Flesh-N-Bone Released From Jail and Layzie Bone Denies Allegations


March 31, 2010

Thirty-six-year-old Flesh-N-Bone, Stanley Howse, of Grammy Award-winning group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony went before a judge yesterday morning (March 30, 2010) and pleaded not guilty to 12-year-old allegations of striking his mother with a gun, which left a gash on her head. He later posted a $10,000 bail and released from jail.

Flesh was arrested Sunday night (March 28) by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office during a Bone concert in Cleveland, Ohio for two outstanding warrants – “Domestic Violence with a Firearm Specification” and “Felonious Assault with a Firearm Specification” – in January 1999 regarding an incident that occurred in October 1998.

Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s spokesman John O’Brien claims that his department received a tip that Flesh would be in town with his group, and thus converged on the House of Blues to make the arrest on stage, stopping the concert at mid-way.

Spokesman O’Brien also states that “he encouraged the people that were standing on the side of the stage, friends and family and that type of thing, to come on stage in front of him and attempted to dip down and move out through the side door….”

Contradicting its initial report, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office reported to the media that Flesh encouraged the fans to come on stage when he realized the plainclothes officers approaching to camouflage his escape.

First, he encouraged his family and friends to come on stage to plot his escape. Second, he encouraged his fans to come on stage to plot his escape. What’s next? He called on the spirit of David Copperfield from afar to plot his escape? The paradox is not only ridiculous but comical.

Some reports have even claimed that he was on the run for 12 years? These erroneous reports are embarrassing to journalism. Such false reporting could have easily been avoided with a diligent research which would reveal that Flesh was incarcerated in California’s Pleasant Valley State Prison from 2000 to 2008 for threatening a man with an AK-47.

Steven Howse (Layzie Bone), 35, the younger brother of Flesh, does not only deny the reports released by the media via the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, but he also denies all allegations that his brother pistol-whipped their mother during a phone interview with The Plain Dealer. (The entire article by John Soeder can be found HERE.)

As expected, Flesh had no knowledge of his outstanding warrants in Cleveland, Ohio. His family and his Bone brothers were also unaware of the warrants – and Layzie makes that clear: “If we knew about the warrants, we wouldn’t even have played Cleveland … I’m torn, man, because I love my city so much.”

(All of the Bone members – Flesh-N-Bone, Layzie Bone, Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone – were born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio – with the exception of Bizzy Bone who was born in Columbus, Ohio but raised in Cleveland.)

In regard to allegations that Flesh attempted to flee when he saw police officers approaching, Layzie states: “My brother walked off stage to get some water; he wasn’t tipped off… We cooperated with the police; they did their job and obeyed the law, as well as we did.”

He continues: “But why did the let us go on stage if we couldn’t finish the show? That was disrespectful. To say Flesh was trying to run – run where?”

In regard to the serious allegations that Flesh struck his mother Pamela Howse in 1998, Layzie strongly states:

“That’s a damn lie. My brother never struck my mother. I was right there. What happened was, some dudes were hating on us, and my mother got in the middle of it. She was trying to protect her children. And then they’re gonna say my brother hit my mother? C’mon, man. We aren’t barbaric.”

Layzie’s account of this 1998 incident sounds more believable than a report that was given/written by a police officer after the fact. Police officers are known for fabricating stories (e.g., Flesh trying to flee) and falsifying police reports, so it would not be far-fetched if the same historical practiced was executed in 1998.

Flesh, in the 1990s, was out of control and arrested several times; there is no denying his criminal history, which is why he was sentenced to a long-term prison sentence in 2000.

In fact, the recidivism rate is rather high regarding former inmates, but it would be suicide if Flesh engages in any criminal activities today to precipitate his return to prison. Moreover, it would be a financial suicide, considering he has possibilities to garner millions with his group via future album sales and touring. Any criminal activity that he gets himself into after spending 8 years behind bars would indicate stupidity and a lack of care for his freedom. However, despite being arrested in California (April 2009) for gun charges which were quickly dropped, Flesh has walked a straight line since his release in 2008.

Appropriately, there is a stigma that follows people who have done time in prison, but these outstanding warrants are from 1998 – not from 2009 or 2010.

Many have criticized not only Flesh-N-Bone with dehumanizing language, stating he’s an “animal” that ought to be in prison for life, but Bone Thugs-N-Harmony as a whole, claiming that group does not deserve to be touring in the U.S. and their music should not be played on the radio. The criticisms are premature, considering Layzie’s account that vehemently refutes these allegations. Thus, to characterize these outstanding warrants by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office as the truth, by some, only proves the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” means absolutely nothing.

In fact, in the public eye, allegations are usually treated as facts, which give people the license to verbally attack, demean, and view the accused as the bad guy that needs to be exiled from civilization.

Interestingly, Flesh and Layzie’s mother was present at the Cleveland concert Sunday night to witness her sons’ performance on stage. Sadly, after seeing her son handcuffed, she had to be hospitalized due to an anxiety attack – and Layzie was not pleased at all:

“She had just seen her son after all this time, and the [expletive] police – she didn’t understand what was going on. So I had to put my mother in the ambulance and my brother in the police car. You can just imagine how I feel.”

This was Flesh’s first appearance in his hometown of Cleveland in 12 years. Flesh, who resides in California, is currently living in Cleveland with family members, awaiting his pre-trial hearing on April 6, 2010.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has continued its 34-day U.S. tour without Flesh-N-Bone to promote the upcoming album UNI-5: The World’s Enemy, set to come out in May 2010 through Warner Bros. Records.

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Originally published March 31, 2010 via now-defunct Examiner.com


Flesh-N-Bone of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony arrested at Cleveland Concert


March 29, 2010

Stanley Howse, 36, best known as Flesh-n-Bone of Grammy Award-winning group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony can’t seem to shake the legal system off his back after he was arrested last night (Sunday, March 28, 2010) in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio during a Bone concert at the House of Blues.

The arrest stems from two outstanding warrants, “Domestic Violence with a Firearm Specification” and “Felonious Assault with a Firearm Specification,” which date back to 1998.

Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s spokesman John O’Brien states that the warrants involve Flesh-N-Bone’s 1998 assault on his mother, striking her in the head with a gun and leaving a gash on her head. This shocking new alleged report regarding his mother makes this event more devastating.

Getting caught up in the legal system is not new to Flesh-N-Bone. In fact, the rapper had many run-ins with the law ever since Bone Thugs-N-Harmony entered the music industry in 1993.

In 2000, his freedom was stripped away when he was given a 12-year prison sentence in California for threatening a man with an AK-47 assault rifle. After spending eight and a half years in Pleasant Valley State Prison, he was released in 2008 and rejoined his Bone brothers (Krayzie Bone, younger brother Layzie Bone, Bizzy Bone, and cousin Wish Bone) to record the group’s upcoming album as a quintet, set to drop later this year.

Being in prison for an extended period of time may have washed away his memories of these warrants in Cleveland, or perhaps he had no knowledge of their existence. Nonetheless, these outstanding warrants, despite them being old, are serious.

According to Ohio Laws and Rules (Chapter 2903), Felonious Assault represents a major offense. The provision, in part, states the following:

“Regardless of whether the felonious assault is a felony of the first or second degree under division (D)(1)(a) of this section, if the offender also is convicted of or pleads guilty to a specification as described in section 2941.1423 of the Revised Code that was included in the indictment, count in the indictment, or information charging the offense, except as otherwise provided in this division or unless a longer prison term is required under any other provision of law, the court shall sentence the offender to a mandatory prison term as provided in division (D)(8) of section 2929.14 of the Revised Code. If the victim of the offense is a peace officer or an investigator of the bureau of criminal identification and investigation, and if the victim suffered serious physical harm as a result of the commission of the offense, felonious assault is a felony of the first degree, and the court, pursuant to division (F) of section 2929.13 of the Revised Code, shall impose as a mandatory prison term one of the prison terms prescribed for a felony of the first degree.”

This language is heavy and may be problematic for the rapper, considering his past troubles and prior prison term.

This is definitely not the homecoming that Flesh-N-Bone expected after being away from Cleveland nearly a decade, so hopefully his lawyers can resolve the issues of these dated warrants and get him back on the road with his Bone brothers.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s next show will be held tonight (Monday, March 29, 2010) at The Vogue in Indianapolis, Indiana. With this current situation, it is unknown if the concert will take place. (More than likely, it’s safe to assume that the show will go on without Flesh-N-Bone.) The group’s live Ustream chat, however, which was scheduled for today has been cancelled and rescheduled for a later date.

