Sunday, 6 August 2017

Agatha's Antagonism and Historic Perspective

Take a wild guess!

 For MONTHS now, I have been on an an Anti-Agatha tirade /snit/crusade/rant.... call it what you will.  Personally, TIRADE is a more apt description for how I feel,  though SNIT might seem a bit more harmless.  On the other hand, I'm not sure I want to be harmless where this situation is concerned.  

       It's IMPORTANT to consider, here, that Agatha Christie lived through not just one but TWO  (count 'em;  1. 2)  world wars. Both World War 1 and World war 2,  to avoid any confusion. The first Poirot novel,  Mysterious Affair at Styles was written a couple of years into start of the first world war, in fact.  So this woman knew about war from first-hand experience.  
   That said, when you think about all the horrific things that happen during war;  death toll; off and on the 'field of battle' and the despotic 'stars'  of these conflicts, who parade themselves and their intentions for radio audiences to hear  and newspaper journalists to write about,  how is it that the biggest annoyance in Agatha Christie's life wasn't Hitler,  Mussolini or Stalin, but a Belgian detective?   

   Seriously, Agatha?  SERIOUSLY!?!  

   So, the Holocaust;  hearding millions of civilians into extermination camps, where they ended up being gassed  to death or burned alive, at the behest of one dictator,  and the starvation of millions of others, via the intentions of another mass murderer.... these atrocities aren't supposed to amount to much when weighed against the compulsive symmetrical organizing of mantle-piece knick-knacks or the  'Order and Method'  precision of looking at the evidence in a given murder case.  Because, hey! Worse coming to the worst I know I'd sooner have my house reduced to rubble by the German Air Force rather than endure having  my kitchen or even desk re-organized according to size and item. 
   In case you can't tell, I am being VERY sarcastic! 🤦

         "Why, oh Why did I EVER create this Bombastic, Detestable little creature?"   ~  Agatha Christie, re:  Poirot. 
           Whatever Poirot's foibles were, and whatever initiated them, it is IMPOSSIBLE to imagine why such heartless verbal abuse would be leveled against someone who genuinely cared and wanted to do good in the world, as opposed to the self-appointed, megalomaniacal messiahs, who decided that the world was better served by the deaths of millions of people, based on NOTHING those civilians, themselves did.    
    The situation I just described, THIS is DETESTABLE , or  "Deserving of Intense dislike" . (Oxford Dictionary of current English 2001)  .  

 Could Poirot be annoying?  Sure. Frustrating?  Ask Japp. He could tell you stories.  Then again, if you remember The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, it was JAPP who initiated the reunion.  It was he who asked Poirot to help out in the investigation and it was Japp who, at the beginning of The Big Four, wrote out the memoriam notes.  

  Now,  I'm sure, if you're a Christie loyalist reading this, you will counter with, "It wasn't like that in the book."   That may well be, but Miss Marple was included in a few movies where she wasn't even added in the book. (Towards Zero, The Sittaford Mystery) .  At the end of the day, it's adapting fiction from fiction.  

   And, speaking of fiction, I guess what I want/NEED to find out, (if there's even an answer to this question),  is ; WHY Agatha had MORE of a problem with a fastidiously tidy but kind-hearted Fictional Belgian detective than with three real life mass murderers? 

*"Bombastic" .  *"Detestable".    Look them up!  These words describe Hitler, alone,  to a T.  Mel Brooks as much as summed up the butchering bastard's self-aggrandizement in song;
   🎶" Heil Myself. Heil to Me..."🎵    And yet,  'Dame Agatha'  prefers to use such *negative superlatives*  against someone who would never do her any harm versus someone who would drop a bomb on her house without so much as a half a second of remorse.  
   My 'little grey cells' are boggled here, so if someone in the Pro-Agatha camp could help, by solving this most baffling mystery, it would be gratefully appreciated. 

