Monday, April 4, 2016

Captain's Log, Day 164: Never Coming to a Theater Near You

          Back when Radar was about eleven, his mom somehow came into possession of a set of scripts for Biblical plays. No one was really sure as to why: the debacle that was the Spanish Christmas play of a few years back had amply demonstrated that no one in the Midway family had an ounce of acting ability, regardless of what language they were using. (Also, Radar's impression of a horse was unflatteringly compared to a cow having a seizure.) So, needless to say, the plays collected dust in an box next to the bookshelves.
          One fateful day, Radar rediscovered the family's camcorder. Well, rediscovered might be the wrong word: it was more like his dad forgot to hide it away from his meddling eldest and the meddling eldest took full advantage of it during a night round of tag (he found out it had a night vision setting--that's another story). After discovering that no repercussions were forthcoming--the parental unit apparently didn't keep as close of a tab on everything as they claimed--Radar got bit by the acting bug.
          Well, sort of.
          "Quill! Wanna make a movie?"
          Quill looked dubious. "Won't we get in tr--"
          "Oh, it's fine," Radar cut her off impatiently. "I put a fresh tape in the video recorder anyway, so it's not like I'm going to accidentally erase anything. Come on, I've got a tripod and everything."
          "What are we going to do?" Quill asked. "The Princess Bride?"
          Radar sighed resignedly. "I wish, but it's too cold outside. Besides, Mom still has my sword." (His custom-made fiberglass sword had been confiscated after he had dueled Nemesis in the house and broken a light.)
          "Oh. Right." Quill thought. "Then what--"
          "How about one of the Bible plays?" Radar asked.
          Quill grinned. "Yeah! Hey, wait." Her face fell. "There's too many characters. We'd have to be a bunch of different people."
          Radar frowned. "How about the Eli and Samuel one? There's only, like four characters."
          The two children raced to the play box and located the correct skit. After a moment, Quill shook her head. "No, there's five. Hannah, Samuel, Eli, the narrator, and God."
          "I can be the narrator and God," Radar offered. "I gotta man the camera anyway. I don't have to be on-screen. We don't have enough guys, though."
          "I can be Eli!" Quill said eagerly.
          "Then who's Hannah?" her older brother inquired.
          They gave it a moment's thought, then simultaneously announced, "Squirrel."
          Nemesis was a little difficult to convince, but Squirrel was up for anything that offered the possibility of dress-up. In a short time, copies of the script were handed out to everyone, and Radar had quickly located the old tripod and mounted the purloined camcorder to it. "Ready?"
          Squirrel draped an old blanket over her head. "Yes!"
          Quill looked up from where she was sitting cross-legged, reading her script. "Almost." She gave it one more glance, then sat on it. "Okay!"
          "No," Nemesis said flatly.
          "Don't care. You're not in this scene anyway," Radar returned. "Okay, ready...set...action!"
          "That's not what you say," Nemesis pointed out. "It's 'Three, two, one, action.'"
          "NEMESIS!" Radar yelled and tackled him.
          Once the scuffle was over and the tape had been stopped and rewound (no point in keeping that take), Radar got himself set up again. "Okay, three, two, one...action!" He pushed the "Record" button and began reading.
          "In the land of Israel, there was a righteous woman named Hannah, who was very sad because she had no children. One day, she went to the temple to pray to God for a child." He paused.
          Squirrel was zoned out. Radar subtly threw a toy train at her.
          "Ow! Oh, right." Squirrel thought. "I wish you'd give me a child, God, and if you do, I' forgot," she recited with all the dramatic flair of a corpse.
          "You're supposed to be upset," Quill reminded her.
          "This was my upset voice!" Squirrel protested.
          Nemesis snickered. "That was your dead-inside voice."
          She threw the train at him.
          Radar sighed, already regretting his brainwave. "Oh, just use your script." He reset the recorder again. "Okay, take three. Action!" He read off his part.
          Squirrel promptly collapsed on the floor, fake-crying hard enough to be heard on the Moon. "God, if you--" *sob* "--give me a child--" *bawling* "--I'll give him to you as--" *sob* "a priest!"
