Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Today was good, today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.

Another Shakespeare Day has just about come and gone (although I'm sure I'll be tweeting for a few more hours yet!)

Here is the complete list of blog posts on the day.  Did I break the previous record of 28?

Counting this one it should be 29.  Record achieved.  :)

This year it's not about just quantity. I've always said that the mission of the site is to prove that Shakespeare makes life better, and this year we're doing it with a couple of projects that are donating money to the American Cancer Society.

First is the Shakespeare Haiku Project. One of the most popular posts ever on Shakespeare Geek is Bardfilm's epic Complete Works of Shakespeare in Haiku. Recently I put one of my favorites, onto a wall poster and suggested that we donate 100% of the proceeds to charity. The poster, depicting the famous "Great Wave off Kanagawa" woodcut that you've no doubt seen, is available in multiple sizes and price points from postcard up to framed wall hanging.  All proceeds from the the sale of this item will go directly to the American Cancer Society.  If there is interest in seeing a whole line of products based on Bardfilm's haiku, all the proceeds from those products will be donated as well. You just have to let us know what you'd like to see.  A coffee mug? A pillow? If you're willing to buy it for charity we're willing to make it.

The second is the return of our annual, limited edition Shakespeare is Universal t-shirt.  Last year we met our goal of 100 shirts, and I had people banging on the door trying to get them after the deadline had passed.  This year we're going for 150.  The image is an original graphic by my friend Peter Phelan  depicting Shakespeare cut out into little stars and making the heavens shine so very bright. Most importantly, we will be donating 30% of the proceeds to the American Cancer Society.

I hope I kept you entertained for another Shakespeare Day, here and on Twitter. I did not hit my 5000 followers yet, but it'll happen soon I'm sure. If you're not yet following, please think about it. Some of the most spontaneous (and therefore funniest) material only ever shows up there.

That's about it for me. Please take a moment to visit our two charitable links, and consider a purchase/donation.  Then like and share them with your friends and family! Let's prove that Shakespeare can make a lot of lives better this year.

Happy Birthday, and Thank You Shakespeare!

Shakespeare Books for Children, You Say?

Here's a list that's right up my alley -Top 10 Shakespeare Books for Children. My first thought is, "I wonder how many of them I have?"  My second is, "I wonder how many are "filler" that shouldn't on this list?"

Charles and Mary Lamb make an appearance, of course. I never liked these, and I'm probably in the minority. Not only is the writing really dated, but the stories are painfully abridged. Their version of The Tempest completely cuts out the entire Trinculo/Stephano subplot.  Go ahead, search for their names, they're not in there.

Usborne's Illustrated Shakespeare got the most play (ha!) in my house, mostly because it's been around the longest and has pictures. My daughter picked it up on more than one occasion by herself to read the stories.

I want to like the Shakespeare Can Be Fun series, which retell the stories entirely in a series of rhyming couplets, illustrated by children's drawings. But they are an insane chore to work through! You have no idea how hard it is to read rhyming couplets until you try to read an entire play that way. I take these to my kids' classrooms to read and the kids get up and go see what else is available. True story.

Marcia Williams' books are our most recent find, and are excellent on all levels. If anything they're packed a little too densely, translating each page into a series of comic-book panels with commentary from the audience running down the margins.  You want to read it all but it's hard to tell *how* to read it all.

Definitely some new ideas on the list, and some books I don't have yet.

This year's Shakespeare posting marathon is sponsored by "Shakespeare is Universal." Help us prove that Shakespeare makes life better. Buy a t-shirt and support cancer research.

The Complete Works of Shakspere

The other day my family took a little vacation to the Newport Mansions, a neighborhood of Gilded Age mansions owned by families like the Vanderbilts. Everything we saw was all mid-to-late 1800's and basically looked like sets from Downton Abbey.

Of course I spent all my time looking for Shakespeare references.

At one point I did see a book open on a table that said something about the lamentable death of King Edward the something.  I leaned so far over the rope to read more that an alarm went off ;).  But I don't believe I was looking at anything Shakespearean.

