Amoeblog

Who's black and whose black?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 17, 2009 12:00am | Post a Comment

As Black History Month rolls on, I asked myself a question that may seem stupid to most people: Who exactly is black and who is not? And how is it decided? Does the individual or society determine what we are or is it a combination of both? Are there other factors? Is this the Family Feud or actual objective science?
 

In 2009, all rational and educated people now accept that race is a human construct, which isn't to say that it's meaningless. As long as people are treated differently (preferentially, discriminatorily or just differently based on presupposed differences) on the basis of race, how society constructs and applies that race is worth thinking about. And, ideally, there shouldn't be any shame in recognizing broad cultural differences either. Why should "white pride" be offensive? Pride in er-one, I say. Minor caveat: to even assume that American society has reached a consensus on race defies reality – that's why Dave Chappelle instituted the racial draft. So step with me into a blog of shadows and substance, things and ideas into, to coin a phrase, The Twilight Zone.

 

The Great Black North

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 10, 2009 12:56pm | Post a Comment

One fact that’s widely overlooked during Black History Month is that it’s not only Black History Month in the US. Besides having the stated aim of highlighting the contributions to human history made by the entire black diaspora, BHM is simultaneously observed in Canada. People who've never been to Canada may not believe that black people live there. While it's true that the black Canadian population is minute compared to the black American populartion both in terms of numbers and percentage, black Canadians have contributed significantly to Canada's mostly overlooked music scene and their contributions are surely worth honoring (oops! ...honouring). [Special thanks goes to MuchMusic].


Dream Warriors - Wash Your Face in My Sink


Maestro Fresh Wes - Let Your Backbone Slide

Interspersed with exemplars of black Canadian musical contributions, allow me to ponder the controversies surrounding terminology used to discuss black Canadians and hopefully in the process shed a little light on history. No doubt we'll never come to a consensus on what's the most accurate/least offensive/least ridiculous terminology, but just thinking and talking about it is worthwhile far as I'm concerned... or at least fun.


Oscar Peterson - Waltz For Debby

Cinema of Burkina Faso

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 1, 2009 01:27pm | Post a Comment
Sindou Peaks in Burkina Faso

Background on Burkina Faso

What is now Burkina Faso has been continuously inhabited for at least 14,000 years. The main indigenous population of this Sahelian region were the Yonyonse, who remained for thousands of years until they were displaced by the Mossi people of what is now Ghana only a thousand years ago. The Mossi established several kingdoms; the first, Tenkodogo, was founded in 1120 and ruled by Naaba. The Dogon, who'd inhabited areas in the north, left between the 15th and 16h centuries. Two more Mossi Kingdoms followed and dominated the area for about 800 years until 1896 when France invaded and established a colonial occupation. Upper Volta, as it was then known, gained independence from the French in 1960. As is the case with most post-Colonial countries, the years since have been dominated by dictatorships, wars and coups.

Street scene in Ouagadougou

Yet despite being plagued by poverty, unemployment and strife, Burkina Faso inarguably has one of West Africa's most vibrant cultures. Literature, primarily transmitted orally until collected in the 1930s, has long been a central part of Burkina Faso's culture. A strong theater tradition owing to both Burkinabé traditions and French influences has also been a major aspect of Burkinabé's cultural life. With over 60 ethnic groups, no one sort of music has yet dominated Burkina Faso's musical scene, although American and European pop are the most popular. Since 1969, Burkina Faso has been one of, if not the, dominant powers in Africa's film industry.

Werewolves in Film, DVDs, Games and Music

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 26, 2009 04:00pm | Post a Comment
 

Whilst werewolves have been the subjects of films at least as early as 1913's The Werewolf, werewolf movies has always played second fiddle to vampire movies. Heck, maybe even third fiddle, with zombies probably having overtaken them. Werewolf films are therefore like the Dr. Pepper to Zombies' Pepsi and Vampires' Coke. The Rodney Dangerfield of monsters. And yet werewolves' history, both in cinema and reality, is indelibly intertwined with other, more popular monsters. Historically, werewolves were even viewed as likely candidates for vampirism after death. And in films they have a long history of grudge matches with their undead enemies. In the past, it was usually Dracula himself vs. The Wolf Man in a series of B-movies. Now, vampires and werewolves are often depicted as members of different races of beings with ancient hatreds that play out less in the horror genre than the fantasy.
 

 

Why don't werewolves get more love? Where did it all go wrong? Maybe it's just because, for the most part, great werewolf films are few and far between -- most of the early ones, which may be the genre's Vampyr or Nosferatu, are lost. Maybe it's because werewolf films are always introducing more and more mythology to the canon, shaping and shifting our perceptions of werewolves as cunning and secretive in the silent era, to rampaging maniacs in the '40s, to Vampire hating proles in modern, dark fantasy. Beyond film, vampires have captured the black hearts of the dispossessed and pasty goth subculture in a way werewolves never have. I mean, Peter Murphy didn't sing, "Lon Chaney Jr.'s Dead." I, for one, have always identified with werewolves more than any other monster. I'm not sure why, but I think there's more to it than them being the underdogs... or wolves as it were. Plus, once (after going to bed in upstairs), I awoke in the early morning on the ground outdoors... unclothed... with bloody bits of skin under my nails and no memory of how I got there.
 

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Io -- as seen on TV, DVD, VHS, games and telescopes

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 17, 2009 11:57am | Post a Comment
Io orbiting Jupiter

Io is the fourth largest moon in the solar system, about the same size as Earth's. But, whereas Earth's moon (like most) is a boring ball of dirt, Io is bat guano insane, with over 400 volcanoes spewing plumes of material from its molten core as high as 500 km into space, creating a thin atmosphere of sulphur which disperses, due to Io's low gravity.

    Linda Morabito

The volcanoes were first noticed by a navigation engineer named Linda Morabito when she was analyzing images sent from Voyager 1. It is also covered with mountains (most tectonic and not volcanic), some higher than any on Earth. It's also highly radioactive. And as pockmarked and hard to look at as it is, it has no known impact craters. Io remains difficult to look at for dermatosiophobes like myself. If you also have this probelm, maybe it will help to compare it to a moldy fruit.

     

It was first discovered in 1610 by Galileo Bonaiuti de' Galilei, an astronomer curiously referred to, in most cases, by his first name (like Bjork, Sadam, Lawrence, Madonna and Prince) -- a fact which I find fascinating. It's not as if Galileo is an overly common family name. Though named "Io" by Simon Marius in 1614, the moon was usually referred to as Jupiter I until the mid-20th century. Marius claimed to have discovered Io, in fact, a week before Galilei.

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