Movie of the Week:”A Knight’s Tale”

A Knight’s Tale, directed by Brian Helgeland.

Video for the post. A Knight’s Tale Intro featuring Queen singing “We Will Rock You”.

This is the story about a working class boy making good. It’s also a movie about sports. Not the way we usually think about them. It goes to the essence of why sport became so important. It’s about preparing young men for war. Whether it was the ancient Greeks at Olympus, the Romans chariot racing around the arena, it is always preparation for war. It is about life and death. And it was definitely that way in the Middle Ages. Jousting was their version of football.

If a movie about the sport of jousting can have a smile on its face, that movie is “A Knight’s Tale”. William Thatcher’s meal ticket dies on the road to a tournament. His master, Sir What’s His Name, is over-the-hill and he dies under a tree on a nice spring day. His squire Thatcher (played by Heath Ledger) and his two buddies have a problem. They are hungry, and they have no cash. Squire William isn’t rightly qualified to do a knight’s job. He is a commoner. Only a noble is allowed to get on a horse, pick up a large tree trunk and charge towards another man on another horse and with another large tree trunk. But William has been squiring for a while, doing what a squire does. Learning the knight business.

So off to the joust William goes and does it to the sound of Queen and “We Will Rock You”. Like they say in the movies, he scores one for the gipper. He knocks a man off his horse. You think it’s easy. You try it on the back of a horse, wearing fifty pounds of steel armor and with a wooden lance, nine to fourteen feet long. Just balancing yourself requires skill. Now that William has a taste of success, he wants more.He convinces his companions that more is possible. All it will take is a knight’s version of spring training.

There is only one problem. William is not a noble. As William and his fellows head toward the next tournament, they come across a naked man. Says his name is Geoffrey Chaucer. He has had a run of bad luck. He has a gambling problem. But he is William’s answer to a prayer. He is a literate man and a good forger. Good enough to create papers to give William the noble family he needs to be able to play with the big boys. Chaucer transforms William Thatcher into Sir Ulrick. Since there was no internet in those days, nobody can check on the authenticity of those papers.

So far so good. Team Ulrick are off to the medieval version of a city and there they are “taking care of business.” Geof Chaucer, now Sir Ulrick’s herald, proves he can announce his master’s arrival to the joust with flair. But, during the joust, William shows a side of himself that another knight sees as weakness. He shows mercy. For a knight to be a knight, it is not enough to be good at a joust. A knight is a knight when he is chivalrous and chivalry means a knight should be merciful.

Like the good sports movie it is, “A Knight’s Tale” has only begun the struggle of Sir Ulrich’s rise to knighthood. He does it with a soundtrack that really kicks butt. Before our hero can prove his worth on the jousting field, he must prove his worth on the dance floor. Sir Ulrich boogies to David Bowie’s “Golden Years”, giving his fellow party-goers a lesson in dancing. It’s all enough to make the lady he loves fall in love with him. Looks like the working-class fellow is a winner in love and in war. He even impresses a royal.

Then, just as things are looking good for Ulrich, they slip away. When you are on top of the world, sometimes life takes you down a peg or two. Team Ulrich arrives in London for the World Jousting Championship to the music of “The Boys Are Back in Town”. All the hard work they have put in is about to pay off. Unfortunately Sir Nasty, Count Adhemar, has other plans. He has not been won over by Ulrich’s winsome ways. For him, all is fair in love and jousting.

“A Knight’s Tale” has its ups and downs, its winnings and losses. Otherwise it wouldn’t be the sports movie it is. Like the really good ones, it shows us that which is the best in all of us. Sometimes all we can do is crawl back on our horse, take up our tree trunk and charge into battle to the song, “We are the Champions of the World”.

Do you have a favorite sports movie?

Friday’s Creator Corner: Sand Painting

Each Friday I feature a Creative Artist on Friday’s Creator Corner. Creativity is the art of making something out of nothing. I leave the post up for a week, then replace it with another post. After taking it down, I link it to Friday’s Creator Corner Artists page.

Today’s Creator Corner artist, Sand Painter Kseniya Simonova

“Hamlet”: Ten Rules for a Ghost

Song for this post. The Addams Family Theme Song.

Thus twice before and jump at this dead hour. Hamlet Act 1 Scene 1.

For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.

–from Roberts Rules for Ghostlie Behaviour
1.You must appear after midnight.

2. You have to be gone by dawn. So don’t be real talkative. The less said the better.

3. Moaning is required. The better the moan the scarier the ghost.

4. If the prop department has them available, wear some chains.

5. Shake the chains excessively.

6. Your Ghost ‘Stume must cover you completely. No letting the victim peek under the sheet. They might see that there is nothing underneath.

7. Take some acting lessons. The more convincing you are the better.

8. The trick with being big and filling an entire room is to make sure your plug is secure. Otherwise the hot air will escape. Can’t have that. Then you’ll just fizzle.

