31 Days of Stories 2015, Day 6: “Scream Your Bloody Head Off” by Edward D. Wood, Jr.

May 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

From Blood Splatters Quickly: The Collected Stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

Blood_Splatters_Quickly_Ed_WoodIt is rare to encounter an authentic pulp sensibility. Raymond Chandler employed pulp tropes, but he was also a gifted stylist, as were Dashiell Hammett and Elmore Leonard. James Ellroy is a stylist who has also created a sex-and-violence-infused alternate history of America in the twentieth century. Jim Thompson possessed disturbingly acute insight into deviant psychology. But real pulp – quick and dirty, unrefined, salacious – was frequently confined to cheaply produced magazines of the 1930s and ’40s with titles like Spicy Detective, Dime Mystery Magazine, and Weird Tales. Beginning in the late 1960s, another place to locate this material was in the less reputable (though glossier) skin mags.

It was here that Edward D. Wood, Jr. found gainful employment with Bernie Bloom, publisher of Pendulum Publishing, whose titles included Flesh & Fantasy, Balling, and Young Beavers. Bloom apparently prized Wood for his productivity, at least until the writer’s problem drinking became too much of an issue and he was fired in 1974. (Wood died of an alcohol-related heart attack in 1978.)

If Wood is remembered today, it is likely not so much for his fiction (though he was undeniably prolific, producing both novels and stories), but for his work as a filmmaker. In the 1950s, Wood and a company of actors (including an aging Bela Lugosi and professional wrestler Tor Johnson) made a series of films that are cult classics, essentially for being among the worst movies in motion picture history. Most famous among these are the cross-dressing epic Glen or Glenda and the sci-fi disaster Plan 9 from Outer Space. (According to Bob Blackburn, who provides the introduction to Blood Splatters Quickly, the original title – Grave Robbers from Outer Space – was changed at the behest of the Beverley Hills Baptist Church, which was one of the financial backers on the movie.)

In 2014, OR Books brought out Blood Splatters Quickly, which collects thirty-three of the author’s short stories. What is most immediately surprising about these is their range: yes, there are stories about lesbian cowgirls, misogynistic cannibals, and cross-dressing porn stars, but there is also the Vietnam war story “No Atheists in the Grave,” the mock-elegiac “Epitaph for the Village Drunk,” and the naturalistic “Pray for Rain,” which, if you close one eye and squint, could be channelling Steinbeck.

“Scream Your Bloody Head Off” owes more to EC Comics than East of Eden. The opening story in the collection, it is representative of an author steeped in the tropes and traditions of genre horror and Grand Guignol. Writing on Flavorwire, Jonathon Sturgeon coins the term “horropornonoir” to describe Wood’s default mode; this word seems as good as any to characterize the particular approach the author employs here.

The basic story is straight out of James M. Cain: a woman comes at her cheating husband with a knife, the husband kills her, then has to decide how to dispose of the body. It is in its specifics that “Scream Your Bloody Head Off” deviates, quite substantially, from the work of the earlier author.

Stella, the dead wife, has discovered that her husband, Johnnie, has been having an affair with the couple’s neighbour, Barbara. What most infuriates Stella, however, is not the mere fact of her husband’s infidelity. Stella has also been sleeping with Barbara and can’t stomach the idea that her husband was having sex with the same woman. Her revenge fantasies involve (naturally) a butcher’s knife and emasculation: “She was going to cut him up but good and see that he went to the coffin without that thing between his legs. What he had used on earth so often he was not going to get a chance to use in hell.”

Wood injects a stream of jet-black humour into the post-mortem scenes in the story, as the hapless Johnnie searches for a way to dispose of his wife’s corpse. His initial idea – to dump the body in the lake – is not feasible because it is the dead of winter and the lake is frozen. Similarly, the ground would be too solid for a shovel to crack, so burying the body in the woods is out. The solution he comes up with – which is as implausible as it is outrageous – is to bleed the body dry in the bathtub, cut up the dessicated remains, and feed them into the kitchen garbage disposal.

Of course all of this is sick and perverse – that is the point, and the nature of the medium. And Wood displays absolutely no facility with psychic distance, switching indiscriminately from Johnnie’s perspective to Stella’s when necessary to convey essential background information to the reader.

