December 30, 2004

Andrew Lloyd Webber Day

Look a new day has begun, but yesterday was the day that was "officially" declared as Andrew Lloyd Webber Day by the Andrew Lloyd Webber fanclub section 99998567 of the Philadelphia Sect of the Pennsylvania Association with the Arts in alliance with the secret society of La Lune d'Artemis. My friends and I watched The Phantom of the Opera Movie at the Ritz 5 at 2:05 pm in 1 and 2nd Walnut street down in Olde City Philadelphia and later at 8pm we saw Cats in Walnut Street Theater (America's first theater).

The movie was faithful to the Broadway play with superbe extra treats for the fans such as extra Webber songs, a more cohesive story line to connect it better and more visual faces to play roles of Christine, Rauol and the Phantom. The acting didn't stink, and the voices and the music was awesome. The costumes were fabulous. I think Minnie Driver, who played Carlotta (the overtly essentric egotistical over-paid "Italian" opera singer), brought great acting to the movie (ironically overshadowing Christine Daae --->but I still like the movie--->tres bien cool!). This movie is a fantastic substitute for the play BUT I still suggest for you to go and see the actual show if you can. See in movies, the special effects and elaborate costumes are expected nowadays. However, in a live performance, there's the thrill of limitation and the unexpected. You'll be blown away by the lighting, the set and scenery, the costumes, the proximity of the event happening before your eyes and many more.

Originally, I didn't like Cats. I tried watching the VHS tape of it last year and I could not get through finishing it. Once again, it was the whole package that did it for me :the set, the lights etc. etc. Just think about the bright moon, tap dancing cockroaches and melodiously "caterwhauling" acrobatic and twirling cats. Doing a little research also was beneficial to me. I read the T.S. eliot poems that inspired this play, and I borrowed the soundtrack in the library to preview the songs. This play proves that cats do land on their feet while flipping and dancing, just imagine that!

It was a jellicle day, and this night would be a memory too, a very memorable one.

Here are other plays and shows I've seen live:
1. Cats (Webber)
2. Evita (Webber)
3. The Phantom of the Opera (Webber)
4. Mamma Mia
5. Rent
6. Tick Tick Boom
7. Disney's Rock Opera Aida
8. The Nutcracker (Ballet)
9. Dracula (Ballet)
10. Wizard of Oz (highschool play)
11. Joseph and the Technicolor Coat (h.s. play)
12. The Music Man (h.s. play)
13. Bye Bye Birdie (h.s. play)
14. Guys and Dolls (h.s. play)
15. Romeo and Juliet (h.s. play)
16. Peter Pan (h.s. play)
17. Annie (h.s. play)
18. Sleeping Beauty (ballet)
19. No 11: Black and Blue (College play)
20. Lysistrata (C. play)
21. Trifles (C. play)
22. The World Goes Round (C. play)
23. The Vagina Monologues (C. play)
24. A Doll's House (C. play)
25. Proof (C. play)
26. As you like it (C. play)
27. The Laramie Project (C. play)
28. Disney's On the Record (New Musical)

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 4:23 PM | Comments (0)

a national treasure

so so far I've seen The National Treasure with Nicholas Cage, and The House of Flying Daggers with "Zhang Zhiyi". Although both are action adventure films, both are from different genres.

The National Treasure is one of those blockbuster summer movie "roller-coaster" type thrill, jam-packed with actions, "almost" predictable plot line (but there's still some surprises), and awesome sceneries (Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York and more). Throughout the movie, one may ponder of what the national treasure may be. Is it materialistic treasures of gold and other "galours" or is it a treasure of great importance, worth and "truth"? Will the treasure finally answer tertullian's question: "What has Athens has to say to Jerusalem?" Only one way to find out, watch it!

The House of the Flying Daggers is an action adventure, romance and drama film saturated with martials arts, great stunts and visual and colorful effects. It is a mix of historical fiction with a fairy-tale undertone. It is almost a typical written-in-the-stars love story about crossed-star lovers caught in a war between two groups of people in 859 AD China. What separates this movie from the typical "Aidian" opera tragedy is that the characters acted against the expectations of the inevitability and the "gods". They knew that fortune and the odds weren't in their favor yet they were "brave enough to risk everything." The daggers in the title foreshadows a Macbethian twist that literally stabs the audience in the heart rather than in the back "et-tu-Brutae" style, a complete volte-face. This is a typical movie with atypical surprises, so brace yourself!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 3:36 PM | Comments (0)

What does it mean?

for the past two days, I've dreamt about birds, what could it mean?....
the first night I dreamt about a black pelican attacking me, and in the second night I dreamt that my old pet bird "angel", who was a pied cockatiel. In my dream, she was mostly yellow with tints of white. She was nestled on top of my head, and her claws were gripping my skull. What does it all mean? So I started a mini research, and I found some interesting stuff.


In alchemy, birds are essential. Dictionary.com defines alchemy:

n.
A medieval chemical philosophy having as its asserted aims the transmutation of base metals into gold, the discovery of the panacea, and the preparation of the elixir of longevity.
A seemingly magical power or process of transmuting: “He wondered by what alchemy it was changed, so that what sickened him one hour, maddened him with hunger the next” (Marjorie K. Rawlings).

According to Crytallinks.com birds are representative of spiritual development since "the soul, aspir[es] upwards, fl[ies] free of the restraints of the earth bound body seeking the heavenly light, only to have to return to the earthly consciousness again after the meditation."

But what is odd or maybe ironic is that the birds in my dream are hybrids of these symbols (they too undergo the alchemic process). Let us look at the symbols and consider the meanings of color and the type of birds. The pelican is black and the cockatiel is mostly yellow with hints of white. In the internet article of "The Birds in Alchemy," the soul undergoes through five stages to inner enlightenment. The five stages are:
1. Black Crow -withdrawal - freeing of the from depend ence on the Physical senses
2. White Swan -experience of the etheric body
3. Peacock-astral body consciousness - inward immersion - point of transformation - outward expression integration - purification - transmutation
4. Pelican - using consciously the forces of the etheric body
5. Phoenix- freeing of the spirit from the bounds of the physical

In my dream the first image is a black pelican. This of course is a blend of the first and fourth stage. Black is commonly known to represent death. Crystallinks.com suggests that black symbolizes the initial step toward the darkness of the inner world of the soul. In this case, a death of consciousness needs to occur to begin the "spiritual" process (emphasis mine).

The pelican, according to CatholicHerald.com is a symbol of sacrificial act. Crystallinks.com marks this suffering act as significant in "self" transformation. However usually this archetypal image of the pelican is shown stabbing its breast with its beak and nourishing its young with its own blood. In my dream it was stabbing me not itself (unless of course I was "the pelican" looking from the outside).

If you were to look at a cockatiel and a phoenix, you would see some similarities in their warm fiery hue and in their blazing crest. Crystallinks.com states that the Phoenix completes the process of the soul's development. "The Phoenix bird builds its nest which at the same time is its funeral pyre, and then setting it alight cremates itself. But it arises anew from the ashes transformed... [the phoenix] has integrated his being so much, that he is no longer dependent upon his physical body as a foundation for his being. ("Dropped quote")." In spite of this argument, I disagree that consummation has occurred.

The color of this phoenix-like bird cockatiel in my dream is not completely yellow; it has tints of white. In the alchemic process, the white swan (i know this is not a cockatiel, however it's an archetype)represents the beginning of the whole inner world. However "the initial inner brightness...is often erroneously mistaken for true illumination [thus] this experience is merely a first conscious encounter with the etheric world."

In conclusion , in the past two nights I do not think I went through an initiation and a completion of a spiritual sort (or did I?). The symbols seem to cancel each other out. The color black is death of consciouness hence life of the subconscious begins. The Pelican stabs itself to feed its young so they can live off its blood. In the process, the pelican dies. The phoenix is a chimerical bird; on the contrary a cockatiel is a real bird. Since supposedly, a bird's "domain" is in the element of air which is between heaven and earth (symbolic of spiritual journey between heaven and earth), the birds in my dream never take flight. The black pelican is on the ground pecking me and the yellow-whitish cockatiel is firmly ensconced on the top of my head. The cockatiel is not as wild as the black pelican. The cockatiel is my former pet named Angel, and everytime she tries to fly she ends up landing on my head. Also in my dream, I am placing Angel( a heavenly creature nominally) in a cage (symbolic of limitation and fettered enlightenment). So what? So what do they mean? Who knows? DO YOU?

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 9:37 AM | Comments (11)

December 25, 2004

Christmas

E=MC^2

We must be very suspicious of the deceptions of the element of time. It takes a good deal of time to eat or to sleep (1/3 of our lifetime), or to earn a hundred dollars, and a very little time to entertain a hope and an insight which becomes the light of our light... -

(Experience, Ralph Waldo Emerson) [emphasis mine]

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 1:19 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2004

home

I left Greensburg on Friday, Dec. 17, at 10:41 am and after 5 days I'm finally home, today Wed. Dec 22.

Not really, just joshing, I've been home for quite some time now, but lately I've been running around like a headless chicken doing "holiday" stuff. I hadn't the time to just sit and awake from the shock of having LEISURE time.

My trip was fine. AMTRAK rules (way better than greyhound)! However for my traveling companion Sammie, it was a very tres traumatic experience.

The whole story began 20 minutes after 10 in the morning. Neha picked us up from under the Canevin tunnel. I had about four layers of clothing while Sammie had a barky brown overall with feathery greenish yellow long sleeves top that flutter in the cold breeze. Her feet, wrapped in dirt black stockings, were firmly planted in murky green plastic-pot-like boots. We were running a little late because I was triple checking to make sure that I didn't forget anything. As soon as I stepped outside, my glasses fogged a little, oh but poor Sammie was shocked beyond belief. The cold reality of the outside world was incomparable to the tropical environment of her humble abode.

I lugged my less than a hundred pound luggage in the back of Neha's steely gray station wagon as blue as the faded hazy summer sky. Sammie and I sat in the front. I took my time making sure that Sammie was properly seated and that I had the seatbelt on. In spite of these meticulous preparations I forgot about the automaticity of the sliding seatbelt. It would have strangled and choked Sammie if I didn't safeguard Sammie's neck. The seatbelt caught her sleeves instead and ripped a bit of it off.

We finally made it to the train station, 10 minutes before departure time. We got on the train. Amtrak rules but there was this really rude train conductor who told me that Sammie and I couldn't sit together because it would be "awkward" for everybody. I didn't want to protest because I didn't know what else this train conductor could do, who knew maybe he would kicked us out of the train and never get home. So Sammie had to sit in the back, she was shoved and stuffed in the dark corner all by herself.

We reached Philadephia earlier than the expected time. The city lights were on and light traffic was in progress. Sammie was glad to be out in the open air, so was I. We took the SEPTA bus 44.

After realizing the disillusionment of cold reality, almost being strangled and choked by a plastic-woven thread-like culprit and being immured in a hopeless dungeon, Sammie was just glad to sit by the window next to her sisters Saraha and the twins Edel and Weiss, and watches the sun sets and rises above mountains of steel and glass, in Philadelphia.

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 11:42 AM | Comments (1)

December 16, 2004

Reason

The reason why I've been asking about the whole Arab-Israelis conflict is because I was learning about it in my Faith, Religion and Society class about it, the facs I've learned surprised me. I wonder if it would surprise you too, please read and comment, add any information missing or correct incorrect facts, thanks!

Dignity
In this Religion in Society paper, I will briefly recount Great Britain’s involvement that led to the present Arab-Israelis conflict. I will summarize the claims for Palestine, made by the Israelis and the Arabs at the Paris Peace Conference. The decisions made in this conference created a feud between the Arabs and the Israelis that affected the world community today. In 1922, the League of Nation ignored the King-Crane report that stated the unfairness of the Zionists’ proposals to the Arab majority. Recently the UN General Assembly adopted six resolutions acknowledging the rights and valid claims of Arabs in Palestine. The death of Arafat on November 11, 2004 shows hope for a better and more peaceful relation between Israel and Palestine. With the application of the Catholic Social Teaching concerning the Dignity of Every Person and Human Rights, I will further analyze the Arab-Israelis conflict.

Great Britain used both the Zionist Jews and the Arabs as pawns to ensure victory in World War I. The Zionist Jews of Eastern Europe feared the rise of anti-Semitism in Russia in the 1880s. They thought that the only solution in improving their inferior status and in assuring their rights and dignity was to attain “their own national home in which they would administer their own affairs and determine their own destiny” (Khouri 3). In 1917, the Kerensky government appointed several Jews in prominent offices and positions in the new Russian duma. The British had hoped that these appointments would empower the Jews, in which the advocates of Zionism would be appeased; thus encouraged the Zionist Jews of Russia to ally with Great Britain. The Zionist then convinced the British to support their cause. They convinced Great Britain that “a Jewish-dominated Palestine would strengthen Britain’s strategic position in the Middle East” (Khouri 5). By November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour declared the necessity of “the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people” (Khouri 6).

