Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Steps to Great Speaking and Communicating - Creating a Credible Public Persona

YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO WORK WITHOUT A PUBLIC PERSONA!

Audiences are people too! If fear of public speaking is for the most part experienced as "real" on one side of the footlights, it is also real on the other. We rarely think of audiences being afraid when it's our turn to give that speech. An audience is always actively passive, and bravely experiences whatever is taking place. It literally goes through our experience and may not be aware of it. An audience loves to be passive. When I watch a good movie in the dark, I feel safe and comfortable being passive, and, at the same time, I have access to the full range of my emotions. Speakers, actors and communicators ought to be more aware of the good news that it represents. An audience is like a sponge, and you, are the "stuff" being absorbed physically, emotionally and intellectually.

Create a persona so audiences can identify with you, trust you and relax in your presence. The persona you create does not have to be different from who you are, but perhaps contain the best of your qualities. To explore yourself in public is a wonderful opportunity to grow past limiting self beliefs. Most people are embarrassed by who they are personally when they are in public. It does not go over very well. Greek tragedies performers all wore masks or personalities so the folks could not only identify with them, but create their own personal mythology through it. You cannot afford to work without a metaphorical mask. When giving a speech or presentation, you are being viewed through an interpretive mechanism that cannot be helped. You are viewed through the eye or optical viewpoint of the theatrical experience. You personal, social or private self cannot be identified readily when you are in the limelight. Who we are personally disappears in the public atmosphere, and needs to be replaced by a solid "persona."

Being in public is heightened living. The more important the outcome of our communications, the more heightened our presence must be! You could also argue very powerfully that very often who we are is a collection of repeated behavior over time. It's a pattern and, I might add, often not a very interesting pattern. No offence. Content shines through the vessel or channel that the speaker allows. If your sense of yourself is heightened, it shall be noticed as such. A good speaker is a good actor, distinguished from that unique perspective. Arm yourself with a good mask. Pretend you are braver than you are, stand taller, display that confidence you've always seen yourself display, go the extra mile. It's a game you can't afford not to play. It's more fun too!

A persona has an identity made up of qualities such as warm, open, clear, knowledgeable, personable, confident, genuine, sophisticated, etc...This relates to the human being interacting with the audience. You serve and honor an audience by creating a 3D persona. Public speaking is a borrowed convention. We did not invent a new game! The content is different than theater and granted, rarely dramatic, but nevertheless, to my audience I AM THE ACTOR.




Eric Stone is the founder, CEO-President of Speakers & Artists International, Inc., a California corporation delivering advanced courses and training programs in the arenas of public speaking, communication, empowerment and self-expression.

He's also the founder of Hollywood Actors Studio, in Beverly Hills, CA http://www.actingconnection.com where he has been developing talent and training professional actors for the film industry, directing and lecturing for the past eighteen years. Eric Stone is also a Producer, a Creative Director, and a Professional Stage, Film, Television, and Voice Actor with major national and international credits to his name. Eric is a Published Author and Internationally acclaimed award-winning artist http://www.philippebenichou.com represented in six countries around the world.

Eric is always looking for opportunities to share his passion for self-expression and growth & development. He is currently a national speaker for Vistage International, the largest CEO membership organization in the world. Current clients include Kaiser Permanente, the Tiger Woods Foundation, LA Clippers, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Walt Disney Pictures.

Methodology: In this method you learn by personal discovery and experiential wisdom using a large palette of processes, techniques and distinctions to promote self awareness. The aim being to outgrow limiting self concepts. Seldom do we recognize context as the source of our experiences. Yet all the experiences of a fish are conditioned by water and its properties. This method deals with context or medium in which the contents of our lives or work occur. Medium is used here to mean the ideological environment from which we think and act (water to fish, air to bird and man to himself.) By revealing the context in which we operate, we can reorganize limiting beliefs, thoughts and actions into a new freedom to act and a self-generated personal power.

Monday, September 20, 2010

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Update Post: Sep 21, 2010 02:10:16

Sunday, September 19, 2010

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Update Post: Sep 20, 2010 00:50:11

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Magicians Are Sacred Clowns

Ten years ago I renewed my interest in the magical arts and joined the Society of American Magicians and the International Brotherhood of Magicians. A revitalized appreciation for magic and an opportunity to delve into several intriguing ideas that have, at least for me, a deep and existential meaning are the result. One concept that has special links to my studies in mental and occult activities is that magicians are sacred clowns, and I would like to inspect that thesis in this essay.

A funny thing happened during my magic act at a Society of American Magicians meeting. Using the major arcana of the tarot, I performed a 'find the selected card' routine. My assistant chose a card, showed it to the members, and returned it to the deck while my back was turned. Taking the deck, I looked through it to find the chosen card. Well, it was one of those nights and I couldn't decided which was the card. Embarrassed, I announced my failure to my fellow magicians and then asked my assistant and the other members if I could try again. They agreed and I did, successfully this time. When I displayed the selected card, I noticed a peculiar expression on my assistant's face and then on some of the other members' faces. The same tarot card had been chosen twice. I remarked in a knowing manner, " Isn't this the same card?" I smiled, acting as if I had planned it, and bowed to the applause. But of course I had not planned it nor even thought of doing the routine that way. (Some day I might.) Was it chance or the force? Coincidence or psychic powers? How can we know? All we can say is that it happened this way.

Stage magicians, illusionists, and sleight of hand adepts are similar to sacred clowns and fools in several ways. Although we may picture clowns as circus fun-givers and delightful buffoons, clowns have had an important role in European culture at least since the ancient Greeks. They had dramatic roles in Greek theater, which continued into the Medieval period in mystery plays and traveling minstrels. They frequented Shakespearean drama and became a fixture in theater, including the Punch and Judy puppet shows. The Harlequin came from Italy, and France supplied the white-faced Pierrot. In the Middle Ages court jesters and fools, who offered sage advice that others were too frightened to propose, were earning their keep, though most of the time they provided amusement and entertainment.

In some societies, like the Native American, clowns perform in religious ceremonies and in doing so act as a sacred character. Further, they are more of the mythic trickster and behave in a fashion contrary to conventional norms. Medicine men and women often are viewed in this way, like shamans who become one with their spirit helper.

A few examples from Native American culture can clarify the idea.

The Hopi, a pueblo people living in northern Arizona, have several different sacred clowns. To outsiders the Koshari and the Koyemsi or Mudhead are the most well-known, and they have their counterparts in other pueblos.

Koshari will behave backwards: saying the opposite of what they mean, yes for no and no for yes; climbing down ladders head first; confusing parts of a ceremony or curing rite, often burlesquing or parodying it. Their comments on current events, both in the Hope village or in the world at large, are usually critical and ironic, poking fun at the target, confirming that the Emperor is naked.

If Koshari are more the fools and buffoons, Koyemsi are more involved in linking the sacred and profane and so possess more power and are far more dangerous than Koshari. Actually, the Hopi do not consider Koyemsi to be clowns. Healer and sage-Koyemsi carry messages from the Ancients Ones to the people. Magician and fool-they play games with the onlookers, impressing all with their sacred power. (Interested readers can consult Barton Wright's Clowns of the Hopi for more information.)

Among the Lakota, living on the northern plains, men and women who have a vision of Thunderbird are touched by sacred power and must become a heyoka, a contrary; otherwise, they will get sick and perhaps die. Their behavior is contrary or reverse of the behavior normal in the community. Forwards is backwards: walking or riding backwards and speaking backwards are common practices. Dressed in bizarre clothing, acting silly and ludicrous, a heyoka is all things that a normal member of the community should not be. Although some of the behavior is similar to that of the Koshari, one important difference is that the person acting as a Koshari does so for a specific ceremonial occasion, but a heyoka acts in a strange manner daily, unless released by Thunderbird. Heyoka seems to have power similar to Koyemsi, drawing deeply from the spiritual realm.

The heyoka, Koshari, and Koyemsi partake of the sacred and can be considered holy or medicine people. Anthropologists often employ the term 'shaman' for medicine people and describe them as using the sacred power for healing and bringing other benefits to the community, like rain, fertility, and plentiful supply of game. Clowns in Native American culture are always members of a medicine society, that is, their duties and obligations to the community are to bring benefits.