But there is an undeniable energy to the story, and an evident glee at the prospect of seeing just how far the author can stretch his scenario. The offences perpetrated on a woman’s body are standard genre tropes that have fallen into disrepute in some corners of late – in many cases, for good reason – although the same kind of stuff can be seen pretty much any night of the week on reruns of CSI or Criminal Minds. As for Johnnie’s retribution at the story’s end, it comes in a form that is unexpected and mordantly funny (it involves a neglected piece of Stella’s bloody scalp and a flight of stairs).

“Degeneracy runs rampant!” Wood writes in “I, Warlock.” “Call down the degenerates!” This could be a rallying cry for the author’s entire oeuvre, and for “Scream Your Bloody Head Off” specifically. There is a kind of degeneracy to the story that is absent from the work of other, more respectable genre practitioners. It is true pulp fiction, not the ersatz, art-house stuff that too often gets filtered through a soft-focus lens to render it palatable to a mainstream audience.

Poetry Month: The Politics of Knives by Jonathan Ball

April 11, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

The Politics of Knives. Jonathan Ball; $17.95 paper 978-1-55245-263-2, 96 pp., Coach House Books

The mirror as a symbol of the fractured personality is complemented in Psycho by the “cutting” imagery: in Saul Bass’s title designs, which tear and split the names; in what Hitchcock called the basic geometry of the film – the bisecting horizontals and verticals (a motif in part established by a construction crane that cuts the horizon of Phoenix, by the bed and bedposts of the hotel, by the standing John Gavin and the supine Janet Leigh, and, most of all, by the horizontal motel and the looming, vertical house); and in other suggestions of slashing – a telephone pole that “slices” Leigh’s parked car; scythes and rakes suspended over heads in a hardware shop; and the murderer’s raised knife. The cutting imagery establishes a visual design in which conflict in the viewer extends the conflict within the characters …

The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock, Donald Spoto

The_Politics_of_KnivesMirrors and cutting imagery – both literal and metaphoric – pervade Jonathan Ball’s third book, not least in the prose-poem sequence “Psycho,” which employs a William S. Burroughs/Brion Gysin–style cut-up technique to strip Hitchcock’s thriller to its bare bones. Incorporating images from the movie, lines of dialogue, and frequently disturbing riffs on the film’s darkly ironic undertones (“She skins so beautiful, she showers for us clean”), Ball employs linguistic compression to intensify a feeling of claustrophobic unease. “The letters break,” he writes, referring specifically to Saul Bass’s famous titles, but also to his own poetic approach in this sequence, and throughout the collection.

Mirrors abound in “Psycho” (as they do in Psycho). “In mirrors that car,” the poet writes, then a short while later, “In the bathroom the mirror. Doubling desire.” Still later: “All the mirrors, what shines in their glass. Dead hollows reflect outward, gaze.” In Hitchcock’s film, mirrors reflect things, but as Spoto points out, they also symbolize duality – the split personality that inhabits many of the characters. In Ball’s conception, “dead hollows” – empty sockets – shine in the mirror’s reflection. The poem repudiates the very agency of the onlooker: “Eyes erased like our Norman erased.”

The Politics of Knives interrogates the subject of voyeurism and its moral implications, something that also concerned Hitchcock. “We’ve become a race of Peeping Toms,” says another Hitchcock character in a different film, summing up the dilemma of the filmmaker, who could be considered the ultimate Peeping Tom (see, for example, Michael Powell’s film of the same name).

Much of the activity in The Politics of Knives is viewed through the lens of a movie camera. The anonymous character in “He Paints the Room Red” sets up a camera in the corner of his writing room; the action of the narrative is framed by the camera’s viewfinder, presenting it as simultaneously artificial and mediated. The artificiality is accentuated at the poem’s end, when the author disclaims any control over his character, or knowledge of the character’s motivations: “I do not know his reasons. I don’t understand any of this.” The poet then flips the argument on its head, implicating the reader. “But you watched him … And you did nothing, just like me.”

Elsewhere, Kafka’s hallucinatory novel The Castle becomes emblematic of our societal obsession with mediated imagery. In Ball’s spare and fractured retelling, K. can only enter the Castle after he literally “becomes a camera.” Readers of the poem are treated to scenes of bureaucratic desolation as viewed through the intermediary of the camera’s lens: “Camera moves through outer offices, their bustle and noise, racking forward, keeping all in focus, gliding quiet along makeshift rails, invisible to those scrambling for attention and those ignoring, checking books, past the sometimes passing of outdated messages, letters long dead.”

