Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chris Mann - Pop Culture and Three's Company

Richard Kline, Don Knotts, Priscilla Barnes, Norman Fell,
Joyce DeWitt and Chris Mann with a copy of Chris' book
"Come and Knock on Our Door"
Pop Speaking could not hope to get off to 2014 on a better footing. 

This post is very very special to me. Chris Mann is not only one of the top authorities on pop culture of today, he's the definitive voice on Three's Company, the male star of which, John Ritter, inspired this blog. He has been kind enough to spend a lot of time and effort sending me some invaluable information as well as three previously unpublished photographs.  

Chris Mann is the author of "Come and Knock on Our Door" and consulting producer of NBC's 2003 hit telefilm "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Three's Company' ". I'm very humbled and grateful that he has put so much time and effort into giving me such wonderful answers to my in depth and probably quite searching questions. 

Chris, you’ve been in love with Three’s Company for a long time, for longer than I have.  How did you fall in love with the show?

Thank you, Gaynor, for this opportunity to share with readers of your fun and insightful new blog. It's so cool to know that "Three's Company" has moved you so meaningfully -- and that its magical reach still extends to the other side of the planet, no less! Like you, I started watching when I was a young child, primarily because of the late, great John Ritter.
Previously unpublished picture of John Ritter and
Chris Mann
His physical comedy and his timing were sublime, and his clownish spirit and "good-guy" energy really touched my heart. I was the class clown growing up (and I worked very hard to bring comic relief to my family as well), so Jack Tripper, as embodied and expressed by John, deeply resonated with me.

Joyce DeWitt also particularly moved me as a spirited performer; she and John made beautiful music together as a comedy team. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas and the songs, books and movies around it

I think since time immemorial musicians, artists and authors have used the theme of Christmas in their work. Whether it is to sell their work or whether borne out of a genuine feeling for the time of year, Christmas is a time of year which certainly can pluck on the heart strings of all of humanity. I'd like to take the time to look at some of these works, celebrate them, and yes, wish you all Merry Christmas.

I don't know why, but the one Christmas song that has been on my mind the whole week is Cliff Richard's Mistletoe and Wine. I think I just like the lyrics - there are some very clever plays on words - a time for giving and for forgiving. A time for getting and for forgetting. But the song is comforting and warm, and so is the video. The whole production gives me a warm feeling - it's about what Christmas is meant to be. One of the great Cliff Richard's best, in my humble opinion. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Felicity Davis, author of Guard a Silver Sixpence on her book, inspiration and overcoming physical and psychological abuse

Felicity Davis is the author of Guard a Silver Sixpence, a book which explores self-identity through historical exploration over five generations:

In 1903, in the mining town of Barnsley, a brutalised wife called Emily Swann lashed out at her violent husband. Her actions brought tragedy and scandal in their wake. Her children were shamed, her family broken apart.

Over one hundred years later her great-granddaughter Felicity, also a victim of physical and psychological abuse, set out to uncover the secret history of her family in the hope it would heal the scars of her own childhood.

As Felicity discovered more about her mum and nan, and was led back to Emily herself, she came to see how all these women had all been caught in a damaging cycle, endlessly repeating the mistakes of the past. And she knew that she, at last, had the power to break free.

Guard a Silver Sixpence is the heartwarming story of an inspirational woman who learned that anything is possible if you can lay the past to rest.

Also check out her blog at - http://yoursymposium.blogspot.co.uk/

In South  Africa, Guard a Silver Sixpence is available at Readers Warehouse.

I’ve just read Guard a Silver Sixpence, and I came away from it wanting to know more about the inspirational woman behind it. I felt a connection.

It’s this connection which ties in with the strongest theme of this blog, which concept I first heard about in an interview with actor John Ritter done in the late 70s – that there’s a golden thread of humanity which connects us all – across generations, across continents, across gender and race.  John Ritter said he would like to be remembered as someone who tweaked this golden thread. Felicity’s book ties in phenomenally with this, as she metaphorically walks through generations of her own family to find out more about herself , and break the cycle of abuse for herself and future generations.

Q. How long did your book take to research and write?
I initially; way back in 2007, typed the name 'Emily Swann' with 'hanging' into Google, and couldn't believe what the search engine brought back. In 2007 (at the grand age of 50) I decided to start to seek the truth. My Grandfather had always told me that I couldn't blame my Gran [for the abuse in the family] as there had been a hanging in her family - and I knew that I now had to find out more. So you could say that I started my research back then. Because I had a full time, demanding job in Education, I took my time to research that initial story.

