Monday, November 26, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The Absurd Greek Mythology Sketch – A Segment in Which Greek Mythology is Inappropriately Mixed with Another Style
Fade in: medium close-up of Patroclus standing alone in an empty space. Everything is black behind him as though he were surrounded by an endless void.
Patroclus: There’s an old joke. Uh, a man goes to see an oracle. He says, “You’ve gotta help me, I think I married my mother. What should I do?” So the oracle says, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Just don’t tell your analyst.” Well, that’s basically how I feel about life. There’s nothing wrong with you until you start having conversations with other people, and then suddenly you’re neurotic and passive aggressive. I’m sorry, my humor is a little morbid lately, since, well, I just turned forty, and we’ve been fighting this Trojan War for about ten years. I’m basically okay, but I, I’m Achilles’ right-hand man. It’s a crucial position, I’m running around all the time and I think I may be getting some stress fractures in my knees, so it’s very painful physically, though it’s very rewarding politically and intellectually. Not that I have to talk much or discuss things, I usually just carry messages back and forth. I don’t want you to think I’m some messenger boy, you know I don’t wear a cap or anything or accept tips. I’m a confidant, entrusted with serious issues, a kind of stealth carrier pigeon, if you will. [sigh] Annie left me. I know she’s only a slave-girl and we’ll raid another town and I can get a new one. In fact, I can get several because you know I’m pretty high up in the, the army food chain, so I, I don’t get first pick, but I still get prime, uh, prime selection. But, you know I was foolish and fell in love with Annie, so here I am complaining about it. I’m not a complainer, really. I’m not one of those depressive, morose, rebelling-against-their-fates types. Really, I understand this whole system of destiny and the gods’ will. I feel pretty good about it too. I mean, it’s not the fairest system in the world. You know, you die and you become just another loser wandering Hades drinking blood of sacrificial rams and kind of moaning pathetically about how you never appreciated life when you were alive. But, I, I really appreciate life. Uh, I think maybe that’s why I’m so upset about Annie. You know, it was only a couple weeks ago we were getting along fine, until...
Cut to: Odysesseus’ tent. Patroclus paces nervously next to Odysseus, who is trying on different sets of armor.
Patroclus: ... They don’t take me seriously. I heard them, they were calling me ‘Achilles’ boy’. And there was sneering, actual sneering. Not hearty laughter, like comrades-in-arms, but sneering – a curling of the lip which expresses disdain. I don’t understand why I don’t have any credibility with these guys.
Odysseus: Listen, Lucky-
Patroclus: Don’t call me ‘Lucky.’
Odysseus: Why, Lucky? It’s a great name for you. You’re a great guy, but you gotta loosen up a little. These Spartans and Achaians are a different breed – they’ve got a different sense of humor.
Patroclus: But, but – their sneering – it’s ringing in my ears, like a siren’s call. They’d never say that about you. Look at you, with your armor, and everything. They think you’re a clever guy, they respect you.
Odysseus: I’m a king, Lucky. They respect power.
Patroclus: That’s just it – this whole society, it’s, it’s out of control. Look at us, all the way from our homes so that oaf Menelaus can get his lousy cheating wife back. You know if I were her, I’d be running off with Trojan princes too.
Odysseus: She’s the most beautiful woman in the world. Half-goddess, you know, through her daddy Zeus.
Patroclus: Is she? I don’t know, I saw her. Don’t get me wrong – she’s a real looker – a nymph or something, but she’s not the goddess everyone says she is. It’s all propaganda, that’s what. These, these ignorant soldiers dragged all the way here, worked into a bloodlust over some slippery Spartan queen. And if I were her I wouldn’t tell that story about her mother and that swan – it’s revolting. I mean years from now – not decades or centuries, but millennia – with stories like that people are gonna think we were perverted. Some people already think we’re ultra-liberal homosexual pornographers. Even I think of us that way sometimes. Listen, I gotta go. I got this gift for Annie and I can’t wait to give it to her.
Odysseus: Alright, see ya, Lucky.
Cut to: Patroclus’ tent. Annie is reclining on a couch. Patroclus comes in dragging a lion skin behind him.
Annie: What the hell is that?
Patroclus: What the hell is that? That’s how you greet me? I come back with a gift for you-
Annie: It’s a lion skin.
Patroclus: Yes, it’s a lion skin. I had to hunt it with my bare hands. Well, my spear, but metaphorically-
Annie: It’s a poor animal, Pat!
Patroclus: It’s not a poor animal. It’s got teeth and claws. Lions kill you.