Neither the group nor its label has released a statement regarding the abrupt arrest and the future of upcoming shows.

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Originally published March 29, 2010 via now-defunct Examiner.com.

Ruthless Records to Release Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s Greatest Hits on Vinyl


November 10, 2009

Tomica Wright’s Ruthless Records is preparing to release Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s Greatest Hits double-disc album on vinyl records. These vinyl records are scheduled to come out separately on November 24, 2009.

Ruthless originally released Greatest Hits via CD on November 16, 2004. Many fans were disappointed, and rightfully so, because the greatest hits did not feature some of Bone’s most-admired songs. In November 2005, Ruthless released another version of the album titled Greatest Hits: Chopped & Screwed, which angered fans even more. These upcoming vinyl records continue the tale of Greatest Hits, featuring the same tracklist as disc 1 and 2.

Ruthless is the first record label that signed the legendary rap group via Eric “Eazy-E” Wright, owner of the label and founding member of N.W.A. However, Bone’s time with Eazy-E would not last long, for he untimely passed away at the age of 31, on March 26, 1995, due to AIDS-related complications. His wife Tomica, thereafter, took control of the label to Bone’s chagrin. Bone has spent most of their turbulent and notable career with Ruthless and made millions with their gold, platinum, and multiplatinum albums.

Bone released their last album, Thug World Order, under Ruthless in 2002. With Ruthless, Bone released 7 group albums: 5 studio albums and 2 collection albums; Bizzy Bone, Krayzie Bone, and Layzie Bone also released solo albums under Ruthless. After Ruthless, Tomica released three more albums under Bone’s name: Greatest Hits, Greatest Hits: Chopped & Screwed, and T.H.U.G.S.

This forthcoming release by Ruthless represents a calculated decision and a smart business move, considering the fact that Bone has a highly-anticipated album that is scheduled to hit store shelves in December 2009. The same tactic was executed by Ruthless with the release of T.H.U.G.S., which came out the same year and a few months after Bone’s 2007 gold-selling album Strength & Loyalty, released under Swizz Beatz’ Full Surface Records via Interscope Records.

While at Ruthless, Bone was the label’s primary source of income, so it only makes sense for Tomica to exploit that by releasing more albums and products from Bone.

Many may think that vinyl records are dinosaurs and useless. In truth, they are dinosaurs, but they are not useless, for they are still in use and highly sought after, mainly by DJs and collectors. The production of vinyl records has been reduced tremendously since its inception, but its popularity remains. Thus, Tomica Wright is a smart businesswoman for executing this Bone Thugs-N-Harmony product, because it will be an attractive purchase for many.

The tracklist for Greatest Hits Vinyl, Vol. 1 is as follows:

1. Carole of The Bones
This song appears on Layzie Bone’s 2001 solo album Thug By Nature.

2. Thuggish Ruggish Bone (featuring Eazy-E)
This song appears on Bone’s 1994 debut album Creepin On Ah Come Up.

3. Foe Tha Love of $
This song appears on Bone’s 1994 album Creepin On Ah Come Up.

4. 1st of Tha Month
This song appears on Bone’s 1995 album E.1999 Eternal.

5. Shoot ‘Em Up
This song appears on Bone’s 1998 album The Collection: Volume 1.

6. Buddah Lovaz
This song appears on Bone’s 1995 album E.1999 Eternal.

7. Days of Our Lives
This song appears on the soundtrack of the 1996 movie Set It Off and Bone’s 1998 album The Collection: Volume 1.

8. Tha Crossroads
This song appears on Bone’s 1995 album E.1999 Eternal.

9. Thug Luv (featuring Tupac)
This song appears on Bone’s 1997 double-disc album The Art of War.

10. Notorious Thugs (Notorious B.I.G. featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony)
This song appears on the late Notorious B.I.G.’s 1997 double-disc album Life After Death and Bone’s 1998 album The Collection: Volume 1.

11. Breakdown (Mariah Carey featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony)
This song appears on Mariah Carey’s 1997 album Butterfly and Bone’s 1998 album The Collection: Volume 1.

12. All Good (featuring Felicia and Krayzie Bone)
This song appears on Mo Thugs’ 1998 album Family Scriptures Chapter 2: Family Reunion.

The tracklist for Greatest Hits Vinyl, Vol. 2 is as follows:

1. Look Into My Eyes
This song appears on the 1997 soundtrack of Batman and Robin and Bone’s 1997 double-disc album The Art of War.

2. Blaze It
This song appears on Bone’s 1997 double-disc album The Art of War.

3. Get ‘Cha Thug On
This song appears on Bone’s 1997 double-disc album The Art of War.

4. Thug Mentality
This song appears on Krayzie Bone’s 1999 solo double-disc album Thug Mentality 1999.

5. Resurrection (Paper, Paper)
This song appears on Bone’s 2000 album BTNHResurrection.

6. Ecstasy
This song appears on Bone’s 2000 album BTNHResurrection.

7. Weed Song
This song appears on Bone’s 2000 album BTNHResurrection.

8. Still The Greatest (featuring Flesh-n-Bone & Big Chan)
This song appears on Layzie Bone’s 2001 solo album Thug By Nature.

9. Get Up & Get It (featuring Felicia and 3LW)
This song appears on Bone’s 2002 album Thug World Order.

10. Money, Money
This song appears on Bone’s 2002 album Thug World Order.

11. Ghetto Cowboy
This song appears on Mo Thugs’ 1998 album Family Scriptures Chapter 2: Family Reunion.

12. Thugz Cry
This song appears on Bizzy Bone’s 1998 solo album Heaven’z Movie.

13. Home (featuring Phil Collins)
This song appears on Bone’s 2002 album Thug World Order.

14. Cleveland Is The City (featuring Avant)
This song appears on Bone’s 2002 album Thug World Order.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s upcoming album titled UNI-5: The World’s Enemy releases on December 22, 2009.

*  *  *

Originally published November 10, 2009 via now-defunct Examiner.com

Movie Review: Kickboxer: Retaliation (2018)


January 20, 2018

When it comes to a fighting movie, whether it be a boxing or martial arts, the viewers already know the end result: The protagonist comes out victorious by defeating the villain. Moreover, it usually happens in dramatic fashion, where the protagonist suffers a major beat-down by the villain initially and, at the end, he miraculous recovers his strength to win the fight. It’s a premise that is not a secret and has been witnessed in a plethora of fighting movies. In Kickboxer: Retaliation, the second installment of a possible trilogy, that script remains true.

However, it is up to the director to present a storyline that creates interest, leading up to a climatic fight and happy ending. Unfortunately, Kickboxer: Retaliation does not have an interesting storyline. The script, in fact, presents an unoriginal storyline that has been told many times, simply executed with different actors. Unlike the first installment, Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016), which was written by Dimitri Logothetis and directed by John Stockwell, Logothetis plays the role of both director and writer in the sequel; Jim McGrath serves as co-writer. Still, the film is not very good, despite being better than the first.

Alain Moussi (Kurt Sloane) reprises his role as the protagonist from the previous film. His new formidable enemy – Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson as Mongkut – represents a colossal of a beast who stands 6 feet and 9 inches tall and weighs over 400 pounds. Jean-Claude Van Damme (Master Durand), Sara Malakul Lane (Liu), and Sam Medina (Crawford) return to reprise their respective roles. Notable newcomers include boxing legend Mike Tyson, Christopher Lambert, former soccer star Ronaldinho, and MMA fighter Roy Nelson.

The film starts off with an interesting pre-induction scene, where Kurt and his wife Liu are salaciously slow dancing inside of a moving train. The mood represents a festive atmosphere until a man enters the train, walks behind Kurt, and points a gun behind his head. Chaos ensues. Chud (Wanderlei Silva) and a few other fighters enter, swinging around sharply large ax-like weapons, and Kurt defeats them. During this chaos, Liu is kidnapped and taken out of the train. A woman wearing dark-shade eyeglasses enter the train, and she too is defeated but not out. Kurt goes outside of the train to find his wife, and climbs atop the moving train, where it is heavily pouring in the night, and meets the woman again with another foe. He fights them both and defeats them. Thereafter, his leg gets caught up in a chain, causing him to fall off the moving train and into a body of water. (This scene, which happens to be a dream, is pretty good.)

