Monday, November 30, 2009

Shake Hands With The Devil

My Black Friday Rant 2009 in honor of the motion picture "Shake Hands with the Devil" based upon the book, life experience, and documentary of Canadian Lt.-General (ret.) Romeo Dallaire. See this link for the 2010 upcoming movie:

"I've seen the horrible events of this and many past Black Fridays and was again sickened at the degradation of our society. Masses at a New York WalMart trample a man to death and seriously injure a pregnant woman so I repeat my message from a couple of years ago...

Then I saw something too horrible. The day after Thanksgiving is commonly known as "Black Friday" the biggest shopping day of the year. I avoid all stores on this day. Words cannot convey to you how I feel about this particular day of hyper sales and secularism for a season meant for "Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards Men".

Returning to my story...I awoke with all convictions in tact and ready to avoid all stores. As I was getting ready for the day and going through my morning routine (which includes watching CNN,BBC World News and a little CSPAN) when the first camera images of Black Friday unfolded. Scenes of men, women and children being beaten, trampled and mauled! All in the name of the latest toy orXBOX! I literally had to rewind the TV to make sure that I wasn't watching some third world country fighting for freedom from oppression. Unfortunately, I was not.

When did "stuff" or mere possessions become more important to us than humanity? The images of Black Friday's pushing and trampling reminded me of images from a documentary I saw on Rwanda called, Shake Hands With The Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire. 'This documentary follows Canadian Lt.-General (ret.) Romeo Dallaire as he relives the horrific events that unfolded while he commanded the United Nations peacekeeping mission (1994) in Rwanda where more than 800,000 men, women and children were brutally murdered'. Do any of you remember 1994? Maybe you remember the "OJ Trial"; it aired simultaneously while genocide raged in Rwanda. Horrible isn't it? (And lest you think I live in a glass house...) I am ashamed to say that I vaguely remember something about Rwanda but could never imagine the horror I saw in this film. Yes, like many of you, I remember more of OJ's court proceedings than of any world events in 1994. The tragic rub is that this kind of genocide is happening again..In Darfur, Sri Lanka, and Somalia.

Here in America, many of us believe that if this kind of a tragedy would never happen here. But, you know what? It is. When we put the love of things before the love of our fellow men we are killing our souls. The genocide of our souls! It makes us numb to those things that are truly important. We don't need things to make us happy. Please try something new for yourselves this year. Don't buy gifts for your friends and family at Christmas, Channukah, Kwanza, or whatever holiday you are planning to celebrate. Instead make a charitable contribution to in the name of the person you wish to gift; or if you feel you must buy a gift for someone then buy RED this year and find out how at ; volunteer at a soup kitchen, a women's shelter, or a veteran's hospital. Just do something!Do it unconditionally and you will change someone's life. You will also give yourself and your children the greatest gift ever known--service. Service to your fellow man will lighten any burden you may have. It is paying it forward and everyone needs that.

Still doubt me?

Many people say, "such and such change my life!" I never quite understood what they meant until I saw this film. It changed the way I think, hear and see all life. Please watch it and don't just gift this year, "gift" back. A very wise man once said, "that those who seek they're lives shall lose them, but those who lose their lives, for my sake, shall find them". Lose your life in service to your fellow men this season and find out who you really are!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all of God's children!"

--Black Friday 2008


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Halloween 2009--the nieces and nephew...

Ok here are my kiddos--vicarious kids...

Leayla was a piratess...

Zakk was a young Jedi in traning...

Hart was the Bride of Frankenstein...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

One Moment....

Alright, I am going to compare this class with a game of golf--not that I am an avid golfer. In golf, as in theatre, and in this class, so much of what we do seems "to be a risk. You just don't know. So much of it is alchemy and timing" and sometimes the weather. The point is that having success can be vastly out of your control. Why? Because in golf there are rules that tell you what is successful. In theatre it is the audience that will let you know if they think your show was successful. In class it is your students. Whether it be through their grades (OK, so that is partially up to them...)or their responses--you often feel that your 'presentation' was a success if they respond, participate, and actively understand what it is you are trying to convey. And, well, you feel less successful if they don't.

