Thursday, January 28, 2010

Celtic Corner: MALINKY!

Sooooooooooo I'm going to see the Scottish group Malinky this fine weekend with fun friends and surely fun times. Malinky is comprised of three Scots, an Irishman, and an Englishman playing traditional tunes from the British isles. Often their tunes are nearly lost through time until Steve rediscovers them and makes them Malinky's. There's melodies are often haunting and sometimes downright fun, but they're always flawlessly brilliant. Fiona Hunter's beautiful voice can sound fun and light like on "Shipyard's Apprentice" or dark, foreboding, and mournful like on "Edom O'Gordon." Steve Byrne's love of traditional music comes through in every note he plays bouzouki and guitar and sings. It's infused in his body, a part of him, and you know it. Mark Dunlop, who plays tin whistle, bodhran, and other percussiony instruments, with an Irish lilted voice aches and moans with the heartbreak of the Irish plight in "Dark Horse on the Wind." Dave Wood's stunning guitar playing has earned him prestigious gigs such as playing at the premiere of Fellowship of the Ring in 2001. Mike Vass's fiddle playing is top notch, infectious throughout Europe. When Malinky is off tour, he teaches summer music programs, inspiring young musicians to be as great as he is. Often he writes the fiddle tunes on the albums, and he's soon to release a solo album of live music, such as his Celtic Crossroads highlight. I promise you that you will at least think that Malinky is deserving of the adjective "quality" in reference to their music, even if you're not a fan of the music. You could consider Malinky preservationist due to their use of Scots-English and love of traditional tunes, especially since Byrne is part of the Scottish Arts Council. Unfortunately there's really not much Scottish Gaelic. Check it out. If you like more upbeat, bluegrassy folk tunes, you might like the first two albums The Last Leaves and 3 Ravens more. But if you're into crisp, more traditional, dark sounds, turn to the most recent albums The Unseen Hours and Flower & Iron. Expect a new album by the lineup of Flower & Iron soon. They've recently recorded in the studio before heading here to the States for a small Midwest tour.

Update: Malinky was awesome. We were fortunate to have a preview for the next album. It's a tune called "Young Emslie" with Fiona on lead vocals, and it's one of my most stunning songs I've ever heard...a nice murder ballad. Fiona learned it from the deceased singer Lizzie Higgins. Unfortunately I'm having difficulties tracking the song down. This is often the problem with finding earlier versions fo Malinky's songs. They revive tunes that have been lost for years. Good to see them again and a good time after the show. It turns out that nearly all of them teach classes when off tour. How adorable.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Feminist Feature: Feminist Films

I've rated MY top five feminist films, not in really any order.

5. Lord of the Rings
The few women in these films make them feminist. Galadriel is possibly the most powerful non-evil being in middle-earth. She's incredibly wise (not to mention creepy). Arwen's an all-around awesome character. She is willing to defy her father's will and sacrifice her immortality for a life with Aragorn. And Eowyn is....argh! Eowyn is so awesome, you guys! Her biggest fear is to be caged. She can fight (and fight well). She's brave, and she does what men do (and at one point even what they can't do...destroy the Witch-King!!! BADASS!!!!!). She's just amazing.

4. Drag Me to Hell
A business woman tries to get ahead in the corporate world, and in doing so, she ends up being cursed when she denies a loan which she really wants to approve. Strong female characters are the lead and pivotal roles. Gypsies, goats, saliva, and fire also make big appearances.

3. Bend It Like Beckham
It's been a while since I've seen this film, but a film about two 18-year-old girls who defy their parents wishes of becoming domestic to go for their dreams of being soccer players.

2. She's the Man
I love this movie like crazy. The fact that Viola, played by Amanda Bynes, goes to the lengths of pretending to be her brother to play sports and to show the guys that ladies can play just as well as the guys is something that makes this truly feminist.

1. Mists of Avalon
In Mists, the focus is Morgaine, who is raised in Avalon, where women are taught the ways of the goddess, to be self-sufficient, to develop their gifts from the goddess, and even to fight. The Lady of the Lake, Vivianne, needs to man in her life. She is the instrument of the mother goddess. Only men of Avalon blood are permitted to set foot on its soil. Again the focus is on the women as the main source of power (often conflicting with each other), which leads to them intervening with fate and saving the old religion while the new one begins to spread.

Honorable mention: 9 to 5. DOLLY!

