Thursday, October 08, 2009

Dishy and daffy

1. Boozed-up Boris. Boris Yeltsin's late-night drinking during a visit to Washington in 1995 nearly created an international incident. The Russian president was staying at Blair House, the government guest quarters. Late at night... Secret Service agents found Yeltsin clad only in his underwear, standing alone on Pennsylvania Avenue and trying to hail a cab. He wanted a pizza, he told them, his words slurring. The next night, Yeltsin eluded security forces again when he climbed down back stairs to the Blair House basement. A building guard took Yeltsin for a drunken intruder until Russian and U.S. agents arrived on the scene and rescued him. -- “Secret interviews add insight to Clinton presidency”

2. Shakespeare de-lite. “King Lear—Average reader rating: Two stars. The author tells us: "As like flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport." Oh, right, like I didn't know that? Like I didn't know that to be or not to be is the question? Like I didn't know that the fault lies not in us but in the stars? Tell me something I don't know, Mr. Bard of Whatever. -- Satirist Joe Queenan sends up the new species of literary arbiters in “Amazon Reviewers Take On the Classics”

3. Quarreling queens. “He’s a filthy, low writer... He likes to attack his betters, which means he has a big field to go after. I looked at his [White’s] writing and all he writes about is being a fag and how it’s the greatest thing on Earth. He thinks I’m another queen and I’m not. It was vulgar fag-ism.” -- Gore Vidal on Edmund White, after White turned Vidal's friendly correspondence with convicted Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh into a play that implied, as Vidal put it, “I am madly in love with McVeigh. I’m more interested in the Constitution and McVeigh than the loving tryst he saw.”

4. Operatic spat. “I’m a third-rate director, and he is a second assistant of [Luchino] Visconti... I learned to be a director. He didn’t invent Puccini. He’s only Zeffirelli. I’m only Luc Bondy--more, not.” -- Luc Bondy, director of the Metropolitan Opera's latest Tosca, which earned boos and unflattering comparisons with Franco Zeffirelli's beloved 1985 version. “Mr. Zeffirelli, who had said in an interview that reports about the new production had led him to view it as a betrayal of Puccini’s intent and had called Mr. Bondy a third-rate director,” said the NYTimes.

5. Exodus-Man. He may not have been faster than a speeding bullet. He wasn’t more powerful than a locomotive. But he did part the Red Sea! And in America he became the inspiration for the country’s leading superhero, the star of Hollywood’s fifth-highest-grossing movie, and a model for the nation’s preeminent symbol, the Statue of Liberty... America’s most enduring pop-culture icon may be its least known: Moses. -- Bruce Feiler, “It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Moses!”

Speaking of Moses--several weeks ago I joined a heritage tour across Batangas, Laguna and Quezon. One of the designated stops was Kamay ni Hesus in Lucban, Quezon, sort of like a religious theme park built by the “healing priest” Fr. Joey Faller. The place has become a pilgrimage destination with its giant outstretched Christ on top of a hill a la Rio de Janeiro's trademark attraction, along with monuments of sundry other saints and Bible figures scattered all over the compound--including Adam and Eve before and after the Fall. I cannot discount the piety of the place or its devotees, but I did find the whole sight rather garish and kitschy.

What blew my mind was the chapel. On the altar, to the left of the resurrected Christ's central image, was Moses. Not as some local artist might have imagined him, but Charlton Heston as Moses, in the pose and the look made iconic by Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments. [See photo below, click to enlarge.]

Nothing, in my view, made Kamay ni Hesus more deserving of a visit from tourists, sociology students and the like than this--the best illustration of that shorthand equation often used to explain the Filipino character: 300 years in a convent, 50 years of Hollywood.

1 comment:

beektur said...

Ah, finally. A shrine to Charlton Heston! Who's in the right panel, Ted Neeley or Robert Powell?

Have fun in Syria.

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