the war between the states

The Gulf War was a war from 1990 to 1991 between the United States and Iraq. American pilots bombed an Iraqi convoy. Many US media declined to publish the photograph above. War is often romanticized in media. In reality, it is brutal. Here’s a thread where people have commented with their experiences in war or a relative’s experiences. (Thread)

Affable Stoner Jonathan Harker

Some time ago I commented that Keanu Reeves’ Jonathan Harker seemed perpetually stoned, and someone commented that, given the medicine of the time, that was entirely possible.  So here is this story.

***

After the accident, Jonathan feared he would never have use of his left leg again.  He had panicked too soon, it turned out- the feeling and the use came back, but at the price of great pain whenever he put pressure on the limb.  Mina wept to see him suffer, and because he did not want to see her weep at least as much as for his own seek, he sought out treatment from the best doctors he could find.  Laudanum was out of the question (one simply didn’t drink at work) as was morphine (Jonathan had a terrible fear of anything puncturing his skin), but at last an American doctor offered him a solution.

“They used this stuff in the War Between the States”, Dr. Morris told him.  “Before my time, of course, but if it’ll do for wounded soldiers, it’ll do for you.  And they make it in chocolate bonbon form, so you won’t even have an aftertaste.”

The doctor was right- the bonbons worked wondrously for Jonathan, at least as far as the pain was concerned.  When it came to allaying Mina’s anxieties, at least she no longer wept, though she did still seem worried.

“Are you alright, my love?” she asked him.  “You seem preoccupied.”

“What?” he asked, not entirely sure what that last word she’d said was.

“I said, you seem preoccupied.  Are you thinking of something?”

“No,” Jonathan said with partial honesty.  (He had been thinking of something, but could no longer remember what it had been.)  “I apologize.  It may be the medicine.”

And so she extracted from him a promise not to partake of the bonbons at work, where he would have to interact with Mr. Hawkins.  It was a promise he entirely intended to keep.

***

Mr. Hawkins was telling him about a new job…somewhere.  He would have to travel, was what he was getting from this.  And then Mr. Hawkins had stopped talking, and Jonathan had the horrible realization that he was expected to respond.

“I would be honored to accept this position,” he said.  It felt like there was a gap of a full minute between each word, and Jonathan prayed that his sense of time was being distorted.  It was imperative that his employer not sense any weakness in him, or know that he had partaken of strong medicine before drawing up legal contracts.

“Excellent, my boy!  I knew I could count on you!  So, what do you know about the land of thieves and ghosts?”

“Yes,” Jonathan responded.  It seemed like the right answer.

***

Dr. Morris gave Jonathan a good supply of the hashish bonbons before he left for (what turned out to be) Transylvania, and as the pain had been going down anyway- it was almost entirely gone by now- he swore to himself that he would not use them unless absolutely necessary.  But aside from pain relief, they had been providing an alleviation of his anxieties, and the long, jolty ride on a carriage driven by a suspicious character through a wolf-filled mountainside called for something to calm his nerves.

It was a testament to Jonathan’s strength of character that when he got off the carriage and finally met his host, he did not immediately demand to know what was wrong with the man’s hair.  He was thinking it.  In fact, he could not listen to a single word the man was saying to him because in his mind, every sentence had turned to “Look at my terrible hair.”

He was going to have to abstain while in this castle, it appeared.  The hair probably wasn’t that bad, when seen with a clear mind.  Under the influence of hashish, alas, it became a terrible monster, reaching out to grab at him with shadowy strands, attempting to pull him into the greater part and turn his body into yet more volume for the great and unknowable coif.

“Are you tired, my English friend?” asked Count something (Jonathan had temporarily forgotten the name.)

His client could not know he was being so unprofessional.  It would be a terrible disgrace.  It was a miracle that Jonathan still had enough control over his head to nod.

***

The she-monsters came upon him in the night, just when Jonathan had begun to think his mind was clearing.  Hashish bonbons had never yet caused him to see things that were not there, and he did not think such a thing was possible.  It turned out both of these assumptions were wrong.

