Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Between Two Trees

Everything felt crisp and happy. The whole world was biting into a cold, sweet apple; opening a fresh, blank notebook; sliding between cool, clean sheets. The air touched her skin and set it free:  she felt infinitely open and infinitely comfortable and infinitely light. The sun watched from a distance, throwing down light--clean and clear--without heat.

She swung her arms as she walked. Well, at least she did in her mind; it was hard actually to swing them with a drink in one hand and a heavy bag on her shoulder. She felt good. She felt at peace. She had just enough control of her life to feel safe and optimistic. She felt capable, though challenged; unburdened, though busy. Her life was, as always, a beautiful conglomeration of oxymorons and ironies, paradoxes and asterisks. Everything was overwhelming, but nothing overwhelmed her. It was a good feeling.

Her comfy boots hit the brick path in a perfect steady rhythm, carrying her between two rows of young trees. The wind whispered to them what a good day she was having. In happy response, they sent two red leaves twirling down in front of her. She knew they were for her and she smiled.

Out of the corner of her eye, between two trees, she saw the world ripple and shimmer. This took several seconds to register, and when it did, her mind labeled it "spiderweb." But a second later, she slowed her steps and glanced back. She did not see any spiderweb, and as she recalled the peripheral memory, it seemed less like a glittery web and more like a thin, shiny, warped window.

Her smile twitched wryly. Not too long ago, she would have taken the sight as a portal to another world.

This thought stopped her. She stood on the brick path, a few paces past the mysterious shimmering space between trees. It had to have been a web. But...was anyone watching her?

She noted no one in front of her and no one behind her. Someone might be watching from a building nearby, but that would be okay. She felt too happy to feel foolish.

In a fragment of a moment--so sudden that she startled herself--she must have decided to go back and look again. Her bag bumped her hip and the ice in her drink rattled as she turned and trotted back a few steps.

She did see a spiderweb, but it was small and strung among the leaves and twigs of one tree. Nothing filled the empty space between the two trunks. She must have imagined the shimmering; it must have been a trick of this beautiful sunlight and clean air. She allowed herself just moment to be sure before continuing on her way, bag bumping and drink rattling. There wasn't anything between the trees. She knew that.

But it bothered her. She didn't go back, but it bothered her. She should have stepped between the trees to be sure. She should have put her hand there. She knew it was silly; she knew it was the light.

But she didn't, was the thing. Years ago, she would have gasped, run back, and reached her fingers into the shimmering space. She would have half expected to see her hand disappear into the force field and feel some alien air on the other side. She would have followed her hand with her body and been Who Knows Where. It would have been magic--maybe. Maybe.

But she didn't, was the thing. Today, she didn't think to try, really. It hadn't been a spiderweb; it hadn't been anything. Just a trick of the light.

Maybe this was the time, she wondered, fully joking--but fully distracted by an unnamed loss. Maybe this was the time it was real, the first time I did nothing, the first time I didn't try. Maybe that's how people miss things: they grow up and stop trying. Maybe it was Narnia and I wasn't looking for it and I could have gone. But if I think so, and I try, aren't I looking for it? Doesn't it then go away?

It wasn't really anything, and she knew that. But it bothered her.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Omg The Lion King is Hamlet

Tomorrow night I am going to see a live-streamed version of the play Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Be jealous.

In honor of getting to see my favorite play of all time, I would like to address a popular myth that absolutely fries me. It is the myth of

"Omg The Lion King is totes a retelling of Hamlet"

I would like to unmask this ridiculous falsehood by replying

"Um no it is not"

And, of course, providing evidence to that effect. So here we go.

WARNING: SPOILERS. I assume you know the story of The Lion King and don't mind some ruined "surprises" in Hamlet, but I believe there is a special circle of Hell reserved for people who spoil stories, and I am all about not going to Hell. So proceed at your own risk.

Similarities Between Disney's The Lion King and William Shakespeare's Hamlet

1. Both stories revolve around royalty. Congratulations, you have identified two works that feature royal families. This is only like one of THE MOST common elements in literature, and basically the MAIN element in classic Disney.

2. In both stories, the uncles kill the fathers in order to take the crown for themselves. This is a much better parallel, but, again, it's a common theme in stories. The little brother who wants his big brother's crown is pretty much a classic plot line.

3. In both stories, the ghosts of the dead kings appear. This would be a pretty convincing similarity if their roles weren't vastly, vastly, fundamentally different. See Differences...

Differences Between The Lion King and William Shakespeare's Hamlet

1. In Hamlet, the Queen Gertrude is involved in plotting King Hamlet's murder; in The Lion King, Queen Sarabi is clueless and loyal to King Mufasa.

2. In Hamlet, the uncle and the queen get married--rather quickly. In The Lion King, Scar and Sarabi never seem to have a positive relationship.

3. In The Lion King, the uncle frames the son, Simba--and Simba DOES play a role in King Mufasa's death. Yeah, it was Scar who orchestrated the whole thing, but in Hamlet, the King's death is presumed to have been from natural causes. Hamlet isn't even implicated.

4. In Hamlet, Ophelia and Hamlet are discouraged from marrying. In The Lion King, Simba and Nala are betrothed.

5. In The Lion King, Simba genuinely feels guilty for his father's death and flees. In Hamlet, the son sticks around and actually develops an investigation plan. Yeah, Hamlet goes to England for like four seconds, but that is not his idea, and he comes back ASAP.

6. In Hamlet, the love interest, Ophelia, goes crazy and dies. In The Lion King, Nala is a feisty and persistent character who makes Simba man (lion?) up.

7. The secondary characters are all completely different. Pumba and Timone are on Simba's side; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's job is basically to spy and tattle on Hamlet. Nala doesn't have a brother (Ophelia has Laertes). Nala's father isn't in the picture at all (Ophelia's father is adviser to the king). Simba doesn't have a strong confidante who actually survives the play (Horatio).

8. In Hamlet, there is no Rafiki character.

9. In The Lion King, the ghost of Mufasa appears to Simba to give him strength and hope. In Hamlet, the ghost of King Hamlet appears to Hamlet to demand vengeance. Mufasa encourages peace; King Hamlet brings unease and frustration.

10. In Hamlet, everybody dies at the end (I mean, it is a Shakespearean tragedy). In The Lion King, it is pretty much happily ever after for everyone except evil Uncle Scar (and the hyenas).

And there you have it.

So next time you hear people say "Omg The Lion King is Hamlet," please slap them for me. And then make them read this post.

Such a Nerd