Thursday, December 13, 2012

Shakespeare References In Magazines (Cascade)

Yes, I'm still going through the stack of magazines as I clean my apartment. And as I do, I find more and more Shakespeare references.

In the Spring 2012 issue of Cascade (which is a University of Oregon magazine), there is a short piece titled "'Tis (Not) the Winter of Our Discontent." The title is a play on the opening line of Richard The Third.  The piece itself is about a group of freshmen attending a production of The African Company Presents Richard III at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  "This was the third year Middlebrook has taken students to Ashland, a tradition she plans to continue next fall by taking students to a performance of either Shakespeare's Henry V or Romeo and Juliet (page 17).

And then in the Fall 2012 issue there are two brief mentions of Shakespeare. The first is in an article titled "Theater as a (Re)Defining Experience."  This piece doesn't actually refer to any of Shakespeare's plays, but rather to a theater company in the line, "The latter objective was a motivating factor behind his decision to direct Dominic Cooke's Royal Shakespeare Company adaptation of Arabian Nights, as his first UO production last spring" (page 16).

The second reference is in a piece titled "Whose National Culture?" which is about a 2010 Arizona law that bans Chicano ethnic studies from being taught in primary schools and high schools.  "Other books banned under the Arizona statute include Drown, by Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz, The House on Mango Street by American Book award winner Sandra Cisneros and even Shakespeare's The Tempest" (page 19). (I haven't looked into this statute, but while it seems absolutely ridiculous, it doesn't really ban any books. After all, these books will still be available; they just won't be taught. None of those books were taught at my high school either. Still, what's going on in Arizona?)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Shakespeare References In "All In The Family" Season Four

All In The Family, starring Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, and Sally Struthers, has a couple of Shakespeare references in its fourth season.  In the episode titled "Edith's Christmas Story," there is a reference to Hamlet. Mike and Gloria are keeping some news about Edith from Archie. Mike tells him, "We're just talking." Archie responds, "Oh, don't give me that. There's something going on. What I mean to say, there's something rotten in the state of Denver." That, of course, is a play on Marcellus' line "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" (from Act I Scene iv).

In the episode "Et Tu, Archie?" Archie is worried that an unemployed old friend might take his job, and so he tells his personnel manager some things that put him in a bad light. The title, of course, is a reference to the famous line from Julius Caesar. After Brutus stabs Caesar in Act III Scene i, Caesar says, "Et tu, Brute?"

(There were also Shakespeare references in the second season.)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Shakespeare References In "All In The Family" Season Two

All In The Family, starring Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, and Sally Struthers, has a couple of Shakespeare references in its second season.  If you are familiar with the character of Archie Bunker (played by Caroll O'Connor), it might not be a surprise to learn that both references are to The Merchant Of Venice.  The first in is the episode titled "Edith's Accident." Edith (Jean Stapleton) dents someone's car with her shopping cart, and leaves a note with her name, phone number and address. The owner of the car calls to say he's coming over. Archie (Carroll O'Connor), assuming the guy is coming to shake them down, says, "The dent in his car is hardly cold, and he's comin' over here to claim his pound of fish."  Archie often mixes up his words when making a point, and this line is obviously a reference to the "pound of flesh."

The second reference to The Merchant Of Venice is in the episode titled "Maude" (this was the episode that set up the series' first spin-off). Maude's daughter Carol (Marcia Rodd) suddenly learns that her fiance, David, has bought a house without consulting her. He tells her it was a bargain. Carol responds, "I should have known you couldn't pass up a good bargain." David then says, "Is that some reference to the fact that I'm Jewish? Do you want to see if I bleed? Do you want to see if a Jew bleeds? Walter, give me the knife. You want a pound of my blood?"  This is a strange combination of references. The line "Do you want to see if I bleed?" of course refers to Shylock's great speech in Act III Scene i, specifically the line "If you prick us, do we not bleed?"  And then the "pound of my blood" refers to the pound of flesh that Antonio must forfeit to Shylock if he fails to pay him back on time. It is interesting that in the episode he says "pound of my blood," for it is the fact that the bond says nothing about blood that allows Portia to keep Shylock from getting his payment.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sex Slave Daughter (1983) Book Review

This is the kind of book that makes me wish I had kids.

