Monday, June 26, 2006

The Verities

King James was displeased. There was a silly mechanism seeping into the plays by which characters were magically rendered unconscious by a rap on the head while some business was accomplished which required their unawarity.

He was a great believer in the verities as promoted by Jonson and Greene and the other Oxford dons. You should not see Agincourt in one instance and then be magically transported back to the moors the next. And no growth or gestation should occur in no two hours.

And no taps to the head should snuff the candle of consciousness for a brief interlude of the plot. The king was quite incensed about that.

And so after a performance of a play at the Globe, the actors were gathering on the stage for their curtain call. The royal bedchamber guard was there behind them all as they bowed, and when they rose they were greeted by a bash on the noggin from a heavy flat pewter slab.

You see, announced the royal centurian, some are stunned, some bloodied, some killed, yet none lapses into a dreamy slumber for two minutes then awakes with no further bother.

That is why there are no knockout bits in the old plays from the Jacoban era. That process did not begin again until the cowboy movies and the Hardy Boys books, in which Frank alone accounted for some five hundred concussions.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Picture

We are passing along the street. Niki J and me. Officers intercept us. We are to be honored in a photo. Over there. An automatic pistol lies on the street just out from the gutter, pointing in the direction we were headed, and two rounds in order have been placed before its muzzle in a cartoon fired position. We are to stand there to be photographed.

We do. It is taking some time. There is a whole crew of photographers, directors. Is this to be a commercial? Yes, yes, a commercial, answers someone in the crew, noncommital.

Now we are joined by others. It is becoming quite crowded, actually. Who are all these interlopers? I cannot even see the camera now. We are called into a restaurant, dark and ferny, to discuss.

Is this the establishment of the commercial? I ask another crewmember. Yes, yes, he answers, the establishment of the commercial. It's as if he does not speak English well enough to use his own words. He does not inspire confidence.

A lady is in charge of a lecture. She lights into us. I think, it must be the interlopers she means. The lecture is about our duty, and how we have fallen short of it. Them interlopers, I fume with her.

She addresses a guy to my right and just ahead. She says something that might be misconstrued, about she and he together, and then she smiles, bows her head; "Well, I guess we'll see about that."

She is flirting! With an interloper! And then it becomes clear. All of these have been on the shoot for a long time. The project has been going on forever. There is just this one still photograph! And yet it goes on. Every now and again they pick someone else from the street, and yet it's always the same.

Nothing is ever done. It is all just milling about and conflict and discord and chaos and then someone just walks off up the street and then they find someone else coming the other way.

What is this? I ask? It's just a picture, isn't it? I have directed my question with more hope than is justified by experience to yet another crew member.

"Yes, yes," he replies with an affirmative, confident nod. "Just a picture."

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Box

She is asking so I am explaining. I say, I'm reading a book about it so should have more to tell shortly. Just not quite yet. She seems most anxious to know.

It is a box made out of some material they will maintain for all of us in the Home Office, I say. In there will be samples or readings or actual processes from our innards, and they will have us all wireless electrodes so that any change at all in our workings while out in the field, even as far as mental pictures, shall be noted and contrasted.

I go into detail explaining all I know about the box, which seems substantial and of a granite flavor, although it is probably some degree of heavy alloy. She didn't seem satisfied. My daughter, she said, she is going away. Tell me what you can of this box and these electrodes.

But that was all I knew. I didn't really even know what we were to be sent out about. Some sort of mission, I surmised, but that didn't satisfy her either. But what mission? Surely you must know where you are going and why you are going there? Else, why bother?

It is for the box, I say, but now I didn't seem convincing even to me.

Look, I say. I'll finish the book in a few days, and then I shall write you all about it. I say, the book is issued to all participants; surely your daughter has one?

But she merely looked very doubutful, gazing out along the trail we'd all be taking shortly. She unnerved me, did this mother, and I didn't know exactly why that should be. She's just from the old school, I decided. They're great worriers.

Look, I'll read the book, I said again. But she was no longer paying any attention to me. Singly and in pairs, youngsters were tripping off down the path.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Western Flyer

Here I am in another house, dark, nondescript (meaning I'm so visually inert I cannot describe it, so my mind turns the lights down low, less for romantic effect than seeing and remembering defect), and of course I'm undressed. I'm undressed unaccountably a lot in my dreams, sometimes in public, when I'm much less embarrassed than I should be.

Okay, I better dress, because someone is here. I'm in a den of shadows and up front someone is knocking about. I think it's all right.

It's his house, after all. I must pass him to leave.

I say, when I do (he is not surprised I am there, nor annoyed, that I can tell), "I lived here when I was five. This was my grandmother's house. We called her `Mawya.' She was surly sometimes, but she had a real inferiority complex." It's okay to do something if you did it when you were five. If you're potty trained, I guess, and weaned.

I am now out front on the lawn, moving away from grandma's old house. But wait!

Where's the bicycle I rode in on? It was right there in grandma's den. Now it's gone. I remember not seeing it. Niki J is sure gonna be upset. It's her clunker, a white job with fenders, maybe even tassels out the handlebars. When I was young, I had a bike called a Western Flyer. It was from the Western Auto store on the north side of the square. It was one smooth ride, the Cadillac of two-wheelers, with even leg guards for rear riders. Niki J's dream bike, it had to be designed with the Western Flyer in mind.

I didn't move it from the den. Someone did.

That's as far as I can take this line of reasoning.