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We Wish You a Merry Flag Day! And a Happy New Days that aren't Flag Days...

Posted by Job O Brother, June 14, 2012 03:07pm | Post a Comment


Flag Day, U.S.A.

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Summer 2012: You CAN Play With Madness!

Posted by Kells, February 29, 2012 12:12pm | Post a Comment

You know there's something heavy in the air when Ed Force One, Iron Maiden's custom fitted and supremely airworthy Boeing 757 tour-craft, makes a low pass over your hometown's main gas, food and lodging conduit. Well, up the irons Maiden heads of America - the boys'll be back in town this summer revisiting their 1988 Seventh Son of a Seventh Son world tour with production and content to mirror their Maiden England concert home video* so closely that they're gone ahead and exhumed the title for use on yet another "between albums" tour, or the third chapter in the band's History of Iron Maiden live shows.


'Tis a thing of beauty, no? I am almost at a loss for words to explain how pumped I am for this tour. Seventh Son was the first Iron Maiden cassette I ever owned and it still serves as a source of workaday strength for me, especially the song (and music video for) "Can I Play With Madness" - any of you "talented arts" kids out there will fell me on that score. In fact, eff it, I'm so stoked right now how about we watch the music video for "Can I Play With Madness" and talk tour deets n' things after the break.

 
 

Now, if you or any of your clairvoyant friends are in the official Iron Maiden fan club then chances are you've already procured your tickets as they were made available to IMFC members today, but if you're not be ready to get the best of the leftovers on March 2nd or 3rd (check here or your local venue listings for official ticket sale dates and times) and remember to buy paperless and avoid the gauging habits secondary ticketing sites (i.e. the evil that men do lives on and on). For a complete list of set list speculations and 2012 tour dates, see below. Otherwise, up the irons! See you in D.C. and San Francisco!!!!!!!!

*Maiden England 1988 Longform Video VHS Tracklisting:
Moonchild, The Evil That Men Do, The Prisoner, Still Life, Die With Your Boots On, Infinite Dreams, Killers, Can I Play With Madness, Heaven Can Wait, Wasted Years, The Clairvoyant, Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, The Number Of The Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Iron Maiden.

Something In the Way He Moves: The Magic of Mansai Nomura

Posted by Kells, March 30, 2011 07:01pm | Post a Comment
When there's something strange in the imperial court, who you gonna call? During Japan's Heian period, an era of classical Japanese history spanning from 784 to 1185, most folks relied on powerful ghostbusters called onmyoji, wizard-like masters of yin and yang, to ease the energies of vengeful spirits (most famously that of Prince Sawara) who'd stir up all kinds of trouble from plagues and famine to earthquakes and typhoons and other natural disasters mistaken as superstitious punishment. As we have witnessed in recent weeks, perceiving catastrophe as divine comeuppance has changed little over the centuries thanks to Shintaro Ishihara and Glenn Beck, among others, for their knuckleheaded remarks --- no "that was then, this is now" about it. But this is not about jabbing trashy speculation at fresh wounds, this is about a cheesy, historic fantasy movie that I recently caught in my Heian Culture class called Onmyoji (2001, Yojiro Takita) starring Mansai Nomura as Abe no Seimei, a person of historic origin, legendary in Japanese folklore, who was in fact the Merlin of his time and place. Being one of those so-called "super seniors," it's a small miracle I didn't skip said scheduled movie day, I might add.

When it comes to guilty pleasure-esque cinema, for me, seeing Onmyoji fits right in there between Excalibur and Labyrinth, the only big difference being the sometimes-dazzling-yet-mostly-delightfully-laughable CG effects the likes of which predate the aforementioned films. However, Onmyoji doesn't rest on technical SFX innovation. There are actual puppets, impressive feats of make-up, hypnotic costuming and set design that set the stage for this well-known tale concerning the legendary Heian capitol city (now modern day Kyoto), her court drama, her heroes and enemies and, of course, her imperial ghostbuster #1 Abe no Seimei (if you're ever in Kyoto you may want to check out his shrine). All in all I give Onmyoji a solid A for pulling off history-buffing fantasy film excellence amid what could have been a potential "rotten tomatoes" recipe for disaster in terms of what feats and imagery the legend behind the story dictated. Besides, I have a feeling that seeing this flick will have proved helpful when it comes time for final exams. I mean, you try saying the name Sakanoue no Tamuramaro three times in a row without gagging on your tongue --- that's how difficult it is to keep facts straight in this class.

