The island to which Britain's legendary King Arthur was conveyed for the healing of his wounds after his final battle. It was ruled by the enchantress Morgan le Fay and her eight sisters, all of them skilled in the healing arts.

Van Morrison often uses Avalon as a metaphor in his songs for any idyllic place of healing. "Healing" is a big issue with Van Morrison, as is "crossing over" for Joe Henry. It may be one in the same thing.

I found my love in Avalon
Beside a bay;
I left my love in Avalon,
And sailed away;

I dream of her and Avalon
From dusk 'til dawn;
So I think I'll travel on,
Way on to Avalon.

- by Jolson and Rose, sung by Cab Calloway

film, 1990, directed by Barry Levinson.

A story about immigrants in America, and the move from the cities to the suburbs. It is also, indirectly, a story about how people attempt to find happiness in "place" instead of faith or family- which obviously refers back to the information above. This story, which is likely autobiographical to some extent for Levinson, is how second generation immigrants not only turned their back on their culture, but soon turned their backs on extended families as well. The search for a "better place" (an imagined Avalon) is shown as both inspiring and bittersweet. Levinson shows us regular people struggling with their fates and lets the audience make up it's mind about whether the change that occurs is inevitable, or flawed.

An underappreciated film, probably because there are no big name stars and no easy answers either.

A very highly developed MUD that can be found at www.avalon-rpg.com. It is complicated and has been around since before the Internet. I had a tiny bit of creative input myself and have a character called Kazaroth who I, very occasionally these days, log on.

The aim of the game is to become a god. Is that like E2 then? :)

The game is set in your standard medieval style world with more than a good dollop of Tolkein - e.g. Uruk-hai, Wargs and so on. It has a highly developed and complicated combat system but don't worry, you are protected the first 5 hours of play.

There is often a quite hostile atmosphere and a lot of very ambitious people play it. Try to find some people from the same town as you to start with.

The weirdest thing is that is has a fairly high regular player base (for an entirely text-based MUD) and yet it costs more to play than Ultima Online or Everquest. If you want to give it a try though, don't worry, you get your first 5 hours free.

Avalon is that one great place that you, or your parents, or your parents' parents left a long time ago, so long that the memory has grown a bit dim. Maybe you never even saw the place, just heard about it on your Grandpa's knee. You may know it as "back home", or "the Old Country", or any number of other things.

In Avalon, things were always just a little bit cooler. You knew who you were and where you stood. You belonged there. Sure, there might have been some bad stuff that happened, but it didn't seriously bother you. Nothing did. Whatever happened there, you always managed to live, and you were happy.

But you had to go, and the bitch of it is that you can't ever go back there, except in your memory, except in your dreams. Something changed. Maybe it was you, maybe it was the place. Maybe it's as simple as being too far away to go back to. Whatever the case, it's gone, and the loss of it hurts, way down deep inside. So you weep a little bit when nobody can see you, and you always say, "Now that was a place worth living in," and you try and be brave about it. Fact remains, it's gone, and you can't go back.

Avalon, the Legend Lives. Avalon, First Age.

Avalon is a massive multiplayer internet rpg or MUD. Rated the best MUD ever, this game is highly complex and very well organized. In the world of Avalon rpg, there are 4 main cities : Thakria, Springdale, Parrius and Mercinae. Players started being a newborn from one of these 4 cities and then proceed to live their live as they wished to. Various guilds and employment are available. Knights. Warrior. Bard. Mages. Wizards. Seer. Loremaster. Druid. Ranger. Bandits. Many other. One can either work his/her way up in his/her guild ranks, or may opt to become active in political activities between cities instead.

One can choose to develop skills toward a fighter-character, or opt instead for excellence in wizardry. One may also choose unique professions such as bards(singing, reciting poems, performing), bandits or beggars (steal money from people without them even noticing!), and even choose to life as pacifists, focusing their effort on healing others and a peaceful world.

The land of Avalon is amazingly vast, and is not limited only to those 4 cities. There are numerouse small towns which, if guided properly by their leader (human players too!) could one day gain the status of a city. Cities can also declare war on another and so does one guild with another (the most recent military movement being Parrius razing Mercinae and all its guilds).