9. Remember you are not a friendly ghost. That phrase is a cancellation in terms. We don’t know what Casper The Friendly Ghost was but he was not a Ghost.

10. You have to scare the bejesus out of everybody. If you do not, you have to go back to Ghost Skool. (Marley had to repeat three times before he got things right.)

A Marriage

Song for the post. Gordon Lightfoot: Softly

“Why do you always run off to the shower after we make love?” This could be the man or the woman asking. On this particular night, it is the woman.

The man, her husband, slides back into the bed beside his wife’s naked body, reaches over, kisses her lightly on the lips. She resists his kiss.

He withdraws to a few inches from her face. “You know you can join me in the shower. It’s not like there’s not enough room.” The best defense is a good offense.

He’s not ready to give up on that kiss. He tries again for her lips.

She is having none of his attempts at getting on her good side. “All I want is to be close,” she says, moving her lips away from his.

“I’m trying to be close now.” He catches her cheek with his kiss.

She pushes him away. “It isn’t the same. After we have sex, all you do is run away.” Slipping over to her edge of the bed, she gives him her back, then pulls the sheet tight around her, making it into a cocoon.

He drops off to his side of the bed. “But … Lenore,” he protests.

“Why do you choose to call me that?” she tosses over her shoulder at him. “You know I don’t like it, Sam.”

“What do you mean? Call you what?” he speaks to her back.

“Lenore,” she says the name as if it is a curse.

“That’s your name, isn’t it?” Of course it’s her name.

“It’s what my mother calls me. But I’m Nora and you most definitely know that.” Of course he knows it. He has called her Nora a thousand times and more. Her back is now a wall and she’s not allowing any climbing over it. Not for this night anyway.

”I like Lenore. It has such a romance to it. Just like you.”

Silence. Not a sound coming from behind that wall.

After several minutes of waiting for a truce and a goodnight kiss, he reaches over and switches off the bedside light, sighs and slides deeper into the bed. He lies on his back and studies the shadows spreading out across the room as the night grows deeper.

A sob escapes through a crack in that impenetrable wall lying next to him. His wife is crying, pouring herself into her pillow. He reaches over to offer her a tender, comforting touch.

She moves away from his hand and rolls over and faces him. “My name is Nora. And just why do you always feel the need to wash me off after we have sex? Guess you can’t stand the smell of me, the taste of me, the touch of me on your skin. Bet you can’t even stand the sound of me.”

He starts to protest but holds it in.

“Next thing I know you won’t even be able to stand the sight of me.” Shoving the covers off, she jumps out of bed, grabs her robe, heads for the door. Takes one last look at the man in her bed. “Ever since Candace went away to college,” she says, changing the subject but not really. She throws the robe on and heads off down the hall.

He calls after her. “Candace doesn’t like Candace for a name, you know.” Their daughter likes to be called Dash.

“That’s her name, Sam-u-el,” she cries out into the night. She’s Candace’s mother and she can call her daughter any damned name she wants. Why doesn’t he understand that?

“And Lenore is yours,” he wants to yell back but doesn’t. She is the woman he loves, has always loved, and he knows that this is not a good time to call out “Lenore”.

He moves over onto his side and faces the wall, pulls the sheet closer around his body. He hates these dark, restless nights when nothing seems to go right. When everything he tries is wrong.

He waits in the dark and hopes. What is he hoping for? That she’ll come back to bed? That he can somehow show her that he didn’t mean for the night to turn out the way it has? Maybe that, after twenty years of marriage, things can change? That he can change? He keeps hoping but he knows. This will not be the night.

It’s one thirty and he has to get up in the morning for work. But he’s not going to get any sleep. Not till Lenore comes back to bed, and they make up.

Why does he keep calling her Lenore? he wonders in his sleeplessness. He knows how much she hates it. It’s only at times like these when he drops his guard that she she is no longer an average, everyday Nora. She is the Lenore of his best dreams and he is recalling their honeymoon in that long-ago before twenty years wore down their marriage.

He glances over at the clock on his nightstand once again. It’s two and she’s not coming back. He slips out of bed, pulls on this pajama bottoms and a robe.

Downstairs and out on the patio, she hears him slide the glass door open behind her. “I’m not mad,” she says to nobody in particular. “It’s just that, well I’m not mad,” this time she’s speaking to her husband.

There she goes. Making peace. Why does she always do that? he wonders. “I was a jerk,” he says, looking at the back of her neck. The moon throws its light across the room and he can’t ever remember seeing anything so beautiful.

“No, you were just being you.” Her voice is soft and lonely. Then she thinks, “There I go again, making peace. Why do I always do that?”

He doesn’t know what else to say or do so he waits.

