Monday, June 30, 2008

Shakespeare Tavern To Stage 15 Plays Next Season

If you're anywhere near Atlanta, you're going to have oodles of Shakespeare to choose from over the next year.  The New American Shakespeare Tavern (which has no second stage) will certainly have its hands full with productions including Much Ado, Twelfth Night, King John, Anthony and Cleopatra, the Henry VI Trilogy, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Tempest ... as well as a bunch of other plays by lesser playwrights (including a certain Doctor Faustus) thrown in the mix :).

What Is Reduced Shakespeare Company?

I'm not asking, I know what it is.  That's a Jeopardy reference, you see....


You've got to love how badly the contestants mess up as soon as they stray from the "standard" plays.  Like the guy who guesses All's Well That Ends Well when the actual answer is Richard III!

George Carlin Shakespeare Connection

Just heard on NPR's Wait Wait show that George Carlin's grandfather wrote out the complete works of Shakespeare, just because he liked it.

If true, that's kind of cool.  People talk about a life goal of reading the complete works, try writing them out!

There's a bit for somebody to do - find the Shakespearean equivalent to all of Carlin's "Seven Dirty Words".

Shakespeare And Infinity

While I google for references, somebody refresh my memory - how new (or, at least, little known) was the concept of infinity while Shakespeare was writing?  I know I saw someplace some references to just when it was first written about and by whom, but I can't seem to put my finger on them.  I'd like to learn more about just how big of a deal it was that Shakespeare "jumped on the bandwagon early", so to speak.  That he "got" the concept of infinity pretty quickly.

That is, of course, if that's true.  I could be completely misunderstanding the timing and it could have been a concept every groundling understood, too.  But I don't think so.

I'm looking now, but every combination of googling for "Shakespeare" and "infinity" just turns up damned monkey typing references.


P.S. - My Mobius "infinity bracelet" has apparently arrived, so presentation to wife coming soon.  I say apparently because it arrived while I was on vacation over the weekend and all I got was a note in the mail saying I had to sign for it.   A note that arrived AT MY HOUSE INSTEAD OF MY BUSINESS ADDRESS so my wife is all "What's this?"  I'm not thrilled with this development, especially since I was planning to hide it until September for our anniversary.  Oh, well.  I'll let everybody know how it came out and how she likes it.

Animaniacsummer Night's Dream

Straight from The Bard Blog.  I had not seen that (shame on me), though I'd heard references.  Cute!

What is the "plot hole so big you could drive a truck through", I wonder?

Pre-Reviews : Hopkins As Lear

Over at Film Experience Blog they're having a lengthy discussion on the pros and cons of casting for the upcoming Lear, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins (most of the comments scream "Why not Ian McKellen?"), Gwynneth Paltrow, Keira Knightey and Naomi Watts.

If I understand it correctly, McKellen's version is in fact coming to DVD as well.    So short answer, I'll see them both :).

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Attack Of The Robot Librarian Lady

So this weekend we're on vacation at a little touristy bookstore, browsing around for easy reading (I've finally finished Shakespeare Wars, and though I brought it with me, Asimov's is just too much a brick to bring to the beach).  So we walk in and this little old lady greets us.  "The great this about history," she says, noting that we are standing next to the history section, "Is that today it's being written to be readable."  Great.  We've shown no interest in history, it's just where she cornered us.

Having announced that, she then spots one of our group who has moved to the next section, which is actually Mathematics.  "The other day," she tells my friend, "Someone came in and purchased one of our math books.  He said it was for the beach.  So now I never question it when somebody wants something for the beach."

And on it went, with this woman spouting random things about random sections of her store.  Well, I find the Shakespeare section, and a book I don't have - something like "Everything I Need To Know I Learned From William Shakespeare."  It's in hardcover and appears to be $19.95, but you never know about markdowns so I go up to the desk and ask about the price.  "I love Bill Bryson!" she says, and begins flipping through the book.

"I do too," I say. "But that's not Bill Bryson's book. Though I have read that one, it was very good."

"The one that just came out?" she asks.

"It came out last year, I got it for Christmas," I say.

"Wonderful," she says, and hands back the book.

I don't take it from her.  "Could you tell me how much this one costs?"

"Oh!" she says, "You did ask me that.  Let's see....$19.95."

I thank her and put the book back, then take my other purchases up to the desk.  My friend calls out, "You're not going to get that one?"

"Nah," I call back.  "I like reading about the man, but you can only read so much, especially when it's the same biographical stuff over and over again."

"Who?" asks the lady behind the counter.

"William Shakespeare," I say, and wait for my amusing anecdote.

"Do you know who the man is who's been more written about than any one else?  Lincoln.  When Doris Kearns Goodwin wanted to write about Lincoln she didn't know what to do, so she wrote about all the men who had campaigned against him...."

And that's what I got for my Shakespeare references, a story about a Lincoln biographer (whose name I may have messed up).  As we left I leaned over and told my friend, "You know, Lincoln had a secretary named Shakespeare, and Shakespeare had a secretary named Lincoln....."


We decided that a) she was clearly a retired librarian, given her desire to teach about books without anybody asking her too, and b) she was a robot who was trained to spot people in front of section X and then tell a story relevant to section X.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How To Memorize A Sonnet

This professor from UW-Madison is apparently doing a unit on the Sonnets, as I just got a whole bunch of links from that site in my reader.

I don't agree with the "learn every meaning of every word" part, especially when it comes to memorization.  There's a famous example known as The Great Panjandrum that demonstrates the words don't even have to make sense for you to be able to memorize them.  I did challenge an actor friend of mine with that one once, and he did successfully memorize it.

I do, however, agree with the "put it to music" thing.  I know three sonnets by heart - 17, 18, and 29.  17 because I recited it at my wedding, the other two because I have them as music.

As a matter of fact, it's so easy that even a three year old could do it.

I also agree with the overall point of understanding the thing, and not just learning a sequence of words.  Technically you can memorize a sequence of random words, but I'm not your professor, and I'd much rather you actually walk away with an understanding of what the sonnet is about.  I have sonnet 29 pinned to my wall.  I like to think it means, "Sometimes I've having a really lousy day and thinking about how my life sucks, but then I think of [in this case, my wife] and realize that I'm the richest man in the world.  I wouldn't change a thing."

Romeo and Juliet : Homework Help

(The conversation's been a bit on the deep end lately so I thought I'd throw one in for the occasional student who comes by looking for homework help.)


