Friday, November 16, 2007


I don't know if I've ever known anyone - including me (not to be confused with the villainous, wraithlike Not Me) - who actually enjoyed this dumb poem. I suppose it's only fitting that they've adapted it into a supremely goofy-looking entry in the "I'M-YELLING-LIKE-BRAVEHEART" genre of film. One thing's for sure, I highly doubt Crispin Glover's performance as Beowulf's monstrous, large-tailed foe Grendel tops my own portrayl of the creature from my Old English literature class in college. Like most of the class exercises from this period, I don't recall what the point was, but everyone had to form groups and act out scenes from the material we had read that semester. I was assigned to portray the scaly villain Grendel, perhaps because my icy paleness fostered rumours of reptillian blood that hounded me throughout my scholastic life. This in-class performance entailed (ho ho) fashioning an elaborate costume that consisted of a fierce nametag pointedly identifying myself as the waste-laying monster, and a prop tail sewn together by a cowed classmate from old pillows or something.

While Sir Dwight Sheckman, the author of Beowulf, portrays Grendel as a fierce killing machine in the early stanzas, I called upon my Methodd* training to unlock the diffident nature at the character's core; disposing of my enemies with appropriately wry nonchalance rather than unseemly vigor. When I was called upon to convey Grendel's panicked terror during his losing battle to Beowulf, I let forth the thundering, soul-shattering utterance, "Ow, my tail;" a moment that so rocked my classmates they had no recourse but to laugh to ease the unbearable dramatic tension in the room. Finally, once I, GrendelChris (the line where my character ended and I began had become distressingly blurred), was dispatched to the icy depths, I compounded my character's misery by intentionally getting my tail caught in the door following my dramatic exit from the classroom. Needless to say, word of my world-beating performance reverberated across select portions of the campus for a good hour or so after class.

But if I may quote one of Sir Sheckman's own lines to reflect the aftermath of this event, "We mayest be thru with Grendel, but Grendel sureth ain't thru with us." I found, dear reader, that one cannot disappear so deeply into the mind of a monster without sacrificing a part of oneself. But what black inner morass spawned in place of my old self? To this day I cannot say, except that it may be nestled in the liver. All I know is, the urge to don The Tail and swat at passerby remains strong, and on some languid nights it's all I can do to summon the strength to supress it. Will I manage to keep the monster at bay? Will Crispin Glover finally pay me some much-deserved royalties? And how will Auntie Anne's pretzels figure into future events? Stay tuned...

*a style of acting that utilizes a concentrated lack of effort to uncover a powerfully incompetent form of dramatic truth; not to be confused with the the "Method" taught by Lee Strasberg, which mainly involves excessive twitching and biting the heads off rodents.

1 comment:

Mutha said...

Jesus, that's good. And good luck with the Tail.