Piper Laurie is 87 today, and, per her Wikipedia page, still acting; she had a role in the 2018 film White Boy Rick as the grandmother of a teenaged FBI informant, not quite an inversion of her 1950 role as Spring Byington’s daughter. (Her brother was played by Ronald Reagan, whom Laurie dated briefly.)
Laurie was nominated for three Academy Awards: as Fast Eddie’s ill-fated girlfriend in The Hustler, as the estranged mother of a deaf woman in Children of a Lesser God, and the pious-to-a-fault mother of a girl with telekinetic powers in Carrie. Here, she discusses the latter role:
If all those roles seem a tad off plumb, you need to go binge-watch the original Twin Peaks, in which she played Catherine Martell, mostly-estranged husband of a lumberjack; she runs a sawmill, and there’s a plot to burn that mill down.
With those words, interior designer Kirstie Alley became Lt. Saavik on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, arguably the best of the Trek films with the, um, original cast. And I figure that after dealing with intergalactic horndog James T. Kirk, Beantown horndog Sam Malone must have been a cinch.
Come to think of it, how did our beloved Backseat Becky deal with Sam?
In 1999, Zöe Salmon was named Miss Northern Ireland; she was the last winner under the old rules, in which she’d go on to the Miss United Kingdom competition. (Starting in 2000, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales send representatives to Miss World, and the one who places highest is given the Miss United Kingdom title. I never could figure out these beauty pageants.) She has a law degree from Queen’s University in Belfast, so naturally she wound up as a host on a kids’ show.
Salmon served as a presenter on Blue Peter for three and a half years, departing in mid-2008. In the decade since, she’s appeared on a dizzying variety of television programs, including Al Murray’s Compete for the Meat, a 2011 game show on the Dave network in which contestants compete for, well, meat.
And here, she gears up for a dip into a not-even-slightly-warm pool:
I am told that these were outtakes from Blue Peter. Wow.
Carrie Ann Inaba was one of the original Fly Girls on the In Living Color series, appearing in the first three seasons. (Which means that for one season she was dancing alongside Jennifer Lopez, but let that pass.) This was the first place we saw her, but we might have heard her before that, if we were Japanese record buyers, which, alas, we aren’t. She recorded a handful of singles in the late 1980s, the most popular of which was “Party Girl,” before returning to the States.
Inaba and Diane Mizola played twin sisters Fook Yu and Fook Mi (subtle!) in Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002). She was the lead choreographer for the Miss America pageant for five years. And as of this week, she’s a permanent member of the panel on the CBS series The Talk:
I have always assumed that, in this country anyway, the fawning over a New Year’s baby serves mostly as consolation for not having a December birth and the personal exemption for the whole previous year. This may or may not be a fluke of our tax system. I am pretty sure, however, that no one gets anything for being born on the second of January.
With that in mind, say hello to Yoon Se-ah, born 2 January 1978 in South Korea, a working actor for the last 14 years or so, doing lots of television and the occasional film. These aren’t exactly prestige productions, I’m guessing: one’s expectations for a film called Funny Neighbors (2011) or a TV series with the title The King of Head-Butts (2006) tend to be on the modest side.
She is, as it turns out, fun to watch. From early 2018, a scene from the TV series Good Witch:
“Hello, Fourteenth District. You’ve just elected a callow youth to the House of Representatives. How do you feel?”
I suspect they feel just fine. If nothing else, people will now know the district exists, because said Representative has a knack for gathering headlines:
I doubt Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ever actually said that, but I have no doubt she’s capable of coming up with stuff on that level; her ability to troll the press is second only to that of Individual-1. And while I generally can’t abide her politics, I have yet to find a reason to find her dislikable. Maybe that’s just me.
If at times our relationship with Turkey seems a bit muddled, at least some of it has to do with our traditional American insularlty: often, we can’t be bothered to find out what’s happening on the street. I didn’t do such a hot job of it when I was actually there, though I can pass off “security” as a reasonable excuse.
