Autobiographicles Please

You’ve heard of the Tea Party? You know the thing Alice did with the Mad Hatter? Now c’mon. Not that kind of thing. Get your mind out of the gutter. They had tea. Lately I have been thinking about having me a Me Party.

You see I am three people in one. A Me, a Myself and an I. It’s time I let one of them loose to celebrate. So I am starting with Me. This Me Party will celebrate the Wit and Wisdom of Uncle Bardie’s Me self and will kick off the publication of “Me: The Autobiographical Uncle Bardie”. For those who can’t get enough of Uncle Bardie, there will come a sequel, “More of Me”, then a sequel of a sequel, “Most of Me”. Who knows where it will end? There might even be an “Uncle Bardie’s Magical Mystery Tour”.

All the greats and the near-greats and the not-so-greats and the none-too-greats get to extoll their virtues and their sins in memoirs these days. Why not Uncle Bardie? It is only fair to my multitude of fans. Though I have nothing to say about life, I figure I can say it better than all the others with nothing to say. After all, it wouldn’t be fair to those with inquiring minds if I didn’t. In fact, it would be downright cruel. Uncle Bardie, being a kind man, would never commit cruelty knowingly.

So where to begin? How about at the beginning. I can think of no better place.

I was born on a dark and stormy night in the best of times, in the worst of times. My mama was going to call me Ishmael but that name had been taken by some feller name of Melville. Like Abe Lincoln, I was born in a log cabin. Not actually a log cabin but it sounds better than a trailer park. When I say that, it makes me sound like some kind of Honey Boo Boo. We weren’t trailer trash but my mama sure knew what to do with the garbage. That was why we had a big green dumpster down the way from our trailer.

I was born on the cusp of Virgo and Libra. In other words, my Virgo was slanting into Libra. Guess that makes me a bi-cuspid. There are days when my Virgo gets out of hand and I want to study a problem to death. Other days the only fight I want to participate in is a food fight. Then I want to make sure that everyone in the fight gets at least one pie in the face. Anything to be fair.

The first word out of my mouth was “y’all”. Before I was knee-high to a grasshopper, my mama had me saying, “Y’all come back, you hear?” Like good old Abe, I walked uphill to school five miles, then I walked five miles uphill to get home. I know Abe may not have done that but it sure sounds good on my resume. And who am I to call Abe a liar? You can, if you want. That is your prerogative. Next thing you’ll be saying is that Abe didn’t lick them vampires. At least, Abe read books, which is more than we can say for some presidents.

Early on, I spent a lot of my time curling up into a feeble position. Then I became an introvert who overcompensated. I learned to twerk at an early age. It was my way of mooning the world. As I grew older, I did my best to nip it in the butt. But, as you can see, it didn’t take.

Guess Seinfeld was right. There’s a whole lot of nothing that can be said about nothing and still say nothing. And this is only the first chapter. Just think. This could go on for nine seasons and you’d still have nothing. Makes me want to rejoice in the nothing that is not there and do it nada-istically.

Talk about adverbs. That’s one heck of an adverb. Nada-istically.

If you were writing your memoir, what would its theme be?

Hamlet: Claudius and the Plan

“High and mighty,
You shall know I am set naked on your kingdom. Tomorrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes, when I shall, first asking your pardon thereunto, recount the occasion of my sudden and more strange return.
Hamlet.”  Hamlet Act 4 Scene 7.

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

Act 4 Scene 7. Claudius and Laertes in a huddle. Claudius was always a very persuasive dude. He’d lie, he’d cheat and he’d steal to get his way. And he’d even walk all over a dead body. He convinced Laertes’ friends he had nothing to do with the death of Polonius.

“See I told you I was innocent,” Claudius said. “You do believe I am innocent and your friend?” Claudius had pleading in his voice. He may have been a villain but he wanted to be liked too. Don’t we all?

“Why did you not prosecute the crime?”

