Amoeblog

Happy All Hallows' Even

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 30, 2008 08:05pm | Post a Comment

You know those grinches that, on Valentines Day say, "I don't need a holiday to tell me when to express my feelings for my loved one" or, on Mothers Day say "I don't need a stupid holiday to tell me when to call my mom?" Well, that's one reason I like Halloween --because those bias keep their yaps shut for once. After all, it's unlikely that those negative nancies are going to say, "I don't need a stupid holiday to tell me when I can dress like Boba Fett and go door-to-door begging for candy from strangers." Like so many holidays, most of the customs are under threat of disappearance due to the media standardizing, simplifying and corporatizing its observance.



Halloween origins

On Halloween, the boundary between the alive and deceased is erased or at least thin. It was observed as Samhain by the Celts and other Euros until 837 AD, when one of the popes decided to move All Souls Day from May 13 (previously chosen to capitalize on another pagan holiday -- The Feast of the Lemures -- on which day Romans would exorcise their homes of evil spirits) to its current date. Over time it has evolved from a harvest festival, to an opportunity to divine the future (in the 18th century), to an opportunity for children to obtain candy, to its current status as an excuse for drunken adults to dress like media figures or slutty versions of mythological beings.


Jack-o-lanterns and other Halloween trappings

The tradition of carving a jack-o-lantern comes from the tale of Stingy Jack, or Jack the Smith as he was also known. Jack was an Irish drunkard whose reputation for debauchery, scumminess and villainy reached the ears of the disbelieving Devil himself. When the Devil decided to take Jack's soul, Jack tricked him into transforming himself into a coin to pay for one last ale. Instead, Jack placed the coin in his pocket, next to a rood, and made a deal that the Devil wouldn't come back for another ten years. When the Devil showed up ten years later, Jack asked to have an apple. The Devil, displaying shocking gullibility, consented and Jack climbed a tree with a crucifix carved on the trunk. This time Jack struck a deal to never be taken to Hell. Upon Jack's death, he was denied entry into both Heaven and Hell so the Devil gave him a burning ember inside a hollowed out turnip, cursing him to spend eternity wandering around with his strange lantern.

These jack-o-lanterns were formerly yielded by children to frighten off faeries, who aren't nearly as benevolent as Tinkerbell would have us believe. Of course, making them out of pumpkins instead of turnips made carrying them impossible for any kid beside Richard Sandrak so costumes have to do the trick. It is also customary to light candles and leave some treats so that the home will be spared.



Halloween games

Everyone knows of the prohibitively unhygienic practice of bobbing for apples but another, more disgusting game involves trying to eat a treacle-soaked scone, suspended on a line, without using one's hands. There's also the game of Puicini. In it, blindfolded participant places their hands into a saucer to divine their future based on the contents of the dish. Dirt = death, water = emigration, a ring = marriage, a rosary = taking Holy Orders, a coin = wealth, a bean = poverty.

Another form of Halloween divination is young women unleashing slugs on flour-sprinkled saucers or toss the peel of an apple over one's shoulder. The result is supposed to spell out, in both cases, the first letter of the future spouse's name. This is pretty much strictly a Hillbilly thing. More well known is the practice of a young woman gazing into a mirror. Either the image of their future husband or a skull signaling death before marriage is supposed to appear. 



Halloween food

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Today's Holidays - 23 September 2008

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 23, 2008 09:04am | Post a Comment

Armenia - Independence Day



Latvia - Miķeļi

Orthodox Christianity - New Year's Day

Catholicism - Feast Days of St. Adomnan of Iona, St. Thecla and Padre Pio of Pietrelcina



Japan (Shinto) - Autumnal Equinox (秋分の日/Shūbun no hi)

  
Saudi Arabia - National Day



Bisexuals (and their supporters) - Celebrate Bisexuality Day



Puerto Rico - Grito de Lares

Ceres - Dwarf Planet

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 19, 2008 09:01am | Post a Comment
Dwarf planets are objects with sufficient mass to assume a roughly spherical shape but yet too small to get picked for the starting lineup in the solar tee-ball match. There are currently four planets designated as dwarf planets. Before 2006 they were also known as minor planets, planetoids and (my favorite) subplanets.