Today, they were different. Lord bless the little freshman who wanted her dream job to be dyeing fabric, drawing scenes or clothing, and working with pastels. I wrote on her paper, "Come and talk with me about how this can be part of your college experience." Well, she came in late to class and so she didn't get a chance to look at my comments so I called her up after class to speak about her dream job.

I said, "Do you realize that I teach a class in which you could be dyeing and printing fabric for an assignment? Now it is not the whole class focus, but it is a part. I also teach another class where you can do costume design. Professor Hansen teaches scenic design--you would have to draw scenery and paint it as well. Also, there is a class where you can combine these elements of design to create your own world through your collaboration with others." She began to smile and her eyes became HUGE!
"There is?"
"Yes and these classes and professors are in the Eccles Fine Arts Building--we are the Department of Theatre. You can make a living from something that you love to do."

"I'm gonna call my Mom!"

True story...and I felt as though I hit a hole in one. So, today, it was worth playing the game...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We have moved to Utah...August 2009

And scene...Just kidding. Yep, Utah. I now teach at Dixie State. It is a small school but the facilities are amazing. It is even cooler--temperature wise--than Mesa..ah the challenges of a new situation await.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

27 Random Truths

1. Apples, not caffeine, are more efficient at waking you up in the morning.

2. Alfred Hitchcock didn't have a belly button.

3. A pack-a-day smoker will lose approximately 2 teeth every 10 years.

4. People do not get sick from cold weather; it's from being indoors a lot more.

5. When you sneeze, all bodily functions stop, even your heart!

6. Only 7 percent of the population are lefties.

7. Forty people are sent to the hospital for dogs bites every minute.

8. Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until they are 2-6 years old.

9. The average person over 50 will have spent 5 years waiting in lines.

10. The toothbrush was invented in 1498.

11. The average housefly lives for one month.

12. 40,000 Americans are injured by toilets each year.

13 . A coat hanger is 44 inches long when straightened.

14. The average computer user blinks 7 times a minute.

15. Your feet are bigger in the afternoon than any other time of day.

16. Most of us have eaten a spider in our sleep.

17. The REAL reason ostriches stick their head in the sand is to search for water.

18. The only two animals that can see behind themselves without turning their heads are the rabbit and the parrot.

19. John Travolta turned down the starring roles in 'An Officer and a Gentleman' and 'Tootsie.'

20. Michael Jackson owned the rights to the South Carolina State Anthem.

21. In most television commercials advertising milk, a mixture of white paint and a little thinner is used in place of the milk.

22. Prince Charles and Prince William NEVER travel on the same airplane, just in case there is a crash.

23. The first Harley Davidson motorcycle built in 1903 used a tomato can for a carburetor.

24. Most hospitals make money by selling the umbilical cords cut from women who give birth. They are used in vein transplant surgery.

25. Humphrey Bogart was related to Princess Diana. They were 7th cousins.

26. If coloring weren't added to Coca-Cola, it would be green.

27. Emus and Kangaroos can not walk backwards.

Interesting, huh?

The Fireman's Revenge

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Paparazzi and Crazy Fans

I found this question about the stars of Twilight: Are the paparazzi and some fans going too far?

Although I have not met any of the actors from the Twilight Saga, I have met other other Hollywood actors. They are real people. Just as normal as you or me. The difference between us, however, is that acting is their job. It is very hard work. Sure it looks easy but we have the privilege of seeing the finished product. Think about it--many times the success or failure of a movie or stage play can rest upon the shoulders of the actor. They stand at that precipice of success or failure and walk the line trying to convince you that what you see is real and tangible. If the acting and emotion you see on the screen seems real, then the actors directors, casting agents and various others have done their jobs well.

