Summer Season 2014


My picks so far from New York’s summer season:

Thursday, July 10, 8:30 PM
JAPAN CUTS: Why Don’t You Play in Hell? / 地獄でなぜ悪い (Jigoku de Naze Warui)
Japan Society, NYC

In Sion Sono’s latest provocation to hit NYC, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (Sono has since completed three films with a fourth in post-production), a DIY film crew sets out to debut the new Bruce Lee but instead find themselves caught up in a yakuza clan feud. The film won the Public’s Choice Award at the 2013 Montréal Festival of New Cinema and the People’s Choice Award at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

Reviewing Why Don’t You Play in Hell? for Roger Ebert’s Far-Flung Correspondents, Seongyong Cho wrote:

“…I watched the film with some sort of bizarre fascination, observing how far it was willing to push its sheer craziness, and it surely did not disappoint me. It is apparent from the opening scene that this nutty movie does not give a damn about looking realistic or believable at all, and it keeps going on and on with more craziness, and then we find ourselves in the middle of the deranged bloody mix of passion and delusion, in which every character is swept to the extreme point which must be seen to be believed.”

Friday, July 11, 7:00 PM
An Evening with Juana Molina
The Greene Space at WNYC/WQXR, NYC

The Argentine singer-songwriter and actress joins WNYC’s John Schaefer and NPR’s Maria Hinojosa for “a night of live music and conversation.” Molina’s Wed 21 (2013), her sixth album, is her first in five years.

Reviewing Wed 21 in Pitchfork, Nick Neyland wrote:

“Mostly this is an album that’s remarkable for how close Molina draws you in and then spits you out, alternating wildly between closeness and distance. The sense of familiarity carried over from her other records works in her favor, making Wed 21 feel like an old friend who’s back in town with a clutch of new stories to tell. Like all good storytellers, Molina’s gift is in the delivery. [7.5]”

Sunday, July 27, 8:00 PM
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds with Guest Nicole Atkins
Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC

With a 2013 album (Push the Sky Away) out and a new documentary (20,000 Days on Earth) on the festival circuit, the ultimate Australian multi-hyphenate and his band hits the US and Canada for a summer tour.

Reviewing Push the Sky Away in Pitchfork, Stuart Berman wrote:

Push the Sky Away is the 15th official album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but it could almost be their first. After 30 years together, the band has effectively come full circle, having completed its evolution from untamed beast to rock dignitary and, via the fearsome alter-ego offshoot Grinderman, back again. [8.0] “

Asbury Park’s own Nicole Atkins will be opening. Reviewing Atkin’s 2014 Slow Phaser, New York Daily News critic Jim Farber wrote:

“Nicole Atkins has a bullet-proof voice. Gleaming in tone, piercing in volume and unstoppable in attitude, it rips right through you.

“It’s the ideal vehicle for a song like “Cool People,” which could become the anti-Williamsburg anthem of all time. It’s a sarcastic takedown of hipster culture, delivered with a confidence that, ironically, makes Atkins seem like the coolest person in the room.”

Friday, August 1, 10:00 PM
Asian American International Film Festival: How to Disappear Completely
City Cinema Village East, NYC

In a recent interview with Gino Barrica on, Raya Martin describes his latest fiction feature as one of his more “accessible” works:

“I was always trying out something visually new in my previous works, but it’s also a challenge to work structurally narrative-wise in a film. In a way, the story-telling in How to Disappear Completely is very simple: it’s a child’s daily life in a small town. That also makes it the most challenging: how do you translate certain moods and feelings in something as simple as that?

You also called this your homage to American Independent Horror. What were your influences and why did you decide to pay tribute to that genre?

“It’s always been clear to me that if I make my more narrative works, they’d be towards that: I grew up watching a lot of horror films, even before I discovered filmmakers like Antonioni or Maya Deren, I was already into John Carpenter’s Halloween and Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow. They were my real formative heroes. The soundtrack, for example, is reminiscent of Carpenter’s own work in his films.

I remember growing up in the Philippines and getting so scared by the Filipino folk tales of creatures and superstitions. How much of that influenced the film?

