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 to see what Harrison recommends.

Monday, August 23, 2010

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

Image :

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!

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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

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

Thursday, August 19, 2010

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Christopher Okigbo - Looking Back at His Short-lived Life and Taking Stock of His Poetic Legacy

Christopher Ifekandu Okigbo one of the earliest Nigerian poets, who within his short lifetime, for he died fighting for the independence of Biafra, established himself as a central figure in the development of modern African poetry,has remained one of the most important African poets to write in English. Generally acknowledged as a master poet in spite of a complexity drawn from obscure allusions and symbolism, he has even been named Africa's finest poet and one of the major modernist writers of the twentieth century. "For while other poets wrote good poems," Chinua Achebe observed."Okigbo conjured up for us an amazing, haunting poetic firmament of a wild and violent beauty.."

His birth and early life

Okigbo was born on August 16, 1932, in the town of Ojolo, about ten miles from the city of Onitsha in Anambra State, to a father who was a teacher in Catholic missionary schools during the height of British colonial rule in Nigeria, Okigbo spent his early years moving from station to station along with his father. Despite the fact that his father was a devout Christian, Okigbo felt a special affinity to his maternal grandfather, Ijejiofor of the Oto family, who has always provided the priesthood to the shrine of the deity Idoto personified in the river Idoto that flowed through his village. Later in life, Okigbo came to believe that his grandfather's soul was reincarnated in him.

His Educatiiobn at Umuahia and Ibadan

Okigbo graduated from Government College Umuahia two years after the noted Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe, having earned himself a reputation as a voracious reader and a versatile athlete. The following year, he entered the University of Ibadan to study Medicine, but switching to Classics in his second year.. He also earned himself a reputation as a gifted pianist, accompanying Wole Soyinka in his first public appearance as a singer. It is believed that he wrote original music at that time, though none has survived.

His initial literary work and art

After graduating in 1956, he held a succession of jobs throughout the country. He worked at the Nigerian Tobacco Company, United Africa Company, the Fiditi Grammar School (where he taught Latin), and was Assistant Librarian at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, where he helped found the African Authors Association.

In 1958 his life came to a turning point as he sought to know himself better.He began publishing his works in various journals, notably Black Orpheus a literary journal that was bringing together the best works of African and African American writers. While his poetry was in part a powerful expression of African nationalism, he was adamantly opposed to Negritude, which he denounced as a romantic pursuit of the "mystique of blackness" for its own sake. He also rejected the conception of a commonality of experience between Africans and black Americans, even though it contravened the editorial policy of Black Orpheus. For Okigbo, poetry was a highly personal endeavor. Even though he embraced African culture he rejected the literary concept of Negritude, for he thinks he was just a poet." A poet writes poetry and once a work is published it becomes public property. It's left to whoever reads it to decide whether it's African poetry or English." He therefore said that there was not any such thing as a poet trying to express African-ness as such a thing doesn't exist. A poet just simply expresses himself. On precisely these grounds he rejected the first prize in African poetry awarded to him at the 1965 Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar.

In 1963 he became West African Representative of Cambridge University Press at Ibadan, a position which enabled hiim to travel frequently to the United Kingdom, where he attracted further attention. At Ibadan, he became an active member of the Mbari literary club.For he was among the many young artists who were looking for a platform to exchange their views and share their various talents. He and Soyinka, were also musicians, performing in jazz clubs. Consequently in 1961 the Mbari Writers and Artists Club was born in Ibadan founded by the German writer and critic Ulli Beier. who invited Okigbo to be one of the original Mbari committee members together with: Georgina Beier, Wole Soyinka, J. P.Clark, Chinua Achebe, Ezekiel Mphahlele, Amos Tutuola, D. O. Fagunwa, Dennis Williams, Demas Nwoko, Uche Okeke, Frances Ademola and Janheinz Jahn, the ethnologist. The Mbari Club incooperated various activities as visual arts exhibitions, theatre, creative workshops and a publishing which Okigbo eventually became an editor. It played a decisive role in the birth of modern African literature,. publishing not only the writings of its members and adherents but those of the South African writers Dennis Brutus and Alex La Guma. For the visual arts, it presented the pioneers, such as the painters Uche Okeke and Yusuf Grillo, the sculptor and painter Demas Nwoko, and the silk-screen artist, Bruce Onobrakpeya. The Mbari Club promoted the creation of a true movement of contemporary African artists, who were poised to generate a new artistic culture reconciling the continent's cultural traditions and the technical language imposition.

Okigbo published his first poems in the student literary journal Horn, edited by J.P. Clark. though his works also appeared in the more significant literary magazine Black Orpheus. In the same year he also published as a pamphlet, Heavensgate, and a long poem in the Ugandan cultural magazine Transition, published in Kampala.. Okigbo's early poems reflected the divided cultural heritage of his country, although it had influences from Virgil, Ovid, Eliot, and Pound which seem to be stronger than the oral literature of the Igbo.

He completed, and published the works of his mature years, including Limits (1964), Silences (1962-65), Lament of the Masks (commemorating the centenary of the birth of W. B. Yeats in the form of a Yoruba praise poem, 1964), "Dance of the Painted Maidens" (commemorating the 1964 birth of his daughter, Obiageli or Ibrahimat, whom he regarded as a reincarnation of his mother) and his final highly prophetic sequence, "Path of Thunder" (1965-67), which was published posthumously in 1971 with, Labyrinths, which incorporates the poems from the earlier collections.

The Biafran War

The 1960s was a period of great political upheavals in Nigeria with the country becoming an independent republic in 1963 and four years later the eastern Ibo tribal region attempting to secede.In 1966 the Nigerian crisis came to a head following the massacre of thousands of Igbo in the North. Okigbo, living in Ibadan at the time, relocated to eastern Nigeria to await the outcome of the turn of events which culminated in the secession of the predominantly Igbo eastern region which eventually declared itself as an independent Biafra republic on May 30, 1967. .