The film officially begins by showing flashbacks of Van Damme’s classic 1989 Kickboxer movie, along with the reboot Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016). The scene then transitions into an octagon ring in Las Vegas, where Kurt is fighting an opponent he defeats via an armbar submission. Thereafter, two U.S. Marshalls are waiting to arrest Kurt for the murder of Tong Po (Dave Bautista) in Thailand, his foe in the prior installment. Their weapon of choice to bring him in is none other than a Taser, a very familiar scene from the past. While one Marshall shows Kurt his badge to confirm his identity, the other Marshall sneaks behind Kurt and Tasers him.

This scene resembles Van Damme’s 1988 classic Bloodsport movie, where two U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) officers, Rawlins (Forest Whittaker) and Helmer (Norman Burton), are ordered to track him down in Hong Kong and bring him back to the U.S. When Rawlins and Helmer locate Frank Dux inside of a hotel, they pull out Tasers to subdue him, but he escapes.

The unoriginal scene can not be ignored, not to mention the strange dialogue and poor acting skills – two issues that seem to be prevalent throughout.

The subsequent scene shows Kurt in shackles on the ground, getting punched by Crawford, while looking up at fight promoter Thomas Moore (Christopher Lambert). As Thomas speaks, Crawford takes joy in beating Kurt into submission. For the killing of his former foe, Tong Po, Thomas proposes that he must defend his title by fighting again; Kurt replies, “Never again!” While Crawford continues with his onslaught, Kurt, in handcuffs, states: “Touch me again and I’ll break your nose.” He keeps his words by head-butting Crawford. The dialogue is so ridiculously silly, it’s funny, even Thomas laughs.

Thomas then takes Kurt, in shackles, to meet his opponent – and Mongkut steps out shirtless. Not only does Mongkut embody an unhuman-like frame, he looks dangerously scary; the man is a massive of a mammoth. More frightening, his chemist provides him performance-enhancement drugs via needle injections to improve his strength. According to his chemist, he’s “a superior human specimen.” It’s hard to deny such statement, for he represents a tank.

To sweeten up the proposal, which happens to be an ultimatum, Thomas entices Kurt with a $1 million (tax-free) prize to regain his freedom by accepting the fight, or he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

During his prison stay, he gets into his first fight with fellow inmates. Fellow inmate Roy Nelson (appearing as himself) wants to help, but Kurt says “I got this” and telegraphs the injuries that will be inflicted upon his foes and defeats them. The fight continues as more challengers come forth and each man is dispatched accordingly, in a fight sequence that renders no excitement. For his disruption, Kurt is punished by being violently lashed on a wood apparatus that forms the letter X, where he screams with each whip as blood drips from his body.

Thomas wants an answer from Kurt and convinces him to take the fight to no avail. However, Kurt has a question for Thomas via an insipid one-liner: “When you were a kid, did you get your ass kicked much?”

Kurt finds himself in trouble once more after stealing a prison guard’s cellphone. Again, he is tied against the X-shaped, wood, apparatus and violently lashed.

As expected, he gets into another fight with an inmate named Nunchaku Man (James P. Bennett), who wields a nunchuks and defeats him quickly. During this fight, he comes across Briggs (Mike Tyson), who angrily tells Kurt the following: “You’re interrupting my meditation.” Kurt responds with the following line: “Meditation, really; does that help you stay calm?” This dialogue is truly inane but funny; it would be criminal for viewers not to laugh. Nonetheless, Briggs punches him in the stomach and they begin to fight. This fight scene is pretty interesting and lasts about two minutes, where Briggs executes a flurry of hard punches, leaving Kurt stunned. The fight comes to an end with a super uppercut which causes Kurt to go into a slow-motion backflip effect in defeat.

For a third time, Kurt finds himself tied up – with Briggs – against the X-shaped apparatus, where he screams in agonizing pain as the lashes open deep wounds and bloody his back. Briggs, on the other hand, takes his violent lashing without making a sound. (They ultimately become friends.)

Eventually, Kurt meets his long-time trainer Master Durand (Van Damme) inside of the prison, and shockingly finds out that he is blind at the hands of Thomas for taking part in the death of Tong Po.

After two weeks in jail and still unwilling to fight Mongkut, Thomas goes to the extreme and orders his underlings to kidnap his wife to convincingly infuriate Kurt to fight. To some degree, this tactic resembles the same plotline that happens in the original Kickboxer (1989), where wheelchair-bound Eric Sloan is kidnapped with the intent to blackmail Kurt into losing the fight against Tong Po. Unsurprisingly, Kurt agrees to the fight and begins to train. His trainers are both Master Durand and Briggs, the former obviously serves as his primary trainer. Other inmates within the prison also help him prepare for his fight such as Roy Nelson, Ronaldo (Ronaldinho), Fabricio Werdum (appearing as himself), etc.

When Durand and Briggs come together to converse about Kurt’s training, it renders a dialogue that is hilariously stupid-funny and must be detailed herein in its entirety. While Briggs trains Kurt, Durand shows up and prompts a dialogue by asking:

“How’s the training going?”
“He’s getting it,” Briggs responds with a smile on his face.
“Oh yeah? He’ll never get it,” Durand replies.
“Oh, he got it in him,” Briggs says with confidence.
“Listen, Briggs! I know his skills and he may never be that good,” Durand exclaims fervently.
“He’ll beat Mongkut; guaranteed,” Briggs responds with passion.
“You mention Mongkut one more time, I’ll smash your big face,” Durand says with anger.
“Oh, really?”

Thereafter, the two get into fighting position and begin to fight, a very brief (and harmless) fight sequence that Kurt stops by getting between them. (The platitude of their back-and-forth dialogue will definitely be remembered.)

With permission from fight promoter Thomas, Kurt takes his training outside of the prison walls, while being shadowed by one of Thomas’ underlings. Durand and Gamon (Jessica Jann) accompany Kurt to an underground fighting venue, where Joseph King (Steven Spadling) sets up an impromptu fight against his best fighter named Moss (Rico Verhoeven). Expectedly, Kurt wins convincingly in another uninteresting fight scene.

After the fight, with a predetermined plan, Gamon causes a commotion which allows Kurt to escape with one of Thomas’ men, beating him into submission to reveal his wife’s whereabouts. When he reaches the proximity of where she is being captive, Kurt fights his way through enemies that are trying to prevent him from reaching the location. This choreographed fight scene represents absurdity at its finest, and musically supported with The Surfaris’ 1963 song named “Wipe Out.” To select this song for a fighting scene, out of all the songs in the world, is incomprehensible.

When Kurt finally reaches the destination, where his wife is located, he meets Thomas along with two half-naked women (with fluorescent back tattoos) who challenge him to a fight. The women run into a gloomy room filled with mirrors, where Kurt follows but gets confused because of the illusion of the mirrors.

This fight scene mirrors that of Bruce Lee’s 1973 movie Enter the Dragon, where Lee chases Han (Shih Kien) into a room occupied with many mirrors, serving as an illusion to confuse Lee. However, Lee breaks the mirrors to find Han and kills him. In Kickboxer: Retaliation, the same thing occurs: Kurt looks confused with the various mirrors; therefore, he breaks a few mirrors to locate the women and defeats them.

At the end, Kurt and Mongkut finally meet in a fighting scene that runs over twenty minutes. In Bloodsport, Bolo (Chong Li) threatens Frank Dux with the following words: “You break my record; now I break you like I break your friend.” In the original Kickboxer, Tong Po taunts and insults Kurt by naming his girlfriend after raping her: “You bleed like Mylee; Mylee good fuck.” Likewise, in Kickboxer: Retaliation, Mongkut threatens Kurt and brings up wishes to satisfy his wife sexually: “When I kill you, I’m gonna keep that sweet ass warm at night.”

During this final battle, there are some good scenes and other ridiculous scenes (especially Kurt’s revival via a needle); nonetheless, the fight represents a satisfactory ending to a film that runs longer than it should have.

As a whole, Kickboxer: Retaliation represents an unexciting film – despite a few occasional good scenes. In fact, the film provides sequences of other films which are told and visually shown in a different manner; the originality that every film deserves is simply absent. The Taser scene in the opening, the constant kidnapping plot from prior movies, and the usage of Lee’s mirror illusion from Enter the Dragon are clear examples. The acting and dialogue are problematic throughout the film. Some scenes are bad while others are awfully terrible.

Alain Moussi (as the protagonist Kurt) is a great fighter, but he does not have enough charisma and acting prowess to carry a film. He’s not believable. There is no other way of characterizing his performance; it’s honestly boring and brings no excitement. Van Damme is not an excellent actor, but when he plays a protagonist, his charisma shines; his believable personality carries the role he is assigned to portray and makes it interesting, which is why many of his films in the 80s and 90s are classics.

