Friday, November 5, 2010

Mailbag

  • "Excuse the CFR provenance of this article," writes Kalim Kassam, of a piece which ponders the grim question of whether this week's "brutal bombing of a church in Baghdad may be the final straw for this 2,000 year old minority community" — The End of Christianity in the Middle East? "Of course, this final stage in the decline of the Chaldean Catholic community comes is a result of the instability Iraq. Itself brought to you by the most 'Christian' of US presidents: George W. Bush."

  • Steven Cornett sends along the report that "America's Praetorian Guard, the CIA, ... were into art, and in fact supported and nurtured modern Abstract Expressionism all around the world for twenty years" — Modern art was CIA 'weapon'. Also noted is "that William Paley, the President of CBS Broadcasting, was a founding father of the CIA, according to that very article."

  • Robert Badger sends along "something you might (or might not) enjoy," in which "singer/songwriter Tom Lehrer took a humourous look at the life of Alma Schindler Mahler Gropius Werfel" — Tom Lehrer- Alma. "While married to Gustav Mahler, she began a torrid love affair with Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus school of modern architecture. She later married him, though her passions for him later cooled. After Mahler's death and before she married Gropius, she had an affair with the artist Oscar Kokoschka, one of the leaders of the Expressionist school of painters. She was married to Gropius after ending that affair. She then hooked up with a writer by the name of Franz Werfel, known to us as the author of the Song of Bernadette and subsequently married him."

  • Samer Batal sends along some "rembetiko, or 'Greek blues', created by the Anatolian Greeks who wound up in sorry conditions in mainland Greece," recommending this piece by Grigoris Bithikotsis" — Γρηγόρης Μπιθικότσης - Βεργούλες.

  • "A lot of the commentary tends to ridicule Islam for taking this seriously, or the existance of Djinns, I found this an interesting sideway from the article you wrote on Stephen Hawking's warning on accepting the contact from space aliens, and our responses to that," writes Steven Cornett about this article — Saudi judge says he committed illegalities under the influence of genie who spoke through him. Mr. Cornett continues: "Interesting how, while the Islamic conception of the Djinn is similar to the European description of Fairies, Islam not only states they have a spiritual soul and free will (the ability to choose the good), but that the prophets were meant to preach to both humans and djinn. That opens the question of, if such creatures exist, whether they could achieve salvation? The answer would seem to be yes, at least according to Islam, whose theology is a heretical offshoot of Eastern Catholic / Non-Chalcedonian Christianity."

  • Samer Batal sends along video of "Hasan al-Haf'faar of Aleppo singing" which "gets interesting at 2:45" — Hassan Haffar .المنشد حسن الحفاركبار المنشدين السوريين. Also, "cinematic musical production with Sabaah Fakhri, ... the final bit and conclusion when the two lovers wed" — Sabah Fakhri .صباح فخري. طلعت يامحلى نورها — and "a traditional Damascene wedding from the Syrian drama series Ahlur-Raaya, set in the time of the Ottomans" — العرس الشامي ـ أيام زمان .

  • Earlier, Samer Batal sent along some videos by "one of the big names of traditional Arabic tarab music, the Syrian Sabah Fakhri, who represents the Aleppine musical tradition" and "is despite his short stature one of our giants, simply put" — صباح فخري موشحات وقدود- دار الاوبرا المصرية and اهوى الغزال - صباح فخري . Also, "a very delightful set of videos from a cinematic musical production from back in the '70s, that I find to be a work of art joining poetic and folkish singing with silent narrative acting; they certainly do not do cinema like this anymore--this one engages the eyes and ears together well" — الفنان صباح فخري و القدود الحلبية والتراثية Sabah Fakhri, لفنان صباح فخري . قدود وموشحات وأدوار وأغاني شعبية, العملاق صباح فخري. قدود وموشحات وأدوارعام 1978 , مجموعة نغم الأمس هي أجمل ما غنى العملاق صباح فخري , الفنان صباح فخري و نغم الأمس- مقام موسيقي and رمز حلب صباح فخري و نغم الأمس. He "conclude[s] with this smashing solo on the `oud played by the man who probably taught Malmsteen everything he knows," by — فريد الأطرش - تقسيمة أغنية الربيع
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    Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.