12 March 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


At 9:00 tonight you'll be humming that to yourself, thinking, "What the crap? How did that song get in my head now?"

And I will laugh with wicked delight!

My college roommate of two years, Durwood Murray, had a spring tradition. It was this: We would walk the quad, or the Fan, and as we walked some young lady would invariably saunter past in shorts, or a tank top or both. Durwood would respectfully but noticeably appreciate this combination of factors and then say, to no one in particular, "Man, I love spring." Trust me when I say that, coming from Durwood, it was charming.

After a brutal half-week cold snap, it is warming up in the city. I doubt we're out of the lion days of March yet, but I take what I can get when I can get it. (How is it in the gutter there, mind[s]?) It enervates me, reminding me of just how much of my bouts with the doldrums lately have had to do with cabin fever and lack of light. My mood is sadly sensitive to a lack of warm light, undeniably; yet it is a response I can't help but wonder if I might not be having at this point had not someone once suggested the idea to me. Capiche? It's like you never ever see people in wheelchairs, then a book you're reading mentions them and suddenly they're everywhere. Sophistry at its best. Or worst. Whichever you choose to believe is right.

Yesterday was a highly productive Sunday, in part as a result of this (and in other part because I largely ignored my phone and had my roommate about, which somehow always motivates one to look busier), and one of the things I produced was to finally reduce the size of my pictures files from California (see 2/19/07). My new camera (Casio Exilim EX-S770) takes poster-sized shots, and I haven't figured out how to recalibrate the camera yet, so loading up the shots onto my computer essentially obliterated what little storage space poor Grndyl had left. This simple, seemingly monotonous task turned out to be really interesting. Distance lends perspective, and I recalled that for a week I had an early spring on the west coast.

Last night Anna Zastrow--an amazing clown--came over and we met and discussed her full-length clown piece, Breathe or You Can Die! She showed me a DVD of its performance at last year's Fringe Festival, and we discussed what she liked and didn't like about it. Anna wants me to work with her on improving the piece; sadly, we both have continuously busy schedules. It will take some doing to find time. But I love her clown, Helda. A couple of years ago I helped direct her appearance in a show we were both performing in, Madness & Joy!, by Ruth Wikler's group, Cirque Boom. It was a great time, and it's rewarding to know that Anna apparently found my input helpful. Helda is a wonderfully sentient clown (which is probably why I identify with her so well), and Anna is a wonderfully committed and serious clowner. I hope we can work it out.

Must . . . tie . . . disparate portions of entry . . . together . . . . Can't . . . allow . . . for disjointed . . . personal narrative . . . .

Finally, last night Friend Adam and I caught a late showing of 300, the movie based upon Frank Miller's amazing graphic novel of the same title. I love Miller's work (he wrote and drew my favorite comic in the whole world ever: Batman - Year One) and Adam and I have sort of a pact to see every comicbook adaptation together, yet I was reluctant to see the 300. Miller's previous film adaptation, Sin City, was the most amazing translation of a comicbook to the screen I had ever seen (at that time), full of understanding and appreciation not just of the story and characters, but of the dramatic appeal of the aesthetic. And after I saw it, I knew I would never willingly watch it again. The grotesque acts of violence in those stories have to clobber you for the world to make sense, and Miller accomplishes this with ease in his drawings. The movie took such a literal approach to the translation of these acts, however, that when put in motion with real voices behind it, this translation created a running terror throughout the movie of wondering when the next holocaust remembrance would occur. It was terrible.

300 is a violent, violent movie. There is decapitation and evisceration galore. Yet the makers spared a thought or two to allowing the aesthetic of the film to convey the violence and stakes without necessarily conveying the horror of dirty deeds. Somehow, through the bodies piled high, the black blood flying in clumps through the air, the silhouetted limbs falling to the earth, the violence is glorified, occasionally laughed at and in some way justified. It helps to know the historical context of this movie (which isn't to say the film is at all an accurate portrayal of events). This battle was ancient Greece's Pearl Harbor, and without it and the sacrifice of Leonidas and his 300, Western civilization as we know it probably would not exist.

Make of that what you will.

Spring is sprung, the Persians are being gored gloriously on the screen and the clowns are coming out of hibernation. Lock up yer daughters, ye farmers.

"Lock it up!"

"No, you lock it up!"

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Most refer to it as Ancient Greece's Alamo. You know, a small band of volunteers, standing for freedom against an overwhelming force, which died, only to be used as the rallying cry for a greater tomorrow.
But I see your point; hundreds of thousands of Persians, marching over land after sending messengers to the kings they were attacking, is just like Pearl Harbor.

Jeff Wills said...

Oh, Anonymous, thank goodness I have you to keep me on my toes. But must we involve sarcasm in my lambastation? (Is-so a word.) I always forget the Alamo. I suppose that makes me downright un-American. Or at least un-Texan.