Archive for April, 2012

Bram Stoker

Posted: April 21, 2012 in books, cinema, movies
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Abraham Stoker, 8 November 1847 – 20 April 1912

Abraham “Bram” Stoker (8 November 1847 – 20 April 1912) was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel “Dracula”. During his lifetime, he was better known as personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned.


Stoker was born on 8 November 1847 at 15 Marino Crescent, Clontarf, on the northside of Dublin, Ireland. His parents were Abraham Stoker (1799–1876), from Dublin, and Charlotte Mathilda Blake Thornley (1818–1901), who came from Ballyshannon, County Donegal. Stoker was the third of seven children. He graduated with honours in mathematics. He was auditor of the College Historical Society and president of the University Philosophical Society, where his first paper was on “Sensationalism in Fiction and Society”. He became the theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail and also wrote stories, and in 1872 “The Crystal Cup” was published by the London Society, followed by “The Chain of Destiny” in four parts in The Shamrock. In 1876, while a civil servant in Dublin, Stoker wrote a non-fiction book (The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland, published 1879), which remained a standard work .

In 1878 Stoker married Florence Balcombe, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Balcombe of 1 Marino Crescent. She was a celebrated beauty whose former suitor was Oscar Wilde. Stoker had known Wilde from his student days, having proposed him for membership of the university’s Philosophical Society while he was president. The Stokers moved to London, where Stoker became acting manager and then business manager of Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, London, a post he held for 27 years. On 31 December 1879, Bram and Florence’s only child was born, a son whom they christened Irving Noel Thornley Stoker.

The collaboration with Henry Irving was important for Stoker and through him he became involved in London’s high society, where he met James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (to whom he was distantly related). Working for Irving, the most famous actor of his time, and managing one of the most successful theatres in London made Stoker a notable if busy man. He was dedicated to Irving and his memoirs show he idolised him. In London Stoker also met Hall Caine who became one of his closest friends – he dedicated “Dracula” to him.

After suffering a number of strokes, Stoker died at No. 26 St George’s Square on 20 April 1912. Some biographers attribute the cause of death to tertiary syphilis. He was cremated, and his ashes placed in a display urn at Golders Green Crematorium.


Before writing “Dracula”, Stoker spent several years researching European folklore and mythological stories of vampires. “Dracula” is an epistolary novel, written as a collection of realistic, but completely fictional, diary entries, telegrams, letters, ship’s logs, and newspaper clippings, all of which added a level of detailed realism to his story, a skill he developed as a newspaper writer. At the time of its publication, it was considered a “straightforward horror novel” based on imaginary creations of supernatural life.

The original 541-page manuscript of Dracula, believed to have been lost, was found in a barn in northwestern Pennsylvania during the early 1980s. It included the typed manuscript with many corrections, and handwritten on the title page was “THE UN-DEAD.” The author’s name was shown at the bottom as Bram Stoker. Author Robert Latham notes, “the most famous horror novel ever published, its title changed at the last minute.”

“The Un-Dead” was one of Stoker’s original titles for “Dracula”, and up until a few weeks before publication, the manuscript was titled simply The Un-Dead. Stoker’s Notes for “Dracula” show that the name of the count was originally “Count Wampyr”, but while doing research, Stoker became intrigued by the name “Dracula”, after reading William Wilkinson’s book “Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia with Political Observations Relative to Them” (London 1820), which he found in the Whitby Library, and consulted a number of times during visits to Whitby in the 1890s. The name Dracula was the patronym (Drăculea) of the descendants of Vlad II of Wallachia, who took the name “Dracul” after being invested in the Order of the Dragon in 1431. In the Romanian language, the word dracul (Romanian drac “dragon” + -ul “the”) can mean either “the dragon” or, especially in the present day, “the devil”.

Following the publication of “In Search of Dracula” by Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally in 1972, the supposed connections between the historical Transylvanian-born Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia and Bram Stoker’s fictional “Dracula” attracted popular attention. During his main reign (1456–1462), “Vlad the Impaler” is said to have killed from 40,000 to 100,000 European civilians (political rivals, criminals and anyone else he considered “useless to humanity”), mainly by using his favourite method of impaling them on a sharp pole. The main sources dealing with these events are records by Saxon settlers in neighbouring Transylvania, who had frequent clashes with Vlad III. Vlad III is revered as a folk hero by Romanians for driving off the invading Turks. His impaled victims are said to have included as many as 100,000 Ottoman Turks. These numbers are most likely exaggerated.

