We’re fixing to go see a Shakespeare play today and it is one of those that is somewhat diametrically opposed to the last one we saw.

The last one we saw was last year when we saw “As You Like It”. A light comedy with some funny characters, some decent speeches (it’s the one with “all the world’s a stage”), and one of those “where the heck did *THAT* come from?” deus ex machina happy endings (the guy who set everything in motion by being a jerk decides, off camera, to stop being a jerk).

A decent enough play, I guess. Some interesting stuff in there for 2015 eyes, some interesting stuff in there for those who want to try to see it unmoored from time/place (I should have saved this line for talking about Othello).

This time, however, we’re going to be watching Titus Andronicus. This one is *NOT* a comedy.

We saw a production about a decade ago where there was a minor scandal involving people in the audience fainting on the first night due to the over-the-top graphic violence (apparently, the people in the front row got splashed). By the time we caught the show three or four nights later, they had toned it down. (There was still a lot of room to do some pretty gruesome special effects, though.)

The production that we’re catching today is going to be produced by a different company entirely and, this time, the hook is that it’s an all-female cast. Titus is played by a friend of Maribou’s who warned “be ready for gore” and so our prep for the play will involve eating early rather than right before.

And now I’m fixing to read a quick synopsis and read through the “Why, lords, what wrongs are these!”, “Hear me, grave fathers! noble tribunes, stay!”, and the “You sad-faced men, people and sons of Rome” monologues, and get ready for a night at the grand guignol.

And, maybe this is just me, if I were going to say “let’s *REALLY* go over the top!” with the special effects, I’d do it on the last night… and this is the closing night of the play.

Fingers crossed.

So… what are you reading and/or watching?

(Featured Image is “Edison’s Telephonoscope” by George du Maurier from Punch Almanack for 1879)

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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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29 thoughts on “Sunday!

  1. I am taking my daughter to see The Mikado in a couple of weekends. It occurred to me a bit after buying the tickets that it’ll be the first time I’ve ever seen Gilbert and Sullivan live on stage, as opposed to TV or a movie.


    • Oooh, interesting. Have you guys seen Topsy Turvy?

      (And, if you haven’t you guys totally need to after seeing that play.)

      I’ve never seen G&S anywhere but on a screen either and if my experiences with Andrew Lloyd Weber are any indication, the stage will make it EVEN MORE AWESOME.


        • It is worth purchasing the DVD/Blu-Ray (Amazon seems to have it for somewhere between 8 and 16 bucks)… but only after you’ve seen the Mikado.

          If you disagree, just leave a comment in one of the upcoming Sunday posts saying “Jaybird, you freaking totally lied about freaking Topsy Turvy” and I’ll buy you another, different, movie.

          In the short term, however, I’ll say that it’s a movie about Gilbert and Sullivan themselves and while it’s far from perfect, one of the things it captures perfectly is the whole backstage process of a play turning into something wonderful from something mundane.

          But if you’re going to see the play in question, definitely see the Mikado first. You can watch the wonderful turn into crap into wonderful again.


      • My first date with my wife was to see Houston’s G&S society put on “Pirates of Penzance”.

        Which was, indeed, fantastic. Made more so because she had dearly loved that show (her mom often put on a record of it) growing up.

        Pretty sure we’re married because of that date. :)


  2. My wife and I for the past few months have been watching El Internado on Netflix. She’s fluent in Spanish and I’m not, but I’m learning a lot by watching the Spanish subtitles and pausing, then asking my wife every three minutes, “what does x mean?” (Netflix had cancelled the sow in July, but they appear to have reinstated it.)


  3. Live Olympic fencing off and on all week. The streaming quality this year is not as good as the streams from London four years ago. This time the streams are occasionally breaking, and some of them are rather difficult to find. Four years ago the streams were the raw feed with no announcers; this year some of the bouts have two annoying Brits doing commentary.


      • I suppose I should cut them some slack. It’s an obscure sport, even though it’s been in every modern Olympics. From my perspective, as a fencer, they’re repeating the basics over and over and then missing important things that are actually determining who’s winning. Maybe non-fencers think that they’re doing an outstanding job.


        • Can’t be worse than the soccer announcers:

          (Player is dribbling the ball up the field. An opponent tackles him and strips him of the ball, after which he trips, falls down and breaks his leg in three places.)

          “Oh, he didn’t want to do that!”


