Amoeblog

What is the deal with Somalia?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 26, 2008 01:35pm | Post a Comment
Somalia in the news
If you're like me, you may feel like the media only provides confusing, fragmented glimpses into what remains, by and large, an obscure part of the world that makes regular appearances in the news regarding (usually) famine, war or piracy. And yet, the newscasters seem perfectly content to repeatedly ask, "What's going on?" and "Why do they kill us when we bring aid?" and (most inexcusably stupid) "Aren't pirates a thing of the past?" Yet they seem content merely to ask and never to attempt an answer. So, in the face of another wave of gawking, 30 second snippets provided by the news, here's my humble attempt to shed a little light on the region; one where long-simmering tensions and colonialist pressure have caused the Somali people considerable strife and difficulty for centuries, with no hope of apparent change in the future. And yet, I hope the music and cultural bits I've thrown in will provide a balance to all the misery.

Horn of Africa Horn of Africa 70

Introduction
Somalia's history (and the horn of Africa, for that matter) for the last few centuries has been a familiar history of extreme hostility and violent retribution. Begrudging neighbors are made pawns of European powers and played against each other with suffering resulting on all sides. Somalia, whilst one of the only countries with only one ethnic group, has never very unified. Originally the Somali people organized themselves on the coasts of the mostly barren country in tiny city states (and later, after conversion to Islam, Sultanates). 

Amoeba's Video Game Top Sellers

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 13, 2008 05:29pm | Post a Comment


Guitar Hero World Tour



Fallout 3



Madden NFL 2009



Lego Batman



Rock Band 2



Silent Hill Homecoming



Star Wars the Force Unleashed



Bioshock



Happy Martinmas

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 11, 2008 09:10pm | Post a Comment
Children on St. Martin's Day

Today is the feast day of Martin of Tours. Martin was a Roman soldier who gave part of his cloak to a naked homeless man. According to some, he gave the rest of his clothes to another naked man and rode Lady Godiva-style through the late autumn winds. God miraculously warmed the earth for him, which is why it gets warm after being cold this time of year (known by a few as "St. Martin's Summer"). That night, Martin dreamed that Jesus came to him, scantily clad in the portion of his cloak which he'd given to the naked guy. When Martin awoke from his homo-erotic dream, he decided to devote himself to Christ and was baptized at 18.


Eventually he became a bishop in Tours. He didn't want to be a bishop so he hid in a goose pen. The geese betrayed him with honking and that is why we traditionally eat goose today, a sort of revenge best served fairly hot.



In Tours he gained a reputation for his iconoclastic violence, destroying the polytheistic art objects and ancient, historic temples of the indigenous Druidic religion like some medieval representative of the Taliban. He even went a little nuts and cut down trees, to the locals' dismay. On one occasion, a druid consented that he could cut down the tree if he stood where it was likely to fall. He did so and, of course, the tree fell in another direction. The druids were impressed.

Mimes in music and film

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 8, 2008 09:12pm | Post a Comment
mimes

Last year for Halloween I was Bip the Clown, a famous creation of the then recently passed master of mime, Marcel Marceau. I thought it would be good to go an entire day without talking, yet it seemed to arouse violent annoyance in as many people as liked it.


 
I think it made me realize that I like mime, especially when it's darker and scarier... as in the mimetic acting of German Expressionist silent film... as well as comedians like Buster Keaton, Harry Langdon, Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin, who were all essentially mimes. And, come to think of it, so was Cesar the somnambulist in Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari... whom I was for Halloween a while ago, come to think of it.


Mime has its roots in ancient Greece but most conventions of modern mime were developed by the Bohemian mime, Jean-Gaspard Deburau, who adapted aspects of the commedia dell'arte for nineteenth century French actors. His most famous character was Pierrot, the moonstruck, dumb romantic in white face and poofy threads. He was portrayed in Marcel Carné's Les Enfants du Paradis.

Etienne Decroux

In the 1920s, Étienne Decroux created a highly original take on mime, focusing on statuary poses, a technique known as corporeal mime.

November is Native American Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 5, 2008 07:19pm | Post a Comment
Native Americans from across the Americas

NATIONAL AMERICAN INDIAN HERITAGE MONTH

The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York. Back in 1990, President George H.W. Bush named November National American Indian Heritage Month. The purpose of the observance is to highlight the roles America's aboriginal peoples have played in the country's history. It's kind of interesting. I'd say that the main role Natives have played in regard to American history was armed resistance and reluctant subjugation. It's kind of like Israel having a National Palestinian Heritage Month, Turkey having an Armenian History Month or Sudan having a Darfur Day.

I suppose, somewhat begrudgingly, that most Natives today have come to accept the fact that America is here to stay ...at least until 2012. Furthermore, Natives have, in many cases, actually been supportive of America and contributed to her history, to be sure. For example, not only did many Native nations align themselves with the US and its colonial antecedents at various times, but they also served as really good trackers and proved to be natural ecologists who demonstrated their intrinsically environmentalist natures by using every part of the bison and coming up with 30 different names for snow.

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