Monday, 17 May 2010

Mothers Day Bistromathematics

One thing that a lot of comedians and actors do well is to take a normal everyday occurrence and point out how totally ridiculous it is.

Douglas Adams in “Life the Universe and Everything” creates a spaceship that runs by the advanced mathematics that occurs in restaurants, including arguing over the bill.

“The third and most mysterious piece of non-absoluteness of all lies in the relationship between the number of items on the bill, the cost of each item, the number of people at the table, and what they are prepared to pay for.” (Page 342)

“… They had had the bill, had argued convincingly about who had had the cannelloni and how many bottles of wine they had had, and … had thereby successfully manoeuvred the ship … into orbit round a strange planet.” (Page 379)

Whilst having a Mothers Day Diner at a lovely Indian restaurant I was laughing at the absurdity of the bill, and realising how beautifully Douglas Adams had got it right.

This ‘light bulb’ moment struck me so late in life, because usually when eating out the bill is picked up entirely by one person, and we take turns to do so – except for in the case of parents and some friends who will remain nameless (I’m looking at you Aidan) who seem to pay more often then they should.

Onion Bahji
Aloo Goobi
Dahl Mahkani
Mushroom Mutter
Pumpkin Masala
Matter Paneer
2 Garlic Naan
2 Plain Naan
2 Large Rice
3 Coffees
2 Mango Lassi
3 Lemonades

Seven People.
Food cost: $121.00

$100 from Lynne, argued down to $50, left early and $15 will be returned. Money to pay for Lynne and Gran

$40 from George to pay for George and Anne, argued down to $20.

$50 from Andrew to pay for Anne and Andrew (I had three drinks.)

$20 from Karyn to pay for Karyn and Gran

David did not pay anything or say anything.

Total: $125

(Page numbers are from my “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – A trilogy in four parts” book, so if you subtract 308 from the above page numbers you should get roughly the page number for “Life, the Universe and Everything”)

Friday, 14 May 2010

Beckett's Clowns

Beckett’s Clowns, Hats and the Uncertainty of Existence.

On Thursday I saw “Waiting for Godot” at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne. Sir Ian David Copperfield Gandalf McKellen played Estragon and Roger Rees played Vladimir. (Lovely theatre, but uncomfortable seats).

Gandalf was wonderful, so believable, his vagrant costume superb, and his portrayal convincing and humorous, the perfect lovable vagabond. It was a pleasure to watch him hobble across the stage, interact with the other actors, never for a moment slipping out of character. It is almost impossible to imagine another actor's interpretation. And Roger Rees, as the straight man Vladimir, was beautiful.

“That's the way I am. Either I forget immediately or I never forget.” – Estragon

Beckett’s humour and language was superb throughout Estragon and Vladimir’s lines. Unfortunately I can not remember some of the most wonderful lines. It was interesting that in the program the Director wrote that he has no idea what the play is about, however the audience does. And we did. It was certainly enjoyable and the laughs rolled around the theatre. What is art, but what the audience takes away, be it philosophical thought or bum jokes.

(Stooping) “True.” (He buttons his fly) “Never neglect the little things of life.” – Vladimir

I think it is partly about waiting, and about occupying time, and partly about perception and dreams. If we perceive that something has happened how can we be sure that it actually happened as memory is defective. Estragon portrays this through his very poor memory. Then when Vladimir is trying to ascertain whether or not yesterday happened, he could not rely on Estragon, and Vladimir’s uncertainty about the realness of yesterday worries him.

“Was I sleeping, while the others suffered? Am I sleeping now? Tomorrow, when I wake, or think I do, what shall I say of today? That with Estragon my friend, at this place, until the fall of night, I waited for Godot? That Pozzo passed, with his carrier, and that he spoke to us? Probably. But in all that what truth will there be? He'll know nothing. He'll tell me about the blows he received and I'll give him a carrot.” - Vladimir

The actions of the Ruler of the Universe in Douglas Adam’s “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” also portray the uncertainty of existence beautifully.

“… tried wrapping the paper round the pencil, he tried rubbing the stubby end of the pencil against the paper and then he tried rubbing the sharp end of the pencil against the paper. It made a mark, and he was delighted with the discovery, as he was every day.” – Douglas Adams.

Or perhaps the play is about philosophy, poverty, slavery, humanity, friendship, time, illness, mortality, humour, clowns…

I saw a reference to Vladimir and Estragon as being Beckett’s two clowns. I would disagree and argue that Pozzo and Lucky are the clowns. I am sure that people are not supposed to like all characters, and I don’t really like Pozzo and Lucky. They are ridiculous in their actions and words. They are more caricatures and exaggerations then people. And not people that you want to meet. Pozzo’s self centric attitude and disregard for others is sickening and I found his first scene uncomfortable. Whilst V & E are humorous, they still maintain a realness about them.

Throughout there is beautiful choreography of hats, hats being taken off and put back on, stage wise like vaudeville performers. Which adds a level of comedy. Perhaps to remind us that we are watching a play, perhaps to show that there is beauty in everyone. I do not know.

"We are all born mad. Some remain so." - Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Inner Workings

People are interesting things. The way they work internally, and the way that they get a long with other people.

I suffer from a slight condition where my body does not create all the necessary chemicals to survive. So I need to get some particular medication every three months. If I do not have it on time, I feel depressed, demotivated, weak, and insecure. At these times the slightest comment from some one else can make me feel horrible.

