(no subject)

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:16 pm
camille_bacon_smith: (Default)
[personal profile] camille_bacon_smith
 Went to a play this afternoon, Lolita Chokrabarti's Red Velvet at the Lantern. It is the story of Ira Aldridge, a black American actor performing Othello at Covent Garden in the 1830s. The play within a play receives accolades from the audience but terrible reviews focused on the race of the actor playing Othello. 

It is a compelling play about racism that balances its point with acceptance. Aldridge was a famous actor at the time, after all, performing throughout Great Britain and Europe. So his Desdemona is happy to trade notes and debate techniques with him, and the impressario, Pierre, is an old friend. Forrest McClendon was excellent as Aldridge. I would have stayed for the talk-back, but Barb had to get back in time to go to the Bach with Tom tonight.

I skipped Bach, though. I had opera yesterday, theater today, and opera again tomorrow. Slotting a festival into the start of the season makes for tight scheduling. Next year, I will shift some season tickets around the festival to avoid another week like this!

al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra
      . . . . A few mornings ago I woke from a dreaming of Warrior Queens.  I was baffled as to why I should have been having such an interesting historically epic dream (no, I wasn't a protagonist in the dream, but an observer).

 

Archeology and Newspapers

 

It was the newspapers that caused the dream!


I recalled that the day before, I'd read the Guardian's September 12th's report of a Viking era grave located in Birken, Sweden, which held the remains of a woman, a mare and a stallion, and her weapons.


From the Guardian:

. . . . not just any warrior, but a senior one: she was buried alongside a sword, an axe, a spear, armour-piercing arrows, a battle knife, two shields and two horses. Gaming pieces – perhaps from hnefatafl, a sort of precursor to chess – suggest the female warrior from grave Bj581 was a battle strategist.

Since the Guardian became accessible online, it seems to periodically provide coverage of history's powerful women, many of whom, if not most, have been written out of history. (Not a coincidennce one thinks that the Guardian provides a lot of column space to women historians and writers such as Mary Beard -- who are reliably excoriated by the male commentators.) Thus the Guardian followed up the Birken grave and its contents with this story on Friday, September15th:

How the Female Viking Warrior Was Written Out Of History -- "What Bj 581, the ‘female Viking warrior’ tells us about assumed gender roles in archaeological inquiry"

Then, just two days ago:

The recent discovery of female bones in a Viking warrior grave is yet another indication that we’ve only scratched the surface of female history -- "How Many More Warrior Women Are Missing from the History Books?"


Predictably, all three stories were illustrated with images from the History channel's thoroughly non-historical scripted historical drama, Vikings's resident female warrior, Legartha.*



Equally predictable, were the plethora of comments in response to these Guardian stories, so many of which were jeers at the very idea. This way the readers learns that the only reason there were the bones of a woman in a warrior's burial site is because 1) the archeologists lied, don't know what they doing, are mistaken, she's really male; 2) she was the wife of a warrior who is a man, who died somewhere else and thus couldn't be interred in his own grave, or who was removed later; 3) animals put some woman's bones there.




Television's Role in the Warrior Queen Dream

 

 

Surely television via netflix streaming also played a role provoking that dream.  I am continuing to watch the Turkish historical 13th epic of Diriliş: Ertuğrul, the founding ancestor of the Ottoman Turkish empire. As these series are, it's very long, nearly 80 episodes -- I'm barely half way through, though I began watching this before summer.  But by now we're seeing the Kayi's tribe's women training for a battle - assault they are sure will be coming from the Aleppo region's reigning sultan. Aykiz, is in charge of their training.  Trained from birth in the tribe's martial arts, who is the beloved of one of the tribe's most heroic and skilled warriors (alps, they are called), she's the daughter of the blacksmith, who manufactures the tribe's weapons. What Aykriz can do with a bow and sword, whether from the ground or riding a horse at full gallop are some thrilling scenes.


Though the history of Diriliş: Ertuğrul is probably as much fiction as the Icelandic sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok from where Vikings received its inspiration, the details of these nomads' tribal life, clothing and relationships, are more than true to historic life.  There are at least as many women characters as male, and there is no question among either the characters themselves or how they are portrayed in the series that they are equally important and significant to the action, whether dramatic or historic


Additionally, the relationships among the humans and their horses is unlike anything I've ever seen in such productions no matter what country they are depicting.  These horses interact with the people who are their 'owners' and 'riders.' Even when they are functioning as scene dressing they pay attention to the action that is centered.  There is prolonged, painful scene in which one of the Heroes, Torgut, beaten and tortured by the order of the Templars' Grand Masters, has a horse tethered in the background. This horse does not belong to Torgut, but during the entire scene the horse's head and neck are turned toward the action, its ears are pricked toward the action.  And there was hay on the ground at the horse's feet.  Whether this is planned or not, nothing else could so honestly tell the viewer that these are above all, people of the horse.

