2

Fun and Foodsicals

It might have been because I fell asleep listening to Showtunes on Pandora, or maybe because I was hungry, but I woke up singing the lyrics from Wicked, only it was more like “it’s time to try, deep-frying gravity…”

Image result for defying gravity wicked

Which gave me an idea…a new game where you change the lyrics of musicals to talk about food instead, aka Foodsicals. And if you’re “Food, Glorious Food” from Oliver!, you can’t play this game.

My initial thoughts?

Chicago“Give ’em the old, sizzle sazzle…”

Image result for razzle dazzle chicago

Beauty and the Beast“Certain as the sun, rising in the yeast…”

Image result for beauty and the beast

That’s all I’ve thought of for now, but if you can think of any other good ones, post them in the comments.

Oh, and I got my 38000th RevolverMap hit the other day from Hilo, Hawaii, USA!

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3

Pacific Grooves

A little over a week ago, I posted a blog entry about a book I read (Pacific Performanceswith promises that I would update the entry with a review, since I didn’t have the time right then and there to write a full-blown review. You probably thought that I forgot, but I didn’t, and now it’s been updated.

But before you check it out, here’s some music to get you in the mood (or to possibly listen to as you scroll down and read it):

Some people don’t like to read and listen to music at the same time. I get that. Actually, I am one of those people; I tend to focus more intently during the silent moments at the beginning/end of a song, but I listen to music while reading most of the time anyway, if only to drown out the outside noise (which is actually worse for my concentration). But if you do like listening to music while reading, here are some fun choices to accompany your reading of my review:

First, here’s “Aloha ‘Oe (Farewell to Thee),” probably the most iconic Hawaiian song there is, and one of the most misunderstood. It has a fascinating history. Contrary to popular belief, it did not come from Looney Tunes or Lilo & Stitch. It was actually written in 1878 by Queen Lili’uokalani, the last queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii before it was annexed by the United States. Queen Lili’uokalani herself was a fascinating character. She was one of 15 children, and her life was marred with tragedies, including having no children of her own, outliving her appointed successor (her beloved niece, Ka’iulani, who passed away at age 23 after a short illness), and of course, losing her country and spending her twilight years under house arrest. However, she was also a talented musician and songwriter who composed dozens of songs in both English and Hawaiian, as well as running an entire country (take that, Queen Elizabeth). This particular song is based on a hug that the queen witnessed between Colonel James Harbottle Boyd and her sister Princess Likelike, after a horseback tour of Oahu. Unfortunately, I do not think that there are any recordings of the queen herself singing, but this version was performed by the Rose Ensemble.

Next, here’s a selection from contemporary Hawaiian music; as far as I know, Hawaii is the only state to have its own genre of music and even its own category at the Grammy Awards. The most well-known artists in this genre are probably Tia Carrere (the voice of Nani in Lilo & Stitch) and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (known for his Hawaiian rendition of “Over the Rainbow”) but one up-and-coming artist is Rylee Anuheakeʻalaokalokelani Jenkins, aka Anuhea. Her voice is incredible and she writes her own songs, my favorite of which is this one, “Higher Than The Clouds.”

And of course, what blog post on Hawaii and music would be complete without mention Bette Midler? The Divine Miss M was once just a Jewish girl from Honolulu but became famous with the movie Beaches and classic torch songs like “The Rose” and “Wind Beneath My Wings.” She recently came out with a new album, It’s the Girls!, which covers of songs from the 20th century made famous by women, including one of the best songs of all time, “Be My Baby,” by the Ronettes. Here she is on Ellen, still getting her groove on at age 69. You go, Miss M.

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQlRxQpy6AE]

So sit back, relax, and take a mini tropical vacation with these music recommendations.

6

Pacific Overtures

And here’s the long-awaited review! Without further ado:

Pacific Performances: Theatricality and Cross-Cultural Encounter in the South Seas is about the theory and practice of different types of theatre across the Pacific. I generally don’t read theory books for abject pleasure, but this one was thoroughly fascinating, in almost every chapter, plus I learned a lot about theory in general.

Take, for example, this information, gleaned from the introduction:

Performances provide an opportunity to examine power relations, “cultures in contact adopt each others’ performances for many different reasons” (Balme 6).

“Theatricality is a mode of perception that brackets moments of action or particular places in such a way that they are imbued with extreme concentration and focus” (Balme 6).

According to Stephen Greenblatt, “Mimetic capital = a set of images and image making devices that are accumulated, ‘banked’ as it were, in books, archives, collections, cultural storehouses, until such time as these representations are called upon to generate new representations. The images that matter, that merit the term capital, are those that achieve reproductive power, maintaining and multiplying themselves by transforming cultural contacts into novel and often unexpected forms” (Balme 7).

