23APR2018 – Quote of the Day

Since it’s the Bard’s birthday today let’s hear what he has to say.  And let’s hope we have greater success than the conspirators.

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

William Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar”, Act 4 scene 3

 

30MAR2018 – Quote of the Day

I have a story for this quote source.  In the summer of 1972 I was attending summer session at my high school.  Being a hopeless nerd, I wanted to skip a grade in math so I was taking Geometry in the summer to allow me to go on to Trigonometry and Analysis in September.  This was an all-boys Catholic High School and it was even worse than it sounds.  But in summer school they had some girls from the local “sister schools” and so things were actually a little better than during the regular year.  There was a girl in the class who liked theater and she proposed a trip to Manhattan to see Shakespeare in the Park (Central Park).  Now she probably had no romantic intentions but I was a high school boy so I was willing to take the chance.  Anyway, Shakespeare in the Park involved waiting in line on the Great Lawn (which was a shambles back then and hardly a lawn in anything but a geographic sense) for hours while eating a picnic lunch and talking to a rather pretty girl.  What’s not to like?  The park was overrun with aging dirty hippies selling incense and drug paraphernalia which even to my younger, less-conservative self felt creepy.  But it seemed like a fun day at the time.  When the show began after sunset I learned that the play was King Lear and the name of the actor playing the title role was James Earl Jones.  The name was vaguely familiar (possibly from Dr. Strangelove) and I was interested to see how this spectacle would turn out.  Jones did not disappoint.  He threw everything but the kitchen sink into his Lear.  He stuttered, roared and hissed at his tormentors and cried and moaned through his torment.  And during the storm scene the weather proved cooperative.  There were several very real cracks of thunder and even a few lightning flashes.  Very cool indeed.  And after the show we enjoyed the extra thrill of leaving Central Park late at night while somehow avoiding the very real threat of being robbed or worse.  Of course, nothing ever panned out with the girl but nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say.  And that’s the only time I’ve ever seen or read the play King Lear.  But it did leave an impression.      

 

Shakespeare, King Lear Act 5 Scene 3

Re-enter KING LEAR, with CORDELIA dead in his arms; EDGAR, Captain, and others following

KING LEAR

Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones:
Had I your tongues and eyes, I’ld use them so
That heaven’s vault should crack. She’s gone for ever!
I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
She’s dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass;
If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,
Why, then she lives.

 

 

KING LEAR

A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!
I might have saved her; now she’s gone for ever!
Cordelia, Cordelia! stay a little. Ha!
What is’t thou say’st? Her voice was ever soft,
Gentle, and low, an excellent thing in woman.
I kill’d the slave that was a-hanging thee.

Captain

‘Tis true, my lords, he did.

KING LEAR

Did I not, fellow?
I have seen the day, with my good biting falchion
I would have made them skip: I am old now,
And these same crosses spoil me. Who are you?
Mine eyes are not o’ the best: I’ll tell you straight.

 

 

 

KING LEAR

And my poor fool is hang’d! No, no, no life!
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
And thou no breath at all? Thou’lt come no more,
Never, never, never, never, never!
Pray you, undo this button: thank you, sir.
Do you see this? Look on her, look, her lips,
Look there, look there!

Dies

EDGAR

He faints! My lord, my lord!

KENT

Break, heart; I prithee, break!

EDGAR

Look up, my lord.

KENT

Vex not his ghost: O, let him pass! he hates him much
That would upon the rack of this tough world
Stretch him out longer.

EDGAR

He is gone, indeed.

KENT

The wonder is, he hath endured so long:
He but usurp’d his life.

ALBANY

Bear them from hence. Our present business
Is general woe.

To KENT and EDGAR

Friends of my soul, you twain
Rule in this realm, and the gored state sustain.

KENT

I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;
My master calls me, I must not say no.