 

Books - History



The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire is a 2010 book by Jack Weatherford, which I just finished, ahem, bookends brilliantly with Diriliş: Ertuğrul. Not least among the reasons this is so, is that it too begins in the 13th century, the same as in which Diriliş: Ertuğrul is located. Weatherford reads and writes Mongolian, and has spent a great deal of time living in Mongolia. The story of warrior queen, Mandukhai, the woman who restored Genghis Khan's ideals for the Mongols, is enthralling -- and she's not the only one.  It also show how easily and quickly such women, even when their rule is the law of the land, can be overthrown and utterly erased from the historical record -- at least the official record.  This includes literally tearing the accounts of their lives out of the official record. 


Among the many elements of his book that I appreciated is how much of the cultural practices, from religious to jewelry and clothing of these tribes who populated such a vast region of central Asia for millennia, are found all across eras and regions -- from the Hittites and Scythians, China (the interactions between the kingdoms that became China are ancient, and the Mongols supposedly ruled a large part for a while), to the Tartars of Russia and the tribes that became the Ottomans. One can see it most particularly in the headdresses of the women.  Why these are they way they are, Weatherman explains.  These connections and continuities I've always felt, but never knew how or why. Nomadic pressures and conquest were the driving forces for all of it -- and smart, fighting and ruling women were always integral.


Weatherford's The Secret History is the source for the counterpart novels in recent days with  Mongol settings and characters, which includes The Tiger's Daughter (which is the title for one of the sections in scholar Weatherford's history) and even parts of Guy Gavriel Kay's China duology, Under Heaven and River of Stars and even for the Netflix original two seasons of Marco Polo. This series had more than one warrior woman based on historical figure in Secret History, which, judging by their sneers of disbelief and dislike of these characters on discussion forum I visit, male viewers hated.

 

 

 


The first biography of 16th - 17th century African warrior queen, Njinga of Angola,by our friend Prof. Linda Heywood, has just been published by Harvard University Press,   It's hard to describe how thrilling it is to read a book bout such a fierce and successful woman, faced with such terrible odds, written by another fierce and successful woman -- whom I actually know!  Moreover, this is set in the same era as the last sections of Weatherford's history of the Mongol Queens, which feature the brilliant fighting woman, general and ruler, Mandukhai.   (Let us not forget another great, powerful and successful ruler of the era, Queen Elizabeth!)

 

 


Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro Creole Consciousness 1570 - 1640 (2003) by Herman L. Bennett is helping prepare for the October Veracruz American Slave Coast Jazz Festival.  As one can see from the dates covered, this is a pair with Njinga of Angola. 


These colonial Mexican Africans were brought as slaves from Njinga's region by her enemies, the Portuguese.  This is also the period of the Iberian Union, the peak of Spain's power, when Spain and Portugal were under the same crown. 

 

 


The other two new books we have here are Hillary's What Happened (there are more than one way that a woman can be a warrior queen) and Le Carré's Legacy of Spies (more fictionalized history).


Reading and watching are so rich these days, no wonder I am having action adventure epic dreams of Warrior Queens.


------------------------------


*  Alas, after about two and a half seasons Vikings devolved into preposterosity, lacking even a pretense of plot plausibility, characters behaving like idiots for not reason, and a distinct lack of Lagertha, showing that men (meaning in this instance the guy who show runner, writer and director) have no idea what to do with a female character who can take care of herself.

(no subject)

Sep. 19th, 2017 11:09 pm
camille_bacon_smith: (Default)
[personal profile] camille_bacon_smith
Tonight at O17 I saw the Wake World.  It was amazing. The wake part was about a young girl who falls in love with a fairy prince who is actually a woman in very snappy drag (not a pants part, a real woman!) who leads the girl through shedding her inhibitions-and the overwhelming ruffles and sashes that make up her costume--to her awakening sexuality. Since the opera is based on an Aleister Crowley story, it is not an easy awaking, but one driven by power and obsession and lust pushed to the edge of despair. Then, you know, frolicking in the moonlight.