 

Although there are currently only four designated dwarf planets, there are at least 41 known objects which may qualify when we get around to it. And when the Kuiper belt is fully-explored, there may turn out to be another 200. Beyond that there may be another 2000 subplanets in our solar system.

 

Ceres is named after the Roman goddess of cereals (as in grasses cultivated for their edible parts and not as in the milky bowls of breakfast candy eaten by toddlers and people living in dorms), abundance, and motherly love. She was both the sister and wife of Jupiter. Her worship was adopted by the Romans in 496 BCE, during a particularly severe famine. Her followers were mostly plebes who controlled the grain game in antiquity. For some reason, their rites included tying burning sticks to fox's tails.

The original name for the planetoid was Ceres Ferdinandea but that got shot down as not everyone was so keen on brown-nosing Spanish royalty. The dwarf planet is the smallest of the currently designated subplanets. It was actually discovered way back in 1801 by Giuseppie Piazzi who wrote, "since its movement is so slow and rather uniform, it has occurred to me several times that it might be something better than a comet." Even further back, Johann Elert Bode, in 1768, had suggested that there may be a planet between Mars and Earth. And lo, Ceres is situated within the asteroid belt.

Ceres is actually the largest  object in the asteroid belt -- making up a third of the belt's mass. Its surface is made up of water ice (more than the total amount of water found on Earth), carbonate and clay. The weather on Ceres isn't that bad, reaching -38 degrees Celsius, which is slightly warmer than some Midwestern winters I've experienced.


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CERES IN FILM




In the American Astronaut there's a bar on Ceres called the Ceres Crossroads where a dance contest takes place.


CERES IN TELEVISON


In Exosquad, Ceres is posited as the location of the first Neo Mega breeding location.

In the Twilight Zone episode "The Lonely," Ceres is a prison colony.



CERES IN GAMES


In Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday, there is an abandoned RAM research base situated on the dwarf planet.

 

In Descent and Descent3, there are missions which take place on Ceres.


In Star Control II, Ceres station is destroyed by the Ur-Quan before humans are enslaved.


In Super Metroid, the first playable area takes place on Ceres.


In Terminal Velocity, a machine must be destroyed that will otherwise cause Ceres to collide with Earth.


In Zone of the Enders, a colony exists on Ceres.

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Hispanic vs. Latino & Hollywood Brownface

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 15, 2008 02:24pm | Post a Comment

Hispanic Heritage Month


September 15th to October 15th is officially recognized as Hispanic Heritage Month in the USA.The dates of the observance were chosen due to the timing of El Grito, the "cry" that brought the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua's independence (followed closely by Mexico and Chile.).
 

Some fellows celebrating "El Grito"


"Hispanic" vs. "Latino"


I suppose it's kind of interesting that whoever named the month chose the term "Hispanic" instead of, say, "Latino." Hispanic sounds old-fashioned to me, but then again, I know people younger than me who refer to themselves as just that. I still think it's like calling February "Colored History Month" or May being "Oriental Heritage month." The government's choice of "Hispanic" probably owes to the fact that the term "Latino" was in less common usage forty years ago when the observance was instigated by Lyndon B. Johnson (initially as Hispanic Heritage Week). Both terms are considered offensive by some indigenists since they disappropriate Native Americans from their origins and languages by defining people with sometimes no European ancestry with Eurocentric terms.

That being said, though Latino and Hispanic are frequently used interchangeably, they don't mean exactly the same thing.

Hispanic


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Senegalese Film

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 5, 2008 01:08am | Post a Comment




During the Colonial era, cinematic images of Africa and its people were entirely the work of Western filmmakers. The Tarzan movies, African Queen, King Solomon's Mines and others were usually filmed on soundstages half a world away from Africa and made little to no effort toward authenticity, instead trading in exoticism aimed primarily at exploiting Western tastes.



Senegal gained its independence from France in 1960. Like most West African countries, Senegal is highly diverse. The Wolof, Peul, Halpulaaren, Serer, Lebou, Jola, Mandinka, Moors, Soninke and Bassari are all long established in the country. There are also substantial populations of French, Mauritanians, Lebanese and Vietnamese. Three years after independence, the first Senegalese film was made by Ousmane Sembene titled L'empire sonhrai, which would set the standards for a uniquely African cinematic language that would establish Senegal as the capital of African Cinema.



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THE FILMMAKERS


OUSMANE SEMBENE 
 

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