Friday, February 26, 2016

Your Momma's a Glittering Generality!

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K. 
Trust No One!
So, are you convinced that it's all propaganda now? THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!
I don't think you need to worry about that right now, but it is illuminating to see the various techniques that were and are so readily used to manipulate our malleable little minds. Speaking of propaganda techniques, here is the single greatest use of "tugging at the heart strings" you will ever see! Remember, this is a commercial for a GERMAN SUPERMARKET!
What. The. Heck.
Seriously, I can't even.

Poster Power
The instructions for the Propaganda Poster assignment are on the website. If you have the right attitude, this should actually be a fun assignment for you. Remember, don't worry about the "art", worry about the message. Is the message clear? Is the perspective evident? Is the technique easy to identify? These are your guiding questions. Good luck and we cannot wait to be manipulated.

WWII Movies prt. 2
Yesterday, I shared some excellent WWII movies set in the European theater. Now, we'll head west to the Pacific. Some of my favorites:
1. Empire of the Sun - this is actually one of my favorite movies ever regardless of subject matter. A young British boy is separated from his parents as they flee Hong Kong before the Japanese take over. You might recognize the young boy... it is truly a triumphant film.
2. The Bridge over the River Kwai - British soldiers in a Japanese POW camp. Made Alec Guinness (the first Obi-Wan) a star and will have a whistle tune stuck in your head for weeks.
3. The Thin Red Line - truly capturing the psychological effects of war; really stream of consciousness filmmaking.
4. Letters from Iwo Jima/Flags of our Fathers - these movies tell the story of the war in the Pacific from the point of view of the Americans AND the Japanese.
5. Midway - epic filmmaking at its finest; captures the drama of the battle that turned the tide in the Pacific.
6. The First 20 Minutes of Pearl Harbor - turn it off after the attack... please... turn it off after that.
7. Tora! Tora! Tora! - explosions are cool
8. From Here to Eternity - not exactly a war movie, but it has Frank Sinatra doing some darn fine acting, so it's worth it.

Final Selection for Historical Soundtrack Week
I think we'll go out with a big heaping helping of Cold War drama. This song actually came out when I was in high school. Sting was trying to keep us all from being blown up in a nuclear holocaust. I appreciate that about him. Here is Sting with "Russians":

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Maginot Line? More like "Starting Line!" Amiright?? Hello...

First things first...

Take a look at this??!! I want one of these ASAP. Man, can you imagine if we'd had a few of these bad boys in WWII? Thing would have been over in 10 minutes. There would have two sounds... first, the sound of our quietly marching robot army; second, the sound of the Germans and Japanese pooping themselves. GAME OVER.

So, Iron Man II is pretty much a documentary now, huh? Was anyone else mad when the dude was screwing with the robot and knocking the stuff out of his hands? I felt bad for the non-sentient machine.

Back to the war
Hopefully you wrapped up the European war (or came close) in your classes today. Tomorrow we're going to look at the role that propaganda played in the war. Next week, the Pacific theater and the consequences of the war.
My daughters would be fine if I took spider extraction at our house to this level,
How about a movie?
You've probably heard your teachers mention about dozen different movies over the last few days. WWII has provided us with some true classics of cinema. So, I thought I'd dedicate today's blog to movies set in the European theater that you definitely need to add to your Netflix que. Not all of these are PG or such, so watch with care. Also, these are not ranked in any particular order.
1. The Dirty Dozen - one of my favorite movies of all time.
2. Saving Private Ryan - the gold standard for the realistic depiction of war and its consequences.
3. Enemy at the Gates - the battle of Stalingrad from the point of view of the Russians.
4. Victory - WWII + soccer = awesome
5. The Inglorious Bastards - Tarantino doing his thing on WWII. DO NOT watch until you are much, much older. 
6. Downfall - a German film looking at the last few days of Hitler. Brilliant acting and incredible tension.
7. The Pianist - the Jewish ghetto seen from the inside by a classical pianist hiding from the Nazis. Beautifully tragic filmmaking. 
8. The Great Escape - two words: Steve McQueen
9. Das Boot - German film set in a u-boat - the diving scene is almost too much to deal with.
10. The Big Red One - this one really covers the ENTIRE European theater; one of my dad's favorites.
11. Life is Beautiful - Italian winner of the best foreign film Academy award; to find humor and humanity in a concentration camp is beyond inspiring to watch.
12. Schindler's List - a transformative movie experience; poetic filmmaking
13. Casablanca - okay this one's a bit of a stretch... WWII is the backdrop and teh force that moves the characters through the story, but it isn't crucial to the overall plot. But, any excuse to watch what many believe to be one of the best movies ever made is a good one.
14. Valkyrie - a plot to assassinate Hitler goes awry.
15. Patton - the larger than life U.S. general is brought to life by George C. Scott in a role he won an Oscar for.