Vlad the Impaler; also known as Vlad Dracula.

Historically, the name “Dracula” is derived from a secret fraternal order of knights called the Order of the Dragon, founded by Sigismund of Luxembourg (king of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, and Holy Roman Emperor) to uphold Christianity and defend the Empire against the Ottoman Turks. Vlad II Dracul, father of Vlad III, was admitted to the order around 1431 because of his bravery in fighting the Turks. From 1431 onward, Vlad II wore the emblem of the order and later, as ruler of Wallachia, his coinage bore the dragon symbol. The name Dracula means “Son of Dracul”.

The first film adaptation of “Dracula” was released in 1922 and was named “Nosferatu”. It was directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and starred Max Schreck as Count Orlock. Nosferatu was produced while Florence Stoker, Bram Stoker’s widow and literary executrix, was still alive. Represented by the attorneys of the British Incorporated Society of Authors, she eventually sued the filmmakers. Her chief legal complaint was that she had been neither asked for permission for the adaptation nor paid any royalty. The case dragged on for some years, with Mrs. Stoker demanding the destruction of the negative and all prints of the film. The suit was finally resolved in the widow’s favour in July 1925. Some copies of the film survived, however and the film has become well known. The first authorized film version of Dracula did not come about until almost a decade later when Universal Studios released Tod Browning’s “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi.

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Forget Edward and the Twilight Saga… Here are the most famous and dangerous vampires of all time. Grab your crucifix and holy water. You gonna need of them.

1. COUNT ORLOCK – Max Schreck, from Nosferatu, 1922. Directed by F.W. Murnau.

2. DRACULA – Bela Lugosi, from Dracula, 1931. Directed by Tod Browning.

3. DRACULA – Christopher Lee, from Horror of Dracula, 1958. Directed by Terence Fisher.

4. DRACULA – Klaus Kinski, from Nosferatu the Vampyr, 1979. Directed by Werner Herzog.

5. JERRY DANDRIDGE – Chris Sarandon, from Fright Night, 1985. Directed by Tom Holland.

6. DAVID – Kiefer Sutherland, from The Lost Boys, 1987. Directed by Joel Schumacher.

7. DRACULA – Gary Oldman, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

8. LESTAT – Tom Cruise, from Interview with the Vampire, 1994. Directed by Neil Jordan.

9. MAX SCHRECK – Willem Dafoe, from Shadow of the Vampire, 2000. Directed by E. Elias Merhige.

10. ELI – Lina Leandersson, from Let the Right One In, 2008. Directed by Tomas Alfredson.

11. BARNABAS COLLINS – Johnny Depp, from Dark Shadows, 2012. Directed by Tim Burton.

Happy B-Day, Mr. Sulu

Posted: April 20, 2012 in celebrities, news
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George Hosato Takei (born April 20, 1937) is an American actor, best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise in the television series Star Trek. He is a proponent of gay rights and active in state and local politics as well as continuing his acting career. He has won several awards and accolades in his work on human rights and Japanese American relations, including his work with the Japanese American National Museum.

Takei was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Fumiko Emily (née Nakamura) and Takekuma Norman Takei, who worked in real estate. Upon graduation from high school, Takei enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley where he studied architecture. Later he attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received a bachelor of arts in theater in 1960 and a master of arts in theater in 1964. He attended the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-upon-Avon in England, and Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. In Hollywood, he studied acting at the Desilu Workshop. Takei is fluent in English, Japanese, and Spanish. Takei began his career in Hollywood in the late 1950s, at a time when Asian faces were rarely seen on American television and movie screens. His first role was providing voiceover for several characters in the English dub of Japanese monster films such as “Godzilla Raids Again” and “Rodan”.

In 1965, producer Gene Roddenberry cast him as Mr. Sulu in the second Star Trek pilot and eventually the Star Trek television series. Takei has since appeared in numerous TV and film productions, including the first six Star Trek motion pictures, and today he is a regular on the science fiction convention circuit throughout the world. He has also acted and provided voice acting for several science fiction computer games, including Freelancer and numerous Star Trek games.