Meanwhile, the Ottoman Empire allied themselves with the Central Powers. This was an advantage to Britain. The British had calculated the possibility of an Arab revolt. This revolt would have weakened Turkey. The Arab Nationalist decided to “support the allies in the hope of acquiring complete independence” from their oppressors, the Turks (Khouri 6). The Arabs and the British negotiated. Britain agreed to grant the Arabs their independence and other demands. Although both parties were in agreement, the Arabs were not aware of Britain’s concord with the Zionist Jews.

The Arabs were also unaware of the Sykes-Picot agreement between Britain and France. This agreement divided “the Arab inhabited territories into French- and British-administered areas” (Khouri 8). When the Arabs found out about these deceptions, the British distorted the facts to assured them of fulfilling their promises. The Arabs continued to trust Great Britain with caution and fought for their country’s liberation (Khouri 9).

After World War I, the dispute over Palestine began. In the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, the Zionist delegation asked for five things. The wanted to:
(1) Include the Balfour declaration in the peace treaty; (2) disregard…the principle of the right of self-determination, at least until the Jews became a majority there; (3) oppose making Palestine into either an Arab state or an internationalized one, but to set it up as a British Mandate; (4) provide for unlimited Jewish immigration into Palestine and “close settlement” by Jews on the land there; and (5) provide for the establishment of a Jewish Council for Palestine, representing the Jews in Palestine and elsewhere, with legal status and considerable powers. (Khouri 10)
The Arabs wanted their independence. Khouri summarized the Arab claims to Palestine:
The Arabs [had] continuous occupation of Palestine from the 7th to the 20th century…The world would be thrown into chaos, legally and politically, if every group were permitted to lay claim to an area that its ancestors had possessed at one time in history…Furthermore, one group could not be legally or morally bound by the religious beliefs of or by the promises made to another group. (11)
Although the Arabs had a more valid claim to Palestine, the League of Nation decided in favor of the Zionist cause.

The results of the Paris Peace Conference have repercussions that affected the world today. The Arab and Israelis have been in war since1948. According to Pittsburg Tribune-Review reporter Robert Zelnick, Yasser Arafat’s leadership in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), had been ruled in terrorism. The Israelis fought back to defend their territory, and all throughout the 70s and 80s, the Israelis “refused to deal with the PLO until [Arafat] publicly renounced terrorism.” Arafat refused to cooperate. Both the Palestinians and the Israelis refused to compromise, and each of them held onto their ideologies.

With the recent death of Arafat on November 11, 2004, the Post-Gazette website states that there is hope of a possible peace settlement between the Arabs and the Israelis. Mahmoud Abbas, the leading candidate for Palestinian Authority Presidency, would like to begin negotiations and reach an accord with Israel by the end of 2005. President Bush plans to make Palestine a state in the next four years. Bush also wants to work to deepen the U.S.’s trans-Atlantic ties with the nations of Europe.
The UN General Assembly recently adopted six resolutions in the hopes of achieving a final and peaceful settlement to resolve the Arab-Israelis conflict. The Assembly:
Stressed the need for Israel’s withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967…the Assembly adopted an orally corrected text that reaffirmed the international community’s interest in protecting the city’s unique spiritual, religious and cultural character…the world body reiterated that any actions taken by Israel to impose its laws…remained illegal, and deplored the transfer of diplomatic mission to Jerusalem, in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions…talks with Syria and Lebanon [resumed]…the world body also called on Israel to rescind its 14 December 1981 decision to impose laws on the occupied Syrian Golan, and , once more, demanded a complete withdrawal to the 4 June 1967 line…The Assembly adopted 3 texts concerning the work of the commitment on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Division fro the Palestinian Rights and the Department of Public Information. (UN Press Release GA/10308)
The World community finally acknowledges the dignity and rights of the Arabs and the Israelis. They realize the need for action to resolve the Arab-Israelis conflict in order to make the world a more peaceful and humane place to live in.

These UN resolutions compliment the Catholic Social Teaching that deals with the theme of the Dignity of Every Person and Human Rights, which states people’s worth and dignity. The Book of Genesis from the Bible states that “All humans are made in the image and likeness of God.” According to Pope John XXIII, human rights are “universal, inviolable and inalienable” (Schultheis 27). Vatican II affirms the infallibility of this statement “God is the ultimate source of our rights not secular doctrines…this is grounded in the reverence for the sanctity of creation and its Creator” (Schultheis 28).