          Quill looked at Radar, a little disbelievingly. Radar rolled his eyes and continued. "As she was praying, the priest Eli noticed her." Quill transferred her quizzical stare to Squirrel. "Since Hannah was praying silently--" Squirrel took the hint and shut up, "--Eli thought she was drunk."
          After a quick, panicked search for her script (which she finally remembered that she was sitting on), Quill got up and walked over to Squirrel. "How much have you had to drink?"
          "I'm not drunk," Squirrel said robotically. "I'm really unhappy because I have no children and I was praying to God."
          Quill looked like she was going to comment on Squirrel's acting, but restrained herself. "Well, go in peace, and may the Lord grant you children."
          Squirrel glanced at her script and saw a note that said Hannah ceases crying and leaves. "Okay!" she said cheerfully and skipped off set.
          Fortunately, Radar got the camera shut off before the room exploded with laughter.
          "Are we going to redo that?" Nemesis asked, giggling.
          "Oh, heck no," Radar said emphatically. "That's good enough. Okay, you're up--go get in position for scene two."
          "Question," Quill raised her hand. "It says here that Eli's working in the temple. What should I do for that?"
          Radar shrugged. "I dunno. Pretend you're lighting candles or something. Ready, set--move it, Nemesis!--action!" He picked up his script. "Now, it came to pass that Hannah had a son, whom she named Samuel. When he was old enough, she brought him to the temple and sought out Eli."
          Squirrel and Nemesis walked into the room. "Eli" promptly folded up her script, slapped it against her hand, and then made an exaggerated hand gesture as she lit imaginary candles. It was so funny that everyone burst out laughing again, including "Eli."
          Needless to say, that take was scrubbed. Radar rewound the tape, careful to avoid overwriting scene one, and ordered Nemesis to shuffle in on his knees, since "it looks stupid that you're taller than your mom."
          "Not my fault that she's younger," Nemesis muttered.
          "Kneel down anyway," Quill told him. "It'll look better, especially since Squirrel's blanket keeps the camera from seeing your feet if you stay on that side of her."
          "It's my veil," Squirrel said indignantly.
          "It's wildly oversized is what it is," Radar pointed out. "I told you to use a towel."
          Squirrel ignored him. Radar hit record, read off his part, and managed to avoid laughing at Quill's "lighting-candles" impression. Squirrel checked her script and recited, "Do you remember me? I was the woman crying and praying to God for a son. God granted my wish, so I'm giving him to God to serve Him in the temple."
          "Um, thanks," Quill said reflexively, despite that not being in the script.
          Radar decided that wasn't enough to cut the scene short and continued his narration. "Samuel grew up in the temple, and Eli trained him there." Quill promptly did her candle-lighting thing again. Nemesis copied her. Then, the two of them lit an entire imaginary row of candles before Radar punched the "Stop Recording" button and collapsed, laughing.
          Quill "struck a match" and suddenly shrieked. "AHH! MY ROBES ARE ON FIRE!"
          "I'll get a fire hose!" Nemesis offered and lapsed into giggles with his sister.
          "That's not in the script!" Radar protested weakly, wiping tears from his eyes.
          Quill snickered. "Eli died by falling out of a chair. I'm sure he set his robes on fire at some point."
          "Not in this movie!" her brother ordered, picking himself up. "Okay, ready for scene three?"
          "No," Nemesis giggled from the floor.
          "Really? Why not? You're already lying down," Quill pointed out, fetching some pillows from the couch.
          Scene three, for those Bible scholars out there, is where God refuses to let Samuel get any sleep by calling his name out repeatedly at night. Radar flipped one of the lights off and started out the narration by saying, "One night, while Samuel and Eli were sleeping in the temple, the Lord called Samuel." He cupped his hands around his mouth, moved to the left side of the camera, and called out in his best disembodied-voice impression, "Samuel! Saaammmuuuuueeeeellllll!!"
          His siblings convulsed with laughter on the ground before Radar could get back to the right side of the camera and continue his narration. "You sound like a dying moose!" Quill gasped.
          "Oh, hush up! I do not!" Radar protested, resetting the camcorder. "Okay, let's try this again."
