Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Handsome Cabin Boy, an interactive fancy

So, I was in the Greater Mahwah (N.J.) Municipal Convention and Visitors' Free Trade and Chain Restaurant Test Market Zone over the weekend, celebrating the marriage of a friend who was following his family's three-hundred year-old tradition of marrying right after running out of the fixin's for leftover turkey sandwiches.
One thing that wasn't provided, at the Mormon-owned place where we stayed, was NY1 and an over-publicized interview with our Handsome Cabin Boy, Carey Mulligan. We had never planned (I mean, we have until March), so we never made it to The Seagull on Broadway, starring our Handsome Cabin Boy, Carey Mulligan, but the very first scene in the bit below will give you an idea how Our Handsome Cabin Boy, Carey Mulligan, delivers one of the best lines of sneaky artist self-effacement that Chekhov ever committed:

You watched the whole thing, didn't you? Good, because Kristin Scott Thomas. Boston rock fans of a certain age who go to The Seagull site will be treated to a representation of the old Channel logo. So, there's that.
But all this talk of our Handsome Cabin Boy, Carey Mulligan, reminds me that I haven't even explained the significance of "The Handsome Cabin Boy."
For traditional forebitter and folk fans, the story of The Handsome Cabin Boy is familiar. A gal -- either because she's adventuresome or in love with a feller on a boat -- sneaks her way aboard by assuming the role of Cabin Boy, an utterly fictitious although expedient device for stowaways of either gender in these sorts of things. There may or may not be present a not entirely maritally-satisfied Wife of The Skipper aboard. The Handsome Cabin Boy is allowed to serve and sup at the captain's board and apparently develops a practice which might result in instances of extraconnubial advantageousness.
The unnamed vessel's "Doctor McCoy" (as it were) is hailed up from sickbay, and as he bounds up the midships ladder, he muses on the improbability of both a pregnant steward and a completely sympathetic and deferential crew. But he's only a simple country doctor whose bunk clatters with the well-drained bottles of many unfair caricatures in movies where peglegged idlers say things like "aar" and "pieces of eight."
The tale ends with various interpretations of the screaming, and no particular elucidation concerning The Handsome Cabin Boy as the main player in an elaborate offshore birth surrogacy scheme.
Look. if Jerry Garcia and the Dead could do it, and Frank Zappa did it, why shouldn't I? Also, I'd like to bring some further attention to some fine actresses. And maybe I'll get to write about more theater and acting rather than radio and the old dried-up amateurs and regressive bad apples and cheap Joe Pesci impersonators still soiling, fouling, and wringing the life out of Fall River.
While all the "blogs" lavish each other with "Best Non-Sport-Enthusiast Harry Potter Minor Character FanFic" and "Most Adequately-Developed Completely Neutral Political Online Presence" awards, I urge those who hop aboard to scratch in the margins of The Journal and give some brilliant actor or other some recognition.
Due to certain concrete realities, the handsome cabin boy must be played by a girl. That's the joke, you see. (Except if it's Jack London's "cabin boy." Who was an actual boy, but could be played by either gender and still make the London character feel icky. Because well, that's the other joke.)
Got it? Female.
Here's how I picked Carey Mulligan:
Following the established musical template above and assuming myself director of a production of a dramatization of The Handsome Cabin Boy, I cast Carey Mulligan after remembering her work as Keira Knightley's 'lil sis in Pride & Prejudice and seeing her on Doctor Who.
(1) She's well-trained and claims to love teh acting. Stage, especially. (And because I'm more comfortable with the "stage-right,stage-left" thing better than I am with reality.)
(2) She's been in film adaptations or teevee presentations of Nineteenth-Century novels.
(3) She has a cursory interest and possible fluency in classics
(4) She can portray the character in the film while looking great in the music video and engaging on the promotional tour,
and (5) she has that certain something, I dunno, some je ne sais quoi.
Keep in mind that the Handsome Cabin Boy pool of contestants is panhistoric. For instance: Clara Bow, although she died over 40 years ago and never set foot on a stage, actually played a Cabin Boy character in one of the first New Bedford tourism promotion videos, Down to the Sea In Ships. See? Dot Morgan. Because in Hollywood, all whalers are named Morgan. And she grew up in Brooklyn. And looked like this without the stupid hat:Belaying pins aren't the only 'pins' aboard, you know
So the rules are variable. They're not really rules, they're more like guidelines.
I just haven't twisted them enough to allow for Kristen Bell or Eliza Dushku. Except, True Lies' era Eliza would certainly be more apt than Tru Calling's.
Even if she is a hockey chick.

1 comment:

The Doctor said...

When you say "panhistoric," do you mean that from a non-linear, non-subjective point of view, it's more of a great big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff?