Sunday, 31 March 2013

Le Ballet Mécanique(1924)

Ladies and Gentlemen may I present you: Le Ballet Mécanique by Fernand Léger

Fernand Léger was a French artist. His work ranges from Cubism and abstractionism in the 1910s to realist imagery in the 1950s.

This film made in 1924 demonstrates the concern with the mechanical world.



The Shape of Things to Come


I was going through the blog and I noticed that we haven’t really touched on one of the most interesting themes (by interesting I actually mean cool! But cool is too informal.) of the early 20th century: SCIENCE FICTION! (cue 2001: A Space Odyssey score)

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is considered the first truly scientific work of literary fantasy, along with Voltaire’s Micromégas (1752) and Kepler’s Somnium (1620-30). In fact, authors (and also awesome brainiacs) Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov call Kepler’s narrative the first work of science fiction.
In the 19th century, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and The Last Man, along with Edgar A. Poe’s story about a trip to the moon helped define the form of the science fiction novel. In the second half of the century, Jules Verne (one of the gods in my pagan temple) earned the title of “Father of Science Fiction” (a title shared with H.G. Wells – yet another god in my temple – and Hugo Gernsback, founder of the pioneering sci-fi magazine Amazing Stories – the famous Hugo Awards, presented annually by the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) have been named after this guy) with works like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon.
However, the early 20th century was the period when sci-fi started to be recognized as an actual literary genre with two very important sci-fi authors: H.G.Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
American author Edgar Rice Burroughs (September 1, 1875 – March 19, 1950) was the creator of a number of series depicting life on other planets, namely Venus (starting with Pirates of Venus in 1934) and Mars (who hasn’t heard of John Carter of Mars?), but also at the Earth’s core, such as the Pellucidar Series. His most famous series are the Barsoom Series (starting with Princess of Mars in 1912 and ending with John Carter in 1964) and the Tarzan Series (starting with Tarzan of the Apes in 1912 and ending with Tarzan and the Castaways in 1965). He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.
H.G. Wells (21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946) introduced a new perspective into sci-fi literature, weaving together technological advancement and socio-political views. His stories often come embedded with a kind of warning to the human perpetual hunger for progress and control over nature (The Island of Doctor Moreau being the most flagrant example in this particular case). Wells dubbed himself a socialist (for a while he was a member of the Fabian Society) and his views as such are reflected in the stories he wrote: class and inequality are present in The Time Machine, where humanity is divided into two groups, the rich, who have reverted back to a natural state as childlike adults (Eloi=leisured classes), and the ape-like troglodytes who live in darkness underground and surface only at night (Morlocks=working class).
Men Like Gods (1923) features a utopia located in a parallel universe, where Marxism is denounced and wireless internet is described. The Shape of Things to Come (1933) is set between 1933 and 2106; in this book, Wells predicts the WWII breaking out with a European conflagration from the flashpoint of a violent clash between Germans and Poles at Danzig in January 1940 and establishes a world state as the solution for mankind’s problems. Although Wells’ most famous works have been written prior to the 20th century, he went on contributing to science fiction until 1941, not just with fiction but also with non-fictional books, thus earning a place in our class discussion.

H.G.Wells’ beliefs and their influence in his works is a very interesting subject for those who are (like me) die-hard sci-fi worshippers. Matters such as class, socialism, Zionism, Eugenics, world government, Darwinism and evolution, can be spotted throughout most of his stories. I should warn H.G.Wells’ beginners that his books are not an easy read: they are very descriptive and full of ideologies which may clash with common understanding. But they are worth poring over.
…And don’t think you can learn as much by watching Spielberg’s War of the Worlds. The only thing he managed to get right was the tripod-shaped aliens.

Now go play some board games.

Don’t forget to be awesome,
Sara Santos.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Boardwalk Empire

"Boardwalk Empire is an American television series from premium cable channel HBO, set in Atlantic City, New Jersey during the Prohibition era (1920s and 1930s). It stars Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson. The show was adapted by Emmy Award-winning screenwriter and producer Terence Winter (of The Sopranos) from a book about historical criminal kingpin Enoch L. Johnson by Nelson Johnson, titled Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City.