Among the Algonquian who range from the Atlantic to the Great Plains, members of the Grand Medicine Society are mide (a mystic) and participate in the midewiwin (mystical activities). Such individuals, besides bringing benefits to the community, can perform wondrous feats that appear magical, like animating doll-like figures. The shaking tent event allows the mide to contact the spirit world for divining, healing, finding lost objects or even people. The mide, bound with rope, sitting or lying in a wigwam or tent, calls upon manitos or spirit beings. All sorts of awesome things can happen. Strange noises resound from the wigwam while objects fly about or are thrown out of the tent. Perhaps, the shaking tent is the inspiration for the spirit closet routine so popular in 19th and early twentieth century magic performances.

So how are stage magicians, illusionists, and sleight of hand adepts similar to sacred clowns and fools?

Back in the 18th century when European science was beginning to free itself from the restraints imposed by Christianity, magicians still worried whether they would be charged with witchcraft and other devilish activities. Science finally gained a balance with religion in the second half of the 19th century, and today it has the upper hand in debates about the structure, nature, and origin of the universe. Most Americans maintain a separation of science and religion attitude. Whether this is true in other countries today, I don't know. Magicians performing in the U.S. or countries having such a dichotomy must walk the line and pay the consequences for promoting one side or the other.

Because today real magic-such as flying, talking, hearing, and seeing over distances, and instant fire- can only be accomplished with specific types of technology, magicians break a social taboo when they pretend they are performing real magic. Like clowns, magicians enter worlds or dimensions of reality that ordinary people do not. They can move through the portal of shadows and emerge into the sacred realm, which is the source of real magic. Yet modern magicians are caught in a bind, a paradox. The dominating social idea is that real magic done the ancient or Harry Potter way cannot happen and is only trickery, though believed by the superstitious. Pretending to perform magic, the mage must 'tell' the audience, or at least suggest to it, that the act was only trickery and pleasant entertainment.

When, however, performers of mentalism and other psychic routines allow the audience to believe that magic actually happened, letting the audience believe in those powers if they so desire-these mages are often criticized by their colleagues in the magical arts. Because of the modern taboo about believing in the sacred or spiritual realm, many mages try to enforce the belief on all their colleagues. This taboo is, of course, promoted by modern science, which today appears to be the judge and jury about cosmic existence. Here lies a social conflict, one that has been ongoing for several hundred years: antagonism between science and religion. The fundamentalists of each reject the knowledge and truth of the other-an 'if you're not for us, you're against us' attitude. Yet the clown moves between the two sides easily and quickly, without fear and trembling.

Clowns enact the cosmic drama, which is religious-spiritual and symbolic. Bringing this sacred enactment to their community, they affirm its existence and power, allowing the audience to participate in another reality, one that exists side by side with the ordinary world and for many is interwoven with it. In our modern times the audience is given an opportunity to throw off its pretense of the contemporary scientific view and again as a child experience the sacred, spiritual world, the realm of magic.

Today's mage walks the line between the two sides. If modern science's view is the correct and only true one, then a magic show should only be pleasing entertainment without any attempt at creating mystery, wonder, or awe. To allow the audience to experience these emotions would be deceitful and as harmful as any fortuneteller or other charlatan-taking money to make the audience feel good, playing upon their mistaken desire that these emotions refer to a part of reality, that such things actually exist. Perhaps at the conclusion of the performance the mage should reveal the method of the trick, giving away the secrets. Would not that be the honest thing to do? Up front, directly stating that yes my act was only a trick and you can see that and now do not be fooled! And please come back for another entertaining show. Since the universe is only the one described by science, these emotions, or can we say all emotions, are hallucinatory and illusionary, leading people to superstitious attitudes.

The basic question can now be stated: why bother pretending to perform magic? Why not present a show of the latest props and methods, demonstrating them as in a scientific experiment or laboratory? Or as a manufacturer of tricks and routines, as one might demonstrate new and novel products for clowns? The focus would be on problem-solving and finding marketable ways to sell products. The audience would therefore become consumers of magical equipment. This description is beginning to sound as if it refers to an audience of magicians at a magic conference, yet we all know that the lay audience does not have our interest in purchasing effects. What do they want, can we honestly answer that? Can we give them what they want without condescension or embarrassment?

The primary choice for magicians, then, is whether we should quest for the ideal or only provide pleasing entertainment. The magic ideal is to present the audience with the opportunity to experience awe and wonder, to create a disbelief in conventional thoughts about the universe so that they are pushed aside and mystery fills the performance.

No doubt by now, we are thinking of magicians who in some way are akin to sacred clowns. Cardini performs as a well-dressed and slightly tipsy gentleman who is continuously surprised when cigarettes spontaneously appear and disappear. Houdini displays psychic power with his impossible escapes from dangerous situations as many onlookers, like Arthur Conan Doyle, believe. Stepping outside of time, Jeff McBride with his masks enacts ancient ceremonies. Uri Geller affirms the mind's power over matter by reshaping metal utensils. Overcoming gravity, Norm Nielsen frees musical instruments to float in the air. Once the portal is opened, many more magicians come to mind.

Can magicians like clowns bestow social benefits? Can they participate in a healing process? The way we answer the question will suggest our choice for the magician's goal. Some will choose maintaining a sense of mystery and opposing the view that life and the universe are meaningless and devoid of spirit. For these mages life is the true cosmic mystery and so enhancing any mystery fortifies life. Ancient benefits were healing and using power for other social goods, although power could be utilized for selfish or cruel purposes. Modern science has co-opted magic, and contemporary religion either accepts science's premise that only science-oriented technology provides magic or that any attempt at magic is wicked, against God.

For those who enhance the mystery of life as the purpose of their performance, the healing of mind and body, securing self-integrity, and encouraging self-responsibility are worthwhile social goals. Magic can serve the community.

© 2009 All rights reserved




Visit Ye Olde Consciousness Shoppe at http://westgatehouse.com for other enlightening and engaging writings and images. The first two chapters of Hermes Beckons, my newest book, and the complete edition of my first two books have been posted for your online reading pleasure.

Friday, September 17, 2010

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Update Post: Sep 17, 2010 17:50:21

Thursday, September 16, 2010

World War 2 Battles That Shaped Our History?

Although there is discrepancy regarding which World War 2 battles are the most popular. There is no discrepancy as to the battles considered major. I guess the most obvious factor used in determining the scale would be "casualties" and then "monetary value".

Take for instance, the Battle of the Atlantic which began in 1939 with merchant ships traveling primarily to the United Kingdom and Russia. The merchant vessels delivering war materials and equipment were shelled and sunk by German U-Boats and continued throughout the war until 1945. Eventually Allied Forces were able to get the upper-hand but at a huge cost with more than 3,500 merchant ships and 175 war ships lost at sea. Germany also suffered severely with more than 783 U-boats lost. The Battle of the Atlantic lasted until the end of the war making it the longest running campaign in World War 2 and definitely considered a major battle.

On the other end of the spectrum would be the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, a naval battle between the United States and Japan. One of the most one-side battles in world war 2 history. This naval battle took place in the Philippine Sea, near the Mariana Islands. This battle lasted 2 days, and was labeled "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot". The Imperial Navy of Japan lost three aircraft carriers and more than 600 planes. The U.S. Navy in contrast lost 123 planes and most of those were a result of pilots trying to land at night.

The primary reason behind the Japanese loss was due to inexperienced pilots. Most of the experienced Japanese pilots were shot down during previous World War 2 battles at Guadalcanal and Midway, thereby pitting experienced American pilots against the inexperienced Japanese pilots proving to be disastrous. The U.S. Navy in contrast lost 123 planes and most of those were a result of pilots trying to land at night.

The losses at Midway, Guadalcanal and the Philippines, certainly helped Allied Forces when it came to the battle at Leyte Gulf. The previous losses weakened the Japanese naval forces resulting in fewer ships, planes, weapons and experienced personnel such as pilots. The Japanese continued to be at a disadvantage for the remainder of the war.

These World War 2 battles show that the length of a conflict does not necessarily determine the significance of the battle. Both of these battles, Philippine Sea and Battle of the Atlantic, although differing significantly in length, they were both important and considered major battles. They both had large numbers of casualties, and they both made an impact on other battles throughout the World War 2.

I bet if you ask any one of the men or women who participated in any of the World War 2 battles, they will tell you, all of the battles were "Major" to them!




