Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night

If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.

After we spent all afternoon in Forest Park, bicycling, dining at the Boat House and enjoying the perfect springtime weather, he headed home only to quickly turn around and head back to the park for an evening of Shakespeare. I got Monday off from work due to a surprise power outage and the subsequent plant closure, an after effect of Friday’s storms. We rode with Joanie and met Pat and three of her friends in Shakespeare Glen. We picnicked until showtime and then enjoyed the play. It turned quite chilly by the end of the evening.

Be not afraid of greatness.
Some are born great,
some achieve greatness,
and others have greatness thrust upon them.

The play ended earlier then most Shakespeare Festival productions, which is a good thing since Monday night is typically a work night, early to bed, early to rise, don’t you know. Before I went to bed, I checked the employee hotline, which still had my building being closed without power. I went to sleep with dreams of another snow day in June, dancing in my head. I called again at six in the morning. The recorded message had been updated at 3:30 AM. I knew what it would say, even before I heard it, “normal operations have been resumed, all Saint Louis facilities are open and employees should report to work as normal.” It didn’t need to voice the following postscript, “and that means you, you lazy slacker”, I heard it anyway.

a young woman in love always looks like
patience on a monument smiling at grief

A Manifesto Against Momism

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Vintery, mintery, cutery, corn,
Apple seed and apple thorn,
Wire, blier, limer lock
Three geese inna flock
One flew east,
One flew west,
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest

In preamble I should state that I really hate this story! It viscerally tears at my psyche. Anyway, the kids did alright. Hell, they were fantastic. I loved McMurphy (Miguel Hernandez) and hated Ratched (Anna Wermuth). Please take no offense dear, it was your role, not your performance that offended me. You did your job to perfection. The rest of the cast also ably portrayed their characters. By the end of the show, I was glad that Anne had dragged me along, on Saturday night to see Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School’s production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.

Nurse Ratched, who is so inflexible, so unseeing, so blandly sure she is right, represents Momism at its radical extreme, and McMurphy is the Huck Finn who wants to break loose from her version of civilization.”, wrote Roger Ebert. “Cuckoo’s Nest” is much less about insanity and much more about rebellion to authority. I cannot think of a better staging local for such a drama than in a high school, because it is in high school where America’s future rebels are bred to question authority.

I was first annoyed, but then came to love the audience’s giggling, like whenever a cast member exhibited spastic behavior. This is a small close-knit high school, everybody knows everybody else’s business.

Running this school puts the real world facility’s talents for growth, in direct contrast to Big Nurse’s destructive reign of terror. She would have never condoned this play. The behavior of Big Nurse in another venue, say a prison or say Gitmo, would easily fall within the guidelines of torture.

Nurse Rat Shit made Billy commit suicide and then she first degree murdered McMurphy. Chief Bromden only later sort of unplugged the still breathing corpse.

I’ve vented here, but the play still portrays an evil woman, but then so are men. We are all sinners. In the real world, men are tagged as the perpetrators of most of this world’s wrongs. Men are still the world’s majority power brokers, so the blame fairly falls at their feet. This play illuminates the truth that women, given unchecked power are just as sure to abuse it as their male counterparts.

I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy.

Poor Willoughby

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

“What do you mean poor Willoughby? Willoughby was a cad and a bounder and a libertine. He even admitted to being a libertine.” “What’s a bounder? Tigger was a bounder and you like Tigger.” “Tigger was a bouncer and not a bounder.”

The whole of his behaviour, from the beginning to the end of the affair, has been grounded on selfishness. It was selfishness which first made him sport with your affections; which afterwards, when his own were engaged, made him delay the confession of it. ~Elinor

While Willoughby is certainly a flawed character, is he really all that more reprehensible than some of the other characters in this story? I can’t think of anything nice to say about John and Fanny Dashwood and they are kin. What about Robert Ferrars and Lucy Steele, two more vapid twits have never been penned. So why should poor Willoughby be singled out for century after century of feminine scorn?

