Amoeblog

Happy Valentine's Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 14, 2008 12:51pm | Post a Comment

      

It's Valentines Day. Pshaw! A Hallmark Holiday, you say. Singles Awareness Day, another jokes. I guess every holiday has its Scrooge. I have my Ngoc-Thu. My friend Nick Pinto would gripe about Valentine's, Christmas or (especially) 4/20. He doesn't need holidays to legislate his behavior. And yet his love of Halloween never once carried into the rest of the year. Why not don a Boba Fett costume and go door-to-door stating "Trick or Treat!" in March, you rebels? Despite what cynics claim about the supposed commercial origins of Valentine's Day, the oldest known association of St. Valentine's Feast Day with romantic love occurs in Geoffrey Chaucer's Parlement of Foules which was published back in 1382. In it he wrote,



For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chesehis make.

It was written to commemorate the engagement of the 13-year-old Richard II to 14-year-old (cougar) Anne of Bohemia. The "volantynys" or "valentine" is variously assumed to be either Valentine (Valentinus) of Rome or Valentine of Terni, who may've been the same person or, more likely, never existed. Valentines, from at least that point on, have held special significance for lovers. By the 1850s, Esther Howland was mass-producing and selling Valentines after taking her inspiration from an English Valentine. Hallmark, the Missouri-based mass producer of greeting cards, began producing Valentines 532 years after Chaucer's remark, making accusations that they're behind the holiday somewhat less than likely.

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Dancicals! A Concept Whose Time Has Arrived

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 9, 2008 10:57am | Post a Comment
Last year on Amoeba Hollywood's mezzanine there was a serious debate about possible new sections:

Sports movies, Christian movies, Tween movies, Women's Pictures, Edwardian Movies, Midwesterns, &c. Most were shot down as stupid, unattractive and inadvisable. One that didn't get the official OK and yet sprang up anyway was "Dancicals."



In musicals (dancicals' aging sibling), singing and musical performance are interwoven into the plot. In backstage musicals, Dick Powell might be telling an audience about a new song he's written, which soon evolves into some insane Busby Berkeley fever dream that would be impossible to stage except in outer space.

In other musicals, two sane, grown-ass men might seamlessly slip from dialog into snapping, then singing, dancing and jumping off walls, grabbing mannequins and other tomfoolery that leaves some viewers scratching their heads wandering, "What the heck was that?" The age old question of whether or not musical numbers are actually occurring within the diegesis can't really be answered. You just have to not think about it.

With the onslaught of rock 'n' roll, musicals slipped in popularity in the 1960s. Interestingly, with the death of rock 'n' roll musicals have grown more popular again, with modern examples like Velvet Goldmine, Hedwig & the Angry Inch, Moulin Rouge!, Chicago, Sweeney Todd, &c.

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Juno: Ghost World + Little Miss Sunshine x Wes Anderson divided by Welcome To the Dollhouse

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 8, 2008 10:14am | Post a Comment
Oh my blog, so, I like totally watched Juno the other night, Lite Brite, and now I totally can’t stop, you know, parlaying this guey. “Por k, Macy Gray?” you query. Welp, homeslice, it’s B-cuz I have had mine eyes opened when to the real deal Holyfield about how to rap like the post-tweens of today, OKizzle? Now normally I avoid quirk ‘n’ smirk like a bubble boy does a peanut butter factory; especially when it's strained, smug, masturbatory, self-worshipping and as heavy handed as Fisto holding a purse full of lead weights. Homie don’t play that, Krazy Kat. And from the trailers alone I was scared merdeless. A familiarly precocious kid has it all figured out like a pint-size Paul Haggis on shrooms. But then she finds out, in a major league curve ball, she’s still got more growin’ up to do, Mr. Magoo.