If you need help remembering the plot of Romeo and Juliet, study Friar Laurence's confession in the final scene.  He pretty much tells you the entire play:

Romeo and Juliet got married in secret, but then Romeo ends up getting banished when Tybalt is murdered.  Juliet's parents think she's upset about Tybalt when really she's upset about Romeo, and they arrange this hasty marriage to Paris.  She comes to me saying that she'll kill herself if I don't do something, so I come up with a plan.  I'll give her a sleeping potion that makes everyone think she's dead.  Then I'll write to Romeo, informing him that she's not dead, and that he should come to the family tomb when she wakes up and take her away.  But I discover that Romeo never received the letter!  So I raced over to the tomb to rescue her myself, figuring that I'll come up with a new plan once I can straighten everything out.  But then I see Romeo and Paris both dead.  I try to get Juliet to leave with me but she won't go.  I heard a noise that I went to explore, and when I came back, she'd killed herself.  If you don't believe me ask her nurse, she knew all about their wedding.  It's all my fault, I accept that, and throw myself on the mercy of the the law.

Between that speech and the opening prologue ("Two households...Verona....ancient grudge.....young lovers take their life....") you've got the idea.  Now, I'm not a big fan of saying "There you go, just study that and you're all set."  If you do, you will have missed all the poetry (not to mention the sex and violence) in the middle.  Think of this speech more as a set of pegs on which to hang the rest of the details of the play more easily for yourself.  Who did Romeo kill?  Tybalt.  Who gave Juliet the sleeping potion?  Friar Laurence.  Why did Romeo think Juliet was dead?  He never got Friar Laurence's letter.  And so on...

Hope it helps!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Nest

Hey, who linked me from  I can see you in my logs but I can't get in to their boards to see the actual post!  That drive me nuts :).  I'm familiar with The Nest, it's a huge favorite of our company president, he's pretty much patterned our company on what they do.

However you got here, welcome!

Chasing The Bard

I may have mentioned this podcast/podiobook in passing when I first tripped over it. Let me now get back to it.

I love it. I love it love it love it, I think it might well be my favorite podiobook yet (and that's saying something, as I've gone through several dozen of them). Imagine a fantasy story that opens with the birth of one William Shakespeare. The event is attended by none other than Robin Goodfellow (aka Puck) himself, who witnesses it as a magical event of great significance. Thus begins this crossover story between the world of the "Fey" (the fairies), and the human world in which Shakespeare, gifted with "bardic" fairy powers, lives.

If that's not enough to hook you, I'll say more. It's not just good because it's got Shakespeare in it (sounds like a Monty Python skit, "It's all got Shakespeare in it!") It's good because it's well written and well produced, too. There's the appropriate amount of sound effects and music. The voice acting is appropriate. The narrator/author, with her New Zealand accent, is just exotic enough. She writes very well. The characters are excellent. She writes Elizabethan London well. She writes the fairies well. She even writes the battle scenes well.

Perhaps the best thing of all, as far as I can tell, is that she hasn't rewritten any of Shakespeare's bio yet. She's actually working inside the missing pieces. She still has him raised in Stratford, married to Anne Hathaway, and then heading off to London leaving behind her and the kids. She's showing respect for the source material, she's not just borrowing it where it suits her.

Why are you still reading? Go get it, right now, so we can discuss it.

Disclaimer! She's up to chapter 14. It is a serialized work, so you cannot get the whole story yet (although I believe you can buy the completed print book if you like). Also note that there's a sex scene in Chapter 13, which comes with a great deal of warning ahead of time, in case you like/loathe that sort of thing.

King Lear F Bombs

I find this unit interesting its discussion of cursing in Shakespeare, most notably since he doesn't go for the obvious Taming of the Shrew or Romeo and Juliet, but rather King Lear!  First he presents some Lear style "cursing" (whoreson, knave, etc...) and then gets into his students' own "street" rewriting.  It's personally not to my taste, I don't think you have to sprinkle liberally with swears to get your point across, but who knows, maybe that's exactly how his kids talk in their regular life?  There's discussion at the end, too.  For instance in one Cordelia rewrite she drops an f-bomb while talking to her dad, and people question whether that's realistic for her character.


Warning, if it wasn't obvious - dirty words abound.

No I Will Not Name My Son Fleance

More from this morning's conversation:  (it helps to know that my daughters are Katherine, 6, and Elizabeth, soon to be 4.  Elizabeth is doing the questioning.)

"The star of that one (AYLI) is a girl named Rosalind.  I hear it's very good."

"Daddy, did Shakespeare write any more stories with girls?"

"Oh, sure, lots and lots, Shakespeare wrote some very good stories with girls.  There's Juliet, and Miranda, and Cordelia...

"I like Cordelia!"

"I know you do!  There's also a couple of Katherines!" 

(Elizabeth looks very impressed.)

"I'm afraid Shakespeare didn't write any Elizabeth stories, though." 


"But there's a reason for that.  You want to know why?"


"Because back when Shakespeare was writing all these stories?  Elizabeth was actually the *queen*." 

(I swear, my daughter sat up straighter in her chair at that, it was the funniest thing.  Oh, well, I'm the queen?  Well then, that's ok!)  

"He couldn't really make up any stories with Elizabeth in them, you see, because if the Queen didn't like it?  Bam, right in the dungeon." 

(Elizabeth contemplates this and seems to decide that yes, that would be the appropriate thing for a queen to do.  If you don't like the story, then the teller of the story goes to the dungeon.)  "And who is the queen now?"

"Actually, it's kinda funny that you ask, but believe it or not it's still Elizabeth!"

I didn't bother explaining that it's a different Elizabeth, because she wouldn't have gotten it or cared.  She's still got the sense of time where "last week" means a long time ago, and "tomorrow" means "soon."

Morning At My House

"Don't forget the As You Like It is playing from July 18 - Aug 3, we have to pick a date we want to go."

"We have the babysitter already for July 26, we were gonna go to a movie with Sara and Brian but I can see if they want to go see Shakespeare instead.  Would you want to go with them?"

"That's fine.  Can we do like we did last year, and one night during the week I'll just go by myself, and then on the weekend we can go with people?"

"Why do you need to see it by yourself?"

"You have to remember, I'm going to be walking past this show for weeks.  Every day I'll see it built up, I'll see them rehearse.  I will hear it in the wind as I walk by.  It is very important to me as a Shakespeare geek to enjoy that feeling of simply walking into the middle of the park, sitting down, and being surrounded by that stuff.  Plus, remember that time we went to Taming of the Shrew with Liz and Joe and at intermission she told me she thought it was better than Hamlet?  I had to spent the second half of the show trying not to kill her."

How Stuff Works : Monkey Shakespeare

We all know the whole "infinite monkeys typing Shakespeare" thing, it's been done to death.  But on How Stuff Works they use a video presentation for a discussion of statistics.  Hey, whatever works.

Attack Of The Tag Clouds

Ok, ok, ok.  I saw Wordle come across my radar, but chose not to post about it, because it seemed more art than tech.  Wordle takes tag clouds and allows you to manipulate them graphically by altering shape, color, font and so on, to produce word art.  It's cool, no doubt, but personally I'm more interested in what the cloud shows about the text, rather than why the artist chose to lay the words out in the shape of a fish.  There's no Shakespeare in your color choice.  Know what I mean?