I wasn’t there when Makbule Hande Özyener was born in 1973. (Got there about 14 months later.) Of course, I had no way of knowing that she was destined to be a pop star. In 2000 she released her first album, Senden İbaret, from which “Yalanın Batsın” (“you lie down”) was the lead single, heard here in a clip from a TV show:
Senden İbaret moved about three-quarter of a million copies, and Hande Yener, her newly shortened name, was on her way. She continued to make serious chart noise until about 2007, when she abruptly turned to purely electronic sounds. Perhaps anticipating the response, she titled her 2007 album Nasıl Delirdim? “When did I go crazy,” indeed.
Some received the new style well; others turned on Yener after singer Serdar Ortaç somehow incurred her wrath. Said Yener:
“I’m not making music only for commercial purposes and I don’t make a music that can’t be understood. Every time one of his albums are released, he keeps talking about me in his interviews. I don’t want to be compared to those who make ‘grocery music’.”
This sounded even more pretentious than it was, and Ortaç shot back:
“If I’m making grocery music I’m proud of it. Grocery is a music genre that appeals to every corner of the society.”
The feud eventually played itself out, and after one more album of electronica to fulfill her record contract, she signed with another label, only to find herself at odds with the label’s management. Lawsuits ensued.
And Hande Yener’s life is still turbulent; now considered a gay icon, and a friend, or perhaps an enemy, of the ruling AKP party, her image now seems protean. If you say this sounds kind of like Madonna, she’ll probably smile.
The current single, her first in English, is called “Love Always Wins.”
Sounds a little Madonnaesque, now that I think about it.
Agnes Milowka would have been thirty-seven tomorrow.
Born in Poland in 1981, she wound up with several university degrees, although the one perhaps most pertinent was her 2007 degree in Maritime Archaeology from Flinders University in South Australia. Underwater photography was a specialty, although she might have told you that getting there is more than half the fun. National Geographic once brought her to the Bahamas, where she served as an underwater grip and as a photographer.
Here, she tackles a cave in north Florida:
James Cameron was the executive producer for Sanctum, which opened the first week of February 2011, and which contains this scene:
While exploring the entrance to the new system, Judes (Allison Cratchley) experiences a problem with her air tank hose. She loses use of her air mask forcing Frank (Richard Rosburgh) to buddy breathe. After a few exchanges, Judes panics and tries to keep the mask on, but Frank forces the mask off of her knowing he will not have enough air otherwise to make it back to the team.
Katarina Kresal is an ex-politician from Slovenia, born in 1973 in Ljubljana. She completed her law degree in 1996 and hung out her shingle in 2003 as part of the law firm of Miro Senica, with offices in Ljubljana and, inevitably in the EU, in Brussels. (She and Senica have since wed.)
In 2007, Kresal became the head of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia party, which at the time was suffering severe losses in national elections, having lost the plurality it had held for over a decade. In 2008, the party won only five of 90 seats, but did join the governing coalition, and Kresal became the Minister of the Interior.
In 2011, scandal struck: the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption found some questionable deal-making regarding the new headquarters of the National Bureau of Investigation. Kresal, while admitting nothing, resigned from her seat in the Assembly, and subsequently left LDS party leadership. The next year, she founded the European Centre for Dispute Resolution, mediators and/or arbitrators for hire.
Judging from this clip from an LDS convention, she also plays piano.
In the summer of 1964, the peak of the British Invasion, there was still a place on the American charts for non-white non-English non-boys, and into that place, as smoothly as could be, slid Nancy Wilson, who made it to #11 with “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am.” It was a jazzier piece than its florid arrangement might have let you think; “I wish I were an artist,” she sings, and you think, “Oh, honey, you don’t have to worry about that.”
Her last album, recorded in 2006 under the auspices of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh, was called Turned to Blue. This was the last track:
Brenda Lee’s first record, in 1956, was a cover of the Hank Williams and/or Moon Mullican standard “Jambalaya”:
The label on Decca 30050 bills her as “Little” Brenda Lee, and in parentheses: “9 Years Old.” Um, no. She was already 11 when this track was cut.
Then again, they say that a lack of height contributes to the appearance of youth, and Brenda Mae Tarpley, born on this date in 1944, never climbed above about four foot nine. In 1957, she cut a tune called “Dynamite,” and she was Little Miss Dynamite thereafter. And this being December, a radio station near you is playing this 1958 recording:
To this day, this site gets visits from people wanting an explanation of “the new old-fashioned way.”
