“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.” ~ Queen Elizabeth I
Saturday afternoon, sunny and milder, 78 degrees.
I’ve been on a British history binge for weeks now, absorbing documentaries and shows about the War of the Roses and the Tudors. Last night I finished watching the series, The White Queen, based on books written by historical novelist Philippa Gregory. I’ve never read any of her books, and she has been criticized for working loosely with history, but hey, the key word here is novelist, not biographer.
I used to know pretty much the entire tree of British monarchy, largely because of my Shakespeare classes, but I’ve had to go back and familiarize myself again since beginning this current binge.
Anyway, today is the birthday of Queen Elizabeth I (September 7, 1533 – March 24, 1603), who ruled England and Ireland for almost 44 years. The grand irony, of course, is that her father, Henry VIII was obsessed with having a son to carry on the Tudor dynasty, yet his son, Edward VI reigned for only six years and died at only 15, and his daughter, Mary (aka Bloody Mary) ruled for only five. Elizabeth, daughter of Henry and second wife Anne Boleyn, was never supposed to be queen, and she was in fact declared illegitimate at one point, yet her rule is referred to as England’s Gloriana, and her long reign brought stability to the country after years of instability and war.
For more on the “virgin queen” you can go here or here.
Virginia Woolf’s Writing Table, Monk’s House, by Gisele Freund
“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ~ Rachel Carson
I woke up speaking French again. Very disconcerting. However, as Corey pointed out, what would be more disconcerting is if I did not actually know French, but I was speaking it in my dreams. Granted, my conversational abilities are very limited, but for some reason, I dream in French occasionally.
It’s absolutely beautiful here today, a perfect spring day. That is, everything would be perfect if not for one thing: yesterday was opening day at the park that our house abuts. Opening day is exactly what it sounds like: the baseball season opening, which means lots of cars beeping their horns, the loudspeaker blaring at 9 in the morning, car alarms, and litter. Every year, people park illegally in front of our house. I say illegally because of the no-parking signs and the fire hydrant, not because I don’t want them to park there. I try to warn people if I see them parking that they will get a ticket if the police happen by, but they usually just look at me as if I am being the neighborhood bitch.
Hello. Fire hydrant. Blocking it is a bad thing, remember? Oh well.
I’m very excited because season 4 of The Tudors premieres tonight. This will be the last season for the Showtime series, starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Henry VIII. In this season, Henry will marry his last two wives (Katherine Howard and Catherine), get old and fat, and go to war. So far, season 2 has been my favorite.
“April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.” ~ T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land
The news is full of sad things: the death of the Polish president and his contingent while en route to Smolensk, Russia for a memorial. According to news reports, the visit to the Katyn forest was to mark the 70th anniversary of the killing of thousands of Polish officers and intellectuals by the Soviet secret security during World War II, an action that led to a huge rift between Poles and Russians.
In Comfort, West Virginia, the bodies of the four missing miners were found, bringing the total number of those killed to 29. The Upper Big Branch mine disaster is the worst in U.S. history since the 1970 disaster in Kentucky. Apparently, the rescue crews walked past the four bodies that first day, but could not see them because the air was so smoky and dusty.
A Tennessee woman put her seven-year-old adopted Russian son on a plane by himself. The plane was going to Russia, and the ticket was one-way. The mother claims that the boy, renamed Justin, terrified her family by threatening to burn down the house with everyone inside. Now the woman’s family is claiming that the Russian orphanage lied to her about the boy’s behavior problems. So many things wrong with this story, not the least of which is the fact that the woman wasn’t returning a broken vacuum to Wal Mart. The adoptive grandmother bought the ticket, and the family arranged to pay a man in Russia $200 to take Justin from the airport and leave him at the Russian education ministry. A note was sent with the boy that read in part, “After giving my best to this child, I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends, and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child.”