But it seems I'm in the minority, as at least one person's done Sonnet 18 already, and Rebecca over on Shaksper_Random is doing t-shirts, including the uncommon choice of Richard II.

I may not play with it myself, but who knows, maybe I'd buy a t-shirt.

As I Very Much Do Like It, Yes, Thank You

This morning while I'm brushing my teeth I hear my wife greet our now 6yr old daughter, who has just woken up and come into the room like this:  "Good morning!  What were you doing, reading in bed?"

My daughter seeks me out and I see that she is holding her Shakespeare book.  This is one of those where the stories have been rewritten for kids to understand (not the Lamb, this is from a publisher called Usborne.  Same idea.)  Anyway, she is holding her finger over a page.  She comes over to me, opens up the book and says, "Daddy, this is the play we're going to see in a few weeks."  Sure enough, she is pointing to As You Like It.    Absolutely right.

Tonight I'll make sure we read that whole story.  Unlike some others where I had to make it up off the top of my head, she's getting old enough now where she'll be able to follow along with me.  I can't wait!

[On a related note, I may have royally screwed up my timing this summer and caused a Shakespeare clash.  Boston's Shakespeare Day is on Saturday, August 2.  I was going to take the kids to that, since they would never stay up for an evening show during the week.  However, we've also booked a one-day only trip down to Cape Cod to see a special children's version of The Tempest!  So we will indeed be driving back up through Boston on the Saturday, but whether they are too exhausted to sit through a second play, I guess I won't know until we're there.]

Oh,When I Shall *Die*! Now I Get It!

Rosenbaum's Shakespeare Wars continues to be the most serendipitous book I've ever read.  By that I mean that I'm never quite sure when I'll turn the page into a new chapter and he'll be talking about something I was just talking about two days ago.

In this case it's the "When I shall die" line (as opposed to "When he shall die") that we talked about last month.  Certainly it's supposed to be "Give me my Romeo, and when he shall die, cut him out in little stars...." rather than the version Luhrman gives us, "When I shall die, cut him out in little stars...." After all, if he's not dead, why are you cutting him up?  Oddly, though, my googling showed that most Shakespeare versions do in fact have it as I, not he.

Rosenbaum gets to this near the end of his book, speaking of a trip to Bermuda. He even points out that most editors do indeed go with the "he" version (which is apparently Fourth Quarto) because the "I" version makes no sense. And what Rosenbaum offers (not his own hypothesis, but rather one he heard, though I do not have the book handy to quote the original author) immediately makes sense to me, I'm just not sure if I love or hate it. 

He goes back to the more bawdy version of "die", namely "orgasm".  He says that Juliet, a mere 13 yrs old and not married, is to put it bluntly thinking about wedding sex, and how good it's going to be.  You have to admit, if you make that little word translation, it still fits.  Now you've got an anxious young girl, in love but also certainly in lust, waiting for that big moment when ... ummm....hmm, how can we say this and keep it clean?  Shall we say, when she gets to consummate her marriage?  It's going to be so good, she tells herself, that all she'll see are stars, and her Romeo.  (I'm not sure when all the rest of the world comes into it, though?)

I love it because it works, pretty much.  It's somewhat crude, it's the sort of thing you don't talk about when you talk about the story like it's the greatest love story ever told, but sex is certainly a part of that type of love, and it's certainly believable that a virginal bride-to-be is contemplating what it will be like.  (Now that I've seen that interpretation, other parts begin to fall into place -  "I have bought the mansion of a love, but not possessed it, and though I am sold, not yet enjoyed"???)

I hate it because it destroys what I consider to be one of the most romantic lines in the entire play.  It's an opportunity for Juliet to explain how much Romeo means to her.  Normally it's the guy spouting all the poetry and the "You're my world" stuff.  Sometimes it's nice to hear it back the other way.  What would Juliet do without Romeo?  She would repaint the heavens in his image, and the rest of world would say, "Wow, yeah, we like that better.  Who is that guy?"  :)


Thoughts?  Nobody mentioned the sex interpretation the first time we discussed that line, so I'm curious if it is a popular interpretation.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Zombie Shakespeare

Elvis Presley, Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe are the twinkling trio of stars British people would most like to bring back to life, according to a new survey.

Mr. Shakespeare appears to rank #6, falling behind Winston Churchill and Sir Bobby Moore (who?), but ahead of Henry VIII, Kurt Cobain, Freddie Mercury and Albert Einstein.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Haitian Macbeth?

Wow, now this is interesting.  From the main page:  The only surviving footage from Welles and Houseman’s first stage production, a version of Macbeth set in Haiti with an all-black cast. That'd be Orson Welles and John Houseman, for the curious.

Some of the directorial choices are interesting, like killing Macbeth on the "untimely ripped" line (and apparently foregoing the entire "lay on macduff" speech), or the fact that the wyrd sisters are right there on the platform with Macduff the whole time.

Characters, Sorted By Number Of Lines

Open Source Shakespeare is a great resource for doing things like this (not my idea, I just found it).  Here they've sorted on character based on number of lines.  Obviously it's a little crude as Shakespeare himself shows up in the #1 spot with no plays listed, but right behind him are Falstaff and Henry V (both having appeared in numerous plays with major roles, it only makes sense), and then Hamlet (who, for only have a single play, has the most lines).

Other interesting bits...

* Othello and Iago have almost an identical number of lines.

* Anthony has more lines than Cleopatra - but he was in Julius Caesar, too.

* Behind Cleopatra, Rosalind from As You Like It has the most lines for a female.

* Romeo has substantially more lines than Juliet, though they both have quite a few.  Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, has barely 1/3rd the number of her husband's lines.  Tybalt barely registers with just 17 lines!

I'm Sorry, Did You Say 8th Graders?

Well, ShakespeareTeacher has officially impressed me.  I don't think I even got to see Shakespeare until 9th grade, and even then it was all Taming of the Shrew / Julius Caesar / Romeo and Juliet.  He's got a class not only doing Cymbeline, but filming an entire talk show about it - including an alternate ending, and a commercial for a Cymbeline video game!  Wow.  Most people you meet who know anything about Shakespeare will still never know, sometimes never have even heard of, Cymbeline.

Video included at the link, although I wish the sound was better.  I have to crank it up to max to hear the individual students, but then the overwhelming noise of the applause blows my eardrums out.  But that's pretty standard for a no frills auditorium shoot, can't really fault him (or the kids) for that.

What Exactly Is A Collier?

