Sunday, July 24, 2016

Por ti seré...


July 24, 1802 - December 5, 1870
On July 24, 1802 Alexandre Dumas was born in Villers-Cotterêts, in the Picardy region of northern France. After moving to Paris at age 20, he began to write articles and stage plays to supplement his income. He was good enough at this to quickly move to writing as his full-time occupation.

Dumas became one of the most prolific and successful authors of the 20th century. A consummate storyteller, his most popular novels have never gone out of print, and his fiction remains popular with Hollywood as well.

Like many young boys in the late '50s, my first exposure to Dumas came by way of Classics Illustrated comic books. I was a HUGE fan of The Three Musketeers comic, and as soon as I was able I moved on to the actual novel, which I read several times.

While teaching in Topeka, Kansas I also taught Dumas's novel The Count of Monte Cristo in my sophomore English classes.

"Fess up. You did a LOT of sword-fighting as a kid, didn't you?"

Of course I did...wearing a bath towel for a cape, too...

Heroes Return

Recovery by the U.S.S. Hornet

On July 24, 1969 the Apollo 11 astronauts returned from their historic mission to the moon, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean and being recovered by the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.

After their splashdown and quarantine, there were numerous celebrations from coast
to coast. My friends and I watched much of this on TV, as we had the launch and the landing. It had been an exciting week.

"Those were the days, eh?"

They really were...really unfortunate that we've lost that pioneering spirit...

True Fan

From the droll comic strip FoxTrot, by Bill Amend, which you should read every Sunday.

Until Next Time...

As a general rule, I'm a fan of movies about the early stars of rock and roll. Despite their flaws, I greatly enjoyed the biopics about Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, and Elvis Presley.

Original 1987 "one sheet" poster
On July 24, 1987 one of the better examples of the genre was released. La Bamba is the cinematic account of the brief life of singer-songwriter Ritchie Valens, who died in the famous plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa in 1959 that also claimed the lives of Holly and The Big Bopper as well as the pilot, Roger Peterson.

Just 17 years old at the time of his death, Valens had only been recording his Chicano rock for a few months but had already had several hits, especially "La Bamba," which Valens had adapted from a well-known Mexican folk song.

His performance as Valens launched Lou Diamond Phillips on a successful career in films, television, and live theatre.

Part of the success of the film was due to the participation by the excellent East Los Angeles rock band Los Lobos, who performed all of the Valens songs used in the film. Their version of "La Bamba" reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart on August 29 and held that position for three weeks.

Today's send-off is Los Lobos's music video for the film, which won an MTV Video Music Award in 1988.

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