And on another sad note, Dixie Carter, star of television series “Designing Women” has died at the age of 70. I loved wise-cracking Julia Sugerbaker. Like the woman who portrayed her, she was smart, attractive, and took no guff from anyone. Funnily enough, some of my friends used to compare me to Julia Sugerbaker, can’t understand why. Carter was married to actor Hal Holbrook.
“your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose” ~ e. e. cummings, “somewhere i have never travelled”
One of my blog friends is packing some books to ship to me. I cannot wait. For me, nothing is better than a box of books, not even a squishy black leather Kenneth Cole purse, if that gives you any idea as to how much I love books. Of course, I wouldn’t turn down a Kenneth Cole purse, but since no one is offering . . . Anyway, Kelly is a bibliophile like myself, so she understands just how dispiriting it is not to have books to read, hence her very generous offer to send me some books. In the future, I hope to participate in the Goodreads Book Swap, which is a wonderful idea.
If you love books but have yet to visit the Goodreads site, I suggest you do so soon. Goodreads is a great resource for readers in so many ways. Go to http://www.goodreads.com/. You’ll be glad that you did.
My ex called me last night, just to talk. Wow. I don’t remember seeing the news that hell had frozen over. No really, it’s been a long time since we’ve had a conversation that did not quickly escalate into an argument. He even sounded relatively sober, another first. I did suggest, very gently, that he might want to try to spend a bit more time with his mother as there is no way of knowing how much longer she will be around. I am one of the few people who can get away with saying something like that to him. His sister has tried, but he sees that as her way of trying to tell him how to live his life. I had heard that his girlfriend is moving here from Chicago. He confirmed that she will be here in July. That should be interesting. His last two serious relationships went up in flames. I hope this one works for him.
Now don’t be that way. I’m being sincere. As much as we have our problems—and boy, do we have our problems—I do wish him well. If for no other reason than the fact that when he’s happy, we get along better and can actually have adult conversations that don’t devolve into name-calling. Anyway, it will be interesting to see how Eamonn gets along with a new stepmom.
On that note, I think that I’ll close for today with an appropriate quote from Barbara Kingsolver:
“April is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot wrote, by which I think he meant (among other things) that springtime makes people crazy. We expect too much, the world burgeons with promises it can’t keep, all passion is really a setup, and we’re doomed to get our hearts broken yet again. I agree, and would further add: Who cares? Every spring I go out there anyway, around the bend, unconditionally . . . Come the end of the dark days, I am more than joyful. I’m nuts. “
More later. Peace.
The one and only Ray Charles singing “Georgia on My Mind.” Classic.
And for those of you who loved “Designing Women,” here is a classic Julia Sugerbaker moment:
One of the few remaining inhabitants of Zinc, Arkansas, October 1935 by Ben Shahn
“Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.” ~ Max Frisch
“Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci
I think that Corey took a smartass pill when he woke up today. He’s showing all of the classic signs. I could tell that it was going to rain as soon as I woke up because I had a sinus headache. When I commented that everytime the barometric pressure drops, I get a headache, Corey replied, “Aren’t you glad that you are so in tune with mother nature?” Funny. Very funny.
My husband the wit.
So Izzie the Trooper is going to be coming home tomorrow. We still need to buy a new battery and a spare tire before our trip to Ohio. I’m not driving through the mountains of West Virginia without a spare tire. Not with our luck. But once the Trooper comes home, I plan to try to clean her insides top to bottom, rid of her of the tobacco atoms that are clinging to everything. Of course, once Eamonn starts driving her again, it will all be for naught, but until that time, she’s still mine, and I want her to smell clean, even if it means that I Febreze the hell out of her.
We haven’t been able to make the trip to Ohio in years, mostly because of my back problems. This will be the first time that I have been on such a long car journey. I’m hoping for the best, but if I arrive shaped like a pretzel, I won’t be surprised. The trip is to celebrate Corey’s dad’s birthday, and our arrival is supposed to be a surprise. The whole family is going to Indian Lake.