How about you? Which world war 2 battles do you think played a bigger role than others in winning the war? Visit us at http://www.worldwar2movies.com and check out the selection of world war movies and short stories available.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

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Update Post: Sep 15, 2010 12:30:16

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fashion Design History Comes to Life at the Museo Della Moda in Milan

Fashion design history is brought to life by Palazzo Morando, on Via Sant'Andrea 6, Milan, Italy. This lovely Renaissance building was restored a few years ago, and this work uncovered an interesting frieze at the top of the fa├žade. The municipal authorities intelligently decided to use this space for a Fashion Museum, something that is absolutely necessary in one of the world's fashion capitals. Palazzo Morando is right at the heart of Milan's top fashion district, close to Via Montenapoleone. The municipal advisor for Culture, Massimiliano Finazzer Flory, said that rather than being just a museum, the space is "a venue involved in research into visual design and the promotion of a young and fresh image of Fashion" (Municipality of Milan press release).

From 2 March 2010, four interesting shows on fashion design history ranging from 1800s fashion history right through to the latest urban fashions can be seen at Palazzo Morando (admission is free). On the ground floor is "The Thread of Dreams, Frette 2010-1860," which presents an interesting portrait of the linen and textiles created by this maison. The Frette Historic Archive is the most important in the world for jacquard textiles, and the show is particularly interesting for its demonstration of how a fashion textile is created, from concept to industrial implementation. There are many examples of personalization, with emblems, crests and logos for various institutional clients.

On the first floor, there is an exhibition of paintings from the Luigi Beretta collection, purchased by the Municipality of Milan in 1934, along with actual garments dating from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The 22 halls of this section include an installation of garments within the setting of an 18th century aristocratic residence - exactly what Palazzo Morando once was.

The show titled "Fashion details. The 1920s and 1930s in the Mangiameli collection" presents a historic collection donated to the Municipality of Milan by the Mangiameli sisters Anna, Lucia and Ninni. It comprises accessories, mainly bags, buckles and brooches, accumulated during the family's work in the leatherware company founded by their father in 1928.

Lastly, "The Tirelli Collection, atelier costumes for cinema and theatre" presents the Tirelli dressmaking business and its work on cosumes. This show was curated by Oscar prize-winner Gabriella Pescucci. The Tirelli maison has won eight Oscars for its costumes, and has received another four nominations. These garments are absolutely spectacular to behold, and they are remarkable for their historical and philological accuracy.

This is a great start for the Museo della Moda, and there is more to come. On 8 April 2010 at 11.30 a.m., there will be a press conference for the launch of "A Shaded View on Fashion Film," the first fashion film festival, created by Diane Pernet. The festival will run in Milan, from 25 to 30 May 2010. Michael Nyman will be present at the press conference, with the world premier screening of his only video with links to the world of fashion. It is ironically titled "The Cleaners wear Prada."

"A Shaded View on Fashion" is a touring event, and it will reach Milan after having run in Paris, Mexico City and Amsterdam. It will feature video and short films by photographers and visionary directors, including Nick Knight, Erwin Olaf, Chris Cunningham and Steven Klein, avant-garde fashion designers such as Undercover, Hussein Chalayan, Rick Owens, Mr. Pearl, Rodarte, Coming Soon/ Yohji Yamamoto, Gareth Pugh, Thom Browne, and many others. In addition, during the Milan stage of the festival, designs by young talents will be on show at the Museo della Moda from 25 to 30 May. A new series of short films dedicated to the theme of light will also be screened, along with a special video produced by Lancia Trend Visions (a new website involved in scouting for new forms of creativity, developed by Lancia) highlighting the creative duo Leitmotiv, one of the most experimental and art-oriented signatures on the fashion scene.

Michael Nyman's work will also be shown at 6.30 p.m. on 8 April 2010 at Galleria Carla Sozzani, Corso Como 10, Milan. It will feature a series of videos and photographs by Nyman, dedicated to everyday life all over the world in all its beauty and brutality. Nyman defines this work as "Cine Opera," and it is accompanied by music and sound encouraging reflection on man's condition in modern society.




Henry Neuteboom, web editor
http://www.luxos.com

Monday, September 13, 2010

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Update Post: Sep 13, 2010 10:00:13

Saturday, September 11, 2010

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Friday, September 10, 2010

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Greek Carnivals

There are two distinct periods of Carnival in Greece (as if one were not enough), the first formerly stretched over the "twelve days" of Christmas, and the second takes place during the three weeks before the beginning of Lent.

The first, the "Carnival of the Twelve Days," was widespread throughout northern and central regions of the mainland, and unknown in southern Greece and the islands. At the beginning of the twentieth century, A. J. B. Wace collected evidence of these celebrations. The observance of the festivities had at that time already begun to break down, and they were performed only for part of that period, taking place at different times in different places. In some locations they were held on the eve and festival of Saint Basil, in Southern Macedonia and Thessaly on the vigil and day of Theofania. In some districts the carnival was observed on several other occasions.

Despite many local variations, the basic form of the festivities seems to have been essentially the same. Teams of revellers would go from house to house in costume, singing carols and sometimes dancing. The costumes would represent human and animal figures, and sometimes they would be mere disguises, their original significance no longer remembered. The revellers would be fortified by spirits, and rival teams would sometimes engage in friendly combat with clubs or poles when they encountered each other. This practice was variously known as Rogatsaria, Lykokatzaria or Kallikantzaria.

The revellers might also perform crude dramatic sketches, their costumes being dictated by the requirements of the drama. This was everywhere essentially the same, and in its fullest form, had three distinct parts: "the Death and Resurrection," "the Wedding," and "the Ploughing." The details of the actual plays, together with their manner of performance, differed from place to place, and the names given to the characters and their appearance was subject to considerable modification. In some places one element might be more prominent than another, and in most places some of the features of the general pattern had disappeared.

The following description, in which the drama of "the Death and Resurrection" was the most prominent element, was recorded by a A. J. P. Wace from a local informant at Kokkotoi, a small village in Othrys, south of Halmyros, during the last years of the nineteenth century, at a date when that part of Greece was comparatively unaffected by the corrosion of modern ideas and attitudes.

Towards sunset on the eve of Theofania the youths and boys of the village would assemble in bands, usually of about twelve in number. Each group would select four of their company to play the acting roles, with the remainder being divided into two equal choruses. The acting parts were the Bride, Bridegroom, Moor and Doctor. The youths would dress for their part as their resources allowed. At Kokkotoi, the Bridegroom would wear a fustanella, a red fez, tie sheep bells around his waist, and carry a "sword". His Bride would be a boy dressed in the customary bridal costume of the district. The Moor wore a black mask of sheep or goatskin and a sheepskin cloak. The Doctor was dressed in a black coat and hat, so as to resemble a contemporary educated middle class professional gentleman.

When suitably prepared, the band would go from house to house performing their play. At each stop, the "bridegroom" would hammer with unnecessary force on the door with his sword. When admitted, the chorus would stand in a semi-circle with the actors in the middle. All would then sing a carol: "Today is Theofania, and the enlightenment, and great joys for our Lord. At the river Jordan they praise Him, and they worship Him. And there is the Virgin Our Lady, and in her wonder-working hands she carries swaddling clothes, and holds a child, and she entreats Saint John, `Saint John! Forerunner, can you baptize a divine child?' `I can and I will, and I worship, but let Him wait till the morning. To-morrow the heavens will open, and dews will fall, and He will cast down the idols, and will bless springs and waters."

Then the two choruses would sing one of a variety of different songs addressed to the householders and chosen for their suitability. Each chorus would sing two lines alternately, and at the end the Moor would shout "Ha, ha, ha!" and stamp his foot.

o a prominent man, they would sing: "Master, master, five times master, this village does not befit you. Only the factories in the cities befit you; that you may handle gold and sift small change. Treat the lads with the siftings, master treat them. They are stained with mud. Treat them, that they may go to the wine shop and wish you well; that you may grow white like Olympus, and white like the pigeons. "

o a farmer they would sing: "Master, when you begin to sow, may your plough be of apple-tree, or pomegranate, and your yoke of quince, and the ox-goad you carry a rose branch; your black oxen in the yoke, the white oxen in the plough, and the brown oxen in the heavily-loaded threshing floor; that you may reap a hundred tallies, and three thousand okes. And again, it is little that we have said: may God make them better. "

o a shepherd: "In these marble-paved courts may there be given a hundred sheep, and three thousand goats, and the countless active kids run like ants, and buzz like bees. "

o a youth recently engaged, they would sing: "Do you hear, my vigorous, slender boy with the arched eyebrows, do you hear your loved one's bidding? Go and take your kiss, lest it rain or snow, and the river come down and carry away the bridge. "

The actors would then begin their dramatic performance. The Moor would approach the bride in an over-familiar manner and steal a kiss. The Bridegroom would object to his taking such liberties, and he and the Moor would quarrel. This would culminate in the Moor killing the Bridegroom. The Bride would first fling herself onto his body, grieving loudly; then recover somewhat, and hurry off to get the Doctor. He would arrive with all the fine airs of a professional gentleman, and there would be a lot of humour in his performance: feeling the victim's pulse, vigorously thumping his chest, forcing soap into his mouth, and so on. After this pantomime, the Bridegroom would suddenly recover, and, leaping to his feet, dance with the other actors. Wace concluded his account tersely: "The play usually ends with an obscene pantomime between the Bride and Bridegroom."

