Monday, May 6, 2013

Jonathan Quayle Higgins Day!

I thought this was as good a day as any to give a shout-out to one of the best known and most efficient seneschals in television history: Higgy Baby!

And while the actor to bring this master of mystery and upper crust stiffness to life, John Hillerman, celebrates his own B-day on Dec. 20, I reckoned I would designate this day as Jonathan Quayle Higgins Day since his actual date of birth in unknown, yet surmised to have been in 1918 (or, roughly, some time b/w 1904-1920). [for more background, see here on JQHiggins] Following is a tribute video from the 6th season of Magnum P.I., Ep: #14---Mad Dogs and Englishmen...

Note the range of the Higgins character, his ability to turn suspicious character withdrawal as readily as he could turn states evidence! A colorful, delightful, at times sinister, past does our favorite aristocratic soldier of fortune carry with him:

==>> As a special treat, I would like to stick a surprise in JQ Higgins's oversized cake and have none other than the hot-to-trot Agatha Chumley burst forth in all her tassled glory-- ginning up & loaded for a Quayle shoot!

 (courtesy: Magnum Mania!)

 [taken from the personal reminiscences of A. 'the D.' Graf]

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Love Song of Prufrock Prep

If I had the time and wherewithal I should like to spare it in a full monographic study of renowned works of Science & Literature on the chartering and formulation of some of our most well known, and notorious, institutions of higher learning.

As matters stand I am only able to offer up this mini-mono about the influence on the type and quality of education which the poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock had upon the wayward learning values of the school known as the Prufrock Preparatory School, as presented to us in the book, The Austere Academy, by Mr. Lemony Snicket. (link)

I'll make use of the lead and follow format, where first I will examine a passage from the poem, followed by more in-depth reading from samples of the book & editorial opinion as to the layout of the academy in question.

[This will be an abridged look at the verses, only, much of the poem is redundant as it pertains to the school. And I am nothing else if not a man who strives to eliminate redundancies wherever they are unnecessary (not all are, you know, depending on circumstance;). Yet, I do believe the remaining pre-repetitious stanzas will be sufficient to provide a well-rounded look into this particular lyceum]

Shall we begin? Pencils please:

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

by T.S. Eliot (link)

     S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse
     A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
     Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
     Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
     Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
     Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.
Mr. Snicket kicks off his tale w/ very much a succinct rendition of this passage from Dante's Inferno with the schools motto in Latin 'Memento Mori' translated meaning, 'Remember you will die.' A dire reminder, but so true. The original passage contains something more, but what passing this way into this place ever really returns, the motto seems to say, let us cut it short as I've not to concern myself with from prying ears. Posterity, take me!

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.
Let us off, then, to this place, the poem is saying to the Baudelaire children, those poor orphans, we may be only partially sensate, but then you only need to be to attend Prufrock Preparatory School. In fact, it is preferred. Let us go, so seeming to say is Mr. Poe, their banker and legal guardian, to this drear, insidious place, which may or may not be as much asylum as academy, that will leave you w/ more questions than you could possibly answer. Let us just go, you'll love it!

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
“”Move, cakesniffers!” the rude, violent, and filthy little girl said as she dashed by them again.”
And so coming and going says, Carmelita Spats! And somewhere in that cake may reside the great Michelangelo...

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
Eh, not so nice? What's this, let's take a look at what Pru Prep has to offer atmospherically:
The were standing on a sidewalk made of bricks, which must have been very old because there was a great deal of dark moss oozing out from in between them. Surrounding the sidewalk was a vast brown lawn that looked like it had never been watered,...”
Grounds keeping is just as important as janitorial/custodial, just watch 'Caddyshack' if you are not convinced. This place seems more of a reform-factory school from an industrial nightmare than a proper educational setting.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
And there will, indeed, be time, time for the Baudelaire children to be peering dismally out the windows of the Orphan Shack where they live at the 'Austere Academy', but who said school was supposed to be all rainbows and unicorns? It sounds as if it will provide ample opportunity for homework-- Approved?! But what of the courses, and plates?
““Now, if either of you are late for class, … your hands will be tied behind your back during meals. You'll have to lean down and eat your food like a dog.””

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
“”Cakesniffing orphans in the Orphan Shack!”” Ms. Spats serenades in the cafeteria.

I grow old… I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
And so we reach this tragic end, the school will get you before you get it, this seems to say, and all evidence heretofore concurs, it will suck you under, why on earth Mr. Poe their guardian had allowed them in this horrid place. Here's a wet, soggy corollary of a somewhat nautical theme:
...tucking their legs up under them to avoid the snapping crabs, they looked up at the ceiling … some sort of fungus was growing on the ceiling, a fungus that was light tan and quite damp. Every few seconds, small drops of moisture would fall from the fungus with a plop!”

