The Grandeur of Roman Amphitheaters

Colosseum-interior.01I was browsing through Blake Shelton concert tour schedule and saw that he’s going to perform at Austin360 Amphitheatre on June this year. What a lovely word, “amphitheater”. It sounds so ancient and mysterious. It got me wondering about the very first Amphitheatre in the world.

While there are no certain records of the very first amphitheater, it is certain that the tradition of building these open-air venues to host entertainment events started in ancient Rome. Who among those who watched The Gladiator will ever forget how majestic those circular structures seemed? Pliny the Elder, an ancient historian, claimed that the amphitheater was constructed in the era of Gaius Scribonius Curio in 52 BC. This early form of amphitheater consisted of two wooden semicircular theaters faced toward each other to form one large circular theater.

Jean-Claude Golvin states that the earliest stone amphitheaters, built towards the end of the second century BC, are in Campania, Capua, Cumae and Liternum. The next oldest amphitheater is the Theater of Pompey, built after 70 BC. It was dedicated by Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar’s rival. It was a gigantic structure, capable of holding 20,000 spectators. It was meant as a victory monument to celebrate Pompey’s military victories.

Activities in the Amphitheaters

Ancient Romans loved entertainment so much that they built enormous buildings for this sole purpose. They held religious rites in the amphitheaters, and also stage plays, athletic competitions, chariot races, gladiatorial combats, and other wild beast shows. These events are hosted by sociopolitical elites to promote themselves and their authority over the land.

Gladiatorial combats are the main events in amphitheaters, no questions asked. Ancient scholars record that gladiatorial combats were first introduced to Rome in 264 B.C during the funeral for an elite person named D. Iunius Brutus Pera. Since then, gladiatorial combats were regularly held during state-sponsored festivals (ludi). It has been a popular route for emperors and leaders to gain public favor.

Since the fall of Rome, the wonders of amphitheaters spread throughout the world. Amphitheaters are scattered throughout the United States of America, Europe, and even Asia. As other ancient Roman culture, the art of building amphitheaters is not to be lost any time soon.

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The Origins of Country Music

justin-moore2-600We’re all fond of the charming beat and groove of country music. When we hear it we’re reminded of old times when happy people in a happy neighborhood sat back in relaxed contentment. We visualize a stately man with his cowboy boots and hat, strumming away with his guitar.

Where It All Started

Country music in its earliest form first materialized in the folk culture of the British Isles. As immigrants and African slaves came, the elements of the British fiddles mixed with gospel hymns and ethnic sounds. These reached the Southern Appalachian region and were widely played with fiddles and homemade banjos since then.

The 1920s saw the spread of country music throughout America. The first ever radio performance of country musicians aired in 1922. In the same year, Victor Records released the first commercial country record by Eck Robertson. The first national country hit, the “Wreck of the Old ‘97” by Vernon Dalhart, stunned America in 1924.

The 1930s was a difficult time for America. With the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, country music was an escape into the good old Wild West. World War II turned things for the worse and people of the America needed the country music’s comfort all the more.

In 1927, Victor Records signed what turned out to be the two most influential country acts ever – Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family. This era marked the permanent entrenchment of country music as one of the most loved music genre.

Jimmie Rodgers is widely referred as the “Father of Country Music”, bets remembered by his million-selling hit “Blue Yodel #1”. The Carter Family was the first country music group, composed of A.P. Carter, his wife Sara Doughtery Carter, and his sister-in-law Maybelle Addington Carter. Their hits “Keep on the Sunny Side” and “Wildwood Flower” are still listened by many up to this day.

Modern Innovations

Since its early formative years, country music evolved into a genre with influences from jazz and blues and sounds of modern instruments like electric guitars. What remains is the laid-back and relaxing feel. With acts like country singer Justin Moore and the likes, country music definitely has a long way to go.

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Political Unrest in Thailand: A History that Repeats Over and Over

The political situation in Thailand is all over the news since last year. The clamor to oust the current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is too strong. Demonstrations have been carried out all over the country’s capital for several months already. Even in the Southern part of Thailand, people also shout the same. Will they be successful in removing Yingluck from office?

thailandHistory can attest just how powerful the voice of the people is in Thailand. In fact, mass protests have led to coup attempts for several times throughout the entire history. The latest one was the removal of Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin, who reigned in Thailand for a very long time. After protests to oust him for human rights violation and corruption, he fled to another country and sought for political asylum. After many years of being out from the office, Thaksin is still in power through his sister who is currently in position. This is with the strong backing from the Northern part of Thailand. With Thaksin’s populist policies, he was able to garner the support of the majority.