With this brief summary of the Catholic Social Teaching: Theme 1: the Dignity of Every Person and Human Rights, I will now apply the encyclicals, Pacem in Terris and Gaudium et Spes to analyze the Arab-Israelis conflict.

Part 1 of Pacem in Terris encyclical deals specifically with the rights of human. Under “Rights” section 2, it states that everyone has a right of Cultural and Moral Values. This includes the freedom of option (to search for and express opinions). Both the Arabs and the Israelis have rights to a land. The Arabs felt oppressed by the Turks. The Zionist Jews felt that having a “state” would allow them to determine their own destiny. With these rights, humans also have duties. In “Duties,” section 1 states the duties of humans to “acknowledge and respect the rights of others”, and section 2 calls for “mutual collaboration” (Schultheis 28). The Zionist Jews was so desperate to have a land that they neglected the Arabs’ rightful claim to Palestine. The Arabs were actually willing to co-exist with the Jews, as long as the Jews were under Arab laws. Pacem in Terris advocates active solidarity. According to this encyclical “peace consists in Mutual trust” (Schultheis 29). The Arabs trusted and cooperated with the British to ensure their independence peacefully, but the British’s and the Zionists’ deceit complicated the matters and caused distrust and strife that precipitated into the present conflict.

Gaudium et Spes, also known as the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, expresses the duty of God’s people to “scrutinize the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel” (Schultheis 31). This encyclical recognizes human dignity and the good and bad effect of change that characterizes the world. Gaudium et Spes stresses the development of Culture. In Part 2, sections A and B outline the necessity of freedom of Culture “to foster the development of the whole person” (Schultheis 33). Anti-Semitism undermined the Jewish achievements. The Zionist Jews believed that having an official state would give them the power to determine their own destiny. They finally achieved this goal, and the Jewish status was acknowledged. They were no longer a people without a land at the expense of the Arabs in Palestine. The Arabs, who were oppressed by the Turks, realized that they have the right to cultivate their culture. They took pride in their heritage, and the only way for them to achieve this reality was by having their own state.

In Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII declares that “Peace will be but an empty sounding word unless it is founded on…truth, built according to justice, vivified and integrated by charity, and put into practice in freedom” (Schulteis 29). The British’s hollow promises made the Arabs distrustful of the Western Culture. The Zionist Jews’ impatience and disregard for Arabs’ rights hindered the relations between the Arabs and the Israelis. This impediment caused the Arabs to doubt the sincerity of Israelis’ friendship. This insincerity blinded both the Arabs and the Israelis from seeing the dignity and worth of each other. They failed to recognize each other’s human rights. With the recent adoption of UN resolutions and U.S. involvement in facilitating the peace process, there is hope that the dignity and rights of every Arabs and Israelis will finally be recognized.

Works Cited
Khouri, Fred J. The Arab-Israelis Dilemma. 3rd Ed. New York: Syracuse University Press,
1985.
King, Laura.“Abbas Eyes Peace Plan.” Post-Gazette 5 Dec. 2004.
http://www.post-gazette.com.
Lavie, Mark.“Israel OKs Monitors for Palestinians Vote in January.” Post-Gazette 5 Dec.
2004 http://www.post-gazette.com.
Massaro, Thomas S.J. Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action. Maryland:
Sheed & Ward, 2000.
McFeatters, Ann. “Bush Wants Palestinian State within 4 Years.” Post-Gazette 5 Dec.
2004 http://www.post-gazette.com.
Schultheis, Michael J., Ed P. DeBerri and Peter Heriot. Our Best Kept Secret: The Rich
Heritage of Catholic Social Teaching. Washington D.C.: Copyright Pending
Center of Concern.
UN Press Release GA/10308. “General Assembly Concludes Debate on Palestine,
Middle East with Adoption of Six Resolutions.” 5 Dec. 2004
http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/ga10308.doc.htm.
Zelnick, Robert. “Arafat and Israeli Counterterrorism” Pittsburg Tribune-Review 5 Dec.
2004 http://www.pittsburglive.com/x/search/print_276522.html.

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 5:18 PM | Comments (1)

December 6, 2004

wondering

do you know why the Arabs and the Israelis are in war?

I was just wondering...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 8:29 PM | Comments (1)