ALBANY

The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most: we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

Exeunt, with a dead march

29MAR2018 – Quote of the Day

Of late I’ve been looking forward to watching Mel Gibson’s Hamlet.  I remember watching Branagh’s version in the theater and thinking it sterile.  My plan is to watch them both on the same weekend and compare them.  Maybe I’ll even throw in Olivier’s version for good measure.

 

Shakespeare, Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2

HAMLET

What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust?

28MAR2018 – Quote of the Day

I must be in a grim mood.

 

 

Shakespeare

Macbeth.  Act 5, Scene 5

 

SEYTON

The queen, my lord, is dead.

 

MACBETH

She should have died hereafter;

There would have been a time for such a word.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

To the last syllable of recorded time,

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more: it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

27MAR2018 – Quote of the Day

A little bitter but recognizable to all ages.

 

William Shakespeare

As You Like It.  Act 2 Scene 7

JAQUES

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.

And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,

In fair round belly with good capon lined,

With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,

His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,

Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Forbidden Planet – The Quintessential Sci-Fi Movie? – OCF Classic Movie Reviews

A lot of stuff has been said about what makes Forbidden Planet such an important sci-fi movie.  The ground-breaking special effects, the plot element of a human military vessel exploring space that would spawn the endless iterations of the Star Ship Enterprise.  And of course, there’s the classical angle.  Supposedly the plot is an update of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”

So, there’s all that good stuff.  But to my mind the real reason can be summed up in two words, Anne Francis.  When the angelic face of Miss Francis first appears on screen I began to see the movie in the correct light.  This was an epic adventure story that rivalled the Odyssey of Homer for timelessness and meaning.  Now the fact that I was a sixteen-year old boy at the time probably colored my thought processes to some extent and the skimpiness of her costumes might even have had something to do with it.  But let’s face it, giant ants can only get you so far.  If you want to keep the natives from getting restless you have to appeal to their most powerful motivations and if a blonde-haired, blue eyed creature with a very pretty face and extremely long shapely unclad legs is brought center stage, suddenly even the acting skills of Leslie Nielsen seem greatly enhanced and worth a fair hearing.

But now that I’m in my dotage and no longer as easily swayed by a pretty face, I’ve had a chance to re-evaluate the movie.  Surprisingly, I’m still a big fan.  And this is despite the obvious weaknesses that are extremely evident in such an old film.  The dialog has some extremely cliché-ridden exchanges including:

  • The captain tells off the young woman because her uninhibited interest in the young men in his crew will be a distraction from military discipline.
  • Morbius displays the stereotypical arrogance of the academic intellectual toward the practical military authorities.
  • The banter provided by the ship’s cook is the comic relief that would seem right at home in an Abbott and Costello movie.

So what makes it good?  Well, the humans are mostly likeable and admirable.  The plot unwinds in a manner that allows for the gradual reveal of the mystery.  Of course, the who of the question is answered long before the why and how of the problem.  But the details provide reinforcement of the underlying lesson to learn.  We are reminded that smarter isn’t the same as perfect.

And the special effects are still pretty good.  The animation of the Krell infrastructure impresses the viewer with the gargantuan scope of the installation.  The humans walking through it literally look like ants at one point.

And finally, the interaction between the isolated inhabitants of this dream world and the crew of the no-nonsense military vessel is classic.  It reminds you of the stories that portray the first contact between Europeans and the South Sea Islands.  The sailors always have a feeling they have somehow discovered paradise with its idyllic climate, scantily clad, friendly women and tropical fruit. The military men are enthralled with how favorably it compares to the boring, spartan existence of their all-male naval vessel.

Are there problems with the story?  Yes.  Morbius seems a little too dense for a brilliant scientist.  The resolution of the crisis at the end is a little jarring.  The solution is quite heavy handed.  But all in all, it’s a pretty neat story.  I think it indicates why the Star Trek series was so popular.  But I think it also shows why the later tv series were less interesting.  The adventure and discovery aspects became less of a focus as the Enterprise became less of a military/exploration vessel and more of a social worker/nanny vehicle to the stars.