Strangely, the Manolo has yet to read any of the books of the Harry Potter corpus. It is not because the Manolo is opposed in any fashion to fantasy and the worlds of make-believe, for indeed, clearly the Manolo spends much of his time in such places.
No, it is because the friends of the Manolo have built these books up so high, heaped upon them so much praise, that the Manolo is now afraid to read them, for fear that he will be disappointed.
Meanwhile, the Manolo has decided to dip his toe into the delightfully morbid world of Lemony Snicket. Who knew such joy was to be found in the suffering of innocents!
And speaking of finding pleasure in the fantastical predicaments…how can one resist the ridiculous premises, the flimsy pretexts and the beautiful waltzes of Strauss the Junior’s Die Fledermaus?
The Manolo, who last evening engaged in the spirited round of Twittering with his internet friends about the topic of My Fair Lady, has gone back and reviewed the evidence. In doing so, he has reached the twin conclusions: Conclusion the First: Eliza Doolittle is the prostitute.
This is the unspoken subtext of both the Broadway play and the movie, one, which acknowledged, even in passing, gives more depth and richness to the story.
What is the Manolo’s evidence for this seemingly heterodox idea? The vending of fruits or flowers in Covent Gardens was long considered the pretextual occupation of the prostitutes. The most famous of such ladies of ill repute was Nell Gwyn, the mistress of Charles II, who began her career as the Covent Garden seller of oranges.
There is other evidence, not the least of which is that the father of Eliza, Alfie Doolittle, attempts to sell his daughter to Professor Higgins for the few pounds, with the little bit of luck…
And there is much more, if only one looks.
The acknowledgment of Eliza Doolittle’s scarlet past deepens and explains her reluctance to return the love of Freddy. It is not her low birth which makes for the problematic match, for indeed, low birth can be ignored if love is true.
It is that Eliza herself knows that she cannot be with Freddy, ever, for that even if she were to love him in return, her previous occupation renders her untouchable. (Only the kings, such as Charles II, have the power to render this stain socially nugatory.) If Eliza loves Freddy, she must protect him from her past by rejecting him. There is no other way.
Conclusion the Second: Audrey Hepburn is most horribly miscast as the Eliza Doolittle.
It has been many years since the Manolo last read The Grandissimes and he is finding that is going down much better this time. Undoubtedly, the middle-aged Manolo is more capable of understanding the intricacies of this lost world.
This movie The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, with Jeremy Piven, turned out to be the surprisingly funny movie. Yes, it is exceedingly ribald, impolite, and unsentimental, and yet, occasionally, such things are exactly what is required to sweep the cluttering detritus of the age from the mental machinery.
On the one of the hands, the writing in this book Netherland is beautiful, subtle, and evocative. On the other of the hands, the characters are unsympathetic, and ultimately for the Manolo unbelievable, and the plot is the closest thing to nonthingness. The Manolo suspects that if this book had been set in, say, the Kansas City instead of the Manhattan, it would not have been named one of the New York Times Bestest Books Ever of the year 2008.
The disturbing news that Steve Carell was working on the remake of the classic French play and movie, The Dinner Game, (to be disastrously entitled Dinner for Schmucks) has sent the Manolo back to the original, which he found it to be as hilarious and as French as ever.
Did the Manolo say “French”? He meant “Super French”. From the beginning to the end, The Dinner Game is perhaps the Frenchiest movie ever made, which is why it is difficult to imagine it being remade as the American slapstick comedy. (But, one should never underestimate the persistent folly of the American movie industry.)
Speaking of the French and their Frenchiness, the movie also reminded the Manolo of something his good friend the Herr Professor Doktor B. P. von Korncrake (who tells the Manolo that his memoirs are now 90% complete and will soon be ready for publication) has written about the differences between the French and the Germans.
“The French,” I said, beginning the key paragraphs of my declamation, “invent all sorts of novel theories and schemes for ordering life and analyzing the world — existentialism, postmodernism, postcolonialism, all French — and yet these theories remain purely theoretical. The French never attempt to apply a single one to everyday living. They do not live by what they preach. And why should they? The French have the best cuisine in the world, their wine is excellent, their literature grand, their cinema tolerable, their workweek short, and their women amoral. What could they possibly change for the better?”
“The Germans,” I continued, warming to my subject, “are the exact opposite. They devise no grand theories of their own (even Fascism was imported from the Italians), and yet they are credulous, nay, enthusiastic about the theories of others, to the point that they often seek to implement those theories as part of their everyday lives. My prime example? That buffoon, Herman Hesse, who goes to Sri Lanka for a vacation and comes back with a dish towel wrapped around his head, channeling the Buddha.”
The good Professor Doktor has referred to this latter phenomenon as the “dangerously credulous streak in the German character”.