Cue an annoying Kimya Dawson (Moldy Peaches) song where she busts out with her urban-outfitted, practiced and studied amateurism. OK, we know it’s Indie Anna Jones when we’re confronted, finalmente gente, with the smiling visages of big Hollywood actors, since Indie film is like, totally like “alternative” was when that term went from meaning anything not on commercial radio from Husker Du to Husker Don't to specifically proto-Creed band whose singers yarl and show off their abs-of-steel whilst a creepy, masked, old geezer lurches around in a red and green-lit video that’s played in heavy rotation on empMTyV. Indie is now actually slightly more formulaic than Bollywood, nay, Nollywood.


”Lieben meine Affe-monkey!”

The story is about a 16-year-old Canuck who gets pregnant by her Canuck friend and then finds a couple to adopt her baby after a Canuck at the abortion clinic tells her in thickly-accented Canadian, “All babies want to be born.” Their Canada talk is never explained, I’m guessing because the actors had to devote most of their ability to contorting their brains around the graceless and over-written dialog. It kind of gives it a Degrassi High on Growth-Hormones feel -- only 1000 times more annoying. Only Juno’s dad seems passably Minnesotan. It’s also obviously filmed nowhere near Minnesota but that sort of authenticity rides Miss Daisy-style to the chauffeur/plot that's too busy stroking its "beef sword" (to borrow another barf-inducing Juno-ism) to deal with such obvious details.

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New Zealand Day or, Happy Waitangi Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 6, 2008 03:04pm | Post a Comment
Happy New Zealand Day!

 
                                The Haast's Eagle, the largest bird of prey (until extinction) attacking a flightless moa (also extinct)

The islands that make up what today is known as New Zealand were, for centuries, uninhabited by people. Due to isolation, the islands hosted many distinct creatures and were dominated by large birds. There were no land mammals, only bats and the marine variety on the coast.

 
                          a Maori warrior                                                               a group of Moriori

Austronesians came from Polynesia sometime between 800 and 1300 A.D, making New Zealand one of the last major land masses to be settled by people. These people organized into groups called hapu. Over time, they came to refer to themselves collectively as Māori. They called the North Island Te Ika a Māui (the fish of Māui) and the South Island Te Wai Pounamu (the waters of jade) or Te Waka a Māui (the canoe of Māui). Around 1500, a group split off and migrated to Rekohu and developed a culture known as Moriori. These people embraced Pacifism which served them poorly when they were massacred and cannibalized by the Maori in the 1830s. The remaining Moriori, who'd adapted to the harsh climate of Rekohu, died out completely in the early 20th century.

   
                                    Able Tasman                                                                               James Cook

Movie Myths 101-Vampires

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 3, 2008 12:49pm | Post a Comment


Whilst descriptions of vampires historically have varied widely, certain traits now accepted as universal were created by the film industry. Where did vampires originate? Well, nearly every culture has its own undead creatures which feed off of the life essence of the living, but ancient Persian pottery shards specifically depict creatures drinking blood from the living in what may be the earliest representations of vampires. In the 1100s English historians and chroniclers Walter Map and William of Newburgh recorded accounts of various undead fauna. By the 1700s, an era often known as the Age of Enlightenment, fear of vampires reached its apex following a spate of vampire attacks in East Prussia in 1721 and the Hapsburg Monarchy from 1725 to 1734. Government positions were created for vampire hunters to once-and-for-all rid man of this unholy scourge.

Even Enlightenment writer Voltaire wrote about the vampire plague in his Philosophical Dictionary, "These vampires were corpses, who went out of their graves at night to suck the blood of the living, either at their throats or stomachs, after which they returned to their cemeteries. The persons so sucked waned, grew pale, and fell into consumption; while the sucking corpses grew fat, got rosy, and enjoyed an excellent appetite. It was in Poland, Hungary, Silesia, Moravia, Austria, and Lorraine, that the dead made this good cheer."

There were a couple of famous vampire cases. I, unfortunately, couldn't find any good pictures for this bit.

In Serbia Peter Plogojowitz died at the age of 62. According to reports he returned after his death asking his son for food. When the son refused, he was found dead the following day. His wife claimed that he came to her after death and asked for his shoes. Plogojowitz was, reportedly, identified by nine victims who died shortly thereafter.

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