Amoeblog

Skweee - the sound of young Scando

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 17, 2009 03:36pm | Post a Comment

Skweee is a stripped down, barebones, (mostly) Nordic and Finnish, minimal synthfunk. The songs sound like old midi files and karaoke soul music that's the perfect soundtrack to Leisure Suit Larry getting his mack on. The scene's been around for a few years and I can't remember when I first became aware of it... it may go back to the myspace age. Actually, this blog entry has been around a long time so I thought I should wrap it up. Vinyl is the medium of choice for this example of what can happen when your country pays you to advance their culture.

Check out these label sites if you're interested:
Flogsta Danshall, Harmönia, Dødpop, Disques Mazout and Titched.













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ProtestationTartare

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 20, 2009 09:14pm | Post a Comment

Today an estimated 15,000 Crimean Tatars gathered in Simferopol, Ukraine to mark the 65th anniversary of their forced deportation at the hands of Soviet authorities under Stalin. In 1944, approximately 200,000 Crimean Tatars were loaded onto trains and sent to Siberia, with roughly half dying along the way.


Since the collapse of the USSR, many have returned to their ancestral homelands, joining the 280,000 who currently live there. Around 150,000 have expressed their intention to return.


Many of the protesters held aloft their national flag and voiced their demands, which include calls for national recognition, autonomy and Crimean Tatar schools.

  

Without a doubt, the most famous Tatar in American popular culture of Tatar ancestry is actor Charles Bronson. They also gave us steak Tartare.


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St. Lucy's Day (Sankta Lucia)

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 12, 2008 10:28am | Post a Comment

Tomorrow is St. Lucy's Day, a holiday primarily observed in Northern and Central Europe, and the Upper Midwest. If it seems odd for Lutherans to observe a St. Day, it's because it sort of is. Then again, as with most Christian observances, the holiday's roots have nothing to do with saints or Christianity.

St. Lucy's Day begins with a young girl clad in white with a lit crown of candles positioned in her hair in a fir wreath (or lingonberry or whortleberry twigs). She leads a procession of candle-bearing girls with coffee, ginger snaps, glog and St. Lucia buns (lussekatter). Sometimes there are boys in conical hats known as "star boys." The children sing Lucia songs which provide a welcome break from Christmas Carols.


Falling near the longest night of the year, the symbolism of young maidens bearing light-bringing fire and bounty isn't too hard to figure out, but if you must know the official Christian version of events, then here you go. Officially, Lucia helped the early Christians in Italy who hid in the catacombs. In order to see, but needing to bring food in her hands, she contructed a wreath of candles. Yeah... right.


The truth is that before the light-bringing Lucy was invented, Germanic people and their neighbors observed "Lussi Night." The figure, Lussi die dunkle, was a dark, evil female spirit that came on the 13th of December to punish those with uncompleted tasks. Similar (and perhaps to related) to Lillith, the Mesopotamian storm demons, Lussi also preyed upon children. In fact, a whole mob of Lussiferda (Lisle-Ståli, Store-Ståli, Ståli Knapen, Tromli Harebakka, Sisill, Surill, Hektetryni and Botill) would go around an enter houses through chimneys to kidnap children. Sound vaguely familiar?



In Italy, where St. Lucia is said to have lived and died, children leave sandwiches for her and she rides a flying donkey, giving coal to bad children and... flour, sugar or salt to the good. Now that's an incentive! They don't, however, eat anything made of wheat flour on this day, munching instead on cuccia (a desert made of wheat berries) and biscotti made to look like eyeballs.

In Hungary, groups of children sing ancient fertility songs and, if given gifts of pears, bless the houses' poultry. If not rewarded, they have to power to make all the chickens die... except one... which is left blind.


A newer tradition is for college students to party all night long on St. Lucia Day, since it's one of the last chances to get together before going home for Christmas.



A NOCTURNAL UPON ST. LUCY'S DAY,
BEING THE SHORTEST DAY.
by John Donne


'TIS the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks ;
    The sun is spent, and now his flasks
    Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;
            The world's whole sap is sunk ;
The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr'd ; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring ;
    For I am every dead thing,
    In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
            For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness ;
He ruin'd me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death—things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that's good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have ;
    I, by Love's limbec, am the grave
    Of all, that's nothing. Oft a flood
            Have we two wept, and so
Drown'd the whole world, us two ; oft did we grow,
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else ; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death—which word wrongs her—
Of the first nothing the elixir grown ;
    Were I a man, that I were one
    I needs must know ; I should prefer,
            If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means ; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love ; all, all some properties invest.
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light, and body must be here.

But I am none ; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
    At this time to the Goat is run
    To fetch new lust, and give it you,
            Enjoy your summer all,
Since she enjoys her long night's festival.
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year's and the day's deep midnight is.

Unrecognized Caucasia and neighboring regions

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 20, 2008 05:16pm | Post a Comment
The current situation in the Caucasus prompted one of the loyal blog readers to request that I post about the confusing region and shed a little light. If you blog readers have any requests for blog topics, I always welcome them.

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(If interested, there are similar entries about Eastern Europe, North Asia and South Asia.)

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Caucasia
is a mountainous region located between the two continents of Europe and Asia. While it's not the Nazi-imagined homeland (a concept invented by 18th century craniologists) to the blond & blue-eyed, it is home to some of the oldest human populations in the world as well as the birthplace of wine. It's also one of the most culturally varied regions in the world, where tiny populations of little-known peoples have somehow existed between some of the biggest, baddest imperialists of world history. Perhaps it's not surprising then that they seem or persevere by clinging tightly to cultural expressions like music and dance, as well as deeply-embedded xenophobia, mistrust, mutual hostility and self-preservatory instincts.

Just to name a few, in this tiny global neighborhood you've got Abazins, Abkazians, Adjarians, Adydhe, Aguls, Archins, Armenians, Avars, Azerbaijanis, Balkars, Bats, Chechens, Cherkes, Cossacks, Dargins, Georgians, Greeks, Ingush, Kabardins, Kalmyks, Karachays, Khinalug, Kists, Kumyks, Kurds, Laks, Laz, Lezgins, Mingrelians, Mountain Jews, Nakh, Nogais, Ossetians, Rutls, Svans, Tabasarans, Talysh, Tats, Trukhmens, Tsakhurs, Ubykh and Udins... my apologies if I've forgotten anyone... also my producer, my wife and so forth. I just know I'm forgetting someone!



In the Greek religion, the Kaukasos (Caucasia) was where one of the pillars supporting the planet was found. It's also where Prometheus was chained by Zeus, having one of his organs picked at by a buzzard, if memory serves...just because someone duped Prometheus by slyly asking for "a light." Because of that, it was considered by the Greeks to be sort of like hell for Titans.

           Jason and the Argonauts

They also thought it was a place populated by magical and barbaric women. It's also where Jason met Medea in a story perhaps constructed to give a taste of Caucasian women's famous ferocity. When he left her for another woman, Medea killed the girl, her dad, and the two kids she'd had with Jason. I'm on her side. Get it how you live it.

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