In regard to the script, written by director Logothetis and co-writer Jim McGrath, it fails badly and represents a lackluster manuscript filled with an assemblage of humdrum wordplay that serves as a fodder for laughter. Moreover, the editing of the film does not present a bright spot, because it seems to be all over the place. The transitions from scene to scene present a clumsiness of unorganized disorder. With the exception of the pre-induction dancing scene, which provides a musical that properly supports the slow dancing, the music selection (or lack thereof) does not complement the fight scenes whatsoever.

As stated in the forefront, the protagonist of a fighting movie usually comes out victorious at the end, a statement that renders truth in this film. As a result, a robust and interesting script must be executed to help the characters grow (and showcase some charisma) as they move along with their respective roles. Moreover, a robust script keeps viewers entertained and connect with the protagonist through the character he portrays. Unfortunately, writer and director Dimitri Logothetis’ Kickboxer: Retaliation fails to capture any spark of interest, for the script represents an unoriginal mess and the main character is vapidly bland at best. (This film releases in U.S. theaters on Friday, January 26, 2018.)

On a scale of A+ to F, Kickboxer: Retaliation receives a D+ grade.

Book Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), by Nora Neale Hurston


July 1, 2008

First published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Nora Neale Hurston typifies a bildungsroman novel (a coming-of-age novel of one’s early years which explores the development of the character). Appropriately, this literature is often called Black literature because the text deals with Black culture. The story concentrates on the protagonist Janie Crawford (a beautiful, middle-aged, self-assured Black woman) and her three husbands: Logan Killicks, Jody Sparks, and Tea Cake. The setting of the story takes place in rural Florida, roughly in the 1930s.

The story begins with a fairly young and stunning Black woman returning to Eatonville, Florida after being gone for a long length of time. Janie Crawford, somewhere in her 30s or early 40s, walks into town with filthy overalls (something the women take satisfaction in); the local residents know her and they all take notice as she strides her way home. The men gawk and admire her beauty, gaping at her gorgeous physique, while the women gaze with contempt. Obviously jealous and bitter, the women on the porch begin to bad-mouth and gossip about her after she enters her residence, speculating that her younger man left her after using all of her money.

Because Janie does not stop and talk to them when she returns, they take offense and depict her mannerism as rude and standoffish. What makes the women more resentful (and envious) is her physical beauty – especially her long, straight hair. As the women continue to take joy in berating her, Pheoby Watson – Janie’s best friend – sticks up for Janie and criticizes the women for their mean-spirited comments. She excuses her presence and heads to Janie’s home, bringing with her a platter of food for Janie.

Pheoby reveals the gossiping speculations of the women, which Janie finds humorous. As they converse, Janie tells her that she has returned without Tea Cake because he is gone – but not gone in the way that the women on the porch speculate. Pheoby does not grasp what she means, so Janie agrees to explain it to her. This is where Janie’s story begins as she recounts it to Pheoby; however, Janie is not the primary narrator but does serve as a narrator. Tea Cake, in fact, appears at midpoint to the latter. Moreover, the novel begins at the end of the story.

Janie’s first husband comes by way of her grandmother, a grandmother (Nanny) that plays mother and father since birth, because her parents were absent. When Janie turns sixteen, she takes pleasure in the fruitful springtime by sitting under a blossoming pear tree. At such young age, Janie begins to show her sexuality and kisses a local boy named Johnny Taylor, which gets her in trouble with her grandmother. Nanny witnesses her behavior and decides to marry her off to a much older man named Logan Killicks who she does not know. Janie obviously disagrees with her grandmother and says she does not want to marry. However, Nanny assures her that marrying Logan, an affluent middle-aged farmer, will bring security before she dies.

Janie gripes and begs, “Please don’t make me marry Mr. Killicks,” but her grandmother tells her it’s for her own good. Still dissatisfied, Nanny tries to convince her by recounting her difficulties in the past. Born into slavery, Nanny had a painful upbringing and was raped by her master; this rape produced a child named Leafy (Janie’s mother who she never meets). When the master’s wife realized that Leafy had gray eyes and straight hair, she knew her husband fathered Leafy. Angered with what she knew, she planned to sell off Leafy and have Nanny violently whipped, but Nanny escaped into the swamps with her child before such malicious act was carried out.

Thereafter, Nanny found work with the Washburns, her employers after she became a free woman. Nanny envisioned a better life for her daughter Leafy, but all hopes were shattered when Leafy, at the age of 17, was raped by her schoolteacher – a rape that brought Janie into the world. After her rape, Leafy’s behavior soured: She stayed out all night and intoxicated herself with liquor. In due course, Leafy ran away, leaving her daughter Janie with her mother.

With Nanny’s convincingness and retelling her past experiences, Janie makes comfort with her grandmother’s viewpoint of marriage, even though she says she could never see herself loving Logan. Nanny argues that love will come after marriage. Since old folks know the best, Janie takes the advice to heart. Subsequently, she marries Logan in Nanny’s parlor. The marriage is huge and jovial, but the marriage is not. Two months later, Janie visits her grandmother and says she does not love Logan and finds him ugly. Nanny scolds her and claims she is unappreciative of his wealth and status. Moreover, she tells Janie to hang in there and love will eventually come. Sadly, Nanny dies a month later.

Within a year of the marriage, Janie still has no love for Logan. The marriage is practically nonexistent and Janie’s happiness is absent. Logan wants Janie to partake in manual labor, so he leaves to purchase a mule for her to work in the farm. While he is gone, Janie sees a stranger, well-dressed and attractive, strolling down the road. His name is Joe Sparks, and he catches Janie’s attention immediately. She flirts with him and finds out that he comes from Georgia, and has grand plans to build and run a new town in Florida. She learns about his great ambitions and finds him interesting (especially his eloquence and objectives), unlike her husband.

Besides having no attraction to Logan whatsoever, Janie’s feeling for another man should raise no question, because her husband represents an uncaring and nasty man. He is simply rude and represents an authoritarian: formulating rules in which she has to comply with. Whenever he needs her aid, she has to be there to assist him quickly. When he talks, she has to listen and do what he utters accordingly. Logan’s disrespect is evident when he wants Janie, a woman, to carry chopped wood into the house.

His words are as follows: “If I can haul the wood here and chop it for you, look like you ought to be able to tow it inside.” He continues with his outlandish comment: “My first wife never bothered me about chopping no wood no how; she’d grab that ax and sling like a man. You done been spoiled rotten.”

Shortly after that altercation, the disrespect of Janie continues when he calls her from outside to help move a pile of manure. This call for help takes place when Janie is in the kitchen, cooking and preparing him a meal. But to Logan, it does not matter and he makes that very clear: “You don’t take a bit of interest in dis place. ’Tain’t no use in foolin’ round in dat kitchen all day long.” This clearly shows the sign of an inconsiderate soul. After his cries for help, she replies: “You don’t need mah help out dere, Logan. Youse in yo’ place and I’m in mine.” She could not have said that any better, but he has a comeback and thinks otherwise: “You ain’t got no particular place. It’s wherever Ah need yuh” (31).

Janie and Logan fight constantly and every day, so she finds comfort and happiness with Joe Starks. As Joe gets familiar to his new surroundings, he and Janie converge secretly each and every day; they become so close that he informs her to call him Jody. He takes her breath away and impresses her with his grandiose dreams. With Jody, her dream for real love blossoms. After two weeks of secret romance, Jody asks Janie to leave her husband and become his wife.

That same night, Janie and Logan carry out their normal relationship through argument. He belittles and slurs her for not helping him with the farm work, and Janie fires back. Obviously tired of the constant arguments, Janie threatens him by saying she will run away. Morning arrives and the argument continues about working in the farm. As expected, Janie’s threat of leaving him becomes a reality, going to her new man Jody, meeting in a prearranged time and place. Janie and Jody quickly get married before sundown and embark on their journey to the new town.

When they arrive to the new town, Eatonville, Florida, they realize its small nature which occupies a few shacks. Jody asks two men, Lee Cooker and Amos Hicks, to see the mayor, but there is no mayor. Jody begins to talk to the townspeople and realizes how undersize the town is, so he buys two acres to add to the existing fifty acres. The ambitious Jody then announces that he will build two structures: a store and a post office. He calls a town meeting and shares his plans on how he will beautify the town. Even though Tony Taylor is the chairman of the assembly, Jody does all the talking. His plans to have a store and a post office become a reality with the help of Coker and Taylor, two men he employs to build the structures.

