Coming to a Blog Near You

There are a lot of them bloggers out there who blog about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I’m talking Hypocrisy, Stupidity, Intolerance and Quackery. We all know what downers they are. It’s a rough job. Only consolation is that somebody has to do.

Not Uncle Bardie. No sirree. Maybe number four. It sounds like a lot of fun. If it quacks like a duck, well you know. Serially though, Uncle Bardie’s got other axes to grind. Other cheeses to melt. Other corns to pop.

Uncle Bardie will be giving you “Politics in America” the way it’s sposed to be given. You, my Reader, will truly have special access to all the goings on. And the best thing of all, there will be nary a mention of Ted, The Donald, Jeb, Hillary, Chris, Marco, Bernie or the rest of the herd running with the bulls. No, you will be getting the straight dope of the long ago time of 2016.

Back when men were men and the women were too. Back when a trump was a suit in a card game. Back when a cruz was something you took on a boat. Back when a bag of groceries would pay for a down payment on a house. Back in the days when it was all Obama’s fault because you ran out of gas, you were late for work, or you just wanted to sleep in and the cats wouldn’t let you. Back in the days before Congress built the Great Wall of China on its southern border only to find out Genghis Khan was invading from the north.

Here at Uncle Bardie’s Stories & Such, you will read about the greatest political campaign in the history of Western Civilization way back in the Way Backs. You will see the United States go to war over the most despicable crime ever committed by one Sovereign State against another Sovereign State. That’s right. JMDs. If you want to know what a JMD is, you will just have to read about it in “Politics in America”. Coming to this blog soon. As in next Wednesday and to be continued weekly until 2016 runs out of steam and becomes 2017.

Or all hell breaks loose. If you’re betting on hell, you might just be a winner. The odds are in your favor.

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Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: What Happens Backstage Never Stays Backstage

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. From time to time, a reflection on the movie will appear below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Noises Off” (1992):

When I was writing the section on Hamlet’s interaction with the actors, another wonderfully, comic play on film came to mind. Peter Bogdanovich’s film of of the play, “Noises Off”, is any theatrical director’s nightmare. That is to say that the farce probably occurs more than you’d like to think.

While we’re saying, “It’s a hit”, the director and the actors most likely are saying, “I will never, under any circumstances, work with those people ever again.” And they say it adamantly to themselves as they reveal in interview after interview, “This was such a wonderful company. I have never, in my long career, worked with such delightful people.” Then they are asked, “So you would work with these people again?” Their response, “At the drop of a hat.” All the time, cursing under their breath.

Michael Caine is the director of the cast from hell. It’s the dress rehearsal for the opening in Des Moines. Carol Burnett can’t get her lines right, even though she is being encouraged by John Ritter. It’s those darn sardines. And the newspaper. And the telephone.

Then there’s the problem with the doors. They don’t open and close the way they should. And there’s the actor with the drinking problem. And more sardines. One minute they are there and the next they are missing, and then they are back again. And the actor who needs an explanation why he will take the groceries into the study. Unfortunately the sardines and the newspaper is stuck to his hands. Plus it’s hard to do a quick change without a dresser. There are more problems with this production than there were with the Titanic. Wonder if the Titanic had problems with sardines?

“We’re two lines away from the end of Act 1,” the director encourages the actress to do the two lines, hoping against hope that the gods will put him out of his pain and soon. And, oh, the stage manager, Julie Hagerty, is pregnant with the director’s baby.

In Miami, Carol Burnett breaks up with John Ritter and locks herself up in her dressing room. Carol went out the previous night with Christopher Reeve, listening to all his problems. Christopher Reeve is dating Marilu Henner, so there’s nothing between Carol and Christopher.

That isn’t the way John Ritter sees it.  Then the curtain rises for the matinee. John Ritter is about to make Christopher Reeve’s life hell during the performance. And the drunk gets hold of the wine that the director meant for the blonde, Nicolette Sheridan. What’s worse is the drunk can’t keep his pants up.

As you can imagine, the performances backstage are much more hilarious than what is going on onstage. It’s amazing how much those darn sardines get around.  It’s enough to make a director turn to the bottle himself. One thing is for sure. One should not bring a cactus backstage in times like these.

Then it’s on to the final horror. Cleveland.

The house off the Via Dolorosa

Happy Easter to all my Christian friends.

It is a late afternoon in Jerusalem when I turn off the cobblestone Via Dolorosa onto a little side street and there it is. The smell of cooked meat from the animal sacrifices in the Temple fills the air. Soon I come to the door I’ve been searching for. A wooden door with the sign of a fish above it. The house behind that door is the home of the Mother of Jesus.

During Herod Agrippa’s recent persecutions, many of the faithful left Jerusalem. These included Mary. Though she wanted to stay in the City, the Apostle John, the disciple Jesus charged with her welfare, sent her away. In Nazareth, she had family and she would be safe there.

A week before the fifteenth anniversary of our Lord’s Crucifixion, our tribulations ended. Agrippa was dead. We faithful started returning to the city. This became obvious by the number who gathered on the Mount of Olives for the sunrise celebration of the Resurrection some weeks earlier. His Mother was one of them, and now her door is open again to her Son’s followers.

I knock. A small woman opens the door.

“Who is it, Salome?” a booming voice calls. Peter, a large, balding man, sits at a table across the room, surrounded by three other men. “Not a temple spy I hope. Caiphas and his prying eyes.” Then he laughs.