When I speak of the opening to Romeo and Juliet I tend to jump right into the entrance of the Montagues, and the subsequent thumb biting.  The opening lines to me have always been simple word play intended to do little more than calm the audience down and let them know the play's starting.  I get that they are punning off of each other, and if it's a competition, it seems like Gregory wins (the person who goes second in such a contest usually does). 

So, what is "carry coals" supposed to mean, and why is it important for Sampson to say it?  It sounds roughly like "We're nobody's bitches", pardon my language.  But that's what it sounds like, like some young kid strutting around with nobody to bully so he tells his friend "Hey, we don't take no crap from no one," like his friend needs to be told that.

Well, then we'd be colliers - but what's that mean?

"If we be in choler we'll draw" seems straightforward enough -- piss me off (choler==anger), and I'll draw my sword.

"Draw your neck out of the collar" -- keep out of trouble, stay out of the hangman's noose / guillotine?  Would such a reference be accurate for Shakespeare, or is that a miss?

"I strike quickly, being moved."  - Sampson gives up on the punning there, apparently, and starts over with more of the "I don't take crap from nobody" stuff.

Gregory plays up on the passive voice - "But thou art not quickly moved to strike" sounds suspiciously like "You're too chicken to take the first swing."

"A dog of the house of Montague moves me" -- (thanks for the Montague reference!)

"To move is to stir, to be valiant is to stand, therefore if thou art moved, thou runn'st away"  - does anybody else get the feeling that Gregory is not evenly matched in this battle of wits?

... and then it gets into the whole "maidenhead" discussion.  I could keep going but there seems a good place to break.  I'm mostly curious about those first two lines (and, well, whether I've grossly misinterpreted any of the others).

Saturday, June 21, 2008

One Line

Here's how I describe an outstanding new restaurant to people:  The food tastes so good that after that first bite, before you've even finished chewing it, while you can still taste it, and you turn to the person next to you, grab her by the shoulder, and wordlessly stare at her, wide-eyed, where if you had your mouth to speak the words would come out something like, ""  Words won't do justice to the sensory experience, so the best you can hope for is something more ... extrasensory?

You know what I'm talking about?

You ever get that rush with Shakespeare?  Sometimes I get blindsided by it.

Yesterday, as I mentioned in an earlier post, we were discussing Macbeth.  The line came up, "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes" and I said to my coworker, "You know, if you give it a second, that's just a damned scary line.  That's like something Lovecraftian.  Conjures up this mysterious image of a dark shape on the horizon, you don't know what it is, but you know it's coming, and it scares the living bejesus out of you."

Same type of thing.  Words just don't quite cut it.  I know what I was trying to say, I even had the image in my head, I just couldn't capture it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cranky Geeks

Talking about Macbeth today, my 25yr old coworker told me that the only play he really remembers well from school is Hamlet.

"Maybe I'm just going through my cranky geek phase," say I, "But Hamlet has just lost its luster for me.  There comes a time when you study it so much and you've analyzed every word, it's just so hard to appreciate the brilliance anymore.  It's hard to argue that it is perfection when you know for a fact that Shakespeare wrote at least 3 different versions of something.  Which one is better?  Why?  Did he just change it at will, and we only have those few copies?"

I wonder if that's true for the real hardcore Shakespeare academics, or if they simply take it to a different level.   I remember thinking during Rosenbaum's Shakespeare War how often he commented on questions that were impossible to answer, but the pursuit of those answers anyway.  As an engineer that hurts my brain.  If I know a question to be unanswerable, then dwelling on it would make me depressed.  And if we basically say, "We don't know which version is 'more Shakespearean' and never will", that does not motivate me to hunt for the answer, it makes me sad that the answer does not exist.

Anybody know what I'm talking about?  I think I'm more into Lear lately not just because I'm the father of daughters, but also because it is relatively new ground to me.  I haven't analyzed it into the ground yet.

Quote Misfire

Funny exchange at work the other day.  Not technically Shakespeare related, but it could just as easily have been:

"You're a better man than I am."

"By the living god that made me?"


"Kipling?  Gunga Din?"

"I recognize it, yes, you just caught me off guard."

"I remember that bit, but I can't remember how it starts....though I've batted and I've brayed you?  By the living god that made you, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din."

"Sounds familiar, but you're way beyond me."

[Google google google]  "Ah!  Though I've belted you and flayed you..."

"That makes more sense."

"You know, I'm happy that I had that wrong, because if I'd seriously managed to pull a frickin Gunga Din reference out of thin air, and done so accurately, I would have been impossible to live with."

"Yes, I can imagine that would be true."

Anon, Anon!

Today at work, through a bizarre series of non-sequiturs, I ended up discussing with my employee the Shakespearean meaning of "anon", and whether it specifically means "in a minute" (i.e., an expectation of shortly, like "I come anon!"), or if it generally means "sometime soon", like "I will speak with you anon".  Is there a difference?  Perhaps the word means the same thing, and it is the delivery that determines the difference.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Design A Game Based On Hamlet

Fascinating stuff.  Design a game based on Hamlet.  Here's some of the Best Entries:

* The player arrives at Elsinore after all the events of Hamlet have taken place and moves through rooms to solve puzzles; each puzzle uses a prop or other reference to the play.

* The player is Horatio in this game and has to perform tasks to protect and help Hamlet. ....For example, before the play within the play starts, Horatio's task is to quickly reposition the audience members so that Claudius and Gertrude are in the middle where they can easily see the play.

* Using a new Wii microphone (to be developed), friends join together to act out the play. Dialogue appears on the screen as if it were karaoke. AI characters fill in when not enough players are available. And when there's fencing, pull our your Wiimote. En garde!


Cool stuff!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Or Not To Be

Morbid indeed - the post is about suicide, including several documentaries on the subject.  Linked to Shakespeare via the book Or Not To Be, a collection of suicide notes.

Also speaks of the "bystander effect" (and references Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point) which is a "universe is small" moment for me because I'm listening to that very audio book and just covered that chapter over the weekend.  Basically the bystander effect is the idea that the *fewer* people witness an incident (such as a suicide attempt), the more likely they are to help.  The more people witness, the less actually do anything, because "Someone else will do it."  Seen most famously in the Kitty Genovese case when something like 30 neighbors heard the woman being attacked and murdered over the span of half an hour, and yet no one did anything.

Where's Harold Bloom When You Need Him?

A brief and cute story about "the fat Shakespeare character whose name begins with F."

Shakespeare On Film, or, Julie Taymor Is Stalking Me

As I may have mentioned, I listen frequently to the TED series of podcasts, which offer glimpses into a wide variety of the greatest minds in the world.  This week I noticed a show come through by Julie Taymor, and I thought, "That name sounds familiar....."

She directed Titus.  What I didn't know is that she also did The Tempest, I'll have to check into that.

But anyway, I bookmarked the above link about Shakespeare On Film before realizing that she's mentioned in the first paragraph. I had no idea that there was such a thing as "BFI's 100 Greatest Shakespeare Films", or that she wrote the introduction to it:

“There will never be too many versions of any of the Shakespeare plays because each artist brings his or her own vision to the script. The more you see these plays in all their varied forms, the deeper and richer they become. It’s often not about the story at all, but all about how you tell it.”

Chasing Shakespeares

That the man behind all those brilliant plays and sonnets was not, in actuality, William Shakespeare is not a new theory. I thought for a while that I even cared. Credit Smith for curing me of that notion.

I guess he didn't like it.  Perhaps he should try Interred With Their Bones or maybe The Book Of Air And Shadows?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Henry V, Playstation III, Same Diff [Videogame commercial]

Just saw a commercial for the Playstation 3 videogame system.  In it they show clips of a variety of games, while the narrator does the "Band of Brothers" speech from Henry V.  That's different.

The games include Meta Geal Solid 4, Little Big Planet, and Gran Turismo 5 Prologue.

In case you're more videogame fan than Shakespeare fan and you came looking for the words, they are:

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon this day.

That's how they say it in the commercial, which is edited from the actual text.  Most notably, in my text, it says "upon Saint Crispin's day", not "this day".

UPDATE:  Found it!

Top Roses For Cutting

Ha, tricked you - a post about roses and the Shakespeare reference is *not* "a rose by any other name....", so there.  Apparently there's a fairly high quality rose called William Shakespeare 2000.  Who knew?

As Elizabeth Likes It, Apparently


I just found this baby onesie at Shakespeare's Den  that I can't resist linking.  I noticed that they had a "Browse by play" area, and even better, a section for The Tempest.  My regular readers know that I'm a big fan of that one, and have corrupted it into a fairy tale for my kids.

Well I see this "First Act" onesie, and my first thought is "Wait, that's wrong...surely that one refers to the stages of man ala As You Like It (mewling, puking, whining...)" and thus is misplaced in The Tempest category. But nope, it actually references plays, associated with appropriate baby faces:  The Tempest (screaming), As You Like It (satisfied), and All's Well That Ends Well (sleeping).  So there's my As You Like It reference, intended or not :)

Even better, the description of the item reads, "No, your little one is not just crying, she is trying to tell you that The Tempest must now be read aloud, please."  I wonder if the person who wrote that reads this blog? :)

Disclaimer:  Silas, who runs Shakespeare's Den, is a regular reader of this blog, and yes, we do have an affiliate relationship.  I've also linked to his site before either of those two facts was true, so hopefully people won't hold it against me if I do it going forward as well.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Lover's Complaint : Shakespeare No More?

I was wondering if this would happen, for real, in my adult lifetime.  Ron Rosenbaum reports that the Royal Shakespeare Company has made the decision to drop the long poem A Lover's Complaint from The Complete Works, and to add the relatively recent discovery, To the Queen.

Now, granted, it's not Macbeth or Cardenio.  But still, think about what this means - redefining what's understood to be "Shakespearean".  I'm not quite sure what I find more intriguing, pointing to one work formerly thought to be Shakespeare and saying "Nope, not Shakespeare", or a formerly unknown work and saying "That is."

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tag Cloud Poetry

(Java plug-in required)

This is the kind of thing, as a software geek, that I daydream about hacking on in my spare time.  Tag cloud (word frequency) analysis of the Sonnets.  Needs a little work, particularly in the visualization -- I picked some words that only occur once (like "wires") and the graphics blew up.  Fun, though, if you're gentle with it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Madeline Reads The Sonnets

I've seen many projects where someone says "I'm going to read/perform all of the Sonnets!"  I link specifically to this one because a) she's doing it in video, which is certainly harder but also offers more expressive opportunities, b) she's not padding it down with any sort of "Hi everybody here we go" talk, it's just sonnets, and c) she actually appears to be doing it - she's through the first 40.  Most of the time someone attempts this they give up long before that.

Update:  I wrote to Madeline asking why she'd stopped at 40, and she said that her computer broke but she was back in business and posting more.

Astronomy Tower

A bit of Shakespeare / Harry Potter fan fiction.  Normally I don't link this stuff, but this one is apparently plotted around Sonnet 17, my favorite.  I have not read the whole thing yet, but it says "Rated PG" at the top so I'm assuming there's no graphic sex.

If Only His Jupiter Was Ascending

An astrological breakdown of why Ben Jonson never achieved the heights of dear  Mr. Shakespeare.

I was amused by the subject as well (which is not mentioned in the article) - Salieri to his Mozart?  As scenes from that Amadeus movie play in my head, I'm not sure that's a terribly accurate analogy.

Classical Comics Come To The USA

Summary - We've all seen and heard of the "graphic novel" adaptations of Shakespeare's work.  I guess I didn't realize that this outfit is in the UK, and has only just now secured a US publisher.  I like the fact that they've got a quote from Patrick Stewart at the end, who manages to be complimentary while still saying "for me the original Shakespeare is always my reason for turning to these plays."  Exactly.  They are companion pieces, not replacements.  I've already written back to ask if they're doing The Tempest.

UPDATE:  Karen writes back, "The Tempest should be January 2009. Together with Richard III and Romeo and Juliet.  Then Hamlet."

[Press Release]

Just seven months after the publication of their first book, Henry V, Classical Comics have secured distribution for their range of titles throughout USA and Canada.

Classical Comics, whose first book Henry V won Silver at this year’s Independent Publisher awards in Los Angeles, have signed an agreement with California-based Publishers Group West (PGW) to distribute both British English and US English versions of their graphic novel adaptations of literary classics, which will be available from October.

Chairman of Classical Comics, Clive Bryant said,

“We’re delighted to have PGW as the distributor of our books. America and Canada present a massive opportunity for us, and knowing PGW are there to advise and guide us as we start out in these territories is hugely reassuring.

Because our books are attractive to both retail and educational sectors, it was important for us to find a distributor that was strong in both areas – which PGW are.

With distribution in place, it’s now a case of flowing the books into the market and raising awareness in these territories, just as we did in the UK – which is very exciting indeed.”

Classical Comics’ pioneering multiple text versions of well-loved literature have already proven to be a success around the globe, particularly with students and teachers, who welcome this vibrant, colourful way of introducing the classics.

Kevin Votel, VP Director of Marketing & Business Development for Publishers Group West, said,

“We are delighted to be working with Classical Comics.  What they are doing with classical book content is completely unique and we’re excited to be partnering with them to bring their list to the market place.”

PGW will launch the Winter 2008 season with the first five books in the series:

Henry V (Shakespeare), Macbeth (Shakespeare), Jane Eyre (Brontë), Frankenstein (Shelley) and A Christmas Carol (Dickens).