  Note 2 Agatha Christie:  You didn't need to VENERATE Hercule Poirot, Ms. Christie,  but he didn't deserve to be VILIFIED either! 😢

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

When Worlds Collide (Mel Brooks vs. Agatha Christie)

    The idea for this blog has been simmering for a bit. I've hinted at it in other posts, I think, or at least a couple of photoscape projects. So now, it's time to take this bizarre story to the masses.
Poirot and David Suchet
   The post might not get any response, or, it could be greeted by a few pleas of, "Get help, lady!"   And , perhaps I should.  I already feel like an idiot; wasting so much time with a character his creator didn't care for. And yet, I like Poirot. An odd duck but genuinely endearing.  Having never read any Agatha Christie novels, I attribute that endearing quality, for the most part, to the research and heart effort of the actor who brought Poirot to the small screen, after first hearing radio dramas of Poirot on BBC 4 with actor John Moffatt.

    I liked those radio adaptations but then I wanted to see the character I was only hearing.  I wish I could remember the first Poirot episode I saw. No matter, I guess. I liked him.  He was eccentric and compulsively orderly and tidy. Okay. 🤷 Odd, but hardly problematic. When you consider the atrocities committed against countries by leaders, or against children by parents, etc, I would hardly consider Poirot's oddities a real issue. And David Suchet gave this eccentric character more than characteristics. David invested time, research and gave Poirot the heart that the Belgian detective's apathetic creator didn't know or care to acknowledge he even had;  referring to Poirot with disparaging adjectives like 'Detestable' and 'Egotistic' , and, adding injury to insult, Agatha ended Poirot's story by having her detective buried in the back yard of Styles Court, like a stray cat, found dead on the highway.  Nice.  Or NOT.
  Now, compare the woeful treatment Poirot received from his creator, to the environment in a studio while recording  the soundtrack of the the Broadway hit, The Producers. Not just ANY song, though!  They were all good songs, but 'Heil Myself'  had particular significance just because of the subject of said song and the paradoxical joy Gary Beach took in performing it even in a recording booth.   The song was written by Mel Brooks for, to all intents and purposes, Hitler.  The Hitler of Franz Liebkind's play,  'Springtime for Hitler' .
    If you're not familiar with the premise of The Producers,  former big name Broadway producer, Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane) and introverted accountant, Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) launch upon a plan to embezzle money by sinking raised funds for a Broadway show into the worst production ever written.  Now I'm not going to go into the financial aspect of it because it confuses me silly. Long story short; they find what they believe to be a sure-fire insult, guaranteed-to-close-in-one- night FLOP! And what could be more offensive to decent, well-dressed theater-going folk, not ten years after the end of WW2, than a show, where the star is one of one of history's TRULY DETESTABLE  despots, Adolf Hitler.
Gary Beach is a funny fuhrer 
   And therein lies the hilarious twist.  Surely such a monster isn't entitled to a song,  let alone something so upbeat and self-affirming.  Aye, but that's the beauty of Mel Brooks' unique brand of insanity.  Instead of exhausting dictionaries for negative superlatives to  describe the atrocities of the Third Reich,  Mel played to ze Fuhrer's megalomania,  in order to show people how utterly FULL of HIMSELF Hitler truly was;  allowing ze fuhrer to sing his own praises.  And Gary Beach (as Roger E. Debris as Hitler ) rose to the occasion.  
   Such was the over-the-top, theatrically-facetious joy Mel took in his endeavor that even his intended target joined in on the musical merriment of having his own head handed to him.


      Mel Brooks is Jewish.  To say the  VERY  LEAST, Hitler was NO friend of the Jewish people. (Ya think!?)  So why did Mel get more enjoyment out of writing for an historic despot than Agatha Christie had,  creating a dearly eccentric Belgian detective?
    If I have this right,  Agatha Christie lived through TWO world wars.  Gross inhumanity foisted ON humanity by humanity. And yet, for all the destruction and blood letting carried out in those wars,  Agatha Christie's big aggravation in life was a compulsively tidy detective of her own creating?!?!