          • The gold medal bout in men’s foil today ended on an interesting note. The Italian scored the winning touch cleanly — fooled the American completely, no question. Then, before the referee had awarded the point, ripped his mask off and threw it. Technically, that’s a black card offense and you’re eliminated from the competition — everyone else moves up one place in the standings. You could almost hear the announcers, who obviously knew the rule, and the crowd all suck in their breath. I certainly did. Had the Italian fencer just thrown away a gold medal? As a fencer, I was pleased to see the American and the Romanian referee [1] wait patiently while the Italian retrieved his mask, come contritely back to the strip where the referee announced the winning touch. The Italian then conformed to protocol in shaking the American’s hand and the referee’s hand — then went berserk celebrating with family and teammates.

            [1] I disagreed with the Romanian’s interpretation of what constituted “starting an attack”, but he was consistent, which is all you can really ask for, and the American would have won if he hadn’t lost five touches before adjusting. That’s one of the reason I ain’t a foil fencer — hard enough to fence against your opponent, let alone doing it subject to the referee’s interpretation of the right-of-way rules.


      • The bicycle road race people were good, but they’re also the team that does the TdF. The Olympic course, though, was much more difficult for the cameras to cover and/or they had fewer camera crews, so they had a tougher time identifying competitors than they usually do. Plus fewer crashes caught on camera, just the aftermath. (that one with van Vleuten today though, was wicked scary)


    • I used to love watching fencing, but have moved more towards Judo* these days. I suspect because unlike fencing, I do have some minor experience with martial arts (and I prefer it to boxing).

      *Or as my wife refers to it “High Impact Gymnastics”.


  4. Vast Active Living Intelligence System.


    I tried reading it as a kid, and really didn’t get very far as it seemed not so SciFi. Reading it as a 45yo, all I can say is how deeply sad and heartbreaking it is.


  5. As for the play:

    The “be ready for gore” warning came from someone who had significantly more refined sensibilities than the person who gave the warning last time.

    It’s a pretty good play, all things considered, but it still suffers from the problem of it having been created prior to the “people maybe *NOT* making stupid and obvious mistakes” problem that plays had prior to the Andrew Lloyd Webber era of theater.

    The last time we saw the play, the Act 5, Scene III line of “”Tis true” was played as the biggest laugh line of the play. This time, they stampeded past it. Speaking of which, I said that it definitely was not a comedy? For a play that wasn’t a comedy, this play sure had a lot of laugh lines.

    Still not my favorite of Shakespeare’s. Still worth seeing anyway.

    I do wonder why nobody does the Scottish Play anymore…


    • I saw a production at Berkley Rep in February.

      The Scottish play is deeply weird in so many ways. Not quite at the levels of weirdness of the Romances like The Winter’s Tale, Pericles, and Cymbaline but pretty weird. It is a lot shorter than many Shakespeare plays. The violence comes quick. There is almost no comic relief, even Hamlet and King Lear have funny bits. The play is bleak and dour and probably a reflection on the fights for the throne after Henry VII’s death and bad blood between Catholics and Protestants.


  6. Junior and I listened to some more Henry Huggins audio books. What a sexist little boy! He’s always talking about how his girl playmates are inferior. I don’t think we’ll be listening to those books anymore.


  7. I am working my way through Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings, which is ostensibly about an assassination attempt against Bob Marley, but touches on so much more, including: Jamaican gangs and their connections to the political parties, U.S. Cold War meddling, and the expansion of the gangs into drug trafficking.

    The novel has seventy-six voiced characters, an impressive exercise in story-telling.


  8. Saw Suicide Squad. I’m starting to get the feeling that DC/WB has the ability to make good super hero movies, but they haven’t figured out how to do so without following the Peter Jackson model of turning stories into movies (very long theater run times for a mediocre movie, with the really good movie being the Blu-Ray director’s cut).

    Good production value, but the story was too disjointed, such that I could tell a lot of context was left on the cutting room floor. Also, too much backstory for Harley & Joker. In a way, it felt like their twisted love story set against the backdrop of the mission, rather than the mission with a twisted love story subplot (like they did with Flagg).

    Anyway, worth seeing if you like super hero movies on the big screen, but don’t shell out for 3D or IMAX.


  9. I’m currently re-reading Matthew Kneale’s English Passengers. Fans of the the Flashman Papers will find this a good read especially.


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