Just what happened next was not entirely clear, but it appeared that Count something had given him to these creatures to feast upon, and a great panic swept Jonathan as it never had before.  There was fear and then there was this, the knowledge that everyone in the world, from these monsters to the people back in London, hated him and desired his death.

This panic was so great that he did not even notice the teeth puncturing his flesh.  He did, however, notice when the women ceased their feeding, sluggish, and began to sprawl on the ground.

Jonathan vaguely recalled the word “tolerance”, but was not sure how it applied to this situation.  It was something he contemplated as he climbed out the window and down the castle walls.  Castle-climbing seemed like a very good idea at the moment.

wanderlustlastsforever  asked:

I Will give you my firstborn if you could do a chapter on the Vietnam AU where Jamie is jealous or Frank And Claire meet again

Vietnam AU

“Bree! You got some mail!”

Six-year-old William Fraser theatrically slammed Lallybroch’s old, heavy front door, rattling the blue vases carefully arranged on the window ledge. For the past year he had delighted in trekking the half-mile gravel track connecting the Big House to the main road, emptying the giant mailbox, and bearing all the letters and packages and magazines for the four Frasers (not including Murtagh and Suzette, who had their own cabin and mailbox) and eight Murrays who lived cozily in the four-story house that great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandpa James Fraser had constructed himself more than two hundred years before.

Cousins Ian and Kitty scampered in from the parlor, where cousin Michael kept pounding away at an old song – something about boats in the sky – on the worn piano.

“Anything for us?”

William staggered under the weight of the mail. “Don’t know – let’s go into the dining room to find out.”

Ian and Kitty raced ahead, clearing one end of the long mahogany table – crafted (they were told) by great-great-great-grandfather Simon Fraser right after the War Between The States – and watched William spill dozens of envelopes onto the polished surface.

“Will?” There was Brianna – aged seventeen – rubbing a crick on the back of her neck. William knew Mama and Da were a bit worried for her these days – she spent *so* much time studying for that SAT test, so that she could get into a good college…

“Yes! Highlights!” Ian exclaimed, grabbing the brightly-colored magazine and dashing toward the sitting room, heedless of the envelopes that showered to the ground.

Kitty sighed as she bent to clean up Ian’s mess. William squinted at the pile. “Hi Bree – you got some more college envelopes and magazines.”

“Oh cool – do you know from where?”

Now she joined them at the table, but not before pulling her brother – much younger, and so beloved – close for a quick hug.

She felt him shrug against her. “I don’t know. It all looks the same.”

Footsteps echoed in the hallway from the study.

“William! Did you get the mail again?” Da breezed in, pencil over his ear, hair all mussed – evidence of deep thinking.

Brianna pulled away from her brother to tear into her pile of envelopes.

“I did!” William exclaimed, smiling as his father ruffled his dark curls.

“Thanks, buddy – you know how much we all appreciate it. Anything for me?”

“Bree got some more college stuff. Doesn’t look like anything fun for you.”

Kitty finally found what she had been looking for – the new kit of paper dolls in 18th-century clothing – and quietly retreated upstairs to share with her sisters.

Jamie pulled out a chair to sit while sifting through the pile, then pulled out another one for Brianna, already engrossed in her mail.

“What did you get today, love?” he asked gently.

“Some more course catalogues…informational packets…and a magazine,” she replied absently. “More stuff to read.”

“From where?” Ah – there it was, last month’s feed bill for the horses and sheep. A quick glance to William – now busy sorting mail by the recipient’s name – before returning his attention to his daughter. His miracle.

“Virginia Tech…MIT…Georgia Tech…Duke…”

Jamie lay a gentle hand on Brianna’s forearm – and her eyes snapped up to meet his. His own eyes looked back at him – and not for the first time, he was amazed at how much of himself he saw in her.

“You know you’ll get into everywhere you apply, right? You’re smart, and you work hard, and you’ll be successful.”