Hikaru Sulu was born in San Francisco, Earth on 2237. His parents named him after the protagonist of the Japanese novel The Tale of Genji. Sulu entered Starfleet Academy in 2255, and quickly developed an aptitude for Spatial Navigation, as well as fencing, in which he became champion for three years running. Hikaru also took up an extra curricular in botany, finally graduating in 2259. This aspect of his hobbies earned him the nickname, “D’Artagnan” six years later.

However, instead of taking a shipboard assignment, Sulu decided to continue his studies, and as a result of his research and publishing an article about “Experimental Subparticle Physics and Their Application to Warp Drive”, received a promotion to lieutenant, junior grade in the same year. In 2264, Sulu was expecting to be assigned to the USS Aerfen when he received orders to board the USS Enterprise as the ship’s helmsman. Although he requested a transfer, this was refused by Captain James T. Kirk, and following the voyage around the Federation Phalanx Sulu decided to remain aboard anyway.

In 2269, Sulu considered applying for a transfer off the Enterprise because he felt like more of a challenge. Kirk realized this and put through a request that Sulu be promoted to Lieutenant Commander. By the time the refit of the Enterprise was completed, Sulu had been promoted to Lt. Commander.

In late 2289 Commander Sulu was assigned to the USS Excelsior as Executive Officer under Captain Lawrence Styles. Sulu remained Captain of the Excelsior until at least the year 2320. After retiring from Starfleet in the first half of the 24th century, Sulu ran for public office and eventually was elected as President of the United Federation of Planets, serving three terms.

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Any similarity is purely unintentional…

Trivia by Wikipedia: Jack Nicholson’s line, “Heeeere’s Johnny!”, is taken from Ed McMahon’s famous introduction to The Tonight Show, starring Johnny Carson, and was improvised by Nicholson during the filming of Stanley Kubrick “The Shining”. The door that Jack chops through with the axe near the end of the film was a real door. Kubrick had originally shot the scene with a fake door, but Nicholson, who had worked as a volunteer fire marshal, tore it down too quickly. It’s an iconic scene from one of the greatest terror movies ever made.

International Bike Day

Posted: April 19, 2012 in health, news, women
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“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein.

If you don’t know, today 19 april, is the International Bike Day.

In order to promote this mean of transportation and draw attention to the rights of cyclists, April 19th has been established International Bike Day.

The bicycle is an economic and ecological alternative: it is also beneficial to our health at all ages and friendly environment. Both within the city and in rural environments the use of the bicycle is the catalyst for a healthier life in a responsible society.

If you need an incentive to start riding a bike, here are some of them…

Discovery last flight

Posted: April 19, 2012 in news, tecnology
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The space shuttle Discovery took a final leisurely spin over Washington yesterday before flying off into history. The world’s most travelled spaceship hitched a ride on top of a modified Boeing 747 jet as it swooped over the White House and Washington Monument at 1,500ft.

After circling the US capital four times, the shuttle landed at Dulles Airport, a few miles outside Washing- ton DC. Later it will be towed from there to the nearby Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, where it will be on permanent display.

Earlier a crowd of 2,000 had turned up at dawn to see the shuttle take off for the last time from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre.

Discovery, the fleet leader with 39 orbital missions, was launched on August 30, 1984 and become the most used shuttle in Nasa’s fleet, famously taking the Hubble Telescope into space in 1990. It is the first of three remaining shuttles to head to a museum. Enterprise, the prototype shuttle, and Endeavour will make their final journeys later this year.

Washington had also raised concerns about the cost of maintaining the ageing fleet. But the decision means that the US no longer has the means of putting astronauts in orbit.


Space Shuttle Discovery (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-103) is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States, and was operational from its maiden flight, STS-41-D on August 30, 1984, until its final landing during STS-133 on March 9, 2011. Discovery has flown more than any other spacecraft having completed 39 successful missions in over 27 years of service.

Discovery rollout ceremony in October 1983

In 1984, Discovery became the third operational orbiter following Columbia and Challenger, and made its final touchdown at Kennedy Space Center on March 9, 2011 at 10:57:17 CST, having spent a cumulative total of one full year (365 days) in space. Discovery has performed both research and International Space Station (ISS) assembly missions. Discovery also flew the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. Discovery was the first operational shuttle to be retired, followed by Endeavour and Atlantis.

Read more about the Space Shuttle Discovery on Wikipedia.