Dead letters evoke the idea of a postal repository for undeliverable mail, but Ball also means this literally: a few pages later, he refers to “papers strewn corpselike.”

The conflation of violence and language is pervasive in this collection, beginning with the epigraph from Plutarch detailing Caesar’s murder. The first line of the opening poem reads, “When she spoke, she did not speak” – a contradiction that places language in violent conflict with itself. She “did not speak / but with exhalation of wires,” we are told, which expands the metaphoric violence of the language into the realm of the actual. There is a clear abnormality in the juxtaposition of breath and speech and metal here, a creeping unease that is extended in the following poem: “A click as she shut / and then nothing opened / but into worlds of knives.” The pronoun is ambiguous: it would appear to refer to someone human, but the context seems to suggest the personification of a manufactured device, something that clicks shut, and opens “into worlds of knives.” This image is repeated in the third poem: “She wore nothing but blades.”

The opening three poems form a triptych that serves as a kind of invocation to the muse, also seeding the ground for what is to come. The insistence on knives reappears in “Psycho,” and again in the title sequence, in which words and phrases have been blacked out, literally excised as though having been sliced through. The blacked-out portions call to mind redacted government documents, an association made explicit in the poem’s last line: “What to do when the sheep elect wolves.” (This is also an example of Ball ratcheting up the tension in the language by substituting a declarative statement for what would more commonly be cast as a question.) The wolves here echo the “chiselling” teeth of an early poem, and prefigure the book’s final image, of the mythical Cerberus, “that most terrible of dogs.”

The Politics of Knives aims to rupture language in the same way Bass sliced up the opening titles in Hitchcock’s film, and to much the same effect. Occasionally, Ball strains too far (“in vitro city,” we are told, “the weather is always whether” and “there is no god and we are its profits”), but for the most part he manages to force his language almost to the breaking point without passing over. The consequent tension infuses both form and content, resulting in a reading experience that is discomfiting, but also weirdly entrancing.

A member of humankind’s eternal audience: Roger Ebert, 1942-2013

April 5, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Roger_EbertRoger Ebert’s essential optimism was in evidence as recently as last Tuesday, two days before he succumbed to cancer at the age of seventy.

In a blog post on his website, Ebert announced that health problems necessitated slowing down the pace of his output, which had reached an astounding 306 movie reviews in the previous year, to say nothing of his regular blog posts, occasional writing, and entries to The New Yorker‘s weekly cartoon caption contest. But the film critic had recently discovered that what he termed a “painful fracture” was in fact cancer. Earlier surgery for thyroid cancer had cost Ebert most of his lower jaw, plus the ability to talk, eat, and drink. The recurrence of the disease, Ebert wrote, was forcing him to take a “leave of presence”:

What in the world is a leave of presence? It means I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. What’s more, I’ll be able at last to do what I’ve always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.

Less than forty-eight hours after publishing those words, America’s best-known film critic was dead.

And yet, even at the moment of his death, Ebert by all accounts retained a positive outlook. A note from his widow, Chaz Ebert, describes the critic’s family preparing to take him home from the hospital: “We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away. No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.”

That quiet dignity characterized Ebert during the very public course of his illness. Following the surgery to remove part of his jaw, Ebert refused to hide his disfigurement: in 2010 a lengthy profile ran in Esquire magazine, along with pictures of Ebert’s radically altered facial structure. In a 2011 essay for Salon, Ebert wrote that he did not fear death because, although he was raised Roman Catholic, he did not believe in an afterlife:

What I expect to happen is that my body will fail, my mind will cease to function and that will be that. My genes will not live on, because I have had no children. I am comforted by Richard Dawkins’ theory of memes. Those are mental units: thoughts, ideas, gestures, notions, songs, beliefs, rhymes, ideals, teachings, sayings, phrases, clichés that move from mind to mind as genes move from body to body. After a lifetime of writing, teaching, broadcasting and telling too many jokes, I will leave behind more memes than many. They will all also eventually die, but so it goes.

In the same essay, Ebert quotes Whitman: “I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, / If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.”