She pursed her lips – eyes wide – and nodded.

“Just enjoy this time. It’s so exciting – you’ll have so many choices in your life, and you’ll do so many great things with that mind of yours. Don’t let any of this intimidate you.”

“I know, Da.” Her voice was quiet – hesitant. But confident. “If you and Mama keep telling me, that must make it true.”

Then she blessed him with a smile – and his heart melted as much as it had that first time she had smiled at him when she was just a few weeks old.

A daughter nearly grown – where had all the time gone?

The side door slammed – which only meant one thing –

“Mama!” William raced toward the kitchen, abandoning his task.

“Hello, love! *Ciamar a tha thu?*” Jamie and Brianna shared a smile as Claire’s voice echoed through the house.

Jamie shook his head. “She’ll always have that accent when she speaks the Gaidhlig. Unlike you, and me, and Will, and the rest of our family – she didn’t grow up speaking it. And it’s so hard for your mouth to learn new sounds without it sounding terrible.”

William’s muffled exclamations to his mother in the Gaidhlig grew louder.

“I’m just grateful we can speak it, Da.” Brianna tidied her magazines into a neat pile on the table. “It’s like our secret language. And I know it’ll make me stand out on my college applications!”

He shook his head incredulously – clever girl. And then –

“Hello loves!” There she was, William hoisted on her hip like a wee monkey, smiling broadly at her redheads.

“Hi Mama! Look what came today!”

Dr. Claire Fraser strode around the table and settled into the chair Jamie pulled out for her – easing William onto her lap and bending for a quick kiss from her husband.

Brianna pushed the magazine from Duke toward her mother. “This one looks really cool – they have a great engineering program, but there are so many other things to study, too.”

“Raleigh – not too far. And yes it’s a fantastic school.”

William settled against her shoulder – just enjoying being held by his mother – and Jamie opened the magazine on the tabletop, flanked by his women.

“Let’s see…table of contents…alumni in the news…recent publications by professors…here’s a new building going up…”

Absently he thumbed through the pages one by one –

And then Claire’s hand darted out, slamming to the table.

William – startled out of his hazy half-sleep – gasped in surprise.

Brianna watched her mother’s hand lay flat on the page, then slowly draw her fingers inward to clench into a fist.

“Mama?” So confused.

Then Claire gently scooted William to Jamie’s lap, stood, and quietly left the dining room.

“Mama!” Brianna called. “What’s wrong? What is going on?”

Panicked, she turned to her father. To see his face almost white with shock.

“Da? You’re scaring me – what is it?”

Only then did she turn her attention to the page. A small article, just a few paragraphs, in the “Alumni News” section. Something about a substantial donation to the school, to endow a program in the history department. Made by someone in California. Frank Randall, class of ’62. And there was even a picture of him – looking straight into the camera, not smiling, ensconced in a stuffy office.

“Da?”

Jamie pursed his lips. “Can you mind William? I need to talk to your Mama. Wait here.”

Wordlessly she opened her arms, and William snuggled against her, and she watched her father stride out of the dining room. Heading upstairs, to the master bedroom.

With her free hand she pulled the magazine closer, squinting at the photograph of this man who ran a real estate business in northern California. Had amassed a fortune, and given much of it to the school. Something about having no children of his own, and wanting others to benefit from his labors.

Gently she stroked William’s back, soothing.

Waiting, and thinking, and worrying, until Mama and Da came back into the room, holding hands.

Mr. Smartass [M]

What happens when you get partnered with know-it-all, Kim Namjoon, for a class project?

4k / smut / college!AU


“You will be partnered with…Namjoon Kim.”

Your professor’s words hung in the air, tension filling the large classroom.

Your fists clenched by your sides, trying your best to keep a neutral expression because you knew all eyes were on you, waiting for a reaction. Despite praying to be matched with your best friend, your professor’s “random” selection process had other plans. Just your luck, you had been partnered with the resident class know-it-all.