Historical playlist week rolls on...
Today. I think we'll stay in European history but move to the Iberian peninsula. Who would have ever thought that a bunch of British punk rockers would make such an amazing song about the Spanish Civil War? This is from The Clash's seminal album London Calling. If you don't own this album, don't ever speak to me. It is mandatory for anyone who claims to love music. Here's "Spanish Bombs":

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Nazis and Fascists and Poland... oh my!

I have no idea why this exists, but it's a manatee extolling fascism, so it pretty much has to be on our blog, yes? 
It's a little more complicated than Call of Duty, eh? 
So, we're knee deep in the war now. Pretty heady stuff. To quote the immortal Ron Burgundy "That escalated quickly!" All Germany does is cross one or two little lines on a map and all hell breaks loose. Stupid Hitler.
We're covering a lot of ground very quickly here, as is our nature in the world of WHAP, but we know that many of you find this time in history pretty darn fascinating. The period leading up to WWII and the fighting itself is a subject that really captures people's imaginations. What's even crazier is that we have not even made it to the Pacific theater yet. From an American point of view, the Pacific front was far, far deadlier than Europe.
As we continue on, remember to not oversimplify the causes of the war. It wasn't as simple as Hitler rolling a few tanks into Czechoslovakia. There were myriad decisions before that event that lead to the path to war. Cries against Chamberlain's appeasement policies are still invoked to this day as one of the dumbest decisions ever made.

If you are interested in learning more about America's involvement in the war and going to an OUTSTANDING museum experience, you have to check out the National WWII museum in New Orleans. Here's a link. This place is fantastic. You will learn a ton and it is super interactive. Obviously, this would be a stellar Humanities Experience. For all you writers out there, here is a link to a national essay contest that the museum is sponsoring: essay
The essay topic is outstanding... you are responding to a letter written by an African-American solider asking if he should fight given that his country really only thinks of him as "half a man". First prize is $1000! Plus, no matter what, entering a national essay contest always looks groovy on the ol' college application.

Mandatory WWII memes:

Historical soundtrack playlist week continues!
I am sorry I forgot to post yesterday. I am going to blame it on all the meds I'm on for this plague like illness I somehow contracted. So, since I dropped the ball, I owe TWO SONGS TODAY!
First up, a bit of a downer song. Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer". Not too hard figure out, but this song uses the voyage of Cortez as a metaphor for western exploitation of indigenous populations. It is a powerful, powerful song that has been covered by tons of artists including the Dave Matthews Band and Florence and the Machine.

Our second song is not that much more cheery, but it is much more uplifting. This is "Biko" by Peter Gabriel. It tells the story of Steven Biko who was imprisoned, tortured and killed for opposing the racist Apartheid government of South Africa (we'll talk more about this later this semester). Again, very powerful, very moving. As you'll see from the video, they later made a film of Biko's life starring Garafola's favorite actor, Denzel Washington. I recommend that film as well.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Let's Ra Ra Riot for Ra Ra Rasputin!