I do feel that the paparazzi and some fans go too far. If you were walking down the street and someone started screaming your name you would be startled and confused. You may even run in fear for your life. If it happened everyday by the same group of people who just happened to have cameras, you might file a restraining order. But you're not famous, you're an everyday Joe or Jane. Famous people aren't allowed to live their life like you or I because of the type of profession they have. Movies are seen by everyone and the actors' faces become so familiar they are instantly recognizable and therefore an over night sensation. Because of this many people draw assumptions about how that actor must really be off the screen. They couldn't be more wrong.

Fans are sometimes so obsessed with knowing an actors every moment that they use it to justify their own every day actions and sometimes their very existence. For example: "If 'Famous Actress' does her own laundry, then she must be just like me! Wow! And she uses the same detergent!" "Look 'Hot Handsome Actor' smokes the same brand of cigarette that I do, we're totally alike!" "OMG! 'Firery Young Star' loves Starbucks--it must be so good. I should get some, too. We'll be so alike." WRONG! You don't know them. They don't come over to your house for Thanksgiving Dinner; text you several times a day; you probably didn't grow up as best friends either. No one really wants to be attacked by a group of screaming people obsessed with your every move. C'mon, do you really want to end up like Felicia with an ABBA turd hanging around your neck (The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert)? They are private citizens who should be treated with respect and dignity. They shouldn't have to worry about a paparazzi chasing them into a store while they're 8 months pregnant--yeah, this happened to Naomi Watts and the paparazzi called her a "B*TCH when she turned around and yelled at them! Be kind not obsessed when you meet famous people, they appreciate it more.

The following video appears on youtube courtesy of Pattinsongallery

Oi! Crazy Fans! Listen for the girl screaming and then crying as she says Mr. Pattinsons name over and over...Get a freaking life! Stop chasing after a man who is probably nothing like what you see on the movie screen.

Honestly, I love J.K. Simmons as an actor but I would never chase him down the street trying to rip off his clothing. Once I was at a USITT convention and Kevin Smith was at Comic Con both were held at the same center. Yes, I saw him. We both happened to be waiting for a taxi to the airport--yes I was in feet of Mr. Smith. I wanted to say, "Hey, Mr. Smith. Loved Dogma. Thanks." But I didn't. It just wouldn't have been right to draw that kind of attention to him with other people around. And yes, I was a little chicken. However, better to be thought a fool for keeping silent than opening my mouth and removing all doubt.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Snow Birds: Buy this Condo in AZ

This is our condo. It is in very good condition. We must sell it so that I can take the professorship at Dixie State College. If you know of anyone who wants to buy a property to rent or have a home for the winter, please call our real estate agent at the above number. Thank you.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Surf's up by Clark Little

These incredible images of waves were taken by the number one photographer of surf: Clark Little. He has dedicated his life to photographing the waves and has published a selection of the the best images of his career. He captures magical moments inside the "tube", as surfers say.

Water Sculpture Clark Little/SWNS

Break ... wave crashes down Clark Little/SWNS

Red ... mysterious shot Clark Little/SWNS

Splash ... stunning shot Clark Little/SWNS

White ... tumultuous water Clark Little/SWNS

Molten ... liquid gold Clark Little/SWNS

Beach ... surf crashes down Clark Little/SWNS

Tubular ... shining Clark Little/SWNS

Sand ... in surf Clark Little/SWNS

Sun ... glints off wave Clark Little/SWNS

He takes a beautiful shot, yeah?


A Story by Howard Gladwin

I just read this and had to share...

By Howard Gladwin

In a Washington college classroom, they were discussing the qualifications to be President of the United States . It was pretty simple: the candidate must be a natural born citizen of at least 35 years of age. However, one girl in the class immediately started in on how unfair was the requirement to be a natural born citizen. In short, her opinion was that this requirement prevented many capable individuals from becoming president. The class was taking it in and letting her rant, but everyone's jaw hit the floor when she wrapped up her argument by stating, 'What makes a natural born citizen any more qualified to lead this country than one born by C-section.

