Books for Everyone!

1 February 2021

Fighting Fair

Looking back, I can see so many scenarios in my life when I was in competition with a male — boy or man — and I was not even aware of having been in the fight. I was equally unaware that I’d won the battle or the contest!

I wasn’t completely oblivious to the contentious nature of the battle-of-the-sexes scrum, but neither did I fully understand how easily I glided over the guy to a victory he certainly never acknowledged.

Fighting with women, that futile activity I gave up on during childhood. Women rarely fight fair, and any guy who does not fight fair is acting like a woman. A mean old bat, in fact.

Take for instance, the 2nd music/choir director at my high school. We failed to hit it off right from the start. He didn’t like the gentler sex, and I did not like his means of using music as a means to try to control — girls, no less. Here was a guy who specialized in the Crash Chord at the end of a syrupy sappy song. Odious, completely odious, on so many fronts. I obliged my vocal chords to submit to the treacly tune, but my heart sure wasn’t in it!

This guy was ambitious, and willing to do whatever he had to do to progress in the New Jersey cesspools of musical conducting. Actually, he kissed so many derrieres on the way to his dubious success that his lips were in permanent pucker. I went on my way from the misanthrope (is there anything worse than a misanthrope with a musical baton in hand?), and several years later, I learned through a relative that he’d become the Musical Director of the Garden State Arts Center.

He hit the big-time. In a small way.

Why he insisted on this relative relaying the message to me, I do not know. I do know that after two years of dealing with his systematic de-construction of every fine and talented singing group that his predecessor had deftly built, I came to terms with two types of people, particularly in the male sex:

The Builders


The Destroyers

The de-constructors are among the destroyers. They do not fight according to the Marquis of Queensbury rules. Neither do they follow Robert’s Rules of Order. I’d not been familiar with that manual of parliamentary procedure until I had to physically hold the book in my hands upon being speed-sworn in, one balmy spring evening, as Parliamentarian of the local PTA in the mid-1990s in Suburbia.

The PTA Meeting could not proceed with dignity, decorum and decency, in a civil manner, without a Parliamentarian.

The previous and prim Parliamentarian had just walked out of the meeting because she’d had a spat with the Bible-thumping Principal of this public elementary school. Oh, not over academics! They’d had a lover’s quarrel, if you will, one that did not follow the Marquis of Queensbury rules, or even Robert’s Rules. As the Barbara Mandrell song explains:

When you’re married, but not to each other.

Paramours in the Primary School! Paramouring is not just for high-ranking and rank government fonctionnaires.

I wonder, at times, if the Rules are set up for some people to use as disguises for their having broken the rules. I also wonder if the Rules used to be obeyed, in the interests of fair play, so much that it became automatically assumed by the majority of Rules-Followers — that the Person invoking the Rules played by the rules.

I dismally recall going to a meeting in the fall of 2000 of the Placer County Planning Advisory Group. On the agenda was discussion of building compliance to a height-limitation on a sloped ground. You can easily understand the need for rules of order within the maze of minutia that County Ordinances mandate.

I was at the County Meeting to protest the request for a Variance by My Neighbor who was building a house not in compliance with County-Code (More Rules). Basically the height limit was 30 feet which, looming over my sloped property, added at least 10 feet. The County, however, wanted to approve as much new taxable square footage as possible.

In the midst of my presentation of the facts, the fat and feisty Supervisor at that meeting told me that, according to Robert’s Rules of Parliamentary Procedure, I was OUT OF ORDER.

Three times she threatened me with that infraction of being OUT OF ORDER, until I finally told her she was OUT OF LINE where courtesy and decency were concerned and that someone also OUT OF ORDER should do something to shut up her fat trap. I then courteously exited the room.

The variance was not approved, so I suppose being OUT OF ORDER worked to the advantage of this citizen. The pig at the county-supervisor trough ran for higher office, and lost. I guess her malodorous mockery of the Rules had become too malodorous.

