Sunday, November 20, 2011

2011.11.18 — Godot, Ballet, Pocket Watch & Alice — tiny fushigi*

This is a blog of three small fushigi TV guilty pleasures intermingled with a couple of other trivialities, Alice's Rabbit in Wonderland and the Beckett play Waiting for Godot. [Addendum: it began small but I found my self compelled to blow it up all out of proportion.]

The impetus to post began with guilty pleasure #1 from Sunday, November 13th. At 6pm I went to my office/den and turned on Lost Girl episode Death Didn't Become Him. The story line involved rescuing a ballet dancer who had been resurrected from the dead by the ancient evil Lich. My wife prefers to watch the evening news and so turned that on. This usually means I get to hear it too because she turns it up to compensate for her having slightly diminished hearing. Well, as I was watching a dead male ballet dancer dance I heard on the news a story about the National Ballet of Canada having held auditions in Calgary. The applicant they interviewed was also male.
Amusing but very small and so I did nothing but chuckle at my 'getting' and/or noticing these weird fushigi things. And for being fascinated by them.

Thursday night's second guilty pleasure sets the seed of the next fushigi nudge. I started watching Warehouse 13 in the summer when I stumbled into it while flipping. Something about the playfulness of the acting and writing caught my ear and eye so I hung around only to discover another distraction from life.

[Before reading on, click on the link to initiate some great music from that episode: Running Up That Hill covered by Placebo. It will open in a new window/tab.]

So. Guilty pleasure #2: on Thursday, November 17th I turned the TV to watch the 3rd season finale of Warehouse 13. The Stand ends with the Warehouse being destroyed and the fascinating H.(Helena) G. Wells (played by Jaime Murray) sacrificing her life to save her fellow agents.
All looks lost until Agent Artie (played by Saul Rubinek) pulls from his jacket pocket a pocket watch. What can this artifact do? Reset time and undo death and destruction? Stay tuned!

Nothing special. Just me wasting my life watching other people enjoy their creativity instead of creating my own. Hmmmm. But how is that different than a great deal of the books I've read?

And, speaking of books, the next morning I re-opened Samuel Beckett's brilliant play Waiting for Godot, which I'd picked up Tuesday, November 15th for some light reading before returning to Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
and Noam Chomsky's Year 501: The Conquest Continues.

No sooner did I begin to read than I read the following:
POZZO: … [Turning to Vladimir and Estragon.] Thank you, gentlemen, and let me . . . [he fumbles in his pockets] . . . let me wish you . . . [fumbles] . . . wish you . . . [fumbles] . . . what have I done with my watch? [Fumbles.] A genuine half-hunter, gentlemen, with deadbeat escapement! [Sobbing.] Twas my granpa gave it to me! [He searches on the ground, Vladimir and Estragon likewise. Pozzo turns over with his foot the remains of Lucky's hat.] Well now isn't that just—

VLADIMIR: Perhaps it's in your fob.

POZZO: Wait! [He doubles up in an attempt to apply his ear to his stomach, listens. Silence.] I hear nothing. [He beckons them to approach, Vladimir and Estragon go over to him, bend over his stomach.] Surely one should hear the tick-tick.

VLADIMIR: Silence! [All listen, bent double.]

ESTRAGON: I hear something.

POZZO: Where?

VLADIMIR: It's the heart.

POZZO: [disappointed] Damnation!

VLADIMIR: Silence!

ESTRAGON: Perhaps it has stopped.
(WfG Evergreen 1954, p.31)
That is too funny! On TV there is the hope that the stopped pocket watch can turn back time and restore life. In the play there is the lost pocket watch that is cleverly equated to a heart being stopped, death.

So that is when I felt I would blog another stupid fushigi. But before I could get to it life got into the way. Life and work. At the Wednesday (November 16th) department meeting we were told that a paper-based procedure was going to go 'on-line' via MS-Outlook e.mail. After some discussion I mentioned using Outlook's pre-formulated e.mail capability because I had built an e.mail template several years prior. No one understood what I was talking about. So on Friday I went to find that old MS-Outlook template to show my manager. Before showing it to him I opened it and smiled at what I'd forgotten I'd included. And I thought 'I bet RT would like that closing signature quip!'

And as I'm thinking that, at almost exactly that moment, RT walked into my work pod bearing gifts. RT had been tasked with the job of distributing company image employer propaganda tokens, which I do not remember RT having done before in our 10 years of working in the same department.
Specifically a pen and a pad with a corporatized feel-good phrase.

Before RT can move on to the next recipient I asked her to read the test e.mail's closing quip:
Be what you would seem to be — or if you'd like it put more simply — Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.
The Duchess to Alice. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
RT read it and said, 'That's one of my favourites. I've memorized it. I love it.'