With Jody’s money and power, he immediately becomes mayor of Eatonville. At the ceremony, held at his store, Taylor asks Janie to make a speech on behalf of her husband, but Jody precludes her from speaking. He rudely claims that speech-making is not for his wife to make. In Jody’s own words, he states: “Thank yuh fuh yo’ compliments, but mah wife don’t know nothin’ ’bout no speech-makin’. Ah never married her for nothin’ lak dat. She’s uh woman and her place is in de home” (43). This comment angers Janie, but she says nothing.

With mayoral power, Jody continues to makes advances to Eatonville, but the townspeople are bothered by his condescending and bossy treatment. Not only do they look at Jody differently, but they start to look at Janie differently (by way of jealously) because she had it all; that is, a powerful man, an intricate new two-story house, and elaborate things. The townspeople begin to feel like Jody is taking pride in their lower class status by showing off his wealth, especially when he buys a spittoon for Janie and himself. Moreover, Jody forces a man, Henry Pitts, out of town for stealing a load of his ribbon cane, which bothered the townspeople. Jody’s mannerisms quickly make the people throughout the town dislike him, precipitating their relationship to grow apart. The gossiping by the townspeople about Jody and his wife begins, wondering how Janie could stay with such an overbearing and condescending man.

The townspeople’s criticism is right on point, because Jody represents a tyrant; he is a domineering man and Janie takes the full brunt of it – verbally, mentally, and physically. In fact, he treats his wife like trash, similar to a slave. In their store, Jody forces Janie to tie her long/beautiful hair and keep it in a rag, afraid that men will be attracted to her if she keeps it out. Janie hates managing the store but finds enjoyment from the stories the men partake in outside of the store. When Janie tries to join in the fun, Jody tells her to not interact with “trashy people.”

Janie’s marriage is clearly problematic at this juncture of the text. In truth, Jody is ten times worse than Janie’s first husband Logan. When he first arrives in the novel, he seems like a decent man with his enticing goals, his smooth-tongue, and his overall presence. He literally charms Janie. However, that charming man is nonexistent after marriage. Embarrassing her in the public eye, battering her flesh into submission, speaking to her like a child, and all the negatives are prevalent; she endures a lot of pain. He constantly belittles, disrespects, and treats her like the surface he walks on.

One day, Jody gets into an argument with Janie in the store about a misplaced bill and belittles Janie about its whereabouts: “Somebody got to think for women and chillun and chickens and cows.” Such statement shows that he does not see her as an equal, but as an animal that needs order. His following comment is equally disrespectful by implying that she lacks intelligence: “When I see one thing, I understand ten. You see ten things and don’t understand one.”

Jody takes his mistreatment of Janie a bit further one day during dinner by hitting her. This beating, happening seven years after their marriage, occurs because Jody feels the dinner is badly done and distasteful. As Hurston inscribes, “He slapped Janie until she had ringing sound in her ears and told her about her brains before he stalked on back to the store” (72). During their marriage, Janie’s love for him declines tremendously, but this incident shatters every piece of love she has for him.

Later in the day, she shows her anger while at the store when overhearing the men on the porch taking pleasure in berating and talking badly about women. No longer can she hold in her anger nor her tongue; she speaks out and rebukes the men, telling them that they know nothing about women, etc. Jody quickly jumps in and tells her to quiet her mouth (“You getting’ too moufy, Janie”) and “fetch” him a checkerboard.

With passing years, Janie’s deplorable marriage affects her mental state, making her view herself as unattractive. She also realizes Jody’s unattractiveness because he looks old, something Jody realizes himself. His body droops and lumps; more apparent, he has problem moving around. To make Janie ignore his appearance, he tries to play with her mind by attacking her age and appearance. But she is not stupid and understands that this is a ploy to make her believe that she too is in a similar position of ugliness and old age, but that is not the case. As Jody’s health continues to worsen, he verbally attacks her more viciously and frequently. One of his verbal attacks, happening at the store in the presence of many, causes Janie to lash out by attacking his sagging body, stating it resembles “de change uh life.”

Her comment surprises the men on the porch, but it surprises Jody the most. Feeling disrespected, he violently hits Janie and drives her away from the store. But the damage is already done (thanks to Janie’s comment), and his reputation in the town decreases. Subsequent to that quarrel, they separate themselves in the house by moving to different rooms.

Jody’s health becomes dire. The townspeople gossip that Janie is causing his illness with poison, a rumor that her best friend Pheoby tells her about. However, the rumor is proven wrong when Janie calls for a doctor to check his condition; the doctor ascertains that Jody’s kidneys have failed, which will soon cause his demise. Janie tells him about his ominous fate and he becomes sad. In a way, she feels sorry for him but takes the time to scold him, telling him how badly he treated her with his domineering and violent ways. He tells her to stop but she refuses. Shortly thereafter, Jody dies. She looks in the mirror, frees her hair from its rag-bondage, and realizes that she is still beautiful. She then yells out the window that Jody has died with a guise of grief.

Janie sends Jody off with an elaborate funeral. She carries a mourning face for the outside world but feels happy internally. The townspeople see only one major change: Janie publically begins to showcase her long hair. With her beauty and wealth, several men approach her, but she pays them no mind and rebuffs their advances. Not one suitor comes close in a timespan of six months. Janie is happy with her freedom and does not want to be tied down to another man. However, her mind changes when she meets a man named Vergible Woods.

She meets this stranger when he enters her store to buy a cigarette – and he begins to flirt and jokes with her. This flirtation precipitates laughter from Janie. He continues to flirt with her during a game of checkers. After playing checkers, they converse and she finds out that this stranger’s name is Vergible Woods, but he says that everyone calls him Tea Cake. They enjoy each other’s company and he helps her close up the store at night. Most important, he makes her laugh, something her prior husbands could not execute.

One week passes and Janie does not see Tea Cake, so she begins to think that he cares only for her wealth. When he finally comes back after a week, he jokes around which puts a smile on her face. They again play checkers; afterward, he walks her home where they sit on the porch, eating, drinking lemonade, and conversing. They meet regularly and frolic in romance, which does not sit well with the townspeople for two main reasons: 1. she stops mourning for her late husband too soon, and 2. such a high-profiled woman should not be dating a poor man like Tea Cake.

Her best friend Pheoby tells her to watch out for Tea Cake’s true intentions; she replies by saying that he is a good man. She then shocks Pheoby by disclosing her plans to sell the store, leave town, and wed Tea Cake. She keeps her word, leaving Eatonville for Jacksonville where she marries Tea Cake. Later, they settle in the Everglades where Tea Cake plans to work in the muck.

Tea Cake, Janie’s third husband, is clearly better than her prior husbands. He really loves Janie and gives her space to grow mentally. He has fun with her by showing her how to shoot a gun, a skill that she ultimately overshadows him in. They even go hunting together. Most important, Tea Cake truly makes her happy and charms her with jokes. However, in no way does he represent a perfect husband; at times, he even treats Janie like her prior husbands via abuse and his domineering behavior. Moreover, he is manipulative and sneaky.

One day, without Janie’s knowledge he takes $200 from her dress and spends it away on a big wild party he sponsors. When he gets back home, he promises Janie he will pay her back by gambling. He keeps his promise and reimburses her. Believing in his trust, she reveals the money she has in the bank. When he starts his work in the muck, he sneaks away and visits Janie at home because he “deeply” misses her. This causes Janie to go work in the muck with him to be together all day. But someday in the muck, Tea Cake has other plans when he goes missing, and Janie finds him play-wrestling with a stocky girl named Nunkie, causing jealously and anger.

This is not his only questionable behavior. His most awful behavior happens when he beats Janie, similar to Jody. Hurston makes it clear that his beating is not brutal, but he physically abuses her nonetheless: “Being able to whip her reassured him in possession…He slapped her around a bit to show he was boss” (147). Her physical abuse is noticed by many in the muck, for her flesh is marked by his hands.

Nonetheless, bad luck quickly comes their way via a hurricane while living in the Everglades. With the chance to leave before the storm hits, they decide to stay. When the storm hits, it causes a flood and they realize that it is best to leave. They swim in the flood, passing dead bodies, to reach higher grounds, but the rough water blows Janie away. Tea Cake goes after her and a dog, which starts to attack Janie, bites him in the cheek; he stabs it to death.