The Future of Thailand

Recently, Yingluck decided to dissolve the parliament and called for an election. As expected, she will win the election. Thus, the protesters tried to nullify the said results and create a separate People’s Council which is unelected. The opposition led by Suthep Thaugsuban won’t settle for negotiations. He vowed to continue the campaign until the Shinawatras are out of power. Will they succeed?

Looking at how things are right now, the future is bleak for the opposition. The power of the majority is too strong that they even threatened to go to Bangkok and launch a counter-protest in support of Yingluck. However, Yingluck is also endangered of being barred from holding a public office if accusations of corruption will be proven true. This is the only hope for the opposition. Otherwise, they have to accept the reality that the country’s majority is still in favor of Yingluck.

On a lighter note, you can check out Daniel Tosh Comedy Tour 2015 and stop feeling bad about politics.

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Living in the 90s

The internet was born at an unknown year since it was developed for many decades. The research started during the 1960s and by mid 1980s the internet we know today came to be. The effect of internet and the World Wide Web cannot be measured by any tool. Its impact encompasses distance, time, race, and almost everything else. If someone from the future, probably 20 years from now, would visit the year 1990 they would not have understood what happened and how people lived.

A Look Back at the 90s

90sToday, the 90s kids are very much proud of the things that they have experienced without technology. They are very fortunate to experience the simple and old lifestyle and also the perks of emerging technology. They did not have to live in total darkness since they already had electricity but they still had personal relationships with family and friends since e-mails and cellular phones were rare.

During the period 1990-1995, people would still flock to their neighbour’s house to watch television. The most commonly watched were Power Rangers, The Mutant Ninja Turtles, Marvel and DC superheroes and the original Transformers. Comic books were also famous then, they were not collectibles but they were widely bought since children love to read them. During constant black-outs, parents or older children share stories with the younger ones in order to entertain them. If you remembered someone’s birthday, you have to remember them a month before since you need to send a card beforehand. Parents were also quite strict with their children going out at night. It is not a common sight for teenagers to be seen outside their homes when the streetlights light. Watching a concert would mean that you have to actually enjoy it and not hold smartphones or tablets up and taking videos of the concert itself. When ordering imagine dragons tour tickets you must do it face to face with a cashier or over the telephone and not over the internet.

This period is where people still enjoyed little technology but did not depend their lives on it. When there was a television in the living room, children or adults did not watch it 24/7, instead they also devote their time to reading books, playing outside and chatting with neighbours. How do I know all these? I’m also a 90s kid.

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Understanding the –Isms of Modern Art

modern-art800The “modern” in Modern Art is not a generic term synonymous to present-day, current or contemporary. Rather, it refers to innovation and the experimentation of novel ideas thus marking a break from the restrictions of tradition. The period that is considered to be that of modern art is from the 1860s to the 1970s, give or take a few years or decade depending on varying sources. There is no one right or wrong source. Art after all is relative and emotional, unlike science which is objective and absolute.

How Modern Art Began

Before artists broke out of their mold to create the modern art movement, artwork was done upon orders of the church or their wealthy benefactors. Understandably, these were of a religious nature and their goal was to educate people. Modern paintings appeared first in the 1860s, followed by such as sculptures, architecture, prints, photography and other forms. For this article, we shall focus on the modern paintings.

Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne and Paul Gauguin are widely regarded as the pioneers of modern art. Other art historians would include Georges Seurat and Henri de Toulouse Lautrec. In the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp were among the more well-known names in modern painting. Pop art in the 1950s became popular largely due to the likes of Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg.

Because modern art encompassed 90 to 110 years, several styles and movements arose. Artists were defined by the movement they engaged in, although they are not limited to one style alone. The pioneers Van Gogh, Cezanne and Gauguin were Post-Impressionist artists while Matisse leaned towards Fauvism and Picasso focused on Cubism.

Owing to the span of time that modern art covered, numerous painters and movements belong to this era and even then, historians do not share a common mind of all the movements. Here is an overview of the styles, their defining features and the artists that belong to each movement. Consistent with the nature of art itself, chroniclers and historians differ in their views of issues, but for the sake of enriching knowledge, these differences should not be a hindrance to learning more about modern art.