What I did see, in one of the libraries, was a set of volumes entitled "The Complete Works of Shakspere".  Note the spelling. I even called the kids over to spot it.

I wonder if I was looking at this 1850 edition?

What frustrates me is I came back to the computer and started googling for references to either Vanderbilt Shakespeare, or gilded age Shakespeare.  What I found in the case of the former was little more than stories from Vanderbilt University's Shakespeare program, and nothing about the families potential early interest in our favorite playwright.

When I googled the latter I discovered the novel of the same name by Mr. Mark Twain, and I think I learned that Shakespeare is actually where we get the term in the first place? That I did not know.  I knew about laughing at gilded butterflies and gilding the lilly but I guess I never made the connection that the entire expression to gild something all comes from Shakespeare.

What was the state of American Shakespeare in the late 1800's, anybody know? We know about President Lincoln's interest, and the Booth family.  I guess I just assumed that somewhere in one of those mansions in all the stories about all the parties they threw, somebody would have mention something Shakespearean, someplace.

This year's Shakespeare posting marathon is sponsored by "Shakespeare is Universal." Help us prove that Shakespeare makes life better. Buy a t-shirt and support cancer research.

Share Shakespeare!

I'm also happy to announce that version 2.1 of ShakeShare : Shareable Shakespeare, our iOS app, is now available!  This is a huge update, adding over 500 quotes to the database and two dozen new background images.

What's your favorite quote/image combo that you've discovered so far?  Post them here!

This year's Shakespeare posting marathon is sponsored by "Shakespeare is Universal." Help us prove that Shakespeare makes life better. Buy a t-shirt and support cancer research.

Please Don't Kill Shakespeare

Noticed that there's a new comic store in the town where I work, right next to where we sometimes get lunch. So I walked in one day and asked, "Got any Shakespeare?"  You know, like ya do. I'm actually on the lookout for a bobblehead, I don't have one of those yet.

He comes out with the entire set of Kill Shakespeare Volume 3: The Tide of Blood.

I originally mentioned Kill Shakespeare back in 2010 when I first heard about it but never put up a review because, quite honestly, I didn't like it. It has nothing to do with Shakespeare. It's not a version or interpretation of any Shakespeare story that you know. It takes the names and presumed mannerisms of Shakespeare's characters (Hamlet is moody, Lady Macbeth is violent ...) and writes a whole new story, using some weird bastardization of what's supposed to sound like Shakespearean English.

But, still, the guy did go dig it up for me in the back room, it is a complete set, and I don't want to walk out of there with nothing so I buy it and give it another try.

Nope, still don't like it.

Let's see - Juliet has dumped Romeo for Hamlet. Othello is in this for some reason although I can't figure out what, because he doesn't do anything. Lady Macbeth is a bad guy, as always. Prospero is the big bad guy in this one, trying to steal control of the universe from Shakespeare himself. We learn this from Miranda, who has escaped the island where her father has given her to Caliban to be repeatedly raped and impregnated.

Yup, go ahead and read that a few times.  She's a cutter now. You know, to let the poison out. Still with me?

Here's some sample dialogue:

"That is why you must stay. So that thou can end the tragedy of Hamlet."

"I did not expect such help from thee, Prospero. You have my thanks."

"I used to like thee, Prospero. Thou remind'st me of me. Gods, I must have been such a pretentious bore."

Is it me or are they just randomly throwing in "thee" and "thou" whenever they think it will sound more Shakespearean? They do realize that those had actual meaning, right?

I think that this comic is mostly appreciate by fans of comics who want to talk about the story entirely as a comic (rather than as anything to do with Shakespeare) and the visuals (what do they call it, the coloring? the inking? I have no idea). I wonder if any actual Shakespeare Geeks are reading this and enjoying it. I sure didn't. Every time I see them in the news - a board game? a stage play? - I think "Do people think this has anything to do with Shakespeare?"

This year's Shakespeare posting marathon is sponsored by "Shakespeare is Universal." Help us prove that Shakespeare makes life better. Buy a t-shirt and support cancer research.