Four weeks later, Tea Cake’s head pounds with a headache. Janie calls a doctor and after his assessment, he tells her a devastating news: The dog that bit Tea Cake had rabies and saving him is perhaps too late. While Tea Cake health worsens, he becomes delusional and thinks that she is sneaking away to meet another man. Actually, she leaves the house to find medicine that may save his life. She tries to calm his speculation, but she also becomes afraid when he hides a pistol under his pillow.

In the morning, Tea Cake becomes irate and goes outside when Janie plans to leave the house again to see a doctor. While outside, Janie manipulates his pistol (making sure it goes through three empty chambers before reaching a bullet) just in case he plans to use it on her. Tea Cake comes inside, angrier than before and retrieves his pistol. He pulls the trigger and nothing happens. A scared Janie retrieves a rifle to possibly make him stop, but it does not work. Tea Cake pulls the trigger two more times, rendering nothing. Janie is left with no choice but to protect herself by shooting him as he attempts to fire again. A trial follows quickly, but she is found innocent. Thereafter, she sends him off accordingly with a grand funeral. (It is important to know that even though Tea Cake’s behavior was questionable, he serves as the catalyst that helps Janie find her true self.)

As a whole, during the writing of this piece, Hurston executed the novel amazingly and did a great job showing how men disrespect and mistreatment women. The cruelty stems from the belief that men are superior to women; therefore, women should cater to the needs of men because, according to some men, that is their role. Although the novel was written in 1937, the most prominent theme of abuse resonates today, because some men batter their wives (or girlfriends), view women as property, and believe that women are inferior beings. The novel falls under fiction, but it captures realism that can not be denied, for thousands of women are abused and murdered yearly. In fact, there are a great number of Logan Killicks, Joe ‘Jody’ Sparks, and Tea Cakes out there.

Even though Nora Neale Hurston is no longer living, Their Eyes Were Watching God has kept her name alive and will continue to do so, because it represents a classic, getting many accolades and precipitating a film starring actress Halle Berry as Janie. Both men and women should read this novel and form their own conclusion on what the text means to them; it’s a deserving piece of literature that is filled with reality – not to mention the poetic elegance rendered by Hurston.

In the beginning, this novel may be difficult for some, due to the characters’ dialect (i.e., Black vernacular) and how it is written, but it won’t be too long before the reader understands it. Their Eyes Were Watching God represents a notable novel, despite its controversial text regarding men’s abusive behaviors.

Literary Analysis: The Taming of the Shrew: The Importance of Christopher Sly’s Induction


October 17, 2006

Numerous of William Shakespeare’s dramas employ the concept of “plays within plays,” where characters in the play execute the performance of a different play. This dramatic device by Shakespeare is incorporated in plays like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Love’s Labours Lost, Hamlet, and so forth. Some well-known examples consist of the “Murder of Gonzago” scene and the “Mousetrap” scene in Hamlet, and the “Pyramus and Thisbe” scene at the conclusion of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This motif by Shakespeare also presents itself in The Taming of the Shrew – not in the same manner as the plays mentioned above but as an introduction to the main play.

Shakespeare begins The Taming of the Shrew with a mysterious Induction of the character Christopher Sly, but the story never concludes nor does it carry on to the actual play. Therefore, a couple of questions must be asked: What does Sly’s story contribute to the main play? More important, does his role in the Induction play a significant part to the main play? Absolutely. In fact, the Induction incorporates many of the major motifs of the main play, such as disguise/deception, clothing, the role of marriage, etc. The identity of Sly changes when his clothes are changed, similar to Lucentio’s and Tranio’s attire. Sly finds himself in a strange position and must act accordingly to the role he has been assigned, similar to Kate. Lastly, Sly’s interest is to have a wife whom he can control, just as do Petruchio and other male characters in the main play.

The role of disguise plays a major part of The Taming of the Shrew. In the first act, Shakespeare wastes no time in addressing this theme which parallels the Induction. In the Induction, Sly assumes a disguise in a strange way, in which he has no control over. The story materializes like this: Sly’s drunkenness and disruptive behavior gets him tossed out of a facility and finds himself asleep in front of a lord’s house. The lord arrives home and sees Sly; he then devises a plan to convince Sly that he is a lord, with the help of his household. When Sly is bestowed this honor, he is skeptical at first: “I am Christopher Sly. Call not me ‘honor’ nor ‘lordship’ (Ind. 2. 5). Such response by Sly shows that his identity remains intact, but it would be short-lived. With more convincing that he is a lord (precipitated by the tale of his beautiful wife and trickery), he assumes the role and calls his so-called wife to bed: “Tis much. Servants leave me and her alone. / Madam, undress you and come now to bed” (108-109). This statement by Sly does not only show the disguise that he assumes, but also shows the role of marriage, which will be touched upon shortly.

Interestingly, Sly’s transformation from a beggar to a lord does not only take place with fabricated stories but also with the change of his attire – which introduces the theme of clothing. When Sly’s clothing changes, so does his identity. Because Sly has fine clothing, it enables him to appropriately fit his position as a lord, likewise Lucentio and Tranio. Lucentio (a young student from Pisa who arrives to study in Padua) takes on a disguise to try to acquire Bianca’s love and attention, after he has seen her and falls madly in love. To get closer to Bianca, Lucentio disguises himself as an instructor named Cambio, a clever idea to get into Bianca’s life and the Minola household. To put his plan into action, he convinces Gremio (one of Bianca’s suitors) to recommend him to Baptista – Bianca’s father – as a tutor for Bianca. Thereafter, Tranio (Lucentio’s servant) indirectly warns Lucentio that he has an appointment in Padua and if he fails to arrive, trouble will occur. To remedy any impending problem, Lucentio devises yet another plan: He orders his servant Tranio to impersonate him as he tries to win over Bianca’s love, disguised as a tutor. Not only do Lucentio and Tranio take on a different identity, but they also switch their clothes. When Biondello (Lucentio’s second servant) sees Tranio’s wearing Lucentio’s clothes, he asks his master several questions: “Where have I been? Nay, how now, where are you? / Master, has my fellow Tranio stol’n your clothes? / Or you stol’n his? Or both? Pray, what’s the news?” (1.1. 214-216). The changing of clothes by the characters represents importance and goes hand in hand with the theme of disguise.

Without changing their clothing it would be impossible to pull off a disguise and pose as another person. Clothing was an indication of one’s status in the Elizabethan era. The upper class dressed in valuable and highly structured garments, flaunting their wealth with rich fabrics and extreme decorations; the lower class dressed in plain clothes, which could clearly determine their social status. Similarly, in The Taming of the Shrew, the characters who change their clothing take on a different appearance. Clothing facilitates this outcome because external appearance overshadows the true self and controls the perceptions of others. It allows one to change his or her social positions by donning a disguise. When Sly changes his clothing into that of a lord, he gets treated differently. Once Lucentio transforms himself from a young gentleman into a professor, people treat him as the role he plays. Moreover, when Tranio alters his appearance to Lucentio’s, his image as a servant diminishes and his noble image takes priority. The Induction presents two people assuming a disguise – via clothes: Sly and Bartholomew. Similarly, in Act 1 Scene 1, we see Lucentio and Tranio undertake a disguise. It makes it obvious: The way one dresses facilitates one’s perception.

In continuation with the issue of attire, the theme of clothing stands alone and does not only serve as a disguise mechanism, for it also works as a way of humiliation (publicly and privately), social identity (as noted above), and one of the processes in which Petruchio uses to tame Katherine. One of the most notable scenes occurs the day that the wedding of Kate and Petruchio takes place. Everyone is in attendance, excluding Petruchio. While the spectators become apprehensive, Kate becomes frustrated and leaves. Petruchio, obviously, will not miss his wedding because that would also rule out his riches, so he will be there. As expected, Petruchio arrives at his wedding late, wearing horrendous clothing – shabby mismatched attire, riding on an old horse. Petruchio’s wedding costume represents an act of public humiliation meant for Kate. His inappropriate appearance surprises Baptista and the audience. Baptista orders him to change to no avail. Petruchio responds: “To me she’s married, not unto my clothes. / Could I repair what she will wear in me / As I can change these poor accoutrements, / ‘Twere well for Kate and better for myself” (3.2. 107-110).