          He read through the narration, did the "ghost-God call," and glared at his twitching siblings before continuing. "Samuel was unfamiliar with the voice of the Lord and thought Eli was calling him. He got up and ran to Eli."
          Nemesis got up, took the single step to get him to Quill, shrugged, and poked Quill in the back, eliciting an "eep!" from the surprised "priest." "Here I am. You called me," he announced.
          "I didn't call you. Go back to sleep," Quill grumbled, doing an excellent half-asleep impression. (She roomed with Squirrel, who never got up before the crack of noon if she could help it, so Quill knew exactly what a sleepy person sounded like.)
          Nemesis decided to walk a little further away to lie down again. A moment later, he emitted a hearty fake snore to indicate that Radar could continue. Radar glared at him, realized that looks of death didn't work if the recipient had his eyes closed, and continued. "The Lord called to Samuel again." Quick location shift. "Samuel! Saaammmuuuuueeeeellllll!!" Quick location shift. "Samuel got up and ran to Eli again."
          "Samuel" got up and rushed over so fast, he almost couldn't stop himself in time. Poke. "Eep!" "Here I am. You called me!"
          Quill glared at him sleepily. "I did not call you. Go back to sleep already!"
          Nemesis beat a hasty retreat. Radar continued. "For a third time, the Lord called Samuel." He almost tripped himself as he shifted position, but caught himself before he wiped out. "Samuel! Saaammmuuuuueeeeellllll!!"
          His younger brother got up and poked "Eli" in the back again. "Here I am. You called me."
          "Now, this time, Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy," Radar narrated.
          Quill blinked sleepily. "Ugh. Go back to bed and if you hear anyone call you again, say "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." Now leave me alone--you interrupted a wonderful dream about candles!"
          Nemesis hurled himself across the room and buried his face in his pillow before he started laughing.
          "The Lord called Samuel again," Radar managed, suppressing a fair amount of laughter himself. "Samuel! Saaammmuuuuueeeeellllll!!"
          Nemesis mumbled something into his pillow. Radar tried again. "Samuel! SAAMMMUUUEELLL!!"
          "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening," Nemesis announced, flipping over onto his back.
          "I'm very displeased with Eli's sons and will punish them severely," Radar intoned, paraphrasing a much longer speech by God that he couldn't remember and couldn't read anyway, since both hands were cupped around his mouth.
          "Um...okay," Nemesis replied, flipped over on his side, and went back to "sleep."
          Radar flipped the light back on and read, "The next morning, Eli went to Samuel."
          Quill popped up, yawned, and crawled over to Nemesis. "Yo, Sammy!"
          "Wake up or I'll light you on fire," Quill threatened.
          Nemesis sat up abruptly. "Yes, Eli?"
          "What did God tell you last night?" "Eli" asked.
          "Samuel" winced. "Oh, nothing--"
          "Tell me. I must know!" Quill demanded.
          Nemesis shrugged helplessly. "Uh...that your sons are bad and that God will punish them?"
          "Oh." Quill sat back. "Um, okay. " Then she went into one of the greatest departures from the script that any of them had yet performed. "Well, since you'll be the next high priest, there's some things you must know about candles. First off--" and she delivered a stunning monologue regarding matches, lighters, candles, wicks, and proper lighting techniques that sent Radar and Squirrel diving into the couch to suppress hysterical laughter and caused Nemesis to turn his face away from the video camera in an attempt to hide his giggling.
          The rest of the skit finished without incident, with Radar delivering the closing summary extremely rapidly and finding the button that actually made the camera fade to black, an effect which he thought looked really cool. Then, the siblings watched their masterpiece, howling with laughter the whole time.
          "Hey, what are you guys doing?" Mom asked, appearing at the top of the stairs suddenly. "Shouldn't you be out with Dad doing math?"
          "No, we worked ahead yesterday," Radar told her. "Dad said he had a conference call today he had to be on, so we did today's work yesterday."
          Mom gave him a look. "And you're not working on other subjects because...?"
          "We're all done for the day," Quill announced. "Besides, we' about the Bible."
          "Oh, you're using the plays," Mom said, pleased. "Can I see the--"
          "NO!" everyone chorused at once.

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