Yeah... I can totally see why chicks were into this guy. He's not creepy at all. 
Boney M's Moment in the Sun
So, have you got that song out of your head yet? Me neither... just so lucky to have had a chance to listen to it FIVE TIMES TODAY. You just don't get enough European History-centric pop tunes these days. I think there's a niche that needs to be filled.
Boney M and his lovely ladies actually had a pretty solid career if you take a little time to look them up. They were really a reggae act. To perhaps give them a bit more credibility, here's a pretty solid little reggae/disco/pop song that did well for them:

That Revolution got me like...
I know that today we zipped pretty darn quick through what is one of the more confusing and trainwrecky style revolutions you're ever going to run across. One of the cardinal rules of history... if the Russians are involved, things are going to go off the rails. No one does crazy like Russia does crazy.
Damn! Lenin throwing shade even from the after life!
Don't worry if you are left wanting more from our frozen comrades up north. We'll be back with them in no time. We've got another world war to fight, some under the radar genocide to catch up on, and the glory that is a decades long Cold War that caused Mr. Stanton to have many, many post-nuclear annihilation nightmares as a child. Fun, fun, fun!

This week's soundtrack... historical reference songs!
Boom! That's right! In honor of Boney M and whatever the heck that Genghis Khan song from last year is, I think we'll look at some of the amazing tunes that use the rich material of world history for subject matter. 
First up is a band that I've worshiped since I was a kid. I think as a white, nerdy boy growing up in a suburb, I was pretty much required by law to love the Canadian band Rush. Regardless, I did and still do. I spent more time than I care to admit air guitaring and air drumming to these guys in my bedroom as a youth. Good times! This song is about the creation of the atom bomb. I give you "Manhattan Project" by Rush:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The creepy clowns shall haunt my dreams

By now you should've heard the words and phrases disillusionment, unconscious, and stream of consciousness several times in class. These were all characteristics defining the Age of Anxiety.  It's like they knew that even though things weren't going well, they were only going to get worse.

"Twentieth century man is a political neurotic because he has no answer to the question of the meaning of life, because socially and metaphysically he does not know where he belongs.”
- Arthur Koestler, 1955
“It is generally accepted that the Great War and its fifty-two months of senseless slaughter encouraged, or amplified, among other things: the loss of belief in progress, a mistrust of technology, the loss of religious faith, the loss of a belief in Western cultural superiority, the rejection of class distinctions, the rejection of traditional sexual roles, the birth of the Modern (in art), the rejection of the past, the elevation of irony to a standard mode of apprehending the world, the unbuttoning of moral codes, and the conscious embrace of the irrational.”
- Stephen O’Shea, 1997

Today we studied the beginnings of modern music. So much like our visual artists and writers, our composers also sought to push the envelope and break away from tradition. This led to the development of new musical techniques - atonality, twelve-tone, and sprechstimme. Two of the greats were the Austrian composer, Arnold Schoenberg and his Russian frenemy, Igor Stravinsky.

Fun fact: Igor Stravinsky was studying law until his university closed temporarily after Bloody Sunday in 1905 *wink*AP Euro students *wink*, so he couldn't finish his degree and instead focused on his real passion - music

If you're still trying to shake off the creepy clowns from the Pierrot Lunaire video in class today, here's a more romanticized piece by Shoenberg, Transfigured Night.  You may like it better. 

  • Help donate rice to those in need by answering trivia
  • Want to learn something useful? Try these random facts
  • Make sand art

For the lols

No TBT picture for y'all this week, but here's a throwback to some old Beyonce:

- Warrior Princess Siddiqui

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

If I were a cockroach...

If our visual artists sought to tap into the unconscious for inspiration, our interwar period writers, or Literary Modernists, would be no different.  Lots of introspection, self-reflection, and ALL THE FEELZ.