   Just perfect.

   Namjoon was an exchange student from South Korea that had come earlier in the semester, though you honestly wouldn’t have known he wasn’t born in the States because his accent was almost unnoticeable. There’s always been some palpable tension between the two of you, even dating back to the first day of class. Whenever you went to answer a question, he would refute it with some smartass comment. The two of you would go on for minutes, debating heatedly back and forth from across the classroom while everyone looked on like they were waiting for things to get violent (and it almost did, several times you had to stop yourself from throwing your textbook at his perfectly groomed head).

   You both were undoubtedly the best students in the class, though, if Namjoon’s grade was even a decimal point higher, you knew it was because he kissed the professor’s ass way more than necessary.

   Your professor continued reading the rest of the pairs from his list and you took a deep breath, thinking of ways to get out of this assignment.

   “I’m expecting great things from you all,” he said, looking between you and Namjoon with a smile before sending a wink in your direction. Your jaw dropped; this was definitely a setup, “Class is dismissed! Don’t forget to meet up with your partners before you leave and exchange emails and phone numbers!” he called over the sound of thank you’s and chairs scraping against the floor.
   
Putting your pride aside, you rose from your chair and walked to the other end of the room, rolling your eyes as you passed your best friend. She was gave you a pitiful smile as she spoke to her partner, a boy with a headful of greasy curls that covered half his face.

You finally made it over to him, and his eyes were trained on something he was reading on his phone.

“Namjoon,” you said cordially.

“Y/N,” he replied dryly, not even bothering to look up from the device.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Yay requests are open! How about fluffy shenanigans when s/O finds out their chocobro is extremely ticklish? Will they be kind or cruel??? Hehehehe cruel is always welcomed

I once read somewhere that tickling well either lead to making out or a fight…So…tickle at your own safety.

~~~~~

Noctis

The first time you had ran your fingers against Noctis’s rib cage as he slept, you thought it was just a nerve reaction and a twitch with a pleasing sigh. Yet the next time you did it while he was starting to doze, and that adorable little laugh fell from his lips you realized you had a weapon to use against him.

Prince hogging the bed? Tickle!

Prince laying on you and you need to get dinner started? Tickle!

Prince being a stubborn little brat who doesn’t want to eat his veggies? Well, a bunch of empty promises and kisses.

Yet tickling always made you feel better, hearing that cute little laugh and him weakly fighting against you.

~~~~~

Prompto

Tickle fights are kind of a typical Tuesday night for the two of you. It would start out cute and innocent, the two of you cuddling against one another on the couch. Watching t.v or playing a round of King’s Knight, when someone’s hand would stray to a rib or hip, and from there it was on.

The two of you would start a tickle war at any time, no holds bars! It was the quickest way to brighten the other day!

A war could happen at any time, yet typical more wars would start by one of you laying on top of the other and suddenly demanding all the attention. If all of the attention was known right away, all it would take would be a hand to wander and than…

“No…” A bunch of laughter as hands to fend away the attack. “Fair!”

Yet as the winner of the war often states between treaty kisses, “All’s fair in love and war.”

~~~~~

Gladiolus

The first time you did it, it was a lazy day around the house. You were laying on the man, both of you laying on the couch, catching up on this weeks reading, your hands drawing lazy circles on the tan skin beneath you. When your nails ran across the dip, where those powerful legs met that strong torso.

You got a twitch. You racked your fingers across the space again, and that same twitch. One more time and than a strong hand grabbed your own.

“What are you doing?”

“Nothing.”

“Cut it out.”

“Nah, I’m good.”

Your fingers rubbed against the space again, and next thing you know, you were tossed on your back, and fingers were dragging against your ribs and sides, dragging laughs from you time and time again.

Now, your fingers would find that dip time and time again. It was a mission, you’d always strike when he least expected it. Fresh from the shower, watching t.v, just standing there. You’d normally get about a good few chuckles from him before he would flip the scripts and you’d be on the receiving it.

