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Young Geoffrey

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Weekend Update - Parks Visited, Classics Revisited [Aug. 23rd, 2004|05:56 am]
Young Geoffrey
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.

Onwards.

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.)
linkReply

Comments:
From: patriarch420
2004-08-23 06:54 am (UTC)

Goodbye my Coney Island Baby....

GOod job on finding that Oh! so invigorating monologue. Jane and my father -LOVED- the pie that you made ((yes, i successfully got it home in more or less one piece. )) At the risk of being redundant, i'll refrain from saying much more than "i had a lovely time aswell" - and tell you to have a good day, etc . etc. xoxo much love, -laura-
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-08-23 05:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Goodbye my Coney Island Baby....

I don't mind when you're redundant, my sweet (though I worry that you will mind when I am).

So, I'll ditto your ditto and ask: would you be open to screening another Fawlty Towers tape one of these days? Watching it with you made the experience ever so much more invariable. (And yes: I was wearing the collar when I wrote that last sentence.)
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From: patriarch420
2004-08-23 07:05 pm (UTC)

Re: Goodbye my Coney Island Baby....

Good to know you haven't banished it from your wardrobe after remarks of you being a kinky fag and what not. :D

Jane licked the elongated hicky, by the way. first thing she said to me as i sat down to dinner with her, actually...

"nice hicky *wink nudge* "

yes- fawlty towers part II would be enjoyable one night after work (your work, obviously, as im far too precious to be labouring away... ))

... I"ll bring you a cake tomorrow, biter mcgee

*kiss lix nibble fondle grope*
alright ive embarassed you enough....


-laura-
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From: flickerine
2004-08-23 08:33 am (UTC)

Henry V

I was actually in a production of henry v back in vancouver. we played all of the characters between 8 of us, so we split henry into 8 parts and took the other characters on as well. one of the characters i played was kate, and i actually think it quite strange that when you actually read the script, kate doesn't say much in favour of marrying henry. she's actually pretty quiet, and says a lot of "leave me alone". as i recall, she never actually says yes to him. i took it to me that she was pretty damn hesitant about the whole thing, but the director made me play it the traditional way of becoming enamoured with henry. a tricky part, for sure...
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-08-23 05:55 pm (UTC)

Re: Henry V

I imagine it's a bloody difficult role. According to the play, she isn't a character, she is a political pawn - the King's daughter.

My objection wasn't to Branagh's interpretation, so much as it was to Shakespeare's play, which asks the viewer to believe that Kate and Hal fell in love during a 12-minute period when the English explained to the French How Things Were Going to Work From Here On In.

The love-scene itself was well-done, kind of funny and kind of sweet - but in context, made no sense whatsover.

I take my hat off to you for performing the role without turning away from the seats and declaring you would Act No More.
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[User Picture]From: amaaanda
2004-08-23 02:34 pm (UTC)
I always forget that you live right by me.

In any case, recommend me a horror movie.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-08-23 05:49 pm (UTC)
How can you "forget that [I] live right by [you], when I [I] didn't know it in the first place?

Recommend a horror movie? Can't do it - Jaws scared the shit out of me and my niece reports she saw it when she was 10 and yawned.
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[User Picture]From: amaaanda
2004-08-23 06:43 pm (UTC)
I knew you lived by me because you were talking about your politicians in one post a while ago. And you have mentioned Roncesvalles before. Now you know.

And that surprised the hell out of me. I would expect you to be some massive svengali of horrific flicks. Ah well, I seem to learn something new about you every day.
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From: patriarch420
2004-08-24 07:45 am (UTC)
i want your icon :( its fucking awesome!
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[User Picture]From: amaaanda
2004-08-24 10:54 am (UTC)
Take it!
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From: 10021
2004-08-23 02:50 pm (UTC)
I liked "Henry V" okay, but I just loved "Much Ado About Nothing", which Branaugh also filmed. I have a similar reaction to Shakespeare as you do. It's a drag to read, but very lovely to watch. I think that's why those "Shakespeare in the Park" productions are so popular. Of course, if you are trying to interest your young love, you may want to rent the Leonardo DiCaprio version of Romeo and Juliet. Some people hated it, but I actually liked it a lot.

I've always loved Fawlty Towers. I have a few videocassettes I bought years ago, each with a couple of episodes. I need to dig those out.

If you keep eating like that, better get a bucket...

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From: patriarch420
2004-08-23 05:06 pm (UTC)

Leo Dicaprio= no dice!

I hate leo dicaprio!! lol. I'll try not to be insulted by a cheap hollywood knock-off of that overproduced play... because you had good intentions... but i have tastes similar to geoffy and prefer the classics that are meddled with as little as possible.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-08-23 05:50 pm (UTC)

Re: Leo Dicaprio= no dice!

(please don't call me "geoffy")
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From: 10021
2004-08-24 07:52 am (UTC)

Re: Leo Dicaprio= no dice!

No insult was intended, I assure you. I did genuinely enjoy that film, because I thought it was an interesting interpretation. I have no feelings one way or the other for Leo - the only movie I've seen with him in it was "Gilbert Grape".
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-08-23 05:44 pm (UTC)
Of course, if you are trying to interest your young love, you may want to rent the Leonardo DiCaprio version of Romeo and Juliet. Some people hated it, but I actually liked it a lot.

Thank you, but I think Laura is more than capable of distinguishing between her lust (if any) for Leonardo (is that his real name?) DiCaprio and her appreciation (if any) for the play, Romeo and Juliet.

For myself, I haven't seen the movie or a production of the play. When I was 14, I read it for a lit class and wasn't impressed - but I won't hold myself to that opinion.
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From: 10021
2004-08-24 08:09 am (UTC)
I agree, she's more than capable, quite bright, and and I did not mean to suggest otherwise. I really didn't mean that Laura would like it just because it has Leonardo in it, I was making an honest recommendation for a film I enjoyed. I'm just a sucker for iambic pentameter. I liked the interpretation, and I remember when it came out that it was the first time a number of people her age really "got into" a Shakespeare film. That's why I mentioned it in connection with her, but I should have just recommended it, period.

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From: patriarch420
2004-08-24 02:03 pm (UTC)
oh im sorry! we practically bit your head off ... lol. perhaps geoff and i should lighten up a bit ;) have a good one..
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-08-25 06:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah, we came across a little harsh, didn't we? (And not even with any planning.)

I add my apology to Laura's. We should lighten up. And I won't critique Di Capreo's version until I've actually seen it.
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From: patriarch420
2004-08-25 09:24 pm (UTC)
ya think? lol
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[User Picture]From: offermeescape
2004-08-24 04:30 pm (UTC)
Wow. All those movies and you both managed to keep yourselves from molesting each other to death? *is impressed*

I love love. That's all I have to say.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-08-25 06:03 pm (UTC)
All those movies and you both managed to keep yourselves from molesting each other to death?

That's why god invented intermissions, and apreàs-cine moments my young friend.

(I love love, too - it's a rare and wonderful thing when it happens.
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