 Solve THAT mystery and you will be a detective to topple Poirot, himself. 

Monday, 19 June 2017

🎶Solving a Mystery🎶 (I Hope)

A  few weeks ago, maybe sooner, I wrote a semi-sarcastic blog post about the Kenneth Brannaugh attempt at Murder on the Orient Express. (Blunder on the Orient Express)  I say 'attempt'  by way of Mr. Brannaugh's casting himself in the role of Hercule Poirot.  Yuh.  Not so much .🤷

  Putting this cinematic issue in context, I have ZERO animosity against Kenneth Brannaugh.   I have nothing against him!  In other roles, he's likely very good, I'm sure. And I would say the same thing about Johnny Depp. I loved him in Blow,  Secret Window,  and Sweeny Todd and Edward Scizzorhands . However,  when it came to the remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,  I had to call foul !  I'd seen the classic with Gene Wilder and he 'fit the bill'  as it were, while Johnny Depp came off more like a gay pimp, at least as far as looks.  Character wise, he was more sarcastic. Gene's Willy Wonka was not above sarcasm but it wasn't as overt.  And, well, Gene's interpretation felt...safer. Someone I would trust to my child's care.  He was an odd duck, and the story he told in one scene, complete with really scary imagery would creep just about anyone out.  At the end of the day, though, Gene's interpretation of Candy Empire entrepreneur Willy Wonka was  more likely someone I'd trust to take an Everlasting Gobstopper from.
   That said, David Suchet , as Poirot,  had a depth that came with the work he had done in that character years earlier.   By the time M.O.O.E came along, layers of complexity, issues, and, yes, even uncertainty had settled themselves on middle aged Poirot's 'little grey cells' . By the time all is said and done in this story,  a deeply conflicted Poirot lies to the police and gives the twelve killers of Cossetti/Rachett their freedom JUST BECAUSE (I'm guessing here) M. Poirot is NOT sure what he would have done, had he been in the place of any of those people, whose little girl had been kidnapped and murdered. So, to arrest them for what he might also have done seems, on one side, hypocritical. On the other hand, the poor dear feels as if he's betraying the very reason Le Bon Dieu gave him his task in the first place.  It's something that will follow him to the very end of his days. It may well even be one of the memories that haunted him when he asked Hastings,  in Curtain,  "Do you think God will forgive me?"
So, what we have, at this point, is a fully established person,  and all that entails when it comes to Poirot.  For Brannaugh to try to compare himself to Mr. Suchet's body of work with Poirot is, well, courageous, I suppose.  If your definition of bravery means to do something foolish, in hopes of being noticed.

   *SIGH!*  😢And now I have to get the the more difficult part of this post.  Not sure why it took so long to get here.  Probably because I don't care for confrontation and this is going to get confrontational. THIS is where I need to get to the bottom of Agatha Christie's animosity for Poirot.  WAS  Poirot her only target?  Did Miss Marple have any share of her creator's disdain?  If not then WHY NOT
   I think I mentioned this once;  that I began hearing Poirot stories via John Moffatt's dramatic audio Poirot stories when I needed something to listen to while I cleaned.  That lead to watching the Poirot series (random episodes anyway) on Youtube and quite liking him and his quirks.  Although I draw the line at his refusal to eat non-symmetrical eggs.  I'd take an attitude him on that.
   "M. Poirot,  there are children in this world who do not have the eggs you're turning down.  If you will not eat them, then give them to me and I'll make egg salad sandwiches out of them for later.  But food should not be wasted."  

   Who knows. That might even guilt him into eating the eggs which he would, albeit somewhat hesitantly, admit there was nothing wrong with, apart the size difference. 

Poirot's chief adversary. 
  But I'm getting side-tracked, yet again.   I want to know why Agatha Christie had such an ANIMOSITY  for Poirot?  I mean, she created him! Whatever issues Agatha had with Poirot are issues that she, herself, created. Characters, after all, do not come with their own 'baggage'  but that given to them by their creator.  Nor do characters create themselves.  Whoever a character is;  what attributes, and/or irritants they possess, are overtly as well as inadvertently contributed by the author .

   That being the case, why oh WHY did Christie create a character without mapping out what attributes she wanted in a characters, so's to avoid the character she found so, to use her own infamous word,  "DETESTABLE" ?

   It's an irony most bizarre, is it not, that David Suchet worked harder to FIND Poirot than Christie did to CREATE him? 🤷  Perhaps, if Agatha  put some serious thought into her creation, and  not simply decided to write a BELGIAN detective because she saw a Belgian refugees getting off a bus?
   Even Agatha's doppleganger, Ariadne Oliver admitted that she didn't know anything about Finns despite having created a Finnish Detective.  What?  There were no encyclopedias where this woman lived that she couldn't LOOK UP anything to do with Finnish culture instead of throwing together a character that clicks with fans and who she, poor dear, got stuck with.   Then again, there's Miss Marple, who was also a series character. So why was there no antagonism against her?   

   Am I saying there SHOULD have been animosity against Miss Marple, by her creator?  No. The woman was utterly benign. Nosey and nothing more.  She solved crimes but so did Poirot. And they were both a part of Christie's life for a while. I just want to know what made Hercule Poirot more of an object of Aggie's derision than Jane Marple?  So much so that he was killed but, to all intents and purposes,  Miss Marple is still alive. To my knowledge, there is no novel where Miss Marple dies.  I could be wrong, and if I am, please produce Miss Marple's 'Curtain'  so to speak.

   I find this injustice, on Agatha Christie's part DETESTABLE at the very LEAST!  What's worse than the inequity between the characters is how Agatha could not even take the time to give Poirot a decent funeral in Curtain.

  In the movie'The Big Four'   Poirot did get a decent service, thank you.  Compared to what he didn't get in Agatha's novelization of Curtain,  the funeral in The Big Four was practically a Royal send off!   Now, obviously you don't/can't  give a Royal funeral to anyone who isn't proper Royalty. Still, Scotland Yard would have done right by someone who had done them good so many times.  Japp would have done his best to make sure it was done.  Unfortunately,  though,  Agatha didn't want to bother for him, so Poirot was buried on the grounds of Styles Court like a child's pet Guinea Pig or hamster or Budgie bird or turtle! Not even a funeral, just the mention of one.

   So, again, I ask, why was it that David Suchet was more willing to do more work to find a character than Agatha was willing to put in the work to create?  Instead, an impulse of a idea, from a bunch of refugees getting off a bus, and she cobbles together a character that fans love but she quickly tires of.  Like a sexually irresponsible woman who gets pregnant (surprise, surprise, SEX makes BABIES!)  only to make the child feel guilty for his existence.

   Learning about Agatha's animosity for Poirot hit me strangely.  Both he and I were both 'conceived' by irresponsible women who didn't want us so I genuinely empathized with the dear Belgian.  Oddly, I've had an easier time extracting myself away from my biological mother than poor Poirot has had, getting away from the woman who didn't want him. Then again, I'm not a golden goose.   On the other hand, maybe I'm not being  entirely fair.  After all, it was Rosiland Hicks who agreed to Brian Eastman's project that gave us the Poirot .  Rosiland cared enough for her fictional big brother to make sure he was treated with respect.  How deeply ironic that Rosiland's mother couldn't bother to do for Poirot  as much as her daughter asked of Mr. Suchet.  Ironic and truly sad. 😢

   If you are reading this and have any ideas that would help solve this most troublesome mystery, I look forward to hearing from you.

   Thanks for reading.

