Beset by the Creeping Hand of Death

There are times when mortality gives you a good solid smack on the snoot. Sure, I'd had run-ins with the grim spectre this year, including the third anniversary of my twenty seventh birthday, but I took them lightly until yesterday when I was putting away some dishes. You see, a part of my glamorous career in communications technology is seeing that the office kitchenette is kept spick and span. One of my co-workers repeatedly fails to put his stupid (expletive deleted) coffee mug in the dishwasher. He doesn't even rinse out the coffee he didn't drink, he just leaves it all in the sink for the cleaning elves to remove. Yesterday, due to The Pill's sloth, willfulness, and essentially petty evil nature, I came into work to find no dishes at all were washed, the cabinets were coated with dried coffee, and there was that bunny bunny bunny mug in the sink [This article was taken from the"Bunny Edition" of The Cobra's Nose, Vol. 4, in which swearing was prohibited. That lasted exactly one month.--ed note]. I was incensed. I began to restore my beautiful kitchenette with beetled brows and a frown when a helpful co-worker handed me the all too familiar Starbucks fat bottomed skinny rimmed mug. "Leave that in the sink," I snarled. "Muffin [not the jackal's name, but it should have been--ed note] has got to learn." She put it back and said, "Jeez, that's harsh, mom."

Now, I don't know about you, but when I get called "mom" I don't think of my own sainted progenitor--I think of some old lady. And it stopped me in my tracks. I tried to shake the feeling the remark gave me, but couldn't quite. As always, I gained insight into the problem by contemplating movies.


Moses & Miriam

You may not know this about me, but I see a lot of movies in a year, and when I get to reading various critics' top ten lists, I get nostalgic. What did I see and how would I rank it? I consider the lists. Saving Private Ryan? Sure, that's worthy. Gods and Monsters? Nah. And so forth. Some titles collect in my head. Saving Private Ryan is one, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Oscar and Lucinda. Definitely A Bug's Life. Mulan was terrific. Would Anastasia count? I know it was made last year, but then so was Oscar and Lucinda and I included...wait a minute. Three children's movies? CARTOONS?!

What's going on? Fear and Loathing is included to balance them out (and by the way, if you think that's the kind of movie you'd hate you're probably right so don't rent it on my recommendation and then tell me all about how much you hated it, and that means you Jana). Still, with the exception of F&L, I'm coming up with some pretty square films, mom-ish. I don't know if this realization accounts for my lukewarm reaction to a recent cartoon release, but I would like to think my response to The Prince of Egypt is based in actual disdain rather than defiance. I checked my reaction against Scott Rowley's.


As proclaimed twice in the introductory statement, The Prince of Egypt is based on the Moses story in Exodus. The filmmakers consulted with a panel of religious authorities to make sure no major group of ticket buyers would be offended, and as a bonus to eradicate any suggestion of an original artistic statement. As a result, it plays like one of those Bible videos you buy at the mall but with exceptional production values. The thing looked good, no doubt about it. That is where Scott and I agree. We also agree that Ralph Fiennes acquitted himself well in the role of Yul Brynner.

To a lesser extent, we agree that Val Kilmer fared less well as Charlton Heston. For one thing, he looks like a little weenie. Scott protested that if he were more robust, Pharaoh would have to be exponentially enlarged and end up looking like a Arnold Friberg hero. (Is there a problem here?) Anyway, Moses didn't look so bad in the beginning, let's say Mel Gibson sized with Pharaoh more along the lines of a Harrison Ford. But when Moses leaves the Valley of the Kings he gets to looking like Anthony Perkins, all big eyed and scrawny. That wouldn't be so bad, I've always liked Anthony Perkins, but this Moses also cries all the time. Scott explained it was because he felt bad about bringing the plagues to Egypt, but I'm not buying it. I wanted to see someone to bitch slap him and tell him to pull himself together. In a good old fashioned biblical epic, you could rely on God to take care of it. I was hoping it would occur when Moses handled the Burning Bush--a booming voice says, "QUIT IT," then gives Moses a nice electric shock (okay, the shock was Scott's idea, but I like it a lot).


Alas, Val Kilmer also does God's voice, and in a very ethereal manner, so Moses just weeps again. His whole family weeps. Mom, Miriam, Aaron (who is Moses's mouthpiece and second in command in the Bible, but in this movie he mostly grovels and tells his sister to pipe down). I think that would be a more convincing proof of his lineage than that song Moses supposedly remembers his mother singing while he floated down the river as an infant. Even Scott couldn't swallow that conceit.

Moses doesn't quite cry when confronted by the hubba hubba Tzipporah who is given to him by Pharaoh (Ralph's voice implies Ramses isn't man enough, as if) but he swallows hard about seventeen times. To be fair, she is pretty intimidating. For one, she looked like she was animated by the same guys who did Heavy Metal. Why not? They could probably have been found in the same basement looking at the same magazines since that masterwork hit the screen.


Naturally, the first thing that happens to her is a shove into a reflecting pool. (Let the wet tunic contest commence!) Then she is dragged off to Moses's chambers while Moses goes off to get a stiff one. (To drink, you perverts.) When he returns, he is relieved to find she has bound and gagged his bodyguard and fled. Soon after, he abets the amazon in her escape from the city, and is subsequently bullied by his chubby sister Miriam while Aaron cowers in the shadows. Then everybody bursts into tears, with the exception of Tzipporah who has more testosterone then all of the other characters put together.

Now what are we to make of this scenario? Was the pink triangle crowd consulted along with the priests and rabbis? Anyway, Moses eventually marries Tzipporah (uh huh) kills a whole bunch of Egyptians, and liberates the slaves. This is where the animators outdid themselves--the Angel of Death and the parted Red Sea look great. Tzipporah and Miriam sing a pretty song and highlights of the departure are shown as a montage.

Sort of stuck in the middle of this is a glimpse of Moses with the ten commandments. You don't get to see God carving the tablets out of Mount Horeb (which was hands down the coolest part of The Ten Commandments), you don't get to see Moses smashing them on the rocks, and most of all, you don't get to see the famous party with the Golden Calf. What a rip! That's where I can imagine Tzipporah being in her element.

So maybe I haven't gone completely soft, although I know I'll bawl again when the ghosts of Anastasia's family burst out of their picture frames, and when Mulan's dad tells her the greatest joy and honor is having her as a daughter. I've been told people lose testosterone as they age (though Tzipporah's levels probably went up), and this accounts for a certain amount of weepiness. And maybe that's right. After all, Moses would be several thousand years old now and apparently he is a teary mess.

(Written by Sharon C. McGovern)

From Vol. 4
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