drama

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This month Spectacle theater is showing both parts of Fritz Lang’s epic epic Die Nibelungen - Part I: Siegfried, full of dwarf treasure, heros and dragons, and the very aptly named Part II – Kriemhild’s Revenge, in which you get exactly what the title promises. Both halves are visually gorgeous, with vast sets recreating Iceland’s sunny midnights, deep caves filled with treasure, and the roving kingdom of the Mongol hordes. Add on top of that dazzling costumes done in full-on German Expressionist style with a hint of Medieval modeling, and you have what I want to wear the rest of my life. Behold the glory that is the outfits in Die Nibelungen!

If the name sounds familiar, Die Nibelungen is based on the same source material Wagner’s Ring Cycle operas came from, the epic poem Nibelungenlied. The basic gist of the movie is hunky and surprisingly shirtless hero, Siegfried, goes around being boss at everything and winning kingdoms and treasures left and right. And yet, he still wants more. Hearing tales of the beauty of Burgundian princess Kriemhild, he vows to marry her. En route to Burgundy he incurs the wrath of the dwarf king, who promises Siegfried his vast treasure trove in exchange for not being slain, then gets slain anyway when he tries to kill Siegfried while Siegfried’s distracted by shiny things. As he dies the dwarf king curses his treasure to bring woe and death to whoever has it (this theme was emphasized more heavily by Wagner). Still, Siegfried gets a treasure (cursed or no) and the dwarf king’s magic veil that turns you into whatever you want, or invisible. It’s magic; it can do what it wants.

Siegfried shows up at the castle and declares his intent to the Burgundians. What a coincidence, he wants to marry the King’s sister, King Gunter wants to marry Brunhild, the Icelandic warrior queen whose hand must be won by beating her at three challenges, if you can even manage to get to her stone fortress in the middle of her fire field. Siegfried’s great at that stuff! So, off they go to win the queen. Brunhild is a clear favorite of mine and not just because of her amazing headgear:

Picture 2

 (SO RAD.)

…but also because she takes no guff. Her challenge is to THE DEATH, so if suitors show up they best come correct.  Unfortunately King Gunther’s as hard as Haagen Daas on a hot day, so he has Siegfried turn invisible and win the challenges for him. Brunhild rightly suspects foul play, but they’re already on the amazing swan-ship back to King Gunther’s court, so too late!

wedding inspo

 Siegfried and Kriemhild all lovey-dovey in amazing white tunics and zig-zag accessories.

A double-wedding takes place, but King Gunther’s having trouble in the bedroom. In that whenever he steps in his wife easily beats the crap out of him. He asks Siegfried if he could be a pal and beat Brunhild into submission. Siegfried dons the magic veil and, in the guise of the King subdues her, accidentally snagging her bracelet on his cloak in the process. Later, Kriemhild finds the bracelet and pops it on.
awesome necklace

 Plotting never looked so good. Check out that metal necklace.

Brunhild, still suspicious about the king and Siegfried, decides to pull rank at church. Donning the Queen’s Jewels (which, as new queen she has a right to wear) she marches in looking amaaaaaaaazing and blocks Kriemhild from going in before her since she thinks Siegfried’s just a lowly vassal. SHE IS QUEEEEEEEN!

amazing jewelry

BAM. Also: those earrings.

 Kriemhild’s not about to take this lying down; Siegfried’s got about 12 kingdoms at this point and no way this outlander’s going to push her around. Things reach a boiling point and then…Brunhild sees her bracelet on Kriemhild’s arm. ABSOLUTE PROOF it was Siegfried and not her husband who subdued her. Brunhild flips out and DEMANDS REVENGE. When her wuss of a husband’s all ‘eeeehhhh…’ she says Siegfried didn’t just subdue her, he deflowered her. Shit just got real.

 

queen rage This. Entire. Outfit.

Various shenanigans result in Siegfried getting killed by the King and his bird-hatted Man-At-Arms Hagen.

that hat

insert your own Freebird joke here.

A shocked vassal sees Siegfried’s body and runs to tell Kriemhild. She immediately realizes Hagen’s responsible and demands retribution.

gasp i look greatShocked…at how good-looking that tunic is?

