Monday, September 30, 2013

The Consequences of Taking a High Moral Tone about BREAKING BAD

Am I the only one in the USA who has never watched even a moment of BREAKING BAD and who does not know what was in the great last episode? This is what happens when you decide you do not want to watch a show about a teacher who makes and sells meth. I thought I had suffered enough from teachers who methodically made and peddled nonsense about literature.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Jonathan Daniels in THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE: Self-Delighting Pornographer Rather than Reliable Historian?

1.0 out of 5 stars Daniels as Self-Delighting Pornographer, not Real Historian, September 29, 2013
Hershel Parker (Morro Bay, California United States) - See all my reviews

An Amazon review.
This review is from: Devil's Backbone, The: The Story of the Natchez Trace (Pelican Pouch Series) (Paperback)
I bought THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE because I am interested in John Andrews Murrell, "the Land Pirate of the Natchez Trace." John Murrell's uncle Benjamin Murrell married Mary Sims, my GGGG Aunt, and went with three Sims brothers into what became Alabama as the "Sims Intruders." So my Uncle Ben is John Murrell's blood uncle. I wanted to see what Daniels said about the brother of Benjamin Murrell and the wife of that brother--Jeffrey Murrell and his wife Zilpha Andrews Murrell, since MANY later writers cite Daniels for shocking information about Zilpha as a whore and about Jeffrey as a wandering preacher who set off on his wandering because he was so sexually charged up that he would have been "rutting" on his wife all the time. I mean, folks, this is dirty stuff, and I was amazed at this historical porn rather than upset, since Zilpha was not not blood kin to me but merely connected. How gullible I was!

I should have been more wary.

It now looks to me as if Jonathan Daniels simply had a high old time writing a little pornography into his book to spice up the story. I can't find any source earlier than Daniels who says, for instance, that Jeffrey tried to break Zilpha of "walking as she did, hips swinging and breasts undulating, and long thighs molding themselves against her skirt with each step." Now, some of the Murrell descendants have repeated what Daniels wrote, believing it. I don't believe it at all, now that I have tried to find earlier sources. Anyhow, look at the language: this is not early or mid 19th century prose. This is a 20th century journalist having fun by being absolutely wildly irresponsible, knowing he will get away with his cute little hoax.

Prove me wrong and I will apologize and remove this post!

Henry IV Part 2--The Saving Grace for Richard Eyre--This Part is Nowhere Near as Good as Part 1

And therefore if Eyre trashes it the way he trashed Part 1, there won't be as much to lament.

I keep thinking about the absolute folly--Eyre spent millions of somebody's dollars on a production in which no one cares when Hotspur is killed.

And the Eyre Henry IV Part One and Part Two will be played in classrooms for many years. What a disaster! What a shameful use of money and opportunity!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

An all-purpose apology

Not that I have done anything wrong, but if anyone managed to turn my words into something that could allow her or him to take offense then I am sorry she or he twisted what I said in all innocence and sweetness. There are always those who will misconstrue what I say and take offense, and I forgive them all in advance. You know who they are and I know where they live.

What a Disastrous HENRY IV PART I! Shame, Richard Eyre!

What a mess. I was afraid from the previews that Eyre had gotten the idea that Dogma-era films should be black on black and had tried his best to apply the grim principles as he understood them. Well, welcome to darkness, everyone!

Eyre went chopchopchop with the text so that not one of the glorious speeches of Hotspur is intact, not one of Falstaff's or anybody else's. Jeremy Irons, who should NEVER have spoken about his art, blathered on about their cutting out "verbiage." Good God, man, when it's Hotspur it's not verbiage, it's character revealing itself through magnificent words. And even Falstaff's speeches just might have a certain momentum building in them.