And a 1966 single of hers got an unexpected shout-out in 1973 — in a Dutch progressive-rock number, no less — and remains part of her set list to this day, her 74th birthday.
Brenda Lee has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. She is the only woman so honored.
Now and then, I go through the work box and try to organize the 8300 or so tracks located thereupon, and occasionally this effort produces a question. This time it was “How the hell did I get so many Ingrid Michaelson songs?” They show up in the iTunes “Purchased” folder, so I must have bought them at some point. So I decided I should look up the lady in question, just to see if I could figure out why. I did learn that she has a degree in theater from Binghamton University, and sang with the school’s a cappella group. And she has two RIAA-certified platinum singles despite never charting higher than #37 on the Billboard Hot 100.
This latter garment was issued in 2016 to promote a single:
Which I didn’t have, so I guess I’ll have to go buy it.
It’s not that we’ve never written about an Indonesian pop star before. In fact, we have; but it’s not easy to climb onto the radar here, awash as we are in pop stars from all over the place.
Sheryl Sheinafia Tjokro was born on this date in 1996, and was by all accounts a fairly accomplished musician in her teens. Blessed with an abundance of Teh Cute, she found herself in demand for TV and film; her most recent acting role was in The Underdogs (2017), a tale of “4 friends who tried to become famous by being Youtubers.” Like that ever works.
Perhaps the high point in Sheryl Sheinafia’s life up to now was meeting John Mayer:
And I am quite fond of her 2017 single “Sweet Talk,” the video for which looks for all the world like they shot it on a smartphone:
One of the more bearable aspects of Twitter is the opportunity to get exposed to a wide range of music. I don’t recall the context, but a chap I’d known from the BBS days — we’re talking 25-30 years or so — sent me a link to this:
Intrigued, I went looking for more, and learned about Cindi Mayweather, created as a fembot, who exceeds the technical specifications by falling in love with a human — the punishment for which is “immediate disassembly.” I knew little or nothing about Janelle Monáe, but I figured, if she could engage at this level of world-building, she’s one up on about 95 percent of popular music. Maybe more.
“The Archandroid, Cindi, is the mediator, between the mind and the hand. She’s the mediator between the haves and the have-nots, the oppressed and the oppressor. She’s like the Archangel in the Bible, and what Neo represents to the Matrix.”
Janelle Monáe is thirty-three today, and she’s been singing for almost the whole time:
On the 6th of December, she will be presented with the Trailblazer Award at the annual Women in Music event.
English actress Samantha Bond, fifty-seven today, these days is perhaps best known for portraying Lady Rosamund Painswick, sister to Lord Grantham on Downton Abbey, but she’s had a remarkably diverse career on the British stage, and some of us remember her as Miss Moneypenny of MI6 from the days when Pierce Brosnan was James Bond (no relation).
Some of her thoughts on wrapping up Downton Abbey:
To be honest, it’s been mostly a matter of logistics that has kept us from working together until now. We’ve got two teenagers, and although we had proper child care until they were about 10, since then we’ve tried for only one of us to be in the theater at a given time. Otherwise there’s no one at home.
They did, however, appear together in a West End revival of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband in 2011. And as to why she didn’t continue as Miss Moneypenny:
It’s not that I didn’t want to do it with Daniel [Craig], but I felt when I was first offered the job that I would play the role with Pierce [Brosnan], and that was that. It’s a funny thing: Moneypenny was sort of a double-edged sword. It finished Lois Maxwell’s career, and I didn’t want to be that person however many years on.
And the next James Bond film turned out to be Casino Royale, in which Moneypenny does not appear at all.
Few actors inhabit a character the way Angela Bassett does; whether she’s playing Betty Shabazz or Tina Turner, you get up from your theater seat thinking that you’ve just seen an exceptionally well-researched documentary. At sixty, she’s at the top of her game; the remarkable thing is that she’s been there since her twenties.
In three seasons of American Horror Story, she played three wildly disparate characters. In our third photo, she’s Desiree Dupre.
Most recently, she was Queen Ramonda in Black Panther. In an interview around the premiere date, she made a few observations about the production:
That Jamaican lad from How Stella Got Her Groove Back would be about forty now. I’d like to imagine that they’re still together after all these years.