The performers expected to be rewarded for their trouble with money, food or wine: "but if there are any chickens about they do not hesitate to steal them," Wace reported. This was the accepted practice.

If the mummers were not received, and the door was kept closed against them, they would sing a suitable song outside the house:

"Master, in your dirty house, full of crows, half are laying eggs, half are hatching them, and half are pecking out your eyes. " The mummers would also exact revenge by doing at least some token damage to the owner's trees and vines before moving on.

Wace was himself able to visit the area himself in 1910, when it had been incorporated into the Greek kingdom. He found that, "Since the days of Turkish rule the festival has lost much of its former glory; education, the desire to be European, and the police, who object to chicken stealing, have all contributed to lessen its importance." At Platonos he witnessed bands of boys trying to carry out the traditional custom while being harassed by the police. Under these circumstances, the performers especially dressed for their parts had been reduced to two, the Bride and Groom. The boys who played the Bride were by this time dressed only in the ordinary clothes of a girl, or even with just a token girls' kerchief tied around the head; although the Groom had managed to retain his traditional finery. At that time, the spectators would themselves "take liberties" with the Bride, and would themselves "kill" the Groom. Mostly, however, the bands simply waylaid passers-by and sang their songs to them, while the Bride flourished an orange or apple in their faces and the Groom threatened them with his sword until they had paid something. In that district, the drama had already begun to disappear.

Clearly this ritual, or some form of it, lies behind many of the customs which survive across Northern and Central Greece today and are observed during this period and into Spring. In some places the drama has declined into mere masquerading, while in others it has developed into a form of folk theatre, with a variety of stock situations.
The performers believe that what they do is not merely a matter of recreation or amusement, but it is "for good fortune" in the coming year, and is intended in some way to secure a good season for the crops.

The twelve day period of the mid-winter holiday, beginning with Christmas and ending with Epiphany or Theophania, had been a period of special celebration throughout large parts of the ancient world. At the winter solstice in the Roman Empire the celebration of the popular festival of the Saturnalia took place. Identifying the Roman god Saturn with the Greek Chronos, the Greeks called it the Chronia. As Lucian described it, on those days only bakers and confectioners would work. No class differences should be evident, and roles might even be reversed, with servants being served by their masters. He wrote that during this period, "Old men should become children again." Presents were customarily exchanged.

In Greece these festivities were held under the strong influence of the cult of the god Dionysos, widespread throughout the north and centre of the country. This merrymaking continued into the Christian era, for the Synod of Trullo of 652 condemned masquerading, drunken merry-making, and calling out the name "Dionysos" during the winter festival season.

Having failed to suppress the festivities, the Church attempted, by the introduction of Christian celebrations, to take over and hallow them, but this was only partly successful. It is clear that the ancient spirit long continued everywhere. In particular, the country people, the original pagani, or "pagans", resisted any attempt to erode their customs, and clung tenaciously to their old ways. In consequence, they have survived into the twentieth century, particularly in Thessaly, Macedonia, and Thrace.

Curiously, however, in each district, there seems to have arisen a unique "explanation" for the origin of the festivities in that particular place. Although these pseudo-explanations differ from one place to another, they tend to attach what are clearly local survivals of a widespread ancient practice, the real purpose of which may have been lost to the folk-memory, to some concrete historical, or pseudo-historical, event. The folk-lore scholar George Aikaterinides points out that these different "explanations" cannot account for what are clearly local variants of a general, and ancient, pattern. Pseudo-explanations have been produced in order to account for customs which had been observed from time immemorial, but which were frequently subject to very hostile pressure from a Church which saw them as both licentious and evil. The attaching to them of some harmless "historical explanation" seems not merely to be a product of the ever-present desire to explain what may not be at the time explicable, but also a defence against ecclesiastical pressures. To celebrate a "historical event" would seem a harmless and unobjectionable practice, quite innocent of any pagan associations.

o Volaka, Drama: On January 7th, teams of five or six "Moors" (arapides) roam the streets of the town with blackened faces, wearing sheepskins and bells, and holding short swords. Each team includes a Groom and a Bride. On the next day these two participate in a mock wedding, which is followed by a communal party.

o Neo Monastiri, Domokou: People wearing animal masks dance in the village square and parade with a "camel".

o Pyrgi, Drama: On Theophania and the next day revellers party with blackened faces, wearing animal skins and bells.

o Kali Vrisi, Drama: Communal meals are held on the evenings before Christmas and New Year. At dawn on Theophania the householders go around their houses with ashes from the midwinter fire to exorcise the kalikantzari, the demons of winter. After the liturgy, men dressed in animal masks gather outside the church and go from house to house in teams. Later, children dressed in white bull-like head-dresses with horns and wearing pantaloons dance around a bonfire.

o Galatitsa: There is a procession of masqueraders which prominently feature a mock "camel."

o Grevena: Youths take out the icons from the Church, and run through the streets with them, led by a cross bearer. Later, they dance around a bonfire.

o Palaiochori, Chalkidikis: Men dressed in foustanellas perform a dance with mock scimitars.

o Lowland Thessaly: On the vigil of Theofania, young men in costumes representing the Grandfather, Grandmother, Groom, Bride, Bear-keeper and Bear go from house to house, where they are offered food and drink. Afterwards they hold parties in their houses.
The "Moors" (Arapides) of Monastiraki, Drama On Theophania, January 6th teams of masqueraders pass through the village of Monastiraki, near Drama. Here, as in many places, the element of masquerade takes the most prominent role in the celebrations.

The figures take four forms. The most impressive, the "Moors" (Arapides) take their name from the dark character of their impressive costume, which takes some considerable time, and the help of friends, to put on. They dress in the long, black, shaggy shepherds' overcoat and a tall goatskin mask, and wear three heavy sheep bells around the waist. In one hand the Moor holds a wooden sword, and in the other a pouch full of ash taken from the hearth fires which have burned continuously over the twelve days of Christmas, which is used to tap passers-by for luck. They are accompanied by the gilinges, men dressed in female clothes, the papoudes, dressed in the stylised clothes of the rural male, and the evzones, or tsolides, who wear the national costume of the foustanella.

To the accompaniment of local instruments, the lyra and daires (a large tambourine), the teams of masqueraders make their way through the streets of the town, visiting all the houses in turn, wishing householders a "good year", and receiving treats in return. When the various groups arrive in the main square, they all take part in a communal dance. During this part of the proceedings, a mock bear with its keeper traditionally makes its appearance. Finally, a ceremonial ploughing takes place, the arapides drawing the plough and one of the pappoudes guiding it, to ensure "a good new year."

On the slopes of Mount Pangaion in Macedonia lies the small township of Nikisiani. Each year on the feast of Saint John (January 7th) the "Moors" walk the town, in a variant of the same custom observed in Monastiraki. A little after noon, companies of between three and six, frequently led by a character dressed in the foustanella, may be seen abroad.

The Nikisianis "Moors" wear shoes manufactured from hide, the calves above wrapped in fabric of ewe's wool, bound with leather strips of sheep or goat hide. They also wear the loose woollen pantaloons, usually white, which were once local dress. Above, they have a knitted woollen vest with long sleeves, and above this a short, shaggy shepherds' cloak which reaches below the knees. Under this, at the back, are stuffed sufficient leaves of the maize plant to form a distinct hump. Hanging around the waist by a rope, which also sustains the hump above, are four bells. Three are small, of different sizes and taken from the goats. The fourth and largest, of wrought iron, is worn in the middle, with another one immediately on either side. Each "Moor" wears a black mask of animal hide, finished off with a conical-shaped headdress. This is sustained by a wicker framework inside, and stuffed with maize leaves. From it is suspended an embroidered kerchief. A large wooden knife like a sword completes his accoutrements.

When the "Moors" roam through the streets of the town preceded by a large drum, the noise of their bells echoes across the countryside. They progress along the alleys using small dance steps, ringing their bells rhythmically, and brandishing their "swords". At intervals the group will pause and frisk about in a particular spot. Suddenly two moors will pretend to fight, and one will fall down as though dead. All the others will lie on top of him and lament. Then he will get up as though risen again. After some time, they converge onto the main square, where they reenact the drama of "Death and Resurrection" once more. Afterwards, there is dancing, which lasts until the evening.