Woman dancing in “Mother Hubbard” dress (www.turtlemail.blogspot.com)

My favorite chapter, however, was Chapter 4, on hula and haka and their roles in the identity politics of Hawaii and New Zealand. I had no idea about the history and types of the hula. According to page 96, the performance of the modern-day hula is a metonym of Pacific culture, a non-European performance produced for European. In 1897, a German medical officer called Augustin Kramer observed a type of hula called hula kahiko, or ancient hula, and noted that it was performed by women in “Mother Hubbard” dresses, not the coconut bras and grass skirts of TV/movies, postcards, and dashboard toys (102). Hula can also be performed seated, and when it is, it is called “hula noha.” According to Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimlett, aka BKG, cultural performances for tourists are more “presentation than markers of representation,” and furthermore, exude the impression of immediacy, the “illusion of cultural transparency in the face of undesired complexity” (97).

Another interesting piece of theory surrounds costume. For the hula, the costume is a gauge of cultural self-fashioning, and according to Roland Barthes, clothing is both a social and theatrical sign, a “kind of writing with the ambiguity of writing…an instrument in the service of a purpose which transcends it” (104).

Chapter 6 was the one that we’ve all been waiting for. It discussed American dramas about the Pacific, three in particular: The Bird of Paradise, Rain, and the ever-popular Rodgers & Hammerstein musical South Pacific.

The final chapter discussed modern-day representations of Pacific performance in Hawaii. It mostly revolved around the Polynesian Cultural Center, operated mainly as a theme park/living museum, one of the three kinds of modern-day performance techniques used in interpreting the South Pacific, the other two being hotel entertainment and the “fictionalized real encounter.”

And of course, no review of a theory book would be complete without the list of new words I learned and jumping-off points.

New words:

  • Propaedeutics: Pertaining to preliminary introduction, intro to science
  • Labile: Prone to change
  • Precis: Concise summary
  • Epigone: Undistinguished follower/successor
  • Propinquity: Similarity, close proximity
  • Atabrine: Brand of malaria medicine
  • Aporia: Confusion; being at a loss
  • Crepuscular: Relating to twilight; active at twilight

Books added to my list:

  • John Kneubuhl, Think of a Garden and Other Plays
  • Christopher C. Balme, Decolonizing the Stage
  • Jane C. Desmond, Staging Tourism
  • Rod Edmond, Representing the South Pacific

Works Cited

Balme, Christopher B. Pacific Performances: Theatricality and Cross-Cultural Encounter in the South Seas. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007. Print.

4

Masterpiece Youtube: “Queen of the Ice,” Julie Brown

First of all, thank you to everyone who viewed, read, and commented on yesterday’s blog. It was my most viewed blog to date, with 113 visitors and 210 views, personal records for me, including my first visitors from Nebraska (howdy!), Hawaii (aloha!), and Croatia (dobrodosli!)  Hope you continue to hang out and enjoy. And as always, if you have any ideas of current events you’d like my opinion on, stories you’d like to hear, or a new feature, just let me know!

In honor of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia (which apparently start in a few hours, at least in Russian time), I’d like to call your attention to something a friend of mine (well, okay, I don’t actually know her, but we’re friends on Facebook and responded to a comment I wrote her once) posted on Facebook. On your mark, get set…

That’s So Jacob Presents: Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 11: “Queen of the Ice,” Julie Brown, 1994.

Said friend was indeed the Great and Wonderful Julie Brown, who reminded us all of this glorious moment in her career, or at least the glitziest. One of the most underrated comediennes of all time, Julie Brown was unleashed upon the world as a VJ on MTV, hosting her show Just Say Julie, and leading the cast of an unfortunately-cancelled sketch comedy show called The Edge which featured her alongside the likes of Tom Kenny, Jill Talley, and oh yeah, some other chick named Jennifer Aniston. She’s been pretty dormant over the past decade or so, but has come back with a bang. Most of her earlier work is still hanging out on YouTube, and it’s still funny even though the 1990s are not even a twinkle of an eye to today’s teenagers. I had originally planned on doing one huge salute/tribute dedicated to Miss Brown, but since she started it, I’m just going to roll with it.

This song comes from a parody film called National Lampoon’s Attack of the 5 Ft 2 In Women which satirizes the stories of everyone’s favorite penis-chopper Lorena Bobbitt and everyone’s favorite Olympic ice skater rivals, Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. If you don’t know either of those stories, stop reading, click over to Wikipedia, and come back when you’re done. I’ll wait.

Okay, so now that we’ve established the situations, on to the video. We open on Tonya Hardly (played by Brown herself) gliding around her attic in a snazzy black and white sweater and early-90s white floofy scrunchie…oh wait, that’s actually supposed to be her hair. Flash over to the Nancy Kerrigan character being pursued by Tonya in a fit of rage and a dress that could turn Medusa into stone (bonus points to those of you who get that reference!). Her anger-fueled, acid-trip tune turns deadly when she pulls out her “little hammer,” something that I initially thought was just an unusual rhyme, only to realize about fifty re-watches later that it’s a cultural reference to the Olympics in Lillehammer. I’m not quite sure what the significance of the parrot lady is, but Julie Brown’s finest moment in the video is when she bites her lip and takes aim with her gun. Pure, unadulterated, early 90s vengeance. The music turns sweet again as she scrolls through a list of her “idols,” other infamous ladies from the early 1990s. Then, here comes a wrestler with a wheelbarrow of money, for no apparent reason, and then Brown skates around some more, dances a bit on the podium under the American flag, and ends with a triumphant slap to Nancy’s face.