~~~~~

Ignis

You had never expected for Ignis to be ticklish, much less on the sides and back of his neck.  The first time you dragged your nails against those light freckles, and he twitched and chuckled breaking away from you, you honestly froze uncertain of what just happened.

“Darling…” Ignis called, staring at you in confusion.

“Oh my gods, that’s so cute!”

Now it was your secret weapon, if he seemed to concentrated or too tense, you’d move up behind the man, running a nail across those freckles, before getting a deep chuckle.

Ignis never seemed to mind, in all honesty, he actually rather enjoyed it, as you only seemed to do it when you were worried about him or believed himself to be overexerting himself. Besides, there were quite a few times where those skilled fingers of his own, would rack down your sides to drag your own laughter to join his.

anonymous asked:

OMG I LOVE THE VIETNAM AU. Finally, the reunion! So wonderfully written. But hold the phone WHAT happened to Jamie and why does he look like that and how is Claire gonna heal him? *sigh*

Vietnam AU

“Stuffed cabbage, Claire?”

 

Claire turned to her left, meeting the kind brown eyes of Ian Murray – Jamie’s best friend and brother-in-law.

 

“Sure – is it grown here on the farm as well?”

 

Ian served her a good-sized helping. Jenny – at her right – poured a bit more wine into the tall glass by her plate.

 

“Most of the simple vegetables come straight from the kailyard – always have, as long as we can remember. Nothing is as fresh to us. Or as rewarding.”

 

Claire took a tentative bite, keeping her eyes firmly on the gorgeous old dinner plate – clearly used only for special occasions – as Jamie’s foot silently nudged hers beneath the table.

 

Somewhere around three that afternoon, Ian had hobbled down to the barn – he had lost his leg in a childhood car accident, Jamie later explained – finding a doubly rare sight. Jamie Fraser was idle – and Jamie Fraser was in the company of a woman.

 

That he had somehow, sometime told Jenny and Ian who she was had been clear – but just exactly what they knew about her was not. She had helped Jenny and the kind housekeeper Mrs. Crook prepare dinner – over Jenny’s protests that a guest should rest – seeking the opportunity to quietly introduce herself to Jamie’s sister, and needing the time away from him to just reflect on her whirlwind day. She had had months – years – to prepare. He had had no notice, and yet had taken it all in so gracefully.

 

Had pledged himself to her, fully. Unequivocally.

 

Would she do the same for him?

 

She’d immediately accepted his offer of a place to stay for the night. Jamie had proudly shown her to one of the beautifully apportioned rooms on the second floor of the Big House – Lallybroch – sharing incredible stories of the many Frasers whose blood and sweat had been poured into the very stones and floorboards of the house since before the Revolution.

 

Light streamed through the windows of the room that was to be Claire’s – the hand-carved bed covered in a worn but exquisite blue bedspread that had been quilted by Jamie’s grandmother MacKenzie; two plush armchairs of a 1940s vintage cozily angled before a small fireplace; on the wall above the bed, a vibrant watercolor of the Big House amid the glowing orange leaves of autumn.

 

“There should be some spare clothes in the bureau,” Jamie remarked softly, remaining just inside the doorway as Claire quietly acquainted herself with the room. “And my Mam painted that when I was small. We have her drawings and paintings up all over the house.”

 

From her position at the window, admiring the kitchen garden and small orchard of fruit trees clustered near the old outhouse, Claire turned to smile at him. “Do you paint?”

 

He shrugged. “I’ve tried. But Jenny has the real talent for it – some of her pieces are downstairs.” He paused, licking his lips. “Well then. I’ll be down in the study with Ian. Have some orders to straighten out for tomorrow. Will – ”

 

“I’ll be all right,” she reassured him. “Thank you, Jamie. Truly.”

 

His smile – small, glowing – was absolutely beautiful. “Thank *you*, Claire.” Then he turned and disappeared down the hall.