Unfortunately Gunther decides now is the time for honor and defending friends, and refuses to turn Hagen over.  Brunhild laughingly telling the king she lied so he’d kill his best friend, then runs off to commit suicide next to Siegfried’s body. THAT IS WHAT YOU GET FOR MESSING WITH BRUNHILD. And that’s not even the worst of the womanly wrath in this tale, no.  Now it’s time for….KRIEMHILD’S REVENGE!

queen ice grill

YESSSS.

wedding inspo 1

The movie opens with Kriemhild mourning her husband’s death, spending all day looking absolutely fabulous in his tomb and giving away the Nibelungen treasure begging her people not to forget her husband was murdered by a man still walking free. Rightly angry her entire family’s defending her husband’s murderer, Kriemheld sees the perfect opportunity for revenge when Attila the Hun proposes to her. She says yes, on the condition he help her kill Hagen.

 wedding realness

Note she’s gone from white to black, from  simple, light, and open crown to a heavy, weighty chunk of metal. Even her braids are wrapped in black! Kriemhild is all set for VENGEANCE!

 

work it girlsLooking fabulous, ladies.

Her brother the King’s nervous about her impending nuptials, suspecting it probably has something to do with her blinding, all-consuming need for avenging her husband’s wrongful death. Kriemhild joins Attila in his distant kingdom, and so begins her long-term plan to exact revenge. Also look at that outfit. Damn right those two guys bow down to her.

damn right you bow before me

 

There’s plenty of plotting, planning, promises held to and broken, all leading to an epic, fiery vengeance in which none are spared, but LOOK AT THAT CROWN/NECKLACE. That thing must weigh 50lbs and looks absolutely worth the slipped discs!

queenly jewels

 

If you like Metropolis, or Lord of the Ring, I cannot recommend either movie enough. They’re lush, beautiful fantasies, with the latter a bitter meditation on vengeance destroying the avenger as well as their targets. Spectacle is showing both movies back to back in an operatic-style screening (with intermission) Sunday, July 28th. Read more about it here. 

 

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Reading deeper into Mixtec codices, I have come to the conclusion telenovas are the modern permutation of a remembered history. Far from an excuse for spandex-clad catfights, these over-the-top miniseries are the very lifeblood of the peoples’ past come to dramatic life!

Much as the rich and spoiled Thalia is overtaken by power-hungry scrapper Rosalinda, so do the Mixtec codices show the swift and violent rise to rule of Lord Eight Deer Jaguar Claw against the powerful Lady Six Monkey, ruler of Tilantongo and the lands north of Jaltepec. But I’ve gotten far ahead of myself.

Pohl, John M.D. (2002). The Legend of Lord Eight Deer: An Epic of Ancient Mexico. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-195-14019-2. OCLC 47054677 Pohl, John M.D. (2002). The Legend of Lord Eight Deer: An Epic of Ancient Mexico. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-195-14019-2. OCLC 47054677

Known amongst themselves as Ne’ivi Davi (which despite sounding like a certain tribe from ‘Avatar’ means “People of the Rain”), they were called Mixtec (itself a Nahuatl word meaning “cloud people”) by the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican neighbors. The name reflects their original settlements in the hilltops of Oaxaca, and while the Mixtecs spread to surrounding lands and grew in influence, they never united as one power, instead having several major cities controlled by dynastic families.

Here’s where the telenovas come in – to keep power balanced, the ruling families constantly intermarried to ensure their bloodlines remained in power without resorting to bloody slaughter. Unfortunately, this did not prevent bloody slaughter so much as heighten its gothic brutality, as nearly all rises to power now involved murdering immediate family members in bizarre, ritually acceptable ways. Here’s a brief summation of Lord Eight Deer’s conquering of major city Xipe’s Bundle:

In 1101 8 Deer finally conquered Xipe’s Bundle, killed his wife’s father and his stepsister’s husband 11 Wind and tortured and killed his brothers-in-law, except the youngest one by the name of 4 Wind. In 1115 4 Wind lead an alliance between different Mixtec kingdoms against 8 Deer who was taken prisoner and sacrificed by 4 Wind, his own nephew and brother-in-law.

