Archive for May 2005

Attend the tale…

May 4, 2005

Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m a bit quirky at times. Aren’t we all? Recently, I did a couple of quick reviews of films that I would rather not even admit that I sat through. I’m like that. I can be transfixed by the bizarre and rarely do I get so disgusted that I’ll just turn something off (or walk out of a theater). Generally, a film has to be extremely boring for me to consider that (with a few exceptions such as “ The Star Wars Holiday Special”). But there’s another, sordid, side to this pseudo sanctimonious saga. There are a select few presentations that I don’t speak of, much, around the family and good folks at my place of employ. Items that you might think I would rather avoid or, at the very least, be willing to hurl some insanely ponderous barbs at. But alas, no. Mostly because I thought they were pretty damn good. So, now, why don’t we…

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd…

His skin was pale and his eye was odd.
He shaved the faces of gentlemen ,
Who never thereafter were heard of again.
He trod a path that few have trod.
Did Sweeney Todd.
The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

A while back, I paid a hefty $100 in a fierce bidding war on Ebay for an out of production VHS tape of this Stephen Sondheim classic stage presentation starring Tony Award winner Angela Lansbury and George Hearn. Recently, I came across a similar television presentation version that was almost identical (only the audience reactions were slightly different) on Netflix. It’s on DVD, of course, and the sound quality is amazingly better. The subject matter is quite grim and certainly not for everyone (especially if you happen to be partaking of a meal while viewing). But not only does this not bother me, in the least, I find myself humming the opening ballad at work. Yikes.

The story is loosely based on a series of murders committed in 18th century London by a barber who not only robbed his victims but also, along with his lover, used the victim’s remains as the chief ingredient for some rather popular meat pies they sold. The true story is pretty straightforward with no real romantic nuances to raise it above your common psychopathic rampage. Although it is quite curios to see how an obvious murdering maniac could escape justice for so long due to the ineffectual legal system in England, at the time. The play, however, changes things drastically by making Mr. Todd (his “real” name is Benjamin Barker in the play) an object of sympathy, as he was sent to Botany Bay on a trumped up charge so that a local judge could satisfy his lustful cravings for Sweeney’s wife. That ploy, having not been successful due to the faithfulness of Mrs. Barker (leading to an unfortunate fate for her), the judge ends up caring (and really imprisoning) Sweeney’s daughter.
Vowing his revenge, but not really knowing how to extract it (he has no money and is an escaped convict), he is assisted by one Mrs. Lovett. Mrs. Lovett owns a failing meat pie bakery located below Sweeney’s old residence. She remembers him from the days when he was the respectable barber Benjamin Barker and has always had an unrequited love for him that he was not even aware of. When the authorities arrested him, she saved the objects of his original trade – a lovely set of silver straight razors. Now Sweeney has a trade with which to, not only provide for an existence, but to move towards his ultimate goal – death to those who harmed him and his family – and anyone else who happened to need a shave at the wrong place and time. Mrs. Lovett also earns a bonus. She has Benjamin Barker as her companion – and a wonderful source of free, delectable filling ingredients for her, soon to very popular, meat pies.

The play is a masterpiece, with equal parts horror and humor. The vocal performances are absolutely captivating. I recommend it, highly – but be careful whom you plan to watch it with. You might find them looking at you rather strangely for quite some time.

Comfort Zone

May 2, 2005

It’s another beautiful day in the neighborhood. Actually, it really is. Earlier, it was a perfect May afternoon, which I had the opportunity to appreciate on my way to work. My day off on Sunday having been mostly a day for chores around the house and an abundance of that, oh so rare, commodity – sleep. As I wind down (hopefully) this season of grinding overtime, I’ve come to understand a little more about myself. Some of this has to do with increased intrinsic value of spare time, something I used to take for granted. There’s also the holding fast to what I call “comforts”, like a child holds on to that special teddy bear or tattered security blanket. Now, when I wake up and see my aging poodle, McGhee, looking for attention in the form of a rubbed tummy, I find myself looking into those curious eyes and saying to myself “Hey guy, stick around for a while, huh? When I get home, tonight, I’ll give you a taste of my ice cream when it’s time for bed and little light reading before sleep. Just be here when I get back. Promise?” Of course, he promises (anything for a taste of ice cream). So here it is, 3 hours before I’m scheduled to leave work and this cacophony of forklift driven boxes of technology. Then I’m home. To see McGhee. And to have a little ice cream.