You don't know anyone's character in the Eyre production because no one is allowed to articulate a thought all the way. Snipshipship, every third line cut, then a lump cut, then a half line cut, then a while with every second line cut. The idea is that Shakespeare is a wordy fellow who always says everything three times and who benefits from stringent hacking. After all, it's just "verbiage," as Jeremy says. Actors should not talk about their craft, it's always been said, and Irons makes you think the saying is right.

You can have no feeling for Hotspur in this production.

Think about it: if you don't lament Hotsput's death the production is a failure.

There's no joy in hearing any speech in this production.

I remembered the Age of Kings production from 50-some years ago. The young man playing Hotspur was splendid. Later, he wasted himself in films like Doctor No, but he had that glorious time as Hotspur, and in the Age of Kings he even got to play his part in Richard II, from which he was cut in the newest version, the companion to the Eyre H4 Part I. I bought the Age of Kings set a couple of years ago and watched again. It's wonderful, just as I remembered it, and Kate does not have to pummel her husband there and the little finger business is just as powerful and endearing as I remembered it.

What a disaster Richard Eyre has made of Part I. What do you bet that Part II, a lesser play, will be still greater a disaster? But I will watch.

The Richard II last week was on the whole fine, better than fine. Maybe Henry V will be OK.

But what a disappointment last night!

Friday, September 27, 2013

How I taught "Song of Myself" after 1987

 Making this a Whitman Day

Tuesday, January 25, 2011
How I Taught "Song of Myself" after 15 October 1987 

sections of "Song of Myself" and
taught it as a story I had great
success. I was never a great
teacher of Melville.  I was a
good teacher of Emerson and
Thoreau and a great teacher of
Hawthorne and Dickinson. After this 1987
session I always finished "Song
of Myself" absolutely convinced
that no one in the world was
teaching it so powerfully.  Here,
for others to consider, is the
secret formula. If you are not happy
with the way you are teaching
the poem, please give this a try.

Whitman's "Live Oak, with Moss"--Putting it into an American Literature Anthology Where Every Teenager could Read the Sequence

Some posts need to be repeated.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Memories on a great day for gay rights--Whitman, Parker, Sendak, and "Live Oak, with Moss"

Diary Entries:
5 March 1992 Xeroxed Oak Leaf cluster for e/o [in class] from SB [Studies in Bibliography]—Thought later, at home, of putting it (the 12 [poem sequence]), in [next edition of] Norton Anthology of American Literature.
12 March 1992  MS [Maurice Sendak] called 9:30—good talk. Told him my “Live Oak, with Moss” idea (NAAL)
Read all 12 parts to him on the phone.
5 April 1992 Wonderful hour long call from MS. Grateful to me for opening him to WW.
6 April 1992 Want to emphasize the joy of Maurice’s reading of WW. I gave a great gift to the man who has everything--& he says it is already changing his life—he feels it will s/h affect Dumps. [We are all in the Dumps; with Jack and Guy]
18 April 1992 Julia Reidhead [at Norton] said OK on “Live Oak, with Moss.”
The 2313 MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY: AN INSIDE NARRATIVE, p. 110: On 18 April 92 Julia Reidhead agreed to print Live Oak, with Moss in NAAL. [First time this gay love sequence was printed in an American literature anthology. I still believe printing it was the most important thing I ever did for the profession.] {The bracketed comment is in Melville Biography: An Inside Narrative.}
26 June 2013. Relief and hope.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hershel Parker--Lecturing on MOBY-DICK 26 September 2013

At St. Peter's Episcopal Church annex, Morro Bay.

Gossip--Imagine, more and more irresponsible gossip about Mrs. Jeffrey Murrell


The scurrilous stories about Jeffrey's wife were apparently started by Jonathan Daniels in his THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE. They have been repeated with salacious relish over and over. Russell and Janet have killed off John Andrews Murrell's father, Jeffrey Murrell, the Methodist minister. I'm still working on his being absent as a wandering preacher. Wandering, or just circuit riding? Or staying at home? So many variations can come from one moment of irresponsible high jinks--an author's deciding that he will spice up history with some of his own fantasies.