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This began as something devoted to another subject. That can wait. I write what the Muse tells me to write–that way, see, I can always blame it on the Muse…
Recently, I sat on my balcony, reading for a little while, catching up on things I’d forgotten I already knew about Errol Flynn, my childhood film hero. The night before, I’d watched one of his films for the… Nth… time.
I say “childhood hero”–He’s still one of my heroes; even though I now live a considerable distance hence, from that state of being one might recognize as “childhood”. That is, except in some of the nether regions of my brain and imagination. Peter Pan told me to… “Never Grow Up”. How does one argue with Peter Pan? It simply isn’t done. So I’ve made every attempt to respect the age-old wisdom embedded in that bit of childish advice. So much so, that sometimes the little boy won’t take no for an answer. He manages to find his way back into my very bones. So…
I listen to this…kid. That’s when I hear myself saying, “Yeah, of course I can jump-fall from that bridge…whaddaya kidding?…no problem.” That I’ll have to do it all through rehearsal—then for eight shows a week for (? weeks or months)–who’s counting? Little boys only count marbles, or pennies, or bug collections, or how many warts there are on frogs.
Besides, bellicose bragging issues forth easily, when you simultaneously envision young ladies gasping, breathless, with awe, from the audience, mind you, as you backward-swan dive, twisting in mid-air, to land with a mighty THUD in the correct “attitude”–and place… Stage Center, mind you….then, attempt (ever-threateningly) to rise, and, with your last pitiable and painfully convincing exhalation (too painfully real, no matter the extra padding you added after the matinée) you…….die…spectacularly–in more ways than one.
Finding a scapegoat for your self-imposed prison of perpetual pain is easy. Since at that point the “kid” who got you into this is nowhere to be found—you curse Flynn. It’s his fault. Both a blessing and a curse, he was instrumental, from the time I was five, as to my choice of career (s) (s). Who else is there to blame?
When I was really (as in actually) very young (speaking strictly in the chronological sense of course) we lived in New Jersey for about a year. (There’s some kind of irony here but I haven’t quite processed it fully yet. You see, NJ is where I live now. I’ll have to get back on this.) We moved to Jersey because of something to do with some employment adventure my dad was exploring. I didn’t pay much attention to the details of such humdrum, life or death, things then—I was just a kid. I knew better. Did I mention that we were only there for a year? Like I said, I knew better.
I was about five years old then. And it was there that I saw an Errol Flynn swashbuckler for the first time–on television. It was part of a week-long tribute to classic movie stars aired on a local station. That’s back when, after the Eleven O’Clock News, if you fancied sitting up all blurry-eyed for a while, you always had a fairly eclectic choice as to which old movie to pick from lots of free network stations. “Free” Cable was yet to come—and go. Back then “cable” was something they used to hold up the Brooklyn Bridge.
So by now you’re asking yourself, maybe, “What the heck’s a five year old–with blurry eyes, poor, neglected kid–doing up at the midnight hour watching old Errol Flynn flicks until some ungodly time outside of a five year old’s proper waking hours? I mean…where’s the kid’s parents, fercryinoutloud ?”
Answer: They were asleep; and I’ve always been a “night owl”–especially if I knew it was “Errol Flynn Week”. Oh, I’d go to bed alright, at a reasonable hour–even to sleep–when I was told to. But I’d always manage to wake up in time to catch one of his movies if I knew it was going to be shown. And they went on into the later-than-wee hours. It was, for want of a more superstitious sounding description…uncanny, the number of Errol Flynn movies I managed to check off on my “viewing schedule” during that year.
Sense memory is headed up by recollections of the cold linoleum floor in that front room of the railroad apartment we lived in. I sat on it anyway–had to; close enough to the tv set so the sound level wouldn’t wake up they who might not understand.
