Is "The Ides of March" the day Julius Caesar was assassinated, a famous Shakespearean quote, or a George Clooney movie?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: The answer is "all three" but we'll completely understand if "The Ides of March" means nothing to you, or if you think it sounds familiar but you're not quite sure why.
Well, Black knew nothing about the Ides of March, but when she found it had to do with history and movies, deferred to Red. Interestingly, even Red, the straight-A student who loved history, wasn't completely sure of the origin of the Ides of March. However, being a theater major, she knew "Beware the Ides of March" was one of William Shakespeare's most famous phrases. And even then, although she could tell you that those immortal words were spoken to Julius Caesar by a fortune-teller, she couldn't tell you exactly what they meant other than it was a warning that something dire was going to happen. (For those not familiar with the play or ancient history, dire's an understatement as on March 15, 44 B.C. the Roman general and statesman, Julius Caesar, was brutally stabbed to death in the Roman Senate house by a large group of his opposition.)
Those facts alone make for fascinating theater, and Shakespeare was an unparalleled playwright and could tell a story better than most, which explains why his work has stood the test of time. (Not to mention, many of his stories have been "borrowed" as the basis of new stories.) But it took Red doing a little more digging to learn that the term dates back to the ancient Roman calendar, where they used certain phrases to reference dates in relation to lunar phases. Ides, quite simply, just referred to the first full moon of a given month, which usually fell between the 13th and 15th.
But when it comes to the 2011 movie "The Ides of March" with George Clooney (who also directed, produced, and was one of the screenwriters), Red didn't have to do any homework. And although it's about a rising presidential candidate (played by Clooney) and an idealistic campaign staffer (played by Ryan Gosling), it's about dirty politics and figurative backstabbing. So, if you know your history, you can easily draw parallels to the death of Caesar.
It’s hard to believe the topic of the Supreme Court and abortion could become any more controversial or dramatic. But there was no way to know a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade would be leaked to the press. A situation so shocking, it’s being compared to the "Pentagon Papers" leak.
Yes, leaks happen all the time in politics – at the campaign level, sometimes from Congress, and even on occasion from the executive branch. But from the Supreme Court of the United States??? Yet as Black said to Red just after it happened,
Nowadays, it is just too easy to have a “leak” as almost everything is just a “click away” from being shared or printed. No clandestine nights at the copy machine are required.
There’s an expression … throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Well, Supreme Court decisions on “babies” (well, technically fetuses) may also impact its integrity.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: There’s no question the recent Supreme Court cases involving abortion are controversial and may have a major impact on Roe v. Wade; something that both Red (as a mom to two daughters) and Black (as a highly independent woman who made the conscious decision not to have children) have strong feelings about, albeit focused on two very different aspects.
If you’re like Red, you may be wondering, besides whether you’re for or against abortion, what else is there to consider? Which is why Red initially didn’t want abortion to be the basis of a post.(We try to remain neutral and generate food-for-thought, and given the personal, religious, scientific, legislative, judicial, and practical aspects of abortion, wouldn’t even know where to start.) And is why she thought Black would agree with her.
Which made Black’s response such a shock, but for reasons that even Red never saw coming. And although by the end, it made perfect sense, there’s no better way to summarize what Black had to say than to “borrow” some of her beloved bullet points.
- IS THIS ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION? OR POLITICS? – This should be a constitutional issue, not a political one. The constitutionality of Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court in 1973 and reaffirmed in 1992. What new “facts” have been identified?
- IS EVERYTHING UP FOR GRABS? – Would the Supreme Court overruling itself (granted, decades later) put everything established at the federal level at risk of being re-evaluated (the right to bear arms, women’s right to vote, Civil Rights legislation), or only those items ruled upon by the Supreme Court?
- REMEMBER CHECKS & BALANCES? – The Supreme Court, besides being the highest court in the land, is part of the judicial branch of government and is tasked with interpreting the laws made by the legislative branch and enforced by the executive branch. The logic behind having three branches is to have checks and balances so that no one branch becomes too powerful.
And Red’s response? Besides now realizing the potential Pandora’s Box that overturning Roe v. Wade could open in so many ways,
This is why you should’ve been a lawyer. And probably would’ve been, except Mom kept saying that you should be …
If you’ve never thought about May Day, don’t worry, most of us haven’t.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red appreciates that some holidays have historical significance, some have ancient traditions, and some are opportunities for one of Black’s unexpected, but often amusing and clever, comments, but May Day checks all those boxes.
As soon as Black mentioned pole dancing, Red, a lover of movies, immediately thought of “Hustlers.” No, not “The Hustler,” the 1961 classic with Paul Newman as a small-time pool hustler. Instead, “Hustlers,” the 2019 release with Jennifer Lopez about pole dancing hustlers that showed it took more than a desire to make money, but skill and athleticism.
But Red had no idea the significance of May Day Maypole dancing. When she lived in England, May Day was a bank holiday, and she knew it had a long history that went back to the Celts, but that’s all she knew. Until recently, when she learned it’s an ancient and festive holiday filled with history and folklore, started by the Celts who thought May 1st was the most important day of the year as it separated the year into light and dark.
Which explains the beginning of a celebration of spring with singing, dancing, and bonfires that still continues. However, it doesn’t explain how in the late 19th century, May Day became known as International Workers’ Day to celebrate workers and promote labor rights.
And what about the Maypoles? Well, as Red discovered,
It was during the Middle Ages when the now famous Maypoles were believed to become popular, not only to welcome in spring but as a symbol of fertility, as the pole symbolized male fertility, with baskets and wreaths symbolizing female fertility.
When Red felt the need to share all this history with Black, her sister couldn’t help but respond with,
Although this has nothing to do with May Day, all I can say is “Mayday. Mayday.” Which, if you do not speak French, is based on m’aider and means “Help me.”
To quote the lyrics from "West Side Story," “Could be … who knows …”
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red, the theater major and lover of Broadway musicals, has loved "West Side Story" for as long as she can remember, so imagine her surprise when Black, usually only interested in the business aspects of the entertainment world, shared a “new” fact (at least, new to Red) about one of the most popular musicals ever produced.
For Red, "West Side Story" comes close to being a perfect musical (as a theater major, she doesn’t think there’s such a thing as a “perfect” musical), combining a brilliant musical score and incredibly poignant and powerful lyrics with groundbreaking choreography. And although she didn’t see it on Broadway, the original movie and the recent remake had iconic cinematography and extraordinary performances. Especially by Rita Moreno, who appeared in both movies and was an executive producer on the remake.
But like most people, Red never thought much about the backstory, as she always accepted that it was a modern day “Romeo and Juliet” about forbidden love based on people’s backgrounds, made more extreme by constant feuding between the sides, resulting in violence and death. With the final heartbreaking scene being a painful realization that it took death to find a way to reconcile their differences.
Black believes we can look at today’s newspapers (or even history books) and easily recast the story, which is exactly what happened,
Originally, the characters were envisioned as a Jewish girl and an Italian Catholic boy, with the story taking place in the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the Easter-Passover season. But when the Chicano American street riots in Los Angeles became headline news, it changed everything, and turned the storyline into a classic that has stood the test of time.
Although this was the first Red had heard of the original storyline, it made her smile as it brought back a recent memory,
When I first saw that clever and captivating “West Side Story Chanukah” video, I was amused. But now it makes me wonder … were the creators intentionally coming full circle?