This statement by Petruchio typifies an important psychological viewpoint, because it entails that Katherine is not marrying his clothes; instead, she is marrying him, signifying the man beneath the apparel is not equal to the apparel he wears. In other words, Petruchio states that no matter what one wears, his inner self will stand out – which poses the question: Does the clothing make the man? Absolutely not. Lucentio, for example, may be disguised as Cambio the tutor, but reverts to himself once the courtship with Bianca begins to unfold. Likewise, the other disguised characters (Tranio, Hortensio, and the Pedant), can not escape the reality that they have to return to their true identities, including Sly. Although we never get a full disclosure of Sly’s story in the Induction, we know that he will not remain as a lord by what happens to the characters in the main story; they all return to their prior and natural state of being.

Another scene concerning clothes that is of importance occurs in Act 4 with the tailor and haberdasher. Petruchio assures Kate that he will return to her father’s house in the finest clothes and accessories: “Will we return unto thy father’s house / And reveal it as bravely as the best, / With silken coats and caps and golden rings, / With ruffs, and cuffs, and farthingales, and things / With scarves, and fans, and double change of bravery, / With amber bracelets … and all this knavery” (4.3. 53-58). Such declaration parallels his prior speech before the wedding when he assured Baptista and Kate that “[they] will have rings, and things, and fine array” (2.1. 316), only to appear at the wedding with an inappropriate attire, making a mockery of the Paduan culture.

Nonetheless, the tailor and haberdasher appear in the scene with a gown and a hat (for Kate) to Petruchio’s dismay. Petruchio looks at the hat and finds several errors. He criticizes the haberdasher’s work and the hat: “A velvet dish. Fie, fie ‘tis lewd and filthy. / Why ‘tis a cockle or a walnut shell, / A knack, a toy, a trick, a baby’s cap” (4.3. 65-67). Kate comes to the Haberdasher’s defense, arguing that the hat looks good and she likes it: “Love me or love me not, I like the cap, / And it I will have, or I will have none” (4.3. 84-85). Petruchio ignores her and turns his focus to the tailor’s work, where he again finds countless faults with the gown. Similar to the hat, Kate loves the gown and tells Petruchio that “[she’s] never saw a better fashioned gown” (4.3. 101), but he remains unimpressed and firm with his judgment. After his criticism, he sends the tailor away with the gown, privately humiliating his wife. In truth, nothing major is wrong with the gown to make it unwearable; it is Petruchio who purposely finds it unpleasant, allowing him to showcase his disruptive manner as a technique to tame Kate and mock her Paduan society.

With Kate distressed, the humiliation of her continues when Petruchio tells her that they will travel to her father’s house with the old clothes they have: “We will unto your father’s / Even in these honest, mean habiliments. / Our purses shall be proud, our garments poor, / For ‘tis the mind that makes the body rich” (4.3. 161-164). Petruchio speaks these words because it is not the clothes that make the person but rather the mind. This represents a classic manipulation by Petruchio to discipline her mind and body via the clothes she wears and the clothes he sees fit for her to wear. In more concrete language, he basically tries to reshape her body before working on remodeling her mind (a technique that actually goes hand in hand).

Marriage represents another theme that Shakespeare alludes to in the Induction. In the Induction, Sly’s mannerisms (after he has been tricked) show a small glimpse of the marriage role. After he has been convinced that he is a lord, his instinct of controlling and commanding his wife takes priority: “Madam, undress you and come now to bed” (Ind.2. 105). Sly in this scene plays the role of a husband and demands his wife, similar to how Petruchio treats his wife Kate. In this era, a husband had absolute right to treat his wife however he wanted to, even with violence. However, Petruchio never uses violence against Kate although he was allowed to do so.

In fact, when Petruchio first meets Kate behind closed doors, his rhetoric causes Kate to strike him, showing her wild behavior which he plans to tame. He does not reciprocate the hit but warns to do so, if necessary. He remains undisturbed by her rejections and vows to marry her without consent: “Thus in plain terms: your father hath consented / That you shall be my wife; your dowry greed on; / And will you, nill you, I will marry you” (2.1. 262-264). Despite Kate’s objections, Petruchio later announces to Baptista and his men that Kate has agreed to marry him (an obvious lie) and a wedding date has been set. Because Katherine fails to protest his bogus claim(s) that she has agreed to marry him, she indirectly approves what he says. Although they are not married yet, Petruchio’s authoritative role as a soon-to-be husband has already been solidified.

He continues his authoritative behavior when he shows up late to his own wedding. Petruchio’s lateness shows a sign of his control and power over Kate. To make it worse, he publicly acts out in a bizarre manner at the wedding ceremony to embarrass her, one of his plans to tame her and demonstrate to her the unruly behavior she embodies. After the nuptials, Petruchio takes his actions to the extreme and exercises his right as a husband at the wedding reception with a firm command, declaring that he and his wife are leaving. Kate wants to stay and makes it clear to her husband, but he thinks otherwise and disregards her request: “For my bonny Kate, she must with me. / Nay, look not big, nor stamp, nor stare, nor fret; / I will be master of what is mine own. / She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house” (3.2. 216-219). These disrespectful lines Petruchio speaks show that his command shall be obeyed – and not be challenged – because Kate belongs to him. Moreover, he diminishes her presence as a human by labeling her as his objects. Following his firm demand to leave, they leave. His antics throughout the wedding ceremony solidify the beginning of his control as a master/husband.

The action with the newlyweds heats up at Petruchio’s house. He orders his servants to cook him and his wife a feast but, strangely, rejects the entire dinner when the servants present it to them. Petruchio then goes on a rage and throws all the food on the floor: “Tis burnt, and so is all the meat. What dogs are these? Where is the rascal cook?” (4.1. 131-132). Kate argues that the meat is well cooked. We all know that the dinner is faultless and Petruchio’s antics serve as a calculated plan to tame her, confirmed by his words: “Thus have I politicly begun my reign, / And tis my hope to end successfully” (4.1. 157-158). Some would think that his tactics make him a bad husband; however, in that era, a husband’s behavior was warranted by law. Although his actions may seem a bit extreme, they are nowhere near as horrible as some of the sermons imply. According to A Homily of the State of Matrimony, a wife who was beaten should be thankful and accept the fact that she was not beaten any worse.

In Act 4, Kate starts to slightly change and her desire to eat precipitates her to ask for food. The hungry Kate convinces Grumio (Petruchio’s servant) to bring her some food, only to be taunted by him. Her request for food is later rendered by her husband, but she fails to thank him properly and he threatens to take it away: “The poorest service is repaid with thanks, / And so shall mine before you touch the meat” (4.3. 45-46). The hungry Kate has no choice but to thank him properly and offers a subtle thank you. The taming process of Kate is nearly complete. This scene closes with another lesson of obeying what he says. Petruchio claims that it is seven o’clock and they will arrive at her father’s house at noon. Kate knows that he is wrong and argues that it is almost two. Although Kate’s statement is true, Petruchio argues: “It shall be seven ere I go to horse. / Look what I speak, or do, or think to do, / You are still crossing it … / I will not go today, and ere I do, / It shall be what o’clock I say it is” (4.3. 183-187). This declaration by Petruchio states that even though his judgment renders a falsehood, she should never question him and must obey what he says.

When they are heading to Baptista’s house, the mental taming (through games) by Petruchio continues – moon versus sun. Petruchio claims that the moon shines brightly. Kate disagrees and says the sun shines brightly. Petruchio utters: “It shall be moon, or star, or what I list / Or ere I journey to your father’s house” (4.5. 7-8). Petruchio’s threats to return back home precipitate Kate to agree: “Since, we have come so far, / And be it the moon, or sun, or what you please; / An if you please to call it a rush candle, / Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me” (4.5. 12-14). She begins to realize the game and will agree to whatever Petruchio says. In other words, if she wants to get what she wants, she must fully comply with what her husband says, whether it be wrong, misleading, or completely outrageous. In Act 5, Petruchio again threatens to go home after his request for a kiss is denied; she then kisses him.

Kate has fully transformed and Petruchio’s job as a successful tamer shows clearly in the final act. Once all of the characters assemble to rejoice Bianca’s and Lucentio’s wedding, the men decide to bet on who has the most submissive wife. Lucentio and Hortensio order their wives to come, but they both refuse. However, when Petruchio calls for his wife Kate, she comes to everyone’s surprise. Baptista praises Petruchio and talks as if his daughter had never embodied a shrew: “For she is changed, as she had never been” (5.2. 119). Moreover, he unnecessarily orders Kate to destroy the cap she wears and she complies. Thereafter, Kate delivers a long speech to the women on how wives should treat their husbands: “I am ashamed that women are so simple / To offer war where they should kneel for peace, / Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway, / When they are bound to serve, love, and obey” (5.2. 165-168). These four lines from the epic speech by Kate, without a doubt, show that she has fully been tamed – and psychologically changed – by her husband Petruchio and no longer exhibits her unruly behavior.