Contact Karen Wenborn on 0845 812 3000

Notes to editors

Copies of Henry V and Macbeth are available on request

Images/sample artwork/text are available on request

Copies of the teaching resources are available on request

Classical Comics are UK publishers who are creating engaging versions of literary classics, by converting the timeless stories into stunning, full colour graphic novels.

Spearheaded by Clive Bryant, Chairman, following his successful exit from a business start-up, he was joined by Karen Wenborn as Managing Director in May 2007. The core team was cemented when Jo Wheeler became Creative Director soon afterwards.

To quote Clive, “Neither Karen or I have a publishing background, but we're both strong businesspeople, and are probably overly enthusiastic about books, literacy and education. Jo comes from a print background, so we rely on her to make sure the end product is right.”

As well as meeting the criteria of being strong in colour, dynamic in action, vibrant, engaging and exciting, the books have a myriad of applications in education across all ages and skill levels.

The team of scriptwriters include teachers, playwrights and novelists, while the artists range from newspaper stalwarts to Spiderman creators and Eagle award winners.

"I'm fascinated by your approach to the play and its language. I find them gripping, dramatic and, although for me the original Shakespeare is always my reason for turning to these plays, I think that what you are doing in illuminating and making perhaps more lucid, especially for young people, is clever and meaningful."

- Patrick Stewart, Actor

"This is a fun way of getting into the stories. Plays are not meant to be read but to be seen. The illustrations in these books are an easy way of following what is going on.
The genius of Shakespeare is in the language but for some students understanding it can be a struggle. It will be useful for teachers to have three different versions of the text."

- Ian McNeilly, director of the National Association for the Teaching of English

"What a marvellous way to bring Shakespeare to new audiences and venues.
Bridging 400 years with a graphic pen is brilliant."

- Barbara Romer, founder of The New Globe Theater, New York

Miranda and Ariel

When I tell my kids the story of The Tempest, I usually spin it so that Ariel is a playmate of Miranda's, playing hide and seek (tricky with someone who can turn invisible), turning into various animals, and generally hiding from Caliban.

But I read somewhere that, every time we see Ariel, Prospero makes it a point to put Miranda to sleep.  Ariel is always invisible, said this source I can't remember, and Prospero didn't want Miranda to see him talking to nobody. If that's the case, then Miranda wouldn't even have known that Ariel existed.

Is that right?  Takes some of the fun out of the story. 

A Question About Shakespeare's Kids

It dawns on me this morning that I don't know the answer to this question:  Would Shakespeare's family (Ann and the kids, that is) have seen his work?  How and when exactly would this have happened?  Would they have trekked into London?  How old would the kids need to have been? 

I guess I've always assumed that while they may have known what Dad did for a living, that they wouldn't necessarily have ever seen the plays.  But I don't have a reason for thinking that one way or the other.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Romeo+Juliet Shot by Shot

I love it when I find things that are new to me.  In this slide show, someone goes through Luhrman's movie bit by bit, demonstrating how and when he used extreme closeups, what colors he chose for backlighting, and so on.  It is 44 individual slides, so don't be afraid to check it out for fear that it is 10 hours long or something.  I'm enjoying it.

(Note, now that I finished it I see that the 44 slides only go as far as Romeo and Juliet's first meeting.)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Is It Serendipitous If It's Not Fortuitous?

Or is it just coincidence?

Today I get email from Writer's Market, as I often do, and I notice a story about four new book publishers.  I always check those out, because in the past I've had luck getting published with new/small houses.  One of them, SynergEbooks, intrigues me for their emphasis on e-books, so I check it out.

What's highlighted on the first page?  A series of romance novels set in the fictional town of....Oberon, California.

Best I can tell there is no Shakespeare connection, other than the fact that your Shakespeare Geek happened to trip over it.

Shakespeare Things For Father's Day

I have already mentioned my daughter's plan to get me "a Shakespeare thing" for Father's Day. I'm a big fan of letting the kids pick out gifts on such occasions (as compared to the parent doing it) so I sent my wife a list of "Shakespeare things" that might make potential gifts.

Here's my rule - I want something that the kids will be able to point to and say, "We got Daddy that." That's the only requirement. I don't even have to like or want it. :)

I ruled out books and movies because I'd rather a gift be shared. Any Shakespeare book I'd actually want is not something my wife or kids would care about, likewise for movies. And other than when they see me reading it, it's not like they could satisfy rule one and say "That's the book we got you."

There's always Shakespeare's Den, who don't do just Shakespeare stuff but do have a whole category devoted to him :). I pointed out things like coasters or a throw pillow because that is exactly the sort of thing that could be just lying around the house for the kids to see and appreciate. Not to mention when company comes over - I love a good conversation starter. They also have a jigsaw puzzle that just happens to be The Tempest. I'm just wondering if we'd have time to do it together as a family (the 3 and 2 yr olds might not have that much input, you see).

Know what I covet, though, is one of these bad boys from One Page Books. It's a wall poster of the entire play. I think it's a cool idea. Options include the great tragedies, the sonnets, Merchant, Much Ado, Tempest, but still, some of those others would make a pretty cool wall decoration. But which one to pick?

Any fathers out there? What sort of "Shakespeare thing" would you like from the kids?

And Then What Happened?

I wish I had a recorder for moments like this.  My daughter's new book, according to my daughter:

"The one princess is named Belle, and the other princess is named Ariel.  The mean witch is Max and the nice witch is Caliban."

"Caliban, huh?  Did you mean that the other witch's name is Sycorax? Is that what you were trying to remember?"

"No, Daddy, Sycorax is the nice witch's *helper*."

"Oh.  Continue."

Every time she says Ariel I always wonder if she's thinking of the Little Mermaid, or The Tempest.  But when she says Caliban, I know :).

Argh, Quote Recall Failure Imminent

So this morning my 3yr old tells me, "I don't have work today" (she pretends that she has a job like Daddy) "and all my friends are coming over to play."

For some reason this brings to my brain a quote that I can just barely remember, which may or may not be from Shakespeare.  Something about the gates of hell being opened and all the demons being free.  I am *way* off on that, so far that I cannot even adequately google for it.  It bugs me.

I'm curious to see if anybody knows what I'm talking about.

For a minute there I was thinking it might have been something one of the sailors yelled at the opening of The Tempest, but I can't find anything similar to what I'm thinking. 


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Is It Irony Or Hypocrisy?

I'm home from work today (wife is sick), reading a book to my 3yr old.  The thought occurs to me that we have the movie version of the book (Barbie, always popular) and my thinking goes a little something like this...

"We have the movie version of this same book.  But spending all day sitting in front of the tv is bad, you should turn off the tv and read books.  Yet when you get older and the books get bigger, you're far more likely to have seen the movie than to have read the book.  And once the reading gets really hard, like Shakespeare, then people go out of their way to tell you *not* to read it."

