Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Some random thoughts of randomness

1. My dad bought a new bike recently. He's always been a big walker, and goes around the White Estates neighborhood where I grew up, picking up trash with his grabbin-claw or whatever that thing is called and a Wal-Mart sack. He enjoys biking around now too, although I don't think he can still pick up trash, because wouldn't that be kind of hard? You might have to pedal in circles around, say, a cast-off paper McDonald's bag, before you could actually pick it up. ANYWAY, my mom was talking about getting a bike for herself so that she could join him, and I brightly suggested, "Why don't you get a bicycle built for two?"

My dad, who was sitting in an armchair with his eyes fixed intently on SportsCenter, snorted. Mom cast him a brief glance and said, "The last time we rode on a two-person bike, on Mackinac Island? He said he had to do all the work."

"I did," my father said emphatically, his focus on the television unwavering.

"Well, maybe you could promise to pedal really hard," I said soothingly.

My mother sat thinking for a moment and then announced, "I think I'd rather just get a rickshaw. We've been married forty-nine years. Why bother with pretense?"

2. Our new school year starts this Thursday, September 1. Meelyn will be a senior and Aisling will be a junior. I AM STARING DOWN THE TWIGS OF AN EMPTY NEST, PEOPLE.

3. Since school is starting up, I think I'll start Menu Plan Monday next Monday, which is Labor Day, so maybe I'll start next Tuesday. Just keepin' it real.

4. Dobby was barking at the people across the street, who were doing nothing more threatening than sitting on their front porch, talking and drinking iced tea. I know, I can't believe the nerve of those trolls either. Dobby barked at them so violently, he fell off the back of the couch onto the floor. Epic fail.

5. I'm teaching a class in British literature this first semester, plus my usual Shakespeare class. The Shakespeare play for this semester is Julius Caesar, and by some amazing happenstance, because I promise I did not know about this earlier, the Indiana Repertory Theater is doing Julius Caesar this fall! I am very excited, because although I have the three extant copies of Julius Caesar on DVD (one starring Marlon Brando as Mark Antony and the other starring Charlton Heston as Marc Antony and the other one starring no one I've heard of before and ALL THREE OF THEM SUCK LIKE A SHOP VAC.

6. This morning in water aerobics class, the music of the day was the greatest hits of Elton John and I knew the lyrics to every single song. Did some great in-pool jumping jacks to "Philadelphia Freedom."

7. I've been accused by several people of shamefully neglecting my blog. It's been a very busy summer - that's the only excuse I have. I'll try to do better.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

As the mother of teenaged daughters, I'd like to say to God:

Dear God, it would be really helpful if all the crappy, nasty, jerkface teenaged boys could be ugly mutts, while all the honest, nice and honorable boys could look like Greek gods. That would cut down on a lot of confusion for the girls in our house, since recently they've encountered some real wolves in sheep's clothing. Or, more to the point, some truly sucky young men that, as you might remember? -- On Wednesday of last week? -- their father was inclined to punch in the face, but who looked, on the surface, like the handsome and charming proverbial Boys Next Door. If, by chance, you live next door to a brothel-slash-bus station-slash-public toilet.

If you could please see to this straight away, I would be very grateful.

Thank you,

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"A plague on both your houses"

I went with Katie on a scouting expedition to the Illinois Shakespeare Festival at the University of Illinois at Bloomington and we saw a wonderful production of Romeo & Juliet that just took. My. Breath. Almost literally, since the perfect little theater is an outdoor venue and when the play started at seven thirty, it was still about ninety-two degrees outside.

My favorite Romeo and Juliet is still the 1996 production, directed by the genius Baz Luhrmann, and starring Leonardo di Caprio as Romeo and Claire Danes as Juliet. For all of you who wonder about Leonardo's ability to pull off a believable Romeo, just watch it, is all I can say. And Claire Danes has a way with the innocent and girlish, yet steel-spined Juliet that will break your heart and make you think back to the days of your first love, I guarantee. There are lots of stars in this production, including a sinister and scarily nasty-sexy John Leguizamo in the role of Tybalt, the Prince of Cats, but the best of them all is the above pictured Harold Pirreneau as Romeo's best friend, Mercutio. He is full of life, right up until the moment he dies.

"A plague...on both...your houses," he gasps out, clutching the mortal wound Tybalt has given him with a switchblade. He turns, dazed and disbelieving, and mutters, "They have made worm's meat of me." Then he wheels back around, summoning his remaining strength and screams in the white-hot fury of one young and dying before his time, "A PLAGUE...ON BOTH....YOUR HOUSES!"

It's one of the most arresting moments of cinema I've seen, and hands-down Shakespeare's best curse, with Caesar's ghost in Julius Caesar coming in a distant second with the ominous, "Thou shalt see me at Phillippi."

The Mercutio in the Illinois Shakespeare Festival production we just saw was very, very good (played by a young actor named Santiago Sosa) and his moment to utter is the moment I always wait for in Romeo & Juliet, one of my own personal tests by which I judge the performance, asking myself Did that raise the hairs on the back of my neck and render me momentarily incapable of inhaling?

Santiago Sosa did a creditable job, although I have to say like there's nothing better than the banshee scream under Luhrmann's direction. Yet. I'll be happy to attend as many performance as I can, so as to compare and contrast, of course. My pleasure.

Here, for your own pleasure, is the very clip I've been talking about.

(And by the way, Katie and I both agreed that the Illinois Shakespeare Festival is a very worthy off-year trip for my students and their parents, great for the summers when we aren't traveling to Ontario.)