The pilot episode, directed by Martin Scorsese, was produced at a cost of $18 million. On September 1, 2009, HBO picked up the series for an additional 11 episodes. The series premièred on September 19, 2010. The series was renewed for a third season, which premièred on September 16, 2012. On October 2, 2012, HBO announced that the series was renewed for a fourth season.

Boardwalk Empire has received widespread critical acclaim, particularly for its visual style and basis on historical figures, as well as for Buscemi's lead performance. The series has won twelve Emmy Awards and has received 30 nominations, including two for Outstanding Drama Series. The series also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama."

You can easily stream or download it from here (All episodes averaging 150Mb in size):
                                                                                                                                                                  ~ César ~

Monday, 25 March 2013

First Lady of the World

"Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (/ˈɛlɨnɔr ˈroʊzəvɛlt/; October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962) was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, holding the post from 1933 to 1945 during her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt's four terms in office. President Harry S. Truman later nicknamed her the "First Lady of the World" in tribute to her human rights achievements."

"Born into a wealthy and well-connected New York family, the Roosevelts, Eleanor had an unhappy childhood, suffering the deaths of both parents and one of her brothers at a young age. At 15, she attended Allenwood Academy in London, and was deeply influenced by feminist headmistress Marie Souvestre. Returning to the US, she married Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1905. The Roosevelts' marriage was complicated from the beginning by Franklin's controlling mother, and after discovering Franklin's affair with Lucy Mercer in 1918, Eleanor resolved to seek fulfillment in a public life of her own. She persuaded Franklin to stay in politics following his partial paralysis from polio, and began to give speeches and campaign in his place. After Franklin's election as Governor of New York, Eleanor regularly made public appearances on his behalf."

"Though widely respected in her later years, Roosevelt was a controversial First Lady for her outspokenness, particularly for her stands on racial issues. She was the first presidential spouse to hold press conferences, write a syndicated newspaper column, and speak at a national convention. On a few occasions, she publicly disagreed with her husband's policies. She launched an experimental community at Arthurdale, West Virginia for the families of unemployed miners, later widely regarded as a failure. She advocated for expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Japanese Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees."

"Following her husband's death, Eleanor remained active in politics for the rest of her life. She pressed the US to join and support the United Nations and became one of its first delegates. She served as the first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Later she chaired the John F. Kennedy administration's Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. By her death, she was regarded as "one of the most esteemed women in the world" and "the object of almost universal respect". In 1999, she was ranked in the top ten of Gallup's List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century."
                                                                                                                                                                    ~ César ~

Sunday, 24 March 2013

A Thought Provoking Woman

"Charlotte Perkins Gilman (July 3, 1860 – August 17, 1935) was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and a lecturer for social reform. She was a utopian feminist during a time when her accomplishments were exceptional for women, and she served as a role model for future generations of feminists because of her unorthodox concepts and lifestyle. Her best remembered work today is her semi-autobiographical short story The Yellow Wallpaper which she wrote after a severe bout of postpartum psychosis."

"After moving to Pasadena, Charlotte became active in organizing social reform movements. As a delegate, she represented California in 1896 at both the Suffrage Convention in Washington, D.C. and the International Socialist and Labor Congress which was held in England. In 1890, she was introduced to Nationalism, a movement which worked to "end capitalism's greed and distinctions between classes while promoting a peaceful, ethical, and truly progressive human race." Published in the Nationalist magazine, her poem, Similar Cases was a satirical review of people who resisted social change and she received positive feedback from critics for it. Throughout that same year, 1890, she became inspired enough to write fifteen essays, poems, a novella, and the short story The Yellow Wallpaper. Her career was launched when she began lecturing on Nationalism and gained the public's eye with her first volume of poetry, In This Our World, published in 1893. As a successful lecturer who relied on giving speeches as a source of income, her fame grew along with her social circle of similar-minded activists and writers of the feminist movement."