Just a show of respect. 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Blunder on the Orient Express (Just Sayin' )

Okay, I'm gonna be honest here and admit that I can't even begin to be objective about this.  So I'm not going to be all Nor am I going to flush down hard earned money to watch this trainwreck of a remake. And I'll tell you why. 
   Simply put, Kenneth Brannaugh is Hercule Poirot like I'm Barbra Streisand!   NOT.  I don't have her look. I most definitely do NOT possess  her VOICE. Nor do I have her house, her awards, her husband or her bank balance.   I'm 0-6 which is why I'm not her.  
  Likewise,  Kenneth Brannaugh is NOT Poirot.  He just isn't.   I've seen Poirot. I've watched him.  I could spot that egg-shaped head in a crowd  of a thousand.  And those EYES!!! As the saying goes,  "The eyes are the windows of the soul."  And I liked who I saw.  Yes, he could be a bit self-involved, but NOT to the expense of friends.  He could drive a  certain Scotland Yard cop nuts in a game of 'king of the hill'  only for said cop to realize that it made more sense to work together then try to compete. 
And by the time we see them together, for the last time, in The Big Four, it is Assistant Commissioner James Japp, of all people, who is writing the Memoriam letters that are received by Captain Hastings and Miss Lemon in the beginning of that episode and the end of an era.     
   Now some will no doubt get defensive, in Mr. Brannaugh's favor. For starters, there's Mr. Brannaugh's extensive movie character acting resume.  NO ARGUMENT.  I'm not running down Kenneth Brannaugh as an actor . NO. But I like and admire Johnny Depp as an actor, too.  He just didn't do any justice to a role the Gene Wilder  so UNFORGETTABLY created  (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory ) .  Everything about Gene's interpretation of that character was right. It fit!  Whereas Johnny Depp's interpretation was like an ultra white Michael Jackson. Just bizarre. Gene's Willy Wonka was a bit of an odd duck but not scary. I don't know what research could be done for that role, apart from reading the book, but whatever he did, Gene fit that role.

   Likewise with  David Suchet and his interpretation of Poirot.  A self-professed perfectionist,  David went over Poirot's character description and traits with the proverbial fine-toothed comb, so who would know better?   The man was willing to go to 'battle'  with some of the series' directors  for some of  Poirot's eccentric mannerisms,  (placing a linen handkerchief on a bench before sitting on said bench) in order to maintain the character's full integrity.  That speaks for the heart of the actor,  and, as far as this Poirot fan is concerned,  heart is what will make or break Brannaugh's attempt.

   If this is a Hollywood flic, then quelle surprise. They won't be looking for an honest interpretation of a character so much as what will it take to put people's butts into the seats.
 "Oh, gee, I know!  That Poirot series is still big, but now, let's do...whatever  and call the lead character Poirot. "   And  for many, that ruse may well work.  Just not with me.  And I know other bonafide Poirot fans who will not fork over hard-earned dollars or Euros to witness such

a travesty.

And, this is where it gets kinda funny.   Being a fan of Nostalgia Critic, I have seen N.C.'s sometimes HILARIOUS reviews of unholy garbage, spewed onto movie screens, and some of the worst were sequels.  And then there's...this!  Doug Walker reviews Garbage Pail Kids   

  I'll admit, in a state of red-faced embarrassment , that when  I saw the trailer for Brannaugh's Orient Express,  my knee jerk reaction was,
"I'd sooner see Garbage Pail Kids."   

    I reiterate... KNEE-JERK REACTIONPlease don't hold me to it!  😱I mean, being HEART-SICK is one thing.  I can cry and eat too much ice cream and write angry blogs and fan fiction to vent.   On the other hand,  our dearly departed Papa Poirot would not want fans sacrificing the LITTLE GREY CELLS  (or stomach acids for that matter)  to make  a  point.   I just will NOT see Brannaugh's version of this story. Instead  I'll watch the genuine Poirot (D.S.) in said movie and let that be that.  

P.S.  If you aren't a big fan of swearing, DON'T watch the Doug Walker review for Garbage Pail Kids.  

Agatha's Antagonism and Historic Perspective

Take a wild guess!  For MONTHS now, I have been on an an Anti-Agatha tirade / snit / crusade / rant .... call it what you will.  Per...