I am running a bit late and well work is rather horrible at the moment. Work is stressful. The boss has just left for five weeks of holiday - giving us three days warning, and I hear has been complaining about us in meetings, two colleagues are at each others’ throats, and another colleague seems to be avoiding me, when in the past I would have thought that we were friends. I need to sit and have lunch with them to cheer myself up, but they disappear.

Every one seems to like the fact that I work here, like my jokes, use my knowledge when they need help, like how I say good morning to them. They all say that work would be “up s creek” without me. However no one wants to sit down with me once or twice a week and have a cup of coffee.

Which is frankly making me feel a bit ill and very upset.

I’ve applied for another job, and I sort of don’t want it, but when I’m in this mood, I just don’t know. I think that they wont miss me.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

American Gods

‘One Book, One Twitter’ begins today or tomorrow depending on where in the world you are. A world wide book club who will be reading “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman. To participate go to @1T1T2010

I won’t be participating. I have read the book. It is a good book, and one day I will reread it, but not at the moment. I think that since I have now read more of Neil’s works I will enjoy it more a second time. I’m still trying to finish “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. It’s a good book, but my head has been in the wrong space.

I tend to have reading peaks and troughs through out the year and I think I’m in a trough.

Does the post title refer to the book, Neil Gaiman, Huckleberry Finn or to Mark Twain?

Monday, 3 May 2010

Copywrong or Copyright

Copywrong or Copyright

Brother David and I do not see many movies. Cousin Cod is studying Media this year and is going to the cinema to watch a movie every week as home work. David has been challenged to match Cod and is aiming to watch 52 movies at the cinema this year and I’ve been lucky to have been invited along to a couple.

I have seen some terrific movies and some horrible movies. Three of the movies I have issues with include “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief”, “Clash of the Titans” and “Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland”.

Erin at notes that “Percy” and “Clash” are both poorly written, poorly directed, have poor special effects and portray women as either monsters or things. All excellent points but my main issue today is that in addition they destroy (or use) other’s literary works.

Likewise, thanks to Tim Burton (a director whom I admire), a whole generation now know the words and language of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky (originally featured in “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There”) but sadly not in the original context. And I feel that this is a great loss.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
- Lewis Carroll 1872

I know that the Greek Myths and Plays were written before the idea of copyright and that Alice has long been out of copyright, but being at uni for years hearing people talk about plagiarism I think that playing with other’s works is wrong. Especially wrong when you adapt it in such a horrible manner such as “Percy” and “Clash” in a way it destroys the original. And you are destroying Classic works.

To correct mistakes the demigod Io has nothing to do with the story of Perseus, Pegasus is said to have sprung from the severed head of Medusa so therefore can not be met before the slaying of Medusa, and there is nothing to say that Medusa is evil and lives in the underworld but at one stage was beautiful and wouldn’t harm anyone (apart from Athena) if people would just not decide to lop off her head or steal her apples.

But this use of other’s works is not just a 2010 phenomenon, but has been going on for a while. For example pride of place in my bookshelf lives books written by Jasper Fforde and Neil Gaiman, and on other shelves you can find Corneilia Funke and Gregory Maguire, all who use other’s creations, some which are still in copyright and some who are not. (Am I a hypocrite?)

Fforde’s works contain ‘credits’ where he, in a humorous manner, acknowledges those whose work he has used; Shakespeare, Austin. Likewise Funke acknowledges her sources. However on the other hand Neil Gaiman and ‘Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief’ both use mythology or characters from mythology who have never been under copyright and a lot of them are long forgotten such as Zeus, Loki and Bast.

But one of my issues is that the use of these characters has changed the audience’s view towards the original works. And I think that this is a line that should not be crossed. One of the most pronounced change is Maguire’s “Wicked” (and the following musical) where he tells the tale of Baum’s “Wizard of Oz” through the eyes of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Feedback on Maguire’s “Wicked” included: “Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again” and Maguire states in his dedication “Please don’t sue me.” So surely someone must realise that if something is not rotten in the state of Denmark, it is certainly rotten in the bookworld (no pun intended). I have observed people leaving the musical “Wicked” believing that it was what Frank Baum wanted, that the wicked witch of the West is good and the wizard is evil. In the social conscious of the Earth hear-and-now ‘Wicked’ is now canon. Admittedly this could also be partly due to the stupidness of people. But I feel that this is wrong.

I enjoyed Maguire’s “Wicked” there are some wonderful questions posed along the lines of evil, propaganda and free speech. And I love Fforde and Gaiman’s works, but I just feel that the line must be drawn somewhere.

On Tangents:

I’ve been wracking my brains trying to remember where I’ve heard some one say “but the line must be drawn somewhere” and after a lot more searching than I would have thought possible it is from this literary line, written by Gilbert in 1878 (though there could be others): “I attach but little value to rank or wealth, but the line must be drawn somewhere. A man in that station may be brave and worthy, but at every step he would commit solecisms that society would never pardon.”

I have not used the word “intercontextuality” or worked out how to spell it in today's post.

I prefer the Greek god names over the Roman.

Medusa has often been used to portray the raging aspect of the human psyche. I would love to be able to draw a picture of all aspects of the human psyche crowded around a person. The classical conscious with an angel and a devil, a troll and wolf symbolising the deep aspect of flight or fight, personification of fear, love, anger…