The voices were spectacular and the cast convincing in their roles. The music was soaring, more like a choral piece with the lead voices floating on top than a traditional opera. 

Because it took place along a catwalk the length of the hall, the audience had to walk up and down to actually see what was going on. At the same time, the chorus was wandering around the wandering audience, so we were actually IN the music. The production was fascinating, But I would pay to hear the music in in concert format. Elizabeth Cree will have a lot to live up to!


O17 Fest Wake World Opera Philadelphia

al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra
      . . . . My one and only Emmy vote goes to Leslie Jones, for the most stunning and glamorous at the Emmys of 2017.


Here is why:

 

 

Few could carry this, but O Lordessa, can Leslie Jones ever!


Runner-up, Jane Fonda:


Front

And

Back

And

Side

Random Monday Writing Thinks

Sep. 18th, 2017 07:47 am
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
[personal profile] lagilman

One of the interesting joys of the current story-series is that I'm NOT writing a broken or restricted character - I'm writing a character who has gotten his shit together & is taking on a new, out-of-comfort-zone challenge because he chooses to.

Because the story doesn't end when the broken bits of a POV character are repaired/justified.  Interesting stuff happens after, too. And we don't have to break them a second or third time to make it interesting.

Kintsugi is about the repaired form as a whole, not just the golden seams.

This post possibly brought to you by reading too damn many "hero/ine is broken in order to BE the hero/ine" story.  Which are good and necessary stories, but not the only ones we should be telling.

camille_bacon_smith: (Default)
[personal profile] camille_bacon_smith
 
It's a busy week around here! Went to Magic Flute at O17 fest on Friday. Strangest production I have ever seen, and it looked a bit dangerous to me. Most of the opera was performed against a flat background, on which fantastical animation was projected--dragons and mechanical talking heads, and a giant semi-mechanical spider, but also flowers and leafy vines and cascades of musical notes. The spoken bits were not said aloud but projected on the screen like a silent film. One character appeared as Nosferatu, strengthening the twenties silents vibe.


In the meantime, the characters kept popping in and out of doors set in the flat background, singing and interacting with the animation in very clever ways. It is eye-popping in the experiencing, with excellent singing, but the more you think about it, the more you question.

For one thing, I was worried about those singers suspended on their little ledges far above the stage. For another, the fact that the spacial distribution was in two dimensions rather than three made it rather--yeah, two-dimensional. It lacked interaction with a physical space that generally humanizes the characters and engages our sympathy. 

In sum, funny, very very smart and clever, I'm glad I saw it once, but I would not want that style as a steady diet.

Here is a clip!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXYVNgKV1Ec

al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra
      . . . .   Now, the productive side of technology, to combat the vile, dark, evil FB side:

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/16/nyregion/hatem-el-gamasy-bodega-

 
www.nytimes.com
Hatem El-Gamasy often appears as a pundit for Egyptian television news programs. His viewers don’t know his day job: He owns a bodega in Queens.
al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra
      . . . .  Sleeping Giants on Twitter

Every FB user is selling hate. No one escapes. Because this is what FB is, in order to make its owners obscenely rich by selling you, your info, your eyeballs, in support of the most vile beliefs, convictions and aspirations that humanity has ever dreamed of.  Not least, FB also accepts Russian money to mess with our nation and elections,  giving them all the space in the world to do it in -- and then lying about it, while refusing to stop.

Why? Why Are people still selling themselves to that vile platform? Of their own free will?

Now, imagine.  Imagine if every single person who identifies her / him self as loyal and loving the USA, as a social justice warrior, as a person who is the antithesis of anti-semitic, racist, sexist, bigoted, intolerant, who is LGBT, immigration positive, whose convictions are for equal opportunity for all --- IMAGINE if every one of us quit FB right this minute. IMAGINE not only the message this sends, but the effect it would have.

Now, imagine that we don't refuse to be an FB head.  What does this mean?

twitter.com
 
“THREAD: While everyone is focused on @facebook ad buying categories like "Jew Hater", this is arguably the bigger story. 1/ https://t.co/w6hF15itU1”

https://twitter.com/slpng_giants/status/908756618539556864

Yah, I've been an FB refusnik from the beginning and still am, in case anyone wonders.  I also refuse Twitter -- but el V follows a lot of twitter users, though he doesn't have an account himself.  And ay-up, I do use google and amazon.  They are all evil, but FB is by far the very worst, the only one to my knowledge, at this point, that has been profiting from hate and attempts to destroy the US from within.
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
[personal profile] lagilman
Watching "Some Kind of Spark" on PBS, and it is having the multiple effect of a) making me homesick, b) making me thoughtful about the ideas of passion, practice and perfection, and c) wishing once again that I were capable of reading music.