Yep, these are some of the 18 year olds that just voted in the last election. The future leaders of our country!


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My "Adopted" Family

I have this habit of collecting old photographs from thrift and antique stores. Feeling bad for the unknown souls, I carefully take them home and "adopt" them as my own family. The story teller in me creates a history for the people who stare back at me from the brittle, fragile paper. I often use the photos as historical research for the shows that I design and sometimes they make their way on to the stage as prop photographs and set dressing (always as copies of course--I do not want to further damage the originals).

Here are a few that I have collected over the years. If you recognize them--please let me know. I will be happy to return them to their true families.

Aren't they the happy couple? I really love this one. They do not looked strained as so many did when holding for the photo. Mr. & Mrs. look genuinely happy to be together. The photo was removed from its cardboard holder and contains no information.

Now this gentleman...he looks fierce! I bet he was a strict man of hard principles. The back of the photo says "Grampa Floyd" The photo was taken at Boyd Studios of Walnut Street in Des Moines, Iowa.

This lovely lady mystifies me. I can't tell if she is just timid or if she has some secret worth telling. The back of the photo says "Maggie M. Sweeney". The photo was taken at J.B. Gibson, Artistic Photographer, Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

He's very handsome, isn't he? Probably closing in on eighteen or twenty years. Maybe a college photo? The photo was taken by S. Smith of DeWitt, Iowa.

Another stern individual. She appears to have fought life very hard. I love the ribbon locket around her neck. This photo was taken by Thayer of Lake City, Iowa.

Here we have another beautiful couple. So sweet. According to the back of the photograph, they are Fred & Alice Wright. The photo was take by Zwiggle & Johnson's Studios in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Baby photos are rare for me to find. Many times it is difficult to tell if they are male or female as babies were all dressed the same until about 3 years of age. Luckily, this one simply says "Grandmother" and was also taken by S. Smith Photographer of DeWitt, Iowa.

A formal photo of sorts--notice the white bow tie, vest and frock coat. He reminds me of a violinist. This photo has no identifying markings as to the photographer but in the upper right hand corner is a name--Harry Paynlear (that is doing my best as I really can not make out the surname clearly).

This lovely lady probably sat for this photo during the mid to late 1920's. Again, there are no clues as to the photographer, location or even the identity of the woman.

This handsome young man also goes without identity. The photo was probably taken any time between 1923-1935--that is just a guess. Without really being able to view his full attire, I can only speculate when he lived. The card board holder has the photography studio as Janousek of Yankton, South Dakota.

If you know or recognize these individuals, please leave a contact address in under the comment section below.


The Gangs of Helena Montana

Ah, how I miss this....

Somewhere there's a man wishing for hunting season.

Just looks like the "Hartford Insurance" logo, doesn't it?

Tummies full. Nap Time!!

The ones at the top always taste better.

"That's right! Run, you hoodlums!"

These photos were sent to me via email and I just had to share them.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Oedipus Post Mortem

Aaron Blanco as Oedipus that Oedipus is over let's take a look back and see if I feel differently....

Uh, OK, maybe a little...The show was a visual feast. The "post apocalyptic tribal masochistic society" definitely had presence. The world in which they lived was dangerous, jagged at every turn, and about to collapse upon it's inhabitants at any moment. But it was lacking...emotion? Or maybe the message? The direction was definitely lacking. It was lost at times and even lacking verbal--action based follow through. There was a great deal of yelling and screaming. At times, I could hardly understand just what was being said by the actors. I am proud of the overall look of the show and those who had a hand in creating the vision--I simply saw this play as something different and going in a much different direction.