“There’s a different sense of terror in the Philippines, I think. It’s very interesting that we seem to be desensitized by everyday murders, but half-bodied flying witches are very much alive in our consciousness. It’s this overlapping of the superstitions with seemingly urban consciousness that makes us unique. I get paranoid more about a rattling sound on the roof that could come from a demonic creature, than perhaps a burglar. It’s that weird consciousness in the film.”

This screening will be the film’s US East Coast premiere.

Friday, August 8, 2:30 PM
The Princess Pyunggang – FringeNYC
Sheen Center – THE LORETTO, NYC

Bibimbab Theatre
Writer: Sookyung Hwang
Director: Jong Yeoup Lee
Choreographer: Grace (Yu Sun) Kang
“The story of Princess Pyunggang is a Korean ancient tale that tells the unforgettable love between a foolish and the princess of Goguryo. This story combines Korean traditional drumming instruments songs and dances to deliver a breathtaking performance.”

Monday, August 11, 3:45 PM
mislabeledilEMMA: No, I Don’t Have Downs Syndrome – FringeNYC
Abrazo Interno at the Clemente, NYC

Quirky Girl Productions
Writer: Emma McWilliams
Director: Anne Moore
“A quirky girl’s search for identity amidst the confusion of being told she was “disabled.” She faces the issues of discrimination, gender equality, race, religion, and “fitting in” as she tries to understand the Syndrome she was born with spontaneously.”

Tuesday, August 12, 7:00 PM
Nisei – FringeNYC
The Theater at the 14th Street Y, NYC

Covenant Ballet Theatre of Brooklyn
Writer: Marla Hirokawa
Music by Keith Hall, Craig Brann, Taki Rentaro, Harold Payne, Jake Shimabukuro
Choreographer: Marla A. Hirokawa
“It’s WWII and a Nisei, 2nd generation Japanese American soldier has to overcome bigotry displayed against him and his family by the very country he is fighting to protect. This legacy unfolds in a ballet of love, strength and honor.”

Saturday, August 16, 7:00 PM
Breaking the Shakespeare Code – FringeNYC
64E4 Mainstage, NYC

Hey Jonte! Productions, L.L.C.
Writer: John Minigan
Director: Stephen Brotebeck
“A brash, naive young actress approaches a gifted but callous acting instructor to coach her for an audition. Surprising them both, Anna and Curt’s explosive chemistry sparks 16 years of cat and mouse seductions and entanglements.”

Sunday, August 17, 7:45 PM
Forgetting the Details – FringeNYC
The White Box at 440 Studios, NYC

Nicole Maxali Productions
Writer: Nicole Maxali
Director: Paul Stein
“Family, Filipinos & Alzheimer’s. Described by Dave Chappelle as “funny, heartwarming & funny again,” this one-woman show will make you laugh, cry & remind you that in the end, it’s not the details that matter.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2:00 PM
The Fiery Sword of Justice – FringeNYC
Abrazo Interno at the Clemente, NYC

Pill Hill Productions
Writer: Lauren Letellier
Director: Kel Haney
“The last thing any corporation wants to hear is … the truth! One businesswoman’s super-heroic compulsion to confront hypocrisy leads her to battle Big Pharma, boozy bosses, and the fractured family fantasies that fueled her fight for Justice.”

The Medicinal Plants of India’s Paddar Valley


Ethno-botanical study of medicinal plants of Paddar Valley of Jammu and Kashmir, India

Gupta SK, Sharma OM, Raina NS, Sehgal S
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med
2013 May 16;10(4):59-65
PubMed Central: PMC3794392
Jammu and Kashmir, India
Jammu and Kashmir, India (Source: Wikimedia Commons user Shivansh.ganjoo)

Researchers from the University of Agricultural Sciences & Technology of Jammu and the Department of Forests, Government of Jammu and Kashmir undertook an ethnobotanical survey of the Paddar valley, gathering specimens and traditional knowledge regarding prescription and preparation of medicine by using local herbs in various villages.