What else is a five year old dreamer to do? Especially if he just happens to be awake, and knows there’s some really cool sword-fighting, and pretty girls to win over, and horseback riding …. and…and…and… jumping from bridges and balconies and castle walls and stuff ? You know, all that dashing and daring-do business? And if there’s one thing Errol had in his magic bag of tricks, it was dashing and daring-do. Wait, that’s two… make that three things. He always got the pretty girl, too. I thought then, that it was because they liked the way he handled a sword…impressive, it was. I guess I was right–in a way. (apply brakes to metaphor..X.here)
And I promise, that’s the first and last attempt at off-color humor at his expense. Justified or not, he had more than enough of it dished his way. Perfect strangers picked fights with him for no reason, just so they could (hopefully) brag to women that “I beat up Errol Flynn”. –Sick.
I’ve read the books. I know all the tawdry stories—some true of course, some half true, some not true at all. I’ve read the balance sheets on Flynn. Whatever anyone chooses to think, good or bad, ledgers can never tell the whole story. Anyway, a half truth is a whole lie. And one thing about Flynn was all true: He was, and is, legend.
What’s important to me is that whoever Errol was on the screen, that’s who Errol WAS–IS to me. –That guy. Really him. He was–still is–The Good Guy ; the embodiment of the devil-may-care, classic, honest, and dependable hero. That was his job, and he did it well. With all of his so-called nefarious activities and personal problems (some of which probably did outdo his on-screen exploits) you still had to like him. You wanted the guy as a friend. Simply put, he was charismatic magic. I know because when the opening credits rolled last night, the deja vu thing hit me just like it had every time before; like I’d walked into a brick wall, (strangely, a brick wall made of linoleum)—then through it—into The Adventures of Don Juan, 1949.
This time, the pretty girl was his stunning Swedish co-star Viveca Lindfors as Queen Margaret of Spain. A truly beautiful, porcelain-skinned specimen of womanhood, Viveca had eyes that flashed lightning, as she would cut them at this ne’er-do-well (but soon to be her hero too) Don Juan de Maraña.
Throw in Flynn’s perennial side kick Alan Hale (the real life Dad of the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island-Alan Hale, Jr.) Enter the Villain: Robert Douglas, as The Duke de Lorca, a really fine bad guy who handles a cryptically evil phrase and a sword with equal dexterity; a lovable midget court jester, Jerry Austin, whom Don Juan befriends and teaches the art of fencing; a sumptuous and witty Max Steiner score, Elizabethan Era palaces and costumes, a little balcony climbing—and–include, in the denouement, one of the finest fencing sequences ever filmed. What’s the sum?
–Something they can’t seem to get right anymore–an action/adventure film with dialogue–credible dialogue, spoken credibly. Flowery? Yes—but fragrantly and charmingly witty, written to blossom beautifully from the mouths of those who can handle it? Also Yes.
No matter anyone’s opinion of Errol personally– I think he did this kind of thing better than anyone before him, anyone since, and surely better than anyone of his time–a short fifty years. I believed him at five years old. Ask me if anything’s changed.
Maybe it’s because he wasn’t really “acting”–all that much, anyway. Maybe it was one of those “real dreams” for him as well. If it was, he lived it to its fullest. Surely, at the very least, he did what was his job—did it extremely well. In some things he was–by far–far from perfect. In one thing he was perfect—by far.
Hero isn’t an easy role to play– especially when you’re only a kid yourself. But he more than managed it. Something. Somehow. Somewhere. Being the Hero when you can be—Anywhere, is what counts.
Then, like every shooting star, having done the best at what appears to be exactly what it was made for doing–he went out.
“They sure don’t make ‘em that way anymore”, I said to my son. We watched together, as Flynn and Hale rode off into the proverbial sunset. This was one of my son’s nth times too. Note the lower case “n ”. He practically knows the script word for word. I think he thinks he’s going to catch up with me. Someday he will. I hope he can share the same race, someday, with his own son. I know he will.
