Monday, February 25, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Beautiful Wickedness

I think the make-up for the Wicked Witch in Oz the Great and Powerful echoes the rejected "glamorous" make-up concept for the Wicked Witch in the 1939 The Wizard of Oz movie.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Satyrday: The Pipes of Pan

The Pipes of Pan
(From the film Merry Andrew; Lyrics by Johnny Mercer, Music by Saul Chaplin.)

No, no, no, no no!

I mean the astral alien,
The creature bacchanalian
No good Episcopalian
believes in.
It's Pan!
(It's who?)
Why, Pan!
(Oh, Pan!)
He was half a quadruped and half a man.
He was mischievous and naughty
And your troubles all began
When you first heard the Pipes of Pan!

Not Zeus
Nor Thor,
Though they made the lightning flash and thunder roar!
If you journeyed all the way
From Madagascar to Japan,
You would not find the likes of Pan!

The goddess Aphrodite,
She seldom wore a nightie:
One may be high and mighty
But that simply isn't done!
What made Medusa horrid?
(The snakes upon her forehead!)
Right! Her countenance grew florid
When they wriggled in the sun!
But Pan
(Ah, Pan!)
He was sort of like a bad Samari-tan!
With his cloven hooves and pointed ears,
He simply had no time for tears,
He had to lead his gypsy caravan!
(What a man!)
Half a man,
Was Pan!

Please, sir, what other gods were there?
Let me see...
Achilles, and Adonis, and Apollo, and Aurora
Are among the ones I might possibly bring to your attention.
Calypso, and Cassandra, and Pygmalion, and Pandora.
Now just for amusement's sake
Let's see how many others we can mention...

(Echo.) Right. (Ceres! Vulcan!)
And his mighty forge.
(Galatea!) So there was. (Calliope!)
By George!
(Jupiter! His name was Zeus.)
Minerva was his daughter.
(And Gemini! And Pluto!)
He was famous for his water!
(And Neptune! And Ulysses!)
And the Titans and the rest,
I know,
But who possessed the magic pipes that no one else possessed?
(His name...)
Yes, yes?
(...was Pan!)
Good guess!
He could neigh and he could whinny when he ran!
And he played a sort of cross
Between a schottische and pavane
When he played on the Pipes of Pan.

Fair Echo was the maiden,
Whose charms were heavy laden,
He loved to serenade in
Hopes that someday they would wed.
(But she preferred Narcissus
And longed to be his missus.)
Till his analysises
Found he loved himself instead!
(Oh, his analysises found he loved himself instead!)
Dear Pan!
(Dear Pan!)
Sweet Pan!
(Sweet Pan!)
So we leave him in the fields Olympi-an!
(Good-Bye, Pan!)
And some April when he passes
We will see the waving grasses
And a set of cloven hoofprints where he ran,
(Where we walk!)
And we'll hear,
Loud and clear,
The Pipes...of...Pan!

I saw the first half of the film "Merry Andrew" before I had to go to work the other week, and saw Danny Kaye (as a British schoolmaster) sing this song with his class. It stuck in my head, until at last I had to buy it, and then transcribe it, and now finally post it. It's a bouncy, almost-patter song on a mythological theme, so it had immediate appeal for me. My nit-picking side notes they snuck a Norse god into the list, as well as several figures who are technically not gods (but heroes, demi-gods, nymphs, etc.). Danny Kaye's part is in regular type, and the students' parts are in italics.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

George Bernard Shaw

MANGAN. Of course you don't understand: what do you know about business? You just listen and learn. Your father's business was a new business; and I don't start new businesses: I let other fellows start them. They put all their money and their friends' money into starting them. They wear out their souls and bodies trying to make a success of them. They're what you call enthusiasts. But the first dead lift of the thing is too much for them; and they haven't enough financial experience. In a year or so they have either to let the whole show go bust, or sell out to a new lot of fellows for a few deferred ordinary shares: that is, if they're lucky enough to get anything at all. As likely as not the very same thing happens to the new lot. They put in more money and a couple of years' more work; and then perhaps they have to sell out to a third lot. If it's really a big thing the third lot will have to sell out too, and leave their work and their money behind them. And that's where the real business man comes in: where I come in. But I'm cleverer than some: I don't mind dropping a little money to start the process. I took your father's measure. I saw that he had a sound idea, and that he would work himself silly for it if he got the chance. I saw that he was a child in business, and was dead certain to outrun his expenses and be in too great a hurry to wait for his market. I knew that the surest way to ruin a man who doesn't know how to handle money is to give him some. I explained my idea to some friends in the city, and they found the money; for I take no risks in ideas, even when they're my own. Your father and the friends that ventured their money with him were no more to me than a heap of squeezed lemons.


HECTOR. Listen, O sage. How long dare you concentrate on a feeling without risking having it fixed in your consciousness all the rest of your life?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Ninety minutes. An hour and a half. [He goes into the pantry].

