Theater In The Mashup: Michael Bay’s Super Mario Armageddon At Bryant Lake Bowl

More evidence that the notion of the mashup is taking hold in the mainstream culture. The Bryant Lake Bowl is currently showing Michael Bay’s Super Mario Armageddon, a mashed up play featuring the video game sensibilities of Super Mario Bros depicted in the film direction style of Michael Bay.

Here’s Bryant Lake Bowl’s description: Action movies and video games collide in a mushroom cloud of funny! Imagine the biggest video game ever! As told by the biggest director ever!! In the biggest way ever!!! Now imagine all that squeezed onto a 9 x 22 foot stage in the back of a bowling alley.

Two more shows remain. [DETAILS.]

Super Mario Bros. Wii Preview

Found at YouTube from IGNentertainment.

Michael Bay Montage

Found at YouTube from TomasGolej.

4 Books I Just Bought, Can’t Wait To Read, But Probably Won’t Get Around To For Another Year

I just bought four books (actual, real books…not eBooks) and I’m pretty excited about diving into them but who the hell am I kidding? I’ve got seven books I’m currently reading, so it’s probably going to be next March by the time I get around to these four.

Anyway, these are the books that have just struck my fancy:

This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science Of A Human Obsession

I’ve been fascinated with the effect music has on us not just emotionally but physically as well since reading Music, The Brain and Ecstasy by Robert Jourdain, so it’s no surprise that This Is Your Brain On Music caught my eye.

From Publishers Weekly: Think of a song that resonates deep down in your being. Now imagine sitting down with someone who was there when the song was recorded and can tell you how that series of sounds was committed to tape, and who can also explain why that particular combination of rhythms, timbres and pitches has lodged in your memory, making your pulse race and your heart swell every time you hear it.

Remarkably, Levitin does all this and more, interrogating the basic nature of hearing and of music making, without losing an affectionate appreciation for the songs he’s reducing to neural impulses. Levitin is the ideal guide to this material: he enjoyed a successful career as a rock musician and studio producer before turning to cognitive neuroscience, earning a Ph.D. and becoming a top researcher into how our brains interpret music. Though the book starts off a little dryly (the first chapter is a crash course in music theory), Levitin’s snappy prose and relaxed style quickly win one over and will leave readers thinking about the contents of their iPods in an entirely new way.

The Artist, The Philosopher, and The Warrior

Now to the history books, starting with Italy, one of my favorite places. The top of the cover of The Artist, The Philosopher, and The Warrior cites “Da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia and the world they shaped.” That was enough to sell me this book.

If you subscribe to the theory that great individuals shape history, the Leonardo Da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli and Cesare Borgia are certainly three prime candidates for the shaping of the Italy of the Renaissance period and of Western civilization.

Amazon’s book description: The Renaissance was a child of many fathers–none more important than the three iconic figures whose intersecting lives provide the basis for this astonishing work of narrative history: Leonardo Da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli and Cesar Borgia. Each could not have been more different. They would meet only for a short time in 1502 but the events that transpired, would significantly alter their perceptions–and the course of Western history.

In 1502, Italy was riven by conflict, with the city of Florence as the ultimate prize. Machiavelli, the consummate political manipulator, attempted to placate the savage Borgia by volunteering the services of Da Vinci as Borgia’s chief military engineer. That autumn, the three men embarked together on a brief, perilous, and fateful journey through the mountains, remote villages and hill towns of the Italian Romagna–the details of which were revealed in Machiavelli’s often-daily dispatches and Da Vinci’s meticulous notebooks.

In a book that is at once a gripping adventure story and a trenchant analysis of how men make history, The Artist, the Philosopher and the Warrior limns each man’s personality, their interactions, and the forces that shaped their world. Superbly written, meticulously researched, here is a work of narrative genius–whose subject is the very nature of genius itself.

The American Civil War: A Military History

I’ve been looking for a concise history of the American Civil War for years so when I saw The American Civil War with John Keegan, one of the foremost military historians, as the author, I had to buy it.

From Publishers Weekly: American scholars tend to write the Civil War as a great national epic, but Keegan, an Englishman with a matchless knowledge of comparative military history, approaches it as a choice specimen with fascinating oddities. His more thematic treatment has its shortcomings—his campaign and battle narratives can be cursory and ill-paced—but it pays off in far-ranging discussions of broader features: the North’s strategic challenge in trying to subdue a vast Confederacy ringed by formidable natural obstacles and lacking in significant military targets; the importance of generalship; the unusual frequency of bloody yet indecisive battles; and the fierceness with which soldiers fought their countrymen for largely ideological motives.