Because every so often, someone nudges a little boy; rescues him from a dreamless slumber. “Time to get up.… we’ve a lot of work ahead of us kid…hurry…we’ve got things to dream, you and me…Wake up, Sport… ”
For Then, Now, Yesterday, and Always, Thanks Errol.
Till next time, Follow your Muse…
Pretty Pronto Communications, Inc.®
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Bet ya thought I was going to blab about Romeo & Juliet, didn’t ya…huh?
Something occurred to me about members of either party–Democrats or Republicans (in other words, Politicians). Speaking of “Democracy”, try getting any one of them to wax poetic for very long on the fact that We the People don’t actually have one–a democracy, that is. …Words, words, words.
” Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Funny how things can “change” in an instant; or, a century or two. Especially Words and what they mean.
Polonius: –What do you read, my lord.
Hamlet: Words, words, words.
Polonius: What is the matter, my lord?
Hamlet: Between who?
Polonius: I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.
Hamlet: Slanders, sir, … 2.2.200-205
Now there’s a guy who knew how to play with words. He also knew the value of their power. But one thing’s for sure, sooner than later, willingly or not, you’ll either hate Shakespeare because of the words, or you’ll love him for them. I think maybe we should consider what’s being done with words “on our behalf” before we come hastily to the decision– decide that they really don’t mean much.
Here’s an instance of the power of words. How closely we’re able to listen to what’s being said, and done, as it’s being said, many times means everything:
–For as long as I can remember (and anyone else I know can remember) the political party with the donkey as its iconic mascot was called: The Democratic Party. It was called that, well, because that’s what it had always been called. Everyone every where always called it The Democratic Party. They called it that because, for one very obvious factual reason–that was its name. From the time the guys who formed it got together and said, “Well boys, what’re we gonna name this here ship?”, it was called that.
The only thing about it that changed over the years was its ideology. When you take into consideration the fact that Stephen Douglas, who ran for the Presidency against Abraham Lincoln, was a “Democrat”, a member of the Democratic Party, you realize how much things can change. Abe Lincoln, a Republican, was all for Federal everything–you might say he was a “Union man”. An equally bad word to some then, as it is today for other reasons, as well as for big Federal government concerns. Lincoln thought blacks should have the same Constitutional rights as whites and wanted to ban slavery in new territories and states admitted to the union. Douglas, on the other hand, seems to have had no problem with slave states or slave labor, and argued that it should be up to the States to decide the issue one way or the other. He seems to have espoused some of the ideals and beliefs we hear today from (as it’s somewhat misrepresented by it’s members) the “Party of Lincoln”–the Republican party. To whit: That if we just leave the decision-making alone; let “the people” be heard–translation: “the people” who ultimately, and always decide on such matters; “the people” with power, influence, and the money to get more of it; —things will “work themselves out” just fine.
This has led to something of a suspicion on my part–and that is: That some of these same “Lincoln Republicans” I’ve heard, lately- expounding on any subject, especially some representatives of the southern states, would have gotten great delight in a tar and feather ride ‘im out on a rail job with “The Party of Lincoln’s” so-named Member-in-Esteem.
Those same personages get great mileage out of throwing around the word Democra-cy, wrapping themselves in the glow of its respectability, even though it sounds so much like the word they hate–you know, the Democra part . But the problem remains: it simply sounds and looks, to their taste, too much like Democrat; a word they insist is synonymous with lots of other words they consider nasty and UN-American; words like Socialist, Communist, and Traitor; None of which are synonymous with the word democrat. Furthermore, categorically and actually, the three words in that list have nothing at all to do with one another, either as synonyms, or in meaning, whatsoever. (although we have allowed a synonymous, interchangeable sense of their meanings to be dictated)–to us–by…someone (?).