Other quotations:
“The first duty of a human being is to assume the right functional relationship to society -- more briefly, to find your real job, and do it.”

“There was a time when Patience ceased to be a virtue. It was long ago.”

“To swallow and follow, whether old doctrine or new propaganda, is a weakness still dominating the human mind.”

"It is not that women are really smaller-minded, weaker-minded, more timid and vacillating, but that whosoever, man or woman, lives always in a small, dark place, is always guarded, protected, directed and restrained, will become inevitably narrowed and weakened by it."

"The softest, freest, most pliable and changeful living substance is the brain -- the hardest and most iron-bound as well."

"A house does not need a wife any more than it needs a husband."
                                                                                                                                                   ~ César ~

George Bernard Shaw

"George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950) was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60 plays. He was also an essayist, novelist and short story writer. Nearly all his writings address prevailing social problems, but have a vein of comedy which makes their stark themes more palatable. Issues which engaged Shaw's attention included education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege."

"He was most angered by what he perceived as the exploitation of the working class. An ardent socialist, Shaw wrote many brochures and speeches for the Fabian Society. He became an accomplished orator in the furtherance of its causes, which included gaining equal rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class, rescinding private ownership of productive land, and promoting healthy lifestyles. For a short time he was active in local politics, serving on the London County Council. In 1898, Shaw married Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a fellow Fabian, whom he survived. They settled in Ayot St Lawrence in a house now called Shaw's Corner. Shaw died there, aged 94, from chronic problems exacerbated by injuries he incurred by falling from a ladder."

"He is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize in Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion (adaptation of his play of the same name), respectively. Shaw wanted to refuse his Nobel Prize outright because he had no desire for public honours, but accepted it at his wife's behest: she considered it a tribute to Ireland. He did reject the monetary award, requesting it be used to finance translation of fellow playwright August Strindberg's works from Swedish to English."
                                                                                                                                                   ~ César ~

Maslow vs Freud

These two were not creators of art, but were two of the most successful in the field of Psychology, true interpreters of human behavior and personality.

It's impossible to actually quantify their influence in society and the arts, but you need only to grasp a bit of what their theories were all about to realize their influence has been massive.

"Sigmund Freud (German pronunciation: [ˈziːkmʊnt ˈfʁɔʏt]; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist who became known as the founding father of psychoanalysis." 

"In creating psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst, Freud developed therapeutic techniques such as the use of free association (in which patients report their thoughts without reservation and in whichever order they spontaneously occur) and discovered transference (the process in which patients displace on to their analysts feelings derived from the sexual experiences and fantasies of their childhood), establishing its central role in the analytic process. Freud’s analysis of his own and his patients dreams as wish-fulfilments provided him with models for the clinical analysis of symptom formation and the mechanisms of repression as well as for further elaboration of his theory of the unconscious as an agency disruptive of conscious states of mind. Freud postulated the existence of libido, an energy with which mental process and structures are invested and which generates erotic attachments, and a death drive, the source of repetition, hate, aggression and guilt. In his later work Freud drew on psychoanalytic theory to develop a wide-ranging interpretation and critique of religion and culture."

"Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization. Maslow was a psychology professor at Brandeis University, Brooklyn College, New School for Social Research and Columbia University. He stressed the importance of focusing on the positive qualities in people, as opposed to treating them as a "bag of symptoms."

Maslow's hierarchy of needs
File:Maslow's hierarchy of needs.svg

"Humanistic psychologists believe that every person has a strong desire to realize his or her full potential, to reach a level of "self-actualization". The main point of that new movement, that reached its peak in 1960s, was to emphasize the positive potential of human beings. Maslow positioned his work as a vital complement to that of Freud"

"It is as if Freud supplied us the sick half of psychology and we must now fill it out with the healthy half."

