Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Chimerical Uxorious Coxcombs

These then are the new "words of the day". Believe me, they are nothing you would want to be...even though, at times, you may feel that way. A "coxcomb" has many obsolete meanings now ie. a cap worn by a court jester adorned with a strip of red, a fool. Now it refers to a vain, showy fellow; a conceited, silly man, fond of display, a superficial pretender to knowledge or accomplishments; a dandy, a fop. Now, you add to that the adjective: "chimerical" and you get "indulging in unrealistic fantasies or fantastic schemes. This comes from the Greek "khimaira" = "she-goat" or "chimera" which in Greek mythology was a creature with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a dragon. Top it off with an adjective like "uxorious" and you have the ultimate tragedy ie. "excessively fond of or submissive to a wife". Can you imagine?

Shakespeare did...probably more than once. Of course now we think it might have been the Earl of Oxford, his Ghost Writer. The play I'm referring to is "That Scottish Play" know, the one we "theatre people" don't refer to by name outside the rehearsal hall for fear of "the curse/jinx". You see I've been consulting on one of the first Shakespeare Plays I attempted back in the day..."Macbeth". Our local drama coach/teacher has chosen to have her kids do scenes from it and I've been trying to explain it to them. Macbeth's flaw was not only the three witches who put "a curse" on him but his ambitious wife, Lady Macbeth. Of course, she went crazy with guilt, ie "Out damn spot" This all happened when there was much credibility given to such things as "witchcraft" not unlike "Harry Potter" and his cohorts. Since it was presented in England during the reign of King James, of Bible sponsoring fame, it was banned for five years or more and thus got its reputation. ie. a very dark and tragic-tragedy. This was a play where you could truly "break a leg" stumbling around in the dark. My first attempt at the play was so much fun and such a "success" that it got in the local paper in Claremont. I had two rebellious sisters in my class at the time. They were constantly challenging me and the school rules. ie. came to school barefoot. So I gave them the parts of the witches in Macbeth and they just loved it and took off with it. Of course we had to have all the scary make up, sound effects, green lighting and slimy animal part props for the caldron. The boys loved the sword fighting...first time they had been allowed to do that in school (with wooden blades)

The "fool" for Shakespeare was more associated with Falstaff or Yorick. Even "Taming of the Shrew" and "Midsummer Night's Dream" had fools or foolish acts. I have fond memories of them all at my "elementary level". We had more fun with the "fairy dust" and the special sound-effects for that when "Bottom and Titania" were made to fall in love with each other. And we did it all without "kissing or touching". I'll never forget the "fight" between Kate and her "not-to-be uxorious" husband. We had to choreograph quite a knockdown drag out brawl with out "a scratch".

Schools now days wouldn't allow any of that. No siree! Teachers wouldn't be given the kind of "freedom" I had. Too bad. We learned alot of vocabulary and "life lessons" and how to work as a team, cohesively...something schools don't/won't teach now. It is not on the Standardized Tests. Can't be measured and evaluated by paper and No. 2 pencil.

Who might be the "Chimerical Uxorious Coxcombs" now? Not us Bobs!


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