|Weekend Update - Parks Visited, Classics Revisited
||[Aug. 23rd, 2004|05:56 am]
Reflections of a Man Who Isn't Smoking|
Man, it's been more than 2 weeks now, since my last cigarette - the counter on my info-page advises 408 cigarettes not smoked during those 16 days, a figure that, somewhat to my surprise, I find more psychologically telling than the $134 not spent.
Anyway, there have been some bad moments (and I wouldn't mind a smoke now, for that matter), but I am happy to report I am staying the course. It is very early days, of course, but - maybe - this time I will be shut of that particular demon for good.
Mind you, this past Saturday started off as a difficult day, the first since I actually quit that I didn't spend with Laura from the moment I awoke.
The Bard as Propagandist
I arose around 7:00 Saturday morning, determined to be domestic. The floors needed vacuuming (well, the floors here could use an industrial sterilizing, but nevermind that - vacuuming will do for now) and the wild blueberries I picked up outside of Sudbury a week before were starting to show signs of age.
So I got down to it. Vacuumed the apartment, did the laundry and - by god! - baked 2 blueberry pies, with the crusts made from scratch (butter, not lard, thank you very much). And if I do say so myself, they came out not too badly at all.
(I also made 4 non-descript, shapeless pastry things out of the left-over dough and berries, which caused Laura no end of amusement at my expense.)
Yes, Laura paid me a call, showing up around 3:30 in the afternoon, as promised.
We decided upon what was - for us - an active, date-type evening and found ourselves at one of Toronto's best video-stores (though with one of the worst (so-called) professional websites I've ever seen; holy moly, that's irritating!), where we picked up Kenneth Branagh's Henry V, Monty Python's Meaning of Life and one volume of John Cleese and Connie Booth's seminal Fawlty Towers (the one including "The Germans").
And evening of classics, in other words.
We started with the drama and settled in for some Shakespeare. Branagh's film was probably the first that allowed me to actually enjoy Shakespeare and started me on the road to being able to read the plays without recourse to footnotes twice a line.
The play itself is a jingoistic, pro-Britain story of Henry V's invasion of France culminating in the Battle of Agincourt, when an exhausted, vastly-outnumbered British army slaughtered the French (according to the play, the death-toll was about 500 English, to 10,000 French.
In any case, Shakespeare wrote one hell of a piece of propaganda. During Henry's final call to arms in Act III, from which I quote, grateful to Project Gutenberg below,
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
I found myself wishing I could offer up my life for England - while Laura, more analytically, wondered, "Who does he think he is? Hitler Junior?"
Still, except for the final love scene between Hal and the French Princess, Kate (which was simply implausible and, dramatically, comes out of nowhere), the play holds up very well indeed after 500 or so years - as does Branagh's cinematic interpretation after 10.
The next time any of you, my Gentle Readers, are in the mood for really good drama, that's the one to rent. Branagh understands that Shakespeare didn't write speaches for actors to declaim, but rather, he wrote dialogue for actors to perform - which fact is too often forgotten by those who treat the Barb as a diety rather than just another fucking writer.
Next up was Monty Python's last (and best)) film, The Meaning of Life, which also held up quite well after 20 years - if not quite so well as Shakespeare after 400 years - particularly in its early vignettes. "Birth", was particularly brutal, and the musical number, "Every Sperm is Sacred" is of course a classic.
We decided to forgo Fawlty Towers 'till the morrow at least, and so made our way to bed.
Sunday saw us uncharacteristically active, as Laura insisted we walk off breakfast (a lovely cocoction of french toast, admixed with pineapple, kiwi fruit and mango, topped off with whipped cream and chased by watermellon - does it seem I brag? Fuch you, I brag) and we thus ventured out into the open air and piercing sunlight.
We strolled a while along the lake, then through High Park, eventually coming out at Bloor street more than two hours after we left my apartment. We stopped for a beer at Whelan's pub (amazingly - or perhaps not; what waitress would imagine that a girl with someone as, er, mature as myself could possibly be under-age?), then walked on home, during which I impressed Laura with the sinew of my thighs and back (if not of my brain) by piggy-backing her more than halfway from Bloor to where Dundas turns into Roncesvalles.
Anyway. The morning wanes and so I must hurry my pointless recounting of the weekend.
Back home, we popped in Fawlty Towers and watch 2 of the 3 episodes.
And, wow ..
We roared. Cleese's Basil Fawlty is one of the most brutally funny creations in the history of comedy.
Boiling with rage and fear, he alternates between utter cruelty to those he over whom he has power, to craven toadying towards his social betters
The writing is brilliant with jokes coming at a more-than Seinfeldian pace, while you watch with incredulity at Basil's brutality, sarcasm and venality.
* * *
All right. World Report has started; my pasta is done and I have yet to shower. I must be off.
(Laura, I had (as you know) an incredible time with you, as always.)