Candy Miles is a sexy young newspaper delivery girl, and every guy in the neighborhood wants her. But Jerry Smith thinks he deserves her. He thinks he's better than all the rest of the guys on the block. "Why did she even condescend to speak to them? The dizzy cunt! The whole lot of them weren't worth one of her golden turds" (page 8). Golden turds?  Holy moly, what does this girl eat?  One time my turds were white and my friend thought I should go to the hospital.  I wonder what Candy's friends tell her.  And isn't a bit odd that this guy in the neighborhood has any knowledge of her bowel movements?  Yes, this book is intriguing right from the start.

Jerry Smith gets so upset over the idea of Candy talking to other men that he smacks the blonde that's in bed with his roommate Warren.

Meanwhile Candy is inside the preacher's house, and the preacher's tongue is inside Candy. "Although she found the reverend to be a repulsive old toad, she couldn't help but be excited by the situation" (page 22). "Of all the men on her route, Reverend Lee was certainly the most repulsive. He was her best-paying customer, though - probably because his tips for her services came straight out of the church treasury" (page 25). Praise Jesus.

After the preacher comes, Candy "parted her lips, allowing the reverend to insert his slimy cock between them. As her lips closed around his deflated prick, he started to piss" (pages 29-30). Now there's a tip I never got when I had a paper route. If I had, I'd probably still be working as a paperboy.

Soon Candy is delivering a paper to Jerry, who takes this opportunity to have sex with her. Has journalism ever been so exciting? She enjoys the sex, but still "as her orgasm subsided, she simultaneously brought her hands around to his face and her left knee up at his balls. As she ripped at his cheeks and slammed his nose, she twisted her knee at his balls, trying to grind them to mush" (pages 39-40). I wonder if she'll also leave his Sunday edition under the lawn sprinkler. What a little bitch.

Then she goes home and has sex with her father. She worries about herself because she finds she enjoys it. "Why does it feel so good? Why do I have to degrade myself like this?" (page 54).  Jerry, meanwhile, has decided "He would never wash his prick again as long as he lived" (page 57). Oh, I sense this story taking a turn toward the grotesque. But it also shows, does it not, how much he loves the young delivery girl. Though a moment later he also decides, "When he got his hands on her again he was going to fuck her to death" (page 58).

He decides that he and his roommate Warren will lure her out of her home and grab her, using a cat as bait. It works, but it seems they could have just called her and asked for a date, for she doesn't really struggle. In fact in the back seat of the car she tells Warren, "Eat me. Oooh, yes, yes!" (page 67).

They take her to an old gym and tie her up. Jerry has his way with her while Warren is... well, we don't know what he's doing. Then Jerry leaves to pick up the blond girl, and Warren gets his turn. Warren gets so excited that "His prick rippled with veins. His cock-knob was ready to pop off his prickshaft due to his excitement" (page 88-89). I know just how he feels, for I can still remember the first time I heard "Gypsys Tramps & Thieves." Wow! 

Jerry finds the blonde, Margot, masturbating. He grabs her. "He also gathered up all the soiled panties he could find, which he would add to his own collection of the panties and bras and negligees he'd been flinching from girls and women ever since he'd been a young kid" (page 98). It's good to have a hobby, but it's no fun to work the convention center when the dirty underwear enthusiasts come to town. By the way, I'm not sure how to flinch panties and negligees. Perhaps author Frank Brown was reaching for the word "filch" but when he came up with "flinch" his brain told him it was close enough.

"Throwing Margot over his left shoulder like a sack of dirty laundry, and hugging the bag of sex-toys and dirty underwear in his right arm, he stole out of the apartment as quietly as he'd entered" (page 98). Wait a moment. If he carries Margot like a bag of dirty laundry, but then carries the actual bag of dirty laundry differently, does that mean he's insane or simply dishonest or inconsistent? Apparently it means he's insane, for Margot "knew her kidnapper was a psycho, but her sexual excitement overwhelmed any sense of fear she had" (page 99).

