American

  • January 1, 2020

    Ad Astra Per Feminae

    With the 34th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster this past Tuesday, I thought it would be fitting to pay tribute to Christa McAuliffe as the first teacher in space who perished on that fateful day back in 1986. And, I thought it would also be fitting to include Sally Ride, America’s first woman astronaut. Both are Progressive Pioneers who advanced space exploration for generations of future American female astronauts, young women everywhere. Here are their stories: Sharon Christa McAuliffe (A.K.A. Christa) is famously known for being chosen as America’s first teacher in space. Though, she never made it into space due to a tragic accident involving the Space Shuttle Challenger 73 seconds into liftoff on January 28, 1986. Despite the loss of McAuliffe and the other six crewmembers aboard the space craft, which is regarded as a national tragedy, McAuliffe’s life is celebrated and honored all across the country. Schools, scholarships, documentaries, and more have all been named in her honor. She has inspired whole generations of kids since that fateful day to reach for the stars and to achieve their dreams. McAuliffe was born in Boston on September 2, 1948. Her father, Edward Christopher Corrigan was an accountant of Irish descent, and her mother, Grace Mary Corrigan, was a teacher of Lebanese Maronite descent. McAuliffe received a bachelor’s degree in Education from Framingham State College and a master’s degree in Education (supervision & administration) from Bowie State University. She married Stephen J. McAuliffe in 1970, with whom she had two children, Scott and Caroline. She eventually took a teaching job Concord High School (Concord, NH), where she would eventually apply for President Ronald Reagan’s Teacher in Space Project for NASA. Out of 11,000+ applicants, she and teacher Barbara Morgan were the final two chosen in 1985, with McAuliffe earning the top spot. Both McAuliffe and Morgan took a year’s leave of absence to train for the space shuttle mission...
  • October 17, 2019

    Chariot Runner of Digital Music

    Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou, known throughout the world as Vangelis has been dubbed the great composer of Symphonic Electronica. Probably best known for his Academy Award‐winning score for the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire, Vangelis’ music has inspired whole generations of digital artists from musicians to filmmakers and more. In fact, when the score for the sequel to another of Vangelis’ iconic film scores, Blade Runner (1982), came rolling around for Blade Runner 2049 (2017), he was firstly considered for the job. Vangelis declined and the job fell to another great composer of traditional and digital music, Hans Zimmer. Zimmer cited several times that Vangelis’ music would be a huge influence in the sequel’s score. The reason that he is a Progressive Pioneer is that his music not only pioneers symphonic electronica but transcends it to all mediums (film, television, theater, sports, etc.). Born in 1943 in a coastal town in Thessaly Greece, later raised in Athens, Vangelis began composing music since the age of four! However, it is the way that he began composing music which would define his later digital‐electronica aural accomplishments: by experimenting with sounds, such as placing nails and kitchen pans inside their family piano, and with radio interference. He made music from a sea of unique sources ranging from synthesizers, sitars, harps, finger cymbals, orchestral instruments, and choirs to name a few. From there his decades‐long‐spanning career has been an epic adventure of artistic supremacy. Some highlights are: 1963–1974, Vangelis performed in several rock bands, and began scoring music for Greek film and television projects. He was even invited to join the famed progressive rock band YES. During the 1970s–1980s, Vangelis moved to London, England and secured a lucrative record deal with RCA Records. After the release of his seminal work, the album Heaven and Hell,...
  • So it turns out that Kevin Costner was right all along not to try to fake a British accent in the 1991 movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves! In fact, if anyone spoke closer to the way the mythical Robin Hood would have spoken back in those days, it would have been Costner (portraying the titular character) and not the predominantly British cast (with the exception of Morgan Freeman of course who played the Moor Azeem sporting a Persian dialect)! Okay, now before my British friends flame the hell out of me listen to my reasoning on this matter: So last night while watching an episode of Sleepy Hollow I was intrigued by an exchange between Ichabod Crane and one of the modern-day police officers. The officer was trying to insult Crane by saying something that he wasn’t an American because he spoke with a British accent. However, the officer didn’t realize that Crane was transported through time from the American Revolution to modern times (by witchcraft) and that would explain his accent because back then (ca. 1776) American colonists and their British counterparts all pretty much spoke with the same accent. So then my interest was piqued, and I looked up when did American English and British English accents diverge. The answer surprised the hell out of me! It turns out that it weren’t Americans who lost their so-called British accent. It was the British who gained theirs over the last 300 years or so (242 years since the American Revolution)! I couldn’t believe it! I have a degree in English but I don’t recall this being covered in any of my English classes. Please no comments about the quality of American education—let’s just stick to the subject at hand. So anyway, that blew my mind. I’ll post the link to the research here. Now there are a few exceptions to...