Meet Emma Too, who once upon a time was a hairdresser in Nairobi despite a degree in architecture. In the middle 1990s she was “discovered” and was named the lead model for African Heritage; in 1998 she was a contender for Face of Africa, and signed with Elite Models in the USA.
“When I was in South Africa,” she told ModernGhana in 2008, “I was continually being chatted up by petrol station attendants, cleaners, construction workers; so by the time I got home, I had been hit by so many guys I didn’t want to go out with.”
“‘Single for life’ isn’t a bad idea at all, just get heavily sedated during the bank holidays, awaken when it’s all over & you’ll be totally well rested and ready to face life’s daily challenges just like everyone else.”
One can write about only so many TV hosts before things start to get repetitive. So this time we’re looking at an actual print journalist, Carolina Neurath, business writer for Svenska Dagbladet (Swedish Daily News) in Stockholm, who turned 33 today; she’s married and has one child.
Like many a print journalist, she’s tried her hand at fiction:
She’s apparently not venturing far from the door to her wheelhouse: Speedblind is about a young female finance journalist who attempts to uncover the business of shady financiers.
Oh, and that Stormtrooper up there? In 2014, a band of not even rebellious Swedes made a 110-minute fan film called Star Wars: Threads of Destiny. Neurath, billed second, played Princess Arianna Ad’lah. The timeline is somewhere after Return of the Jedi. The whole film is on YouTube, albeit scrunched-up badly. But here’s a trailer:
The production reflects, among other things, the production cost, which was somewhere around $6,000.
Ireland’s TV3 is no more, having been acquired by Virgin Media Television, which despite its name is not a significant part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin empire. Rebranded as Virgin Media One — Two and Three also exist — the network combined its Saturday AM and Sunday AM series into Weekend AM, presented by Anna Daly, who at one time was TV3’s marketing manager.
A fashion feature from this fall:
And, inevitably, a commercial:
Daly, 42 or 43 — sources differ — is married with three children.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, now streaming on Netflix, is about as far as you can get from that staple of ABC’s TGIF, Sabrina the Teenage Witch; the character names, as before, are straight out of Archie Comics, but the plot complications are right up there with the sulfurous years of Buffy.
Which is fine with star Kiernan Shipka, nineteen today, who’s already spent much of her life as a character nearing the edge, as Don and Betty Draper’s daughter Sally in Mad Men. I mean, how bad can creatures from the very bowels of Hell be, after years of dealing with the ad biz?
There’s a second season (at least) of Sabrina to come. Awaiting release is the deadly-serious film The Silence, based on Tim Lebbon’s novel about an invading species that hunts down whatever creatures they can hear.
Scary stuff evidently doesn’t get to Kiernan Shipka.
Well, no, they aren’t, not really. The BBC satirical program — wait a minute, this is British — programme Dead Ringers has often made fun of BBC news presenter Fiona Bruce, and that’s one of the milder things they’ve said about her. She’s been with the Beeb since 1989, when she was hired on as a researcher at Panorama.
This last shot is from BBC’s annual Children in Need telethon, in which Bruce is a regular performer. An example:
This got her a walk-on in an actual stage revival of Chicago. It helps that Fiona is, as Jeremy Clarkson, “agonisingly gorgeous.”
Nineteen sixty-four, and we’re watching Ready Steady Go:
“Shout,” the single, was credited to Lulu and the Luvvers, and thereafter no one referred to the wee Scottish lass as Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie. (Even “wee” was at least slightly arguable; I remember at least one set of liner notes claiming she was 5’2″ or so, which was a stretch by an inch, or perhaps by 2.54 cm.) The Luvvers were an actual band, but they had little reason to go on being an actual band after Lulu went solo and changed labels.
This last photo dates from March. March 2018. (Today, she turns 70.)
“Faith in You” was the lead single from Making Life Rhyme, the 2015 album that brought Lulu back to Decca Records, fifty-one years after her debut.
Roger Green, whose sense of chronology is even more highly developed than mine, has a bio and a bunch of song links in this week’s Music Throwback.