Anyway, on to the real subject of this post; casting noted kyogen stage actor Mansai Nomura for the lead role was a genius move as far as I'm concerned, as his eccentric performance carries the story and, much like Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow, makes one want to watch the sequel if for no other reason than to enjoy a broader scope of Nomura's skills in motion (Onmyoji II is arguably less fully realized than the first film, but I'm sure more is more as far as Nomura fans are concerned). No doubt foxy Nomura was in part considered for the role due to the legend that Abe no Seimei was born of a curious union between man and fox-wife, but it is the actor's honed movements, gracefully balletic yet arresting at times in their precision, that truly cast a spell and sell his performance as an unparalleled magic-maker. This evidence of his background in traditional theater arts showcased by way of fantasy entertainment brings to mind yet another comparison: get this guy in a Star Trek spacesuit and let's see if he can give Patrick Stewart's Captain Jean-Luc Picard a run for the neutral zone. Though most of what makes Nomura's presence in this film memorable to me is sadly lost in the trailer for Onmyoji, I feel I should post it below nonetheless as there are other people in this movie (I guess).
 

Here's a bonus look at Mansai Nomura as he appeared (with actress Kayoko Shiraishi) in a stage play he directed called Kuninusubito, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Richard III. It looks like it was probably an absolutely amazing production!

(In which we learn the true story of St. Valentine.)

Posted by Job O Brother, February 14, 2010 11:54am | Post a Comment

Violating child labor laws is romantic!

It’s Valentine’s Day, dear readers, and you know what that means! Time to dress up in our festive knickers with the edible tassles and frolic in the underground glitter pits!

While many people celebrate this day with awkward, workplace greetings, or by forcing their children to bestow amorous cards upon classmates they normally wouldn’t even sit next to for a meal, or by showing their paramour their affection by gifting them confections with so much sugar and saturated fat in them they could kill a cat, still so many of us don’t know the origin of the day.

Valentine’s Day is one of the world’s most ancient holidays. Archaeological evidence has shown texts referring to the celebration of Valentine’s Day from as far back as 1965 AD, but we have reason to believe  Valentine’s Day may have been older.

In Great Britain, Paleolithic ruins suggest that there were, in midwinter (around our February) great festivals in which Stone Age dudes would construct impressively huge, heart-shaped boxes, in which nougat-shaped rocks were placed inside wrappers made of shale. These were then buried with females, who would die after eating them, because when you eat a lot of rocks you die.


(I hate the ones with coconut inside.)

In ancient Japan, during the Asuka period (538 to 710), the proto-Japanese Yamato politically gradually became a clearly centralized state, defining and applying a code of governing laws, such as the Taika Reform and Taih? Code. The introduction of Buddhism led to the discontinuing of the practice of large kofun.

Buddhism was introduced to Japan in 538 by Baekje, to which Japan provided military support, and it was promoted by the ruling class. Prince Sh?toku devoted his efforts to the spread of Buddhism and Chinese culture in Japan. He is credited with bringing relative peace to Japan through the proclamation of the Seventeen-article constitution, a Confucian style document that focused on the kinds of morals and virtues that were to be expected of government officials and the emperor's subjects.

A letter brought to the Emperor of China by an emissary from Japan in 607 stated that the Emperor of the Land where the Sun rises (Japan) sends a letter to the Emperor of the land where Sun sets (China), thereby implying that he would like the Chinese Emperor to be his sweetheart forever and his truest, darling Valentine. Candy hearts made from candy and hearts were included with the message.

But who was Saint Valentine? Oddly enough, while people have been celebrating his life and death for millions of years, St. Valentine himself wasn’t born until 1587.

"I'm too sexy for my codpiece."

His father, Geoffrey Hamhawk, a wealthy slave trader and professional poker player, married Jane Moneypenny, a woman ¾ his age, who had inherited the largest parcel of land under the Atlantic Ocean. Upon their marriage, Hamhawk invested his entire holdings in a playing card manufacturing company which, because he built it on his wife’s property, fell into almost immediate disrepair. He realized too late that building a factory on the ocean’s floor was problematic, and no amount or kidnapping and torturing the indigenous people of Africa would help.