The only bad thing I can find about Avalon is that it is NOT free. But still, you can try it's first 5 hours trials free (5 hours or more I'm not sure). The rate, however, is not high at all. Introductory rate being $30 for 30 hours of play. Once you try that, you would either succumb to the Avalon and starts playing at least 1 hour a day or either quit being too unimaginative. If your fall to the unfotunate path of the former, you could and would definitely apply for $30 (or more I forgot) for 1 month play (you could play as long as you want for 1 full month).

Not recomended for college kids still wanting to get good grades.

www.avalon-rpg.com. www.avalonfirstage.com

Avalon:

from the Welsh afallach, meaning "apples." Afallach is also a Welsh god of the Underworld and of healing, son of Nudd and brother to Gwyn ap Nudd. His island is called Ynys Afallach, "Isle of Apples." Related linguistically is the Irish Emhain Abhlach, "Plain of Apples," the home of Manannan mac Lir, trickster god of the sea and Otherworld. The association between apples and gods is not unique to the Celts--the Garden of the Hesperides are from Greek myth, the Apples of Youth from Norse, and the Garden of Eden from the Bible*. (Even today we say "an apple a day keeps the doctor away.")

The first direct association that Avalon has with King Arthur originates with Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, ca. 1136, where he says that it is both the location of Excalibur's forging, and the island where Arthur was taken to be healed after the Battle of Camlann, and from which he will return when Britain needs him most. In the Vita Merlini (attributed to Geoffrey), this tradition is elaborated on by adding that it is to Morgan le Fey that Arthur is taken.

Later tradition also makes Avalon the home of the Holy Grail, due to the island's association with Glastonbury, which even in modern Welsh is called Ynys Afallach, though the older name is Ynys Witrin. The author of the Perlesvaus of the thirteenth century even claims that his version comes from "The Holy House of Avalon," which he identifies with Glastonbury. The tradition is that Joseph of Arimathea came to Glastonbury and started the Christianization of Britain in 70 AD. However, the origin of Avalon as a Celtic Otherworld cannot be denied.

I think it odd that as a child, I used to vacation in Avalon, NJ, and have since gone on to become a real King Arthur nut.

* For the record, the Bible never says that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge is an apple. This is only a later tradition.

A near-future cyberpunk movie by Japanese Director Mamoru Oshii, perhaps most famous for his animated work Ghost in the Shell.

The story follows a woman named Ash (Malgorzata Foremniak), who plays violent online virtual reality games for money. Ash is the kind of cool, stoic female lead that will immediately remind viewers of Ghost in the Shell's Major Motoko Kusanagi. Mamoru Oshii has been quoted as saying that this is because those characteristics make up his ideal woman.

Like in The Matrix, skilled players can perform super-human feats in the computer-generated reality. The similarities between the two films pretty much end there, however.

The movie was shot entirely in Poland, using Polish actors, in Polish, with Japanese subtitles. Those of you who read Japanese and/or speak Polish should be right at home. For the rest of you, there are only the excellent visuals and the fully orchestral soundtrack by Kenji Kawai. The game worlds are surreal, contrasted by the dreary shots of the real world to which Ash must come home to every night. A lot of the movie looks like it was given a brownwash, which gives it a haunting quality. Oh, and by the way, the tanks and helicopters are real.

The story (surprise, surprise) borrows from the legend of King Arthur, so it wouldn't hurt to brush up a little on the Arthurian Cycle if you want to catch all the references.

Sources:
Shift magazine, vol. 51 (http://www.shift.jp.org)
IMDB (http://us.imdb.com/Title?0267287)
Official site Japanese only (www.avalon-net.com (trailers are in the "library" section))

From the Chronicles of Amber:

Avalon was Corwin's favorite Shadow in his youth. He spent a great deal of time there before his exile, so much that Avalon may well have begun casting Shadows of its own.

