arteejee

A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Casting for the Revival of “The Wizard of Oz”


A fellow blogger (I Should Be Laughing) posts the best editorial/political cartons of the week every Sunday morning.  This week, one cartoonist referenced the musical The Wizard of Oz to portray the President as the visage of the all-powerful Wizard, while the actual man behind the curtain was revealed to be Vladimir Putin.  We couldn’t agree more with this casting choice, but we got to wonder who might fill the other roles in this revival.  We humbly submit these suggestions:

Dorothy: Nancy Pelosi

Scarecrow: Kellyanne Conway

Tin Man: Rush Limbaugh

Cowardly Lion: Mitch McConnell

Wicked Witch of the West: Ann Coulter

Toto:  Robert Mueller

Sadly, the President himself did not make the final cut.  His unconvincing rendition of If I Only Had A Brain at the open call auditions did not wow the Arteejee editorial board. 

Break a leg everyone!

(Thank you for reading.  If we only had a functional democracy…)

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Mary Poppins Returns


It is with some delight that in these days, when at least one person can’t take the hint that’s he worn out his welcome, we can report that another wonderful person from our distant past has come back.  It is nice, and yes comforting, to see the fairy godmother of the Banks children descend once again to save them.  This time it’s the next generation Banks offspring who need assistance.  If only she could save the rest of us from the world around us.  Alas, that is too big of a job even for her.

Emily Blunt inherited the role of the iconic nanny from Julie Andrews, and proves to be every bit as stern, then whimsical as the original. She cleans, she dances, she tucks her charges in at night, even as the original children she nannied are now grown and too busy being adults to enjoy quality time with their children.  

The plot has Michael (Ben Witshaw stretching his acting chops away from his role as the young, geeky, tech genius Q in the James Bond franchise) and Jane (Emily Mortimer) fending off the foreclosure wolves at the door of the Banks homestead.  Yes, the plot is a relic from the dustbins of Victorian Era melodramas, but who notices in the midst of all the dazzling special effects?  The story resolution is telegraphed rather early on when Michael finds his old kite in the attic as he searches for his father’s bank bonds which could save them from eviction.  Even then, it takes a while for everyone to figure out that the solution could have been flying in front of their faces the entire time. 
 
Present throughout the proceedings is Jack (Lin-Manual Miranda), a lamplighter.  He goes about London turning off gas street lamps in the morning, turning them up again at dusk, and always available to accompany Mary Poppins and the Banks children on their fantastical adventures.  I’m still trying to figure out when the poor fellow gets to sleep.

So, while Papa Banks frets, the nanny and the children have a grand old time in alternate universes via the family bathtub and a piece of pottery that was priceless to the children’s late mother.  The young ones discovering Mary Poppins for the first time will be amused by the animated penguins in one of the fantasies, while their parents will lose themselves in the nostalgia when they first saw these same penguins over 50 years ago.

These side trips into the fantastical is a lesson for the Banks children (both generations) and the film audience (all generations) that everything is possible, even the impossible.  Boy, do we need to keep this lesson in mind, especially this year!

Unfortunately, the side trips must come to an end, crises must be confronted, plots must be resolved and kites must be flown.  The finale, a mad midnight (or is it really midnight?) dash to the office of the greedy bank officer (Colin Firth) who covets the Banks homestead is not subtle, but damn it’s exciting.

The production is delightful, the songs catchy but not memorable, and the performances are full of surprises.  To be fair, the songs only seem less memorable to me because as a child I played the soundtrack of the original Mary Poppins film to death. I could probably do the same now with the soundtrack from Mary Poppins Returns, but I’m too busy doing adult things.  Let the young ones discover and cherish the current production for their memories.

Mary Poppins Returns both adds to and points out glaring flaws of the original.  According to Disney, the whole populace of Victorian London was portrayed in the original Mary Poppins as lily-white.  Mary Poppins Returns shows a London that is multi-cultural.  Kudos to The Disney Company for finally seeing the light of diversity after 50 years!

Among the surprises are a turn by Meryl Streep as Mary Poppins' aunt whose life is literally upside down, not unlike Ed Wynn’s Uncle Albert in the original.  And it is so nice to see Navckid Keyd in only his second film role in over 50 years.  (Yes, that’s an in-joke.)  His cameo was long awaited and saved (strategically) for near the end.

And in the end?  Everyone with a pure heart gets to float up into the atmosphere, while the purest of them all leaves the wretched refuse of humanity behind.  Yes, she leaves us all again and we are teary-eyed at the realization that us and the world around us are not good enough for the likes of Mary Poppins.

Please, Mary Poppins, don’t make us wait another 50 years to come back.

(Thank you for reading.  Next sequel: Mary Poppins Meets Hitler.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

A Short Christmas Message


I must be honest and admit that this year it’s been harder than ever for me to “get into the holiday spirit”.  Naturally, I’m going through the motions of celebrating the day.  Despite my inner Scrooge/Grinch clawing its way out of my innermost psyche, I’m trying my best to enjoy the day. 
 
Yet, who can blame me for my mood?  Our country has created a humanitarian crisis along its southern border against refugees escaping conditions that are clearly beyond our middle-class American imagination.  For the life of me, I cannot picture Jesus lobbing tear gas at small children.  Because of this and other crises created by the current American leadership, I don’t believe that this Christian nation celebrating their Savior’s birth is deserving of the said Savior’s blessings, not this year at least.

So, I will try to think positive things as another part of the holiday season calls for the spirit of hope to imbue within ourselves. Our local newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, helped out nicely this morning with the publication of “The Work of Christmas” by a theologian, Howard Thurman:

When the song of the angels is stilled
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the Kings and Princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins,
to find the lost
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

Now I’m feeling better.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE!

(Thank you for reading.)