Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lisan al Tarab preview by Tarek Yamani

Popular JLT pizzeria and jazz club Jazz Pizza Express hosted the launch of Lebanese-born NY-based jazz musician and composer Tarek Yamani's new Arabesque jazz fusion album, Lisan al Tarab, at a packed Saturday night event.

Yamani played a two-set performance on the piano, promoting the album. He was joined onstage by local jazz musicians, the Afif brothers Rony and Elie, on the drums and double bass, respectively. The show saw good form from all on harmony and solos, making for a night of excellent jazz entertainment.

(clockwise from left top) Tarek Yamani; Elie Afif; Rony Afif

Available for eco-friendly download at great value, Lisan al Tarab is the continuation of Yamani's jazz fusion experiment, in the vein of 2012's Ashur. While it too incorporates Arabic musical elements and a piano trio configuration, there are some fresh sounds and structures to be heard, especially with the inclusions of stronger starts, Latin jazz beats, subtle bass lines, and moments when jazz and Arabic notes are seamlessly fired in rapid succession. My personal favorite track was "Fi Hulal Al Afrah", which is heavy on the Arabic rhythms while maintaining a classic jazz flow, and I also liked the piano solo "Beirut Zahra Fi Gheir Awanha".

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

One Night Standup season kick-off

On Wednesday, standup comedy night One Night Standup treated the summer stay-backs to a season kick-off show at the 1UP Champion's Bar. The bar itself had been refitted somewhat since I last saw it, and was thronged with fans of local standup.

Writer and emcee Hisham Wyne, who started the series back in February 2012, hosted the free-entry event at the popular TECOM watering hole.

(clockwise from top left) Rami Salame; Salman Qureshi; Omar Shams; Omar Kazim

Local comedians were out in force, including a couple I hadn't seen in a while. Many were evidently trying out new stuff -- expected, I suppose, given that the usual summer slowdown was exacerbated by a couple of months' additional hiatus for ONSU, and the folding-up of another amateur standup night. The audience also seemed particularly predisposed to participation, which helped make it an entertaining event, and one that will only get better as bits get refined in the coming season's performances.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Earth Girls are Easily Cast

Link: The Problem With The Lady Aliens In 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' (And Most Space Films)

I think many commenters are misunderstanding the article. As far as I can see, it's not against the casting of babe roles in scifi. The complaint is that in a multi-species main cast, the male characters, while certainly including some beefcake, will likely ALSO have a lot of diversity and extremes of phenotype, while any female character(s) are likely to be relatively more heavily anthropomorphized, if not plain human, and fit the one body type.

Photograph: Allstar/Lucasfilm/Sportsphoto Ltd

This has happened with other mixed-species scifi "super teams" too: Star Wars, Farscape, Andromeda, etc. As a general rule, it appears that xenomorphism in the main cast is more likely and more extreme with male characters than with female ones.

I'm guessing that one of the main reasons this happens is that mixed-species main casts in scifi -- because of the shows' intended audience of human males -- tend to be (a) disproportionately male and (b) disproportionately human, with the central characters almost always human or practically indistinguishable from human. If you only have one or two females on your team, and you need to have some potential for a romantic subplot for the human male lead, you can't make make them sexually incompatible from a biological perspective. If FemRocket, FemChewbacca, FemBem and FemPilot were the only females in their respective casts, pairing them with a human character would be imagined as some kind of zoophilia. You might argue for intra-species non-human pairing, but given that multi-species casts also typically have at most one of each non-human species (scifi tokenism), that does not look likely to happen either.

The only solutions I can imagine would be more visibly non-human leads and/or more female main cast members. And maybe junking romantic subplots, but I doubt we will ever see that day.