Corey took us to Indian Lake one year when the boys were still relatively young. Corey and the boys rented a paddle boat and went all around the lake. I sat on a blanket in the sun and read a book. Everyone was happy. But I’m pretty sure that we ran out of gas either to or from the lake. That was when we owned the big gnarly Buick that I hated, and if I remember correctly, Corey ran out of gas with that car more than once.
He still does that—runs out of gas—only not as frequently. He also gets lost, but won’t admit it. Don’t ask me why he does these things. It’s just one of those Corey things. The first time that he did it with the boys in the car, they were young, and they became very anxious. They kept asking us if we were in a bad part of town. We were somewhere in Richmond on our way to Ohio. Eamonn had obviously learned the term “bad part of town” from somewhere, so I explained to him that being out of gas and lost is always a bad part of town.
One of these days I’m going to be able to afford a Magellan for Corey, which will at least take care of the getting lost part.
Oh well. Not really what my subject is today.
“Time is not a reality (hypostasis), but a concept (noêma) or a measure (metron).” ~ Antiphon from On Truth
A few months back David Bridger, one of the writers who I visit frequently, posed a question on his blog: If you could go back in time, where would you go? Who would you see? What would you do? Good idea for a post David (who is busy working on his book, preparing for two fall weddings, and taking care of wife Janette: Hello to everyone).
I’ve kept that post in the back of my mind for a while now without tackling it because my answer (of course) wouldn’t be just one point in time. I have managed to narrow it to three different points in time: the Renaissance, the Great Depression, and France during WWII, all for very different reasons.
Being a writer and a lover of great literature, the Renaissance is probably the most predictable answer for me. Granted, the Renaissance is a pretty broad time period, beginning after the Middle Ages and ending with the Reformation (approximately 1450 to 1600). However, the time in which I would be most interested would be during the Elizabethan period of literature, during which writers such as Shakespeare, Marlowe, Donne, and Spenser were prolific.
Granted, living conditions in Tudor England would be a tad hard to adapt to, what with chamber pots being emptied out of windows and a lack of a central drainage system. Threats of the plague might put a damper on things; although drinking ale for breakfast as opposed to a hot cup of tea would be interesting, if not an engaging way in which to begin the day.
Obviously, life would not be a brilliant pageant of color and intrigue like Showtime’s The Tudors (alas, alack), which, by the way, I am not enjoying as much in Season 3 as in previous seasons. Probably the lack of spark provided by Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn.
But as usual, I digress . . .
My real interest in looking in on Elizabethan England would lie in the relationship between Shakespeare and Marlowe. Did Shakespeare actually steal from Marlowe? Was Marlowe as prolific as Shakespeare? Could Marlowe have been the better playwright if he had lived longer? Actually, conspiracy theorists about the Bard contend that Shakespeare’s works could have been written by Sir Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, and Edward de Vere. Why such a reluctance to attribute to Shakespeare that which is Shakespeare’s?
Who knows? But it would be wonderful to go back in time to see the literary masters at work, to look over Shakespeare’s shoulder as he created his own version of Richard III. To visit with the man who created Falstaff.
“It is one thing to photograph people. It is another to make others care about them by revealing the core of their humanness.” ~ Paul Strand
Another time that I would like to visit would be the Great Depression, specifically that period during which Roosevelt’s photographers for the WPA were in service.
The WPA was the Works Progress Administration, a government-funded program for artists during the mid 1930’s to mid 1940’s. Artists who received funding during the WPA included Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. Among the writers of the Federal Writers’ Project were Zora Neale Hurston, John Steinbeck, and Claude McKay. But my interest lies with the photographers, people like Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, and Walker Evans, the individuals who created an enduring photographic record of a period in American history during the artistic period known as social realism.
I am in awe of these masters of the genre who took the art of photography to new heights with their achingly real depictions of people and places. Personally, I have never been very good at capturing the essence of a person in a photograph, which is why I tend to stay with nature and architecture. I believe that it takes an artist with great insight to be able to capture that moment of greatest personal revelation on film, and I know of none better than Lange, Evans and Shahn.