The Whitman quote is significant, because it attests to Ebert’s love of the written word; his movie reviews are peppered with references to novelists, poets, essayists, and philosophers. Perhaps this is the source of his highly literate take on the art of motion pictures and their narratives. It is most probably also the source of his wit, which was plentiful and, it must be admitted, could be cutting. When Vincent Gallo referred to Ebert as a “fat pig” after the latter said that Gallo’s film The Brown Bunny was “the worst movie in the history of the Cannes Film Festival,” Ebert responded by writing, “It is true that I am fat, but one day I will be thin, and he will still be the director of The Brown Bunny.”

When Ebert hated a film, he could be absolutely savage, but his savagery was cut with an abiding intelligence and a sharp sense of humour. His review of the 2001 Jason Biggs/Jack Black comedy Saving Silverman, for instance, refers to another, more favourable online review:

Consider my friend James Berardinelli, the best of the Web-based critics. No doubt 10 days of oxygen deprivation at the Sundance Film Festival helped inspire his three-star review, in which he reports optimistically, “Saving Silverman has its share of pratfalls and slapstick moments, but there’s almost no flatulence.” Here’s a critical rule of thumb: You know you’re in trouble when you’re reduced to praising a movie for its absence of fart jokes, and have to add “almost.”

And yet he was equally passionate about films he loved, of which there were many. Goodfellas, Fitzcarraldo, Princess Mononoke, Ran, Monsieur Hire, E.T., Medium Cool, Halloween, Tootsie: all received four-star reviews and testify to Ebert’s wide-ranging tastes and enthusiasms.

In retrospect, one of Ebert’s most melancholic recent four-star reviews was for Michael Haneke’s Academy Award–winning Amour, about a husband struggling to care for his wife during her protracted death. For what the review demonstrates about Ebert’s stoicism, his emotional fortitude, and his absolute faith in the transcendent power of cinema, it is worth quoting at length:

Old age isn’t for sissies, and neither is this film. [Jean-Louis] Trintignant and [Emmanuelle] Riva courageously take on these roles, which strip aside all the glamor of their long careers (he starred in A Man and a Woman, she most famously in Hiroshima, Mon Amour). Their beauty has faded, but it glows from within. It accepts unflinchingly the realities of age, failure, and the disintegration of the ego.

Yes, and to watch Amour invites us — another audience — to accept them, too. When I saw Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959), I was young and eager and excited to be attending one of the first French art films I’d ever seen. It helped teach me what it was, and who I was. Now I see that the film, its actors, and its meaning have all been carried on, and that the firemen are going to come looking for all of us one of these days, sooner or later.

This is now. We are filled with optimism and expectation. Why would we want to see such a film, however brilliantly it has been made? I think it’s because a film like Amour has a lesson for us that only the cinema can teach: the cinema, with its heedless ability to leap across time and transcend lives and dramatize what it means to be a member of humankind’s eternal audience.

Writing on Ebert’s website, Jim Emerson refers to Ebert’s last review, which Emerson received on March 16, marked “FOR USE as needed.” It is a review of the latest Terence Malick movie. The title of that film, which Emerson says Ebert “liked quite a lot,” is To the Wonder. 

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala dead at eighty-five; Iain Banks suffering terminal cancer

April 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Ruth_Prawer_JhabvalaSad news comes in threes, or so we are told. Yesterday, Canadian poet, travel writer, and editor Kildare Dobbs succumbed to kidney failure and congestive heart failure. Today, the Guardian reports that novelist and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is dead at age eighty-five. Jhabvala is best known for her screen adaptations of novels by E.M. Forster and Henry James, written for producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory.

Although she won two Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay – for her adaptations of Forster’s novels A Room with a View and Howard’s End – the Guardian obituary claims that she considered her film work a “hobby”:

Her own fiction was what mattered to her, whether or not it did to anyone else. This was how it had been since she began writing novels in India in the 1950s, feeling: “I was at the bottom of a deep abyss. No one read them. But I enjoyed it.” The films were fun, but: “I live so much more in and for the books,” she wrote to a friend.

She was a brilliant storyteller. Her work darkened towards the end of her life: she wrote of deception and self-deception and of time’s revenges, the twists and turns of an implacable fate that her worst charlatans could manipulate to their advantage. Her vision was bleak; her tone austere. But her supply of complex characters and subtle, vivid scenes was inexhaustible and she caught the ambiguities of human behaviour and the pleasures of the senses in precise, perfect words.