Some words from the greats:
"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot
"If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people." - Virginia Woolf
 "One advantage in keeping a diary is that you become aware with reassuring clarity of the changes which you constantly suffer." - Franz Kafka
Writers like Joyce and Woolf employed the use of stream of consciousness -  the continuous depiction of a character's thoughts and reactions. This level of depth into a character's thoughts allows the narrative to move in directions that was previously unheard of.  Characters can suddenly be transported back in time as they reflect on past memories or they can envision what their future holds. Today we not only see this device used in contemporary literature, but music as well - especially hip hop and rap.

Franz Kafka's dark writing style, known as kafkaesque (the depiction of bizarre, nightmarish, hopeless situations that characters find themselves in) challenged the traditional novel and captured the sense of despair and disillusionment after the Great War.  One of Kafka's best examples of this was his famous work, Metamorphosis,  the 1915 novel about a man who finds himself transformed into a bug, rejected by his loved ones.

Don't forget - the last CE of the six-weeks is tomorrow! Even if you've maxed out, I suggest you read it since it discusses an important issue - the next Supreme Court justice. 

Finished with your WHAP reading? Don't have to read the CE? Bored? Here are some ideas:
  • Create Jackson Pollock-esque art!
  • OR create a Mr. Picasso Head
  • Make a digital band 
  • How fast can you read
  • Travel through a surreal experience
  • Check out Ok Go's newest music video below
  • Try a new view of Google

And now, for some Internet Funnies. 

- Warrior Princess Siddiqui

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Who wants a stuffed ocelot?

We hope everyone had a lovely three day weekend.  I know we often gripe and complain that these extra days "off" are usually used for school work, but I'm sure it's nice to have an extra day to catch up on school work without, you know, school itself getting in the way.

Ah, Surrealism, you cheeky art movement! As Europe struggles to bury its dead, so too do they put away their traditional art.  The rattling machine gun fire and whistling artillery shells left humankind with one question - What have reason and rationality done to us?

Our Surrealists sought to capture the unconscious, an idea brought to light by the psychologist, Sigmund Freud, with their dreamlike paintings. What's wrong with painting a human face over a bowl of fruit set in front of the landscape of a mountain that is actually a dog? Nothing, is what the Surrealists would say. Of course, the man of the hour is the great Salvador Dali who basked in his weirdness.

"Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure - that of being Salvador Dali." - Saldvador Dali
"There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad." - Salvador Dali
Interview with Salvador Dali in 1965

Your homework for the week includes reading pages out of your WHAP textbook about the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Great Depression, and the rise of totalitarianism in Europe.  Consult your calendar for the pages.  This needs to be completed by next Monday, February 22.

Hopefully you got a Humanities Experience in today if you needed one! Anything H.E. related from this point forward will count for the 5th six-weeks.

And now, for some Internet funnies.

Friday, February 12, 2016

"Everything is a miracle. It is a miracle that one does not dissolve in one's bath like a lump of sugar. ” - Pablo Picasso


Today we discussed one of my favorite artists ever, Pablo Picasso (if you are keeping track at home, the top 4 of my top 5 have now been discussed: Caravaggio, Picasso, Goya, Bernini). While we tend to just think of Picasso as a Cubist (which is super important since he and the oft-forgot Georges Braque invented the movement), but Picasso is a painter whose work spans generations and movements and is a true work of genius. I've always been particularly fond of his blue period, and in the interest of full disclosure, seeing Guernica in person made me weep like a big ole baby. I highly suggest seeking it out if you're ever in Madrid.

All geniuses love cats, duh
Poecasso // Edgar Allen Poe Picasso pun art print by punsintended:
three of my favorite things: Edgar Allen Poe, Pablo Picasso, and puns

Soon we will also look at some literature that is inspired by the ideas/things/creativity driving Picasso and others working at the same time. Just as art has been doing its own thing, so has literature...prepare yourself for some stream of consciousness! 

NO SCHOOL MONDAY! It's President's Day, which is a holiday for you fools. Don't rub it in too much, we have to work. 

On Tuesday, it's back to the grind; we are jumping straight back into art with pages 567-69 out of the humanities book due. It's about to get surreal up in here. Oh Dali. 

