Skip to main content

More adventures in random shuffle

Camelot is one of my favorite musicals. For a long time it probably was my favorite musical. I discovered in in 4th grade and played the album so often I think I wore down the ridges. I would turn it down really low and lie in front of the speakers. I knew all the words. I read The Once and Future King (book on which it's based) in 4th grade because of it. (And yes, I know that T.H. White author of TOAFK stole from the Arthurian legends already existing. I read those later) I also read On the Street Where I Live by the lyricist/librettist, Alan Jay Lerner because of it and worshipped him until the day he died when I was 16. I still think lyrically it's one of the best musicals ever written. The lyrics tell the story and sing spontaneously out of the story--which is what I like in a musical--none of this, we're singing a song because we all know it, crap--no, just I'm saying lines, then I'm singing lines, then I'm saying lines again. If you're going to suspend disbelief, suspend it all the way. (I hate the movie of Camelot, by the way. DON'T WATCH IT, IT'S AWFUL!)

Yesterday Album of the Day brought up Camelot and it was a standards kind of day (rainy and grey) so I let it play. I realized when the first song was "What Do the Simple Folk Do?" that I'd left it on shuffle. Now, shuffling the songs in a well-crafted musical (according to my rules above) means the story is out of order, but I was busy and I know the musical so well that I decided to let it go on. For some reason the random play seemed to bring up songs from the second act first and then went back for the earlier ones. Camelot is very tragic in the second act. The King is betrayed by his wife and best friend forcing him to sentence her to death (the friend flees). His bastard son stirs the court to revolt and the beautiful dream of "might FOR right," dies. "What Do the Simple Folk Do?" is one of the last light songs as the king and queen wonder how the simple folk manage to be happy and realize that the simple folk wonder the same thing of them. So I wandered backwards through this musical, right back to the Overture and the first song where the king is comically dreading meeting the woman chosen to be his bride, "I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight." It just seemed a study in human life. How we start out believing that life will be good, that love will happen, that our dreams will succeed, and then life happens and sometimes good things happen and sometimes they don't and sometimes other people's happiness has to come before your own as when Guinevere and her lover find each other only to realize they can't be together or it will destroy Camelot:
"Here we are, my love, silent once more
And not far, my love, from where we were before."

Working backwards, as in Harold Pinter's brilliant play, Betrayal, seemed to highlight even more the tragic poignancy of happiness and life in general. If we could only go back and warn ourselves to not make the same mistakes--would we make other worse ones? Ironically (and this only occurred to me now), Merlin in TOAFK and therefore in the musical, lives backwards, so does try to warn Arthur about everything, but...the best laid plans aft gang agle (sp?). So many things I would do differently if I could, and yet...would my life be better? Would I be happier, different, content?


Popular posts from this blog

Driving in Boston

Inching along in a log jam of traffic yesterday on the Mass Pike I watched an Audi a few cars in front of me weave in and out of traffic determined to find the lane that was "moving" and yet for the whole half an hour that we sat there he ended up still only a few cars ahead of me. Sure there were times his lane pulled ahead, but then mine would catch up and he would switch back. The only thing he accomplished was to make the line that much slower. There was a great article that a friend sent me years ago on the physics of traffic and it has been determined that weaving in and out of tight traffic will really gain you nothing and in fact cause the very blockages that you believe you are defying. (Sidenote--an unfortunately side effect of so much of interest on the internet is that it is impossible to store all of the articles that interest you over the years in the vague belief that you will someday want to reference them to others) The article also pointed out that if all d…

The end of Cloud Atlas

Feel I must write this--promised it to myself, can I finish before midnight (when I said I would go to bed at 11)?

Where was I?

Oh, yes, section 5, where it gets interesting--because it's the future, at least 25 years, hopefully more. I say hopefully, because I don't want to be living in this future. The section is called "An Orison of Sonmi-451." An Orison (I had to look it up, proving I don't remember my Shakespeare) is a prayer, but in this future world where language has taken as many turns as in Orwell's 1984, it is more a confession or final statement. Sonmi-451 is a clone (as the name might suggest). The section is not entirely original. It owes much to Brave New World and Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (made into the film Bladerunner). I find it interesting that 40 or so years ago--when Dick wrote his book he believed that future slaves would be Androids, replicants. Now we are much more likely to presume they will be clones,…


I love his writing. I always have. I found the writing before I knew anything about the strange, tortured man and I'm glad, because the writing has become subsumed to the image. The writing is exquisite and never cliched and full of all the pain that is living. Poor, lonely, needy Tru.

The movie is good, Hoffman's performance is breathtaking. I understand--I don't necessarily forgive--when he sells out the killers, sells out himself, would sell out his best friend to get that laugh at a party, to make life ironic and light when he knew that it wasn't. Grabbing that moment of adulation in a crowd rather than anything lasting--tomorrow may never come, after all. And you know he knows it's a lie too. He sold out Perry Smith, and yes, Perry was a dangerous and disturbed man who had murdered a family almost because they were there, but Truman played him to get that story, and lied and played with another human being's feelings and life to write the book. And what a b…