“It was Hamlet,” Claudius said. “It was Hamlet. How could I? It would have killed his mother. I gotta tell you. I love that woman. And she would never have forgiven me. Plus the dude is more popular than Julius Caesar. You saw the play. You know how hard it was for Cassius to talk even Brutus into taking out the man. Hamlet is like that. If I didn’t use my wits and come up with a better, sneakier way, I would be dead meat. You’ve seen how the Danes get when they are angry. It takes them a while to get angry, but once they do. Man.”

“I’ve lost my dad and my sister has lost her dad. And now you see that once beautiful human being, you see how she is. I want my revenge.”

“Oh, you shall get it. You shall get it.”

Now we get our Kramer. (Link to writing rules.) Entered a messenger.

“There are letters from Prince Hamlet. One for you and one for the queen.” The messenger retires.

Claudius read his letter to himself. “Oh, you have to hear this,” He reads the letter to Laertes. Then said, “He’s coming back to Elsinore and going to tell his story. And in the nude too. Can you believe the gall of that guy? In the nude. And he called me ‘High and Mighty’. Does he know that I am his Magnanimousness. The nerve of that boy.”

“Naked or not,” Laertes said, I will stare at him teeth to teeth. And get my revenge.”

“You sure you’re up to it? You wouldn’t chicken out, would you?”

“How dare you even think a thing. He killed my dad.”

“Then I have a plan.” Claudius always had a plan. Even when he didn’t have a plan, he had a plan. “I have heard that you are an excellent fencer. Even the French say so. Why I ran into this guy from Normandy. He could do nothing but brag about your fencing skill.”

“Was it Lamond?”

“Yes, it was Lamond.”

“I knew it. What a fine fellow he is.”

“When Hamlet heard Lamond’s brag about your fencing skill, you can’t believe how angry he got. ‘I’m a prince. Why don’t people brag about my fencing skills?’ He was so jealous.”

“Jealous, eh?” Laertes said. I know. Laertes was not Canadian. But he could end his sentences with “eh” if he wanted to. “So, what’s your point?”

“You’re going to have a fencing match. And your sword will be untipped. Hamlet won’t notice. He’ll just be glad he’s back in the game and accepted at court and still has you for a friend.”

“I’ll friend that fiend. I’ll tip my sword with some very potent poison. A scratch will do the trick.”

As I said earlier, Claudius always have a backup. “Just in case your poison doesn’t work, or he doesn’t get scratched by your sword. I will give him a cup of wine with poison too. When he takes a break, he will drink it.”

Laertes agreed.

Claudius said, “Just remember that no one else is to know.

Laertes agreed some more.

Then Claudius said, “What’s that sound?”

“Sounds like wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Alan Rickman Reigns

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Bottle Shock” (2008), a great way to celebrate the wonderful Alan Rickman who died a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know about you but I shall miss his work. I send my condolences to all those who knew and loved him.

I have a new word for you to add to your vocabulary. It is alan-rickman-esque. It means: it’s not what he said, it’s how he delivered the words. Who else could deliver the line: “Call off Christmas” as Alan Rickman did in “Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves” and get away with it? Who else could play Marvin the Robot in “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. Only one other actor, the very alan-rickman-esque Patrick Warburton.

I first came to appreciate Alan Rickman’s alan-rickman-esque charm when he played Professor Snape in the Harry Potters. I liked Mr. Rickman so much I started rooting for Snape. Just the way he said “Harry Potter” would have me in stitches. Not even Tim Curry could do that, and Tim Curry does have a certain alan-rickman-esque quality about him.

Alan’s become such a ubiquitous part of my life these days. When I am having a really bad day, I ask the universe, “Where’s Alan Rickman when I need him?” So you can imagine my delight when I discovered the movie “Bottle Shock”. Alan Rickman was in it. It could have been a dark and stormy night, and I would have watched it. I could have been the best of times or the worst of times, and I would have watched it. You could just call me Ishmael, and I still would have watched it. The genius, the greatest English actor of his time without an Academy Award, was in this movie.