Mama, the more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much! ~Marianne

Willoughby plays the part of antagonist, to Marianne and Elinor’s duo protagonist parts. In such a role he is likely to come out on the short end, but without him the story could not exist. When they first meet, Marianne and Willoughby are two peas in a pod, hopeless romantics. Through her trials, Marianne is allowed to evolve past her initial, unrealistic romantic expectations of a man. This opens her heart for Colonel Brandon. Brandon in turn is then motivated to provide a curacy at Delaford for Edward Ferrars and Elinor. Happy ending, QED. None of this would have occurred without poor Willoughby’s involvement.

But she will be gained by some one else. And if that some one should be the very he whom, of all others, I could least bear – but I will not stay to rob myself of all your compassionate goodwill, by shewing that where I have most injured I can least forgive. ~Willoughby

At the story’s end Willoughby arrives distraught over the news of Marianne’s grave illness. He confesses to Elinor that he really did love Marianne. Now his fate is a loveless one, he must marry Miss Sophia Grey, a wealthy but malicious heiress. He is a broken man who is shown only pity by Elinor. He made the same mistakes that Marianne did. Well, maybe he did make one more mistake than she. Austin casts him down, while Marianne is allowed to rise. We know Marianne’s thoughts, we feel her feelings. Of Willoughby, we only hear of his actions and are left to guess his motives. I think that we should cut him some slack and let his two-hundred old ‘crimes’ be forgiven.

The photo with this post was taken from the program’s cover art. Pictured are Elinor (Nancy Lemenager) on the left and Marianne (Amelia McCain) on the right. They appear to be gazing on their ancestral estate, Norland Park. Friday night, we saw Jon Jory’s play at the Rep, adapted from Jane Austin’s, “Sense and Sensibility”.

Ode in Blood

Dan sent the many photos displayed in this post’s gallery. They show the movie set that he has been working on for the past several weeks. The film is a graduate thesis project at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, in Orange County, CA. The film is called “Ode in Blood“. Here is a synopsis of this motion picture:

Ekwueme (E.K.) is a West African immigrant who needs money to bring his family safely to America. He gets a job as a handy-man, working for a very traditional and stoic Ensō Tanaka, who pays him handsomely for seemingly menial tasks. The two men begin to develop a bond that is put to the test when Ensō asks E.K. to help him commit hara-kiri: Japanese ritualistic suicide. E.K. must decide if he will fulfill Ensō’s wish; a wish that goes against everything that E.K. believes in, but that will promise to bring him what he wants most in this world: his family.

Most of the photographs are of the sets, while they were under construction. Some of the photos show the back of the set’s walls and how they were constructed. The final picture shows a camera shot of a finished set. One of the actors, I’m guessing that it is Ensō, is seen in this shot. I believe that this production shot was taken on the part of the set depicted in the Movie Set photo #8. I think that the two mirrors were transformed to look like the louvered windows. A pair of doors that Dan worked on are shown in photo #7. The following video is the teaser for this film. The movie is due out in May. I believe that it will be released on the Internet.

The Foreigner

The Foreigner

The Foreigner

Friday night was Rep night with a twist. Rep night is our chance to see the latest offering from the Saint Louis Repertory Theater. This night’s performance was The Foreigner. The twist was that Rey, Dan and Annie joined us. At Cyrano’s Rey and Dan had dinner with us and then we picked Annie up on our way to the theater.

The Foreigner is a two-act comedy by Larry Shue. It is set in a fishing lodge in rural Georgia; the plot revolves around the visit of two guests, Englishmen Charlie Baker and Staff Sergeant Froggy LeSueur. Naturally shy, Charlie is also depressed because his wife may be dying. He tells Froggy, “I should have stayed with Mary, at the hospital. When a man’s wife is dying, he belongs with her, not – not in Georgia.” He begs Froggy, “Please. Try to understand. I can’t talk to anyone now.”

To help, Froggy tells Betty, the lodge’s owner, that Charlie is a foreigner who does not understand English. Betty, who has never traveled, is delighted to cater to a stranger who is “as foreign as the day is long.” At first, Charlie is appalled by Froggy’s fabrication and protests. Soon, though, Charlie overhears a private and emotional conversation, and decides he had better perpetuate the ruse.