I can only think to close these remarks and this look at the influence this poem has had on the formulation of Prufrock Prep, by saying the series of events which led to the marriage of verse & venue was most unfortunate...
A Series of Unfortunate Events

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tilting Down Heroes

[Update editing as of 2017, from an earlier post; Report:

Commentary///The intersection of 'real' & 'play' can be a fence, a bar to how kids should or could --at all-- interact, or it can it be a gateway..? it too often the easy, neat is striven for in preference to the messy, authentic? Why reach for something that isn't a reality but more an adult fantasy, dream which may be unattainable? Should one even have a yard of useless grass if one either doesn't want to mow it, or does but at some point gives up because the purpose becomes purposeless? If it's not a golf course, then, whaaa--? We cannot lock our wishes into place perpetuiously, and the boy holding back the dyke cannot stand there forever with his finger in it.


[1/16/13, 10:39 PM]>>>here then is a SAMPLE:

Tilting Down Heroes: A Superhero Tragedy - A Play in 5 Acts

Characters (& Costumes)

Arturo Pimm – SuperHero/Villain – Pimm Dragon/Porphyry Wyrm (Pimm Dragon – black toboggan hat pulled down full w/ eye holes cut in it, red stitching outlining w/ a forked, red tongue down the front of the mask, black body suit w/ red striping. Porphyry Wyrm – Much the same but Purple w/ black etchings and highlights.)

Fritz Troubadour – The Troubadour/Twilight Ninja, Arturo's friend who has down syndrome and is his sidekick, both good & bad (Troubadour – green hair, loud blue Hawaiian shirt, bronze-toed work boots, big shades w/ little ukelele on strap across his back. Twilight Ninja – black ninja outfit w/ hood/mask.)

Boy #1 Matt – The Felton Mask, a neighborhood playmate who takes on hero/villain role depending on when they play (wears a lone Ranger-type outfit; cowboy hat, vest, cowboy boots and black mask around eyes.)

Boy #2 – The Sword of Fangorrum, another neighborhood boy who plays heroes/villains w/ Arturo & Fritz (wears a fake battle helmet, like Thor, has a plastic sword and sheath at his side.)

Boy #3 – Slalom, another neighborhood cosplayer (wears ski bibs, toboggan and ski goggles; his weapon is his ski poles that he uses as rapiers, can't really use skis depending on weather could be cross-country skier.)

Boy #4 – Razyr, or Straight Blade, a neighborhood boy (wears a black leather trench coat and wields old-fashioned straight razors.)

Angry Man – middle-aged man in neighborhood with anger management problems (he is dressed in 3 different outfits each time we see him; 1. an Oxford button down shirt/no tie & slacks, 2. A sweater, 3. a sweat shirt & ball cap & he has a shotgun or rifle.)

Settings (& Scenes)

The play takes place in: 1) Arturo's bedroom, there is a bed and bedside table and lamp before backdrop painted to look like a boy's room 2) in a wooded playground adjacent to their school, there is one large fake tree for climbing in and a painted backdrop with a jungle gym, trees and school in background, and 3) at a man's house, typical suburban neighborhood 1 ½-level structure (both inside and out, later) & specifically in his lounge/office w/ desk and computer w/ backdrop painted to reflect his private domain

The stage is divided into three parts; Arturo's room is stage right, the playground is center stage, and the angry man's office is stage left, with one final part descending as a backdrop to conceal two (in the 4th Act) of them, Arturo's room and the playground, and this final backdrop is painted to resemble a house roof w/ chimney. After the 4th Act, this scene backdrop re-ascends again for the final two scenes of the 5th Act for action in each of the first two settings.



Act 1Scene1

Setting: In the park outside an elementary or middle school, which is painted on the backdrop and seen through other trees on the backdrop. Arturo and Fritz (playing the heroes) are up in a large tree stage prop on a fake branch sturdy enough to support them (there is fake foliage offering some concealment), another boy is underneath them, he wears a mask, this is Boy #1 Matt (alias, The Felton Mask, playing a villain), three other boys wait just offstage, stage right, and run onstage when Arturo and Fritz leap down on Matt and capture him.

Arturo: (Jumps down from branch onto Mask and knocks him to ground) You are busted, villain!

Fritz: (Jumps down after Arturo) 'eah!

Mask: Aww, man!

Arturo: Restraints, Troub.

Fritz: (takes pair handcuffs from a pocket, cuffs Mask's hands behind his back)

{Coming is a short take from Helga's Finery, Interrupted...}