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Author: matt

Ballet goes sideways

Ballet goes sideways

The Concert is a 1956 ballet by Jerome Robbins. It’s a spoof of the orchestral performance experience.

The ballet includes this piece titled “Mistake Waltz” in which some of the dancers are a bit out of sync. The above video shows a performance by the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Every error is completely intentional.

Corpus Christi – A local film

Corpus Christi – A local film

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, and what a perfect moment to mention an energetic young local lady from Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church near Seattle produced this short film Faith Prevails: The Miracle of Bolsena about the Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena-Orvieto in 1263. She was inspired to make the film after she participated in a play about the event written by her local pastor. Over 1800 volunteer hours were logged from the 20+ individuals who participated as cast and crew.

The film follows the story of Fr. Peter of Prague, a priest doubtful of the Real Presence. After a pilgrimage to help his unbelief, he was celebrating Mass in the tiny Church of St. Christina when the consecrated Host began to bleed. It is said that this miracle, in conjunction with the visions of St. Juliana of Liège, caused Pope Urban IV to institute the Feast of Corpus Christi for the universal Catholic Church. The feast has been celebrated ever since and the corporal that held the host can still be seen on public display in the Duomo di Orvieto.

Living abroad

Living abroad

Chris has some really great videos adventuring around and living abroad in Japan – something I’ve considered and even had the opportunity to pursue. While I loved Japan the times I’ve visited, he does make some really solid points about the downsides in this video – a number of which I think are really good points about living abroad in general. Living/retiring abroad is something more and more retirees are trying out and professional streamers are doing as well. But it’s best to go into it with your eyes wide open and with a healthy understanding of the pros/cons before you make that life changing move.

So which points did I find most interesting?

Reason #4 – Starting with limited independence

When you first start out, and until you’re reasonably fluent in the language of where you are moving, you are going to need a LOT of help to get even basic things done. All the devices/appliances interfaces, interacting with services/medical/cell phone contracts/insurance/store clerks will also be in foreign language. I remember the first time I wanted to mail a package home, navigating the post office required I meet up with a local friend who knew how to fill out the page of overseas shipping forms. Figuring out the air conditioner took multiple attempts and using a translate app to help. Some countries are at least partly bilingual (like Japan), but expect to run into brick walls in which you absolutely need to have local help to navigate doing certain things. Using web translation and translation apps can really help (I remember the days when everyone carried a phrase book!), but are still bad enough to rarely provide everything you need. After doing things at least once, you can usually do things on your own; but the first time you do something may require help. If you have a good local friend, that’s a great start to help you navigate.

Reason #8 – Health care – especially mental health

Even when medical care is socialized, it doesn’t mean you should expect the same kind of care. Diagnosis of issues is hard enough – and a language barrier might make it harder. What might be a simple stomach issue might cause you to get a wrong treatment – even up to an unnecessary invasive procedure. Standards of treatment and expected treatment options, even for common problems, may also be very different than you expect. If you have chronic or highly likely conditions (family history/etc), the way that a country treats them will be essential for you to check out.

Nowhere is this more evident than with mental health. Many countries lag in mental health coverage and care – to the point it may well be even a taboo subject. Chris notes the experiences of many people he’s known: if you have mental health issues, it may be ok, but it also can be exacerbated by the experiences of living abroad. You are losing your family/friend circles that often provided stability and support as well as adding the daily stress of cultural and language barriers. Again, treatment options may be very limited if mental health issues are not taken seriously in that country.

Reason #7 – Dating/marriage

If you plan to date/marry a local, it is best to be at least minimally informed of the societal norms for a relationship in your new country – and how they differ from yours. While each person is an individual with their own tastes/desires from a partner, ALL of us carry unspoken expectations into relationships – many of which come from our cultural backgrounds. The role of romance, what constitutes fidelity/cheating (yes, there are VERY different ideas of what counts as cheating in different countries), expectations in involvement of family and parents, expectations around money and earning, age expectations to get married + having children, if there are expected gender roles they might expect you to fill. It’s an excellent idea to know which areas are usually aligned, and which are very mis-aligned, so you can have open and honest discussions about your expectations.

Which really is just another way to say #11…

Reason #11 – Cultural Norms

Hopefully, one of the reasons you are going to live in another place is because you want to experience another culture. This inherently means that they do things differently. Part of that is a result of where one lives geographically (It’s ridiculous to have hawaiian shirts, flip-flops, and board shorts if you’re living in Siberia) and the historical culture of the area. That’s both an adventure, and a sticking point. Despite our western proclivities for rugged individualism and forging through adversity to get what you want, you’re going to have to adapt or you’ll find yourself constantly fighting the society as a whole. This goes from simple points of daily etiquette to such things as your very lifestyle.

