Stuff I’ve Read, Watched, Done #17 – December 15, 2020

I thought I might get this post in earlier (I still aspire to the idea of keeping a weekly schedule with these things), but some not-interesting-for-blogging stuff came up and has been taking a lot of my emotional energy.

I’ve been pushing forward on some of my regular shows, like The Mandalorian–we’re currently making our way thru Chapter 15. There’ve been some good episodes lately, with some good action sequences with Ahsoka Tano and Boba Fett. I don’t have any investment in Ahsoka–I’ve never watched Clone Wars–but I thought she was pretty cool in her episode and definitely brought some fun light sabre action to the table.

And the Boba Fett story was really well-staged and lots of fun to watch. Even the Bo-Katan (another character who I have no association with) was decent, and it was fun to see Katee Sackhoff in the part.

Another show we’ve advanced on is Sherlock, having now watched the Christmas episode that came between Seasons 3 & 4 – The Abominable Bride.

This is the one that takes place in the Victorian era, seemingly without any explanation until about the two thirds mark when it’s revealed the whole thing is a drug-induced hallucination Sherlock is having right after the close of Season 3. Sherlock then returns to the drug trip story, solves the mystery, and then descends into a bizarre psychological battle with the Moriarity in his mind, giving Andrew Scott yet another chance to bring back his creepy creation, even though he died at the end of Season 2. Anyway, it’s not a great episode, but it does do it’s best to cover all it’s bases (mystery, Victorian story, connected to the regular series, psychological battle, character study, etc) and it doesn’t fail at any of them spectacularly, just somewhat.

And we also watched some more of Young Justice, finishing Season 1 finally. It was pretty gripping in the last few episodes, with some smart plotting. I really enjoyed seeing Superboy, Miss Martian and Artemis all reveal their. big secrets to the rest of the team, and trick the bad guys who were trying to manipulate them. And I enjoyed some very cool moments from both Kid Flash and Robin (Wally West and Dick Grayson are two of my favorite DC characters, and quite high on my list of fictional heroes).

I got us to watch the first episode of Season 2 right away, mostly because I knew there was a big time gap, and wondered how my kids would react! (Young Justice doing the Five Years Later thing years before Avengers: Endgame got into act.They were plenty surprised, and a little disappointed.) I’m interested to see where it goes…I’ve seen some of this season, but barely remember it.

However, some of the biggest things I’ve done recently all have to do with something called…

The Importance of Being Earnest

Or…A Serious Comedy About Trivial People, as the subtitle goes.

For the last couple of months, I’ve spent an hour a week or so teaching Oscar Wilde’s hilarious social comedy to my daughter’s Home School Co-op class. I’m not an expert, but I know enough (and can research enough) to teach something about it to a group of four young-teen girls. And I learned a thing or two myself, such as the subtitle mentioned above.

I also learned there’s an English television version that I’d never heard of before. It’s on Youtube, and stars Joan Plowright as Lady Bracknell and none other than the 8th Doctor himself, Paul McGann, as Jack. You can see it here.

In addition to reading and teaching the play, I’ve also watched the movie–the one from 1952 directed by Anthony Asquith.

It’s a great film which knows how to take brilliant material and translate it to the screen in a way that doesn’t in any detract from its essential qualities. Basically, the film know how to use the camera to enhance the comedy, language and characterization and not to get in the way of it.

The movie has an amazing cast that still remain to me the definitive versions of these characters: Michael Redgrave as Jack, Michael Dennison as Algernon, Joan Greenwood as Gwendolen, Dorothy Tutin as Cecily, Margaret Rutherford as Miss Prism, Miles Malleson as Canon Chasuble, and Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell.

Seriously, if you have never seen this movie or read the play, you absolutely should–it’s hysterically funny.

As part of their learning about the play, the girls in my daughter’s class also performed a scene from it. I helped to direct them in it. They did the scene from Act 2 in which Gwendolen and Cecily have tea together–one of the play’s many brilliantly constructed sequences. My daughter Laurelle played Gwendolen and did quite a good job.

I stepped in to play Merriman, who is Jack’s butler, who serves them the tea.

I look, however, not unlike someone you might expect to buy ice cream from if you were some decades or more int the past.

It all went pretty well but there was a bit of a fumble at one point. Someone forgot a line and it through the two main girls off. They recovered well and most of the audience never realized it, but certainly the two actresses knew something had gone wrong and felt a little bit nervous. A spill-on effect was that the girl playing Cecily never asked me to hand the tea to Gwendolen–very disappointing as that was one of the biggest things I was supposed to do.

Oh well–life on the stage, I suppose!

I’ve recently realized that it’s nearly Christmas and last time I said something about next time showing off our Christmas decorations. Oh well, next time again, I guess.

Til then!

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