On top of that, it’s about wine. California wine, that is. When was the last time you saw a movie about wine? They don’t make movies about wine, now do they? I did a google search and didn’t find many.There’s Eric Rohmer’s “Autumn Tale (which is unavailable in the U.S.), “Sideways” (nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture), “The Secret of Santa Vittoria” with Anthony Quinn playing an Italian and “Year of the Comet” with the wonderful Penelope Ann Miller. There are a couple of horror films and three with big stars, but not recommendable. Most are documentaries. Only goes to show you how hard it is to make a good movie about wine. “Bottle Shock” is a good movie about wine. Napa wines, to be exact.

There’s three things that are for sure. Forty-two is the answer. It’s a long way to temporary. And, if you are looking for an alan-rickman-esque performance, Alan Rickman is your man. In “Bottle Shock”, he is exerting that alan-rickman-esque-ness with dialogue such as this to the question, “Why don’t I like you?”: “You think I’m an asshole. And I’m not really. I’m just British…and well, you’re not.”

By the way, according to Dr. Vinny of the Wine Spectator, “‘Bottle shock’ or ‘bottle sickness’ are terms used to describe a temporary condition in a wine where its flavors are muted or disjointed. There are two main scenarios when bottle shock sets in: either right after bottling, or when wines (especially fragile older wines) are shaken in travel.”

So pour yourself a glass of Napa chardonnay and slice yourself some cheese. Then sit yourself down and have an enjoyable good time watching the very original alan-rickman-esque actor, Alan Rickman, in “Bottle Shock”. There’s a lot worse ways to spend an evening.

Who would be someone you would want to have a glass of wine with?

An Uncle Bardie Writing Tip: The Odor That Keeps On Giving

So this is the twenty-seventh month of writer’s block. You look at your last few words of Chapter 13, better known to you as “The Martians Need Tweezers”. You love the characters and you love the plot. But somehow your muse slipped on a banana peel and had to go to the ER. The doctors tell you she is going to recover, but, for now, she is in a coma in intensive care. You just don’t know what to do. You have a royal case of the stuck in a holeskies and don’t know how to dig yourself out.

Well, Uncle Bardie is coming to your rescue. He has the perfect first aid to get you through.

All you need do is introduce a new character and a new smell. Every time Mr. Newby walks into a room, the other characters discuss the character and the smell. Here’s an example of how that might work:

It’s a party. All the neighborhood is there. Two neighbors are in the corner, discussing the world situation.

Then Neighbor 2 asks Neighbor 1 asks, “What’s that smell?” He has concern in his voice.

“Oh, that’s John,” Neighbor 1 says. “Quite pungent, isn’t he?”

“Who invited him to the party?”

“The Author.”

“Well, can’t we get rid of him?” Neighbor 2 wants to know.

“I wish,” Neighbor 1 says.

Neighbor 2 is ready for some action. “Then let’s do it.”

“Hold on now. You know what happened to the last Character who tried to do something like that?”

“No,” Neighbor 2 says, kind of worried now.

“He ended up in a lake with a bullet in his head. Author was not pleased at Mr. Character’s reaction to the introduction of Character 2 in the story. I think Mr. Character was a bit jealous. After all, he had done all that work, slogging his way through ten chapters. Then Author has to introduce Character 2 at Plot Point One to give him some competition for his Lady Love, Miss Sure Thing. Well, Miss Sure Thing was no longer Miss Sure Thing. Mr. Character sure took care of Character 2 all right. Author was real mad about that turn of events. Not only did Mr. Character end up with a hole in his head. Author made him suffer before he went to the Character Graveyard.”

“Hmmm…” Neighbor 2 says.

“But John over there, I don’t know about. He sure has a good case of fouluptheroomitis. Unfortunately it’s quite common in new characters these days. I do hear that they have a vaccine in the works for it.”

“That’s good to know. You think I would get some brownie points from Author if I went over and talked to Smelly John.”

“I doubt it,” Neighbor 1 says. “But you can try.”