"To prove that humans are not simply blindly reacting to situations, but trying to accomplish something greater, Maslow studied mentally healthy individuals instead of people with serious psychological issues. He focused on self-actualising people. Self-actualizing people indicate a coherent personality syndrome and represent optimal psychological health and functioning."

"This informed his theory that a person enjoys "peak experiences", high points in life when the individual is in harmony with himself and his surroundings. In Maslow's view, self-actualized people can have many peak experiences throughout a day while others have those experiences less frequently."

"Maslow based his theory partially on his own assumptions about human potential and partially on his case studies of historical figures whom he believed to be self actualized, including Albert Einstein and Henry David Thoreau. Consequently, Maslow argued, the way in which essential needs are fulfilled is just as important as the needs themselves. Together, these define the human experience. To the extent a person finds cooperative social fulfillment, he establishes meaningful relationships with other people and the larger world. In other words, he establishes meaningful connections to an external realityan essential component of self-actualization. In contrast, to the extent that vital needs find selfish and competitive fulfillment, a person acquires hostile emotions and limited external relationships—his awareness remains internal and limited."
                                                                                                                                                   ~ César ~

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Déjà entendu

Hello, Everybody!
(Now imagine this greeting in the voice of Dr. Nick from The Simpsons)

So, I know that you probably do not want to hear about any more of that “folk stuff” from last class. However, for those who may be interested in getting to know this side of American music a little bit better, I am posting two videos: the first one is the 16-minute documentary by Alan Lomax (it is really good, because you get an overview of how folk came to be); the second video is a recording taken from a documentary about Lomax, where you can see how music was an important element in the lives of prison-farm workers.

Also, for those who may want to get acquainted with folk music but do not want to dwell too much on the past, there are some really good folk/indie folk/folk rock musicians which you can listen to. Here is a small list (I am sure you know most of these names anyway, because they are kind of famous):
  • Ani DiFranco
  • Bon Iver (although Bon Iver is considered indie folk, I have serious doubts about it, but check it out anyway. It is awesome! Holocene)
  • Damien Rice (IRISH!)
  • The Decemberists
  • Devendra Banhart (Venezuelan-American musician)
  • Don McLean (American Pie)
  • Fleet Foxes
  • Great Lake Swimmers (Canadian folk rock)
  • The Head and the Heart (indie folk-pop)
  • Iron & Wine
  • The Lumineers (Stubborn Love)
  • The Mountain Goats (This Year)
  • Mumford and Sons (English, but too good not to mention)
  • Noah & the Whale
  • Of Monsters and Men (Icelandic indie folk: yup, it’s a thing)
  • Steve Earle (The Galway Girl)
Now go and enjoy your Easter Holidays.
And, you know...
Don't forget to be awesome,
Sara Santos.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013 you think THEY can do a Dracula Musical?

I now this has nothing to do with our period...but since we talked about Draculia (or Dracula) musicals...Here is the link for the grand finale (Japanese version). Unfortunately I wasn´t able to upload the vídeo ...
Wao Yoka as Dracula (yes...a woman!) and Hanafusa Mari as Mina

The German version - Draculia versus Van Helsing - Zu Ende (2007)
Sang de Vie Productions - featuring a professional cast of West End musical theatre performers with Michael McCarthy as Dracula. The musical is by Gareth Evans and Christopher J.Orton, with orchestrations by the noted British composer and producer, Ian Lynn (Dracula Musical Project continues)
Dracula´s solo-I am Condemned

A more cheerful song sung by the ensemble

And finally ( favourite...) She Devil , Nosferatu
 featuring Lucy, Van Helsing, Quincy, Jack and Jonathan
I hope you like it!
If not...well...hmmm...should I .... hmmm...shall I say.. what?...Sorry?
Ana Correia

Monday, 18 March 2013

Blues vs Jazz

I found an interesting article with a short overview of the differences between Blues and Jazz, in case anyone feels like learning a bit more about this: Press here

"Blues is a simpler and more rigidly structured form of music than jazz. Blues is usually intended to convey a feeling of sadness (via flatted notes), and usually uses simple chords with emphasized downbeats, whereas jazz is usually intended to convey a feeling of cheerfulness (via syncopated rhythm), and usually uses complex chords with emphasized upbeats. In short, blues is basically a fixed chord progression whereas jazz is a general style of rhythm and chord embellishment.

