Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Muppet Show - Arabian Nights Episode - Season 5 Episode 18

With many thanks to Soren here is The Muppet Show's take on the Nights with the exceptional Marty Feldman as Scheherazade!

The Muppet Show, Season 5, Episode 18, 1980. Guest starring Marty Feldman.

Monday, June 2, 2014

1001 Dark Nights

1001 Dark Nights is a series of 12 books being released this year (one per month). They are written by 12 different popular authors. The books have a loose associated with the Nights and seem like they are being marketed as steamy romances akin to the 50 Shades of Grey series but also have a vampire one, a cowboy book and one with detectives.

Shayla Black, author of the volume Forever Wicked, describes her book at USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/story/happyeverafter/2014/02/13/1001-dark-nights-novella-collection-graham-folsom-adrian/5444107/). She describes the story as "When her billionaire husband blackmailed her for a honeymoon, she stole his heart" and about her hero - "Jason Denning is one sexy, clever Dominant who's determined to win back his wife."

The publisher's website has more details - http://www.1001darknights.com/

Friday, May 30, 2014

An Nowfara Cafe Damascus Syria

A picture I took on one of my last nights in Damascus in the summer of 2008. It's of Abu Shady the "hakawati" of Damascus. Every night he would sit on his raised seat and provide stories for the entertainment of the cafe. Many stories were from the Nights. In the top right corner of the photo is a hanging reproduction of a painting called Safie, One of the Three Ladies of Baghdad by William Clarke Wontner (1900). It was a detail I hadn't seen before. I hope An-Nowfara Cafe and Abu Shady are well and hope for peace for Syria.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Salesman Paul Brennan lost in Opa Locka's 1001 Streets

The 1969 film Salesman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salesman_%28film%29) is something you should run out and rent immediately. It is a beautifully shot documentary following several door-to-door Bible salesmen in the 1960s. In one sequence one of the salesmen, Paul Brennan, gets lost in the city of Opa Locka, Florida and thus in its 1001 Nights built layout. You can see a lot of the street names here and get a glimpse of the Orientalized city hall. At the end of this clip he tells his coworkers he was lost in the "Muslim district".

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tales Through Time: The Incredible Journey of The 1001 Nights

I'll be giving a 1001 Nights lecture/presentation at the new San Diego Public Library this Wednesday evening. Please come!

Facebook event - https://www.facebook.com/events/878628298819845/

"Tales Through Time: The Incredible Journey of The 1001 Nights"

Professor Michael Lundell discusses the origins, significance, and lasting influence of one the great works of world culture, “One Thousand and One Nights” (aka “The Arabian Nights”), the collection of stories and folktales compiled during the Islamic Golden Age. Take a magic carpet ride with Scheherazade, Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and Sindbad the Sailor.

When: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Where: Central Library / Mary Hollis Clark Conference Room 151 330 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101

Part of the Muslim Journeys project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spielberg's Munich and the Nights

 Steven Spielberg's film Munich (2005) also contains references to The 1001 Nights (why not!). I couldn't find a clip of the particular scene. The movie, about a group of Israeli assassins targeting and attempting to kill 11 people throughout Europe and Lebanon and elsewhere, tries to complicate notions of country/government/revenge. The group's targets, according to Israeli intelligence, were all part of the 1972 Olympic killings of Israeli athletes. The movie is based on real events.

The group's first target is Wael Zwaiter (aka Zuaiter - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wael_Zwaiter) in Rome. Zwaiter was a Palestinian translator working for the PLO and the Libyan Embassy who was also translating the Nights into Italian. The film shows Zwaiter at a cafe in Rome giving a lecture about the Nights and storytelling before heading to his apartment building and being shot in front of an elevator inside.

The real life Zwaiter was killed while holding a copy of the Nights. He did not finish his Italian translation. In the film his lecture was also a book reading of his finished product, however.

Here is the sequence of his killing (no mention of the Nights here though):

Zwaiter is also considered by some to have been wrongly targeted and to have had no connection with the 1972 Oympic killings.

Here is a video (in English) about him and his killing, it shows the copy of the Nights he had with a bullet hole in it (looks like the Bulaq version):

Friday, March 21, 2014

Pushkin and the Nights

Alexander Pushkin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Pushkin) needs little introduction, but I've not heard of his relationship with the Nights until today. Apparently a lot of his Russian folktales were actually riffs on the Nights.

The following is from Roman Jakobson's excellent essay/chapter "On Russian Fairy Tales" (there is a symbol above the "s" in Puskin that I cannot duplicate here in blogger) -

"Puskin could not confine himself to the remarkable achievements with which he crowned the century-old triumphal way of Russian poetry, and during the last period of his brief life-span (1799-1837) he tried to enrich modern Russian fiction by laying a foundation of native prose. From this quest emerges his interest in folk tales. He knew the folk tales thoroughly and recorded them, but, strange as it may seem, his own imitations of fairy tales are based, for the most part, on French translations of the Arabian Nights, the brothers Grimm or Washington Irving, rather than on Russian folklore. Likewise, it is curious that none of Puskin's fairy tales are composed in prose and that most of them are in a metre foreign to the Russian tale. Most surprising of all, he none the less succeeded in capturing the spirit and tone of the Russian folk tale. For instance, in his famous Tale of the Golden Cockerel Puskin simply retells Irving's Legend of the Arabian Astrologer [itself from?], and he does it in trochaic tetrameter, alien to Russian folk tales; yet both Russian and American readers, willy-nilly, associate this pastiche with Russian folklore" (188).