon after he sailed into the St. Lawrence; September 5. - He returned to France.
Havana destroyed by the French."
(Ed Note. I find it informative and, at the same time, very depressing reading this. Very dishonourable treatment of people to steal their wealth from them.)
Miscellaneous Letters from Eminent Persons. - The letter below is from Lady Jane Grey to her father three days before her execution.
Although it has pleased God to hasten my death by you, by whom my life should rather have been lengthened, yet I can so patiently take it, that I yield to God more hearty thanks for shortening my woeful days, than if all the world had been given into my possession, with life lengthened at my own will.
Although perhaps it may seem woeful, yet there is nothing which can to me be more welcome, than from this vale of misery to aspire to that heavenly throne of all joy and pleasure with Christ my Saviour, in whose steadfast faith (if it may be lawful for the daughter so to write to the father) the Lord that hath hitherto strengthened you, so continue to keep you, that at the last we may meet in heaven, with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
I am,
Your obedient daughter till death,
Jane Dudley"
(Historical Note - Jane and her husband were both charged with high treason and their trial took place 13 Nov 1553. Two of Dudley's brothers and Thomas Cranmer were also charged. They were found guilty and sentenced to death. Her life was originally to be spared, but the Protestant rebellion, in which her father and two brothers joined, sealed her fate and she was executed 12 Feb  1554 and her father was executed 11 days later. I find this letter very poignant.)
Now on to something a bit more cheerful -
Pop Culture Books
I readily admit that the missus and I love watching TV and listening to music. We like to check who is starring in TV shows and movies and finding out about their careers and even their personal lives to some extent. That also applies to music; where songs came from, the past and present careers of various musicians, all that sort of thing. To that end, we've collected a few books that sometimes provide us background information on movies, actors/ actresses, TV shows, music, etc. They also look nice on our book shelves. :) So here are a few of our possessions if they might interest you.
1. The Virgin Film Yearbook, Volume 7. This is one of the books that Jo brought from England with her when she moved to Canada to be my wife. It contains 'everything you could ever want to know about the films and movie faces of 1987 - 88.' This includes films of the year, such as The Big Easy, Empire of the Sun, etc.; Turkeys of the Year, such as Hearts of Fire, Jaws the Revenge, etc.; Awards; The US Year; The UK Year; Faces of the Year - Ellen Barkin, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, etc.
2. Academy Award Winners.  This is another of Jo's books. It was published in 1986 and edited by Ronald Bergen, Graham Fuller and David Malcolm. It provides a breakdown of all the award winners for each year from the beginning, 1927/8 to the present (of course at the time of publication) 1985. So who were the winners in this last year?
Best Picture - Out of Africa
Best Actor - William Hurt for Kiss of the Spider Woman
Best Actress - Geraldine Page for The Trip to Bountiful
Best Supporting Actor - Don Ameche for Cocoon
Best Supporting Actress - Anjelica Huston for Prizzi's Honor
Best Director - Sydney Pollack for Out of Africa.
(Remember those?)
3. The Movies of the Eighties. Another of Jo's books, this was released in 1990 and edited by Ron Base and David Haslam. As it says on the back -
"Now the first full-length account of the most exciting decade on film since the thirties and forties."
It contains behind the scenes interviews with stars like Tom Cruise, Kevin Costner, Bill Murray, Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, etc. Excellent stuff.
4. The Ninth Virgin Film Guide. If you want to know anything about movies from the 1930's to the present (in this case the year 2000), this is the book for you. The information is drawn from the constantly updated database of TV Guide Online and it contains in-depth articles on every key international film, from the 1930's to the present.
The next two books are a couple of table top type books that I got for Jo as Christmas presents a few years back.
5. 501 Must-See Movies. Published in 2004, the book is divided into 10 genres, with fifty-one films per genre appearing in chronological order in each category. There is a write-up on each movie and details of any awards they received. One of those books you can argue over when your favourites aren't on the list.
6. 501 Movie Stars. Published in 2007, this book is a comprehensive guide to the brightest lights in cinema history, from Marilyn Monroe to Meryl Streep, from Charlie Chaplin to Clint Eastwood. An interesting book for the movie fan.
7. Guinness World Records - British Hit Singles (14th Edition). This is another book that Jo brought with her and I can see why. It's well-thumbed and filled with notes she's written as she's reviewed it. The first edition was published in 1977 and this 14th in 2000. It contains so much excellent information -
Chart History - Top 10 Record-Breaking Facts, The 886 Number One Acts, Top of the Pops Top 40, etc.
The Hit Singles: A-Z by Artist - All the acts who have ever charted are listed alphabetically
The Hit Singles: A- Z by Song Title - A full index of all the 25,000 - plus singles listed alphabetically
Plus Celebrity music fans choose their first, their favourites and the single most likely to drive them insane.
One Christmas I thought I'd see if there was an updated book and I found that the Guinness book had been purchased by Virgin and they had published a book in 2010.
7. Virgin Books Hit Singles Volume 2 - Complete UK Chart Data from 1952 - 2010. A very similar format with Singles by Artist and Singles listing by Title. This book hasn't been quite so well-thumbed as the first, but then again, we now also have the Internet to search for our information. :)
Finally, and I almost forgot this book, I was searching for something different that I could buy for Jo for this past Christmas. I'd found books on her favourite Radio show, The Archers in past years. I thought I might be able to find something dealing with BBC Radio 2's history. And lo and behold, this book above popped up during my searches. The book is BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs, 70 Years of Castaways by Sean Magee. This is a show that Jo has told me about, where celebrities have come on the show and listed the eight records, one book and a luxury that they would bring if they were stranded on the mythical desert island. The show started in January 1942 when then host Roy Plomley interviewed comedian Vic Oliver. This book was published in 2012 on the seventieth birthday of the show. The last entry in the book belongs to Sir David Attenborough, naturalist and broadcaster with is selections on 29 January 2012.
Music chosen -
Pajaro Campana - The Bell Bird
Schubert - Impromptu no. 1 in F minor performed by soloist Imogen Cooper
Handel - And the Glory of the Lord (from the Messiah)
Lyre bird 'I would like a reminder of the richness of the natural world
J.S. Bach - Goldberg Variations, no. 3
Legong - Gamelan orchestra
Ziehrer - Wiener Burger Waltz
Mozart - Soava sia il vento (from Cosi fan tutte)
His book - Shifts and Expedients of Camp Life and Travel by W.B. Lord
His luxury item - a Piano.
An interesting book and interesting observations by the writer and the persons who provided their thoughts. What would you bring?

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