Impressionism ca. 1870 – 1905

Believed by some to be the origin of modern art painting, a group of artists in Paris defied state controlled exhibitions, or salons, and the strict adherence to techniques and subject matter as dictated by the French government. Impressionist painting aimed to catch the fleeting effects of a subject matter through sketch-like brush strokes and a palette of vibrant colors to depict light and movement. They often painted in plain air when the norms at that time dictated painting in a studio.

The painters of this movement were rebuffed by the traditional salons. To counter this refusal, they formed their own exhibit to show their artwork to the public. Most notable Impressionists are Camille Pissarro (1831-1903), Edouard Manet (1832 – 1883), Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Alfred Sisley (1839-99), Claude Monet (1840-1926), Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), and Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901.)

Post-Impressionism early 1880s – mid 1910s

In the 1880s, a few artists went beyond the focus on the optical effects of Impressionism and wanted to show the emotional and structural aspects of elements. Aside from further intensifying the already strong colors of Impressionism, there is no central feature of Post-Impressionism. The artists in this movement had their unique styles and techniques for painting. Vincent Van Gogh had emphasis on the emotional content; his style is called Expressionism. Paul Gauguin evolved into Cloisonnism or Synthecism, using flat areas of colors and bold outlines, and Georges Seurat painted in small dots of pure color to create an image, a style known as Pointillism. It was Post-Impressionist Paul Cezanne who created the link between Impressionism and Cubism. He used geometry to paint landscape, saying nature is made up of the cylinder, the sphere and the cone.

Other notable Post-Impressionists are the Frenchman Henri Rousseau, the Les Nabis group, Norwegian Edward Munch and Belgian James Ensor, to name some.

Fauvism 1898 -1910

Henri Matisse is the founder of Fauvism, and along with Andre Derain, his fellow Frenchman, headed a group of painters who called themselves Les Fauves, or The Wild Beasts. They broke away from the confines of Impressionism to farm this avant-garde movement. Their key technique is in using highly simplified sketches and painting with pure and unmixed colors, then exaggerating the effect by applying the paint in thick splashes and smears.

Other Fauvists are Albert Marquet, Dutch Kees van Dongen, Henri-C harles Manguin, Othon Friesz, Georges Roualt, Belgian Henri Evenepoel, Mauric Marinot, Jean Puy, Maurice de Vlaminck, Charles Camoin, Raoul Dufy and Georges Braque.

Cubism 1907 – 1922

Cubism was developed in a period of rapid progress by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who had also painted in Fauvism. Inspired by Cezanne, it is considered as the first movement in Abstract Art and had the distinctive characteristic of ignoring perspective and instead assembling an abstract form of an image to give viewers multiple viewpoints. Cubism developed in two stages: Analytical Cubism, pre-1912 and Synthetic Cubism, post-1912. It is also the forerunner of other styles in modern art such as Expressionism, Futurism, Suprematism, Constructivism and De Stijl.

Known cubists include Jean Metzinger, Fernand Leger, Juan Gris and Willem de Kooning.

Surrealism 1922 – 1939

Surrealism sought to find the superior reality (sur-reality) of an artist by calling into play images of dreams from the subconscious and creating a spontaneous drawing free from mind control. It was formed to counter the negativity of Dadaism, an avant-garde movement by artists who had fled to neutral Switzerland in the midst of World War 1. Great influences are the writings of Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx.

Famous surrealists are Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, Joan Miro and the American Man Ray. The center of the Surrealist movement is Paris but when war broke out in 1939, the Surrealists left Europe for New York.

Pop Art 1954 – 1970

When Pop Art is mentioned, the iconic Andy Warhol comes to mind. This art movement was born during the post-war boom, along with the pop music of Elvis Presley and The Beatles, and pop culture. Pop art is youth-oriented, fun, cheeky and indifferent to artistic traditions. Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans painting and Roy Lichtenstein’s comic book best exemplify the artwork in Pop Art. Coincidentally, both artists are Americans.

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Cold and Hard Facts about the History of Ice Cream

Ice cream is a world famous dessert loved by both kids and the kids at heart. It is interesting to know who invented it or where it really came from. However, trying to trace its history could be a bit of a challenge, since  different nations claim to have discovered this flavorful frozen dessert.

Back in 54-68 AD, iced desserts were considered a luxury. During those times, the dessert is made of snow that was fetched into the mountains by slaves. This was mixed with fruit pulp, nectar and honey, but this  needs further verification to be considered a fact. Clearer evidence  about ice cream was noted into China’s Tang period, and again, ice cream was only for the royalty. The dish made use of heated and fermented milk and lug ice. It was in 1744 when there was a first account of ice cream written. A Scottish colonist described the dessert he ate at the home of a governor.