Shakespeare provides an unfinished Induction with the character Sly, which continues to the main play. Shakespeare mildly presents several themes – disguise, marriage, clothes, etc. – that clearly materialize in the play. The Induction works as a catalyst for the forthcoming actions. As a result, the Induction renders a significant device, for every theme that presents itself in the Induction shows up in the main play. First, Sly’s identity alters in the Induction once he changes his clothes, similar to the identity of Lucentio and Tranio, two themes of disguise and clothes. Furthermore, Sly’s gullibility enables the Lord and his men to trick him, similar to Baptista and others, a theme of deception. Second, Sly finds himself in a strange position which he has no control over and must act accordingly, which parallels Kate’s role as a wife. Finally, Sly’s interest to control his wife is evident as he orders his so-called wife Bartholomew to bed, which compares to Petruchio and other males in the play, a theme of marriage. Therefore, it is safe to render a judgment that the Induction and the main play of The Taming of the Shrew are inseparable and greatly parallel one another via motifs.


Bio: Gwendolyn Brooks (June 7, 1917-December 3, 2000)


January 9, 2009 | Revised: January 16, 2018

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was born on June 7, 1917 to David Anderson Brooks and Keziah Wims in Topeka, Kansas. Shortly thereafter, when she was an infant, the family relocated to Chicago, Illinois, where she grew up and resided all her life. Her father was a janitor, for his ambition to attend medical school to become a doctor was unfulfilled due to monetary issues; her mother was a teacher and a classical trained pianist.

Brooks had a passion for reading and writing and found great support from her parents. In fact, in 1930, she published her first poem, “Eventide,” in American Childhood at the age of thirteen. Although her parents were supportive and loving, they were also strict and did not allow her to play with the neighborhood kids; instead, they encouraged her to remain in her literature and provided her with the educational tools to do so. Her home was stable, but the same cannot be said for her schools, where she encountered racial prejudice. She first attended an all-white school, Hyde Park High School (now called Hype Park Career Academy); she later transfer to an all-black high school, Wendell Phillips, before settling at an integrated school, Englewood High School. While attending Englewood, her mother, in 1933, introduced her to Harlem Renaissance prominent poets Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson. Meeting these Black writers was not only advantageous but inspirational. After taking Johnson’s advice to read and study modern poets, Brooks began reading the work of Ezra Pound, E.E. Cummings, T.S. Eliot, and others alike. After meeting Hughes at the Metropolitan Community Church, he told her to seriously think of writing professionally after reading a few poems she had with her.

In 1934, she graduated from Englewood High School and found employment with the Chicago Defender, an African American newspaper, where she had an adjunct position. During this time, she attended Wilson Junior College (now Kennedy-King College), for two years, graduating in 1936; she never attended a four-year university because she thought it was unnecessary for her writing career. As a staff of the Chicago Defender, she published more than seventy-five poems in its poetry section called “Lights and Shadows”; however, she was not given a full-time position. She later worked briefly as a maid and secretary in a slum apartment building known as The Mecca, managed by a spiritual charlatan/slumlord. She was not too fond of any of these humiliating job experiences as described in her poetry.

In 1938, she joined the Youth Council of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In a Youth Council meeting she met Henry Lowington Blakely II and married him on September 17, 1939; their son, Henry Blakely, Jr., was born a year later.

To improve her poetic techniques, Brooks enrolled in poetry workshops taught by a rich Chicagoan named Inez Cunningham Stark at the South Side Community Art Center, from 1941 to 1942. Under the guidance of Stark, Brooks admitted she became a better poet. Indeed, the workshops were advantageous, for in 1943 she won the poetry award from Midwestern Writers’ Conference in Chicago.

In 1945, she gained fame and praise with the release of her first book of poetry, A Street in Brownsville, published by Harper. She was selected by now-defunct Mademoiselle magazine as one of the “Ten Young Women of the Year,” and received other respected honors. In 1946, she was awarded the National Institute of Arts and Letters grant, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and the Guggenheim Fellowship; she won the latter award for a second time in 1947.

The years of 1949 and 1950 were special and momentous for Brooks. She published her second book of poetry called Annie Allen (1949) and won the Eunice Tietjens Memorial Prize from Poetry magazine. Most important, in 1950, it earned her the most prestigious award that one could receive, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Not only did she win such noted and noble prize, but she made history by becoming the first African American to be crowned this award. Annie Allen brought her countrywide fame and firmly established her as a key voice in modern American literature. Brooks, in 1951, received her most precious prize by giving birth to her second child, a daughter named Nora Blakely.

At this point in her life, she was at the highest pinnacle of her career and continued publishing her work of literature through Harper and Row. In 1953, she published her only work of fiction called Maud Marta; in 1956, she published Bronzeville Boys and Girls, a book of verses intended for a young audience. At the height of the Civil Rights movement and her growing awareness of social and racial disparities, Brooks published her third collection of poetry titled The Bean Eaters in 1960, which occupies a much-anthologized and famous poem, “We Real Cool.” This poem represents the perils of young Black boys and their refusal to attend school, but find joy at a poolroom facility, which may serve as a death sentence if such behaviors continue.

In 1962, Brooks read at the Library of Congress poetry festival via an invitation from then-President John F. Kennedy. She began her first teaching job at Chicago’s Columbia College in 1963 (and received an honorary degree from the college in 1964). In fact, she taught creative writing at other institutions including Northeastern Illinois University, Elmhurst College, Columbia University, Clay College of New York, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Impressively, she was awarded more than seventy-five honorary degrees from various colleges and universities.

A defining moment in Brooks’ career occurred in 1967 when she attended the Fisk University Second Black Writers’ Conference in Nashville, Tennessee (where she rediscovered her blackness). Subsequent to her attendance, she became more involved in the Black Arts movement and her poetic voice was tailored accordingly to fit the change. The change is evident in her 1968 book of poetry, In the Mecca, and her following work. Her poetic voice was not heavily altered, but some critics claimed her work presented an angrier tone. According to The Norton Anthology of American Literature (Vol. E), “her subjects tend to be more explicitly political and to deal with questions of revolutionary violence and issues of African American identity.” In truth, many Black writers at the time wrote stimulating and angry poetry, precipitated by the Civil Rights/Black Power movement and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr. in 1968. Being in touch with the Black Arts movement and wanting to support Black businesses, Brooks left her New York publisher, Harper & Row, and decided to publish her work with African American publishers. In 1968, Brooks received a National Book Award nomination for In the Mecca and became the Poet Laureate of Illinois.

During her life, Brooks published more than twenty-five books that garnered her many accolades, imprinting her place in history as one of the best contemporary writers. On top of winning her most recognized award (the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry), Brooks served as a poetry consultant to The Library of Congress in 1985 and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1988. Another honor worth mentioning came in 1994 when she was selected as the Jefferson Lecturer by National Endowment for the Humanities, the highest federal government award given for distinguished scholarly achievement in the humanities.

On Sunday, December 3, 2000, Brooks died of cancer in her Chicago home at the age of 83; she was buried at Lincoln Cemetery in Blue Island, Illinois. Brooks inspired many during her lifetime and continues to inspire many today. She left behind a rich legacy that will be long-lasting for generations to come. Her poetry will be a constant study in college classrooms and elsewhere. Her name will be mentioned when great poets are named and when anthologies are rendered. Alice Walker once said in an interview, “If there was ever a born poet, I think it is Brooks.” Not only was she a born poet, but she was truly an amazing poet who employed her poetic language with profound richness and influence.

Her legacy remains robust: In 2001, the Chicago Public Schools system renamed a high school in her honor to Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy, a four-year magnet high school. In 2002, Brooks made the list of the 100 Greatest African Americans via an encyclopedia by professor Molefi Kete Asante; in 2010, she was inducted into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame; in 2012, the United States Postal Service honored Brooks with a specialized postage stamp. The honors after her death are countless; these are only a few.

Appropriately, Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks will always be remembered as one of the best and respected African American poets, not to mention one of the most distinguished American literary figures.

The Norton Anthology of American Literature (Vol. E) Sixth Edition (2003)
https: //www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/gwendolyn-brooks (Retrieval date Jan. 10, 2009)
http: //www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/brooks/brooks.htm (Retrieval date Jan. 10, 2009)

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Originally published Jan. 10, 2009 via now-defunct writing Web site Helium.com