The messenger who tells of Iocaste's fate

I needed Oedipus, as a character in this play, to have an almost Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde like quality. Meaning, I needed to see his loving nature for his people then his complete irrational dangerous side of his personality. However, there was none...nothing, just one level--loud arrogance. For me, this side should have be one side of many facets in his personality. Oedipus, as a man and as a king, should portray the brilliant, discerning ruler who can" suckle" his kingdom by knowing what it needs even before it knows what those needs are and yet show his rash side through the retelling of the incident at the three crossroads as well as in his dismissal of the blind prophet, Tiresias. He should be a wise, confident King but instead was nothing more than a loud, creepy, arrogant man. I say creepy because at times the King seems to molest the children of Thebes. We shouldn't have a foreshadowing of any incest because the reveal of such debauchery only lessens the shock of the true identity of Oedipus! It also detracts from the heinous nature of such a crime. To have such an act foreshadowed confuses the audience..."Why is it OK to 'molest' others close to you but not OK to sleep with Mom?" I know as I sat in the audience, I wondered this and my wonderings were audibly manifested by a woman sitting behind me. Really, for your average audience member, Greek tragedies (for that matter, Greek plays in general) are confusing enough so they do not need to be made more confusing by blurring the lines of what is determined to be right and wrong. Clarify your message by drawing bold lines between opposing sides.

Creon...Creon...Creon...again, the direction came on too strong. We should see the change in Creon happen as the play proceeds--starting out as faithful friend and brother then moving onto the politician and finally, the man who would be king. Creon is the brother to Iocaste and with her, he and Oedipus rule the kingdom as a family although Oedipus is the named king. He is sensitive and has a concern about the effects of the news from the oracle. But, in what I witnessed, never once did I believe that Creon and Oedipus were ever friends only rivals. In this production, it appeared as though Creon was searching for any way to usurp the kingdom and take the throne for himself. In many ways I felt as though I were watching Richard III instead of Oedipus.

Creon with Ismene & Antigone

Hmmm...The Chorus...ambivalent? There wasn't an understandable opposition of the strophe and antistrophe. The Choragos (for our play was just one man--I was OK with that...) was rational at least on the page but in action I could not tell if he was supposed to be helping Oedipus and the audience understand/weigh out the sides that had been presented or if he was just some crazy guy that had had given a set of overly used wings to...yes, people wings! I do it for many shows, but my hope was that it would create a powerful look to the actor who's words were meant to be an influential argument persuading against the rash side of Oedipus' personality. (Well, that is what we are supposed to hope for, anyway.)


There wasn't any difference in the opposing arguments. I tried to create the clarity through the costuming but the lines became blurred through the vision of the dominants and submissives. The point when this became most bothersome is when, after Iocaste commits suicide, the chorus should be lamenting the loss of the queen's life and showing forth the emotion of the situations that have been and fearful knowing of the situations that must surely be. Unfortunately, they just appeared and sounded callous, hardhearted, and indifferent to her death. When I could endure it no longer I closed my eyes and began to see the image of how I longed for it to be...the chorus in off white set against a dark blue cyc with minimalist scenic pieces chanting a mournful tune while male members of the chorus carry a sarcophagus of the fallen image of beauty, greatness and loss...the lines of the chorus would then spew forth like a fountain of emotion covering the audience with the horror of not only the incestuous acts but also the tragedy of the King's inability to have made any choices other than those that were made...and...then the scene would change to a darker cyc saturated with red as the fallen king, Oedipus, is led forth by those who still appear loyal to him...the scene should grow darker as the consequences of his actions set in motion the fate of Thebes with Creon heartsick and angered over the ghastly events that have now given him the kingdom...ultimately leaving the stage dark as a single pool of light bathes the empty throne of Thebes...holding for 5 seconds, growing brighter, brighter, brighter...and then sound cue "boom" and lights out...

High Priest with submissives

The blind king

Hey, a girl can dream...--MHW

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

PUSH Movie Review

It started strong and really captured my attention but somewhere along the way it lost everything. Pieces of the storyline were just verbalized without us seeing any sort of brief flashback or supportive reasoning almost as if we were to be shocked to discover these bits of trivia. OK, fine but continue to tie everything in a neat bow, please. It was disconnected and uncertain of where it was headed which directly mirrors our protagonists' journey. Again, fine but it didn't translate very well in the overall telling of the story.