Formerly this custom took place on three days, January 151, 6th and 7th but now it is confined to the afternoon of the last day, although in memory of the former practice, on the other days small companies of children roam the streets ringing sheep and goat bells.

There are many local "explanations" advanced for this practice. The dress of the "Moors" is said to represent John the Baptist, who wore bells at the baptism of Christ to make known to the world what was happening. Others say that the bells represent the victory of Alexander the Great over the Indians, when bells were used by Macedonian soldiers to frighten the elephants, causing them to panic and unseat their riders.

It is said that when, on this day one year, the inhabitants dressed up in their animal costumes and emerged from their homes making demonic noises, they so frightened the Turks that they fled, abandoning the village to the Greeks.

For millennia many Greeks known as Pontians, from the Greek name for the Black Sea (Pontos Efxinos) have lived on the shores of north-eastern Asia Minor. In their isolation, they have preserved many interesting variants of ancient Greek customs. Threatened by genocide during the years following the First World War, many of them left their homes and settled within the boundaries of the national state bringing their customs with them.

At this time of the year in Pontos the element of drama was the most prominent part of the Twelve-Day Carnival festivities, and had been developed into a distinctive art form. The Momoyeroi, or mummers, would perform a variety of short plays which had broken free from the traditional limited stock of plots normally found in Greece proper.

This is striking evidence of the power of the Dionysian religious festivities to evolve into recognisable drama in different places at different times and in different ways. The Dionysian festival, which was transmuted into the high drama of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripedes in the theatre of Athens, evolved many centuries later into a tradition of popular satirical drama among the countrypeople of the Pontus region.

This form of popular theatre lapsed in many places during the 1950s, but it has been revived during the 1970-80s, and today traditional performances are staged in several villages in the neighbourhood of Drama.

Although Greece was, until recently very much a male dominated society, on the January 8th, the day of Saint Domna, patron saint of midwives and old women, in some of the villages of northern Greece inhabited by refugees from Eastern Thrace, the weaker sex traditionally asserts itself.

In these villages the sexes exchange roles for the day. Those women who are old enough to have children congregate in the village squares and sit in the kafenions, while the men stay at home and, theoretically at least, busy themselves with housework. Any men who dare show their faces in public on this day, other than the musicians required to entertain the women and accompany their festivities, are chased and doused with water, or otherwise harassed and intimidated. It is said that the women use their time of liberation to gather in the kafenions, sing bawdy songs and tell off-colour jokes.

In some of the villages near Nigrita, the women take presents to the midwife. She used to receive them seated on a throne decorated with orange blossom, and hung about with onions and garlic, and wearing a necklace of figs, grapes and carobs. Today, however, the women put flowers into her hair. They then hold a rowdy party. Four women hold the midwife by the sides and armpits as their leader dances before her. At the end, they process with her to the village spring with song and dancing, where they soak her with water.

It is known that similar festivals were held in ancient times. At the Skira in Athens, for just one day the women left their homes and met together in a mock parliament, in imitation of their husbands. It was this institution which was the basis of Aristophanes' comedy The Parliament of Women. It seems likely that today's custom is a survival of that ancient tradition.

Saint Athanasios day in January 18th is a day for the performance of public animal sacrifice, followed by a communal meal, in many parts of northern Greece.

As Saint Tryfon is the protector of farmers and their crops, Saint Tryfon's Day (February 1st) is an important occasion in the countryside. Holy water from the church is taken to sprinkle the gardens and fields, especially the vineyards.




Travel around Greece enjoying your Greek Vacations while you learn more about Greek History.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Top 12 Black Film Festivals

Film festival directors create fair and balanced programs for their festivals. Notwithstanding the quality of the films, a festival with all Black films is not necessarily that interesting as a mainstream festival, but opens up the doorway of opportunity for niche market festivals. As a filmmaker, when I set out to identify the top 10 festivals for Black Filmmakers, I was unable to locate any source identifying that list. Through my own experiences living and working in Los Angeles in the Entertainment industry for over 12 years, I was able to create my own list of the top 10 film festivals for Black Filmmakers. Unable to narrow the list down to 10 of equal or greatest importance, my list actually has 12 festivals on it.

1. American Black Film Festival

Originally dubbed the Acapulco Film Festival, the American Black Film Festival found its way to Los Angeles by way of Miami. Produced by Film Life, Inc., who also produces the Black Movie Awards, the American Black Film Festival is the most sleek Black Film Festival, replete with star studded Black films made independently from the studio system.

abff.com/festival

2. Pan African Film & Arts Festival, Los Angeles

With an attendance of over 200,000 people for the film and arts festival, PAFF is the largest and one of the most prestigious Black film festivals worldwide. Each year PAFF screens over 150 films from the U.S., Africa, the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific, Europe and Canada.

paff.org

3. Hollywood Black Film Festival

Run concurrently with the Infotainment Conference, the Hollywood Black Festival is a formidable stop for Black Filmmakers, whereas many agents, distributors and sales agents, specifically looking for Black content, attend it.

hbff.org

4. Urbanworld Film Festival

Once home to its own distribution outlet, the Urbanworld Film Festival still is a choice of studios and independents to debut feature films, network and discover emerging talent.

urbanworld.com

5. San Diego Black Film Festival

Formerly known as the Noir Film Festival, the San Diego Black Film Festival has grown into a classy event where filmmakers can be treated with class and respect.

sandiegoblackfilmfestival.com

6. Black International Cinema, Berlin

In existence for over 20 years and produced by the Fountainhead Tanz Theatre in Berlin, the Black International Cinema Film Festival offers Black Filmmakers at -large the opportunity to screen in Europe and build a bridge for distribution in the Pan-African marketplace.

black-international-cinema.com

7. Pan African Film Festival, Cannes

Although not hosted by the French government like Festival de Cannes, the Cannes Pan African Film Festival offers Black Filmmakers the Cannes moniker as well as the opportunity to share their work with the European marketplace and make inroads for European distribution.

festivaldufilmpanafricain.org

8. Urban Film Series

The Urban Film Series is not actually a film festival, but rather a film screening and discussion series. Set in the nations capital, the organization and publicity engine for the Urban Film Series is stellar and will garner your film media attention throughout the nation's capitol. In addition, the Urban Film Series also host film screenings and discussions in other major markets for the Black community.

urbanfilmseries.com

9. New York African Diaspora Film Festival

The ADFF screens films from the African Diaspora from all around the world. Like screening in Hollywood, screening in New York is never a bad idea. The New York media serves as a surrogate for the nation's media outlet and the ADFF is successful in getting its films respectable media coverage.

nyadff.org

10. Roxbury Film Festival

One of the largest festivals of its kind in the New England area, the Roxbury Film Festival has been a consistent staple in providing filmmakers of color an opportunity to screen their work and allow their voices to be heard.

roxburyfilmfestival.com

11. San Francisco Black Film Festival

SFBFF has become a driving force integrating the work of independent Black filmmakers into the mainstream. Several films, which had their premiere at SFBFF, have secured distribution.

sfbff.org

12. BFM International Film Festival

BFM International Film Festival, sponsored by Black Filmmaker Magazine, is the premiere Black world and urban cinema festival in the United Kingdom. In addition to its premiere event in London, BFM also hosts several mini-festivals throughout the UK.

bfmmedia.com




Christopher C. Odom is a Director, Writer, Author in Nashville, TN, USA. He loves filmmaking, roller skating, partner dancing and metaphysics.

You can see the things that Chris writes about and publishes at http://www.odombooks.com

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ancient Greek Art-Delos Island Museum - Hellenic Sculptures

This room contains many typical examples of late Hellenistic sculpture, from the heyday of Delos, in other words from 166 to 88. The majority of these works adorned private residences, while only a few were made for public buildings or sanctuaries. This era is characterized by an admiration for the sculpture of the Classical period, and even of the Archaic period, and as a consequence led many artists to a sterile imitation of earlier styles and trends, with dubious success. Nevertheless, there are some original works on display here, as well as copies of well-known works of the Classical period, but made by mediocre artists. Most of them date from the second half of the second century and the beginning of the first century.

