Amoeblog

26 women's history fictional films

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 10, 2009 11:06pm | Post a Comment
 
 

   

     

   

   

   

   

   


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Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas

Posted by Miss Ess, December 26, 2008 05:21pm | Post a Comment
Somehow since I wasn't allowed to watch much TV when I was little, I missed ever seeing what has now become my favorite Christmas-themed special: Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas.


I realize it's kinda late, seeing as Christmas was yesterday, but this little movie is so extraordinary and unique, it really could be watched any time, year-round. It was created in 1977 by the much missed Jim Henson, features his imaginative and irresistable puppetry and sets, and was based on a children's book by Russel and Lillian Hoban. The special also features music by the inimitable Paul Williams, including such classics as "When the River Meets the Sea." If you've never seen it before, you can get a great idea of what the production and characters look like by watching this YouTube video which features clips from the special edited together with Emmet and Ma Otter (plus John Denver, who does not appear in any form in Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas but who covered the song with the Muppets on their Christmas album -- A Christmas Together!) singing "When the River Meets the Sea":


The storyline focuses on the simple but happy lives that Emmet Otter and his Ma lead in their small home by the river. They have no money because Pa died a few years back, but they remember the good times and still find meaning and joy in life despite the loss. Each have odd jobs to make ends meet: Emmet does carpentry work and Ma is a laundress. They long for more security and both love music. When they hear about a talent contest in a neighboring town, Ma and Emmet both scramble to compete independently of one another. They each want to win the $50 prize in order to buy one another special Christmas presents. But they each have to sacrifice mainstays of one another's job to have a chance at winning: Emmet needs Ma's washtub to make his washtub bass for his Jug Band and Ma needs to sell Emmet's tools to buy fabric for a new costume. They put everything on the line in order to hopefully bring some Christmas happiness to one another. But what if they both lose?

The story is sweet and well-told, but my favorite parts are all the little details put in just for kids (and adults) to enjoy -- the inexplicably and fabulously expressive faces of each of the puppets; the slide into the river that Ma and Emmet enjoy; the ducks that curiously paddle by as the otters row along the river; Ma and Emmet's fantastic and ultimate talent show competition, The Nightmare band, and their apparent enjoyment of Glam Rock. These charming details are the hallmarks of a Jim Henson production. I see something new and endearing each time I watch this special. It's especially great for kids, I think, with its touching songs, winning message and cool bad guys.

If you enjoyed watching this as a child, you'll be pleased to know (if you didn't already) that there's a special edition DVD of Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas that includes a making-of documentary. It definitely makes Christmas merrier...and post-Christmas to

Mimes in music and film

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

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.


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


 
Jacques Tati worked, not surprisingly, as a mime. As a director, he mimed out his actors' movements.




Lindsay Kemp
was raised in Yorkshire, an area whose green moors and dales have earned it the nickname "God's Own Country." At Bradford Arts College he studied with famous Austrian dancer Hilde Holger and even more famous mime, Marcel Marceau. His take on mime was experimental, nightmarishly creepy, psychedelia and Butoh-informed and part of that whole anarchic, vaugely-sinister, druggy whimsy that seems to be evident in so much late '60s/early-'70s British stuff from the final scene of Blow-Up to The Prisoner. He had a small role in the druggily whimsical The Wicker Man as well as Velvet Goldmine and others. His troupe employed David Bowie and Kate Bush.

David Bowie


Peter Gabriel
is an admitted fan of Kemp and Marceau and, especially in Genesis, he was a mimetic performer with a stock of mime-ish characters. 



Steve Harley
, in Cockney Rebel, frequently incorporated aspects of mime into his performances. And he always chewed gum, it seems.


Jobriath
was obviously informed by mime, mentioning Pierrot numerous times and striking mime-like poses in pictures. He seems a bit nervous here, but there isn't that much footage of him performing and he seems to get a little more comfortable and mime like as it goes on.


Renato Zero
, hailing from the home of the commedia dell'arte, has clearly a been inspired by mime.


Klaus Nomi
's look, his movements and performance all have a distinct air of mime about them.