Djimon Hounsou was a fantastic "walk the line between good and evil" scary bad guy, but then again when is he not? Dakota Fanning has a drunk scene--she's not our little girl anymore. It was nice to see Ming-Na acting again--acting at all! She is an under used dramatic actress. I loved her in the Joy Luck Club and I hear a lot in voice overs but it is nice to SEE her act.

Cinematography: As far as the scope of the city was concerned--I feel that it was done justice, although very few shots were from the water front. Unfortunate, since most of its American audience is so familiar with that view. Lots of market area shots and what seemed to be more of a "slum" area. Many times the camera was "jerky" as part of the "PUSH" telekinetic effect. At times this effect faded into a type of shaky film separation, as if the projector is about to melt the film right before our eyes. The angle of the camera in many scenes was actually kind of refreshing as if we were watching the film from another perspective besides our own--like someone was watching over the characters. This part of the cinematography intrigued me so much so that I found myself waiting for the "reveal" of this unseen character, but again the movie disappoints. I was also disappointed by the lame ending. It just ended. Reasonable, I suppose as the writers/directors/producers have left the movie open for a sequel but why would I want to see that after this miserable failure?

Overall, I'd give it a barely passing....C


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


(painting from Uncover Austin Magazine)

There are just days when I want to poke my own eyes out
--yeah, I know, suiting.

So I am designing Oedipus for MCC here in Mesa and well, I have a slight resignation about it. I am not totally in love with the concept laid out for the designers. Call me a traditionalist but I feel that some plays should not be messed with very much--you know, "let's not take it so far out of reality that we alienate our current demographic". However, this concept--if marketed correctly--will bring in a whole new demographic and that is great, but this is also why I am hesitant. I worry about how it will be marketed.

Firstly, the concept is...wait for it..."post apocalyptic sadomasochism". Shocker, right? Everyone and their pet cat has done this and Julie Tamor has done it better, thank you very much. Don't get me wrong, I can do this. It is not beyond my capabilities just beyond my logical understanding? I am not sure how this will further the plot. Yes, elements of the concept will serve to further the plot but has the director pushed it too far? Not only do we have fetish wear but huge body tattoos as well. What purpose does it serve if the show looks "cool" but the audience fails to understand the message? I am not saying that it should not have been set in another time period, only that perhaps the concept should have been reined in just a smidge.

Really ROUGH sketches for Creon and the chorus priestesses

Secondly, what is this young director trying to prove? "Hey look at what I can do? Isn't it the coolest thing since the internet?" Maybe. I am well aware that educational theatre is allowed to experiment because the funding is more stable that that of independent theatres but there are still funds attached based on the monetary numbers of the house and needs of the department. When the deciding committees get together and figure out what plays to perform the following season, they do it with a budget in mind. The smaller the buget the smaller the concept? Perhaps. Great shows have been done on limited bugets with great success but will this be one of them? I do not know the answer to that..I wish I did.

Where's Alice when you need her? LOL


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Angel....of Death...or not...

Her Lover or a Psychopomp?

(click above picture to hear Tea Party's Angels)

Psychopomp: Guider of souls; Personified and perceived as a male or female spirit, angel, or personage responsible for the mediation and conduction of the earthly dead from the conscious realm to the unconscious realm--earth and heaven; also responsible for finding lost souls and guiding them on to the next life.

So often in her Twilight series, Ms. Meyer has Bella referring to Edward as her angel. For me, the imagery fits. Edward is often referred to as so painfully beautiful that I found myself saying, "Alright, already! I will never be that beautiful...stupid shiny Volvo owner!" Meh? What's a human to do? And then I began to ponder on what could be construed as the metatphoric meaning of the angellic references. Angels, in christian teaching, usually guide humans to righteous choices or celestial paths. Where was this angellic imagery taking Bella? What path and why? Why is the bond so strong so quickly no matter the distance?