Yeah yeah yeah, I get that Shakespeare is different, that scripts are written for performance not perusal.  But you have to admit, somewhere along the line it becomes not only accepted but expected that you'll be familiar with the movie/tv version.  The cliche is about the "ruby slippers" in Wizard of Oz - but in the book, the slippers are silver.  That doesn't happen when the majority of popular culture has read the book.

I wonder why that is.  Is it strictly because the younger children need the reading practice?  That would seem to imply that you hit an age where you're all set, you don't have to read anymore.  That's certainly not true.  Or maybe it is a time management thing?  You can watch a movie in 2 hours, it's very hard to say that about a book.

There's a quote about writing - Stephen King maybe?  Or Douglas Adams? - where it's said, "I don't want to write, I want to have written."   In other words, the result is positive but the act is painful.  I see a parallel here.  "I don't want to read the classics, I want to have read them."  But here it comes with a more negative impact.  "I want to be able to say among my peers that I know the story.  It's not important enough to me to devote the time to read the original, so I'll take the short cut."  How different is this from the Cliff's Notes approach?

What A Piece Of Work Is Man

New York's Central Park is doing Hamlet and Hair this season?  That is many flavors of awesome.  For folks that aren't familar with the 1960's famous tribal love rock musical (and its infamous nude scene), the lyrics to several songs are lifted straight out of Shakespeare including one entire song ("What a piece of work is man...") as well as the big final number ("Eyes look your last....the rest is silence.")  Radow and Ragni were some well-read hippies.

Drive-By : Friends Repeats

And by that I mean the TV show...


Joey: She thinks she's the greatest actress since.....sliced bread.

ChandlerAh, Sliced Bread.  I loved her Lady Macbeth.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Speaking Of Bracelets

During my quest for a bit of jewelry, I did find several vendors that do customized versions of those "silicone bracelets" that everybody wears these days.  You know the kind, often yellow, rubbery looking, with some sort of cause or charity emblazoned on it.  Popularized by Lance Armstrong's cancer foundation, though now you see them all over the place with all sorts of colors and sayings.  Hence, I suppose, companies that do customized versions of them :).

I'm tempted to get a few done up with some Shakespearean sentiment - maybe a quote, maybe just some character names.  Live Like Falstaff :).  Would my other Shakespeare geeks out there actually wear such a thing, or would I be a total loser?  I'm not planning to go into business or anything -- if anything I'd end up doing them as promotional items or something.  I don't want to waste the time and money having them made only to have people say "That's stupid."

Too whorey?

Worthless College Majors

In this humorous list of "worst majors if you want to actually get a job", English Lit comes in fourth behind Latin, Film and Religion.

Update On My Mobius Bracelet Quest

(I prefer to spell it "Moebius", by the way, since there's an accented character in the middle, but the search engines tell me most people spell it the less complicated way.)

Recently I mentioned my quest for a Shakespearean Mobius bracelet.  I noticed them a year or so ago when looking for a gift for my wife.  First I thought about a pendant of some sort, but when I saw the bracelet, especially with the "infinity twist", I loved it.  It helps that by writing on both sides of the bracelet you can also get a very long quote, something not as possible with a simple pendant.  But I loathe that dreaded Sonnet 116 ("Let me not to the marriage of true minds....")  Using that sonnet in your wedding is like believing in Buddhism because Brad Pitt does.  There's a 154 of them to choose from, surely you can find one that's more personal.

Long story short (read the linked post), I was told that a personalized version can't exist.  The machinery to make them means essentially that if you're not making them by the thousand, you're out of luck.  I've continued to hunt, if not for this than for something similar.  I found one supplier (via this blog) who sent me along to her manufacturer, who told me that they only work with "companies with a catalog."  So I went back to the first supplier and asked if they'd consider putting this piece in their catalog just so I could buy one :).  I haven't heard back and don't expect to.

But guess what?  I ACTUALLY FOUND SOMEBODY TO DO IT!  I'm very excited.  I hit upon their web page which showed a blank Mobius bracelet, with a note "engraving available, contact for details."  So I did, and basically explained the situation: "I've been informed by numerous jewelers that engraving one of these is impossible, so I'm assuming that by offering engraving what you mean is a short quote that only goes on one side and does not take the twist into account."

I got back a note the same day saying "Nope, we do both sides, right through the twist.  What do you need?"

Woohoo!  I actually get a whopping 270 characters to play with, which is way too long for my mandatory quote ("If I could write the beauty of your eyes....") but too short for the whole first half ("Who will believe my verse in time to come....") by a good 10 characters or so.  So instead I've sprinkled it with several choice quotes, including "I will swear I love thee infinitely" which Alan and Bill were nice enough to validate for me as being something appropriate for a gift.  How do you not love an infinity quote on a Mobius strip?  Or is that just me being a geeky geek?

My timing couldn't be better (he said ironically) as the jeweler left for vacation yesterday and won't be back until next week.  So it's still a good month or so until I get to see my finished product.  I have avoided linking their site, because well, you know, I haven't actually seen the finished product yet and I did have a number of people tell me it's impossible.  So there's at least a slight worry on my part that I'm going to be disappointed.

When it arrives I'll be sure to take pictures so everybody can see it.  At the time I'll definitely rant and rave and provide links, hopefully in good context :).  It should end up as an anniversary present, though my anniversary is at the end of September and I'm not sure I'll be able to keep the secret that long.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Quick! Did He Mean It?

Ok, here's a question.  I've admitted my weak knowledge of Henry IV.  For a project I'm doing I wanted a Shakespeare quote on infinity, and I found a great one -- "I will swear I love thee infinitely."

Here's the thing, I would like to know the character of the man who says it (Hotspur, in this case, to his wife).  Surely right now, somewhere in the world, somebody is using a Shakespeare quote out of context.  And just as surely I could use it as I see fit, for a gift, and the recipient would be none the wiser.  But you people know me by now, and you know that it would bug the ever-living heck out of me, it would just tarnish the present forever, if I knew that in context it was something shallow or sarcastic.

So, I'm asking.  Does Hotspur mean it?  Does he indeed have a loving relationship with his wife?  Or is he just saying "Yes yes you silly woman I'll tell you whatever you want to hear, just let me get on my horse and get out of here!"

I still have Chimes At Midnight, and am looking at the scene right now. I think he's sincere.  But I'm not familiar with the play enough to have confidence in that opinion.  Anybody help me out?

Question #12 : What Did The Fairy Godmother Turn The Mice Into?

Imagine you're in school again.  You're a teenager.  For the sake of argument let's assume you're also a girl (bear with me :)) You are handed a copy of Cinderella (the text, not the movie!) and told this is what we'll be studying this semester.  There will be a final exam.