Examples? Apartments in Japan are not sound proofed enough to have big, blaring music systems, loud TV sets, and apartment parties – which is why everyone goes out with friends. The latest 90″ HDTV with streaming internet movies/sports is pointless in a country where power goes off regularly or broadband internet is non-existent. Having big, overstuffed cloth furniture is great in New York, it mildews and rots in hot tropical climates. Your favorite shampoos and care products may not be available. If you take medications/need treatment, you may need to take the version of that medication that’s available in the country you’re living. Governments, legal systems, or their officials may be commonly corrupt/inefficient, or have drastically different laws about property, rights, and other legal matters.

In short, stubbornly holding on to foods, lifestyle, and products from your home country are going to range from expensive/inconvenient to impossible. So, if you’re not willing to live as the citizens of that country live – then you might be headed for unhappiness, frustration, or even spending more living there than back home.

Sleep No More

Sleep No More

Sleep No More isn’t a standard theatrical play. Instead, it’s a 3 hour immersive theatre experience by the punchdrunk theater group. The show is an adaptation of Macbeth re-set in a dimly-lit, 1930s-era establishment called the McKittrick Hotel. The hotel is actually a 5-story block of warehouses in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, transformed into the hotel-like performance space. The different rooms and floors have wild and unique themes, set designs, props, and music. The audience are given masks, told they cannot speak, and may freely move through the settings interacting with the props or observing the actors at their own pace. There is no program and actors move from room to room and floor to floor interacting with other actors and the sets on a repeating 1 hour loop cycle. They often run from room to room and may even push their way through audience members.

The action is deprived of nearly all spoken dialog and performed via interpretive dance, dialogless acting, yelling, and utilizing the set pieces in the different rooms. There’s lots of sensuality, mock fights that have actors acrobatically running up the sides of walls, actors are more than occasionally nude, bathed in fake blood, wearing strange costumes, or performing strange rituals and bizarre scenes. There are lots of hidden secrets and even 1-on-1 scenes in which an actor might select you and will perform a scene with you – often away from everyone else.

Most people say that it takes multiple visits before you can get a grip on everything that’s going on – and there are even guides on how to get the best experience. They encourage attendees that “Fortune favors the bold”; and encourage you to become participants in a way by placing yourself in the midst of the actors performing a scene. Some of the actors will acknowledge you being close to them and perform something with you like singing a song, giving you an item, or leading you to a private scene. Sadly, however, anonymity, pre-event drinking, and people taking the advice to be bold too far, have led to some problems with guests.

Still, if you’re interested in some experimental experiential theatre, this might be up your alley. It’s only in New York and books up far in advance – so reserve your spot well before your plans to go.

Magic Tricks on animals

Magic Tricks on animals

In a recent paper, the similarities between the way jays hide food from those who would steal it and the way magicians deceive the public are striking. Not only do jays and their fellow corvids; “Cache food items discreetly in among multiple bluff caching events,” the paper notes, they also; “Conceal items in their throat pouch, akin to a magician’s use of false pockets, and will manipulate food items within their beak similar to sleight-of-hand techniques performed by magicians.”

Garcia-Pelegrin is a professional magician as well as a cognitive scientist. As the video below shows, he used standard tricks to test Eurasian jays’ capacity to determine which hand held a worm. The jays usually saw through common techniques like the French Drop or the palm transfer, choosing the correct hand 70 and 60 percent of the time respectively. The Fast Pass technique fooled the jays and they got just 26 percent of trials right.

However, when showing the same tricks (bird removed from video) to 80 humans, their success ranged between 13 and 27 percent for the three tricks. So, 1 point to the birds, 0 for humans.

I love it when cross-pollination of fields of study can produce these kinds of innovative discoveries. I first saw people performing magic tricks with dogs and monkeys a few years back and was amazed how they also were tricked. Especially dogs that have better senses of smell. Check out this non-scientific video here:

A drop in the bucket

A drop in the bucket

If a drop of rain fell anywhere in the US you choose, what path would it take to the ocean? River Runner will show you and it does it with a really awesome 3D view. Try it out here:

https://river-runner.samlearner.com/

The javascript source lives here and uses USGS NHDPlus data and their NLDI API to visualize the path of a rain droplet from any point in the contiguous United States to its end point (usually the ocean, sometimes the Great Lakes, Canada/Mexico, or another inland water feature). It’ll find the closest river/stream flowline coordinate to a click/search and then animate along that flowline’s downstream path.

Haunted Mansion Cocktail Lounge

Haunted Mansion Cocktail Lounge

I love spooky things and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Imagine my joy when Raven’s Manor, a cocktail lounge designed to look like a haunted mansion, just opened this last month in downtown Portland. I gave it a visit and really enjoyed it.

The partners, Vega and Jared Bradley, have concocted a backstory for the Manor. As the tale goes, namesake Dr. Raven was a prominent elite known for his lavish parties, which were actually a ruse. “All the while,” Vega explains, “he was secretly kidnapping victims and taking them down to his laboratory for human experimentation.”

While the bartenders at Raven’s won’t be in the business of abducting humans, there will be an opportunity to take part in some experiments if you so choose. In a month or two, the bar is scheduled to start accepting reservations for an “Elixir Experience,” where guests are asked to solve clues throughout the property and then use everything from chemistry equipment to cauldrons to create custom drinks.