But is she a liar? Probably not; Mona Vanderwaal, rotten to the core, is still just a fictional character, and I have no reason to think Janel Parrish, who played Mona in the original Pretty Little Liars series, has anything in common with her,
Okay, she can freaking sing.
Oh, and she’s five foot two, and as of today thirty years old. And yes, she can freaking sing without Mona:
Two years ago, she met a chemical engineer named Chris Long. They were engaged a year later, and got married this past September.
Simply put: “Brooke Burke rules.” The cameras all agree: they adore her. And at forty-seven, she takes them in stride. We don’t remember where we saw her, but we know we saw her somewhere. (For instance: she won Season Seven of Dancing with the Stars, and co-hosted the series for several years after.) Even her book seems designed for maximum exposure:
See what I mean?
For a while, she hyphenated her last name, becoming Brooke Burke-Charvet, but she and David Charvet split earlier this year. She has four children, two by Charvet, two by her previous husband.
Selma Blair, picture of youth. I first saw her as Cecile in Cruel Intentions, circa 1999; I realize that this was 19 years ago, and she was already 27 then, but the numbers inside my head don’t add up.
There is no cure for MS, but treatment can help manage symptoms. This may include painkillers or drugs to reduce nerve inflammation, physical therapy to ease muscle stiffness, or medication to slow the condition’s progression.
Then again, life itself might well be an incurable disease of sorts.
English singer Kathy Kirby, born on this date in 1938, gave off a distinct air of “What if Marilyn Monroe could actually sing?” Same shock of wheaten hair, same pin-up curvature, but seriously high-quality pipes, sort of a Brit version of Doris Day. In fact, Kathy’s biggest hit, in late 1963, was a Doris Day cover, an amped-up version of “Secret Love”:
“Secret Love” made #4 on the official UK charts, helped by pristine Peter Sullivan production and guitar work by Jimmy Page. In 1965, she took “I Belong” to the Eurovision Song Contest, where it came second to the entry from Luxembourg; after that, the hits dried uo, but she continued as a television personality.
None of Kathy’s hits made it across the Atlantic, but her late-1965 flop “The Way of Love” got some American airplay and landed at #88 in Billboard:
The last time we looked in on Romanian pop singer Inna, she was haunted by a Photoshop dialog box. But that was seven years ago; now, at 32, she’s probably Romania’s biggest pop star, and she’s added a ™ to her name. In ten years she’s released five albums, none of which made much noise in the States.
That fifth album, Nirvana, came out last year. This was the first single therefrom (not including those two 15-second ad slots):
Not especially cerebral, but you can definitely dance to it.
Tisha Campbell-Martin was born here in the 405 exactly fifty years ago today, grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and has been working for forty-four of those fifty years, starting with a one-shot appearance on Big Blue Marble on PBS when she was six. She’s been busy ever since.
For five years she played Gina on the series Martin; she wound up suing Martin Lawrence over sexual-harrassment matters. The outcome was remarkable:
She returned to the series March 21  but only, say sources, after wresting an unusual agreement from Martin’s producers: Whenever Campbell was taping scenes, Martin would not be allowed on the set of his own show. It was, perhaps, a Hollywood first — and definitely a challenge to the show’s writers and editors, who, for Martin’s final, one-hour episode that aired May 1, had to make the pair seem like a loving couple though they never stood in the same room.
Tisha made a few records in the 1990s, but dropped out of the music scene, only to return in 2015 with the single “Steel Here.”
The back-story: at the age of three, she was sexually assaulted; the predator subsequently wrote her a letter of apology. In the video, the words to that letter are written across her body. This is, if you ask me, forgiveness at an epic level.
Annika Sörenstam is actually 48 today. And retired. She decided on the life of a professional golfer in 1992, and two years later joined the LPGA tour; by the time she put down her wedge in 2008, she’d won 72 LPGA events, including ten majors, and had pocketed over $20 million in prize money.
That score card she’s holding in the center photo is unlike any other in the history of the LPGA: it’s the standard form, all right, but she’s shot 13 under par (par was 72) for the round. A fifty-nine. No one had done it before in the LPGA; no one has done it since.
How fierce was the competition that weekend? For the tournament, she shot 65-59-69-68=261 — and won by only two strokes.