 

“The apples in that pie you helped me with come right from the orchard – great-grandmother Fraser planted them, right after the War Between The States,” Jenny continued. Claire snapped back to the present as the toe of Jamie’s boot curled around the back of her shin.

 

“I’m normally not much help in the kitchen, but you’ve all been so incredibly warm and generous – ”

 

“Nonsense,” Ian insisted, tearing up a piece of Mrs. Crook’s thick homemade oat bread – a bannock, Jamie had called it – for his three-year-old son – Jamie’s namesake holding court at the worn but homely kitchen table between his father and uncle. “You’ve made Jamie smile again. Lord knows that’s been a rare sight since he returned from ‘Nam.”

 

Jamie withdrew his foot – and Claire looked across the half-empty portions of roasted pork and Brussel sprouts and corn bread. Meeting his intense blue gaze. Hoping her eyes could convey everything her voice could not.

 

 

Apple pie and whisky before the fire in the sitting room – lined floor to ceiling with books dating from the 18th century all the way up to shiny new editions of Slaughterhouse-Five and In Cold Blood. Comfortable silence between them when Jenny and Ian departed to tuck the children into bed. And then when Claire had yawned for the fifth time, Jamie rose, banked the fire, and helped her rise from the couch. Then gently led her upstairs to the room that would be hers for as long as she wished. Holding her hand the entire time.

 

They paused in the doorway.

 

“Will you be warm enough? There are extra blankets in the hallway closet – ”

 

Claire rested her hands on his solid shoulders. “I’ll be just fine. I’m not fragile, you know.”

 

He settled his hands on her hips, eyes creasing with happiness in the dim light of the hallway. The silence of the house buzzed in their ears.

 

“I know you aren’t,” he breathed.

 

Then drew her close – holding her. Enveloping her. Feeling her melt against him – her heart thrum in time with his.

 

After a long while she pushed back, kissed the corner of his mouth, and quietly slid out of his arms.

 

“I’ll be right here, down the hall,” he whispered. Eyes dark.

 

She blew him a teasing kiss, then quietly swung the heavy oak door shut.

 

On both sides of the door, Jamie and Claire rested their foreheads against the wood. And sighed.

 

 

Despite her exhaustion, Claire slept fitfully. Tossing and turning on the heavenly soft mattress and under the almost sinfully warm quilt. So many images flashing through her mind – the bullet-scarred palm tree on the helicopter pad at Chu Lai; the faded anchor tattooed on the forearm of her anatomy instructor; the checked shirt Uncle Lamb loved to wear when presenting his latest findings to a group of his peers. The graceful, invisible shapes Jamie had traced with his hands as he shared stories about himself and his Fraser forebears – helping her learn about all the gifts he would give her.

 

Did she belong here? Could she belong here – the lady of this great house? Sharing such a well-respected name? Enjoying dinner every night in the rustic kitchen built two centuries ago, surrounded by so many Frasers, alive and dead? Quietly at peace here on the ridge which Frasers had called home for longer than Beauchamps had been in America?

 

No.

 

Yes.

 

Perhaps.

 

The house groaned and settled around her – easing into sleep.

 

Except the shuffle of steps in the hallway. Pausing outside her room, then continuing down the stairs.

 

At least she wasn’t the only restless person tonight. Jenny, perhaps? Maggie was still nursing – perhaps just another late-night feed?

 

Claire wrapped the tartan blanket – Fraser colors, Jamie had told her – from the foot of the bed around her shoulders, draped over the App State t-shirt and flannel pants that had been neatly folded in the bottom drawer of the bureau, gently pushed open the door, and stepped downstairs.

 

Only one room to visit at this time of night – the parlor, where books and the warmth of the fire could lull even the most restless to sleep.

 

But it wasn’t Jenny who sought solace, deep in the night.

 

Jamie stood after adding a fresh log to the fire, rubbing his face with his hands, clad in an olive-green Army-issued t-shirt and worn white long johns.

 

Claire must have made a sound – for his head snapped up, startled.

 

“Can’t sleep?”