Soon after Jerry and Margot arrive at the gym, Jerry is kind enough to share his collection with Candy, "stuffing the yellow-stained crotches of the panties into Candy's mouth" (page 114). By the end, Candy has gained a new self-image: "I'm a sewer, Candy told herself, a sewer for men to empty their fuck slime into" (page 123). And don't worry, for this book has a happy ending for everyone, although Candy's father ends up needing to buy a new daughter.

Sex Slave Daughter is A House Of Lords Book, published in 1983 by Oakmore Enterprises, Inc.

Shakespeare References In Magazines (American Journalism Review, Westways and Oregon Quarterly)

As I continue to go through a stack of old magazines, I find more Shakespeare references.  In the March 1999 issue of American Journalism Review, in an article titled "Slouching Toward Sanity," Rem Rieder writes, "Truth will come to light, Shakespeare wrote. Today, everything else will as well" (page 6)

In the March/April 2009 issue of Westways, an article about buying a new car is titled "To Buy or Not to Buy?" (page 28). That is obviously a reference to the first line of Hamlet's famous soliloquy.

There are a couple of Shakespeare references in the Summer 2009 issue of Oregon Quarterly.  The first is in a piece titled "Numbered Days" by Harold Toliver. Toliver writes, "What if the study of natural history had gotten under way sooner, truly under way, not as in Egyptian alchemy and theories of the little bits the Greeks called atoms and not as in the golden age of astronomy in Gupta, India. Little that we now recognize as the civilizations that archeologists unearth would have led some 500 generations into such deep confusion about the Earth and the cosmos. Certainly my beloved Chaucer and Shakespeare would have turned out quite different" (page 29).

The second is actually a piece titled "Shaking Up Shakespeare," about theatre director Scott Palmer's non-traditional stagings or adaptations of some of Shakepeare's plays including The Comedy Of Errors, King Lear and A Midsummer Night's Dream. "He transformed King Lear into an intimate family drama set in the 1950s around issues of aging and dementia. He did A Midsummer Night's Dream as a silent movie and Titus Andronicus as Japanese kabuki theater" (page 44).

Shakespeare Study: The Tragedy Of Cymbeline

This is the third year of my Shakespeare study. I read one play each month, and then watch as many film versions as I can get my hands on, and read as many books about the play as I'm able. November 2012 was The Tragedy Of Cymbeline.  There was only one film version that I could get.

Related Books:

- The Recurring Miracle: A Study Of Cymbeline And The Last Plays  by D. R .C. Marsh  -  As indicated by its title, this book focuses mainly on Cymbeline, but also has short chapters on Pericles, Prince Of Tyre; The Winter's Tale; and The Tempest. In the main chapter on Cymbeline, Marsh writes, regarding Posthumus and Imogen, "The difference in their attitudes to their love seems apparent even here. He gives Imogen the bracelet as a sign of his possession of her. She gives her ring as a token of her love for him" (page 28).  Later in that chapter, Marsh writes, "This is an interesting idea: it suggests not only that had she not been the direct heir to the throne, the opposition to her marriage, and all the suffering that it has caused, would have been less, but also that she would gladly give up her position, which many would esteem so highly, for the sake of her love. It also shows a deep understanding of the predicament in which Posthumus has been placed. For a man to have his value judged by his wife is in a sense unnatural; the position of king-consort is never an easy one. It may even be suggested that this sort of subconscious jealousy lies at the root of Posthumus's readiness to believe that his wife has been unfaithful to him" (page 71).  Published in 1962.

- William Shakespeare's Cymbeline  adapted by Vincent Goodwin; illustrated by Rod Espinosa  -  This is a volume in the Graphic Shakespeare series from Graphic Planet.  For some reason Iachimo is spelled Jachimo, but the rest of the characters are the same as in the play.  But there are other changes. Rather than have himself brought into Imogen's bedchamber in a trunk, Jachimo climbs in through her window, hanging upside down on a rope like Batman or something (see photo below).  Imogen, by the way, isn't very pretty, and in this version she dyes her hair brown (from red) as part of her disguise.  This book is fewer than fifty pages, so large chunks of the play are cut.  For example, Belarius, Guiderius and Arviragus are not introduced until Imogen meets them (in Act III Scene vi). The entire plot regarding the poison is dropped (though it's mentioned in the play's summary at the end of the book). There is also no mention of the Queen's death (except, again, in the play's summary). But of course we get images of the battle, which the play can't give us.  Published in 2011.