1843 was a landmark year for ice cream since the pot freezer and artificial freezer method were introduced to make it. In 1850, Jacob Fussell of Baltimore opened up the first ever commercial ice cream plant in Pennsylvania. Ice cream sundae was later claimed to be invented in 1880 by three different states. In 1903, a patent for ice cream cone was applied by Italo Marchiony  and in World War II, the dessert became so popular that it became somewhat an American symbol, it was even used to boost soldiers’ morale, and the US Armed Forces became the largest manufacturer.

Ice cream’s popularity is phenomenal since it is enjoyed all over the world. Different nations have their own specialties depending on what is abundant in their place.  Much advancement were also made to the top dessert that it has become a progressive industry providing jobs to millions. Individuals who like to start a small business even take advantage of ice cream’s popularity by making their own ice cream. Ice cream making equipments are readily available in the market to make it possible to make it at home. Ice cream maker for commercial purpose is easy to use. It will allow you to develop your own ice cream flavor that will be loved by people.

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Customization as a Modern Art

Society is one moving feast. There is a lot to learn, to see and do. However, it may appear contentious at first, with differing opinions about what is new. One of the most iconic buildings ever built was the Sydney Opera House, and yet when it was first opened to the public, a lot of criticisms were heaped on it. History has proven that it was just too avant garde, especially for those who were still trying to get a grasp of Frank Lloyd Wright, and his followers.

Nowadays, the theme for modern living is a customization of things. Almost everything can be made to order, or it can be customized by the individual. For a lot of mobile devices, there is a settings button, which allows the user to change as much of the interface and make the device one of a kind. It could be skins, or wallpapers, or even a welcome greeting, on top of the passkey or password.

There are a lot of modern devices that have been accepted by society as well as art critics and historians as being iconic enough to be representative of modern art. There were the Bauhaus movement furniture and buildings. These, of course, led to appliances which retained the Bauhaus mentality. The Apple MacIntosh line of computers is one example, as well as the iPhone, iPod and iPads. Searing itself into the global consciousness can be achieved by even such disparate examples as the Volkswagen Beetle (the original Beetle which had its production run until the mid-1970s in Brazil); the Mercedes Benz SL-200 series 2-door sports car with the gull-wing; and the original Corvette.

Nowadays, customization has taken a big leap. There are some consumer items which are still being mass-produced but have addressed other niche markets. For instance, shoes for flat feet men were not a significant market. It was thought that there were so few of them, that it would be easier for them to buy custom made shoes.

It is the meeting of technology, with common sense, which makes these things available for a group of people who are in a minority in their own right. Even compared to some of today’s niche markets, the market for left-handed golf clubs is large in comparison.

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Three Famous Dogs By American Modern Artists

livinginthespotlight1Dogs are so well-loved that they have made it to paintings, sculpture, photography, film and other forms of modern art. And no creature is more deserving of the honor than dogs. Canines are the most loyal specie in the animal kingdom. That’s why artists from all over the world honor them through art work. Here are some of the famous works of art that depict the well-loved dog.

1. Blue Dog by George Rodrigue (March 13, 1944 – December 14, 2013)

The Blue Dog series made Rodrigue famous. They were modeled after the artist’s dead dog Tiffany and based on the Cajun legend loup-garou. The Blue Dog was used by Absolut Vodka in 1992, making the painter an Absolut Vodka artist. According to Rodrigue, people say the dog talks to them in different ways.

Dogs make very good pets. They’re fun when playful and their devotion is soothing during troubled times. If you have a pooch, or are planning to get one, learn all about dog safety, dog feeding and grooming at http://www.playsafedogs.com/ where you’ll find practical tips to raise a dog.

2. Boy and Girl Gazing at the Moon by Norman Rockwell (February 3, 1894 – November 8, 1978)

This painting is also referred to as “Puppy Love.” For more than forty years, Rockwell did cover illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post. Boy and Girl Gazing at the Moon appeared on its April 24, 1926 cover. The original is an oil painting on canvas owned by a private collector.

The boy in his infatuation seems to have forgotten his dog, judging by its forlorn look. Or the sadness could be a symptom of illness. Dogs can get allergies, too, such as from certain foods or pollen from the flower the girl is holding. To take good care of your dog, give it the best dog foods for allergies and keep it away from environmental allergens.