Of her famous picture of the migrant mother, Lange had this to say in an interview in 1960:
I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it. (From Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).
The photographers worked for the WPA for about $23 a week as starting wages. Many felt fortunate to be able to plie their trade in a period in which so few had any meaningful work. But as the Library of Congress collection reveals, what may have begun as merely a way to make a living became an intense affinity for the American people, a record of their hardships, sorrows, and sometimes, their small celebrations.
So while a journey back to one of the most painful periods in our country’s history may seem like a bizarre choice, being able to watch these artists, perhaps even to emulate them would be an amazing opportunity.
“Le jour de gloire est arrivé !” ~ La Marseillaise
My last choice probably seems like the oddest of the three: France during WWII.
I do not view World War II as a particularly wonderful time in history. On the contrary. However, I would like to think that if I were living in France during this dark period in history that I would have participated in theFrench Resistance movement.
Essentially, there were two main movements. The Conseil National de la Résistance or the National Council of the Resistance was created by John Moulin. The CNR directed and coordinated the different movements of the French Resistance: the press, trade unions, and members of political parties hostile to the Vichy France. Eventually, the CNR coordinated with the Free French Forces, led by Charles De Gaulle
The French resistance included men, women and children from all social classes, religions, and political movements who worked against the Nazi occupation in France. Although the Resistance was responsible for blowing up key targets, members also published underground newspapers, helped Allied soldiers to freedom, collected and disseminated military intelligence, and raising awareness among the French populace.
Even though women were not allowed many leadership roles in the Resistance, I still think that it would have been admirable to work on one of the underground presses, churning out anti-Nazi propaganda. It’s that anti-establishment streak that runs through my veins, not a glorification of the Resistance that has been depicted in so many movies that makes me think that I could have participated in such a movement. Doing something, standing up for your beliefs.
“Come on and cry me a river, cry me a river” ~ From “Cry Me a River,” by Arthur Hamilton
Other notable eras of which I wish I could have played a part: The era of great torch singers (Etta James, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne ). Oh those bluesy, unrequited love songs, like “Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine” and how they just rip at the very fabric of the heart. Other eras that I wouldn’t mind visiting would be the age of the emerging confessional poets (Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich) , as well as Europe during the Impressionistic period in art—Van Gogh, Cézanne, Monet, Gaugin—all of that angst amidst all of that beauty.
For now, I’m sitting here in 2009, with my old soul and my dreams of other days.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (with Cate Blanchett and Clive Owen)
Best of List In No Particular Order
I just can’t put it together today cogently, so I’m doing something I’ve been thinking about doing: a Bests List. Feel free to tag me back with your bests if you want to play along.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. The prose is beyond eloquent. Reading this book is akin to bathing in finely-scented oils: each time you read a beautiful passage, you think that nothing can possibly be any better than this, and then a few pages later, Ondaatje takes his words and lavishes them upon you until you feel utterly immersed in the exquisite way in which he mates his words to create something incredibly beautiful:
“New lovers are nervous and tender, but smash everything. For the heart is an organ of fire.” (Almaszy), or
“We die. We die rich with lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we’ve entered and swum up like rivers. Fears we’ve hidden in—like this wretched cave. I want all this marked on my body. Where the real countries are. Not boundaries drawn on maps with the names of powerful men. I know you’ll come carry me out to the Palace of Winds. That’s what I’ve wanted: to walk in such a place with you. With friends, on an earth without maps. The lamp has gone out and I’m writing in the darkness.” (Katharine Clifton)
Or this one: “He glares out, each eye a path, down the long bed at the end of which is Hana. After she has bathed him she breaks the tip off an ampoule and turns to him with the morphine. An effigy. A bed. He rides the boat of morphine. It races in him, imploding time and geography the way maps compress the world onto a two-dimensional sheet of paper.”