- Cymbeline  adapted by Emma Rice; written by Carl Grose  -  This is a contemporary musical version of Cymbeline, which makes several changes to Shakespeare's play, and even has the Queen giving Cymbeline cocaine. In the introduction, Emma Rice writes, "But for me, Cymbeline is a fairy tale. It is about where we come from, who we are and how we find out way home. It is about family, but not a sentimental notion of family, no. This story tackles step-families and dead parents, abduction and surrogate care. This is about families, as we know them, damaged, secretive, surprising and frustrating. Cymbeline, the king and father, is lost at the start. He is in the fog" (page 5).  When the play opens, it has been exactly twenty years since the King's sons were kidnaped, and there is a shrine to the princes. In this version, Pisanio is female, and there is the additional character of Joan Puttock. Posthumous gives Imogen his watch rather than a bracelet. Instead of a mole, Imogen has a tattoo that Iachimo spies. Cloten learns about Milford-Haven from Pisanio before Imogen has even left. Pisanio actually tries to kill Imogen with a knife. Imogen becomes Ian, not Fidele. The Queen's death is by suicide, and is done on stage.  Published in 2007.

Film Versions:

- Cymbeline  (1982) with Richard Johnson, Claire Bloom, Helen Mirren, Michael Pennington, John Kane, Paul Jesson and Robert Lindsay; directed by Elijah Moshinsky.  This film version has an excellent cast, but is marred by some thoughtless cuts (mostly in the first act), and by the way that asides are handled, and by some re-ordering of scenes late in the play.  In Act I Scene i, the second gentleman is played by a woman.  The Queen's aside, "Yet I'll move him/To walk this way. I never do him wrong/But he does buy my injuries, to be friends/Pays dear for my offenses," is sadly and terribly cut. You can't cut that aside, because it establishes her character and that she works behind the scenes. It seems like it was meant to be in, because there is a shot of the Queen (Claire Bloom) at the doorway, looking back, which is pointless if her aside isn't spoken there.  This is the first of several inexcusable cuts.  When Posthumus and Imogen exchange the ring and bracelet, it is done backlit, so they are nearly in silhouette (this shot is then done again at the end, which is nice).  The Lord's first lines from Scene ii are cut.  This is another bad cut, though not as awful as the first.  But the Lord's lines establish that not even Cloten's men think very highly of him.  Plus, Cloten's first line is a response to the Lord's line, and this film version begins with Cloten's response. But having a character respond to a line that has been cut is retarded.  This film also combined three characters into one. The First Gentleman, the Second Lord and Cornelius are all combined into one character, who retains the name Cornelius.  This isn't a case of the same actor playing three minor roles. It is a case of three roles being combined, as the actor wears the same costume throughout.  And in Scene ii all of the Second Lord's asides are done directly to Cloten (Paul Jesson). The last several lines of that scene are cut. The scene with Iachimo (Robert Lindsay) and Posthumus (Michael Pennington) is really good. It's difficult scene to do believably, but these two actors excel in this scene.  In Scene v, the film goes from the Queen's aside, "upon him/Will I first work" straight to Cornelius' aside, "I do not like her."  And so cut is the rest of the Queen's aside, "He's for his master,/And enemy to my son" (a line that is needed), plus her line to Pisanio and her line dismissing Cornelius. Also cut is the doctor's first aside, "I do suspect you, madam;/But you shall do no harm."  By the way, none of the asides in this film are done to the camera, to the audience, and that seems a great mistake.  Cornelius' aside is spoken to just the right of camera.  Scene v ends with the Queen's "To taste of too," cutting Pisanio's lines.  Scene vi begins with a wonderful wide shot of Imogen seated by herself, and then slowly pushes in on her. Her first few lines are presented as voice over. She begins to speak aloud on "Had I been thief-stol'n."  And when Iachimo enters, there is one another inexcusable cut.  Gone is his aside, "All of her that is out of door most rich!