The Hollow Crown: Richard III

Great Performances

The Hollow Crown: Richard III #4011
Sunday, December 25, 08:30 pm on 8.1 Duration: 2:26:46

Description: Richard plots and schemes his way to the throne. His brother, the king and the young princes each present an obstacle. With Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench and Phoebe Fox.[PBS]

Synopsis: Richard III is a historical play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1592. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of King Richard III of England.[Wikipedia]

I caught this PBS special last night without realizing how long it was, nor how grippingly horrible the plot. I was in the game for the incomparable Judi Dench (“M” on the Bond 007 films, “Jean” on As Time Goes By) as a bitter old matriarch, and Benedict Cumberbatch (the incomparable new PBS Sherlock) as the insanely malevolent, plotting murderer King Richard III. I was not disappointed in the great acting.

We read a number of Shakespeare plays in school, though I don’t think this was one of them, and I was, at best, never a Shakespeare enthusiast. My beef with Shakespearean English is that no student alive today can give a credible recitation that sounds like what might be normally spoken English of any era. The entire PBS cast gave authenticity of dialect a light touch, preserving Shakespeare’s lines while making them sound credible to a modern listener. Cumberbatch was stunning.

As a senior adult in the TV audience, I found the script performance strangely compelling, as the moth to the flame, or as the psychiatrist hearing out a patient who is stark raving mad but who makes perfect sense if you can suspend judgment of his horridly perverted sense of morality.

And I was horrified! I can tell you that it was a riveting two and a half hour performance, and I can recommend you try to catch it if you are into history and feeling up to a test of your psychological endurance.

The laundry list of murders is absolutely appalling, including most of the members of Richard’s own family and entourage. The most despicable was his murder of his two very young nephews, Edward V aged about eight, and The Duke of York, aged about seven. He had them killed in the Tower of London with the utterance “I want the bastards dead. And I want it done right away.” Richard III had previously dispatched their father, Clarence.

The only death actually depicted in the performance is of the villainous Richard III himself, ending a short and horrible reign in a very tumultuous period of English history. I cheered!

As I said, I recommend the performance with my stated reservations. Be prepared to be horrified and mesmerized at the same time, as if staring into the cold red eyes of the striking cobra. I don’t think you will ever forget this fine performance.

I warn you, don’t watch it just before turning into bed for the night.

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“Bacon, Bacon”

I just saw on the “Check, Please” restaurant rating show that my San Francisco Bay Area now boasts a gourmet food truck service. An oxymoron? Sometimes referred to colloquially as “puke trucks,” the ubiquitous snack wagons that traditionally show up in warehouse districts and corporation parks have always been known for convenience, but never for fine foods.

Well, “Bacon, Bacon” trucks sport a limited variety of truly gourmet grilled burgers and sandwiches. They’re all made on the spot of the finest, freshest gourmet ingredients. They’re all “heart attack on a bun” fare – they’re made with bacon of course.

The bacon Burger (Two patties, bacon, sautéed onions, cheddar) looks gorgeous. But my favorite would be the LGBT (Little gem lettuce, goat cheese, bacon, tomato), which is a BLT to die for. You can always eat salad for the rest of the week.

If you’re not located in the San Francisco Bay Area, eat your heart out. I wouldn’t be too surprised, though, if they make it to your neck of the woods in good time. I predict they’ll be very successful.

Check it out:

Bacon, Bacon website.

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“Officium” : Stunning Jazz/Classical Fusion

I happen to like Renaissance masses and madrigals, such as vocals by Tallis and Lassus. I also happen to like saxophone in my favorite jazz. While the fusion of these two may not sound instinctively appealing, to actually hear The Hilliard Ensemble performing crystal-clear vocals, teamed with Jan Garbarek on alto and tenor sax, is truly electrifying. The songs are wonderful, and the fusion of the two genres is outstandingly appropriate to either genre at a level of harmoniousness I’ve just never heard before.

You can order the CD from Arkiv or Amazon, to name two. Check this out!

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Jalbum

Five-Star review of the photo slideshow shoftware we use on our web galleries: Jalbum, in Computers.

Jalbum is an outstanding example of the value and utility we can still receive from  the shareware and freeware software community. Even though Jalbum is freeware, I saw it was so good that I just had to make a modest $20 donation in PayPal. Honestly, it is worth much more.

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