Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Rain on top of snow on top of ice -- two VERY close near-accidents just driving to work this morning. Involved with the Audubon bird count last Sunday too -- saw a Black-Capped Chickadee, lots of Blackbirds, plus Flickers and Blue Jays.

Sitemeter Sez: Visitors from Chino, California; Bixby, Oklahoma; Durham, North Carolina; Paradise, Montana (Real place -- locally famous for the shortcut between here and Interstate 90); North Oxford, Massachusetts; Los Angeles, California; South Deerfield, Massachusetts; Montreal, Quebec; Oakland, California, and Hamburg, Germany.

Watch for revisions at: Theater X-Net

Starring: Ida Rubinstein Belle Epoch Russian/Parisian beauty.
Ida's Places in Paris -- from my first jet-lagged day by the Seine.
Read more about Ida in Sisters of Salome by Toni Bentley

Visit: Michael's Montana Web Archive
Theater, Art, Flash Gordon, Funky Music and MORE!
NEW --Launching NOW! Outre Space Cinema -- Featuring: 1930's Rocketry, Spitfires of the Spaceways and Cellulose to Celluloid, Flash Gordon in the Saturday Matinees and Sunday Comics.

Many thanks to Jim Keefe (Visit his Website) -- the LAST Flash Gordon illustrator of the 20th Century, and Flash's FIRST illustrator of the 21st, for including my efforts on his Flash Gordon Resources Page -- along with actual creators like Alex Raymond, Al Williamson, and others!

Charity Alert: Play the FreeRice Game -- improve your vocabulary, and donate food to the United Nations. Check into Terra Sigilata blog -- donate $$$ to cancer patients just by clicking onto the site. Keep that Resolution to click on The Hunger Site every day. BTW -- is a bit simpler than FreeRice Game.

In The Community: The Hockaday Museum of Art is getting ready for new shows. We will likely change Crown of the Continent a little, and continue Ace of Diamonds.

Media Watch: Superstars of Dance -- HA! Trash A Go Go Part III is more like it, and the trash just gets stinkier. There is a certain amount of praise in my opinionated damnation, especially for the Santa Monica street-dancer, but the overall production loses big-time in my view. It is inexcusable for a two-hour dance show to only have about a half hour of dancing.
Excellent stuff -- Indian temple dancer, Santa Monica POP-meister, Russian ballerina, Argentinian Tango queen, Australian male soloist (with a stupid torn shirt), Shao-Lin dance group, and I may have forgotten an excellent act or two.
There were a lot of good/fair/middling acts also, but there were many that just plain SUCKED -- and the main problem was CHOREOGRAPHY, rather than talent, high to low on the quality scale. Bad decisions undid many a good performer, and gutless conservatism dulled a show that was already besieged by dullness.
I've never liked host Michael Flatley's choreography anyway, and I like it even less after enduring the international ass-kissing that put the Irish team in first place -- believe me when I tell you that Celtic dancing is a much deeper art form than than the soul-less drivel "Loada Da' Dance" dribbles onto the public consciousness. As an announcer, Flatley ranks right down there with Lawrence Welk for rankness too, although he was pleasant enough as a guest judge on Trash A Go Go I (ABC's Dancing with the Stars) a few months ago.
The judging slowed the show down to a crawl -- having the order of voting the same every time was an avoidable bad decision. The multiple characters on the panel drained a lot of energy by just having so many there -- some of them were OK, some of them were pills. There was one judge who made me laugh, though -- the Chinese monk who repeatedly said "Bah, eight." He sometimes gave out a "Cho, nine," and rarely something higher or lower, but he was generally positive through his extreme reservedness. (Day-um! Even talking sketchily about the judges wastes time.)

Speaking about Dance:

Music: Le Cygne by Camille Saint-Saƫns from the Carnival of Animals.

The Dying Swan
By Alfred (Lord) Tennyson

The plain was grassy, wild and bare,
Wide, wild, and open to the air,
Which had built up everywhere
An under-roof of doleful gray.
With an inner voice the river ran,
Adown it floated a dying swan,
And loudly did lament.
It was the middle of the day.
Ever the weary wind went on,
And took the reed-tops as it went.

Some blue peaks in the distance rose,
And white against the cold-white sky,
Shone out their crowning snows.
One willow over the water wept,
And shook the wave as the wind did sigh;
Above in the wind was the swallow,
Chasing itself at its own wild will,
And far thro' the marish green and still
The tangled water-courses slept,
Shot over with purple, and green, and yellow.

The wild swan's death-hymn took the soul
Of that waste place with joy
Hidden in sorrow: at first to the ear
The warble was low, and full and clear;
And floating about the under-sky,
Prevailing in weakness, the coronach stole
Sometimes afar, and sometimes anear;
But anon her awful jubilant voice,
With a music strange and manifold,
Flow'd forth on a carol free and bold;

As when a mighty people rejoice
With shawms, and with cymbals, and harps of gold,
And the tumult of their acclaim is roll'd
Thro' the open gates of the city afar,
To the shepherd who watcheth the evening star.
And the creeping mosses and clambering weeds,
And the willow-branches hoar and dank,
And the wavy swell of the soughing reeds,
And the wave-worn horns of the echoing bank,
And the silvery marish-flowers that throng
The desolate creeks and pools among,
Were flooded over with eddying song.

The poem and music inspired Michel Folkine to choreograph Pavlov's famous dance in 1905 -- Nobody did more to bring Ballet to the wide world than Anna Palova (1881-1931). Originally-French traditions were transformed in the crucible of Czarist Russia and it's Francophile aristocracy. Artists like Pavlova made the art form transcendent.