The authors describe the region and its ethnobotanical significance in their introduction:

“Western Himalayas are considered as a storehouse of herbal wealth supporting the vast network of traditional Indian System of Medicine. There is a wealth of information on the identity and distribution of different plant species of the region in the form of regional floras, reports of botanical expeditions, monographic accounts of families, genera and similar other publications. Ethno-botanical studies on medicinal plants are of paramount importance, particularly in the harsh climates like cold arid regions wherein modern system of medicine is not so developed. Such indigenous system of traditional knowledge conserves cultural and ecological diversity besides community healthcare and drug development. Ethno-botanical studies are also expected to provide new material for the ever-expanding pharmaceutical industry. Paddar Valley is the farthest corner of District Kishtwar, comprising 32 villages on south-eastern side touching its borders with Himachal Pradesh, Zanskar Valley of Ladakh and Marwah-Wadwan Valley. Paddar is known for blue diamond ‘Sapphire’ deposits and other forest products like kala zeera and guchhi. The area is drained by the Chenab river system which, flowing in from neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, enters the area through Paddar, the trans-Himalayan trekking trails leading to the Suru and Zanskar valleys of Ladakh pass amidst breathtaking mountain sceneries. …

“The region provides a wide variety of plants (herbs, shrubs and trees) owing to its diversified landscapes. Every year, thousands of people undertake Machail pilgrimage along Bhot nala, a tributary of River Chenab. The local inhabitants largely depended upon the local flora for food and medicine. The information on these plant species is utilised to understand the human-plant relationship, as well as a guide for drug development under the assumption that a plant which has been used by indigenous people over a long period of time may have an allopathic application. Due to the remoteness of the area and dearth of doctors, the ‘hakims’ resorted to different medicinal plants as a treatment to different diseases. The decline in their cultural peculiarities and their traditional knowledge about the local floras are spontaneous and fast due to better facilities of transportation, communication and education.”

Hyssopus officinalis
Hyssopus officinalis (Source: Wikimedia Commons user H. Zell)

The team identified a number of plants used to treat a variety of conditions. The medicinal species included Bunium persicum, Arnebia euchroma, Inula racemosa, Codonopsis rotundifolia, Onosoma hispidia, Rheum australe, Aquilegia fragrans, Aconitum heterophyllum, Ephedra gegardiana, Hyssopus officinalis, Morina longifolia, and Picrrorhiza kurroo. Local use of the plant species, their local names and parts used are detailed in a table.

Noting that many of these species are endangered, the authors recommend conservation, development, and sustainable marketing of these valuable resources:

“Over-exploitation of these species has not only degraded the local vegetation and the disappearing of natural beauty but also endangered certain species, and one has to travel miles to find them. The direct causes such as cutting of forests for commercial and subsistence purposes and indiscriminate grazing, as well as indirect causes such as insecure land tenure, poverty and population growth, were the most vital factors affecting the local flora. Harsh climatic and high altitude conditions and inaccessibility are the factors which force the people to depend on wild flora for healthcare. There is a negligible attitude towards the cultivation of these herbs. Some of these plants are only found to grow in the forest and grassy slopes and very few find place in the people’s home gardens. Therefore, there is a dire need for the protection of this wealth of nature before it disappears from this planet. Moreover, this type of study would be essential for regeneration, conservation and reforestation of this niche area. The altitudinal variation in vegetation was also observed in the zone. The present study disclosed that the growing season was too small starting from April up to September only. The bottlenecks in enhancing the livelihood of the people by using traditional knowledge included inaccessibility of the area, lack of processing and adequate storage after harvest, legal restrictions due to forest legislations, inadequate market and assured prices.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal Plants in Spain’s Serra de Mariola Natural Park


Traditional knowledge of medicinal plants in the Serra de Mariola Natural Park, South-Eastern Spain

Belda A, Zaragozí B, Belda I, Martínez J, Seva E
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med
2012 Dec 31;10(2):299-309
PubMed Central: PMC3746577

Researchers from Universidad de Alicante and Intelligent Pharma conducted a study to inventory and analyze the ethnobotanical knowledge about medicinal plants in the Serra de Mariola Natural Park in the southeast region of Spain, in the northern Alicante province and south of the province of Valencia.

