Friday, February 26, 2010

Ira Glass from NPR

Ira Glass has a new one man stage show and is currently touring the US (next stop UCLA). (Check out wikipedia if you don't know who he is: According to the review posted below he is ending his show with a nod to the Nights which I find interesting and which gets to some core element that I think is inherent in the Nights' everlasting ability to intrigue (its loose form and frame story).

I'm always skeptical but also amused to hear why people think Shahriar doesn't kill her and what he learns from the storytelling experience but, given the nebulous nature of the Nights, the answer is provocatively elusive.

link to review from his Kansas performance article:

from the article:

"But Glass ended with a yarn that wasn't his own.

With the quintessential This American Life-style music swelling behind him, the radio host told a rendition of the Arabian Nights, the story of a woman who is spared by a murderous king for 1,001 nights because she keeps her captor wrapped up in the suspense of the stories she tells. "So remember what I'm telling you today, because these are tools that can save your life," Glass joked.

There was a serious lesson in Arabian Nights, too. Because of the woman's stories, Glass said, the king learned empathy. He ultimately spared the woman's life.

"Narrative is a back door to a really deep place in us," Glass said. "A place where reason doesn't necessarily hold sway. All of us in the room tonight live in a very unusual cultural moment where we're bombarded by stories like no other people who have ever lived. ... It's not just that we see actors everyday. Everything is a story. The NFL is a story and every story on the Internet is a story. Every ad is a story, every song is a story, and just, like, every little thing, all day long, is a story coming at us. I don't know about you, but it's rare for a story to feel like it's possible that that story could be me; that that's what it would be like to be that person. When that happens, you definitely notice because it's so unusual. And I don't know if it's important to make stories that have that power, but it's important to me. Like, when it happens, I feel more sane."

Ira Glass at the Lied Center review
By Carolyn Szczepanski in Entertainment, Media, Out & About
Mon., Feb. 22 2010 @ 11:00AM
The Pitch Kansas City

Saturday, February 20, 2010

mark white's critique of burton

This essay is kind of simplistic but still offers a decent overview of some of the more controversial points regarding Burton's use of Payne in Burton's translation.

It doesn't really have a title but it's called "criticism" on the 1001 Nights' "" page.

The essay:

I don't agree with the author's assessment of Burton not "deserving" the attention that his version of the Nights received for many important reasons and I don't agree that Burton's version outshone Payne's because of "sex" - I think much more importantly Burton's version was more popular and has been more popular than Payne's because of Burton himself.

Like all modern authors shaping their own identities Burton's life history and controversy shaped the reception of his translation much more than his inclusion of sex, though Burton's notes are, to be sure, the most often talked about things when people talk about his translation.

Too much of this essay relies on Mia Gerhardt's book on the Nights as well. Gerhardt's book is important to be sure but basing your essay's thesis on her assertions and claims of plagiarism (which were pre-research suggesting otherwise - see Mary Lovell's biography of Burton for example) is not conclusive enough I think.

From the essay:

"Burton, however, was never deserving of that reputation. His version was essentially plagiarized, with some modifications, from an existing translation by John Payne. While some of his revisions improved Payne's work, many of them gave the text an archaic and formal feel that bears little relationship to the original. The real "value" that Burton gave to the work was to be found in his salesmanship, and for that he relied on his potential readership's age-old desire, despite the veneer of Victorian prudishness, for sex. Burton knew, long before the advent of Madison Avenue marketing campaigns, that sex, particularly exotic sex, sells, and he made certain that his version of The Arabian Nights had plenty of it."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sinbad and the Minotaur (2011)

In one of the latest incarnations of Sinbad as action hero/martial arts expert we have the Australian film Sinbad and the Minotaur set to be released in 2011, not sure how widely.

I'm interested in these recreations of Nights tales particularly Sinbad because there are so many and because Sinbad has been remade so often into a muscular fighting swashbuckling hero and not the original sort of passive adventurer.

This film goes overboard in its scope and reels in some Greek mythology (why not! - some speculate Sinbad is a retelling of The Odyssey anyway) as well as martial arts.

From the article here:

"The action-fantasy film follows Sinbad and his shipmates as they battle against the vicious minotaur of Greek mythology, a 3 1/2m tall hybrid of man and bull which stalks a labyrinth on the isle of Minos."


"Australian actor Manu Bennett, whose past credits include 30 Days of Night and Lantana, plays Sinbad.

The film's action involves sword fighting and stunt work for Bennett, who rumbled with professional wrestlers John Cena and 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin in the Queensland-shot films The Marine and The Condemned.

"The idea is that Sinbad, as a sailor, will have picked up bits and pieces of different fighting styles in his travels," said Bennett yesterday.

"There's so much action in the script it's going to be a very physical shoot.

"We're all expecting to cop a few knocks along the way but that's all part of the fun."

Bennett said he spent pre-production time mastering Sinbad's unique fighting style, which was designed specifically for the film and draws on a mix of Chinese sword choreography, stick fighting, European rapier and bar-room brawling."