Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Snarchives 10/1/2007: My Big Fat Greek Tragedy

I’m het up. There’s very little I can do about this, aside from daily applying the necessary cream. But I thought you ought to know.

Of course this comes of attending college. Getting het up is fashionable here. You can tell by the T-shirts. The other day at breakfast, I passed by a girl in a T-shirt that said: STOP GENOCIDE IN SUDAN.* Yes’m. Right after the Cocoa Puffs.

What’s gotten me het is ancient Greek tragedy. Under the watchful eye of my Greek and Roman Drama professor, Dr. Greek and Roman Drama Guy**, I have lately studied numerous paragons of ancient Greek tragedy by eminent ancient Greek tragedy guys Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, who are highly suspicious for several reasons:

- They each appear to have only one name.***
- Their plays all involve characters with names like “Creon”.
- They also involve blatantly made-up concepts, such as “stichomythia”.
- Has anyone seen them together lately?

For me, reading these plays has proven an experience of great personal change, in the sense that I have shed a great number of personal cells. Now please don’t take this the wrong way, Dr. Greek and Roman Drama Guy – I am sure you are a lovely person – but it is clear that ancient Greek tragedy was composed via the following procedure:

1. Buy box of ancient Greek Alpha-Bits.
2. Pour Alpha-Bits on ancient Greek floor.
3. Transcribe contents.

If you’re not going to take my word for it, consider the following outline of actual ancient Greek tragedy Seven Against Thebes, written by Aeschylus, or to use his stage name, “Sophocles”. Running times are in brackets:

First Act (or “stichomythia”): Everyone is about to fight. The chorus is very worried. They explain that this is because everyone is about to fight. For clarity’s sake, they explain again that everyone is about to fight. Also, they explain that they are very worried. This is because everyone is about to fight. [97 minutes]

Second Act (or “kommos”): Brief time-out to describe everybody who is fighting or ever fought or flossed in the vicinity of ancient Greece, as well as their shields, horses, earlobes, shoelaces, prostates, etc. [38.2 hours]

Third Act (or “spanakopita”): Everybody dies. Shortly thereafter, they are described. [2.5 hours Centigrade]

This will never do, folks. We need motion. We need intrigue. We need our ancient Greek tragedy to be the literary equivalent of a sizzling fajita, such as the one I purchased at Busch Gardens in 2001 for $17.99 and it was a MAGICAL MOUTHWATERING EXPERIENCE, DAMMIT oh who am I kidding it SUCKED SOOOO MUCH OH GOD IT’S A PAIN THAT NEVER GOES AWAY.

Which is to say, you’ll be glad to know I’ve taken it upon myself to make my own contribution to Greek drama: Freon. For your perusal, a synopsis:

Freon, prince of Cyst, is disquieted because his duck is missing. Also, he may or may not have fathered 47 children with his mother, plus another 13 more in the last few minutes while he was busy being disquieted. The chorus hatches a plan to console their beloved leader by making him an outfit from the draperies and singing to him about their favorite things. Zeus takes pity on Freon and fries the chorus to a golden brown crisp.

Norman the prophet arrives to inform Freon, in highly oblique terms, that he will soon eat a sandwich. Freon points out that he has already eaten a sandwich, and orders that Norman be buried alive. Thinking quickly, Norman points out that he is already buried alive. Freon is content, despite the fact that Norman is talking to him from above ground. Satisfied that he has done his work for the day, Freon goes off to eat a sandwich.

The chorus**** sings about the nature of yarn, just because they can.

Freon’s mother, Urethra, enters in hysterics. It takes twelve mighty warriors to disentangle her from the hysterics, but they succeed. Afterwards, she tells them news. It turns out that the missing duck is actually Freon’s father, Flatus. As it happens, Flatus is also Freon’s grandfather and third-aunt, due to a chain of highly uninteresting coincidences. As penance, Freon pokes himself repeatedly. The chorus becomes very worried and engages in a lyric dialogue to the effect that Freon is poking himself repeatedly.

Duane, god of lesser mayonnaise, descends on a crane in the ancient Greek dramatic tradition of “e pluribus unum” and tells them all to shut the hell up because he is TRYING TO READ FIELD AND STREAM. Gore ensues.

A few survive, but they are summarily stricken down for being homely.

Granted, it’s a rough draft, but I hope to flesh it out in time for this year’s Dionysia, tentatively to be held in beautiful Biddeford, Maine.***** Until then, if you need me, leave a message. I’ll be out stopping genocide in Stichomythia.

*I mean, just like that. No “please” or squat.
**Not his real name. His real name is “Dr. Greek and Roman Drama Dude”.
***Following the tradition begun in 670 B.C. by “Cher”.
****So the crispy guys have been replaced with new ones. Work with me here.
*****Look for the 535-lb. plaid-shirted man with the rifle. Then turn left.

©2007, Nicola McEldowney/The Snark Ascending

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