Thymus vulgaris
Thymus vulgaris (Source: Wikimedia Commons user Accord Henry Brisse)

The team documented 93 medicinal species reported by local informants, including Lippia triphylla, Thymus vulgaris, Allium roseum, and Erygium campestre. The most repeated therapeutic uses were urological, treatment of wounds and ulcers, and throat diseases.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal Plants Used by Kurdish Tribes in Ilam Province, Iran


Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by Kurd tribe in Dehloran and Abdanan Districts, Ilam Province, Iran

Ghasemi Pirbalouti A, Momeni M, Bahmani M
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med
2012 Dec 31;10(2):368-85
PubMed Central: PMC3746586
Ilam Province, Iran
Ilam Province, Iran (Source: Wikimedia Commons user Milad.olad)

Researchers from Islamic Azad University and Urmia University of Medical Sciences conducted a folk botanical survey in the Dehloran and Abdanan districts of Ilam Province, in western Iran.

The team documented 122 plants used therapeutically by the traditionally nomadic Kurdish tribes for a variety of ailments, including the following:

Centaurea iberica
Centaurea iberica (Source: Wikimedia Commons user Eitan f)

Atriplex leucoclada and Echinops viscidulus (as an emollient for cough and sore throat); Avena wiestii (gastric pain and rheumatism); Centaurea iberica, Centaurea ovina, Centaurea intricate and Picnomon acarna (gastric pain); Cerasus microcarpa subsp. microcarpa (sedative, anti-calculus and anti-fever); Cirsium congestum and Crocus haussknechtii (antiseptic for gastric); Colchicum kotschyi (rheumatism); Consolida orientalis (laxative and antiparasitic), Ephedra ciliata (antibacterial and antifever); Euphorbia macroclada (warts); Lonicera nummulariifolia (antifever, antidiarrheal and sedative); Nepeta persica (carminative and antiurticarial); Noaea mucronata and Onobrychis elymaitica (anticalculus and kidney problems); Opoponex hispidus (antiseptic); Prangos ferulacea (laxative); Periploca aphylla (antiinflammatory); Prosopis farcta (blood thinner and antidiabetic); Salvia palaestina (women’s infertility and infections); Satureja khuzistanica (indigestion, headache, women’s infections and diuretic); Scrophularia deserti and Scrophularia striata (wound and burn healing); Stipa capensis (nerve system problems and gastric discords); Tamarix ramosissima (dermal discords, wound healing and sputum); Thymbra spicata (cough, antibacterial and carminative); Ulmus glabra (heart discords and fertility discords); Verbascum alepense (antifever, dermal discords and wound healing); Vitex pseudo-negundo (increased milk); Nicotiana tabacum (anti-leech and anti-dermatophytosis).

The researchers worked closely with the local population for more than two years, collecting information from 81 persons (60% men and 40% women) in 20 villages: “The northern part of the province is mostly inhabited by Kurdish tribes who speak with two dialects: Kalhuri and Feyli. The majority are Feyli Kurds, such as Kurdish tribes of Khezel, Arkawâzi, Beyrey (Ali Sherwan), Malekshahi and Shuhan. Lurs live in the southern and eastern parts of the province; for example: Abdanan, Dareh Shahr, Dehloran and Mehran. Most are Shi’a Muslims. The Kurds are traditionally nomadic people. The people’s main source of living in this region is farming, agriculture, sheepherding and husbandry.”

The authors comment that conservation policies and interest about ethnobotanical knowledge among young people in the region may help balance effects of modernization on indigenous medical practices:

“Our study contributed confirmed the ethnobotanical knowledge of Abdanan and Dehloran districts, filling a long overlooked gap. It once more remarked the relationship existing between plant diversity and the degree of ethnobotanical knowledge recorded. The former has been retained thanks to a long history of nature preservation in the study area. It is worth highlighting that we found some young people who still retain ethnobotanical knowledge or at least express interest towards traditional uses, so that they performed well as key informants. This clearly derives from the cultural and professional opportunities offered by living in a famous protected area where nature is still an important issue for local communities. However, even under these circumstances many uses have disappeared and some forgotten by otherwise experienced informants. We believe that cultural diversity should be seen in a broader sense as part of biodiversity of a region, especially where disentangling human influence and nature is virtually impossible. Traditional knowledge should therefore feature more often in the agendas of nature reserves besides biological richness as a value to preserve for the future. In general, the people of the study area still have a strong belief in the efficiency and success of medicinal plants. The results of our study reveal that some of the plant species do play an important role in the primary healthcare system of this tribal community.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.