Having lost everything, the couple sailed for the New World where they became first in a long-standing tradition of destitute people with bankrupt morals who have babies.

Their first twenty children died during birth, possibly due to the then-common medical practice of anointing a crowning newborn’s head with a live grizzly bear, but their twenty-first child was born without incident, and they named him Valentineboroughnevilleighbourne.

Valentine, as his nickname became, did absolutely nothing of note or interest his entire life. No one wrote or cared about him beyond the average custom.

But then, on February 14, 1608, Valentine did something so epic, so magical, and so absolutely, unbelievably superhuman, that he has forever been known as the most spectacular human to have ever lived in the history of the entire universe.


And now you know the true story behind this special day. I hope you use it wisely – to meditate on the true nature of love and how it can make you money, to ridicule evil-doers, and to treat those who have less than you with compassion and mercy, but tempered with real boundaries so they don’t take advantage of you.

Also, Amoeba Music Hollywood is having a very special promotional offer! If you come in today and buy one of any poster (with a tag value of $60 or greater) you can legally marry any jazz room employee you choose!* What a great deal!

Happy Valentine’s Day, earthlings! Let’s kiss!

*Offer only valid on Valentine's Day. Offer will not be good if it violates applicable California laws regarding polygamy. Will not be offered to any customers under the age of 18, or who actually try to marry one of us. No humans, please.

November 11th, 1918, Armistice Day

Posted by Whitmore, November 11, 2009 11:00am | Post a Comment
The War to End All Wars. Though in 20 years time the Second World War would begin and the 78 million casualties would more than double the amount of World War One.
 
The total number of casualties in World War I, both military and civilian, was about 38 million: 16 million deaths and 22 million wounded (7 million were permanently disabled, and 15 million were seriously injured).
Of the 60 million European soldiers who were mobilized from 1914 – 1918, the official number of deaths was 9,721,937 with 21,228,813 wounded personnel; that is over half the military population. The Entente Powers (also known as the Allies -- United Kingdom, France, the Russian Empire, Belgium, Serbia, Canada, Australia, Italy, Japan, Greece, Romania and the United States) lost 5.7 million soldiers and the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, Bulgaria) about 4 million. Civilian deaths officially totaled 6,821,248, though many estimates double that number.
 
Germany lost 15.1% of its active male population, Austria–Hungary lost 17.1%, and France lost 10.5%. About 750,000 German civilians died from starvation brought on by the British blockade during the war. In 1914 alone, the typhus epidemic killed 200,000 in Serbia and a few years later more than 3 million more would die in Russia. By 1918, famine had killed approximately 100,000 people in Lebanon. In addition, the biggest influenza pandemic of the century, the Spanish flu, spread around the world killing at least 50 million to as many as 100 million people. Though the war was not the cause of the flu, it certainly hastened the pandemic (the first cases were found at the army base, Fort Riley, Kansas). With massive troop movements, close quarters and poor sanitary conditions, some researchers speculate that the soldiers' immune systems were weakened by malnourishment as well as the stress of combat and attacks from chemical weapons, increasing their vulnerability to the flu, widening the spread of the disease.
 
Battles of Arras, Somme, Verdun, Soissons, Ypres, Liege, Lorraine, Belleau Wood, Antwerp, St. Quentin, Fromelles, Artois, Bazentin Ridge, Gallipoli, Ctesiphon, Dujaila, Asiago, Caporetto, Mount Ortigara, Piave, Vittorio Veneto, Galicia, Komarów, Kraśnik, Gumbinnen, Łódź, Przemyśl, Rawa, Tannenberg, Vistula River, Kajmakcalan, Kosovo, Bucharest, Cer, Kolubara, Mărăşeşti, Turtucaia, Neuve Chapelle, Cambrai, Saint-Mihiel, Passchendaele, Mont Sorrel, Messines, Marne, Le Cateau, Loos, Guillemont, Fromelles, Charleroi, Gaza, Romani, Hanna, Kut, Champagne, Broodseinde, Amiens, Aisne, Kisaki, Erzincan, Manzikert, Sardarapat, Sarikamish...
 
In many parts of the world people take a two-minute moment of silence at 11:00 a.m.

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