October 25th, 2012

gold star

Review of Streb Forces

I'm posting this now because our internet connection was down when I originally wrote it.

We went to see a performance of Streb: Forces at the Krannert Center on October 6.  This troupe specializes in a form of avant-garde dance called action dance.  It includes moves from dance, gymnastics, circus, Hollywood stunts, and various other sources.  It also leans heavily on stage props of the advanced physics type.  Clearly somebody took the fun  physics class.  The flavor of the dancing is one of controlled chaos: not quite raw, but rare, lightly browned with a cool pink center.

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gold star

Review of Cirque Chinois

On October 24, we went to see the National Circus of the People's Republic of China: Cirque Chinois at the Krannert Center.  I was delighted by the chance to see, in person, a bunch of entertainment types that I had only read about before, or seen on television, or seen descended styles of.  While done with modern materials, some of these acts have roots going back for centuries.  The props, costumes, and presentations reflected that.  I have to say that I favor a classic style in costuming: outfits should match the theme, and be the same unless there's a variation based on different roles in the performance.  I find the contemporary trend towards unmatched costumes that resemble street clothes to be distracting and less aesthetically appealing.  Another interesting point that spanned multiple acts was that many of them had a single authority figure standing at the back, an interesting manifestation of the structured nature of Chinese society.  They tended toward minimal movement but truly spectacular costumes.  Also the energy handling was good overall, though stronger in some acts than others.

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silk road

Poem: "The Tea Tempest"

This poem came out of the July 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from thesilentpoet.  It has been sponsored by marina_bonomi.  This poem belongs to The Silk Road Allies project.

The Tea Tempest

Though some historians
would later refer to the period
as "the Tea Wars,"
it hardly amounted to more than
a tempest in a tea pot.

The Co Hong merchants exported tea,
with the most favorable terms
going to China's long-time ally, Italy.
The British responded
by exporting opium to China
in hopes of crippling the great power.

The Italian famiglie  rolled their eyes
and lifted their hands toward heaven
at the sight of such foolishness.
Then they contacted their counterparts in the tong.
Together they procured a quantity of cocaine
from their colonies in the Americas
and directed it to Britain.

The shipments of opium dropped dramatically,
the British suddenly having their own problems.

One might think that tea would
lose some of its popularity,
but as Rome goes,
so Europe goes --
and after all,
tea was habit-forming.

The Chinese and Italian diplomats
shared secret smiles over their cups
and agreed to share Hong Kong.


Color Covers for Star*Line

Star*Line is again seeking donations for color covers.  This call was posted on the SFPA mailing list.

Color covers for Star*line

Last summer I put out a call for donations to pay for color covers on
Star*line. We received enough money to pay for covers through the end of
2012. I think the artists who have adorned the magazine with their artwork
have done a stunning job. The first impression a magazine makes comes from
its cover. Thanks to the skill, generosity, and talent of artists like
Kelli Hoppmann and Franco Brambilla, Star*line has looked better than ever
before. You can see all the covers at

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Linguistic News

Check out this cool article about deciphering proto-Elamite.  (Link courtesy of siege.)  I hadn't seen the writing system before.  I'm amused by its similarity to mess of writing systems previously used in my Whispering Sands desert, particularly the combination of different styli -- you can see a round end and a pointed end, along with a more common wedge.  Less amusing is the observation of how educational underinvestment probably crashed the technology and culture of proto-Elamite.  Yeah, that happens.  Let's not go there again.