Hector, left alone, contracts his brows, and falls into a day-dream. He does not move for some time. Then he folds his arms. Then, throwing his hands behind him, and gripping one with the other, he strides tragically once to and fro. Suddenly he snatches his walking stick from the teak table, and draws it; for it is a swordstick. He fights a desperate duel with an imaginary antagonist, and after many vicissitudes runs him through the body up to the hilt. He sheathes his sword and throws it on the sofa, falling into another reverie as he does so. He looks straight into the eyes of an imaginary woman; seizes her by the arms; and says in a deep and thrilling tone, "Do you love me!" The captain comes out of the pantry at this moment; and Hector, caught with his arms stretched out and his fists clenched, has to account for his attitude by going through a series of gymnastic exercises.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. That sort of strength is no good. You will never be as strong as a gorilla.

HECTOR. What is the dynamite for?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. To kill fellows like Mangan.

HECTOR. No use. They will always be able to buy more dynamite than you.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. I will make a dynamite that he cannot explode.

HECTOR. And that you can, eh?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Yes: when I have attained the seventh degree of concentration.

HECTOR. What's the use of that? You never do attain it.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. What then is to be done? Are we to be kept forever in the mud by these hogs to whom the universe is nothing but a machine for greasing their bristles and filling their snouts?

HECTOR. Are Mangan's bristles worse than Randall's lovelocks?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER,. We must win powers of life and death over them both. I refuse to die until I have invented the means.

HECTOR. Who are we that we should judge them?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. What are they that they should judge us? Yet they do, unhesitatingly. There is enmity between our seed and their seed. They know it and act on it, strangling our souls. They believe in themselves. When we believe in ourselves, we shall kill them.

HECTOR. It is the same seed. You forget that your pirate has a very nice daughter. Mangan's son may be a Plato: Randall's a Shelley. What was my father?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. The damnedst scoundrel I ever met. [He replaces the drawing-board; sits down at the table; and begins to mix a wash of color].

HECTOR. Precisely. Well, dare you kill his innocent grandchildren?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. They are mine also.

HECTOR. Just so--we are members one of another. [He throws himself carelessly on the sofa]. I tell you I have often thought of this killing of human vermin. Many men have thought of it. Decent men are like Daniel in the lion's den: their survival is a miracle; and they do not always survive. We live among the Mangans and Randalls and Billie Dunns as they, poor devils, live among the disease germs and the doctors and the lawyers and the parsons and the restaurant chefs and the tradesmen and the servants and all the rest of the parasites and blackmailers. What are our terrors to theirs? Give me the power to kill them; and I'll spare them in sheer--

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [cutting in sharply]. Fellow feeling?

HECTOR. No. I should kill myself if I believed that. I must believe that my spark, small as it is, is divine, and that the red light over their door is hell fire. I should spare them in simple magnanimous pity.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. You can't spare them until you have the power to kill them. At present they have the power to kill you...They're going to do it. They're doing it already.

HECTOR. They are too stupid to use their power.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [throwing down his brush and coming to the end of the sofa]. Do not deceive yourself: they do use it. We kill the better half of ourselves every day to propitiate them. The knowledge that these people are there to render all our aspirations barren prevents us having the aspirations. And when we are tempted to seek their destruction they bring forth demons to delude us, disguised as pretty daughters, and singers and poets and the like, for whose sake we spare them....
[Walking distractedly away towards the pantry]. I must think these things out. [Turning suddenly]. But I go on with the dynamite none the less. I will discover a ray mightier than any X-ray: a mind ray that will explode the ammunition in the belt of my adversary before he can point his gun at me. And I must hurry. I am old: I have no time to waste in talk.


ALFIE DOLITTLE: I ask ya, what am l? I'm one o' the undeserving poor, that's what I am. Think what that means to a man. It means he's up agains middle-class morality for all the time. If there's anything goin' an' I ask for a bit of it, it's always the same story: '"You're undeservin', so you can't have it.'" But my needs is as great as the most deservin' widows that ever got money out of six different charities in one week for the death o' the same 'usband. I don't need less than a deservin' man, I need more. I don't eat less 'earty than he does and I drink a lot more. I'm playin' straight with you. I ain't pretendin' to be deservin'. No, I'm undeservin',and I mean to go on bein' undeservin'. I like it an' that's the truth.

I never cared much for GBS and his works, but occasionally even a blind pig will find an acorn. Quoatations from Heartbreak House and My Fair Lady.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy Chinese New Year!

This is the Year of the Black Water Snake!

Friday, February 1, 2013

You Wear The Pointy Hat, You Take The Responsibility

Here is an interesting line of continuity that sort of fascinates me, because I am geeky for all things wizardly.

The official insignia for the highest order of initiates (the Pater) of the Mithraic Mysteries in ancient Rome were a pointy hat, a staff, a jeweled ring, a cape, and robes.

Some people think this influenced the official insignia for a Roman Catholic bishop (although an argument can and has been made for origins in the Aaronic priesthood). The bishop's insignia includes a pointy hat (or miter), a staff (or crozier), a jeweled ring, a cape (or chasuble), and robes.
Now J. R. R. Tolkien was a Catholic, and the highest visible spiritual authority in his book The Lord of the Rings is the wizard Gandalf, who wears a pointy hat, carries a staff, has a jeweled ring (Narya, the Ring of Fire), and wears a cloak and dresses in robes.
And the image of Gandalf (traditional as it may be) has influenced how most literary wizards have been portrayed since.

Any point to this lineage? Maybe not, but I find it worth musing on.