She looks over her shoulder and up into his face. His eyes gaze at her the way he did that first night oh-so-many-years-before on the the beach where they first fell in love. Her hand reaches out for his, takes it, draws him to her side on the bench. “I love this house,” she says.

“It has been a good house.”

“I wasn’t sure it was the one for us.” She leans her head on his shoulder.

“I didn’t know that.” He squeezes her hand with all the affection that comes from years of loving and arguing and making up and arguing and making up some more. “I wasn’t that positive myself.”

She squeezes back. Her head feels the strength of the shoulder she has always known that she can lean on no matter what. No matter what. She then takes her head off his shoulder and looks up at the sky. “That sure is a pretty moon.”

“We didn’t think we’d we be here that long.”

“And, my god, the mortgage.” She laughs.

“We’d never owed that much money to anybody. But Dash loved it.”

“We thought we were buying the moon. Five years old and Candace knew it was for us.”

“Why do you keep on calling her Candace?” he whispers. “You know how much she hates it.”

“Why do you insist on calling me Lenore?” she whispers back. “It spoils eyerything.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” he says, unsure how to tell her all that her name means to him.

“I can see we got what we paid for.” She is back thinking about the house.

“It was a good price.”

She points toward the sky. “We got that moon too, and it is much better than the one we thought we were buying.” She looks at it for several minutes. “You think that Brett and Dash will last as long as we have?”

“I hope so. He seems to love her but not as much as I loved you then, Nora.” He kisses Lenore, not a soft easy kiss, not a deep passionate kiss, but a kiss that makes up for everything. And she kisses him. Then he whispers, “And still love you.”

She stands, reaches for his hand, and they go inside.

On the way up the stairs, he says, ”If you let me call you Lenore every-once-in-a-while, I promise not to run off to the shower after we make love.”

“Only when we’re alone,” she says from the stair above him.

He nods yes, and they are back in bed and soon asleep.

Forgiveness fills the house as it has so many times before and they continue their married life together. At least for one more day.

“Hamlet” and the Thing Part Deux

Song for this post: Bob Dylan: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.

It harrows me with fear and wonder. Hamlet Act 1 Scene 1.

For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.

Act 1. Scene 1 (Continued). The night had become darker than dark. In other words, it was exceedingly dark. Enough to get Barnardo to say, “It sure is dark out here.” There was no doubt about it. Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo could not see diddly-squat.

Except for the gray ghost of The Thing rising out of the sea. If eyeballs could have popped out, they would have popped out of the three men’s eye sockets. Without knowing it, the three fell face down onto the stone floor. And I am not talking Moe, Larry and Curly here. Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo didn’t feel the pain of the floor because they were not just scared. They were frightened. You would have been frightened too.

Above them was The Thing, hovering, filling the sky with its grayish white.

You remember Marley in “The Christmas Carol”. It took him something like seven years to screw up his ghostly courage before he got enough gumption to visit Ebenezer Scrooge. Even then, he had to huff and puff to build himself into enough apparition to get Scrooge’s goose to gandering.

When I tell you that This Thing was no Marley, take my word for it. I wasn’t there but I have it on good authority. Horatio came by my place the other night and assured me that This Thing was one whopper of a spectre. I mean, It was a Spectre. And I am not talking the James Bond kind of SPECTRE either. And This Thing was neither shaken nor stirred.

If I had been there that night, I would have been out of there faster than Road Runner outrunning Wiley Cayote. Talk about walking on the water. I would have run across that water and been in Sweden, taking in a spa before you could shake your fist at The Thing and say, “Out, damned spot.”

The Thing, hovering above Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo, was not large. It was not huge. It was humungus and then some. And the damned Thing moaned. It was not your run-of-the-moan either.

Believe it or not. They say that Lisa moaned when Leonardo asked if he could paint her. “With this nose,” she moaned. Originally Leo called the portrait “Moaning Lisa”. Then it was shortened to “Moan á Lisa”. Once the Louvre got a hold of the painting they weren’t about to have any of this “moaning business”. So they made the name change to “Mona Lisa” so that “Moaning Lisa” has been “Mona Lisa” ever since.

This was not that kind of moan. This was the moaningest moan ever. When folks talk about really bad moaning, this is the moan they are talking about. It was so bad it could make a banshee scream. So you know that was some moaning.

Such was The Thing’s Presence that It could have put the Fear of the Lord into an atheist. Talk about foxhole conversions, this would have been one of them.

For days, the three-bees, Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo, walked around, white as a sheep. Their buddies snickered, “You been in Ophelia talcum powder, guys?” It was so bad that they wanted to just slap someone. Anyone. Then they remembered The Thing and thought better of it. The Thing might come back and slap them around. Believe you me, when you’ve been slapped by a Thing you’ve been slapped.

So there This Thing hovered above the three men. Shaking in his booties, Horatio took a little peepsy. Well, how ’bout that? he thunk. The bell struck two and the Thing was gone. At least for the time being.