What did I learn from this video? Skating and shooting are two activities that go well together. Skating in the fog is fun and mystical. The girl who plays Nancy has a weird-shaped face. But the most important lesson of all is that Julie Brown is so talented that she can make the world fall in love with Trailer Park Tonya all over again (like they say in those commercials on PBS about the technicolor Shirley Temple Collection).

But seriously, folks…skate at your own risk.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube has been brought to you by Winter. Winter: When you go outside and the snot freezes inside your nostrils, that means it’s working.

0

Post Offices in Israel

Going to the post office in Israel can be quite the adventure.

The hardest part?

Finding one.

The Israeli postal service isn’t the greatest, and that’s partially because nobody knows where the heck the post offices are. For the longest time I would go to either the one on Emek Refaim or the one in Kenyon Hadar. Little did I know that there was a tiny post office on Beit Lechem…that I walked past nearly every day. Honestly, it’s like they don’t want you to find them; this one was marked by two random red poles on the side of the street, which obviously say “hey, walk back here behind the building and then come in the side door!”

Right.

After you go through the metal detector, you enter the room and take a number. From a machine. Like the ones at the deli. And they may not call yours for quite a while. One time, at the Ministry of Communications Post Office, I actually got a pleasant 45-minute nap on one of their hard wooden benches. It’s like the DMV or something. Smaller post offices may not have the number system as there is usually less traffic.

Mailing things also can be tough. That year, I was participating in BookCrossing holiday gift giving and had a bunch of postcards to send out. One happened to be going to a member in Lahore, Pakistan. It got handed right back to me, with the postal worker apologetically saying that they can’t accept it, because Israel does not send mail to Pakistan, because they are at war. So now I have a stamped postcard to Pakistan that has absolutely no value.

“What would happen if I sent it?” I asked.

“They would probably send it right back.”

Hmm. Quite a pickle, that. I went home and quickly logged onto the forums and apologized to said person in Pakistan, saying that it would be impossible to send anything to her for political reasons, to which she said ok. Funnily enough, someone in Texas posted that she’d be willing to forward the mail to Pakistan if I sent it to her. I thought about it for a quarter of a second before realizing that not only would it have to cross the Atlantic twice, but get postage paid on it TWICE. All for a 2-shekel postcard.

My experiences with postal people ran the gamut, but two instances were annoying when they happened but funny to laugh about, it retrospect.

The first one happened at the post office on Emek Refaim. I got to the counter and started speaking in English to an older woman at the counter, who just gave me a blank stare in return. It was still early on in my stay there, so I was not as confident with my Hebrew, but I did try to string together a sentence explaining what I wanted. Another blank stare, no remark. All of a sudden, a postal worker two stalls over starts yelling in Hebrew at the lady who’s failing at helping me. My postal worker turned her head to the side to hear the sound…

And that’s when I saw her hearing aid.

Oh…wait…huh?

Her blonde co-worker came over to me and apologetically said, “I sorry, she don’t speak English, only Hebrew,” and started saying some commands in Hebrew as she took my packages and stamped them. As she did this, her hands came up. Then she started using sign language to communicate with the older woman.

Sign. Language.

Really, Israel?

Even though I went back to that branch regularly, I never saw the deaf woman again. Maybe she decided it was time for a change of career. But for her sake, I sure hope it wasn’t as a phone sex operator.

The second incident happened on one of my final days in Israel. I was in downtown Jerusalem mailing out one last batch of postcards to friends around the world. That day, one of my postcards happened to be going to Jessica, a friend of mine from college who now lived in Honolulu. As the girl at the counter went through the postcards, typing in the countries’ names and printing the postage, she came to the one addressed to Honolulu, Hawaii. Without missing a beat, she tapped her long fingernails to the screen and punched the Hebrew letter hey, then vav, then another vav, then aleph, then yud.

To her surprise, nothing came up. She handed it back to me, mumbling in Hebrew, “Hawaii is not in the system. I guess we can’t mail there.”

Are you serious?

Then, I make things worse by suggesting to her she type in USA, because Hawaii is part of the USA. In fact, it’s been the fiftieth state since 1959, and still is, if nothing changed while I was in Israel.

“No, it’s not part of the USA. Hawaii is a country, no?”

Facepalm.

And they say Americans are bad when it comes to knowing about the world around them.

After a few minutes of arguing pointlessly, she called over her supervisor, and punched “Hawaii” back into the computer system, which again, unsurprisingly, came up with an error message. Her supervisor took my side, telling her to “just type it in as USA, because Hawaii is in the USA.”

“Then why doesn’t it say that on the card?”

Whoops. My bad. I had completely forgotten to write “USA” on the line under the city, state, and zip code.

And we all learned a very valuable geography lesson that day.