 

His wide, sweet mouth twisted in a wry smile. “You could say that. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in three years.”

 

Claire blinked harshly in shock. “You mean – ”

 

“Yes – since Chu Lai. I – well.” He swallowed, grasping for words. “I re-live all of it every night.”

 

She crossed the room to stand in front of him. Rested a tentative hand on his elbow. “Tell me?”

 

He did. Terrible storied of men blown to pieces. Villages burned. Dead livestock floating face-down in rice paddies. The faces of men he couldn’t save. Memories of pain, and anguish, and isolation.

 

“And the worst one –” his voice broke.

 

At this point they had curled up together at the corner of the couch, her legs tucked against his, sharing the warmth of the plaid. She squeezed his clammy hand. Encouraging.

 

“The worst one is when the VC attack Chu Lai – and I can’t find you, Claire. I can’t protect you. And then I’m scrambling down the hallway and they’re firing at me and I trip over your body.”

 

He wouldn’t look at her – preferring to stare into the hypnotic flames.

 

She wiped the tears from his eyes. Stunned.

 

“Have you ever told this to anyone?” Her fingers twined in his hair, damp with sweat. Bringing his face to rest in the curve of her neck.

 

All he could do was shake his head. Breathing hard. Burrowing closer to her.

 

“Nobody here understands. I’m a war hero. The owner of this estate. I’m not supposed to be scared. I’m not supposed to have a back twisted with scars. I’m not supposed to be terrified of going to sleep every night.”

 

Claire eased onto his lap. “Shh,” she soothed. “I’m here. Just let go, Jamie.”

 

He inhaled deeply. Shakily.

 

“Let go,” she repeated. “I understand. I’m here. You don’t have to pretend.”

 

A beat.

 

Then –

 

“I love you.”

 

His awed, red-rimmed eyes lifted to meet hers. Smiling through the tears.

 

Then her lips found his – and they clung to each other in desperation and joy.

I’ve never seen the modern fascist movement discribed so perfectly, this is truly a work of art

Great American Composers : William Grant Still

William Grant Still (May 11, 1895 – December 3, 1978) was an American composer, who composed more than 150 works, including five symphonies and eight operas.

Often referred to as “the Dean” of African-American composers, Still was the first American composer to have an opera produced by the New York City Opera. Still is known most for his first symphony, which was until the 1950s the most widely performed symphony composed by an American. 

Born in Mississippi, he grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, attended Wilberforce University and Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and was a student of George Whitefield Chadwick and later Edgard Varèse.

Of note, Still was the first African American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony (his 1st Symphony) performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera performed on national television.

Due to his close association and collaboration with prominent Afro-American literary and cultural figures such as Alain Locke and Langston Hughes, William Grant Still is considered to be part of the Harlem Renaissance movement. 

In 1918, Still joined the United States Navy to serve in World War I. Between 1919 and 1921, he worked as an arranger for W. C. Handy’s band. In 1921 he recorded with Fletcher Henderson’s Dance Orchestra, and later played in the pit orchestra for Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake’s musical, Shuffle Along. Later in the 1920s, Still served as the arranger of Yamekraw, a “Negro Rhapsody” composed by the noted Harlem stride pianist, James P. Johnson. His initial hiring by Paul Whiteman took place in early November 1929.

In the 1930s, Still worked as an arranger of popular music, writing for Willard Robison’s Deep River Hour and Paul Whiteman’s Old Gold Show, both popular NBC Radio broadcasts. In 1936, Still conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra ; he was the first African American to conduct a major American orchestra.

In 1934, Still received his first Guggenheim Fellowship; he started work on the first of his eight operas, Blue Steel. In 1949 his opera Troubled Island, originally completed in 1939, about Jean Jacques Dessalines and Haiti, was performed by the New York City Opera. It was the first opera by an African American to be performed by a major company.