What are yours?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Avengers Disassembles...Again

In April, the Avengers books (New, Mighty, Initiative, and Dark) will end their reign. I'm not one to care about numbering, if a book continues or not, just as long as the characters continue somewhere. But I get the feeling that the Avengers will still be around, just in a different light to the Marvel Universe's public. Perhaps it's also a way to reunite the Marvel heroes after so much that tore them apart and sent many into hiding. Marvel says we're going into the Heroic Age of comics, so who knows what the future holds. Perhaps our Marvel universe will be more cohesive and unified. Maybe teams won't be so exclusive.

Despite my love for the X-Men and the Avengers, they love their own. Example: Avengers were very adamant against the Young Avengers for using the name, which is good to weed out bad examples, but at the same time they make it sound like a country club or something. The X-Men currently have segregated themselves from the rest of the U.S. citizens. Why? It wasn't really clear until this past issue of Uncanny, when Fraction has Cyclops defend himself to Emma, saying that as long as Norman Osborn is in reign. They've been significantly absent from Marvel events. I'd love to see more X-Men team up with the Avengers, not just Wolverine and occasionally Storm, who is vastly underused in the rest of the MU. I'd love to see Avengers come to help the X-Men.

Will this be a core group of Avengers to lead the way into the next era of heroes? Will there be alternating spots for various B-listers, like the Young Avengers? What is going to happen?! I'm freaking out!

At least the women of Marvel will be spotlighted more with Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Girl Comics, and various female figures with their own books. This is an exciting time for Marvel. Finally the rest of the Marvel universe is catching up to the X-Men in showing the value and power of the women. Too bad Miss Marvel ended. She's badass. Can't have too many solo books. I think it's better to do solo books in limited runs or a miniseries. I'm anxious to see how many issues Spider-Woman will be. It's on hold in April for the shift in Marvel. Lots of books flying at us that month.

Can I mention Husk's return in X-Men Legacy? AWESOME! She's on a team with Psylocke, Rogue, Magneto, Colossus, and Trance, led by Nightcrawler, to investigate the return of Proteus. Husk and Psylocke are written beautifully by Mike Carey: Husk being rational and pragmatic and Psylocke being determined and locigal. Husk and Psylocke are surprisingly similar, but it seems Husk is going to see what the others don't in Destiny and Blindfold's prophecies. Hopefully Carey's use of Husk will bring her back into the fold. Look at this badassery! And even Clay Mann's art is impressive and realistic in terms of female figure. Chests aren't exaggerated and waists aren't tiny. Love his work on Elektra, who's missing after her Dark Reign miniseries. I want her back.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Site of the Week: 1/11-1/16/2010!

Sorry for the lack of updates!

Atlas Obscura is CRAZY awesome! Thanks to Bridget Regan for giving me this site on twitter. I'm telling you she's full of goodies! Funny thing--when I first looked at the website, I thought, "WOW! Many of these places are in the movie The Fall," which I finally bought. (Now I can watch it every day...if I had time to watch it every day.) You won't be able to stop looking at this site once you start. If you're looking to travel somewhere, you can even search the Atlas Obscura database by state or country! I immediately checked out Ireland's weird wonders.

And speaking of Bridget Regan....for my enjoyment and hopefully some of yours...Kahlan and Cara from the upcoming episode!!!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Pleasant Surprise: Batwoman

One of my favorite runs in a comic book has ended, and it was only seven issues. And get this: it was Detective Comics...I know! I never thought I'd say that. Ever. But Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III as a team bring Batwoman as a character to whole new level. They upped the bar for comic quality for storytelling and art AND together. The writing is superb, delving into Kate Kane's past, revealing more that ends up revealing the present situation. It's a puzzle. The artistic style is different between certain situations: the past is more grainier and rougher, much like a flashback would be; the present is sharp and the color punches you in the face; non-action sequences are tamed down and less colorful; but action sequences are defined by the shattered glass look when Batwoman is kicking ass and the red and black....oh the red! The art is seductive with its subtle sexual innuendos, use of color, and its multi-layered symbolism. Take a look here at Kate Kane/Batwoman and Alice:

How could you NOT love this art? It's inventive and fresh and (if you read the comic) says so much with just one page in subtext. Williams and Rucka have redefined superhero comics and made it into something substantial.

But for those of you reading the comic or will read the arc, look for the creative duo to be creating a Batwoman solo title this year. EXCITING!!!!