Best Character in a Movie:
This one was hard. I finally narrowed it to two characters: Henry the Fifth in Henry V, starring Kenneth Branaugh. Henry V was one of England’s great king’s historically, and his depiction by William Shakespeare made him truly heroic and larger than life, a king men were willing to fight and die for. The St. Crispin’s Day speech delivered by King Henry before the battle is an incredible piece of oratory:
My other favorite movie character is William Wallace in Braveheart. Obviously, my choices have something in common. They are both men of valor, fighting for that in which they believe. Wallace is the less regal version of Henry.
Best Movie Soundtrack:
Hands down, for me it’s the soundtrack from Philadelphia. I know that the whole movie is incredibly sad, but the music on the soundtrack is, well, not quite as sad. But I think that it’s a wonderful compilation of artists and styles. Runner up would be the soundtrack from Hope Floats, which also features many unexpected artists and an eclectic fare.
Starbucks Sumatra venti with half and half and sugar. Sumatra is a dark, bold coffee, which is the kind I prefer. I don’t like wimpy coffees, but I do like my half and half in my coffee. I’m trying to cut down on the sugar, though, since I just got the lab results back on my triglycerides (yikes!).
Best Song (five categories):
Rock n Roll: Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” tied with “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos
Country: “Amazed” by Lonestar
Classic: “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison
Opera: Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” from the opera Turandot, especially as sung by Luciano Pavoratti
Classical: “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber
Again, this is a category that is very hard for me to pick just one Best of, so I thought that I would make it easier on myself by creating categories.
Best Series No Longer on Television:
This one was easy: “Homicide: Life on the Street.” Set in Baltimore, this gritty cop show ran from 1993 to 1999 and featured one of the best ensemble casts ever. The only thing that I could never reconcile was the question posed in the first episode of the first season: Who killed Adena Watson?
Best Cable Series:
Again, no competition: ‘The Tudors” on Showtime. Admittedly, I never thought of Henry VIII as sexy before this finely-crafted show aired, but Jonathan Rhys Meyers changed my mind. Intrigue, deception, backstabbing, adultery, regal staging: almost American politics, but with better costuming.
Best News Show:
“Countdown With Keith Olbermann” on MSNBC. I love this guy. He appeals to my sardonic side in a way in which no other pundit ever has. He can also show emotion, such as on the night that Barack Obama was elected or on the night of Obama’s speech to the DNC. I like a human pundit who has wit and brains and a segment called “Worst Persons in the World.”
Best Ice Cream:
Edy’s Butter Pecan. Yummy. Nuf said.
“The Olive-Wood Fire” by Galway Kinnell. I could name at least fifty others, but this poem has stuck with me for a while: a man, rocking his son to sleep by the fire, dozes off, and sees images of war in the fire. Awakens to the placid picture before him: his son on his arms before the olive-wood fire.
The Olive Wood Fire
When Fergus woke crying at night.
I would carry him from his crib
to the rocking chair and sit holding him
before the fire of thousand-year-old olive wood.
Sometimes, for reasons I never knew
and he has forgotten, even after his bottle the big tears
would keep on rolling down his big cheeks
—the left cheek always more brilliant than the right—
and we would sit, some nights for hours, rocking
in the light eking itself out of the ancient wood,
and hold each other against the darkness,
his close behind and far away in the future,
mine I imagined all around.
One such time, fallen half-asleep myself,
I thought I heard a scream
—a flier crying out in horror
as he dropped fire on he didn’t know what or whom,
or else a child thus set aflame—
and sat up alert. The olive wood fire
had burned low. In my arms lay Fergus,
fast asleep, left cheek glowing, God
Best Karaoke Song for Me:
“I Will Remember You,” by Sarah McLachlan. Perfect key for my voice, and I feel a connection to this song.
The Usual Suspects. The casting in this movie is pure perfection. The plot line is completely implausible, but it is a movie that I will come back to again and again. I have no idea how many times I have watched this movie.
Best line spoken by character Verbal Kint (played beautifully by Kevin Spacey): “Keaton always said, ‘I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of him.’ Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze.”