A "blues" composition is based on a certain fixed chord progression that is exactly 12 bars long, and typically uses a certain scale (viz., the 5-note minor pentatonic scale or the 6-note blues scale) for the melody/solo, whereas "jazz" is a more general term that describes a musical style that uses certain types of chords (viz., chords containing four or more notes in stacked thirds), certain rhythms, and is less limited in the scale that is used (though typically a 7-note scale like the major scale is used). Jazz compositions are not limited in the number of bars or in the underlying chord progression, unlike blues compositions.

The two styles are not mutually exclusive. For example, blues compositions can be played in a jazz style by adding notes in stacked thirds to the original blues chords (e.g., C can be changed to C7 or C9 or C11 or C13). The result is a "busier," more complex, more interesting, slightly more dissonant set of chords. This is where the term "jazz it up" comes from: it means to make something fancy out of something plain.

More specifically, the basic 12-bar blues chord progression in general (keyless) notation is:


For example, in the key of "C" these chords would be:


Innumerable pop and rock songs, especially from the 1960s, use this same general blues chord progression, such as "Johnny B. Goode," "Jailhouse Rock,"' "Hanky Panky," "Green Onions," "Long Tall Sally," "Surfin' USA," and "Going Up the Country."

In contrast, almost any existing composition, even if originally a pop song, rock song, or Christmas carol that does not even use the above chord progression, can be turned into a jazz composition by enhancing the chords as described above. This has been done many times to popular or standard songs such as "Day Tripper," "Windy," "Over the Rainbow," "What Child Is This," "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'."

The main similarity of blues and jazz is merely historical: blues turned into Dixieland jazz, which often used blues chord progressions, but then developed into the more familiar modern styles of jazz, which has typically used complex chords ever since the 1940s. In their modern forms, blues and jazz usually sound quite different in their mood due to the aforementioned differences of their underlying musical structures, except when blues is played in a jazzy style.

There was a quote from William Farris saying
'The difference between jazz and blues is really a difference of class and education'

this is basically saying that the blues musicians had no education, they just played to relieve their woes, but jazz players had an education in music and knew what to do"

Sunday, 17 March 2013

"I speak for the forgotten ones"

Umm Kulthum - Born Fātimah ʾIbrāhīm as-Sayyid al-Biltāǧī , Kulthum was a egiptian songwriter, singer (contralto vocal range), actress and the greatest female singer in Arabic music history. She was born in 1904 and died in 1975. Kulthum is known as Kawkab al-Sharq ("Star of the East") and achieved international fame from 1930s to the 1970s. To this day, her music has a significant influence in numerous musicians, both in the Arabic world and beyond. Maria Callas, Salvador Dali, Jean Paul Sartre and Charles de Gaulle were among her admirers. Bono (U2) and Led Zeppelin also speak highly of her and even today, she has retained a near-mythical status among young Egyptians.
Toni Rossi - French Singer (born in Corsica) and film actor (1907 - 1983). He is the only french artist to have sold over 300 million records.
Edith Piaf - ................huh? What? Why are you all staring at me? Do I need to introduce this Lady?! Fine! Edith Piaf was born  Édith Giovanna Gassion in 1915 and died in 1963. She is one of France´s greatest international stars (who would have guessed...). Her legacy goes on everytime we hear  "non, je ne regrette rien", "La vie en Rose", "L´Accordéoniste", "Padam...Padam..." ...Do I need to keep going? .....I thought that much!
Charles Trenet - French songwriter and singer (1913-2001). His career reached its zenith from 1930s till 1950s, although he was still active in the 1990s. He fought in World War II in the barracks at Salon-de- Provence. After the war, he decided to move to the United States and began touring in New York, forging a long last friendship with Louis Armstrong and Charles Chaplin. His best known songs include "La mer","Y'a d'la joie","Que reste-t-il de nos amours ?" among others.
Väinö Eerikki Raitio (1891-1945) - Born in Helsinki, this composer was part of a smal group who appeared in Finland in the 1920s with new ideas and a new music style, far different from the National Romanticism music. He was influenced by Scriabin and his nordic music cicles (which inspired him to compose the famous Joutsenet op. 15 ('The Swans'/'Les Cygnes')
Raition mostly wrote ensembles for piano, violins and orchestra but he is mostly remembered for his eight large symphonic poems. He also wrote 5 operas but they are only known from the composer's hand-written manuscripts.
"The people we lost or the dreams that faded...never forget them..."
Ana Correia