On Tuesday, your humanities experience is also due, so make sure it's turned in and ready to go by the beginning of class! Also, next Friday (2/19) is the LAST DAY of the six weeks. Many of you have reading checks, TFA quizzes, and essays to make up....GET ON IT! YOU ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

Today's civil rights activist/artist for the day for black history month is Yvette Marie Stevens, more commonly known by the name she received from the Black Panthers and which she used as a performer, Chaka Khan. 

Chaka Khan was born in the Chicago area. In the late 1960's, Khan attended several civil rights rallies with her father's second wife, Connie, a strong supporter of the movement, and joined the Black Panther Party in 1967. While a member, she was given a name change to Chaka Adunne Aduffe Hodarhi Karifi by an African shaman. In 1969, she left the Panthers and began to perform in small groups around the Chicago are with a group called Lyfe, which included her future husband Hassan Khan. 

In 1978, Khan released her first solo album entitled Chaka and included I'm Every Woman, which is considered to be her signature song. Khan struck platinum again with the first single and title track of her 1984 I Feel for You album. In 2011, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

And finally, social media to follow today. 

Check out @meredithtoreing on instagram. She is the international director of the Morning Star Project, which raises money and pays for live saving heart surgeries for babies in China and Africa. She lives/works in China and posts 10000000 adorable baby pictures, plus this is an excellent charity if you have some money to burn. :)

And finally, enjoy your Valentine's Day this weekend. Wear all the pink and tell someone you love them. 
- cbg out

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Yams for Days


We very much enjoyed your projects! Today, I saw some beautiful art, some MASSIVE villages, some wear-able masks, and ate a lot of yams, and for that I thank you. We've finally wrapped up Things Fall Apart and what a journey it's been (this feels like I'm writing a yearbook note to the novel), but we are ready to move forward into the art and literature of the crazy crazy 20th century.


Since we didn't have time today, we will discuss your humanities reading tomorrow, and CHECK YOUR CALENDAR, you have another little batch of pages discussing surrealism for Tuesday. What else is due on Tuesday...YOU GUESSED IT, humanities experience, so take your mom out for a nice Valentine's day trip to the museum and drop a sad sad reading check grade.

a preview of the crazy to come
So what happened on this illustrious day, Feb. 11, in history?!
  • 1809: Robert Fulton patented the steamboat. 
  • 1929: Lateran Treaty was signed with Italy recognizing the independence and sovereignty of Vatican City. You know what this means....more Pope memes. 
  • 1945: Yalta Agreement signed by President Franklin Roosevelt (#1 president on Garafola's list), British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Preimer Josef Stalin during WWII; it was an agreement on what to demand of Germany and some logistics for after the war. 
  • 1979: Ayatollah Khomeini's followers seized control of the Iran government. 

  • 1990: South African resistance leader, Nelson Mandela was released from prison after more than 27 years. 

  • 2012: Pop star Whitney Houston died at the Beverly Hilton hotel in LA, the night before the Grammys. Fun fact, the soundtrack to The Bodyguard, was the biggest seller in the 1990's. 

Your Civil Rights Activist for today is Ida B. Wells

Ms. Wells was an African-American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, and an early leader in the Civil Rights Movement, working in the late 1800's and early 1900's. She documented lynching in the US, showing that it was often used as a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites, rather than being based on criminal acts by blacks, as was usually claimed by white mobs. 

She was also active in women's rights and the women's suffrage movement, establishing several women's organizations. She was known throughout the world and helped temper some of the lynching in the American South.

And finally your social media to follow today is....

@basicbrunches on instagram. This blogger eats her way through Dallas (and occasionally other places), so if YOU LOVE FOOD, like me, check it. Also, for full disclosure, she is a friend of mine :)

Enjoy, ignore any mentions of mimosas. 

- cbg

#tbt to last year when I went to a Moby Dick party with one of the AMSTUD teachers....enjoy