Having only lived in my lifetime, I cannot opine on any toxic hypocrisy in the 1800s, or the 1900s, before the advent of TV, radio, and all of the industries devoted to feeding those beasts.

Dear Husband bought a new wide-screen a few weeks ago, to replace the one purchased circa 2010. The large box arrived at the domicile via UPS, and when I went outside to greet the driver, she said: “Got your tv here.”

I stated that I’d not bought a TV; Hubby must have. It used to be that Wifey made those unauthorized purchases; nowadays it’s Hubby. Wifey has more important things to do than deal with devices.

I did nonetheless enjoy, a few nights later, watching The Adventures of Robin Hood, the 1938 Warner Brothers film in Technicolor, on the New Wider Widescreen. The Technicolor is COLOR. The HD aspect of the newest wide-screen, though, revealed to me visual details that prior tv-viewings had not, and undoubtedly that the Movie Theater screen did not.

The green-painted set-dirt up in Chico, California was hideous. And I could very easily detect the glaring dis-continuity in light intensities between scenes directed by Michael Curtiz and those directed by the initial director, William Keighley.

Better is not always better in terms of microscopic-level visual art.

One aspect in which I reveled, in which I always revel, is what I call The Real Errol Flynn. The eyes filled with daring and devilry and charming guile, as they flash from side-to-side. The effortless promise to organize revolt against the tax-gouging Normans. The deadpan delivery to Sir Guy of Gisbourne (impeccably portrayed by Basil Rathbone), after Robin’s capture and brutal sentencing that will cut his life short: “You think the sentence extremely lenient.  Thank you.”

The actor speaking those fiery but controlled words could not, however, abide the rage that inspired that internal fire. And so he took to drinking and drugs and the sort of debauchery that became his image, both real and exaggerated. To endure the savagery of mental and emotional pain was the plight of Mr. Flynn, the young man who fled his native Tasmania, but could never outrun the spectres of his childhood. Fame came to him almost immediately in Hollywood, but Hollywood got the better deal out of dealing with a naturally gifted performer who did not take his natural gifts or talents very seriously.

The Motion Picture Industry soon learned that their swashbuckling star lived and played by his own rules; and he resolutely refused to kow-tow to the Rules of Hollywood, many of which demanded that Errol play a certain role in real life against which he naturally and instinctively rebelled.

As he quipped, “It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper.”

It isn’t what he said, but what he whispered about himself that spoke candidly: “By instinct I'm an adventurer; by choice I'd like to be a writer; by pure, unadulterated luck, I'm an actor.”

Already jaded by the time that he arrived in Hollywood sometime around 1935, Flynn learned a truth he never forgot: “They’ve great respect for the dead in Hollywood, but none for the living.”

There will never be another Errol Flynn, at least not in films. There is no more Hollywood, and even if there were, the old Errol Flynn would threaten them with too much ribald honesty.

There are nonetheless, I contend, today, in every continent, in every country on the face of the earth, the essence of that young idealistically cynical man from Australia who knew his time on this earth was limited, due to his own flawed nature, and due to the flawed nature of the woman who gave birth to him, but could not love him.

Such a painful burden can cause many a man, or woman, to defy not merely The Rules — but to brave the hypocrisy of the people intent on enforcing those rules, not for any inherent virtue, but for their own gain. Errol Flynn very quickly sized up Hollywood as a place where sins were routinely committed behind closed doors, but a false face was to be worn in public. I daresay that Errol had a much more finely honed moral compass than did most of the people in Tinseltown who gave lip service to The Rules in order to profit mightily from them.

A fair fight is what Mr. Flynn expected off-screen, as well as on-screen. Only he knew if he ever got one in either domain. Whether he did or did not, he never said, a silence that indicates a sense of decency which flew in the face of all of his wicked wicked ways.

When Robin Hood, as Errol Flynn, stated: It's injustice I hate, not the Normans — he was onto something there.

That something there pulses through our every day life today, as surely and as swiftly as that sword circling with audacious energy above the head of Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn.