It’s a Shakespeare Post Part II

If you missed part one, you can find it here.

First thing’s first: for those of you who aren’t familiar with Titus Andronicus, it’s the story of a man whose devotion to his honor and his unbending sense of duty in the face of reason or mercy leads to his downfall. He appoints the emperor of Rome based on tradition—the first born son was considered the heir. However, the first born son is a complete tool, who causes Titus a ridiculous amount of grief, while the second son seems like a much better candidate and was betrothed to Titus’ daughter. He is so devoted to the emperor that he actually kills his own son in order to serve him. Then, his devotion to religious rituals is what gets the main plot rolling. He sacrifices the first born son of the captive queen. This leads her to pursue revenge against him, and then he must be revenged against her in turn, et cetera, et cetera. Titus starts with twenty-one dead sons, four live sons, and one daughter. He kills one son. Two others are wrongly executed for the murder of his new son-in-law, the emperor’s brother and his daughter Lavinia’s husband. The last son, Lucius, is banished, but he comes back and is appointed emperor at the end. Lavinia winds up, as mentioned in the last post, raped and mutilated. Titus cuts off his own hand. Lavinia’s rapists are Tamora’s (the vengeful queen of the Goths) two remaining sons, so Titus kills them and bakes them into pies. After feeding the pies to Tamora and the emperor, he kills Lavinia because people living in the sixteenth century were sexist (or because her honor was ruined, and it made him sad to look at her—same thing, really). Then he kills Tamora, at which point the emperor kills Titus, and Lucius kills the emperor.

TL;DR – Rocks fall, everyone is mutilated and eaten

So! Onto Julie Taymor’s Titus. Taymor doesn’t actually choose one time period for her film. Instead, she mixes and matches. There are guns, medieval flails, and crossbows. Roman warriors come back from battle on both chariots and motorcycles. FUN FACT TIME! One of the images we have of an original Shakespeare play and its staging is a drawing by Henry Peacham of Titus Andronicus, and, well, it’s an interesting picture:

Peacham

Yes, that is a Roman warrior next to a medieval princess. Just roll with it. My point is that Taymor is in good company when it comes to the use of non-period specific costumes and set pieces. In Titus, the different time periods mean more options for costumes, so that the costumes can display a wide range of meanings.

Costumes #1, #2, and #3

Armor and Clay Uniform

The very first time we see Titus, he is in his armor, but he is also covered in clay. According to Taymor, the clay is supposed to refer back to the terra cotta soldiers in China. The idea of Titus as an ancient general coming from a long history of war fits perfectly with the terra cotta image, yet it also makes him seem small, and toy-like. This goes very well with the idea of Titus as the perfect soldier who is so bound by his duty to the emperor that he would kill his own son. Costumes #2 and #3 are variations on the same theme. #2 has armor while #3 (pictured) has a uniform without armor. They too point to the idea of Titus being the perfect soldier. Incidentally, as of now, I have no problems with Taymor’s tone. She’s clearly making a serious movie with a message, and the tone of the first scenes reflects that.

Costumes #4 and #5

Open Uniform Sweater

Titus’ costumes do not really change until Titus himself is made to change by the forces around him. He has a radical shift after his sons are blamed for murder. Since he is beginning to break down emotionally, his military outfit is now disheveled, and he has lost his cape. Once he really breaks down, his outfits reflect that. The next we see him in a different costume is after he has lost his hand and his two sons. Now, he looks like somebody’s grandfather rather than a Roman general. This is also the point in the play/film where I began to forget about him killing both his and Tamora’s sons and started to feel sorry for him as a person.

Costumes #6, #7, and #8

Robe and Armor Robe

The later parts of the play deal with Titus’ descent into madness. We next see him trying to petition the Gods by shooting arrows at the sky. He does so wearing his armor with a bathrobe on top. The more insane he becomes, the more ridiculous his outfits get. His next costume isn’t really a costume, as he is naked in a bathtub. At this point, he is emotionally bare. He has focused all of his energy on revenge and has stripped off his soldier’s personality, his fatherly care, and his dignity. After leaving the tub, he comes down in a bathrobe. Taymor herself pointed out that she used color to reflect Titus’ journey, and the bathrobe he wears now is a lighter color than his previous outfits.
Costume #9

Chef

The last costume is probably the most important. For one, it’s all white, which means that he has finally stripped off all of his old, closed up ways and become more open. More obviously, this costume is ridiculous. He looks like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. His outfit represents just how revenge crazy he has gone in how ridiculous it is while still showing him to be fully open and accepting of the end through its color. He knows that this is his final revenge, and he meets it with a humorous, calculated insanity.