Although Okigbo followed the social and political events in his country keenly, his early poems moved on a personal and mythical level. Path of Thunder (1968) showed a new direction - its attack on bloodthirsty politicians ("POLITICIANS are back in giant hidden steps of howitzers, / of detonators") and neocolonial exploitation ("THE ROBBERS descend on us to strip us our laughter, of our / thunder") reflective of the rise of radical movements in the late 1960s.

At the outbreak of the war Okigbo was working for an Italian business organization, Wartrade. Living in Enugu, he worked together with Achebe to establish a new but small publishing house, Citadel Press. However, the events in his country made him change his plans, and abandon his job. He immediately joined the new state's military as a volunteer, a field-commissioned major. He became accomplished as a soldier, but was killed in action in September 1967 during a major attack against Nsukka, the university town where he found his voice as a poet, and which he had vowed to defend with his life.refusing safer positions behind the frontline.. Posthumously, he was decorated with the National Order of Merit of Biafra. Earlier, in July, his hilltop house at Enugu, where several of his unpublished writings were was destroyed in a bombing. Also destroyed was Pointed Arches, a poetic autobiography which is as an account of the experiences of life and letters which conspired to sharpen his creative imagination.


Several of his unpublished papers, however, survived the war. His daughter, Obiageli, d his literary heir, established the Christopher Okigbo Foundation in 2005 to perpetuate his legacy. The papers were catalogued in January 2006 by Chukwuma Azuonye, Professor of African Literature at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, who assisted the foundation in nominating them for the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. Azuonye's preliminary studies of the papers indicate that, apart from new poems in English, including drafts of an Anthem for Biafra, Okigbo's unpublished papers include poems written in Igbo. The latter are fascinating in opening up new vistas in the study of Okigbo's poetry, countering the views of, especially Chinweizu, Onwuchekwa Jemie and Ihechukwu Madubuike , that he sacrificed his indigenous African sensibility in pursuit of an obscure euro-modernism.

"Elegy for Alto", the final poem in Path of Thunder, is today widely read as the poet's "last testament" embodying a prophecy of his own death as a sacrificial lamb for human freedom'

Earth, unbind me; let me be the prodigal; let this be

the ram's ultimate prayer to the tether...

AN OLD STAR departs, leaves us here on the shore

Gazing heavenward for a new star approaching;

The new star appears, foreshadows its going

Before a going and coming that goes on forever....

The two collections of verse that appeared during Okigbo's lifetime established him as an innovative and controversial poet.

Features of Okigbo's poetry

His difficult but suggestive and prophetic poems show the influence of modernist European and American poetry, African tribal mythology, and Nigerian music and rhythms. "Prophetic, menacing, terrorist, violent, protesting - his poetry was all of these," S.O. Anozie wrote in Christopher Okigbo: Creative Rhetoric (1972).

In "Distances" (1964) he celebrates his final aesthetic and psychic return to his indigenous religious roots:

I am the sole witness to my homecoming.

Okigbo's poetry makes constant and repeated references to mother Idoto. the "water goddess" especially so in Heavensgate (1962) opening with the compelling lines:

Before you, mother Idoto,

naked I stand,

Such a reference seems central to the meaning of the poem. "Idoto" is in reality a river goddess, an essence in African cosmology which Okigbo in fact uses as a personal symbol, elevating it to a saviour thus emerging as a force representing the protection of indigenous cultures and religions from westernization. Heavensgate thus marked his return to the African part of his heritage and self-renewal through the goddess of the earth:

Before you, Mother Idoto, naked I stand before your watery presence a prodigal

leaning on an oilbean lost in your legend...

An invocation to the Idoto spirit essence opens the ritualistic pattern of the poem to which is added the oilbean, the tortoise, the python and the rainbow..This last one could perform prophetic role as Sunday Anozie suggests. It could also be seen as a snake capable of both leading and devouring the poet.

Other god-heads or prophetic essences could be seen in Okigbo's poetry. In Limits viii the prophetic role is invested on an important symbol - the sunbird representing the mourning conscience of the poet as the cohesive spirit of the people is eventually desecrated by the imperialists. Here too totems of the ritualistic worship 'A fleet of eagles,/over the oilbeam shadows/ ' 'holding the square under curse of their breath',' a blind dog known for power of prophecy, howling',' the tortoise and the python who are classed as the twin-gods of the forest,' 'shrinehouse bamboo towers', 'egg-shells, tiger mask and nude spear.,'dumb-bells' and 'oblong -headed lioness' abound.

The two collections-Heavensgate (1962) and Limits (1964)-reveal a personal, introspective poetry informed by a familiarity with Western myths filled with rich, startling images. Labeled obscure by some critics, his poetry is demanding and allusive drawing as freely from modern poets, such as T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, as it does from the Roman Catholic religion of his family in Ojoto. Okigbo maintained that his poetry should be viewed as an organic whole as it expressed his coming of age as a poet.

Okigbo's influences are not limited to Africa.going to Gerard Manley Hopkins as well as a mix of European, Asian, and African influences. He borrows from various sources like African religion as well as western religion. Romantic, pastoral and classical Greek and Latin influences like Vigil and Theocritus are much in evidence along with allusions to the Bible in Okigbo's poetry.

His borrowings, as Dan Izevbaye notes, usually seem limited to the beauty and utility of the phrase itself.with the 'meaning' or 'experience' of the poem often controlled by its immediate context. When such borrowings or images are thrust into new collocations or associations, his poetry becomes startling and fresh. This might be imputed to the adaptation, summarization and conversion they undergo before being absorbed.

The main source of obscurity in Okigbo's poetry is that references drawn from a private world through private symbols mainly through allusions to characters who were part of his childhood -oblongs such as Kepkanly, Enki, Flannagan, Haragin, Jadun, Upandru, Anna of the Panel and Eunice and obscure places like Rickland and rockpoint cable. Such references recur all too often. They might no doubt have very personal significance for the poet to have kept referring to them. But such significance is lost on the reader who is totally ignorant of their background.

A similar loss is suffered when the reader has no personal experience of such objects referred to as: 'advent', 'dumb-bells','rockpoint of cable', 'Rockland', 'fucking angels','oblong-headed lioness' and 'a blind dog' which all add up to the obscurity.