So now, then, there, folks–wink-wink, how do we manage to disassociate the Democrat from Democracy or anything “democratic”? Because obviously it becomes a great and noble duty to do so, in light of the fact that they repeatedly infer that all Democrats are in some way, out to topple America; as they intone Them in drone-like and hypnotic fashion, paired ever so cleverly with those nasty S, C, T types mentioned above. I’ve even seen such spokespersons quickly correct themselves mid-word, almost committing the awful, heinous mistake, of calling the Democratic party by its rightful and given name. Because yes sir, it’s Them, the Democrats, who are intentionally misrepresenting themselves to you, Mr. and Mrs. America. We’re simply pointing out that fact for your safety and well being.
Watch the news. And if you thought you were a “Democrat” because of the way you think–democrat-ic-ally–or because you were a registered member of the Democrat-ic party–think again. You’re now a Democrat because you espouse ideals associated with The DEMOCRAT PARTY. Add the word Democrat–not to be confused with democracy or anything democratic– to those other baddies; words we don’t have to work true meanings on any more because they’re automatically properly defined by the majority of the American public. Everyone knows a socialist is a communist is a must be traitor–or at least a terrorist–it just follows, does it not? Elementary Politics and Logic 101 combined. Thank the Almighty we now know what the word democrat truly means. They can’t fool us anymore; we’ve exposed Them for the Snakes they are.
All this, courtesy of intended, repetitive, re-defining, over and over and over… again–without our being offered, even once, the courtesy of a suggested trip to a dictionary. Thus, because “Democrats” are no longer “democratic”, they can be seriously questioned as to their love for America–and their Patriotism (don’t get me started on that word). And because of this, and simply because of this: If you’re a Democrat of the Democrat Party, you could be harboring some pretty nasty thoughts and designs; Well-Known ideologies, hated for the single thing they all mean and stand for; Well-Known to be hatefully destructive to the great fabric of our “Democratic” way of life. Put simply: (“The simpler the better I always say“) You–could be--dangerous.
–“Well, ya could, now couldn’t ya? I mean, really now, if ya just think–not accusin’ there…ya know; right? Just sayin‘…is all; if ya get my meanin‘… there, ya know…is all I’m sayin .”
So before we view the language as merely a convenient tool, or don’t give it any thought at all, which is the usual case from what I’ve seen, it might be a good thing to realize that apathy, towards any major means of communication and how it’s being used, breeds great danger. We stop communicating, we get lazy, and sometimes don’t listen very well because of that apathy. But we don’t stop being affected by those who would still make use of, for good or for ill, the great utility embedded in that wonderful means of voicing our thoughts; that Gift of Language.
” Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Who said that? Anyone know? A bigger lie was never spoken. But then, they knew that…didn’t they?
Till next time, Be a-Musing Cheers, JM
© 2009 JM’s Muse
Hello and Welcome to a brand new blog…
…as if the world needed another one. Up until a month or so ago, if anyone had said I’d have one of a something called a “blog”, I’d have looked at them as though they had two heads…now I have two blogs. (come to think of it, that’s somewhat like having 2 heads) One of them is coming along fairly well, I think. It’s called shakespeareplace- http://shakespeareplace.blogspot.com . It’s all about anything and everything to do with Disco Music…wait don’t touch that tab!– don’t believe a word I said–about Disco music. Of course it’s about Shakespeare. But since Shakespeare’s stuff inspires all sorts of ‘musings’ on all sorts of topics, I thought it might be nice to have a place to not only discuss pure Bard topics, but also what might be a spin-off from them–or be floating around in my mind or your mind about anything at all those wayward and unpredictable synapses might accidentally lead us to. So yeah, you can expect some talk about Shakespeare here, but it’s not limited to that, and it’s anything but “off-topic” to bring up any subject at all about which you might be “musing”, bard-related or not. Art, science, politics, human nature, love, the world, trivia…all right, all of that’s Shakespeare-related isn’t it?–or could be. Well, I’ll leave it up to whomever might stop by, needing to share a thought their Muse has shared with them. See you soon–till then, Be A-Musing. Cheers, JM
© 2009 JM’s Muse