In my original paper, I went on to talk about how the costumes also mimicked the change in tone. I mentioned that the beginning of the film was incredibly serious. As it moves on, there are more comic moments. Some of these were clearly intentional. Others were clearly not. For example, this scene is supposed to be a very serious, and very sad remembrance of Lavinia’s rape:

Who let anyone edit this

Oh, rock music plays while this is happening. The overall effect is really comic. The same thing happens any time she goes into what she calls a “penny arcade nightmare” and what I call “someone got drunk and started playing with the effects on Windows Movie Maker scene.” The big ending where everyone dies is also, really funny. Lucius kills the emperor by shoving a serving spoon down his throat. The emperor kills Titus with a candelabra:

Candle

That’s 100% serious art right there. I always remove candles with my teeth before stabbing someone with my candelabra. Also, this is, once again, all set to loud rock music. In the original paper, I said that Taymor was undermining the violence with the campiness in order to keep the entertainment value of the source material while still preaching peace. However, I don’t know if I believe that. I really think that Taymor was approaching this movie with a fully serious mindset. Everything she said in the director commentary led me to believe so. As of now, I have to say that, I think the costumes certainly mimic the state of Titus himself, and they mimic the change in tone of the movie, but I don’t think that most of the humor was intentional.

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It’s Shakespeare Time!

Regular readers! Sorry for the absence in posts lately; I’ve been soul-crushingly depressed. Anyway, what follows are a few posts for my Remediation Project for my Writing for the Web class where I talk about SHAKESPEARE. Oh, and violence. Have fun!

As many of my loyal readers (probably) know, I am a fan of William Shakespeare and his various works—largely because it makes me seem super classy. Out of all the Shakespeare I’ve read Titus Andronicus is probably my favorite play; however, it is also the sort of play that immediately drops my classy level to somewhere between bad slasher flicks and The Flavor of Love. Titus Andronicus is the story of a man who, after returning from a war where he lost twenty-one sons (seriously), wound up killing one of his own sons and watching two others get executed. He then finds out that his one daughter has been raped, her hands have been chopped off, and her tongue has been cut out. When he discovers the identity of her attackers, he does what any man would do—kill them, bake them into a pie and feed them to their mother before killing her. Oh, and at one point, he winds up cutting off his own hand. Almost everyone in the play dies, and it features what I believe to be one of the first “I did your mom last night” jokes:

Demetrius: Villain, what hast thou done?

Aaron: That which thou canst undo.

Chiron: Thou hast undone our mother.

Aaron: Villain, I have done thy mother.

No, I wasn’t kidding. It’s in Act IV, scene II. You know, plenty of other Shakespeare plays are full of jokes like this, but they’re considered very high brow and artistic. Naturally, my favorite play is the one with lots of murder, rape, and cannibalism. Some people think that Shakespeare didn’t even write this play (Those people are wrong). I think that what makes it so interesting is the way in which the play throws comedy in around the violence. Even Shakespeare can’t classy that sort of thing up. Well, I don’t think he can. Others, like director Julie Taymor, would probably not agree. Taymor is the director of Titus, starring Anthony Hopkins as the man himself, and, well, it’s an interesting movie.

Heads
Face Off
Hand

Yes, those are floating, flaming body parts. Just roll with it. To me, Titus is an interesting movie; I’m a big fan of the mismatched time periods, and, well, I think the movie is hilarious. Having watched the director commentary, I have to say, I don’t think that Taymor intended to make a comedy. See, I look at Titus Andronicus as a true exploitation play. It’s violence for the sake of violence. Shakespeare aimed to entertain, and, in this play, he did so in the most gruesome and ridiculous way possible. What’s really funny is how most of the plot is made up of old myths. Shakespeare actually references the myths he’s ripping off in the play, and he does so in order to highlight exactly how much more violent and exciting his version is. If a woman had her tongue cut out in Greek myth, she’s losing a tongue and her hands. If one son got fed to a parent, Shakespeare’s going to feed his mother (not his actual mother, of course) two sons. Not only that, but Aaron is probably one of Shakespeare’s most unapologetic villains. Upon being told that he will be buried up to the chest in earth and left to starve, he states: “If one good deed in all my life I did / I do repent it from my very soul.” Taymor’s Titus, on the other hand, is a warning against the horrors of war and excessive violence.

Toy Plane Crash Toy Soldier Blood Explosion

That right there is the sort of subtle imagery that will run throughout the movie.