** Minor Spoilers if you haven't read The Guns of Avalon and Nine Princes in Amber **

After his escape from the dungeons of Castle Amber, Corwin sought to return to Avalon, where he could acquire a substance that ignites like gunpowder if brought back to Amber (centuries before, Corwin had learned that gunpowder does not ignite in Amber). Upon arriving at Avalon, he discovers that so much time has passed there that he is remembered as an evil sorceror rather than benevolent ruler. His brother Benedict, long absent from Amber, now rules Avalon as Protector. He warns Corwin that while he welcomes a peaceful visit, he will not tolerate the land being used as a staging ground for Corwin to raise an army to take the throne of Amber.

Avalon was a hit single, and the title track to Roxy Music's eighth (and latest) formal release.  Recorded in 1981-1982, the LP never eclipsed Top 40 on the U.S. music charts; nevertheless, it remains the band's only North American RIAA certified Platinum record over the course of their 39 year (and continuing) existence. Many consider the band to have been a pre-cursor to modern pop; avant-garde electronica (Brian Eno was an original member, so that's basically a given); new wave; post-punk; glam; new romanticism; indie... and on, and on. 

Avalon itself, coincidentally, gained an even fresher air of popularity in 2003 with Sophia Coppola's four-time Academy Award nominated Lost In Translation. Bill Murray exhibits a particularly enchanting aura while performing a karaoke rendition of More Than This, another of the LP's hit singles.  In what is essentially the film's apex, the elder-Murray attempts to slyly woo his younger, but similarly existentially-exiled companion Scarlett Johansson after a surreal and spontaneous night of bonding in a foreign land. And in that particular moment, the viewer's perspective is lulled away from the memetic age, appearance and linguistic disparities - the dense and often disconcerting foundation of the film.

Yet, if you listen closely to the words, the aural and aesthetic invocations of the scene juxtapose the reality against the fantasy. Although Johannson and Murray manifest a clear empathy and perhaps even romantic bond, they too are bound in separate relationships. And though each of the protagonist's counterparts remain peripheral when not portraying a sheer annoyance, both characters remain respectful of the sanctity of marriage, collusive with that whole gratuitous inability to reach even each other because of the traditional ( Invisible English) cultural/societal/age barricade.

So empathy and human passion succumb to the proverbial wall of self-induced impotence, and the two alienated individuals are recused to further alienation. Why? Oh, just the exact same factors that were the root of their initial alienation.

But it's all illusory. A film. A song...

Indeed. But for many, it is real. A bit like being in an empty theater, trying to explain why you're lonely by showing a movie of yourself singing about HOW THERE'S REALLY FUCKING LITERALLY NOTHING MORE THAN THIS. HOLY SHIT. IT'S LIKE A PERFECT FUCKING CIRCLE OF NOTHINGNESS.

A catch 33 1/3, if you will.

Now, hopefully you are beginning to catch my drift. There is a marked theme in what exactly THIS is. But, what does the purge of jabberwocky insofar have to do with Avalon?

Note: employing literary asides and moving visual accompaniments while addressing a point is fun.

Ah, but Steely Dan already covered that.  Will now move on... 

THIS, being my Apple & your screen (ooh, how surreal) is Avalon. Indeed, subjectively, the final resting place where King Arthur, I (feel free to substitute the royal we at your leisure... it's all fab to me) Am Here.  Atop a mystical hill surrounded by Goddesses... nice.  

Wrong.  

Take a moment to contemplate a collective vision, cuz' this is where the subjective becomes irrelevant.

Queue this one up again, and watch closely.

Everything is so lush and beautiful. Like, heaven (but it's not, there is no heaven; this is Avalon, just use your imagination)  

dancin' dancin'

When one bears witness to an entire scenario; sharply-dressed, astute, admiring the grace of a woman through a rose-colored champagne fog...

dancin' dancin'

Alone, lamenting cruel fate.

What, goddesses are blind? Like... is that why she's dancing alone? Why does the tuxedoed man weep at her beauty?

In A Hard Days Night, a reporter asked George what he called his hairstyle. George replied "Arthur."

Huh? Oh.. yeah..

No one sees everyone; and here is no one and we are dead. There remains nothing to be seen.

*adjusts the screen*

Hello, welcome to the Fourth Dimension.

Should you ever see us, we would be much obliged to dance away the heartache.

Or, to just hold your hand.

Wouldn't it be nice?

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