'You have?' I asked.

'Yes,' RT answered.

RT then suggested that that is a nice little bloggable fushigi — RT reads my blog and is familiar with fushigi. And I knew I would because it was small and trivial enough to fit into this planned blog of small fushigi.

Now, as I'm writing out it, I wonder if RT was suggesting the fushigi not just because I asked her to read an obscure text that she just happened to have memorized, but because the feel good phrase in some ways embodies the irony of the quotation!

But today, as I continued writing out this blog, it suddenly struck me that there is an additional fushigi link between Warehouse13's closing and RT's rabbit fushigi. The pocket watch! Synopsis from Wikipedia:
Chapter 1 – Down the Rabbit Hole: Alice is bored sitting on the riverbank with her sister, when she notices a talking, clothed White Rabbit with a pocket watch run past.
But does it mean anything? And doesn't it make you — let me rephrase. With this latest twist I have to wonder if there is some kind of connection between Guilty Pleasure #1 and a time piece. And as I was thinking about that, out popped guilty pleasure fushigi #3. My Friday night guilty pleasure is Nikita.

In Friday's episode, Fair Trade the secondary plot line of Alexandra Udinov, played by Lndsy Fonseca, evolved. It included her getting from a kind of double agent her assassinated father's watch — a wrist watch — for good luck. Of course the double agent has bugged it with a tracking radio beacon.

And now it has also struck me that there is a curious, tenuous, connection between Godot and guilty pleasure #1, Lost Girl: the Godot protagonists Vladimir and Estragon feel that their lives are empty, that they are going through the motions and that they are effectively dead. They discuss killing themselves. Well, the resurrected dead in Lost Girl: Death Didn't Become Him also feel lost and tortured because they are going through the motions of life while being dead.

Odd, now that I've thought that, I realize also that that tenuous link can be extended to include Pozzo and Lucky in Godot: Pozzo keeps Lucky on a rope and uses his voice and whip to give Lucky the semblance of life. At one point he is put on display and forced to perform as if he were human.
This is exactly what happens in Lost Girl, when the the Lich forces the resurrected dead he's collected to perform in a kind of semblance of life that is for them torture. From Godot:

POZZO: Answer us that.

VLADIMIR: In order to dance.


POZZO: True!Silence. They put on their hats.

ESTRAGON: Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful!

VLADIMIR: (to Pozzo). Tell him to think.

POZZO: Give him his hat.

VLADIMIR: His hat?

POZZO: He can't think without his hat.

VLADIMIR: (to Estragon). Give him his hat.

ESTRAGON: Me! After what he did to me! Never!

VLADIMIR: I'll give it to him. He does not move.

ESTRAGON: (to Pozzo). Tell him to go and fetch it.

POZZO: It's better to give it to him.

VLADIMIR: I'll give it to him. He picks up the hat and tenders it at arm's length to Lucky, who does not move.

POZZO: You must put it on his head.

ESTRAGON: (to Pozzo). Tell him to take it.

POZZO: It's better to put it on his head.

VLADIMIR: I'll put it on his head. (He goes round behind Lucky, approaches him cautiously, puts the hat on his head and recoils smartly. Lucky does not move. Silence.)

ESTRAGON: What's he waiting for?

POZZO: Stand back! (Vladimir and Estragon move away from Lucky. Pozzo jerks the rope. Lucky looks at Pozzo.) Think, pig! (Pause. Lucky begins to dance.) Stop! (Lucky stops.) Forward! (Lucky advances.) Stop! (Lucky stops.) Think!


LUCKY: On the other hand with regard to—

POZZO: Stop! (Lucky stops.) Back! (Lucky moves back.) Stop! (Lucky stops.) Turn! (Lucky turns towards auditorium.) Think!

During Lucky's tirade the others react as follows.
1) Vladimir and Estragon all attention, Pozzo dejected and disgusted.
2)Vladimir and Estragon begin to protest, Pozzo's sufferings increase.
3)Vladimir and Estragon attentive again, Pozzo more and more agitated and groaning.
4) Vladimir and Estragon protest violently. Pozzo jumps up, pulls on the rope. General outcry. Lucky pulls on the rope, staggers, shouts his text. All three throw themselves on Lucky who struggles and shouts his text.