So how does Taymor take one of the most pointlessly violent plays and turn it into something that preaches peace? In my original paper, I argued that Titus’ costumes change throughout the film in a way that embraces the simple, base entertainment value of the original play while adding to Taymor’s more serious meaning; however, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I don’t think that. I think that Taymor meant to make a serious, art house film, and she ended up making a comedy by accident. For the next few blog posts, I’ll be looking at my original argument about costume and talk about what she does with them and whether or not I think that works.

Part Two is this way!

I’m clearly going insane

So, the promises I made to update regularly are not, naturally, being fulfilled. I would like to take this opportunity to say that I define “regularly” as at least once a week, and I’m pretty sure that my newest update was on last Friday. To be fair, I was counting on my Writing for the Web class to remind me. It’s a Tuesday/Thursday class, so I figured that I would be reminded to get my blog-butt in gear in time to get a post together. However, because I am going insane, I missed class on Thursday. Now, how could I miss class due to my own insanity? Simple–I left for class an hour later than I should, and I had no idea that I was late until I parked my car. I’m not kidding. My class is at 11am, and I left at 11:30am without thinking anything of it. Maybe, after two years without taking any math classes, my brain has finally forgotten everything number related, and the numbers “ten” and “eleven” are now merely arbitrary terms devoid of all meaning. Whatever the case, I woke up early so that I could finish my forum postings that were due that afternoon. I did so and had a decent amount of time to spare (I cannot imagine why), so I made an egg sandwich, or more accurately, I scrambled some eggs and tried to keep them in-between two pieces of toast for the amount of time it took to bring the whole mess up to my face. Then I took my shower and drove to class. On my way to class, I marveled at the lack of traffic and wandering pedestrians. Pleased, I parked only to suddenly realize that my clock read 11:45. It had read 11:44 only a minute ago, but I hadn’t been forty-five minutes late for class then. At 11:44, I still thought that I was on time.

So yes, I have finally gone totally insane. Soon, I’ll be leaving the house only to realize that I didn’t put on shoes after I’ve been at work for an hour. I’ll read ten chapters of a book for class on Monday only to realize that we aren’t, in fact, studying the novels of Terry Pratchett in my Shakespeare class. I’ll be less than twenty-four hours away from the due date of a seven page paper before realizing that I haven’t read any of the source material that I have to write about. Oh wait. That’s actually happening now.

PS: Sometime in the coming week, I plan to post a review of the movie Melancholia, but for now, I must paper.

The neighbors probably think that we’re cooking meth

It’s stir-Friday!

Stir Fry Prep 1

I can’t take credit for that phrase; if you don’t already know where it’s from, you should watch Archer. It comes on FX at 10:00pm Thursdays, and the first season is on Netflix. /plug

So! Cuddles and I decided that we wanted to make stir-fry tonight. Well, I decided that I wanted to make stir-fry, and Cuddles went along with my shenanigans. We made a chicken stir-fry with onions, broccoli, zucchini, and red bell peppers. We followed the guide located here, and made the lemon sauce. Cuddles was not a fan of the lemon sauce, and I was only a fan of it after copious amounts of soy sauce, but other than that, everything went well. Cuddles prepped the chicken, I prepped the vegetables and sauce, and he cooked everything because I am deathly afraid of hot things which is why my newest hobby involves ovens.

Stir Fry Prep 2

Here is Cuddles frying some stir.

Stir Fry Complete

Behold! It’s real food that we put together and cooked. It has undergone a chemical change since we purchased it. I have never felt more like a real adult.

However, if you look at the recipe at the site, you’ll notice that the key to stir fry is keeping the pan hot. Really hot. You’re supposed to turn the heat on your pan before you start prep, then turn on your fan before you start cooking. Now, maybe in a normal house that has a real fan over their stove, this is no problem. Real stoves generally have a fan with an exhaust pipe in order to suck up smoke. Terrible apartments, on the other hand, just have a normal fan above the stovetop. Now, when you heat a pan up for about 45 minutes, then put oil and marinated chicken in said pan, a certain phenomenon occurs.

Me: Umm, the house is filling up with smoke. I think we’re going to set off the alarms.
Will: Don’t worry; the smoke alarm doesn’t work.
Me: Oh thank God.
Will: Ah, well, the one on our side of the apartment doesn’t. Y’all’s does.
Me: (runs to close door to her side of the apartment)
Will: I think we should open the door. (He opens the front door)

Three minutes later

Will: I’m going to put on the ceiling fan. (Turns on fan and closes door to the other half of the apartment)
Me: The police are going to show up. They’re going to think that we’re smoking the demon reefer. Or a bunch of hungry college students are going to show up, sniffing and asking for stir fry. Let’s face it: the neighbors probably think that we’re cooking meth.
Cuddles: I think the onions are burning.