Where does the "angel" take Bella? Anywhere?--Maybe. She is drawn to Edward by an involuntary need with in herself. He is mysterious and handsome and she cannot resist what seems to be hiding behind his eyes. We may attribute this to Bella's "danger magnet"...or maybe she just can't resist a good mystery. When Edward save s her from being crushed by Tyler's van with his bare hands, Bella is driven to find out who and what Edward might be. Bella "tricks" Jacob into telling her what the Cullens are. She confronts Edward about what she believes he is and when given her answer, Bella is relieved, not scared. It is always her choice to follow Edward. He never wants to force her to turn away from humanity or what it means to be human--even duping her in to attending prom so that she will not miss important human rights of passage. Even in this, Edward asks if she is angry or wishes to leave. He always give her the choice to go with him or not.

What path have Edward and Bella taken? It is the path of love. One that involves passion. A need--like we need air-- to be with one another no matter the cost. The kind of love everyone wants. It is this kind of love that seals the bond and makes it so strong. It is why they can not live without one another. They are soul mates although, Edward professes to believe that he lacks one.

And when the path seems to be at an end...I admired Edward's respect of Jacob Black when he sought permission to "turn" Bella into a vampire should her pregnancy not end well. Knowing that they, two, could not live in a world without Bella in it shows compassion. It was a level of respect that Jacob did not expect. Through his permission the path is allowed to continue on this earth.

So, metaphorically speaking, the character of Edward is a type of psychopomp. He lovingly guides Bella from her mortality to immortality. He is her angel in death as well as in life.

"He grinned his crooked smile at me, stopping my breath and my heart. I couldn’t imagine how an angel could be any more glorious. There was nothing about him that could be improved upon."

Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 12, p.241

Psychopomp By Tea Party

(click above to hear Tea Party sing this song)

You wanted this
So sad to see
The sweet decay
Of ecstasy

And you want it all

A frozen sun,
Will guide you there
As shadows hide
The deep despair

I'll give you something more
And you'll fade away
One last kiss before
You fade away.

So sleep tonight,
In idle dreams
The pain will drown,
Your silent screams

And you want it all

I'll give you something more
And you'll fade away
One last kiss before
You fade away
Lives you once adored
will fade away
Lies you can't ignore
You soon repay
As you fade away

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Shakespeare & Meyer: Shared Imagery

click below to hear Paramore's Decode

There are many obvious parallels to our friend, William, aren't there Ms. Meyer?
Isn't it interesting that Stephanie Meyer has chosen to adhere to the high school reading list? By this I mean our characters are supposed to be reading things like Romeo and Juliet and there are many intelligent and clandestine comparisons in Ms. Meyer's books to the high school reading list of her characters.

Firstly, who doesn't obviously compare Bella and Edward to Romeo and Juliet. Juliet on a balcony with Romeo below; Bella at the upstairs window with Edward below; lovers destined to be with one another but separated by unnatural hatred of warring houses or unnatural love of species; la tua cantate and star-crossed lovers; blah, blah, blah...Get it?

It is worthy of note that Shakespeare's lovers are "star-crossed" which serves to intimate that the stars themselves have predestined the love and end of that love. Conversely, Meyer sets her novel in an area of the North American rainforest that rarely sees sun let alone stars, therefore their fate cannot be "predestined" by the stars. Not even Alice, with her visions of the future, is not right all of the time although she could be construed as a Greek Oracle--that is for another discussion.

Alright, so what seems to be the major theme for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is love--specifically young, passionate love, even forbidden love. The same can be said for Meyer's first two books, Twilight & New Moon. Our lovers in both cases can't not avoid one another. For Romeo and Juliet they are doomed lovers. Choices, circumstances, and misunderstandings lead to their deaths. However, in Twilight, Meyer doesn't doom her lovers' love to death but rather seals their fate to loving one another for eternity in this life and not yet in heaven as are Shakespeare's lovers.