Kate Bush


 

Marillion's Fish seemed fairly mime-informed... and perhaps owed a little to Peter Gabriel.

I think that part of the reason mimes are so broadly detested is that most people who practice it are just sidewalk performers in whiteface trying to get paid for doing charades. Plus it's just sort of a comedy cliché, like midgets biting peoples legs. Shakes the Clown certainly addressed it, as has Reno 911 and millions of struggling comedians and bloggers.


 
More postive portrayals of mimes do exist in film. Consider:

Hildur and the Magician (1969), Le Monde Etait Plein De Couleurs (1973) and Sueño de Noche de Verano (1984)

Guitar Hero World Tour & video game timeline

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 21, 2008 06:48pm | Post a Comment
Guitar Games



The first installment in the Guitar Hero series was released in 2005. The developers at Harmonix were obviously inspired by 1998’s Konami’s GuitarFreaks, in which players also use a guitar-shaped controller with colored fret buttons on the neck and a pick lever to score points playing along to rock music. That game never took off on the level of Guitar Hero though, partly because GuitarFreaks required players to shred along to the likes of Mutsuhiko Izumi, 桜井 敏郎,  小野秀幸, 前田尚紀 and Jimmy Weckl (né ジミー・ウェックル), who composed songs especially for the game. Guitar Hero's innovation was including 47 AOR songs by the likes of the Ramones, Deep Purple, umlaut-abusers Blue Öyster Cult and Motörhead -- songs that, whatever you think of them, are seared into your brain if you've ever drank a Mountain Dew, rode in a Z-28, watched a television commercial or shopped at Amoeba. That means even if you've heard "More Than a Feeling" 603,501 times more than you ever wanted, you'll have no problem playing along.



In 2006, RedOctane (the manufacturers of the guitar controllers) was purchased by Activision and Harmonix was bought by MTV. In 2007 Harmonix released, through Electronic Arts, Rock Band -- basically an expanded version of Guitar Hero which added other instruments, another innovation inspired by Konami’s games of the previous decade which followed up GuitarFreaks with DrumFreaks and KeyboardFreaks.

Continue reading...

Titan in Fact and Fiction

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 3, 2008 11:58pm | Post a Comment


TITAN


Titan was discovered in 1655 by Dutchman Christiaan Huygens. It orbits Saturn. Huygens named it Luna Saturni. When more moons were discovered, it was re-named Saturn II, then IV, then VI, which stuck as the official title, even though there are at least 19 moons in closer orbit of Saturn. It's also been referred to as "Saturn's ordinary satellite," but Titan is anything but ordinary.

 


Titan is the only body in the solar system, aside from Earth, with stable liquid bodies at its surface* and a dense atmosphere. Its landscape is relatively smooth, although there are mountains. As on Earth, the air is primarily composed of Nitrogen. Methane and Ethane clouds produce rain, wind and weather that give it seasons. It also has subsurface oceans*.

Embedded video from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology


 

The name Titan was chosen by John Herschel in 1847. The Titans, according to the Greek Religion and its adherents, were the former rulers of Greece during the Golden Age. The leader, Kronos, feared that his offspring would attempt to overthrow him, just as he had his father. To prevent this, he ate his children, except Zeus, who was saved and ultimately did overthrow the Titans and banish them to Tartarus.

Huygens's landing site on Titan

With such a mysterious, aesthetically Earth-like world hidden by a hazy atmosphere, Titan has attracted its fair share of speculation about its possible nature. Many films, television series and video games have been set there and are available at Amoeba for your own investigations...

 

Doctor Who - "The Invisible Enemy"



Transformers G1 - "The God Gambit"



Space Patrol (UK) - "The Glowing Eggs of Titan"


Creature (The Titan Find)



The Puppet Masters



Star Trek: The Next Generation
- "Chain of Command"



Gattaca



Starhunter


Star Trek
(2009)



Eureka
(season 3 and 4 opening)



Oblivion


TITAN IN VIDEO AND COMPUTER GAMES


  

   


TITAN IN SONG


  
*maybe

*****

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