Annie: It’s still not okay, Pat. I don’t want you dragging home dead animals as a gift for me.
Patroclus: Listen to this, she’s complaining about dead animals! You didn’t make such a fuss last week when we sacrificed ten cows to Zeus to, to ensure our victory in battle.
Annie: That was different. It was a religious communal thing, not some grotesque… tent decoration!
Patroclus: Alright, alright. I’ll get rid of it! You’re so temperamental, you must be getting your moonblood.
Annie: I’m not getting my moonblood. Zeus! Every time we get into a little argument, you think I’m getting my moonblood. You know, you treat me like an object!
Patroclus: What like an object? I come home with a gift, which you spurn unceremoniously, and suddenly I’m treating you like an object.
Annie: You treat me like I’m some common slave-girl.
Patroclus: Well, you know, in all fairness-
Annie: That’s it, I’ve had it.
Annie starts shoving garments into a sack. Patroclus stares in astonishment.
Patroclus: What do you mean, you, you’ve had it?
Annie: I’m sick of you treating me like this.
Patroclus: But we’re just, just having an argument, and suddenly you’re leaving?
Annie: That’s right. My analyst-
Patroclus: You mean the one I pay for!
Annie: Says you won’t appreciate the role I play in your life until it’s suddenly vacant. So say hello to vacancy!
Patroclus: What am I, a wayside inn?
Annie: You’re too selfish, Pat. You’re like an island – it’s all or nothing with you.
Patroclus: I can’t stand it when you mix metaphors.
Annie: Well you won’t have to stand anything anymore!
She stalks out as Patroclus splutters. Cut to: outside. The Greek camp. Annie stops a cart and gets on. Patroclus goes after her.
Patroclus: Hey, Annie, wait a minute. You can’t leave! [to a pair of soldiers passing by] Hey, that’s my slave-girl. Stop her!
Soldier #1: Forget it, buddy. Get yourself a new one.
Soldier #2: Yeah, she clearly has a distorted conception of her inferior role in this male-driven society.
Patroclus: But, but, I love her! I can’t just let her walk away. [to a bard carrying his harp] You’d agree, right? You’re an artist.
Bard: Only the gods and song are eternal. Woman is but evanescent.
Patroclus: Thanks for the fortune cookie…
He stops an attractive woman.
Patroclus: Uh, hey, are you, are you a slave-girl?
Slave-girl: Yes, I am.
Patroclus: Can I ask you something? If, if, you got a lion skin from someone as a gift, would you throw a fit and say they didn’t appreciate you?
Slave-girl: I don’t think so.
He keeps walking.
Patroclus: I don’t understand this. What happened? Somehow she cooled off to me.
We watch Patroclus walk through the dusty camp, getting farther and farther away.
Patroclus: [voice over] I suppose you all know what happened next. I actually got involved in the battle, the, the physical combat with the Trojans. Of course I ended up dead. Achilles went crazy and had these fancy funeral games for me. Don’t get me wrong, I was touched, but I would’ve preferred living. Instead I had to take that ferry across the Styx into Hades, with these, these two Assyrians arguing about migrant swallows or something the entire time. [Cut to: Patroclus sitting on the ferry, looking mordant, while two foreign-looking types gesticulate wildly] And you know what happened the minute my foot touched the other shore? My mother jumps on me, asking why I haven’t been to the temple to honor her. [Cut to: the shore of Hades. A matronly woman brains Patroclus with an urn] You know you’d think concern over my untimely death would’ve slowed her down a bit.
Cut to: Patroclus wandering among the dead.
Patroclus: [voice over] Anyway, living in Hades is like living in any other over-crowded city. Sometimes you run into people you know, and eventually I ran into Annie. She was with this guy she had crossed over with in the ferry, some Greek foot soldier or something. We were real glad to see each other, I can honestly say that. We talked about each other’s deaths, and just kicked around old times. I took back some of the things I said, and she took back some of the things she said. You know being dead is great at helping you put life into perspective. It’s funny, talking to her made me realize how much she meant to me and what a great person she was. It reminded me of this old joke. Two guys are on the ferry to Hades and the waters are a little turbulent. This one guy is uncomfortable, I mean practically seasick, so he asks the other guy, “I know we’re already dead, but does the ride to the afterlife have to be this bumpy?” So the other guy answers him, “What, you think they’re gonna give us our money back?” Well I guess that’s basically how I feel about life. No matter what the journey is like, in the end you, you’re not gonna get a refund, so you might as well enjoy it.
Fade to black.