Walt Disney

"Walter Elias "Walt" Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966) was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon, and philanthropist, well known for his influence in the field of entertainment during the 20th century. Along with his brother Roy O. Disney, he was co-founder of Walt Disney Productions, which later became one of the best-known motion picture producers in the world. The corporation is now known as The Walt Disney Company and had an annual revenue of approximately US$36 billion in the 2010 financial year.

Disney is particularly noted as a film producer and a popular showman, as well as an innovator in animation and theme park design. He and his staff created some of the world's most well-known fictional characters including Mickey Mouse, for whom Disney himself provided the original voice. During his lifetime he received four honorary Academy Awards and won 22 Academy Awards from a total of 59 nominations, including a record four in one year, giving him more awards and nominations than any other individual in history. Disney also won seven Emmy Awards and gave his name to the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in the U.S., as well as the international resorts Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland."

Walt Disney Quotes

"Mickey Mouse is a funny animal cartoon character created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at the Walt Disney Studios. Mickey is an anthropomorphic mouse who typically wears red shorts, large yellow shoes, and white gloves. As the official mascot of The Walt Disney Company, Mickey is one of the most recognizable cartoon characters in the world.

Mickey first was seen in a single test screening (Plane Crazy). Mickey officially debuted in November 1928 in Steamboat Willie, one of the first sound cartoons. He went on to appear in over 130 films including The Band Concert (1935), Brave Little Tailor (1938), and Fantasia (1940). Mickey appeared primarily in short films, but also occasionally in feature-length films. Nine of Mickey's cartoons were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, one of which, Lend a Paw, won the award in 1942. In 1978, Mickey became the first cartoon character to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Beginning in 1930, Mickey has also been featured extensively as a comic strip character. His self-titled newspaper strip, drawn primarily by Floyd Gottfredson, ran for 45 years. Mickey has also appeared in comic books and in television series such as The Mickey Mouse Club (1955–1996) and others. He also appears in other media such as video games as well as merchandising, and is a meetable character at the Disney parks.

Mickey generally appears alongside his girlfriend Minnie Mouse, his pet dog Pluto, his friends Horace Horsecollar, Donald Duck, and Goofy, and his nemesis Pete, among others (see Mickey Mouse universe). Originally characterized as a mischievous antihero, Mickey's increasing popularity led to his being rebranded as an everyman, usually seen as an ever cheerful, yet shy role model. In 2009, Disney began to rebrand the character again by putting less emphasis on his pleasant, cheerful side and reintroducing the more mischievous and adventurous sides of his personality, beginning with the video game Epic Mickey."

                                                                                                                  ~ César ~

The Three Stooges

"The Three Stooges were an American vaudeville and comedy act of the early to mid–twentieth century best known for their numerous short subject films. Their hallmark was physical farce and extreme slapstick. In films, the Stooges were commonly known by their first names: "Moe, Larry, and Curly" or "Moe, Larry, and Shemp," among other lineups.