/If she be furnish'd with a mind so rare,/She is alone the Arabian bird, and I/Have lost the wager./Boldness be my friend!/Arm me, audacity. from head to foot!/Or, like the Parthian, I shall flying fight;/Rather, directly fly."  This is one of the worst cuts in any film version of any of Shakespeare's plays.  The aside does two very important things. It establishes for the audience that Imogen is so pure that even a man like Iachimo recognizes it immediately upon meeting her.  It also establishes that he realizes he can't win the wager by any straightforward means, as he'd intended, but that he means to go forward with an attempt anyway, but using a more devious strategy.  Cutting the aside makes us believe that he had this strange strategy all along, which is not the case.  In other words, don't fucking cut these lines. Then, when Iachimo turns away to say, "What! are men mad," it looks like an aside, because he's looking off toward the right, just as Cornelius did in the earlier scene. But this is not an aside, and Imogen looks up at him, showing that she hears the lines.  This would not be confusing if the real asides were done directly to the camera, to distinguish them from this shot. There is another strange moment in this scene that seems out of character for Imogen. As Iachimo tries to woo her, he leans in on "And will continue fast to your affection,/Still close as sure." Imogen whispers "What ho, Pisanio!" implying that she doesn't really want Pisanio to enter. Iachimo continues, "Let me my service tender on your lips," and Imogen closes her eyes and leans in for a kiss, only backing away slightly at the last moment to say weakly "Away!"  This is a very odd choice, because it shows Imogen to be much weaker than the text implies.  Note the exclamation points on "What ho, Pisanio!" and "Away!" These lines were not meant to be timidly spoken. Was this Helen Mirren's choice, or the director's?  But then right away, Imogen regains her strength for "I do condemn mine ears that have/So long attended thee," and her strength builds so that she then does shout the next "What ho, Pisanio!"
Paul Jesson is perfect as Cloten, and I love the way he's presented in Act II Scene i.  The scene ends with the Second Lord's line, "Cannot take two from twenty for his heart/And leave eighteen," thus cutting the last several lines of the scene. And it does seem strange for the doctor to be saying the Lord's lines.  In Scene ii, Iachimo is shirtless when he emerges from the trunk.  Robert Lindsay is really good, and the scene is presented well.  The first several lines of Scene iii are cut.  While the musicians play, we see a shot of Imogen in her chamber searching frantically for her bracelet. Most of the Queen's lines to Cloten are cut, as is his response to her before the Messenger enters.  Several other lines are cut from this scene.  Again, the actors playing Iachimo and Postumus are excellent Scene iv, when Iachimo "proves" he's won the wager.  Much of Postumus' speech of Scene v is done in extreme closeup.
Act III Scene i ends with Lucius' line "I thank thee for myself," so cutting the last several speeches, including Cymbeline's response, "Thou art welcome, Caius./Thy Caesar knighted me; my youth I spent/Much under him; of him I gather'd honor." It's a shame to lose those lines, because they show Cymbeline in a better light.  This play portrays him as something of an angry jerk rather than a more well-rounded character.  Scene iii begins with a shot of bird in the air, an image the film will use again later (but to no great effect).  Instead of a cave, Belarius and the two sons live in an austere building, which of course is not nearly as rough as a cave. And so Belarius says "This cell and these demesnes" rather than "This rock and these demesnes." His speech to the boys ends with "This is not hunter's language," thus cutting the lines about the competition regarding the better hunter.  The line in his next speech mentioning the cave is cut.  This speech should be done directly to the audience, for he is telling us the true tale of who he is, and who the boys are.  But as it's presented, it's as if he's thinking these lines out loud, which makes much less sense.  The scene with Imogen and Pisanio is excellent, the scene where Imogen learns that Pisanio has been ordered to kill her.  We have a scene with Cloten being dressed in Posthumus' clothes while two servants hold mirrors.  When they are done, Cloten speaks some of his speech from Act IV Scene i, beginning with "How fit his garments serve me" and ending with "What mortality is."  Imogen's long speech from Act III Scene vi is cut, and that scene begins with Belarius telling the sons, "Stay; come not in."  They could have made Helen Mirren more boyish.  Most of the second half of that scene is cut.  Act III Scene vi is cut entirely.