It was quite delicious all the same.

Reasons why I should not mix with polite company

I inadvertently told my history class that I had breast lumps. Well, not inadvertently. See, I meant to tell them that I had breast lumps, and that’s why I should not mix with polite company. I tell people about my breast lumps because it seems relevant (It was, by the way. We were talking about doctors and differences in practices throughout time, and my teacher mentioned seeing a doctor if you have a lump on your chest). Of course, it did not occur to me that, no matter how relevant, breast lumps just aren’t the sort of thing you talk about to your history class. At least, it didn’t occur to me until about seven minutes after I said it, and then I got to feel vaguely embarrassed about it all day.

Socially Awkward Penguin - Had awkward conversation, replay it over and over in your head later

Thank you, Socially Awkward Penguin for understanding me. Anyway, instead of spending my time interacting with people and improving my desperately sad people skills, I decided that the best thing for me to do would be to bake. Everything. See, I’ve decided that baking is my new hobby. It is a delicious hobby, and I love it, but I can also go overboard and wind up making more baked goods than anyone could conceivably eat. So for this post today, I’m going to link to all of the recipes that I just tried in one night and talk about the exciting process of baking.

Grapefruit Cookies
Original Recipe

Grapefruit Cookies

I apologize for my inability to take a decent photograph. I will definitely work on that in the future. So, these are the grapefruit cookies. The original recipe is called “Summer Citrus Sparkles,” and they are lemon-lime cookies. I’ve made the original before, so I felt pretty comfortable subbing grapefruit. Like the original, at least when I make it, the cookies taste more like plain sugar cookies with a hint of citrus-y flavor. They’re a good, easy cookie, but a warning: Keep them sealed up if you don’t eat them immediately. They go quite hard quickly if you don’t. I would recommend eating them right after because they don’t keep that well.

Coconut Macaroons
Original Recipe

Coconut Macaroons

The ones at the source are dipped in chocolate, but I prefer my macaroons plain and am intensely lazy. Warning, warning, warning! If you use sweetened coconut flakes, reduce the amount of sugar you use. I assumed that, because the recipe didn’t specify and Walmart didn’t sell unsweetened, that the amount of sugar would work with sweetened flakes. I almost lost the crown on my back molar. That said, once they went a little stale and hardened up enough not to injure my mouth, they were quite good. Actually, they were good when they could injure your mouth. I just wouldn’t recommend chewing.

Applesauce
Original Recipe

Applesauce

OK, this one isn’t technically a baked good, but it’s practically a dessert, so it counts. I wouldn’t really consider this one an applesauce because you don’t puree it. It’s more like cinnamon apples cooked over the stove. It’s really good and easy to make; however, the recipe blog I got this from seems to have a different idea of how long it takes things to thicken than I do. The original states that the water will evaporate in ten minutes. I definitely cooked them for more than forty minutes. Still delicious.

Earl Grey Cupcakes
Original Recipe

Earl Grey Cupcakes

Once again, I have made a recipe that claimed to be for a certain number of cupcakes and wound up getting an extra cake out of it. The carrot cake recipe I use makes enough for twelve cupcakes and a cake, and that’s what this recipe does as well. The cupcake texture is really good. It has a nice, small, and fluffy crumb. Also, the little tea speckles make them really cute looking. Like the cookies, it doesn’t keep for that long, but the texture is so great, that I don’t want to play with using oil instead to keep them moister longer. The frosting is a lemon buttercream, but I did the cake with a lemon cream cheese, and it was really good too. In the future, I think I will open the teabags into the milk at room temperature so that they can steep. My cakes weren’t obviously tea flavored.

I ate a good portion of everything I baked. Man was not meant to consume four cookies, three macaroons, half a pot of stovetop-cooked apples, and two cupcakes. I practically felt the bony hand of death grip my stomach. On a last note, I’ve taken up embroidery. I’m terrible at it, but that has never stopped me before.

I have an idea for new blog posts that I would like you, my dedicated reader(s)’, input on. I’m considering trying to summarize Shakespeare plays in a humorous fashion. Does anyone think that they would like to read that? I promise GIFs!

PS: This blog is now a part of my Writing for the Web class! That means I will be updating regularly! Of course it also means that I just told another class about my breast lumps. Damn.