Romeo and Edward are similar in one important way--each makes a conscious decision towards love and the circumstances that surround it. Romeo and Edward are aware of the hazards of breaking social expectations and prior commitments not only to self but family as well. Neither one are subjects of the Greek tragedy or hamartia. They have no real tragic flaw because they choose their paths and make mistakes. For example, Romeo confronts and challenges Thibault after Mercutio's death. He chooses to kill Thibault not because he is flawed to do so but because of his circumstance. Romeo must uphold his family’s honor—it is a social norm of the time that cannot be ignored. By comparison, Edward chooses to save Bella from being crushed by Tyler's van not only because he loves her but also because of his circumstance: he is impossibly fast and can get to her before the van; he must save his family from exposure because allowing Bella's blood to be spilled would have rendered Jasper uncontrollable as well as himself. Hamartia in the essential Greek sense means"to have a moral deficit". In this light it is clear that neither Romeo nor Edward have any such defect in their morality.

A major motif in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is the imagery of light and dark: Loyalty to family or loyalty to love. The imagery in Twilight saga is similar. Fascinatingly, light is not always good and dark is not always bad but there are many shades of gray. Lines are blurred--this is especially true in New Moon. Bella is in conflict as Edward leaves her "for her own safety". She falls into a dark place for months as her depression deepens over her loss of Edward. She eventually seeks companionship from Jacob Black. Bella is not romantically in love with Jacob and only cares for him as her very best friend. When she learns that Jacob is a "werewolf" and has a hatred of all vampires--good or bad--her lines of what is right or wrong, light or dark become blurred. She can not convince Jacob that not all vampires are bad and would not violate the ancient treaty of the Quilleuttes. Bella describes Jacob as being like Paris in the tale of Romeo and Juliet:

Scan from New Moon pages 370-371

The use of the light and dark imagery in Romeo and Juliet is also to show conflicting alternatives of equating the light of someone in one's life to the darkness--death in a sense; in Bella's case, a hole--that the absence of that beloved can exhibit. Juliet is Romeo's sun and Edward is Bella's light and comfort and vise versa. In Romeo's soliloquy under the balcony, as he contemplates the sun and the moon saying that Juliet is the sun and he wishes to banish the moon so that he may only have his sunlight. He continues in his wish to stay with his "light", Juliet, the morning after their only night together, “More light and light, more dark and dark our woes” (III.v.3). Romeo, like Edward, has no wish to live in a world where his light is not.

Similarly, Bella pursues "more light and light" as she tries to fill her need to hold on to Edward after he has left. She pursues dangerous "extreme sports" that she might hear his voice warning her to stop what she is doing. She has no wish to release him from her life and she states as much in New Moon as she mulls over Shakespeare's lovers: "She (Juliet) would never have moved on...Even if she lived until she was old and gray, every time she closed her eyes, it would have been Romeo's face she saw behind her lids". Bella cannot live in this manner. She, like Juliet, cannot live without her Romeo following him in to death, if necessary, so as not to be without him: "I'd never seen anything more beautiful--even as I ran, gasping and screaming, I could appreciate that. And the last seven months meant nothing. And his words in the forest meant nothing. And it did not matter if he did not want me. I would never want anything but him, no matter how long I lived" (New Moon, page 451). Similarly, Juliet feels the same upon waking from her false death to discover her lover, her only love, truly dead, "O happy dagger! This is thy sheath. There rust, and let me die" (Act V.iii).

I do not fault Ms. Meyer in her choice to share such similar imagery--either conscious or unconscious. Rather, I am pleased and admire her for doing so. She has given a generation of young readers the ability to relate Romeo and Juliet toward their own lives. For me and some of my friends--Jeanene--she is a hope that we, too, can publish our own works!


Similar/Related Quotes

The odds are always stacked against us. Mistake after mistake. I’ll never criticize Romeo again.
Edward Cullen, New Moon, Chapter 23, p.508

Damn it, Bella! You’ll be the death of me, I swear you will.
Edward Cullen
, Twilight, Chapter 17, p.363

"Tempt not a desperate man" - William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 5.3