Although Jhabvala had struggled with ill health for some time, she continued to produce fiction, with a new short story, “The Judge’s Will,” appearing in The New Yorker as recently as March 25. That story, about a judge in India who suffers a second heart attack and must confess to his wife that he has had a mistress for twenty-five years who is cared for in his will, engages themes of illness and death: Binny, the judge’s long-suffering wife, thinks “that all of the family diseases – both physical and mental – were bred in the very roots of the house,” and considers the appearance of the mistress “as if she were already a widow.”

Iain_BanksMeanwhile, fans of the Scottish novelist Iain Banks were shocked to find out that the fifty-nine-year-old author is suffering from late-stage gall-bladder cancer and does not expect to live more than a few months. In an open letter posted online, the author of The Wasp Factory and The Crow Road says that he is “officially Very Poorly.” The location of the tumours make them inoperable “either in the short or the long term.”

“The bottom line,” Banks writes, ” … is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I’m expected to live for ‘several months’ and it’s extremely unlikely I’ll live beyond a year. So it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last.”

Banks says that having received the diagnosis, he asked his partner, Adele, if she would do him the honour of becoming his widow: “we find ghoulish humour helps.”

Writing in the Guardian, author and friend Val McDermid pays a poignant tribute to Banks and his work:

When The Wasp Factory was published in 1984, the critics didn’t know what to make of it. They tried to recoil in horror from the grotesquerie of its imagination and the grand guignol of its execution (and executions) but the quality of the writing and the power of its narrative drive grabbed them by the throat and made them read on.

I bought the paperback when it came out in 1985 and can still remember the excitement. I’d never read anything like it and my head swarmed with possibilities. I’d grown up with the Scottish sense of humour, so I had no trouble with the notion that something so dark, so disturbing and so bleak could also be laugh-out-loud funny. I’d just never seen it written down before.

That brio, that joie de vivre, has characterised all his work. Even in the darkest corners, there is always a shred of optimism, a reminder not to take ourselves too seriously. He’s a storyteller whose faith in humans can embrace the worst of what we are capable of and still refuse to lie down and die.

Banned Books Week: Richard Crouse raises a little hell

October 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s Banned Books Week in the United States, which seems an appropriate occasion to highlight Toronto film critic Richard Crouse’s new volume, Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of the Devils. Crouse’s book has itself not been banned (at least, not yet), but it deals with one of the most notorious cases of censorship in film history.

Ken Russell’s 1971 film The Devils, loosely based on Aldous Huxley’s novel The Devils of Loudon and John Whiting’s play The Devils, focuses on a series of alleged demonic possessions of Ursuline nuns that took place in the French town of Loudon in 1634. Starring Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, the film immediately ran afoul of both British censors and Warner Brothers, the American studio that financed it. (Crouse points out that this is one of the only times in history a studio has actively suppressed one of its own properties.)

The lethal combination of violence, sex, and religion made the film a target for queasy censors, who subjected the movie to an increasingly invasive series of cuts and deletions. (Film director Joe Dante called The Devils “the incredible shrinking movie,” because every time it was shown, something else went missing.) Specific bones of contention included Sister Jeanne, played by Vanessa Redgrave, uttering the word “cunt” (Crouse quotes John Trevelyan, one of the more progressive members of the British Board of Film Censors in 1971, as telling Russell, “It’s taken me ten years of fighting just to get [the word] ‘fuck’ accepted. The British public isn’t ready yet for cunt”); the climactic torture and burning at the stake of the Oliver Reed character, Father Urbain Grandier; and – most infamously – an orgy scene featuring a group of very naked nuns and a life-size Catholic crucifix. Of that scene, Crouse writes that a preview screening in Mayfair “made many of the censors want to wash their eyes out with soap.”

What made this all the more remarkable was that Russell was not some hack exploitation director: by 1970, he had already had a storied career at the BBC, and had been nominated for an Oscar for his adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s novel Women in Love. But Russell, who died in 2011, had a cinematic sensibility that was sui generis, combining baroque elements with an undeniable affinity for trash. (Other Russell films of note include an adaptation of the Who’s Tommy, the William Hurt sci-fi vehicle Altered States, and the late-period genre pieces The Lair of the White Worm and Gothic.) And while the years 1970–’71 saw the release of two other X-rated Warner Brothers picutres – the crime drama Performance, co-directed by Nicholas Roeg and starring a debut film actor named Mick Jagger, and Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel A Clockwork Orange – the studio refused to release The Devils uncut.