Since Okigbo is writing of complex and difficult subjects,his expression might of necessity be uncommon and hard to understand. This difficulty is compounded by his either knowingly or unwittingly creating a language of ritual to which the reader has to be initiated, thus fitting perfectly into the ritualistic contents of his work. This effect is reinforced by various aspects of his techniques inclusive of his use of language. Firstly there is the broken syntax and the use of various obscure words and unusual collocations such as 'orangery solitude', 'broken monody'and 'square yields the moron'. The structure of the work itself adds to this effect by way of a kind of syncretic musical pattern worked towards through distribution of parts to traditional Ibo musical instruments. The incantatory and invocational qualities shown through the rhythmn of the lines is another, a good example of which is in "Elegy for slit-drum."

In Okigbo's world the modern and the traditional are thrust into a tense conflict with the profusion of images and symbols akin to western religion and civilization abounding with 'John the Baptist','preaching the gambit','crucifix','pilgrims bound for shibboleth' and 'the censer.' In some poems Christian rites are so fully developed that they become as dominant rites akin to traditional African religion. The omni-presence and destructive potentials of the western presence is seen through images like: 'Thunder of tanks of giant ironsteps of detonation,''the distant seven cannons', 'cables of the open air'. And 'magic birds with the miracle of lightning flash on their feathers'.

This conflict soars up to an explosive point as seen in the intensification and repetition of the thunder motif. The resulting debris is captured thus: 'parliament has gone on leave', 'the cabinet has gone to hell', 'the voters are lying in wait', and 'the blare of sirened afternoons'. The confusion of values and chaotic state could be captured in no better way.

Thundering drums and cannons in palm grove: the spirit is in ascent. (from 'Sacrifice')

Often recurring images in Okigbo's poems are dance ("dance of death", "iron dance of mortars"), thunder ("thunder of tanks", "the thunder among the clouds"), and sound of drums ("the drums of curfew", "lament of the drums"). Gradually Okigbo started to see himself as a singer-musician, who speaks with the ancient, pre-literate language of drums: "I have fed out of the drum / I have drunk out of the cymbal..." In 'Overture' (1961) Okigbo was a "watchman for the watchword / at heavensgate" and in 'Hurrah for Thunder' a "town-crier, together with my iron bell"

Okigbo shared with T.S.Eliot a vision of a spiritual quest, taking the poet to the realm of ancient myths and to his spiritual self: "Before you, mother Idoto, naked I stand..." often using repetition, with the rhythm of the poetry becoming songlike, and the words flowing melodiously, as if the poet were listening and interpreting distant sounds. From the four elements Okigbo chooses water, the dwelling place of Idoto: "Under my feet float the waters: / tide blows them under.".

Much of his poetry is of sound, meant to be read aloud (or even sung) -- culminating in the Lament of the Drums, and then the Path of Thunder (which begins: "Fanfare of drums, wooden bells"). Again, the mix is both of African and outside influences. When he was working on Heavensgate, Okigbo himself states he was working under the spell of the impressionist composers Debussy, Caesar Franck, Ravel ...

The sound and beat always convince; though the meaning can sometimes be obscure. Okigbo's poetry is full of ellipses, with barely a poem not marked by sentences left to drop off in the three dots:

And there are here

the errors of the rendering ...

The pieces of the poems are striking, often jarring. "Gods grow out / Abandoned" in Fragments out of the Deluge, a sequence that ends: "& the cancelling out is complete."

The poems -- cut up, divided, brief in their sections -- impress from line to line. Lines are repeated and varied throughout several of the poem-sequences. In Lament of the Silent Sisters, for example, the question of: "How does one say NO in thunder" is central -- and the thunder reappears elsewhere too. (The "NO in thunder" is a "dominant motif" in Lament of the Silent Sisters. Here Okigbo also suggests:

Silences are melodies

Heard in retrospect

The final sequence, Paths of Thunder, is a series of Poems prophesying War. and letting the conflict between art and life, and the charged political climate of the day, bubble over. This might be ironical predictions of Okigbo's later abandoning art to serve the Biafran cause, dying in battle. It wasn't his words that got him into trouble, but even in Paths of Thunder he makes a rare personal appearance, warning himself:

If I don't learn to shut my mouth I'll soon go to hell,

I, Okigbo, town-crier, together with my iron bell.

Okigbo's poems seem to leap out even from the page.for his poetry did not allow stasis and he did not merely stick to one successful form and style. Though Okigbo sometimes overreaches himself or misses the mark even in those poems whose meaning might elude the reader he still maintains interest. Though with deceptively few words Okigbo offers sometimes daunting complexity, his poetry is certainly worth reading.In spite of his varied influences, he is endowed with a distinctive and interesting voice

Further Reading:

o Sunday Anozie, Christopher Okigbo: Creative Rhetoric. London: Evan Brothers Ltd., and New York: Holmes and Meier, Inc.,1972.

o Uzoma Esonwanne, ed. 2000. Critical Essays on Christopher Okigbo. New York: G. K. Hall & Co.

o Donatus Ibe Nwoga, Critical Perspectives on Christopher Okigbo, Three Continents Press, 1984.

oo Donatus Ibe Nwoga, Critical Perspectives on Christopher Okigbo, Three Continents Press, 1984.

o Dubem Okafor, Dance of Death: Nigerian History and Christopher Okigbo's Poetry. Trenton, NJ and Asmara, Eritrea: African World Press, 1998.

o Udoeyop, Nyong J., Three Nigerian Poets: A Critical Study of the Poetry of Soyinka, Clark, and Okigbo. Ibadan: Ibadan University Press, 1973.

o James Wieland, The Ensphering Mind: History, Myth and Fictions in the Poetry of Allen Curnow, Nissim Ezekiel. A. D. Hope, A. M. Klein, Christopher Okigbo and Derek Walcott. Washington, DC: Three Continents Press, 1988.

Izevbaye Dan S. "The State of Criticism in African Literature". African Literature Today. Ed. Eldred Durosimi Jones. Vol. 7. London: Heinemann, 1979. 1-19.

Arthur Smith was born and was schooled in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He has taught English since 1977 at Prince of Wales School and, Milton Margai College of Education. He is now a Senior Lecturer at Fourah Bay College where he has been lecturing English language and Literature for the past eight years.