That’s not even taking into account the ways he killed any of them, which included ‘gladiatorial sacrifice’ and ‘arrow sacrifice’. Oh look, there’s pictures!

From: Stories in red and black: pictorial histories of the Aztecs and Mixtecs  By Elizabeth Hill Boone
(click for a larger image.)

Mixtec codices differ from others in the more straightforward pictoral depiction of events (as opposed to relying on symbols or phonetic images), and their comic-book like division into panels (those vertical lines separating the scenes). Here’s a slightly more Frazetta-ed interpretation of things:
from http://www.crystalinks.com/mixtec.html
(While not explicitly Eight Deer, the fellow on the right sports his iconic jaguar headdress.)

The initial reason I even stumbled across the Mixtec people was due to their colorful naming – most royals were named after their day of birth, along with an attributive secondary name. Unlike their Aztec neighbors, with whom they shared an interlinked 360-day solar/260-day sacred calendar, the Mixtecs did not consider certain days inauspicious, and therefore unsuitable for naming. They also, unlike the Aztecs and us, moved the coefficient and day sign in parallel, resulting in a repeating series of coefficient/day names instead of our and the Aztecs month(coefficient)/day….different month/day loop. You can read all about it here, which I assure you is not as boring as my half-assed explanation makes it seem. This excerpt from Eight Deer’s life features (aside from royal incest and the aforementioned over-the-top drama) a wide assortment of Mixtec birthdate names:

Born on the Mixtec Calendar date from which he got his name, 8 Deer was the son of the high priest of Tilantongo 5 Crocodile “Sun of Rain”. His mother was Lady 9 Eagle “Cocoa-Flower”, queen of Tecamachalco. He also had a brother 12 Earthquake “Bloody Jaguar” and 9 Flower “Copalball with Arrow” who were both faithful war companions of 8 Deer.

He also had a half-sister 6 Lizard “Jade-Fan”. First the fiancee and lover of 8 Deer himself, she was finally married to 8 Deer’s archenemy 11 Wind “Bloody Jaguar”, the king of the city “Xipe’s Bundle”.

The FAMSI website has a fun* feature where you can figure out your own royal Mixtec name. Just go here, plug in your birthdate on the right, and the last sign listed in the Long Count is your name!

*’fun’ is here qualified as something someone who voluntarily trawled through multiple FAMSI pages would find enjoyable.

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Thomas Jefferson once said, “Determine never to be idle… It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.” Alexander Hamilton once said “Ugh, Jefferson. What a pompous ass.”* Just one of the many reasons Hamilton’s my boy; that and his kick-ass job as Secretary of the Treasury.

Crafting Season is in full swing- combine frantic knitting, sewing and whittling to finish gifts before the holiday deadline with work, shopping, holiday events and travel, plus the pesky need for sleep and food, and writing here quickly drops to the bottom of my priority list. Which is unfortunate, as for the first time this site is getting some love from other crafting sites and I hate to disappoint.

So, with a rare free day today (still a-crammed with doings), I decided to take care of now until the end of the year in one fell swoop using the beloved format of the Advent Calendar (at first it was going to run until the end of the Aztec calendar in 2012 but that seemed a bit rich). So even if I haven’t time to dig in and post, it won’t look like an abandoned Angelfire page about pretend cats around here. Nothing too fancy, just a little clip, song or image vaguely related (or not) to the holidays through to the New Year. Enjoy!

Click to see what’s behind the Green Door!

*and by ‘said’ I mean ‘liberally paraphrased’.

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Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd but always of proggy rock, has been working on a full-length opera about the French Revolution, as embodied by a 1920′s circus, called Ca-Ira. While it’s being performed live, the audience will only see the singing chorus. Photographer Mark Holthusen was commissioned to create 15 images to tell the story, which quickly grew into over 1000, and can be seen here. They’re all lovely, and occasionally surreal. You can see the rest of his equally enjoyable portfolio here.

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