Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lizzy Borden Gets the Ax

Yep, in my list of villains for Villainology, Lizzy Borden was axed. She axed for it! Okay, enough Schwartzeneggerisms! Here's what I wrote about dear ol' Lizzy:

Lizzy Borden: Maybe you’ve heard the skipping rhyme that made her famous forever: Lizzie Borden took an ax/And gave her mother forty whacks/When she saw what she had done/She gave her father forty-one. It’s based on the story of Lizzie Borden, who lived in Fall River, Massachusetts. In 1892 Lizzie found her father and stepmother hacked to death with an ax. Lizzie was put on trial for the murders (the most dramatic part was when her parents’ skulls were unveiled for all the court to see, and Lizzie fainted). She was acquitted by the all male jury and she and her sister split the inheritance. No one ever proved that she had done it. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the rhyme is wrong, her stepmother got 19 whacks and her father 10. Silly Rhyme! Oddly enough an opera called Lizzie Borden was written about her. Funny how all this violence makes people want to sing.

The book has shorter sketches of villains and also "featured" villains (who get a few pages of text). Originally I thought Lizzy would be the perfect villain to be featured, but the more I read about her story the harder it was to make it funny. I mean did she really do it? And, if so, how do you make chopping your parents up into pieces funny? So she was relegated to a short sketch and later was axed altogether (there's that word again). That was one of the difficulties I encountered in the writing of this book--how do you make evil funny. It was suggested at one point that I could do a piece about Hitler. He's a villain (uh, I hope you agree). But he's not funny (okay maybe Charlie Chaplin could make him funny).
Yet, I was able to make Attila the Hun funny and he was certainly in the same category as Hitler. It partly has to do with time passing and old wounds being healed over. Plus Attila wore a funny hat.

Speaking of villains, I watched the Some Kind of Monster documentary about Metallica.
Ah, I'm kidding about the villains bit, of course. I've been a fan since Ride the Lightning hit the record shelves back in 1984. Although, didn't like much after the "black" album (St. Anger is starting to grow on me). The documentary is painful to watch because of the massive clash of giant egos and the goal of getting an album done. And in the middle of it all is a performance coach/therapist (who only makes $40,000 a month) who is working them through their angst and anger. It's amazing that these guys have everything (moneywise) and yet still want to go through the pain of creating a recording together and making it as perfect as possible. I highly recommend the documentary, even if you don't like their music. It's a real testament to how the creative process can drive you (to drink, sometimes, according to the documentary).

Ride the lightning, everyone!


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