                     File:Three Stooges Intro Card 1936.jpg
"Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. Types of acts included popular and classical musicians, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, female and male impersonators, acrobats, illustrated songs, jugglers, one-act plays or scenes from plays, athletes, lecturing celebrities, minstrels, and movies. A vaudeville performer is often referred to as a vaudevillian. Vaudeville developed from many sources, including the concert saloon, minstrelsy, freak shows, dime museums, and literary burlesque. Called "the heart of American show business," vaudeville was one of the most popular types of entertainment in North America for several decades"

          The Three Stooges made the first parody on Hitler, the short film "You Nazty Spy!" 


                                                                                                                                                 ~ César ~

The Jazz Singer

When The Jazz Singer was released as a feature-length movie in 1927, it was the first movie that included dialogue and music on the filmstrip itself.

Adding Sounds to Film

Before The Jazz Singer, there were silent films. Yet despite their name, these films were not silent for they were accompanied by music. Often, these films were accompanied by a live orchestra in the theater and from as early as 1900, films were often synchronized with musical scores that were played on amplified record players.
The technology advanced in the 1920s, when Bell Laboratories developed a way to allow an audio track to be placed on the film itself. This technology, called Vitaphone, was first used as a musical track in a film titled Don Juan in 1926. Although Don Juan had music and sound effects, there were no spoken words in the film.

Actors Talking on Film

When Sam Warner of the Warner Brothers planned The Jazz Singer, he anticipated that the film would use silent periods to tell the story and the Vitaphone technology would be used for the singing of music, just as the new technology had been used in Don Juan. However, during the filming of The Jazz Singer, superstar of the time Al Jolson ad-libbed dialogue in two different scenes and Warner liked the end result.
Thus, when The Jazz Singer was released on October 6, 1927 it became the first feature-length film (89 minutes long) to include dialogue on the filmstrip itself. The Jazz Singer made way for the future of "talkies," which is what movies with audio soundtracks were called.

So What Did Al Jolson Actually Say?

The first words Jolson recites are: “Wait a minute! Wait a minute! You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” Jolson spoke 60 words in the first scene and 294 words in the second scene.

The Storyline of the Jazz Singer

The Jazz Singer is a movie about Jakie, the son of a Jewish man, who wants to be a jazz singer but is pressured by his father to remain at home. After setting off on his own, Jakie (played by Al Jolson) becomes a success in the field of jazz. However, at the climax of the movie, Jakie must choose between a career on Broadway or returning to his deathly ill father and the synagogue.

Maria João Pereira

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Ultimate Art Form

                                                                                                                                             ~ César ~

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Printing Press

We spoke in class about the importance of the printing press and how it's impact in society was comparable to that of the new technologies, specially Internet. So I thought about putting in here just a short overview of it's modern development, just for reference's sake.

"Johannes Gutenberg's work on the printing press began in approximately 1436 when he partnered with Andreas Dritzehn—a man he had previously instructed in gem-cutting—and Andreas Heilmann, owner of a paper mill.However, it was not until a 1439 lawsuit against Gutenberg that an official record exists; witnesses' testimony discussed Gutenberg's types, an inventory of metals (including lead), and his type molds.

The printing revolution:
The phenomenon of the printing revolution can be approached from a quantitative perspective which has its focus on the printing output and the spread of the related technology. It can also be analysed in terms of how the wide circulation of information and ideas acted as an "agent of change" (Eisenstein) in Europe and global society in general.

The invention of mechanical movable type printing led to a large increase in printing activities across Europe within only a few decades. From a single print shop in Mainz, Germany, printing had spread to no less than around 270 cities in Central, Western and Eastern Europe by the end of the 15th century.

European printing presses of around 1600 were capable of producing 3,600 impressions per workday. By comparison, movable type printing in the Far East, which did not know presses and was solely done by manually rubbing the back of the paper to the page, did not exceed an output of forty pages per day.

The printing press was an important step towards the democratization of knowledge.Within fifty or sixty years of the invention of the printing press, the entire classical canon had been reprinted and widely promulgated throughout Europe (Eisenstein, 1969; 52).

At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, by 1800, Lord Stanhope had built a press completely from cast iron which reduced the force required by 90%, while doubling the size of the printed area. With a capacity of 480 pages per hour, it doubled the output of the old style press.