LUCKY: Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell and suffers like the divine Miranda with those who for reasons unknown but time will tell are plunged in torment plunged in fire whose fire flames if that continues and who can doubt it will fire the firmament that is to say blast hell to heaven so blue still and calm so calm with a calm which even though intermittent is better than nothing but not so fast and considering what is more that as a result of the labors left unfinished crowned by the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry of Essy-in-Possy of Testew and Cunard it is established beyond all doubt all other doubt than that which clings to the labors of men that as a result of the labors unfinished of Testew and Cunnard it is established as hereinafter but not so fast for reasons unknown that as a result of the public works of Puncher and Wattmann it is established beyond all doubt that in view of the labors of Fartov and Belcher left unfinished for reasons unknown of Testew and Cunard left unfinished it is established what many deny that man in Possy of Testew and Cunard that man in Essy that man in short that man in brief in spite of the strides of alimentation and defecation wastes and pines wastes and pines and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the strides of physical culture the practice of sports such as tennis football running cycling swimming flying floating riding gliding conating camogie skating tennis of all kinds dying flying sports of all sorts autumn summer winter winter tennis of all kinds hockey of all sorts penicillin and succedanea in a word I resume flying gliding golf over nine and eighteen holes tennis of all sorts in a word for reasons unknown in Feckham Peckham Fulham Clapham namely concurrently simultaneously... (p28-30).
Sigh! Is this torture never going to end? Am I going to continue to be compelled to find meaningless interweavings of meaninglessnesses?

Did you notice that in the Godot image Pozzo is holding both a rope and a whip. The image shows Lucky with the whip clenched in his teeth. Well, back to Warehouse 13. Hopefully the last — $%#&* I just made another connection! Oi vey! Okay, Warehouse 13, season 3 finale: the artifact that the evil Sykes uses to bend the agents to his will is Cecil B. DeMille's riding crop, which is a cropped whip. (In the image it is the stick-like thing being bent in his hands.) Now, isn't that just too weird?

Now for the final interweave. In Nikita, Nikita (played by Maggie Q) is forced to give up the precious black box because her friend and collaborator the geek/nerd Birkoff (played by Aaron Stanford) has been captured and is being tortured.

The End. (Or not.)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011.11.02 — The Cat & the Camel - Fushigi*

Well, this is an odd fushigi blog, and may not even properly be one. But it amused me enough to write it out. So, right or wrong, one of the two beginnings began with my flipping to CNN's latest celebrity driven news show, Erin Burnett OutFront.
I flipped to it after it had already begun as a diversion from advertising boredom on the show I was watching and out of curiosity about how this 'new' show would approach the news. (Unfortunately it is old CNN because it suffers from CNN's typical surplus of high energy concision that delimits discussion and argument.)

Anyway, in a kind of amusing warning against my watching it, I managed to catch a 'fluff' piece on camel racing. (I just checked her CNN-blog link, above and it wasn't listed in the news items there.)
However you can see her and camels via her Facebook page.

As a fluff piece, it was quite elaborate, with a caricature of the Seabiscuit movie trailer complete with Burnett leading a camel to the race track. Silly, who cares — and it didn't really convince me that the show is likely to be worth watching. [Although I stumbled into something interesting when I poked around on the web for it. I found an earlier piece by Burnett on Australia's camel population problem — a problem the authorities want to help solve by killing 6,000 of them.]

Later that night — 10:30ish or so — as I was shutting down the computer I took off my headphones and heard my wife's Wives of New York screaming about riding camels.

Completely trivial, but completely weird.

What perhaps makes the entire day of near fushigis more completely amusing is how cats did something similar as camels on that same day.

Earlier that evening, as part of a Haiku game in Goodreads, I wound up writing two cat related poems.
Because of the cats
so I've heard; they primp and preen
before they are seen.
           Nov 01, 2011 05:17pm

The jellicle cat
sat. But with a butt he left
to flip, flop and fly.
           Nov 01, 2011 07:56pm

Nothing special here — and not particularly good Haiku, but amusing in the context of the poetical conceit they are following in the game (but not shown here). Later that evening when I re-commenced reading The Sea by John Banville the first paragraph in there was a cat reference.
When I came back to the computer with the book, I was annoyed at myself for not having marked the page. So I began flipping to find it. Then I started to laugh because iTunes, which was moving through my three Laurie Anderson CD's, filled my ears with the lyrics of 'Beautiful Pea Green Boat' from her album Bright Read:

The owl and the pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat.
They took some honey and lots of money
Wrapped in a five pound note.
The owl looked up to the stars above
And sang to a small guitar.
O lovely pussy! pussy my love!
What a wonderful pussy you are.
Shortly thereafter I found the passage:
…All creatures have their habits. Now from the other side of the garden a neighbour's piebald cat comes creeping, soft-stepping pard (p32).
Now, if I wanted to be totally obnoxious, I could stretch back and add that I recently (October 25th) updated for the Goodreads Short Story Group an old cat story called Bar Cat.

Oh! If I want to extend the fushigi obnoxiousness to the max, I could add that on November 1st I began to write my blog-book review of Ondaatje's The Cat's Table, which I am 'supposed' to be writing and finishing now, instead of poking around in stupid near fushigi-like things.