Sunday, July 21, 2013

Aladdin City Florida

I posted about Aladdin City - a city in Florida built by a housing developer in the early 20th century.  A visitor commented that they wrote a post about Aladdin City, complete with catalog pictures and a history of the doomed urban project.  Buyers could choose from a variety of "Moorish" or "Spanish" style houses and the whole project was themed around Orientalist notions of the Nights.

Here is the very cool post -

And from it:

"The sales brochure announced: "Because the inspiration for its name is derived from the wonderful Oriental story of Aladdin and because location surroundings, climate, and vegetation so peculiarly fit it, the Persian style has been selected for the motif of Aladdin City."

The center of city was Ali Baba Circle. Inside the circle was to be Ali Baba Park, with a large pool in the middle.  Ali Cogia Circle surrounded Ali Baba Circle, and those circles would constitute the city's commercial district. Other streets in the city were named Sovereign Boulevard, Aladdin Boulevard, Damascus Street,  Cairo Street,  Hassan Street, Mustapha Avenue, Bagdad Street, Sinbad Street, Cathay Street, Sahib Street, and Mecca Avenue."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Arabian Nights 3D update

Liam Hemsworth

Thanks to Paul for passing this along - the film Arabian Nights, to be directed by Chuck Russell ( is set to go into production in August with backing from Chinese film sources and Russell, after a deal with the government of Kazakhstan fell through.

It was supposedly going to be released a year or so ago, but things were held up and it doesn't look like it will be out anytime soon, though production is a good sign for the future.

It's going to be in 3D Imax and starring Liam Hemsworth and Anthony Hopkins.

More info here, excerpts below -

"The film then dropped off the radar, until Zhejiang HG Entertainment began making noises about its involvement in the project. Speaking to the Chinese press earlier in the year, the company’s general manager Liu Zhijiang said production of Arabian Nights will begin in August, with Russell, Hemsworth and Hopkins still on board. Liu also said the film will have a budget of $70 million. "

"In previously released publicity material, Arabian Nights is described as “a visually stunning 3D retelling of the classic adventure tale about a bold, young commander who joins forces with Sinbad, Aladdin and his Genie to rescue Scheherazade and save her kingdom from the dark powers of an immortal sorcerer.”"

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Goethe - The Sufferings of Young Werther & the Magnetic Mountain

Magic the Gathering's Magnetic Mountain Card from its Arabian Nights set

Our hero Werther, of Goethe's great The Sufferings of Young Werther, has a Nights-esque moment, referencing the Magnet Mountain -

Book One - Entry July 26

"More than once I have made the resolve not to see her so often.  If one could only keep such a resolution!  Every day I succumb to temptation and made a sacred promise to myself:  tomorrow you will just stay away; and when tomorrow comes I find another irresistible reason for going, and before I realize it I'm with her.  Either she said the evening before:  'You will come tomorrow, won't you?' - who could stay away after that? - or she gives me an errand to do and I find it appropriate to bring her the answer myself, or the day is altogether too beautiful, so I walk to Wahlheim and when I have got that far, it's only another half hour to her!  I am too near her atmosphere - zoom, I'm there.  My grandmother used to tell a tale about the magnetic mountain. Ships that came too close to it suddenly lost all their iron; the nails flew to the mountain and the poor wretched crew perished amid the collapsing planks."

From page 29 of Harry Steinhauer's Norton translation (paperback 1970)

And from Arabian Nights Entertainments  - The History of the third Calendar, a King's Son (edition here -

Having spoke thus, he fell a crying like a man who foresaw unavoidable ruin; his despair put the whole ship’s crew in a terror.  I asked him what reason he had thus to despair?  He told me, the tempest, which we had out-liv’d, had brought us so far our of our course, that to-morrow about noon we shall come near to that black place, which is nothing else but the black mountain, that is a mine of adamant, which at this very moment draws all your fleet towards it, by virtue of your iron and nails that are in your ships; and when we come to-morrow at a certain distance, the strength of the adamant will have such a force, that all the nails will be drawn out of the sides and bottoms of the ships, and fasten to the mountain, so that your vessels will fall to pieces, and sink to the bottom.  And as the adamant has a virtue to draw all iron to it, whereby its attraction becomes stronger, this mountain on the side of the sea is all covered over with nails, drawn out of an infinite number of vessels that have perished by it; and this preserves and augments its virtue at the same time


From Burton's translation (The Third Kalandar's Tale) -

"O my Prince," answered he, "know that we lost our course on the night of the storm, which was followed on the morrow by a two days' calm during which we made no way, and we have gone astray eleven days' reckoning from that night, with ne'er a wind to bring us back to our true course. Tomorrow by the end of the day we shall come to a mountain of black stone hight the Magnet Mountain, for thither the currents carry us willy-nilly. As soon as we are under its lea, the ship's sides will open and every nail in plank will fly out and cleave fast to the mountain, for that Almighty Allah hath gifted the loadstone with a mysterious virtue and a love for iron, by reason whereof all which is iron traveleth toward it. And on this mountain is much iron, how much none knoweth save the Most High, from the many vessels which have been lost there since the days of yore. The bright spot upon its summit is a dome of yellow laton from Andalusia, vaulted upon ten columns. And on its crown is a horseman who rideth a horse of brass and holdeth in hand a lance of laton, and there hangeth on his bosom a tablet of lead graven with names and talismans." And he presently added, "And, O King, none destroyeth folk save the rider on that steed, nor will the egromancy be dispelled till he fall from his horse."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sparks - Scheherazade

