Oddly all is odyssey except…
Tell me, O Muse, of the man of many devices, who wandered
full many ways after he had sacked the sacred citadel of Troy.
Many were the men whose cities he saw and whose mind he
learned, aye, and many the woes he suffered in his heart upon
the sea, seeking to win his own life and the return of his
Samuel Butler translation
Oddly all is odyssey except…
On Graffiti this week I interviewed director, Scott Reynolds about the Handcart Ensemble’s production of The Odyssey. For more about where and when this play can be seen, and to hear the interview click HERE.
A note: during the course of the interview we mention that the show runs under two hours–I’ve since been informed that it will run 2:40 with intermission.
Odyssey, I thought, would make a great theme for this blog entry.
I’m a word person. I love the sound of words, where they come from, when they were first used and the quirky things about them (e.g.: There’s a word in the English language that means the same thing if you spell it with or without the prefix “un”?). Oddly, one of the quirky things I like about the word odyssey is that before Odysseus there were no odysseys. There were adventures and journeys and quests but none were called an odyssey before Homer wrote (recited? sang?) The Odyssey.
But I wasn’t sure how to start the entry. At first I thought I’d be real cutsey and begin it by berating a very good dictionary (I know it’s good because its cover informs me that it’s “Authoritative…Trustworthy…Current…Comprehensive”) for not having a better definition for “odyssey”. I was going to go on about how there’s no mention of the Cyclops, or Calypso, or the trip to Hades to visit the old prophet Tiresias. Sticking to this theme I was going to rant endlessly using dozens of other examples to dramatize what the definition missed. I soon gave up this idea; it was forced and didn’t really interest me.
Then I thought about beginning by asking if you knew what odontalgia was (I found the word on the same page as the definition for odyssey in that very same “Authoritative, Trustworthy, etc., etc.” dictionary). This would have been even cuter than the other beginning…but, alas, it, like the first idea, didn’t ring true and worse, it didn’t lead anywhere.
What I did realize is that odyssey is one overworked word. It’s used for just about everything from a journey through the Sahara by camel to a friend’s trip to the neighborhood grocery store. I could even say the two films I saw this week were about personal odysseys. The first, François Truffaut’s, Tirez sur le pianiste aka Shoot the Piano Player, would be a stretch but it does illustrate my point of the overworked word. Charles Aznavour plays Charlie who is actually Edouard, who is trying to forget his past, while Charlie is on an odyssey to discover his future. Yes, a stretch but despite that it’s a film that is well worth seeing and Aznavour is great as Charlie or is that Edouard?
The other film much more easily falls into the category–it’s Julie and Julia. I loved this film about two women on a journey of self discovery…an odyssey, if you will, to find their place in life.
I know many people decry the “Julie” portion of the movie, but I thought it was good and, more importantly, necessary. By bouncing the Julia segment off the Julie one you saw how really good it was. I like Amy Adams. I think she’ll have a great career as an actress but, at present, she’s no Meryl Streep…but then, who is? Two blogs ago, I wrote about the incredible 15 year run Faye Dunaway had from 1967, when she starred in Bonnie and Clyde, through 1981 and the release of Mommie Dearest. But take any 15 year period from Streep’s career and…well here’s an example–from 1994 to 2009 she was in over 30 films/TV movies including: The River Wild, The Bridges of Madison County, Adaptation, The Hours, “Angels in America”, The Manchurian Candidate, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, A Prairie Home Companion, The Devil Wears Prada, Mamma Mia! and Doubt. She’s been nominated for 15 Academy Awards. That’s right 15!! And won two. Neither of those two wins, if you can imagine, came for any of the films I just mentioned.
Ms. Streep’s gone from Summit, New Jersey, where she was born in June 1949, to being proclaimed the greatest living film actress by many of today’s movie reviewers. Now that’s an odyssey.
PS: I have a friend who knew Julia Child and he tells me she was even cooler in real life.
By the way you can click on either of the questions below for the answers.
NB: You’ll find the answers all the way at the end–it’s my way of getting you to the “Graffiti” site and hoping you’ll find, as you make your way to the answers, something of interest there.
Speaking of odysseys…my trailer AND WEBSITE of the week is “We Live in Public“. The following comes from the website: Ten years in the making and culled from 5000 hours of footage, WE LIVE IN PUBLIC, reveals the effect the web is having on our society, as seen through the eyes of “the greatest Internet pioneer you’ve never heard of”, artist, futurist and visionary Josh Harris. Award-winning director Ondi Timoner (DIG! — which also won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2004 — making Timoner the only director to win that prestigious award twice) documented his tumultuous life for more than a decade to create a riveting, cautionary tale of what to expect as the virtual world inevitably takes control of our lives.
I remember reading about Harris and his public living experiment and thinking it was very cool…now I can only remark on the tragedy of it all.