Mr Smith's writings have been appearing in local newspapers as well as in various international media like West Africa Magazine, Index on Censorship, Focus on Library and Information Work. He was one of 17 international visitors who participated in a seminar on contemporary American Literature sponsored by the U.S.State Department in 2006. His growing thoughts and reflections on this trip which took him to various US sights and sounds could be read at

His other publications include: Folktales from Freetown, Langston Hughes: Life and Works Celebrating Black Dignity, and 'The Struggle of the Book' He holds a PhD and a professorship in English from the National Open University, Republic of Benin.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Greta Garbo - A Legendary Leading Lady

There is a short list of the most legendary leading ladies in the history of Hollywood, and one of those which will always be remembered is that of Greta Garbo. Greta Garbo is an important part of the early age of Hollywood, as she was one of those original stars who made the transition from the early silent films into the Golden Age of Hollywood. Born in 1905, Garbo was a Swedish actress and would become not only renowned for her beauty, but also for her talent which would be recognized with various honors throughout her lifetime. A first good bit of trivia for any Greta Garbo quiz: her real name wasn't Garbo at all, but was Greta Lovisa Gustafsson.

Garbo was one of those tremendously talented actresses of the period who actually had studied acting professionally, as opposed to many film stars who simply seemed to burst into the profession. She studied in her native Sweden at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, (which is where she would also start to go by the name Greta Garbo.) This is where she would meet the director who would give her the first starring role in her film career, in the silent film Gosta Berlings Saga.

It was this role which would catch the eye of legendary Hollywood Mogul Louis B. Mayer, one of the biggest star-makers of the period. It was her performance which caught his eye in the film, and from there he would sign her to MGM.

Could you name any of Garbo's silent films? This would be a great piece of Greta Garbo trivia and would include films like Flesh and the Devil, Love, and The Mysterious Lady. She survived the transition to the era of talking movies, but she loved the silent films, and even appeared in the last silent film ever made by MGM.

The transition to talking movies would prove that Garbo was the real thing, and her performances in all those movies which followed would in fact earn her four Acadamy Award nominations. Do you know what pictures those were for? She was nominated for Anna Christie, Romance, Camille, and Ninotchka, Greta Garbo essentially was finished acting by the end of World War II. She never appeared in any feature films after that time, although she would always be remembered as one of the greatest of her time. Her honors later in life included an Honorary Academy Award, as well as being listed on the American Film Institutes list of the best actresses of all time.

Masters of Trivia is a fun and exciting online destination for "anything trivia". We offer hundreds of thousands of challenging trivia questions across a very broad range of subject matter. Masters of Trivia allows you to play against yourself or engage in competitions against other trivia masters. Or you can try your hand at our innovative "Photo Trivia" where you are prompted to answer questions related to a specific picture. The hardcore players may take a shot at our "Endless Trivia Marathon", which offers a compilation of never-ending trivia questions.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Athens Greece - Top 5 Unusual Things to Do

The long history, the ancient sites, the rich culture... Yes, these are facts that we all know about Athens Greece and we appreciate. However, wouldn't you want to do some unusual things when you come to Athens? Visiting the Acropolis and the temple of Poseidon at Sounio are definitely must things to do, but wouldn't you like to discover some treasure activities that you will not find in your travel guide? Activities that will give a thrill of fun and excitement to your holidays in the Greek capital? Follow the list below and get to know modern Athens better.

1. Visit the Tactual Museum
The Tactual Museum of Athens is one of the 5 museums of this kind in the world. This museum is specially designed for the blind and for all people with visual problems. The unique thing is that, even if you see perfectly, you can wear a mask and actually touch the exhibits, which are excellent copies of famous works, including the Aphrodite of Milos, Hermes of Praxiteles, a maquette of the Acropolis and many other works of the ancient times, the Byzantine times and the Olympic Games. The Tactual Museum is found at Doiranis st, 198, Kallithea. To go, you take the Metro Green Line, station Kallithea and then take bus 911 to get off at the bus stop Faros Tiflon (lighthouse of blind people). The museum is open on weekdays morning.

2. Enjoy Marathon Lake
Situated about 40 km from Athens centre, the lake of Marathon is one of the three main water sources of the Greek capital. You will need to rent a car to go there. It is actually a big, artificial lake filled with water and surrounded by greenery. On the one side, there is a dam. Above it, a cafeteria offers great views to the lake and the nature around. Close by, you can explore beautiful and quiet villages, away from the busy atmosphere of the capital.

3. Go mountain biking at Mount Parnitha
Mount Parnitha is one of the few mountains that surround the Greek capital. Although it has suffered a lot from forest fires, there is a great effort to replant the mountainsides and recover its rich ecosystem. On top of it, there is a casino and some hotels to spend the night. Many travel agencies offer daily mountain biking and hiking tours on this beautiful and precious mountain. You will bike through lush greenery, see lakes and gorges and enjoy a day in pure nature.

4. Visit the Museum of Shadow Theatre
This museum actually depicts the story of Karagiozis, a famous shadow theatre hero, as drawn by the shadow player Eugenios Spatharis. Spatharis was actually the man who introduced Karagiozis in the recent generations and his work has contributed a lot in the education of many children. In the museum, you will see famous figures of Greek shadow theatre, how these figures were made and scenes from performances. It is probably difficult to understand the importance of this museum if you are not Greek, though it offers a great insight to Greek culture. To go to the museum, take the Green Metro Line to Maroussi station and then walk 10 minutes down to Kastalias square. Entrance is free.

5. Try paintball
Paintball is a relatively new sport and was introduced in Greece only a few years ago. Today, some paintball fields have been established on the suburbs of Athens, mostly close to the international airport, that host successful events and games. All equipment is offered there.

More information about Athens Greece and Athens Hotels

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Athens - The Theatre of Dionysus

The sacred precinct of Dionysus, god of the vine, fertility, revelry, and patron of theatrical competitions, is enclosed by a polygonal wall, of which some traces are still visible, and contains the ruined foundations of two temples of different periods, an altar, a stoa, and votive monuments, as well as the remains of a fourth century BC theatre.

Passing through the main gate we come to the conglomerate foundations of the second temple of Dionysus. This temple, built around the year 420 BC, consisted of the sanctuary proper (which housed the chryselephantine statue of the god by Alcamenes, a famous pupil of Pheidias; all that remains of this masterpiece are the foundations of its great base) and the pronaos on the east.

To the right of the foundations of the temple stands a tall marble pillar on which is recorded a decree of the Amphictyonic Council honoring the Dionysian Guild of Actors, an important body enjoying many privileges and numbering among its members poets and musicians. A little farther on is a delightful circular altar of Dionysus dating from the second century BC, carved with garlands, rosettes and masks of Silenus. A short distance north of this altar, just before we reach the theatre, are the blue limestone foundations of the first temple, a small construction in antis, built under Peisistratus, which housed the primitive wooden image (xoanon) of Dionysus. East of the foundations of this temple lie those of a large stoa with a Doric colonnade which was intended for the convenience of audiences and served as a foyer during intermissions.

The Greeks sited their theatres within easy reach of the city, and adapting their construction to the natural contour of hills built them on the slopes. The earliest theatres were intended for the performance of dithyrambic choruses and consisted of two principal parts: the orchestra - literally, "the dancing place" - a circle of beaten earth, roughly 20 m. in diameter, with the thymele (altar of the god) in the center, and the theatre, that is the auditorium, built in the form of two-thirds of a circle.

At the Great Dionysia during which a he-goat dedicated to the god was sacrificed, the chorus, carrying phallic symbols and dressed in goat-skins to resemble satyrs, sang the Dithyrambos to the accompaniment of a flute, and danced round the thymele of Dionysus Eleutherius. The Dithyrambos, a combination of both song and dance, was a passionate recital of the suffering and exploits of the god and later developed into a special class of Greek lyric poetry. One of the earliest forms of the drama, tragedy (literally goat-song), is derived from the Dithyrambos.

No lover of the theatre can fail to be moved as he stands before the Theatre of Dionysus, for this hallowed spot is the birthplace of Attic drama, where the plays of the great masters, Aeschylus, Sophochles, Euripides and Aristophanes were first performed.

In the Classical period there was no stage and the actors performed on the orchestra. In the Hellenistic period a colonnade was added behind the orchestra, to the proscenium. This colonnade supported a balcony on which the actors representing gods made their appearance; hence the term theologeion (Speaking-place of the gods). The chorus entered the orchestra along passages on either side of the stage. The audience also entered the theatre through the orchestra, from which they climbed the flights of steps leading to their seats. In Roman times seats for the spectators were also added to the orchestra. The actors then started performing on the proscenium, which was levelled above the ground in order to enhance the visibility of the spectators below them. The proscenium was later adorned with statues and other sculptures, particularly by the Emperor Nero in the first century AD.

The proscenium we see today was erected in the third century AD and dedicated to Dionysus by the Athenian archon Phaedrus (AD 224-225) as an inscription informs us. The high reliefs are Attic work of the first century AD and were taken from the proscenium set up by Nero. They represent scenes from the birth and worship of Dionysus. Left of the stairs to the hyposcenium Silenus crouches in the posture of Atlas. Right of the stairs: the Birth of Dionysus; Zeus is shown seated while Hermes stands before him holding the new-born infant in his arms; at the sides two kouretes (demigods, to whose protection his mother Rea entrusted the infant) are performing the Pyrrhic dance; then a scene of sacrifice: on the left Icarius leads a goat and is followed by his daughter Erigone and her dog Maera; at the right Dionysus followed by a young satyr initiates Icarius into the cultivation of the vine; another figure of Silenus crouches in the attitude of Atlas; then the Marriage of Dionysus with the Basilissa (Queen), with Tyche (Goddess of Fortune) carrying a cornucopia, and finally the scene of the enthronement of Dionysus in the theatre. In the presence of his bride, with Theseus representing Athens, Dionysus receives the homage of the gods and heroes of Attica; above them is the upper part of a Doric building, presumably the Parthenon.

Stage machinery and scenery were employed in the Greek Theatre from at least the fourth century BC. A light portable screen on which was painted the scene of the play (in tragedies invariably the facade of a royal palace) served as the background. Scenic changes were mainly effected by a periaktos, set up towards the foreground on each side of the stage. The periaktos was a device consisting of three side-scenes, turning on wooden pins and painted to suggest changes of locality, thus permitting the scenery at one or both ends of the stage to change, the background remaining always the same. The scene to the right of the audience indicated the city; to the left a far country. Actors entering from the right were shown as coming from the immediate neighborhood; those entering from the left, from a distance. There was a whole repertoire of stage noises, thunder, for example, being imitated by rolling casks filled with small stones down metal chutes. In various parts of the theatre bronze vessels of different tones amplified the actor's voices and carried them to the most distant parts of the auditorium.

In the earliest days of the drama there was only one actor in the cast; later a second was introduced, and by the time of Sophocles (495-406 BC) the usual number was three. These three actors (apart from the chorus) constituted the entire cast. This called for great versatility as they had to take all the parts in the play, including those of women, and necessitated rapid and frequent changes of costume. Besides acting, the players were required to be skilled dancers and singers, and since their features were hidden behind masks corresponding to the type of character they represented in a play they also had to be accomplished mimes. Certain conventions were observed as to their height and color of the hair: goddesses and young persons of either sex wore fair hair; gods, or older persons, were represented by brown hair; white hair was the color of old age, while black was reserved for Pluto (In Greek mythology, Prince of Hades) and his minions.

Actors playing heroic roles in tragedy wore thick-soled buskins to enhance their presence. Kings and queens wore splendid long-sleeved robes reaching to their feet, richly embroidered with bands of color. Actors impersonating women wore, of course, chiton and peplos, which varied in color according to the character they portrayed. Those playing the part of Teiresias, or other soothsayers, wore a net-like woolen robe. Hunters and athletes wore a purple mantle rolled round the left arm. Soiled garments of somber hue were symbolic of persons in distress.

The chorus, to the strains of a solemn march, entered the orchestra with the flute player at their head, sometimes in three lines of five, or five lines of three, where after arranging themselves in the form of a square they remained until the end. The chorus represented the perfect audience, and through their choryphaeos (leader), the third in the line nearest the spectators; the second and fourth were the leaders of the semi-choruses, their actions and comments assisted to the development of the play. As the plot unfolded it would change position on the orchestra, and if the action required it, break up into semi-choruses. At crucial moments the chorus would execute long lyrical pieces with appropriate gestures and dances.

Apart from being padded in comical fashion, actors in comedy mostly wore clothes modeled on those of everyday life. At times a short close-fitting tunic made them appear almost naked, while yet again in other comic plays the actors would wear either the usual goat's skin cloak or a threadbare mantle. Slaves were dressed in a leather jerkin and tight-fitting trousers. In a comedy the members of the chorus, twenty-four in number, were dressed according to the nature of the play. In Aristophanes' comedies for example, the chorus in The Birds wore bird-masks with open beaks, combs, feathers and wings; in The Wasps they carried stings; in The Clouds, they wore voluminous transparent draperies, while in The Frogs they were dressed in costumes to represent these amphibians.

It must be noted that the ancient theatre was no mere recreation, but a semi-religious function under the absolute control of the State. No individual had the right to produce a play without the sanction of the selection board presided over by the first archon, to whose judgement the poets submitted their plays for acceptance. Theatrical representations were an essential part of the religious festivals of the Dionysia in which, as we have already noted, the drama had its origins.

In addition to paying the successful authors an honorarium, the State engaged the actors, financed the production of the plays and undertook to maintain order during the performances. The expense of providing, and training the chorus was borne by a wealthy citizen, the choregus (sponsor), whom custom obliged to perform this public duty. Once accepted, authors had an entirely free hand in directing and producing their plays, in which they often acted themselves, sometimes designing the costumes and even composing the music. Since they could count on the support of the State and were certain of large and discerning audiences the standard of acting and production of the plays was correspondingly high.

These theatrical competitions took place only twice a year. The first and more ancient took place during the Lenaea, or Feast of Vats, in the month of Gamelion (JanuaryFebruary) and the second during the Great Urban Dionysia which was celebrated with exceptional splendor in the month of Elaphebolion (March-April).

For days before the celebration of the Great Urban Dionysia the whole town was astir. Business was at a standstill, the law courts were closed and sentences suspended. The festival lasted for six days, three of them devoted to the plays, three tragedies and a satyric play, or comedy, being performed each day, in all twelve plays. From daybreak immense crowds besieged the theatre, for it was only at the Great Urban Dionysia that plays could be seen during the author's lifetime.

Every play was judged by a committee, composed of one representative from each phylae, chosen by lot and bound by oath to give its judgement on the merits of the plays, the sponsors and the actors. At the end of the contests prizes were awarded. A golden crown was publicly conferred upon the winning poet. A crown was also awarded to the best choregus, who moreover had the privilege of dedicating a votive offering (usually a tripod) to Dionysus, while besides their customary honoraria monetary prizes were awarded to the best actors.

The auditorium, hewn out of the rock of the Acropolis, measuring approximately 100 m. in diameter, rises in tiers to a height of 30 m. Built to accommodate audiences estimated at between fourteen and eighteen thousand, it could, if necessary, seat a larger number. To allow easy access to the various parts of the theatre the parallel tiers of seats were divided horizontally into three concentric zones, running from one end of the auditorium to the other, and vertically into thirteen kerkides (wedge-like blocks).

The front row consisted of sixty-seven marble stalls reserved for priests, generals, heralds, and other high ranking officials, ambassadors of foreign states, and any other citizen or distinguished foreigner it was desired to honor. The existing stalls date from the first century AD and are presumably copies of older originals.

The central seat in the first row is the throne of the Priest of Dionysus Eleutherius; in spite of its damaged condition it has retained much of its former splendor. The throne is supported on lions' paws; below the seat a front panel depicts a fight between kneeling Arimaspi and winged griffins. The griffins were mythical monsters believed to be the guardians of the earth's gold, and the one-eyed Arimaspi, a Scythian tribe of ferocious robbers living on the northeastern borders of the world, somewhere in Siberia.

Behind the throne of the Priest of Dionysus stands part of the pedestal, with a Latin inscription, of a statue raised in honor of the Emperor Hadrian. To the left of the pedestal is the seat of the Priest of Olympian Victory. To the right another doublestall bears the inscription stratigou and kirikos, indicating that the seats were intended for a general and a herald. Higher up, on the third row and left of the seat of the Priest of Olympian Victory, is the throne offered to Marcus Ulpius Eubiotus, a benefactor of the City of Athens, and higher to the left of this is the base of a statue set up in honor of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Parts of the bases of statues honoring other illustrious personages are to be found in various places in the auditorium.

Above the Theatre of Dionysus, and under the Wall of Cimon, the face of the rock is cut vertically forming a scarp within which is a cave; at the entrance lie the scanty remains of the choregic monument erected by Thrasyllus of Dekeleia in 320 BC. This monument stood on a base of two steps and consisted of three pilasters supporting an architrave on which, in addition to the dedicatory inscription, the frieze, with a design of leaves and fruit, was carved in low relief. The architrave was surmounted by a three-stepped base on which rested the victor's bronze tripod. Later, in 271 BC, Thrasyllus' son, Trasycles, set up a statue of Dionysus as well as a votive tablet, recording his own triumphs as choregus. The statue was removed by Lord Elgin and later sold to the British Museum; the monument itself was destroyed during the siege of the Acropolis in 1826.

On the higher level, at the foot of the wall of Cimon, stand two Corinthian columns erected during the Roman period for the support of votive tripods.

East of the Theatre of Dionysus was the Odeion of Pericles, built mostly of timber. This splendid building, completed in 443 BC for rehearsal of the music and drama contests held during the Panathenaea and Dionysia, was considered the finest in the Hellenic world and served as the prototype of all successive odeia. It was destroyed by fire during Sulla's siege of Athens in 86 BC but was rebuilt on the same plan some twenty years later.

A path above the last tier of the theatre leads directly to the Asclepeion, which may also be reached from the proscenium by following a winding path to the northwest, skirting the Stoa of Eumenes.

Athens Gate Hotel, Amalia Hotel and Athens Acropol Hotel are among the best in the city of Athens.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Painting Your Home - What You Need to Know When Choosing Paint

One of the easiest ways to update a room is by painting it. There are many paints and techniques that you can use to make your home unique and interesting, and it all starts with choosing the right paint. Here are some pointers on which paints work best in different situations.

Interior Paints

There are different paint formulations for indoors as well as outdoors. When you paint a room in your house, you will want to use an interior paint on the walls. Interior paints are available in several finishes ranging from dull to shiny including flat (or matte), eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and gloss.

Flat Finish

Generally more formal rooms will be done in a flat or matte finish. This finish does not reflect light as well as some of the shinier finishes, so any imperfections in your walls are less noticeable. The challenge with flat paint, however, is that it is difficult to wash; so it is not a good option for high traffic areas or areas where children play. Ceilings are usually painted in a flat finish which again helps hide imperfections.

Eggshell Finish

With just a hint of sheen eggshell finish is only slightly more glossy than flat. It is a little easier to clean that a flat finish, but it is still not appropriate for high traffic areas.

Satin Finish

A more popular all-around choice is the satin finish. It offers the best of both worlds. It has a little more gloss than eggshell without being shiny, and it still does a pretty good job of hiding imperfections in the wall. It is easy to clean, so it is appropriate for molding. It also works well in high traffic areas and children's rooms, because it can stand up to a light scrubbing.

Semi-Gloss Finish

Moving up the shiny scale, semi-gloss is generally a little too shiny of a finish to apply to walls, but it works great on cabinets and doors. It can also work on trim and molding, especially in more heavily used areas of the house.

Gloss Finish

The glossy finishes are entirely too shiny for walls, but they still work well on cabinets and doors as well as furniture. Realize though, that when you use high gloss paint, every, little imperfection in the surface that you are painting will show up. Therefore, when using a glossy finish it is really important to begin with a flawless surface.

Exterior Paint

When painting the outside of your house you will use an exterior paint. These paints are formulated to hold up to the harsh elements of the weather. Not too long ago exterior paints were exclusively oil-based paints, but in the last couple of decades new water-based formulations are as good as or sometimes even better than the old oil-based exterior paints. While oil-based paints are certainly still an option when painting, they are harder to use, require solvents to clean up after, and emit noxious fumes as they dry. Water-based paints go on easily, clean up with water, and barely have an odor at all. However, either paint type will work for an outdoor application.

Latex Exterior

Using latex, water-based, exterior paint is generally preferred because the paint has more elasticity and as a result resists cracking and peeling over time. It is mildew resistant and does not "chalk" as readily as oil-based paint. It dries much more quickly than oil, and it is all around easier to use.

Whenever you paint, always prepare your surfaces with care, because your paint is only as good as the weakest layer.

This article was written by Aja Klenna and provided by, a site featuring unique wall decor art and leaf wall sculptures.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Great Price Square Deal Recordings & Supplies for

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

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

  • Perfect to pin on Jackets, Tapestries, Backpacks, Luggage, Purses & TONS more
  • Great way to express your taste in music, humor & more!
  • In business since 1972, we have THOUSANDS of buttons, patches & stickers to choose from!
  • Buy more than one & save on shipping costs!
  • We have over 7,400 different patches, buttons, stickers, keychains & more!

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

This button is the perfect affordable accessory! It is also great to help make your luggage or backpacks more unique and easy to identify. Collect all your favorite bands & funny sayings! WE HAVE THOUSANDS OF BUTTONS TO CHOOSE FROM!

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Update Post: Aug 05, 2010 23:30:15

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Great Price Morris Costumes for

Angel Dlx Theatre Headwear Halloween Mask Review

Angel Dlx Theatre Headwear Halloween Mask Feature

  • Angel Dlx Theatre Headwear Halloween Mask

Angel Dlx Theatre Headwear Halloween Mask Overview

Beautiful, gorgeous plastic mask with character specific glitter detailing and matching glamour style wig. A perfect dressy combo for your next elegant costume party affair.

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Update Post: Aug 04, 2010 22:20:18

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Vicissitude of Japan's Culture

Culture of different countries is different. One can easily notice the difference either by the visit, i.e. through experience or through learning their history and customs. Likewise, Japan culture also has its own specialties and features. Regular changes have been noticed in Japan's culture, over the years. Modern Japan came into existence from the ancient traditional Japan and the birth of samurais. No doubt, influenced by culture of many neighboring countries, the modern culture of Japan has its own importance. This distinct culture of Japan is resulted from combination of different cultures. It manifests the creativity, independence and strength of humility of Japanese.

Japan culture is rich in the field of music, literature, art and architecture. The art of Japan is well renowned, from its traditional time to modern era. Japan's animation is known for its artists all throughout the world. Video games, entertainment shows and music play a great contribution in cyber industry. Japan was famous for its music, samurai, geisha and many more. The other uniqueness is in their language, which plays a great role in the Japanese culture. Spoken mainly within the country and leant by many westerners, the language is written in three scripts: - Katakana, hiragana, and kanji. Katakana contains Chinese character while Kanji is imported from China.

Calligraphy, a way of writing characters in a very artistic way, is also a part of Japanese culture. Ink painting or Sumi-e is an art of painting an object. Ikebana is also well known in Japan. It is the art of flower arrangement that is also used many other countries. Japanese culture is also remarkable with regard to theatre arts, as you can still come across traditional theaters in the country. Generally four types of theaters are recognized in Japan- kyogen, bunraku, noh and kabuki. Masks are generally used by performers to depict the characters. Action and dialogues to express emotions are commonly used. A puppet theater highlighting historical plays, known as Bunraku, was a part of Japanese culture during Heian period.

With regards to attire in Japan, kimono is their traditional dress, which is available in variety of designs and colors. It is generally dark color dress, preferably worn by males and at the same time, yukuta, the lighter color dress, is the choice of females. Though these dresses are easily available at several places, but these are generally worn now-a-days on some special occasion. The above stated dresses, theaters, arts and language show diversity in Japanese culture and express their distinct characteristics, which make it one of the best cultures in the world.


Nancy Eben

Japan Culture and Tokyo Hotels

Monday, August 2, 2010

Halloween Costume - Theatre Popcorn Box

You will need:

1 tall box large enough to wear

a utility knife

clear shipping tape to assemble the box.

a yardstick and pen or pencil.

red and white paint (and yellow paint also, if desired), and a brush

cream or white colored Styrofoam peanuts

spray adhesive safe for use with Styrofoam, or other glue

neutral clothing, or optionally for women, high heels and stockings.

for an optional hat: one sheet of poster board.

If you don't have a box the right size, you should be able to find one at a shipping store. Ideally, you want one that is about eight inches wider than your shoulders, and about as tall as the distance from just above your knees to your shoulders. The bottom of the box will now be the top of the box. What used to be the top, will now be the open bottom for your legs. With the utility knife, carefully cut off the extra flaps that will be on the same end as your legs. Wait to tape the box until you finish the painting.

If you wish, you can use a popcorn box from your theater or look at popcorn boxes online as a model for your costume. On one side of your box, write "POPCORN" in large red letters and draw a red a frame around it in any desired shape. On this and the other three sides of the box, use the yard stick to measure and mark vertical stripes four inches wide. Alternately paint them red and white. Some popcorn boxes use yellow on them as well. Paint the top of the box where your head will stick out, white.

For the optional cone hat, cut the poster board into a large enough wedge to form into a cone to wear on your head. Before assembling, mark and paint red and white stripes on the poster board, that are smaller at the top than at the bottom of the cone. When the cone is dry, assemble and affix with tape. Glue Styrofoam peanuts randomly to the sides.

When the box is dry, tape the top of the popcorn box closed and carefully cut a round hole just large enough for your head to get through. Using glue, apply the Styrofoam peanuts to the top of the box in a pile, much like popcorn is heaped in a popcorn box.

Try on the box to approximate a convenient place for arm holes. They should be at about elbow level, on the sides, and perhaps a little nearer to the front than the back. With the utility knife carefully cut the holes. Your costume is now ready.

Social network users, click for myspace comments such as compliments, cool comments, love, flirty, birthday, holidays, religion, funny, cute, etc. You can also use myspace graphics. If you love Halloween, click Myspace Halloween Layouts to add to your profile.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Beyonce's "Video Phone" Looks, Broken Down

Image :

What happens when the hottest chick in the game gets on wax with... the hottest chick in the game? She steps her game up to maintain her position at #1 of course! From the opening of the video, where she rocked the cut-out one piece swimsuit, to the all white one piece where she matched with the Gaga, to her orange swimsuit she rocked on the bike, Bey Sting brought it! Here are her looks broken down:

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Zorro, it's a bad ass-- for the opening sequence Bey killed the slow motion walk, paying tribute to Quentin Tarantino's movie "Reservoir Dogs", strutting in this quilted mask, studded one-piece swimsuit, knee-high boots and trench coat.

For take 2, she went from one extreme to another. In a good way, and in every sense of the word. She want from a slow, sexy walk, to a sped up "shake it, don't break it" dance routine, and from simple all black to an in your face (or at least all on your computer/TV screen) with this black & white two-piece. But it's no regular two-piece, with eyes for boobs, and theater masks on her hips, she definitely brings in the animation! Keeping up the boots theme, she rocks out with her thighs out in these thigh high crystal embellished Halston boots. And she gets a "high 5" for those shades!;)

With a slicked back ponytail, and a trench style body suit with matching thigh high boots (courtesy of Jean Paul Gaultier), we wouldn't recommend you wearing this to the office! Flirting with the sharp shoulder trend, and sticking to her new fave weapon of choice- the garter belt, she proves to the whole world why Jay put a ring on it.

Put down your weapons! Rocking a pair of your typical (and now not so typical) science lab glasses, a flesh colored plastic bra, plastic belt, and colored leggings, Bey fired rounds of "bad bish" shots, subliminally warning any young diva in training why she is NOT the one to come after to make a name for yourself.

If the Dreamgirls were Las Vegas show girls, I'm guessing this is how they would do it up! This montage of body suits, reminiscent to that of identical quadruple's auditioning to be Fanta girls, shows how to simply leave a lasting impression.

The two killer bee's matched it up in all white bodysuit, with Gaga popping with yellow, while Bey rocked out in red (loving those Valentino D'orsay pumps!) If this was a "how to annihilate a video" convention, Gaga & Bey would be the only necessary speakers. Oh yeah, and Hype Williams!

Paying tribute to 50's pin-up Bettie Page, Bey percolated in a metallic bra, patchwork shorts (similar to her Dolce & Gabbana patchwork bag), and Ruthie Davis pumps, while maintaining her balance on a Skittle's sponsored rifle.

Baby! Can you handle this? I don't think you can handle this! She took us back to her days of a primetime Destiny's Child with this one-shoulder heart burst swimsuit, paired with a Cupid inspired bow & arrow, and topped it off with a chain strapped biker hat. And those dominatrix thigh high boots don't hurt the game either!

It's small, cute ways like this where she sends her Jay shout outs through the air, hoping no one notices but him. We see you, boo. The 80's baby gear, with current day trends and accessories gives us Melody Ehsani meets Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's baby mama who never had his baby. The hip-hop influence is prevalent, and adoringly obvious! Did anyone else peep when she threw up the Roc on the "Brooklyn, Atlanta, Houston to New Awwlins'" part?

This Jean Paul Gaultier one-piece orange tulle swimsuit, with lowered back, and cape said it best. Well, I'm not exactly sure what it said best, but damn it! It said something!

Her 10 best looks, and hottest looks, pretty much all her looks, broken down for you. And I'm not saying you're dummies, you ladies & gents are actually pretty fabulous. But this one was for you! Check out the video here.

Tara Decoda

Fashion Manifesto|| Because Style Doesn't Happen Overnight

"Fashion fades, only style remains the same!"- Coco Chanel