Keegan soars above the conflict to delineate its contours, occasionally swooping low to expand on a telling detail or a moment of valor or pathos. Some of his thoughts, as on the unique femininity of Southern women and how the Civil War stymied socialism in America, are less than cogent. Still, Keegan’s elegant prose and breadth of learning make this a stimulating, if idiosyncratic, interpretation of the war.

Revolutionary Deists: Early America’s Rational Infidels

The title Revolutionary Deists simply struck me as ammunition against the rewriting of our history as embodied in the belligerent idiocy of the Tea Party.

Amazon description: For some eighty-five years–between, roughly, 1725 and 1810–the American colonies were agitated by what can only be described as a revolutionary movement. This was not the well-known political revolution that culminated in the War of Independence, but a revolution in religious and ethical thought. Its proponents called their radical viewpoint “deism.” They challenged Christian orthodoxy and instead endorsed a belief system that celebrated the power of human reason and saw nature as God’s handiwork and the only revelation of divine will.

In this illuminating discussion of American deism, philosopher Kerry Walters presents an overview of the main tenets of deism, showing how its influence rose swiftly and for a time became a highly controversial subject of debate in the colonies.

The deists were students of the Enlightenment and took a keen interest in the scientific study of nature. They were thus critical of orthodox Christianity for its superstitious belief in miracles, persecution of dissent, and suppression of independent thought and expression.

At the heart of his book are profiles of six “rational infidels,” most of whom are quite familiar to Americans as founding fathers or colonial patriots: Benjamin Franklin (the ambivalent deist), Thomas Jefferson (a critic of Christian supernaturalism but an admirer of its ethics), Ethan Allen (the rough-edged “frontier deist”), Thomas Paine (the arch iconoclast and author of The Age of Reason), Elihu Palmer (the tireless crusader for deism and perhaps its most influential proponent), and Philip Freneau (a poet whose popular verses combined deism with early romanticism).

This is a fascinating study of America’s first culture war, one that in many ways has continued to this day.

Minneapolis Institute Of Arts Exhibit: Titian & The Golden Age of Venetian Painting

Titian is one of my favorite painters from one of my favorite periods of art, the Italian Renaissance. The exhibition comes courtesy of the Masterpieces collection from the National Galleries of Scotland. I’ve already got my tickets. The exhibition runs now through May 1. [DETAILS.]

Exhibit Description: Catch this rare opportunity to see the cream of the Venetian paintings collection of the National Galleries of Scotland, here for the first time ever. Two ravishing pendants by Titian, Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto, make this a must-see for painting lovers.

Commentary on Diana and Actaeon by Curator David Brenneman:

Found at YouTube from HighMuseum.

Commentary on Diana and Callisto by Curator David Brenneman:

Found at YouTube from HighMuseum.

Understanding Art Through Budapest Fine Arts Museum: Part I : Understanding Art: Style of Titian

Found at YouTube from expertvillage.

Twin Cities Bicycling Up 33%

Twin Cities bicycling increased by 33 percent and walking increased 17 percent between 2007 to 2010, according to new data released by Bike Walk Twin Cities (BWTC), a program of Transit for Livable Communities.

These are the High Volume Increase areas:

High Volume Twin Cities Bicycle Ridership Increases

The BWTC report is based on an official count of bicyclists and pedestrians passing designated locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul in fall 2010 and comparing this data with an identical count in fall 2007. [DETAILS.]

St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Performs Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony

St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Performs Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra will perform Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony from March 17 to March 19 at The Ordway Center. [DETAILS.]

Scottish Symphony (Mendelssohn) First Movement Part 1

Found at YouTube from achimholub.

Scottish Symphony (Mendelssohn) First Movement Part 2

Found at YouTube from achimholub.

Scottish Symphony (Mendelssohn) First Movement Part 3

Found at YouTube from achimholub.

Scottish Symphony (Mendelssohn) Second Movement

Found at YouTube from achimholub.

Scottish Symphony (Mendelssohn) Third Movement

Found at YouTube from achimholub.

Scottish Symphony (Mendelssohn) Fourth Movement Part 1

Found at YouTube from achimholub.

Scottish Symphony (Mendelssohn) Fourth Movement Part 2

Found at YouTube from achimholub.

Hamlet In The Round

Hamlet In The Round

The Theater In The Round performs William Shakespeare’s Hamlet from March 18 to April 17. One of the most powerful and influential tragedies in the English language returns to the arena. The royal court is overwhelmed by grief, haunting, real and feigned madness, violence and treachery as its Prince seeks revenge for a murdered father. [DETAILS.] Found at YouTube from kynnusk.