The book took over a year to write, but I was fortunate in that I had a co-writer working on the story with me. As it panned out, my co-writer was fundamental in further researching the minutiae detail of the historical background.

Friday, December 6, 2013

RIP Nelson Mandela

An world icon of peace has passed away. 

It was Madiba's ability to forgive which is the reason the entire country mourns today. If you learn nothing more from this man, learn to forgive, because without forgiveness, there is no unified way forward. Madiba also did things that I didn't agree with (terrorism).   I may be a white person but I also feel I was affected by apartheid. Not to the same extent of course, but I was denied being able to get to know my country men and their cultures, to learn their languages. I was affected by the dislike of other countries and by sanctions. I was scared during the late 80s by the terrorist attacks, which being a child I didn't understand so well.  We need to remember that Madiba was a man and not a god. Don't deify human beings, because we all have fallacies and faults and it's dangerous. This is the reason I stand opposed to the current massive swell of adulation for Thuli Madonsela, the public protector, who is not without controversy in her own past. 

Here is the most important part. The things that were inside Madiba, that made him the hero he is, are inside you as well. He was a product of Africa, a product of humankind. And SO ARE YOU.  And that is the hope of our country. 

Find those things, which may be dormant now, and carry the world forward in the same way Madiba did. 

When voting, remember the ANC of Madiba's day is NOT the ANC of today. Jacob Zuma is most DEFINITELY not Mandela, and if he has those quailties, he is not exhibiting them. 

It's up to you now to make SA into the country Nelson Mandela gave 95 years to.

RIP Madiba. You changed the world.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Heaven is a Place on Earth - and it WAS!

How hard is it to believe that it's 26 years since Belinda Carlisle's defining hit Heaven is a Place On Earth went to number one in the United States?

 I had the privilege of seeing this song being performed live last year at the Rewind Concert, and I can tell you that Belinda performs it today with the same energy as she did back then.

I can think back to those days, and this song was on my stereo more days than it wasn't.

When you think of the songs that kept it company - Kylie Minogue's I Should be So Lucky, Climie Fisher's Love Changes Everything, Tiffany's I Think We're Alone Now, and (I've Had) The Time of My Life, from the hit movie Dirty Dancing - which song preceded Heaven is a Place on Earth on the Billboard charts as number one - it was a good time to be a teenager, and our parents didn't have to worry about swearwords appearing in them like we as parents have to think about today. George Michael's Faith knocked it off the top - another timeless song. With that calibre of music, heaven WAS a place on earth! 

Interestingly Heaven is a Place on Earth was Belinda Carlisle's only chart topper in America either as a member of the band The Go Gos, which was one of the most successful girl bands of all time, or as a solo artist..

Born on August 17th, 1958, Belinda continues to tour and make music today. She is currently on tour in Australia and will be in the UK in May 2014. Follow her on Twitter @BelindaOfficial or on Facebook.

PS - Belinda, we want you back in South Africa! 

Just a quick nod to another initiative - since it's Breast Cancer Awareness month, you can donate R20 to The PinkDrive & stand a chance of winning a trip for 2 to New York! SMS PINKDRIVE to 40158 to make your donation. ‪#‎PinkDay5Dec‬. Competition run by Cricket South Africa. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

World AIDS Day 1 December - Elton John AIDS Foundation

Today is World AIDS Day. It always interests me that things like AIDS get a day. AIDS isn't for just a day. It's forever. We think about things for a day, and then, if they don't affect us personally, tomorrow we stop thinking about them. I guess that's the way human nature is. 

I first heard about AIDS back in 1985. I think a lot of people first heard about it then, because it's when the first famous person died of it. Handsome actor and leading man Rock Hudson was taken from us on October 2 1985 at the age of 60. Cause of death: AIDS. Before that, a few people had died of it. But nobody we knew. AIDS was highly stigmatised. It was something that came from monkeys, came from gay people, came from everywhere and anywhere, but it was something sordid that WE didn't do.  Although the death of Rock Hudson due to AIDS was tragic, it gave a friendly name and face to AIDS, and made us realise that if it could happen to Rock, it could happen to us. Rock Hudson was homosexual, which fuelled the supposition that AIDS was a disease for homosexuals but stated that he felt he may have contracted the disease through a blood transfusion in 1981, which still stands today as his lover did not contract the disease.