Indeed, Warner Brothers was so skittish that it took out ads in a number of American publications warning the public about the content of even the heavily censored domestic release. Crouse writes:

The Devils is not a film for everyone,” screamed the header of a July 19, 1971, quarter-page ad in New York magazine. “It is a true story, carefully documented, historically accurate – a serious work by a distinguished filmmaker. As such it is likely to be hailed as a masterpiece by many. But because it is explicit and highly graphic in depicting the bizarre events that occurred in France in 1634, others will find it visually shocking and deeply disturbing.

“We feel a responsibility to alert you to this. It is our hope that only the audience that will appreciate The Devils will come to see it.”

So nervous was Warner Brothers about the film’s content that – in what must be a unique moment in film history – it actively campaigned to limit the audience that saw the film.

Crouse details the making of The Devils, including its writing, casting, and shooting, and includes comment from editor Michael Bradsell and quotes from the film’s designer, a then-unknown named Derek Jarman.

But Raising Hell is perhaps most valuable in putting The Devils in context, and attempting to explain, to the greatest extent possible, why it came in for censure when other boundary-pushing fare of the time – from upscale Oscar-nominated films such as Rosemary’s Baby, A Clockwork Orange, and The Exorcist to low-budget exploitation such as I Spit on Your Grave – did not. (The answer, unsurprisingly, has much to do with the attitude of The Devils toward the institution of the Catholic Church.) But despite quoting an online rumour that the social conservatism of current Warner Brothers president and CEO Alan Horn is responsible for the continued suppression of the film’s most controversial content, Crouse stops short of explaining why the director’s cut of The Devils remains locked in a studio vault, while other, equally incendiary films (Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, for example, or Takeshi Miike’s Visitor Q, or Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses) are widely available on DVD.

Nevertheless, Crouse’s book is a fascinating look at a film that very few people have seen, and even fewer have seen as its director intended. Raising Hell is a case study in what transpires when religion and art collide, and it should be read as a cautionary tale in the current climate of culture wars and clashes of civilizations.

***

Anyone in Toronto who would like to hear the author talk about Raising Hell and the controversy surrounding The Devils should come out to the book’s official launch tonight, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at No One Writes to the Colonel.

“He’s unnecessary, and he’s an evil”

February 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“Only a little less superfluous than the agent and almost as successful, unlike certain others among Hollywood’s middlemen (the publicity man and the columnist, for instance), the producer is not a necessary evil. He’s unnecessary, and he’s an evil … In England, a producer is a man who stages a play; on Broadway, he is the man who finances a play; in Hollywood, he is the man who interferes with a movie … A producer has no equivalent in any other craft or profession, which is one of the good things about any other craft or profession.” – Orson Welles, quoted in Shoot It! Hollywood Inc. and the Rising of Independent Film by David Spaner

They urinate upon thy damnèd rug

January 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

As a means of taking the edge off the first work week of 2010, I give you comedy gold: The Big Lebowski, as written by William Shakespeare:

WALTER
I speak of this other man, Sir Geoffrey of Lebowski. Is not thy name, sir, Geoffrey of Lebowski? To be or not Lebowski, that is the question; I see we still did meet each other’s man. Shall we not make amends? A gentleman of high sentence ought to be of unsequestered location, possessed of resources fit to restore a thousand rugs from vile offence. He’s not well married that lets his wife a borrower be, such that men gravely offended bespoil another man’s rug. Be I wrong?

THE KNAVE
No, but verily—

WALTER
Be I wrong?

THE KNAVE
Yea, but verily—

WALTER
That rug, in faith, tied the room together, did it not?

THE KNAVE
By my heart, a goodly rug.

DONALD
And in most miserable tide did this rogue besmirch it.

WALTER
Prithee, Donald! Thou too eagerly hold’st the mirror up to nature.

THE KNAVE
My mind races; I might endeavour to seek this gentleman Lebowski.

DONALD
His name is Lebowski? Verily, ope thine ear; that is thy name, Knave!

THE KNAVE
On good authority; and his nobleness must oblige. His wife taketh up quarrel and borrows, and they bespoil my rug.

WALTER
Marry, sir, my heartstrings do you tug;
They urinate upon thy damnèd rug.

[Exeunt severally]