Here is the song "Scheherazade" by the US prog rock electronica jack of all trades band Sparks, from their 2000 album Balls, lyrics below -

Scheherazade, you enslave me
Others begged, crying "save me"
Wasted words, hatred tore me
Scheherazade, tell me stories
Ships at sea, all imagined

Bravery, all imagined
Bloodless blood, colorblindness
Scheherazade, who's behind this?
Scheherazade, there's a sameness
To the world in its plainness
But your worlds are on fire
Filled with lust
Filled with liars

Once upon a time
Very, very long ago
Once upon a time
Very, very far away
All I want are illusions
Scheherazade, no conclusions

Every night, entertain me
No repeats, entertain me
Ships at sea, all imagined
Bravery, all imagined
Bloodless blood, colour-blindness
Scheherazade, you're behind this

Scheherazade, Scheherazade, Scheherazade, Scheherazade
I won't kill you

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

S.T. Dupont - Limited Edition THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS (2011)

S.T. Dupont is a high end maker of pens and other collectible pricy things.

From wikipedia - 
"ST Dupont Paris is a brand name and manufacturer of lighters, collectible pens, handbags, perfumes, cigarette (made by Philip Morris International), and recently other gadgets using the trademark diamond-head pattern. The company has been producing luxury items since 1872 when founded by Simon Tissot Dupont. The founder of the brand, Simon Tissot-Dupont was born in Savoy in 1847. S.T. Dupont owes its initials to him."

In 2011 they released a 1001 Nights inspired set of a pen and lighter.

On ebay the lighters alone are currently selling for around $3000.

Perhaps you can buy one to light your fireworks tomorrow?

Here is the original product page:

And their copy: 

S.T.Dupont pays homage to the celebrated masterpiece of Eastern literature: the tales of the Thousand and One Nights.

Thousand and One Nights, thus perpetuating its tradition for excellence by offering a collection that benefits from its unique know-how to recreate this dreamlike and marvellous world.

The collection contains a Ligne 2 lighter, Néo-Classique fountain pen and roller, a pen holder with paper cutter as well as an ink bottle. Every item is numbered out of 1001pieces.

Pursuing this theme of luxury and sophistication, S.T.Dupont has created two “diamond” version of this collection with a lighter and a pen in solid white gold.
The lighter is set with 137 white diamonds of 1,841 carats, and the pen with 129 white diamonds of 1,841 carats.

These exclusive items are limited to 28 pieces each.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hanan Al-Shaykh - One Thousand and One Nights: A Retelling

I mentioned Al-Shaykh's UK version of this book in 2011, but apparently her collection of Nights stories has also been recently released in the USA, spurring the following reflection.

I've excerpted bits from an Atlantic review of her book below.  Read the whole thing at -

The review/article/musing on Al-Shaykh's work by author Joe Fassler alleges a humanist message discovered in the Nights beneath its violence.  Though what that humanism is remains unclear after reading the article.  Hanan Al-Shaykh's books are great though, and you should go read all of them.

Al-Shaykh has published, here in her Nights, 19 stories culled from three Arabic manuscripts that she found interesting, after reading all three manuscripts in their entirety, in Arabic.

Don't know if I agree with the following, actually I don't, but then again, anything goes with the Nights:

"Though the Arabian Nights features countless characters and voices, we must read each one as partially channeled by Shahrazad, her plea for reason and mercy. Through all these stories, she is working on him. Educating him. Maybe she is brainwashing him. These stories, in fact, slowly teach him to give up his lust for blood and his blanket condemnation of women.

Look closely: She chooses stories that mirror her predicament. All the characters are pleading for life, in a way. She does this intelligently, of course, camouflaging with little stories here and there on different topics. But the main line is you cease to be a human being if you steep yourself in brutality and killing. That adultery--like many human failings--happens for reasons we can sympathize with. And so one cannot be a tyrant. One must listen carefully to others, and be just. Every story is her asking for her life, asking for the killer to stop."


"We don't know much about their relationship--if she was attracted to him, if she was happy with him in bed, if she was merely a victim of his violence. But you can feel in the stories a gradual change. At the beginning they are very brutal and dark, but they show us that adultery usually happens for a reason and that jealousy and violence typically bring misery to all concerned. With time, though, they become more about social values, adventures, they were less dark than when she started, and concern higher questions. Who are we human beings? What do we do in life? What is our aim of living? How do we become better citizens? And the answer, so often, comes through telling important stories and listening closely to what others have learned."