The Daily Agenda for Friday, February 3

Jim Burroway

February 3rd, 2012

Today is Rissun, a minor traditional holiday in Japan marking the traditional transition from winter to spring. It’s also known as “the bean throwing festival,” because in Shinto shrines lucky beans are thrown at congregants who try to catch them. At home a male family member will perform the Mamemaki ritual, which consists of repeating “demons out, good luck in” while scattering beans around the house.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Melbourne, VIC

Also This Weekend: Belgian LGBT Film Festival: Brussells, Belgium; Whistler Ski Week, Whistler, BC.

Portriat of Gertrude Stein by Pablo Piccaso

Gertrude Stein: 1874. I guess you could say she was a bon vivant’s bon vivant. She would say “a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” She was, in any case, the embodiment of a life of art, and the art of life. The novelist, poet, and art collected literally defined — and named — the “Lost Generation” of illuminati who frequented the Parisean salons of the early twentieth century. Her art collection was particularly bold, including works by Renoir, Mattise, Picasso, Gauguin, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, and many other notable impressionists, post-impressionists and other contemporary artists. In 1903, she wrote one of the first personal coming-out stories in her autobiography QED, although it wasn’t published until 1950, four years after her death. Her longtime relationship with Alice Toklas however was nobody’s secret. They met in 1907 and remained together until Stein died in 1946. Ernest Hemmingway, who himself was among the glitterati at Stein and Tolkas’s salons, wrote of Toklas as Stein’s wife, and remarked that when Hemmingway and his wife visited, Stein and Hemmingway would visit together and leave the “wives” to chat with each other. Stein and Toklas are buried next to each other in Père Lachaise.

Nathan Lane: 1956. He’s been in a few films and television shows, but he’s mainly known for his work on Broadway, with roles in The Producers, Guys and Dolls, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. His big break though was in film, playing opposite Robin Williams in The Birdcage. He  also reprised his broadway role for the film version of The Producers. When Lane came out to his mother at age 21, she responded, “I’d rather you were dead.” Lane replied, “I knew you’d understand.” When a reporter asked if he was gay, Lane said, “I’m 40, single and work a lot in the musical theater. You do the math.”

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?


February 3rd, 2012

Kinda can’t believe I’m writing a comment for the first time on this webpage for something like this, but “Rissun” is much more commonly called “Setsubun” here in Japan. It’s a tremendously fun holiday when working in a preschool center, even if the demons (oni) do scare the heck out of the little children.

Btw, I’ve noticed you pretty frequently note holidays in Japan. Any particular reason why?

Jim Burroway

February 3rd, 2012


I’m just trying to highlight interesting holidays around the world in general. The only reason I missed Groundhog Day yesterday is that I had the “holidays” category in my online calendar shut off until last night. :-(


February 4th, 2012

You do realize that the cold weather and snow is making headlines in Japan on Rissun/Setsubun – “the traditional transition from winter to spring.” I wouldn’t bust out the cherry blossoms just yet.
Headline: “Temperatures fall below zero [Celsius, i.e. freezing point] at 90% of observation points”


February 4th, 2012

Hue-Man, it’s the start of “spring” in that the days are getting noticeably longer, not that it’s getting any warmer (I live in the far north of Japan and it’s been -20 C every night for a week).

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