Neighbor 2 drifts over to the other side of the room.

Neighbor 1 says to a friend, “Guess there goes another smoozer.”

Friend says, “Yeah, the smoozers are always the first to go. Author sure hates a butt kisser.”

As you can see by this example, this exercise should get the story back on track. It sure helped me.

Hamlet and the Man Who Could Be Trusted

I would not wish
Any companion in the world but you.
(The Tempest 3.1

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

Act 4 Scene 6. Horatio found himself a corner to be alone with his thoughts. For an orphan, he had come a long way. First, adopted by King Hamlet to be his squire. Such an honor but he always wondered why him. “Because I can trust you,” the king said when Horatio asked.

It had been that trust that had earned Horatio a scholarship for Wittenberg University. “Go away and become a scholar. Then return and you will be my trusted adviser,” King Hamlet told Horatio. “And watch out for my son. I know I can trust you to do that.”

That same trust earned Horatio a friendship with the prince. It was that same trust that Gertrude found so appealing. And Claudius too.

If someone had asked Horatio why he could be trusted, Horatio would simply have told them the story of a man who could not be trusted. Judas Iscariot. The orphan once heard a priest tell the story of Iscariot. Horatio knew he did not want to be a Judas. So he made sure that he said nothing that would reveal the confidence others had in him. He knew secrets and he kept them.

One minute he was alone, the next a servant stood before him. “Sir, two sailors want to speak to you. They have a letter.”

Horatio gave a deep sigh. It was back to work for him. “I’ll see them.”

The servant left.

Horatio asked himself, “Who would want to send me a letter. Certainly not that girl I fell in love with at Wittenberg. She dumped me for a senior, and a football player at that. Then again, maybe she needs me.”

Before Horatio stood two sailors. Each wore sailor’s boots and sailor’s pants and a sailor’s shirt and a sailor’s hat. The tall one had a white beard that once was red. The short one wore an earring. Yep, they were sailors alright.

“We have a letter for your eyes only,” the tall one said. “But first you must pay the postage due of two gold ducats.”

In those days, there was no Pony Express. There was no carrier pigeons. There was no United States Postal Service. There was no email and there was no text. The only way you could get a letter out of your part of the world was to catch someone on the way to the letter’s destination. Or hire someone to carry your message.

“Who would be sending me a letter?”

“My lord, Hamlet.”

Horatio pulled out two gold ducats from his pocket and handed them to the sailor. The sailor handed him his letter.

Horatio read:
“Horatio, 
When thou shalt have overlooked this, give these fellows some means to the king. They have letters for him. Ere we were two days old at sea, a pirate of very warlike appointment gave us chase. Finding ourselves too slow of sail, we put on a compelled valor, and in the grapple I boarded them. On the instant, they got clear of our ship, so I alone became their prisoner. They have dealt with me like thieves of mercy, but they knew what they did; I am to do a good turn for them. 
Let the king have the letters I have sent, and repair thou to me with as much speed as thou wouldst fly death. I have words to speak in thine ear will make thee dumb, yet are they much too light for the bore of the matter. These good fellows will bring thee where I am. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hold their course for England. Of them I have much to tell thee. Fare-well. 
He that thou knowest thine, 
Hamlet.” 

There was something about the letter that made Horatio think this wasn’t Hamlet, and yet it was Hamlet. It wasn’t the doubting Hamlet, but a confident Hamlet. The prince had changed. He had gained what had for some time seemed lost. The writer of this letter seemed lighter than air. It was the Hamlet he had once known.

“Wow,” Horatio said. “That is some story.”

“And all true, sir. Never have we witnessed a braver man.”

“Well, follow me. I will take you to the king to deliver his letters. Then you can take me to the man who sent you.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And remember, not a word to the king about this other matter. Understood?”

“We understand.”

So, dear Reader, aren’t you surprised? Bet you thought Hamlet was in England, doing the pubs and catching the Bard’s latest play. Looks like he isn’t. Very interesting. Bet Claudius will be surprised too.