Runner up (and it was hard to choose) would have to be Lord of the Rings (I’m counting this as one long, nine-hour movie). I have read the trilogy once a year almost every year since I was an undergraduate. Peter Jackson managed to do what I thought no person would ever be able to do: He brought to life a set of books about which many people are fanatical, and in a way that is beyond description. I am still willing to relocate to New Zealand to be a gopher for Peter Jackson any time he calls.
Actually, now that I think of it, it has to be a tie.
Best Female Actor:
This is close, but I think that I have to go with Cate Blanchett, simply because I have never seen her in anything in which her performance was not superb; the movie may have been mediocre, but Blanchett is never mediocre. She has that chameleon-like ability that Meryl Streep has, but I like Blanchett’s body of work better.
Best Male Actor:
Okay, I am really not basing this on looks, but out of all of the actors working today, I particularly like Clive Owen for a lot of the same reasons that I like Kate Blanchett. Owen does not choose to do the same role over and over with just a different movie title. I loved him as Sir Walter Raleigh in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, but I also loved him as Theo in Children of Men, in which he is much more vulnerable and a victim of circumstances.
Twining’s Darjeeling, hot, strong with sugar and cream. Wonderful alone or with ginger snaps.
Best Outfit Fall/Winter:
Levi’s jeans, black leather boots, turtle neck sweater, long earrings, clunky leather watch, full-length black leather coat, Calvin Klein’s Eternity, squooshy black leather Via Spiga bag.
Best Outfit Spring/Summer:
Bathing suit and sarong, or long sun dress, 4711 cologne, and Birkenstocks.
Best Book Series for Fun:
Harry Potter, all seven books. Best book of series, book 3, Prizoner of Azkaban.
Seven-day cruise to Western Caribbean, 2006. Just Corey and me: cave-tubing, swimming with stingrays, sailing on a catamaran. Great meals. No work. Wonderful.
Black Calais. Loved that car. It had a great stereo; it was great on gas, drove smoothly, comfortable interior. Killed it in an altercation at a stoplight when right front bumper turned into accordion after tapping metal bumper of full-sized Suburban. Damage to their car: dent in bumper. Damage to my car: totaled.
Best Day That Cannot Be Repeated:
The day that Corey and I went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg with my Mom and Dad. I hadn’t been to a theme park with both of my parents since I was a child. We had a wonderful time, and had our picture taken on the log flume. My Dad would die from pancreatic cancer less than half a year later.
Let’s just say, I’ve had a really bad two months. Well, what better time to write, you say? Well that would be true if I still had my laptop, but I don’t. I got rid of my laptop (actually, I killed it from extreme overuse and mishandling), and got a wonderful desktop system, and I cannot pull the desktop system into bed with me, which is where I’ve spent most of the last two months when I haven’t been going to class to finish up school.
When I said that the Infrastructure Class was killing me, I was only exaggerating a little bit. My back really started to give me fits, and I’ve been spending quite a bit of time prone, unfortunately, which means that sitting at my desk has been an activity that I’ve had to limit to writing papers and sending off a few mean-spirited e-mails to insurance people. However, I’m starting to make my way back (no pun/horribly bad pun), as the very long blog on parental expectations below reflects.
I’m hoping to get back to blogging regularly now. I’m also planning to rebuild the site totally. Let’s just say that it wasn’t the smashing success that I thought that it would be as a poem-making project, so I’m rethinking the approach. Add a comment if you have any thoughts in that directions. In the meantime, I just wanted to drop a short hello for those of you who don’t want to read the really lonnnnng blog below.
By the way, second season of The Tudors–AWESOME!!!! I don’t think that I breathed at all during the last two scenes.
So season two of The Tudors has picked up right where season one ended, and things in Harry’s court are just as full of lust and intrigue as before, if not moreso. I must admit to being addicted to the series even more now than in season one and for purely shallow reasons. For example, in an interview with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, the actor admitted that one of the perks of playing King Henry was wearing underwear with small crosses sewn all over it, which he planned to take with him once the series was over. The production has even thought about the kng’s underwear–I love that kind of detail! No, kidding, only kidding.