Before long, Charlie finds himself privy to assorted secrets and scandals freely discussed in front of him by the other visitors. These include the spoiled but introspective Southern belle Catherine and the man to whom she is somewhat reluctantly engaged, the Reverend David Lee, a seemingly good-natured preacher with a dark side. Her younger brother, Ellard, a somewhat “slow” boy tries to “teach” Charlie how to speak English. Owen, the racist county property inspector, plans to oust Betty and convert the lodge into a meeting place for the Klan.

Shue’s Foreigner is somewhat autobiographical. He has described himself to be as painfully shy as his character Charlie. He and his wife moved from Milwaukee to Georgia to form a theater company, where his wife promptly left him. He returned to Milwaukee, but soon took up an acting assignment in Japan. He spoke not a word of Japanese and figured that most Japanese didn’t know much about Americans, but he believed that they did know cowboys. He bought a cowboy hat and it proved his ticket abroad. When he returned home this hat was adorned with the signatures of his new Japanese friends. It proved a life changing experience.

In the final climatic scene armed Klansmen attack the lodge, intent on driving out the foreigner and other guests and then stealing the lodge from Betty. Charlie organizes the other guests in resistance. A science fiction editor by trade, Charlie concocts a dramatization calculated to scare the superstitious Owen and his Klan away. Mixing one part The Day the Earth Stood Still, “klaatu barada nikto” and one part The Wizard of Oz, “I’m melting”, he succeeds.

Boar’s Head Festival

While I was serving on the jury, this holiday season got placed on hold. The trial didn’t leave room for any thoughts of celebration. Now that the trial is over, it is time to dive into the spirit of the season. On Saturday, I put up our exterior lights, an old bicycle that I have wreathed in mini-blubs. It is an easy to implement and personalized light display. I also hauled all of the Christmas ornaments up from the basement and set out our hearth display. The rest will have to wait until we get a tree.

The Boar's Head

The Boar’s Head

Really though, we began celebrating Christmas on Friday evening. Becky and Randy, friends of Joanie, are members of the Immanuel Lutheran Church, in Saint Charles. Becky and Randy had invited Joanie, Vicky, Anne and I to attend their church’s Boar’s Head Festival. I went to see Condi Rice speak last month with Joanie, Becky and Vicky and we’ve dined with Becky and Randy before.

The tradition of the Boar’s Head Festival is rooted in ancient times when the boar was sovereign of the forest. A ferocious beast, and menace to humans, it was hunted as a public enemy. At Roman feasts, boar was the first dish served. Roasted boar was a staple of medieval banquets. As Christian beliefs overtook pagan customs in Europe, the presentation of a boar’s head at Christmas came to symbolize the triumph of the Christ Child over sin.

This festival is the oldest in the Saint Louis area. It was brought to Saint Louis when representatives of Immanuel Lutheran traveled to Concordia University in Ann Arbor. There they learned how to create their own Boar’s Head Festival. This festival originated at Queen’s College, Oxford, England in 1340. Legend has it that a scholar was studying a book of Aristotle while walking through the forest on his way to Christmas Mass. He was confronted by an angry wild boar. Having no other weapon, the resourceful Oxonian rammed his metal-bound philosophy book down the throat of the charging animal, whereupon the brute choked to death.

The Court Jester

The Court Jester

The festival that we attended included elements from medieval England, both funny and profane. The festival opened with the court of the good ole King Wenceslas. His court is guarded by a quartet of Beefeaters. It comes with a trio of jesters and one lucky little girl was picked as the Yule Sprite. The second half of the festival is a retelling of the Nativity story. There was plenty of great music throughout.

After the festival proper there was a reception, with cookies and wassail. Photography was allowed at the reception and many of the participants were there to pose. After the reception, Joanie, Vicky, Anne and I retired down the street to Pio’s, for a late night repast of Saint Louis style pizza.

Happy Hanukkah, Joanie!