There is an interesting series of statues on the east side of the room associated with Dionysos: an actor dressed as Silenus holding young Dionysos in his arms; the god Pan shown holding his syrinx (Pan pipes) and with an animal hide thrown over the left shoulder; a Herm with the head of a Satyr; a god sitting upon a nice throne, perhaps Dionysos or Apollo, with a snake beside his left foot, found in the Sanctuary of Dionysos; two actors dressed as Sileni, wearing a goat-skin vest beneath their costumes and holding a wine-skin in the left hand and a tambourine in the right one, also found in the Sanctuary of Dionysos; a Satyr holding a wine-skin; a statuette of a Satyr with a frog. Two Herms with the head of Harpocrates, the first of which is holding the cornucopia, the symbol of abundance, in its right hand. Harpocrates is the Greek form of the Egyptian god Horns and was worshipped as protector of Statue of a Nymph, the house. The head of a goddess that a copy of an original work of the 4' century. It was found shows a Syrian influence. A Herm in the form of a in the House of Heroes.

Hermaphrodite, from the Theatre District. Another Herm, which was found in the House of Hermes and after which the house was named. This very fine head of Hermes, made in the archaic style and found in 1948, was inspired according to some scholars by Hermes Propylaios by Alkamenes, although some others see an influence from an original work by Kallimachos; notice the perfect styling of the hair and beard. Another Herm made of Pendelic marble, rather badly eroded today, comes from the Propylaia (Propylaios Hermes) and is perhaps a faithful copy of the Hermes Propylaios by Alkamenes from the Acropolis of Athens. A full-size copy of the well-known `Little Herculanean', a work by Praxiteles, discovered in the Agora of Theophrastos. The statue of a Nymph in very good condition from the House of Hermes; the fact that the left side was much better worked shows from which angle it was on view.

On the west side of the room there is a series of statues associated with the cult of Apollo and Artemis. The largest and most interesting one is the 1,44 m. high statue of Artemis the deer-slayer. The goddess is shown wearing her hunting outfit and holding in her left hand the antlers of a deer that she is about to slay with a spear that she was holding in her right hand, while her left knee holds the animal still. The work is in a very good condition, has movement and well rendered folds of the tunic on which traces of the original coloring remain. Notice the contrast between the violence involved in the act, the strong movement of the body and the expression of serenity on the face of the goddess. The statue of a Nymph, perhaps Amymone, a hand (perhaps Poseidon's) can be discerned on the right pulling away her garment to reveal her naked back and well-formed buttocks. The statue of a pensive Muse, maybe Polymnia (A 351), from the House of Dionysos; she is shown leaning on some kind of support, with her left hand to her chin. Notice the complexity of her garments and the fine way in which the folds have been worked. A statuette perhaps of Aphrodite, from the House of Hermes, with traces of the original coloring. Another statue of Aphrodite in the style of Praxiteles' Aphrodite. A headless statue of Apollo, very well preserved, from the House of the Masks. An Apollo from the Theater District, who was holding a guitar in his left hand; some coloring is still visible on his garments. An Artemis with an outstretched right arm, which probably held a bow; the folds of her peplos have been very well rendered, also from the Theater District. A statue probably of Leto from the Theater District. A statue perhaps of the goddess Tyche, who may have held the cornucopia, the symbol of abundance, in her right hand. A headless Artemis wearing a full-length chiton gathered at the waist, the left sleeve falling to the forearm to reveal her naked shoulder, and with a deerskin worn over it. In the southwest corner of the room there is an archaistic relief from the Hellenistic period with Hermes, Athena, Apollo and Artemis, from the House of the Lake. The bodies, hairstyles and garments of the three gods are done in the old archaic style, while the decoration with garlands and bullheads in the upper part of the work are typical of the Hellenistic period.

The large mosaic which covers the entire north wall of the room was found in a house in the Islet of Jewels and was transferred to the museum in 1968 due to its delicate condition. In the center of the mosaic there are three figures: Athena on the left, holding a spear and an owl, Hermes on the right, holding a caduceus, and between them a seated female figure too damaged to be identified. It may have represented Hermes bringing the young Dionysos to the Nymphs. A border with floral motifs, comic masks and bullheads in the four corners, frames the scene. There is also a non-identified portrait in the upper part of the border.




Since you will probably visit Delos from Mykonos it would be a good idea to have a look at Mykonos Travel Guide to learn more about Mykonos Beaches and Hotels in Mykonos.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ancient Monuments - A Closer Look

Here is an article that takes an overall look at the why and how Ancient people built these huge stone monuments and left us with those unexplained mysteries. Let's examine the actual way of life at those times in our planets history.

Even mainstream archeologists, while puzzled though, agree that those people who built those monuments, just came out of the stone age, moving into the bronze age, and this is where it gets interesting. Life was very harsh in those times. People had to constantly tend to their fields and animals, the also had to make clothes, tools, had to hunt and so on and so forth. A 365/24/7 Job. Now, how and why, in god's name, could they spent sometimes decades, to chisel and haul rail road car sized blocks of stone, at times over hundreds of miles into remote areas, to built something that could just as easily have been built with mud bricks. Just at a smaller scale. The answer as to the WHY, is fairly straight forward: Because It was of utter most importance to them. I will go further into this subject at another time in another article, but not now.

Let's get to the question as to the HOW they did it. This is the point where mainstream archeology and common sense part way. The widely accepted answer, that all this was done with bronze chisels, wooden sledges and simple manpower, just doesn't make sense. It doesn't add up. If hundreds and sometimes thousands of man were working for decades on those monuments, who was handling the chores of daily life? They women certainly couldn't take on any more work, since they already contributed their share. Not to mention that some tasks required physical skills and abilities, that women just didn't have. So, now, what would make more common sense than the usual scientific explanations?

Answer: The ancient people must have used some other method of stone cutting and transportation. Only because the archeologists haven't found anything yet, doesn't mean it didn't exist. We are probably missing a piece of the puzzle. There is most likely some ancient technology at work that could speed up the cutting and transportation process, therefore speeding up time and reducing the required manpower. It's the same economic principle as in our modern times. Bring to bear new technology, cut time and save manpower to complete a certain process. Today it's called Cost cutting. By using a different method of completing their monuments, it would require less people and therefore free up man to continue to attend to their contribution to daily life.

So, my friends, as you can see with a bit of common sense and some independent thinking we can see some flaws in modern day explanation of this matter. We will deal in more detail with this and similar subjects in the future. For now, let me close, since I believe that shorter articles are easier to digest for readers.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If we can solve a few of these mysteries, the entire planet will benefit. So, let's get at it.




Please visit my Blog: http://commentsharer.blogspot.com or feel free to send me an email to: optime-77789@mypacks.net

Friday, September 3, 2010

History of Latex Masks - Why They Became So Popular As Halloween Masks

Masks made of latex are very popular around Halloween, they can be a fantastic finishing touch to a costume. They are usually made from synthetic latex rubber, though some of the masks can be made from other materials such as silicone rubber or vinyl. Nowadays they are used widely as special effects in movies to make a certain idea or look seem completely realistic. Eerily so sometimes!

Latex material offers the mask creator a wonderful medium to express a vast array of different worlds such as beauty, fantasy, ugliness, evil, alien beings and horror. This horror aspect is what makes latex masks so popular at Halloween. The grotesque aspect can be so well represented by using Latex. The medium of latex allows the wearer of the mask to be encased in the whole experience. The outward appearance can also be so incredibly convincing, and in some cases terrifying.

Masks have been used throughout history for just about everything from celebrations to funerals, one of the most famous being the Egyptian funeral mask of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Another example of masks in history are the ones used for protection as the Roman gladiator mask was used. These were worn during bloody sporting events put together for the entertainment of the Roman emperor and nobles.

Masks have also been used for entertainment and can be traced back to the days of Greek theater. Theater masks were often elaborately decorated so as to hold the audiences attention.

As far as modern day is concerned, we still use masks a lot in our society, especially in the entertainment field. Movie special effects professionals rely on them heavily to attain the visual effect they are looking for. Latex masks are capable of portraying various guises, really it all comes down to how imaginative you can be.

Masks have the ability to free people. Whether it's with theater masks, masquerade ball masks, or Halloween masks, the anonymity and mysterious effects that they portray are difficult to duplicate with simple make up and most times they leave people wondering as to who you are.




Before latex was discovered, the masks people wore were made of wood, clay, then plastic. But now we are fortunate to have the choice of a better more life-like and much more comfortable material. Wearing a latex mask for Halloween, for example, is a great way to create a dramatic effect and offers you the chance to enter into a different world of disguise and keep people guessing as to who's hiding behind the mask.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Check Out Theatre of Hate - Mask on Black with no Logo - 1" Button / Pin - AUTHENTIC EARLY 1990s!