There is a scene in which Sir Thomas More resigns as Henry’s Chancellor. More promises not to speak of his opinion regarding the king’s relationships with Queen Katherine and Anne Boleyn once he leaves court. What is so engaging about the scene is that the viewer does not realize how tense the scene between the two former friends actually is until the king visibly releases his breath and slumps in the throne once More leaves the room. The tension is palpable, and the viewer is caught up without even realizing it. I did not realize that I was holding my breath until Rhys Meyers exhaled. Now that’s acting.
After watching only two episodes, I must admit that I miss Wolsely, but I’m not sure if that’s because I’m such a fan of Sam Neill or the machinations of Wolsley. Not to worry, though, this season promises lots of plotting and scheming withouth Wolsley. King Henry is decidedly darker. Brandon, when not trying to play assassin, admits that he has “grown up,” and it seems that everyone else is moving about this chess board, vying for position before more heads roll.
Peter O’Toole is deliciously malicious as Henry’s Catholic foil, Pope Paul III, but that’t not to say that we aren’t seeing a more serious side of Henry. The Reformation is rolling in. Cromwell is secretly rubbing his hands with glee. The clerics are rolling over. (But I had to pause and laugh when Henry held Parliament wearing that feathered hat that sits atop the head of every painted depiction of Henry VIII.)
The dialogue is still rich and engaging, such as when More talks to his daughter about a martyr’s death, but I must confess that the 21st woman in me wanted to throttle Anne for apologizing for giving birth to a female child. Of course, how was she to know that it wasn’t actually her fault? She should have listened to the King of France when he warned her that trying to live a life aspired to was not the same as living a life born to. And even though we know that baby will be one of the greatest monarchs the world ever saw, we still are reminded that Henry is a lout who deserts his post-partum wife the first chance he gets.
And by the way, does anyone else really hate Anne’s father as pimp?
“Those eyes are like dark hooks for the soul,” says Sir Thomas Boleyn of his daughter Anne in The Tudors. I must confess that I am awaiting March 30th anxiously, for that is the date that Showtime’s addictive saga The Tudors returns for its second season. Those of you fortunate enough to see season one already know why this is a date worthy of celebration. It is much akin to Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V, an adaptation of an English king that was worthy of at least two cinematic viewings alone. The St. Crispen’s Day speech was everything Shakespeare could have possibly intended when he penned those magnificent lines:
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,
Just remembering that scene still gives me chills . . .
But back to The Tudors. It is breathtaking in its own right, and makes me yearn to be in a Shakespearean seminar. Henry VIII is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and he is nothing like Richard Burton’s stocky, hammy Henry of Anne of a Thousand Days. This Henry is sexy, menacing, brooding, and has enough hubris to be believable. The characters major and minor are wonderfully cast, the writing rich, the setting palatial but time-appropriate. Not that I am a film critic.
The wonderful thing about having On Demand cable is that I was able to catch up on season 1 in one week. That’s not to say that it didn’t make me sleep-deprived, but it was a sacrifice I’d gladly make again. I even managed to turn my husband into a Tudors’ junkie. I’m thinking of watching the last few shows again just before the 30th just to refresh my memory so that I’ll be in peak viewing shape when the curtain rises on season 2, just after Wolsley has gotten his just desserts.
Just in case you might be wondering why on earth I’m writing about a television series on a blog about writing, then you obviously haven’t seen this series. Each show leaves me breathless and wishing that I had written just a few lines of the dialogue, such as the one with which I opened this entry. How often have you wanted to describe someone’s eyes but been unable to find just the right words? Have you ever thought to use the word hooks? I know that I haven’t. So I’ll keep watching and listening with my ears attuned to the words as they tumble out of the actors’ mouths like ripened fruits, moist and luscious, wishing that I could taste them so that I could better know them, how to access them. To write like that, to be part of the few, the happy few . . .