“Just a traveler,” I say, “seeking some good company and a place to shake the dust off my feet.”

“Enter, friend,” another calls over to me. His name is John and his eyes burn with the bright light of his Master’s love. “You are most welcome in this house.”

“Take off your shoes,” Salome says to me. “This is a holy place.”

I remove my sandals and set them by the door as the others have.

“Sit, friend,” another man says, looking over me with eyes that remember Emmaus. This large, burly man with the gruff voice is Cleopas, a former Zealot.

I join the four men, Peter and John, Cleopas and Cornelius, the Roman Centurion, at the table.

“Perhaps,” Cornelius says, hope in his eyes. “Perhaps this will be the year of His Return. On the anniversary of His Ascension?”

Mary, the one called Magdalen, walks over and pours me a drinking bowl of red wine. Suddenly I realize how thirsty I am. As I drink, Salome kneels and washes the dirt off my feet.

Across the room, I notice another woman dressed in blue, the woman I have come to see. Though her face and hands are wrinkled and her hair white, the woman in her mid-sixties has a calm peace on her face. And the room glows with her tranquility, her stillness. She is the Mother of Jesus. This coming summer she will pass from this earth and join her Son. But this late spring evening she is here, and I have a chance to enjoy the hospitality of her house as I eat her bread and sip her wine.

She sits in her chair, her hands resting on her lap, a gentleness on her face, gentle yet revealing all the suffering she has known. There she tells her stories and I am comforted.

“He who dwells,” she says, “in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. And I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust’….If you make the Most High your dwelling…no harm will befall you.” Then she folds herself inward and meditates upon all that she has known.

After a long pause, she ends the evening with these words: “Maranatha. Come, Lord, come again.”

Hamlet: Horatio One More Time

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

Last we heard of Horatio, he was saying “Good night, Sweet Prince.” Then he slipped into the night before Fortinbras was all over Elsinore. Some say that Horatio went east and made himself a kingdom someplace in the Urals. After all, he had learned soldiering from Old Hamlet.

Personally I go with those who say that he went south. Since he was a kid, he dreamed of Venice. One thing is for sure. He earned his way in the world with his sword. Along that way maybe he worked for Othello, the Moor. For a bit of time, he was a Capulet, then it was on to Florence and the Medici fam.

For a while he had a run in with the Borgias. If Elsinore had taught him any one thing, poison was not his gig. So he was out of Valencia in a hurry. Along the way, he spent some jail time with Cervantes. At least, this is what I believe.

Since he had been Hamlet’s Nick Carroway, Horatio was in demand everywhere. Last we heard from Horatio was that he was doing TED talks.

He begins this way: “Guess you thought Shakespeare was going to do this talk today. Sorry to disappoint. He had some business back at Straitford. Something about bailing out his son-in-law. He sent me instead.

“So how did Shakespeare come up with Hamlet? Guess you’ve heard the tale that it was a response to his son, Hamnet’s, death. Hamnet died back in ’96. It was in all the papers….”

Next week at this same time and same station, Uncle Bardie will be singing a whole new song. So put it on your calendar and be ready to follow the Yellow Brick Road. You might even hear Miss Scarlett proclaim, “Tomorrow is another day.” 

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Is a Mini-Series

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. From time to time, a reflection on the movie will appear below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is the mini-series, “Jesus of Nazareth” (1977)

Ever so often some Hollywood producer gets a wild hair. He just has to do Jesus. Again. Even though the life of Jesus has been done over and over again. And I’ve seen a good many of them.

I’ve seen “King of Kings”. I’ve seen “Son of God”. I’ve seen “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. I’ve seen “The Passion of the Christ”.  I’ve seen Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew”. I’ve seen “Godspell”. I’ve seen “Jesus Christ Superstar”. I’ve even seen “The Last Temptation of Christ”. I never could figure out why so many made such a big deal out of “The Last Temptation”. After all, Willem Dafoe portrayed a whiney, complaining Jesus. Who would follow this guy?

And I’ve read the four Gospels. Several times.No movie but one has done justice to the life of Jesus. Only Franco Zeffirelli’s “Jesus of Nazareth”.

Yes, that Franco Zeffirelli. The director of the movies “Taming of the Shrew” (1967), “Romeo and Juliet” (1968), “Hamlet” (1990), “Tea With Mussolini” (1999)  and the best movie of the life of St. Francis “Brother Sun Sister Moon” (1972). “Jesus of Nazareth” is his masterpiece.

It was the heyday of the mini-series. The days of “Rich Man, Poor Man”, “Shogun”, “The Thorn Birds”, and “Roots”, of “Masterpiece Theater” just coming into its popularity. It was way before “John Adams”, “Game of Thrones” and “Orange is the new black”.

For over six hours, we watched “Jesus of Nazareth”. Some watched to see if Zeffirelli had been true to the script of the Gospels. He had. Others watched it and thought that this was great television. I belonged to that second group.

For the first time, I got all four Gospels in one film. Sure, there were some events missing, such as the Cana miracle. But that was to be expected for a six-hour dramatic presentation. I got a lot more than the films before and since have given me.

And I got to see all the usual suspects. Mary and Joseph, Herod and Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalen and Simon Peter, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, John the Baptist and the Magi, Judas Iscariot and Barabbas, and all the others I read about.in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And Robert Powell as Jesus knocked the ball out of the park as far as I am concerned. Unlike so many other portrayals of Jesus, his was a Jesus for whom I would give up everything and follow.

To all my Christian friends, may your Easter be a good one.