3. Portrait of Maurice by Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987)

Maurice was the dachshund of Gabrielle Keiller, ace golfer, socialite and art collector. In 1976, she commissioned Warhol to make this painting, working from Polaroids of the dog. Portrait of Maurice is the first of Warhol’s paintings to enter then Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, when Keiller bequeathed her art collection to this gallery upon her death.

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Three Easy Ideas For Sustainable Outdoor Design

A fluctuating economy and a heightened awareness of the need to save our planet have prompted houseowners to make practical and enjoyable use of their outdoor spaces with designs that are environment friendly and low maintenance. This is confirmed in a 2013 survey of Americans by the American Society of Landscape Architects which showed that 93 to 94.4 percent of houseowners preferred garden/landscaped areas and low maintenance landscapes in their residences.

Use eco-friendly outdoor lighting.

Outdoor lights at night can be decorative and functional. They illuminate your front and backyard to prevent accidents and discourage robbers.

LED and solar lights are not harmful to the environment. They don’t use up a lot of electricity, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. LED lights are low wattage, have a longer life span and brighter lighting. Solar lights are powered by the sun at daytime to give light at night.

There are stylish designs for porch and patio lights, and landscape lighting fixtures.

Shift to a low maintenance lawn.

A low maintenance lawn does not need the help of insecticides to keep it weed- and insect-free. Here’s how to do it:

Keep your soil healthy by maintaining a pH of 6.5 – 7.0, which is the ideal for a slightly acidic soil.

Choose turf grass best suited to your locality. It will be easier to tend. Ask a gardener which type of grass is best for your area.

Water deeply but don’t overdo it. An inch of water once a week keeps the grass healthy. First, water half an inch and wait an hour before watering the second half. Do it early the morning to reduce evaporation.

Mow regularly but don’t keep it too short. Keep your lawn mower in good condition. Change worn blades and tires as needed. Dixie chopper tires can be purchased online or in physical stores.

Grow a kitchen garden.

A kitchen garden promotes a sustainable and organic way of living as well as adds beauty to the exterior of the house. It gives you a fresh supply of fruits, herbs and vegetables at no cost and the plants

Choose an area that gets sunshine, has good drainage and a great view from inside the house and outdoors.

Opt for raised beds to plant your herbs and vegetables in. Raised beds shield the plants from gophers and other animals, allow you to choose fertile soil, improve drainage, and protect your back from too much bending.

Choose plants that get along well side by side and plants that keep off insects and pests. Do your research or ask the local garden store about it.

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Top 5 Most Crowded Concerts Ever

AP840424016The Bruno Mars concert schedule for this year features concerts all over the world in the Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, China, and other countries. Katy Perry is on tour, too, and for us history junkies this abundance of concerts everywhere naturally arises to the question of which concerts were the most attended ever in history. These are the answers:

5. Steve Wozniak’s 1983 US Festival (1983)

Attendees: 670,000 people

This was perhaps one of the most extravagant concerts ever in history. The Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak craved for a platform that will fuse music and technology, and the normal response of a millionaire is to pay for the construction of a huge open-air field and a temporary stage at San Bernardino, California. The enormous crowd flocked to witness the epic performances of Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Triumph, and Van Halen. Fun fact, Van Halen was paid $1.5 million upfront.

4. Garth Brooks in Central Park (1997)

Attendees: 750,000 people

Garth Brooks was a huge country music star and his 1997 concert in New York gathered thousands of “cowboys” to sing with him as he belted out “Friends in Low Places” and “The Dance”.

3. New York Philharmonic in Central Park (1986)

Attendees: 800,000 people

This symphony orchestra formed in 1842 is one of the most popular in the world. The concert in New York was for the rededication of the Statue of Liberty. It held its 14,000th concert in December 2004. That’s how old the orchestra is.

2. Jean Michel Jarre,Oxygen, Moscow (1997)

Attendees: 3,500,000 people

This French musician performed for the 850th anniversary of Moscow in 1997. He is a pioneer of New Age genre featuring electronic and ambient elements in his music. His other biggest concerts were the 1995 concert for UNESCO’s 50th birthday and the 1990 celebration of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution. This attendance equaled that of Rod Stewart’s in 1994. Which brings us to…

1. Rod Stewart at Copacabana Beach (1994)

Attendees: 3,500,000 people

The British rock star Rod Stewart was the first in the world ever to gather 3.5 million people to hear him sing his hit singles “Forever Young” and “My Heart Can’t Tell You No”.

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