What do you do?  Groan?  Worry?  Whine about how hard it is, how you don't want to do it, how it's not relevant to kids these days?  I mean, really, what's a "ball"?  Sounds dirty.  What exactly does "cinder" mean, anyway, and why is this one girl stuck cleaning them?  Why doesn't she call DSS if her stepmom is so bad?  I don't get this story, it makes no sense!  Nobody would do the stuff these people do!  If this girl is old enough to get married to the prince, why doesn't she go live on her own?  (And so on....)

Or do you laugh about it and then never look at the text until the day of the final, where you waltz through all the questions from memory?  After all, it's a story you grew up on.  Everybody knows this story.  It doesn't matter that you don't have to clean the chimney, you can still have days where you think your mom and your big sisters are being mean to you.  And even though fairy godmothers don't really show up and sing BibbidiBobbidiBoo in real life, it doesn't stop you from daydreaming about somebody to come along and sweep you off your feet.  It's a *fairy tale*, after all.  It's not about the setting or the vocabulary or the specifics, it's about the bigger picture.  That's why there's a cliche about things being "a Cinderella story" and everybody knows what that means.

Now tell me why Shakespeare can't be like that.    Why doesn't Disney do a movie about The Tempest, and why don't kids grow up learning the story of how Miranda avoids the monster Caliban, defeats the pirates who try to take the island from her father (with the help of Ariel), meets the prince and sails off to live happily ever after?  The "original" text can come later, just like most children's experience with Cinderella goes as far as the Disney movie, and only when they are older do they actually get to read "the original".  (If you want a different example try Wizard of Oz, lots more differences between the original and the movie there).

Here's the big difference that I think is stopping everybody:  Every parent out there who reads Cinderella to their kids, also had Cinderella read to them as a kid.  It's almost like a privilege, like a gift you can't wait to share with them.  Most every parent, however, hated Shakespeare in high school, and thus wouldn't think of exposing their kid to it any sooner than they had to.

If I ever get off my butt and write my book (well, technically, to write a book I supposed I would have to in fact sit back down...), it'll be to solve that problem, right there.  Something to break that cycle.  I could use a little help, Disney!  Are you listening???

Monday, June 02, 2008

Shakespeare For Kids, By Kids

Ok, now I feel stupid.  My new pal Keri Cahill tells me in the comments that I might be interested in her group Rebel Shakespeare, which performs "Shakespeare by kids, for kids".  It's a series of summer programs for children as young as 5 years old to learn about Shakespeare, including performances of plays such as Henry V, As You Like It, and Romeo and Juliet. 

The thing is she's based in Salem, Massachusetts.  I live down the street from Salem, and have spent plenty of summers there.  How did I not know about this?!

They appear to be doing As You Like It opposite Commonwealth Shakespeare down on Boston Common.  I wonder if that is by design?  I have to admit, if I've got to pick a show I'm going to go watch the professionals.  At least until my kids are in one of the productions :).

Hip Hop Heroes

This article isn't really my thing, but it's different enough to be worth a link.  The article offers up Shakespearean characters and their "hip-hop" counterparts.  For instance Henry V matches up with Jay-Z:

Apollo could be the third person in this trinity. Totally the captain of everything around him; he can play the audience anyway he wants. Longevity (two Shakespearean Histories = the consistently excellent rap catalogue) and moments of pure transcendence (The St.Crispin’s Day speech/most of The Blueprint). No matter what’s happening, if he’s captain of my team, we’re not losing.

Shakespeare Geek At The Improv, Part 2

So this weekend I got back to the Improv theatre in town, which I last visited back in December.  We ended up very early (got the time of the show wrong), so as the dinner crowd left the guy who turns out to own the theatre came over to talk to us.  "Is this your first time at the Improv?" he asked.

My wife informed him that while the couple we were with were newbies, she and I had been in December.  "We sat right over there in the front row," I said.  "I'm the guy that likes to yell out Shakespeare! and then nobody else in the audience contributes anything."

"I remember you," he said.  "Looks like a small audience tonight, so I'm not sure how much more we'll get."

"I could yell out Ionesco if you prefer?  Beckett?"

"See, we could do that," he tells me, "But the you'd be the only person who gets it."

"Fair enough," says I.

As predicted they did not do the "theatre and film styles" game, and there were a total of about 12 people in the audience. Highlights:

Cast member:  "Somebody in the audience shout out something you did today?  Something you really enjoyed?  Or, you know, something you hated?  Either one, really."

Me:  "Watched the kid's soccer game."

Cast member:  "Watched the kid's soccer game, ok great, thank you.  We're gonna take that as something you hate, because we hate the little bastards, we really do, always kicking the ball the wrong way...."

Oh, and this.  One of our friends, who is a high school Spanish teacher, got called on stage for an "interview" segment.

Interviewer:  So, tell us something bad that happened to you this week at work.

Sarah:  Well I almost got restructured out of a job, but luckily it didn't happen.

Interviewer:  Really?  Tell us, what did you do to save your job?

Me (from the audience):  She slept with the guidance counselor!

Interviewer:  Tawdry!

Me:  No, seriously.

Interviewer:  So, Sarah, are you here with anybody tonight?

Sarah:  My husband.

Interviewer:  And what does your husband do?

Sarah:  He's the guidance counselor.

Me:  I told you!


Last one:

Cast:  Ok, for this next game we need you to tell us something you did this weekend for someone else that made you feel really good.  Anybody?  Anything, something that made you feel good about yourself.  Maybe you told someone they looked nice, or gave someone directions.

Kerry (my wife, who is a physical therapist):  Taught someone how to walk.

Cast:  Taught....someone how to walk.  Ok, great, thank you.  Now we all feel like total a-holes, don't we?  Felt good about myself because I gave someone directions, what did you do?  Taught another person how to *walk*.  Very nice.

Is There A Jeweler In The House?

Sonnet 116 Moebius Bracelet

Ok, here's the thing. I absolutely love love love the idea of a Shakespeare quote on a Moebius strip as jewelry, it really crosses the whole "Shakespeare" and "geek" thing for me in a way few other things can. And I think I could actually get my wife to wear it.

Here's the problem - I hate the quote on that one ("Let not the marriage of true minds....") At my wedding we used Sonnet 17: If I could write the beauty in your eyes, and in fresh numbers number all your graces, the age to come would say 'This poet lies, such heavenly touched ne'er touched earthly faces'

I've looked and looked, and while I can find all kinds of prayers and other quotes on bracelets like this, I want Shakespeare. I just want a better quote. I've even consulted a jeweler for custom work, who basically said that it's only feasible to make those if you do a large sheet and produce a massive amount of them, so doing a single custom job is not a meaningful option.

So I'm throwing it out to there, anybody ever seen the Moebius bracelet with a Shakespeare quote that's not 116? Silver or gold no matter (although truthfully it looks like the gold version typically runs upwards of 20x the cost of the silver one, yikes.)