We then continue with Cloten's speech from Act IV Scene i, beginning with "Posthumus, thy head." But now Cloten is wandering about in the dark, alone, and shouting his lines. The last line is cut.  Several speeches are cut from Scene ii, including everything after Imogen takes the drug before Cloten's entrance.  After Cloten says "I am faint," he promptly falls over. Guiderius enters and Cloten immediately gets up, demanding "What slave art thou?"  Here is another awful cut. Gone are the lines establishing the Belarius and the sons were watching Cloten, and that Belarius recognized him and feared "some ambush."  Gone are the lines where Guiderius tells Belarius and his brother to sarch for what companies might be nearby.  These are important lines.  Another cut in this scene changes the meaning of a line. Cloten says, "Know'st me not by my clothes" and this film then goes to Guiderius' line, "Thou art some fool," which suggests that Posthumus' clothes are silly. But that is not what is meant at all.  After "Die the death," they fight, but what we see is a shot of birds flying.  Then it goes to a closeup of Cloten's severed head, held by Guiderius, and Belarius' line, "What has thou done?"  So several speeches are cut.  There is a human skull on the table in Belarius' home - an odd bit of set dressing. Whose is it supposed to be?  The woman who was the boys' nurse?  Imogen rubs Cloten's blood on her face at the end of the scene when she wakes next to his body.
And this is when the order of scenes becomes quite confused.  After Lucius says, "Dream often so,/And never false" to the soothsayer (who is played by a woman, by the way, thus necessitating minor changes of pronouns later in Act V Scene v), we go to Scene iii. Cornelius speaks Cymbeline's line, "A fever with the absence of her son,/A madness of which her life's in danger." Then Cymbeline takes over with "Heavens!"  After Scene iii, it skips to Act V Scene i, with the beginning of Posthumus' speech.  After "I'll give no wound to thee," we go back to Act IV Scene ii, when Lucius finds Imogen. This begins with Lucius' line, "Let's see the boy's face." After Lucius says, "And rather father thee than master thee," we go back to Act V Scene i for more of Posthumus' speech, beginning with "I'll disrobe me/Of these Italian weeds."  Then it goes to Act IV Scene iv, which ends with "and there I'll lie," thus cutting the last lines. The film then jumps to Act V Scene iii.  Act V Scene ii is cut entirely, so we lose the moment when Iachimo has a change of heart and reveals his guilt.  More importantly, we lose the battle scene where Belarius and the boys rescue Cymbeline, and the battle turns to favor the Britons. It's weird, because we go right from Belarius and the boys deciding to enter the war to Posthumus talking about how those three changed the course of the war.  In Scene iv. the film cuts to Sicilus rather than have the apparitions enter has indicated by the text, so for a moment it seems a new scene, that Sicilus isn't in the same room as Posthumus. Because we go from an extreme closeup of Posthumus to a closeup of Sicilus.  By the way, it's great to see Michael Hordern as Jupiter.  In Scene v, after Lucius enters, Cymbeline says, "Thou com'st not, Caius, now for tribute," but the rest of his lines are cut. This is another unforgiveable cut, because what's missing is that Cymbeline is going execute all the prisoners.  You absolutely need this line, because Lucius responds to it, and because later Cymbeline changes his mind and pardons all.  The response and the pardon are included in this film version, but not that he was going to execute the prisoners.  That makes no sense whatsoever.  The last line in this production is Cymbeline's "And let our crooked smokes climb to their nostrils/From our bless'd altars," thus cutting the last seven lines of the play.  As noted, the play ends with Postumus and Imogen in silhouette, with him replacing the bracelet on her arm and kissing her.