Watching kids realize that what they want is going to be a lifetime of hard work, internalize that knowledge, and then go after it, is a lovely thing.



(before anyone offers advice on c, don't. Dyscalculia makes reading music an exercise in nothing but frustration for me)
al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra
         . . . . In case Dreamwidth's resident mathmatics professor[personal profile] stoutfellow[personal profile]  , hasn't seen reports of the earliest discovered manuscript usage of "zero" -- here is a report about it in the Guardian.


The ‘front’ page (recto) of folio 16 which dates to 224-383 AD. Photograph: Courtesy of Bodleian Libraries/ University of Oxford

"Translations of the text, which is written in a form of Sanskrit, suggest it was a form of training manual for merchants trading across the Silk Road, and it includes practical arithmetic exercises and something approaching algebra. “There’s a lot of ‘If someone buys this and sells this how much have they got left?’” said Du Sautoy.

In the fragile document, zero does not yet feature as a number in its own right, but as a placeholder in a number system, just as the “0” in “101” indicates no tens. It features a problem to which the answer is zero, but here the answer is left blank.

Several ancient cultures independently came up with similar placeholder symbols. The Babylonians used a double wedge for nothing as part of cuneiform symbols dating back 5,000 years, while the Mayans used a shell to denote absence in their complex calendar system. 

However the dot symbol in the Bakhshali script is the one that ultimately evolved into the hollow-centred version of the symbol that we use today. It also sowed the seed for zero as a number, which is first described in a text called Brahmasphutasiddhanta, written by the Indian astronomer and mathematician Brahmagupta in 628AD."

 
This is the part that I find fascinating -- that culture can also create science and numerical thought:

 
“This becomes the birth of the concept of zero in it’s own right and this is a total revolution that happens out of India,” said Du Sautoy.

The development of zero as a mathematical concept may have been inspired by the region’s long philosophical tradition of contemplating the void and may explain why the concept took so long to catch on in Europe, which lacked the same cultural reference points.

“This is coming out of a culture that is quite happy to conceive of the void, to conceive of the infinite,” said Du Sautoy. “That is exciting to recognise, that culture is important in making big mathematical breakthroughs.”
 
al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra

     . . . . This time Slave Coast gets name-checked.

From an eagle eyed New Orleans friend:

[ " . . . And y'all appear a second time as well! Mentioned by name. 

Tonight I watched the last episode of season two and guess what? So uptight white guy is at a family wedding with his new girlfriend, who is black. 

As they are helping themselves to a buffet, race comes into the conversation, and he says "Constance and Ned Sublette say XXXX about oppression", and the family looks at him, slightly impressed. " ]

BTW, this is an amazon prime streaming original, which I don't have or watch, thus we had to depend on the kindness of the evidently many friends who do!

Primary Day + Irma + Cuba

Sep. 12th, 2017 06:31 pm
al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra
      . . . .  El V says voting together makes him feel all warm and fuzzy.  It makes me feel like we're part of the community.  Our polling place is in the basement of St. Anthony's Church.  The elections workers are neighborhood people we interact with on a regular basis for a variety of reasons.  One of the poll watchers is a Cuban, now a citizen, who also happens to be a splendid musician (piano), whom el V has hired and gotten hired by others often.  That was fun.

 


We vote in the basement of this church, which  for generations has been the anchor of the neighborhood, as community and neighborhood, providing a sense of place and safety. It has been providing this and other services since long before we arrived, and I would guess will be doing so long after we are gone, as long as there remains a Manhattan anyway, that can support human life.

Voting is still the easiest way to get a happy buzz, one of participating with one's neighbors and as well as the civic duty.  It isn't fattening or in any way bad for one!


But -- I do wish we had better choices for mayor.  I don't like any of them, including the present mayor.  At least our district had some excellent young, committed candidates, who are working hard on the local level to protect our neighborhoods from being completely eaten by the global oligarchy of the obscenely wealthy global corrupt criminals.


El V will bring back cigars for the Church staff from his quick Cuban trip next week.  The Jose Martí Airport re-opened today.