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Check Out Vampire Bat Deluxe Mask Teeth Halloween or Theatre Costume

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Bad Day at Grover's Mill

In 1938 Orson Welles produced a version of War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (no relation), for an American radio station. His company, Mercury Theater, had already dramatised several books, such as The Count of Monte Christo and Dracula, but now Welles decided on a new approach.

At this time radio was still a new and powerful medium. The big radio networks such as CBS and NBC had only been going for about ten years. These were nervous, jumpy times. Storm clouds were gathering over Europe, as Churchill put it. Britain was less than a year away from the most desperate fight for survival in its long history, and most Americans felt that sooner or later they would be involved, too.

Americans were becoming used to dramatic stories unfolding on the radio. In 1932 came the first live broadcast from an actual war zone, when a reporter brought the sounds of a real battle from Spain into peoples homes. Then there was the mystery of aviator Charles Lindbergh's kidnapped baby son, which dragged on for several months. To this day there are some unanswered question connected to this case. In 1937 there was the fatal crash of the airship Hindenberg, described by Herbert Morrison, of Chicago station WLS, in a recording put out the next day. "Oh, the flames, four or five hundred feet in the sky, it's a terrible crash, ladies and gentlemen. The smoke and the flames now and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite the mooring post. Oh, the humanity and all the passengers", he says, before breaking off for a few minutes, overwhelmed by the horror of it.

It was at this edgy time that Orson Welles hit the airwaves of America with his new production. Welles had updated the story from its cosy late-Victorian English setting to contemporary New Jersey, and he presented it as a series of increasingly apocalyptic news reports. Listeners settling down to what they thought was a program of dance music suddenly heard it interrupted by a report of several explosions of 'incandescent gas' on the planet Mars, followed, after a few more minutes of music, by an interview with a 'professor' at Princeton Observatory, assuring everyone that there was nothing to worry about.

From here the story gets wilder, as reports start to come in of a Martian invasion in full swing. The Martians had landed, for reasons best known to themselves (and Welles), at the sleepy rural hamlet of Grovers Mill, and were deploying in the direction of New York City, spreading death and destruction as they advanced. The realistic effect was enhanced by the use of genuine place names along the route.

The result was more startling than anyone, including Orson, could have predicted. As it happened, about half the audience tuned in late that night, and so missed the brief introduction, explaining that it was only a radio play that they were listening to. Thousands of people panicked. The roads became blocked with people and cars. Some people hid in cellars, some wrapped their heads in wet towels to escape the poisonous gas, some grabbed their guns, declaring they were going to help defend Grovers Mill.

The public services were swamped. A man phoned the Bronx Police Headquarters and told the cop on the desk, "They're bombing New Jersey!" "How do you know?" enquired patrolman Morrison. "I heard it on the radio. Then I went to the roof and I could see the smoke from the bombs!"

It would be a cheap response to laugh at the unsophisticated reaction of those Americans, nearly seventy years ago, as they confused science fiction with reality, but in those anxious days, who knew what might be possible? Afterwards, Welles claimed it had not been his intention to cause mass panic, and there is no reason to disbelieve him. All the same, he must have known he was tapping into a well-established fantasy.

The fascination with off-world activities goes back a long way if you think of the Greek gods as the first space travellers, and Icarus was an early fatality when he flew too close to the sun with his wax and feather wings, after having been warned against it by his father, Daedalus. As we all know, the wax melted and he fell into the sea...

Science fiction in its modern form began with Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. In From the Earth to the Moon, which was written as a kind of travelogue, Verne has his space capsule with its three man crew, fired at the moon from a cannon. This story influenced most of the original space pioneers. Although not as highly educated as H.G wells, he used real engineering analysis to arrive at the design of his cannon and manned moon projectile, and at the time of the Apollo missions it was recognised that he made a number of correct engineering predictions.

Sci-fi literature really took off in the '50's and '60's. C.S.Lewis wrote his 'Interplanetary trilogy' in 1953; Voyage to Venus, That Hideous Strength and Out of the Silent Planet. These had a strong Christian and moral theme. Lewis, originally from Ireland, moved to England and eventually became an Oxford don, so it's understandable that his fiction was a bit shaky on the science. But he was an exception. Many sci-fi writers of the time were either scientists, engineers or mathematicians, sometimes all three. Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov (I, Robot) and Arthur C. Clarke are just three of many that come to mind. Ray Bradbury is in a class by himself, for his beautifully crafted, poetic images of lost and crumbling civilizations on the Red Planet.

Today there is less distance between science fiction and science than there used to be. Arthur C. Clarke is so well respected in scientific circles that he has had several craters named after him on the moon. Many of Clarke's ideas have been used by space engineers. For example, in 1963 he wrote a story called Windjammer, or The Wind from the Sun, in which space vehicles had enormously wide sails, made of extremely thin material. The idea was that they were propelled between the planets by 'solar winds', or pressure from the sun. The acceleration rate would be small, but a craft would eventually attain speeds close to the speed of light, using no fuel at all.

I read some time ago that the Russians had taken up the challenge and were building a space ship based on Clarke's idea. As I write, this vehicle has just failed to launch, due to the failure of the initial rocket stage, not the space wings themselves, but such is the interest in Clarke's concept, that there are programs being prepared in the US, Japan and Europe.

Another of Arthur C. Clarke's ideas was that of a tower stretching into space, as a kind of docking point for space ships. This idea is also receiving serious consideration.

NASA's business-like approach to the exploration of space from the '60's on has taken some of the mystery away from local space travel and has affected the popularity of sci-fi literature. The emphasis has shifted to films. Again Arthur C. Clarke showed the way with the classic 2001. Since then we've had Star Wars, Close Encounters, E.T., Alien, Independence Day, and of course, Star Trek. I should also mention Contact, the book and film by Carl Sagan, a scientist and writer who left us way too soon. He was largely responsible for NASA's search program for extra-terrestrial radio signals. And now, just to come full circle, we have a re-make of War of the Worlds...

Seventy years on, it's true that we couldn't be fooled by Welles' radio play, but technology is moving at such a pace that we are not really sure anymore, what is possible and what is not. Anti-matter, anti-gravity, charm particles, alien abduction, bring it on - the truth is out there. Personally, I won't be surprised when they discover a way to travel faster than the speed of light. Warp factor two, Mr. Sulu, and straight on til morning.

James Donaldson Collins




James Donaldson Collins is an artist and writer. He lives in the Highlands of Scotland with his wife, daughter and three dogs. His interests are conservation, history, science fiction, chess and snooker. He also claims to play guitar like a ringing a bell.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

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Friday, August 27, 2010

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

7 Enjoyable Things to Do During the Holidays

Everybody loves the holidays especially when you get to spend it with the whole family. The thought of being away from work and finally having the opportunity to take time out with friends and family to just relax and have fun. Here are some fun bonding activities that you might want to try to do with your loved ones to spend the holidays with the best people in your life:

1. DVD Marathon - Turn your the living room into your very own home theater and rent a number of DVD's to while the night away. All you need is some popcorn, beers or sodas, and the company of your loved ones. You can either choose to rent some DVDs or buy those that already come in bulk. Either way, this would surely be a fun and very affordable way of enjoying the long holidays.

2. Have a baking session - Are you thinking of a fun way wherein you can bond with the kids? Well, you might want to try baking with them. Baking is definitely an exciting thing to do with them since you can let them work on the mixtures and they can also learn how cookies, muffins, and cake, among others are being made. You might even get to discover that your kids have a knack for baking and cooking. They might also discover a grea hobby in the process.

3. Go on a trip - This is perhaps one of the first things that would come to mind when a long holiday is coming. Just make sure you plan ahead of time so that all you have to worry a day before are the things you need to bring with you. You also need to make sure that the place where you will be spending your holidays in is safe if you are bringing the kids with you.

4. Redecorate the home - Even redecorating a room is already enough. Take the holidays as an opportunity to finally pay attention to your home. You might think that it's more of a task but it isn't. Since it's your home or your room, this activity is definitely one great way to get your creativity all fired up for something that you really like. In the end it will turn out to be a great accomplishment for you.

5. Host a barbecue party - Have your friends come over during the long holidays and have some lunch for them. Do it barbecue style especially if you have a backyard. You can even tell them to bring their kids over and then consider setting up some mini pools where the kids could swim as you and the other adults chat away.

6. Go camping - Ever tried roughing it up in the wild? Parks these days are made safer than ever and this can also be a fun bonding activity with the kids as you let them experience first hand what it's like to go on a camping.