Patented in 1810, Koenig had designed a steam press "much like a hand press connected to a steam engine. Koenig and Bauer sold two of their first models to The Times in London in 1814, capable of 1,100 impressions per hour.

The steam powered rotary printing press, invented in 1843 in the United States by Richard M. Hoe, allowed millions of copies of a page in a single day. Mass production of printed works flourished after the transition to rolled paper, as continuous feed allowed the presses to run at a much faster pace.

By the late 1930s or early 1940s, printing presses had increased substantially in efficiency: a model by Platen Printing Press was capable of performing 2,500 to 3,000 impressions per hour."

"September 7, 2005 The Mitsubishi DIAMONDSTAR is the world's fastest double width newspaper offset press – it is as tall as a four story building with a printing speed of 90,000 full colour, 96-page broadsheet copies per hour." The world’s biggest and fastest newspaper press

Check the wiki article if you have the time, and remember you can always add something you think is missing, to the article. The more people contributing to the wikis the better they become for everyone :)


                                                                                                                                               ~ César ~

The Marx Brothers

I'm going to leave here all of the information I've shared with the class during my oral presentation, in case any of you are interested. And I see someone has posted the movie online for you to see, however I'll leave the clips we were supposed to watch during the presentation for any of you who might not want to watch the whole movie (you should though).

Five Brothers

The Marx Brothers were a family comedy act, originally from NYC. They had success in vaudeville, Broadway and motion pictures. They were five brothers: Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo and Zeppo; sons of Jewish immigrants from Germany and France. They came from a family of artists, so their musical talent was encouraged from early on. All of them could play instruments and/or sing. Only Chico, Harpo and Groucho really developed their stage persona, as Gummo and Zeppo weren't as invested in acting. Gummo didn't appear in any of their movies and Zeppo appeared in some, but eventually left.

Here are the four Marx Brothers in character. From left to right: Chico, Groucho, Harpo and Zeppo.

The American Film Institute placed them #20 in their 100 Years... 100 Stars list, a list composed by 25 male artists and 25 female artists (see full list here). They also selected 13 of their films to be on their list 100 Years... 100 Laughs, where A Night at The Opera ranked #12 and Duck Soup #5 (see full list here).

Instead of writing everything I said about Duck Soup, given that it was improvised speech, I'll just leave you with the link to both Wikipedia and IMDb pages of this film.

Now here are the clips:

Duck Soup

Duck Soup is a 1933 Marx Brothers anarchic comedy film written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, with additional dialogue by Arthur Sheekman andNat Perrin, and directed by Leo McCarey. First released theatrically by Paramount Pictures on November 17, 1933, it starred what were then billed as the "Four Marx Brothers" (Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo) and also featured Margaret Dumont, Raquel Torres, Louis Calhern and Edgar Kennedy. It was the last Marx Brothers film to feature Zeppo, and the last of five Marx Brothers movies released by Paramount.


Watch it here:

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Art Deco

"Art Deco , or Deco, is an influential visual arts design style which first appeared in France during the 1920s, flourished internationally during the 30s and 40s, then waned in the post-World War II era. It is an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. The style is often characterized by rich colors, bold geometric shapes, and lavish ornamentation.

                                    Chrysler Building in New York City - 1930

                                      Art Deco Figurative Lady Sculpture with Bird of Paradise 1930                                        

La Belle Dame Sans Merc

 Disney Dream - Interiors and Indoor Common Areas 2011

Deco emerged from the Interwar period when rapid industrialization was transforming culture. One of its major attributes is an embrace of technology. This distinguishes Deco from the organic motifs favored by its predecessor Art Nouveau.
Historian Bevis Hillier defined Art Deco as "an assertively modern style...[that] ran to symmetry rather than asymmetry, and to the rectilinear rather than the curvilinear; it responded to the demands of the machine and of new material...[and] the requirements of mass production."[2]
During its heyday Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.
                                                                                                                                                   ~ César ~