More to the point, what he's taking down there -- everything he can pack into a single piece of luggage.  People need everything.  As with all the other islands damaged and / or destroyed -- it's really hard right now to get things in or even impossible to get to them, or to get off them.

We're trying to figure out an agenda and call a meeting very soon among some of our friends, as to how to begin ramping up donation efforts.  For people here in the US just providing money into the hand is the very best thing to do. W have the the entry and connections to do that, meaning that the money goes to those who need it and the person bringing it won't be keeping or skimming.

Remember -- the last place anyone should be donating to is the Red Cross.  They keep the largest percentage for themselves -- and sometimes all of it.  That actually hasn't changed since the scandals of Katrina.  The reality is that the Red Cross is in the business of selling your blood for their profit.  They may not have started off that way, but that is what they have become. 

     . . . .UPDATE:  The Havana Music Conference has been postponed, we have just learned, due to the extensive flood and wind damage and all the rest of the damage in Havana and other parts of of Cuba.  El V will probably go to Havana next week, even so.  Lots of things to bring, and a general survey in terms of the Cuba group visits should be accomplished.

 
al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra
      . . . . This is a weekend I would like not to experience again.  My stomach is just starting to unclench.  Mostly, relatively, the news is good about our friends in the Caribbean and Florida.  The people who have had it hardest in our circles are the Cubans.  This includes Havana, in which swathes were pummeled by the wind and flooded.  For some time el Malecon entirely disappeared under water, lashed by waves over 36 feet high. This doesn't usually happen to Havana, which is on the north, the Atlantic side of the island.  The juracan usually loses power and / or goes around Havana after hitting the unpopulated  southern, Caribbean coast -- unpopulated for this reason, because this where the storms make Cuban landfall


Today, after spending so much of the previous four days glued to my computer, trawling constantly for updates and news I have a headache, and my skin feels too tight, as if I have a bout of flu coming on. And it is the anniversary of 9/11, which does not help matters.  Gads, I hate this time of the year.  So many anniversaries of catastrophes.


But, for pete's sake, Fox, come on! This is nothing compared to what the people who really went through all this and are now facing trying to put their lives and homes and communities back together.


Still, even though none of this is about me -- who was spared this bullet from barreling right up the Atlantic Coast and hitting my home -- this was welcome news --

 

     . . . . From CRP's marketing manager:

 

In the fourth episode of the second season of Tig Notaro’s show, One Mississippi, Tig’s step-father, Bill, has a collection of books he's reading to educate himself more about race in America. Included in the stack of books is Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between The World and Me, and Ned and Constance Sublette’s The American Slave Coast.
The book isn’t mentioned by name — he’s listening to the audiobook for The New Jim Crow when the scene happens—but the TASC spine is very easy to spot in the picture I took below.

 

 

The American Slave Coast in a scene from the television series, One Mississippi.

 


We can see it's a recent purchase, because The American Slave Coast is this year's trade paper edition.


This day, this day.

Sep. 11th, 2017 07:11 am
lagilman: (Seattle Wheel)
[personal profile] lagilman

Still I remember. Until I am no more, I will remember. 
Absent friends, and the friends we never got a chance to meet. The world that ended, and the world that became.

“Bear Witness”

Years pass, decades,
The revising measure of a lifetime
Entire; I stand here still,
Not stone not metal not fire but flesh
To bear the weight, to not fail nor fall some greater trust.
Rise into the skies and ne’er come down again.

© 2012, Laura Anne Gilman

(originally posted on http://www.lauraannegilman.net/this-day-this-day/)


and for those for whom it may help, I write about dealing with the emotional and psychological aftermath for #Holdontothelight: http://www.lauraannegilman.net/gaslighting-myself-a-holdontothelight-post/

A third of the way into September....

Sep. 10th, 2017 07:13 pm
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
[personal profile] lagilman
 The West is still burning.  Texas is wringing out, but Florida is underwater.  Mexico is rattled.  The Northeast, I am told, is bracing for locusts.

(Joking.  Mostly.  Kinda.  Maybe.)

I'm writing again, after a summer of seemingly endless interruptions, but not as quickly as I'd like.  On the plus side, the Patreon story-series is flowing like crazy.  I guess it's true: sometimes you have to walk away from people (characters) to want to come back to them...

and ...Pietr, you spent way too much time in NYC.

"Nobody needed that kind of tsurus, without they were working off a lot of bad karma."






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