7. Visit your friends and family from another state - Go on a road trip and make the holidays an opportunity to catch up with distant relatives.

The holidays don't come very often, so make sure you spend them the best way you can.




Harrison Fray is a long time gift consultant. He has years of experience with helping other fulfill their gift giving wishes. Harrison can assist you in deciding what type of personalized gifts to get your loved one. He can help you pick out the perfect groomsmen gifts for your upcoming wedding. Stop by http://www.mygiftsboutique.com/ to see what Harrison recommends.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Disney Movies - Bringing Us Back to the World of Magical Hand-Drawn Musicals


Image : http://www.flickr.com


Have you remembered the time when cartoon movies like Snow White, Bambi and Fantasia look like on screen? Indeed animation have come a long way and have developed so ingeniously. If you have already visited and stumble upon one of their studios where artists fondly make hand-drawn animation, then perhaps you had seen yourself in awe about the quality and the enthusiasm of those times greatly than in today's world of the ideal 3-D animated films. Walt Disney movies have seen this way as well which motivated them to create and launch at least one of this traditional hand-drawn animated feature once a year.

So, for this year's hand-drawn, elite feature from Walt Disney movies is 'The Princess and the Frog'. It opened in the top slot on its first week and earned $25 million but despite of that it was generally seen to be not that interesting. This movie the Princess and the Frog has a special protagonist - the very first Princess in a Disney movie who is an Afro - American. However, the prince she is trying to kiss is not as they say. Many critics are not buying this amidst the Disney's hard effort of bringing glamour of this idea with merchandise, masks and advertising.

Like the past Disney movies where it used musical extravaganzas for example 'The Little Mermaid', 'The Princess and the Frog' is a return to that rich musical tradition in Disney. Indeed, it was a risky move for Disney to go hand-drawn in an era of ultra-realistic 3-D animation. It requires to be done with special sensitivity and Disney got its best mind for such a direction in the persona of a pioneer in 3-D animation, John Lasseter, who is one of the founders of Pixar.

Disney movies are not dependent on the revenues earned from ticket sales alone. It takes on an after-life of their own in the collective awareness, and drive a moving business in Disney merchandise. Now, if this new released movie thrive in capturing the imaginations of little kids far enough to generate sales of Disney's merchandise from dolls, stuffed toys, action figures to children's bedroom accessories then, it can be said that Disney has effectively revived the genre. If Disney can get through issues and allegations that it is running on stereotypes to pander to its audience, then that calls for a high five!




Ileana Limon has been writing online for almost two years. She is not only a specialist in the Business and Technology sector, but she also has many fun websites. See her latest website about Silentnight Impress Double Memory Foam Mattress Topper where you can find insider deals and information. This site is located at http://doublememoryfoammattress.net.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cosplay Subculture

Cosplay is a youth subculture originating in Japan. The moniker is derived from the words "costume" and "play", and is believed to have been first thought up in 1984 by a Japanese studio executive named Nov Takahashi. When he wrote for Japanese science fiction magazines about the impressive costumes worn by attendees at the Los Angeles World Science Fiction Convention, he gradually adopted the portmanteau term cosplay, which is used to describe the trend today.

The main feature of cosplay is that participants enjoy dressing up as their favorite characters from anime, comic books, and video games. It has developed to include, particularly when adopted in the west, people dressing up as characters from popular non-Asian fantasy and science fiction movies and games, such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who and World of Warcraft.

As a fashion concept, cosplay has also been seen to extend towards a style of dressing up not only as established, famous characters, but as characters that the enthusiast has developed themselves. This is often a crossover into the Japanese Lolita style of dress, where girls wear a distinctive, cute style. This allows girls who like the look but do not want to fully adopt the Lolita style as street dress to enjoy the less serious "Cosplay Lolita" style at cosplay events and venues.

Additional trends and sub-genres in cosplay include "crossplay", which involves wearing the costume of a character of the opposite sex, and participants called "dollars", who wear full body suits and masks to play characters without their own faces on show, rather like sports mascots.

Cosplay is usually something that takes place at parties, concerts, conventions and venues where likeminded people meet to show off their (often hand crafted) costumes, socialize, and photograph other enthusiasts. The most popular area for these kind of activities is the fashionable Harajuku area of Tokyo. In the district of Akihabara, a number of cosplay themed cafes have been opened during the last decade to cater to the cosplayers, and the staff all wear anime themed costumes themselves.

Twice a year, hundreds of thousands of cosplayers flock to Tokyo to visit the Comiket convention and market - the largest event in the world for cosplay enthusiasts.

The concept of dressing up and of taking part in role play based around popular characters also exists in the west, where cosplay style outfits are worn to attend science fiction and comic book conventions. The largest of these is held annually in San Diego.




I`m a freelance writer/ translator, and this is one in of my articles. Also, please check my blog at http://clanci2.blogspot.com/.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Christmas Markets in Europe

Trips to European Christmas markets are a popular choice for short breaks. Various companies offer deals and you can travel by coach, ferry, rail or air. One way to save on the cost of your trip is to book river cruises to Christmas markets. Most Christmas markets do not take place on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve so the cruises are scheduled from the end of November to just before Christmas. You should also check out prices for accommodation at luxury hotels catering to the business market. These can often be very cheap over the Christmas and New Year period and so make a good budget extension to a cruise. Christmas markets can be found in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, France, Holland, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Poland and the UK.

Germany has many Christmas markets which date back to the middle ages. Dresden Christmas market was first held in 1434, but this is not the earliest market. Today it attracts over 1.5 million visitors and has over 60 stalls. In most of the markets the stallholders sell handmade items, books, toys, Christmas tree decorations and ornaments. Usually mulled wine and Eierpunsch (an eggy warm alcoholic drink) are sold along with food and there is traditional singing and dancing.

Austria has a Christmas market in every major town and city. Vienna alone hosts approximately 25 markets, from the small to the large. Christmas markets have a long history in Austria, the December Market in Vienna dates back to 1294. The Schonbrunn Christmas Market located outside the spectacular Schonbrunn Palace is amongst the most popular. There are more than 60 stalls selling wooden Christmas tree decorations, felt, glass, stone, handmade pottery, toys and hand-carved mangers. In addition there are plenty of Austrian specialities to enjoy such as wines, punches and teas from all over Austria. Graz is also home to numerous Christmas markets offering regional farm products, Styrian arts and crafts, hot punch and mulled wine.

France has many Christmas markets and they are particularly popular with British people because they are easily accessible via the Eurostar. They offer great shopping opportunities and you can stock up on wine for the Christmas season. The items on sale vary depending on the part of France within which the market is held. The Lille Christmas market is a popular destination. The market is held in the centre of the town and has stalls selling arts and crafts and local cuisine. There is a theatre and games for children and Father Christmas attends the market. In a spectacular event on 20th December he 'falls' from the 80 metre high Belfry of the Chamber of Commerce.

Christmas markets are also popular in Belgium, again largely due to the rapid Eurostar service. The Brussels Winter Wonderland market has a wonderful atmosphere with its cheerful lights and tantalising aromas of local delicacies. To add to the fun there is an ice-skating rink and the market is held in the ancient and beautiful Grand Place which is lit up for the occasion. Ostend also boasts an ice-skating rink and a fantastic array of shops, boutiques and stalls. As Belgium's largest seaside resort it also offers plenty of evening entertainment and restaurants and bars.

Holland has a number of established Christmas markets which can be easily reached by ferry. The Valkenburg Christmas market is unusual in that it takes place in a cave. The soft gentle music and twinkling illuminations give a magical feel to the darkness of the Fluweeleengrot (Velvet cave). As you walk through its passages you will discover caverns, decorated niches and stalls featuring Christmas items or old Dutch trades and handicrafts. At the centre of the cave is the catering garden that serves food and the famous Dutch Christmas drink Gluhwein (sparkling hot wine). There is an entry charge to this market of EUR4 for adults and EUR1.5 for children over the age of 3.

Poland has only a few Christmas markets, the chief market being Krakow. It is held in the Rynek, a large market square in the heart of the old town. The wooden stalls offer a variety of gifts from woollen clothes to jewellery. Others sell local delicacies. The square is dominated by the ancient Cloth Hall and during December you are almost guaranteed snow.




Countries such as Iceland do not have well established Christmas markets but they are keen to attract visitors and you could combine your visit with a short holiday. Other countries such as Hungary and the Czech Republic have only one main market, but locations such as Budapest and Prague have much to offer in terms of architecture, museums and culture. But who can say who has the best Christmas markets