Still moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s, where he arranged music for films. These included Pennies from Heaven (the 1936 film starring Bing Crosby and Madge Evans) and Lost Horizon (the 1937 film starring Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt and Sam Jaffe). For Lost Horizon, he arranged the music of Dimitri Tiomkin. Still was also hired to arrange the music for the 1943 film Stormy Weather, but left the assignment after a few weeks due to artistic disagreements.

In 1955, he conducted the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra; he was the first African American to conduct a major orchestra in the Deep South. Still’s works were performed internationally by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the BBC Orchestra.

He was the first African American to have an opera performed on national United States television when A Bayou Legend, completed in 1941, premiered on PBS in June 1981. Additionally, he was the recording manager of the Black Swan Phonograph Company.

( Source : Wikipedia )

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On this day in music history: September 24, 1982 - “1999” by Prince is released. Written and produced by Prince, it is the eleventh single release for the singer, songwriter, musician and producer from Minneapolis, MN. Written about “a party at the end of world”, the lyrics touch on widespread fears of the escalation of “The Cold War”, and the impending threat of global thermal nuclear war between the United States and the then Soviet Union (Russia). The song’s message encourages listeners to enjoy the time we do have, best expressed in the lyric “life is just a party, and parties weren’t meant to last”. The somewhat dark undercurrent present in the lyrics are masked by the exuberant, funky track, with its point being missed by many who only viewed it as a party song. One of the last songs recorded for the album, the basic tracks are recorded at Prince’s home studio on Kiowa Trail (“The Purple House”) in Chanhassen, MN in late July/early August of 1982.  The song features Prince sharing lead vocals with band members Lisa Coleman, Jill Jones, and Dez Dickerson. Initially, he had planned for everyone to sing the entire song in unison, but during mixing of the single he hits upon the idea of having them sing lines on their own then all together on the chorus.  The songs music video is directed by Bruce Gowers (Queen, Michael Jackson), and is shot at the Minneapolis Armory (with the full stage set up) during rehearsals for the “Triple Threat Tour”. It is one of three promotional clips filmed that week along with “Automatic” and “Let’s Pretend We’re Married”. The single is backed with the non album B-side “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore”. Featuring Prince singing lead and background vocals to his own piano accompanyment, it is recorded at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA on April 26, 1982. “How Come” is included on the compilation “The Hits/B-sides” in 1993, and on the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s film “Girl 6” in 1996. “1999” peaks at #4 on the Billboard R&B singles chart in December of 1982 also topping the Club Play chart for 2 weeks on December 4, 1982, and initially peaking at number #44 on the Hot 100. After the top ten chart success of “Little Red Corvette”, Warner Bros re-promotes “1999” at US top 40 pop radio in the late Spring of 1983. It re-enters the Hot 100, and peak at #12 on July 23, 1983. Prince re-records “1999” in late 1998, releasing it on his NPG Records imprint (as a seven track EP) after Warner Bros reissues the original version. The original re-charts again, peaking at #40 on the Hot 100 on January 16, 1999, with the remake peaking at #58 on the R&B album chart, and #150 on the Top 200 on February 20, 1999.

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The Palace on the Water - Łazienki Palace - Warsaw, Poland

Originally a bathhouse for the aristocrat Stanislas Lubormirski, it was completely remodelled by Poland’s Last King, Stanislas August Poniatowski (r.1764-95) who made it his Summer Residence.

Unfortunately, the end of the reign of Stanislaus Augustus resulted in the gradual deterioration of his much loved park. The tsars, who took possession in 1817, treated the neoclassical palace as a secondary office. At that time many valuable works of art and objects were removed and taken to Russia. In the years between the two World Wars, under the management of the State Art Collections, the Royal Łazienki briefly regained its former glory.

During World War II, the Palace was extensively plundered and heavily damaged by the German occupiers. Holes were drilled into the walls for explosives but thankfully they never got around to blowing up the Palace. In 1960, after many years of careful restoration, the Royal Łazienki was returned to the Polish people as a museum.

Welcome to Australia. Two states are giving each other shit over a football game.