Monday, January 31, 2011

Read the Cliff Notes, or Watch The Video? Why Not Both?

I suppose that, looked at from the right angle (and by that I mean "marketing"), this is genius. The Cliff's Notes people are teaming up with AOL to create short video versions of the famously shortened classics.

Although they still clearly exist, I have to assume that the rise of Google pretty much killed the Cliff's Notes market. Once upon a time you had to borrow it from a friend, get it out of the library, or heaven forbid go buy your copy at the store. Now you just google "Romeo and Juliet summary" or your own favorite variant thereof, and presto, 9 times out of 10 you've got a free answer to your questions.

All they've got left, really, is the brand. You can still get Cliff's Notes, but why would you? Because something in your brain tells you that their quality is better than just googling the answer.

So, they're hoping to carry that brand over into the video market. Just like with google, there's plenty of video already out there for short, amusing versions of Shakespeare. First one that came to mind, 90 Second Macbeth:

See what I mean about quality? Do you want to sift through a YouTube's worth of these? Or would you rather just fire up iTunes and pay 99 cents for something that's professionally produced by the people that made their name summarizing classic literature? (Note, I have no idea if 99cent iTunes downloads are in their plans, it just seems like a logical distribution mechanism...)

Thy Week In Geek : January 23 - 29, 2011

Introducing a new feature that will hopefully go out every Monday, where I summarize last week's most interesting posts for those folks who may not be stopping by on a regular enough basis, and missing out when they scroll off the main page.

Last week started out slow, with nothing to write about Sunday, and even Monday little more than a personal anecdote about my 4yr old doing Hamlet while he brushes his teeth.

Tuesday didn't herald much else, other than a revisit with the Alaska Bard-a-thon, a project that I first wrote about back in 2007 that is still going strong.

Wednesday, things started to pick up. I though that Eddie Izzard doing Christopher Walken doing Shakespeare would have been the big hit, but Bardfilm dropped a new list on us - Shakespeare Internet Initialisms - that absolutely eclipsed Mr. izzard. (To be fair, Bardfilm and I promoted the holy heck out of his post on Twitter, and dear Eddie had little to stand on other than the drawing power of Christopher Walken :)). Right in the middle I dropped in a quick post about how to interpret Stephano's band of would be murderers in The Tempest, but I think my single got lost between those two big home runs.

Thursday had nothing exciting for us.

And then came Friday, where I unknowingly opened up a serious can of Othello worms, first by asking what exactly an "ancient" was and what that means about Iago and Othello's relationship. That then led to the big controversy of the week about whether Othello really did sleep with Emilia, as well as some side discussion about how the age of a character (when Shakespeare doesn't tell us) determines how you play it, which in turn led to some stories about actors' favorite backstories.

And last but not least, don't miss the final story of the week (which I posted late on Friday) about All The World's An Ape, the theatre review blog authored by a 14yr old who is trying to see every Shakespeare play in the span of 2 years. He's seen 28 of them already, including Al Pacino's Merchant and Christopher Plummer's Tempest. I'm seriously jealous!

There you have it. If you missed any, feel free to go back an have a look! Comments remain open, and via that Recent Comments widget in the blog sidebar people will see what you write, so don't feel like the post has scrolled off therefore there's no more reason to comment.

Also, feedback always welcome. Like this feature? Want it to change in some way? Is Monday a good day? I picked Monday morning because the only other logical time would be either a weekend day, or Friday. Weekends are no good because I'm generally busy with family, plus traffic is very low anyway and nobody's going to see the recap posts. Friday would be good, but Friday's also often a very busy post day (see Ape post at 11pm!) so if I tried to summarize the week during the day I'd inevitably miss something.

Shakespeare Karaoke

This looks interesting.

Shakespeare in Action, a Toronto-based theatre company that has been performing in schools for more than 20 years, will launch its virtual lab of Bard-themed activities Thursday. It includes an interactive program in which students are inserted into the scene of a play by reading the lines for the role of Romeo, Juliet, Hamlet, and the like, as they scroll along a computer monitor. Students will also be able to play Shakespeare mad libs, inserting new verbs and nouns into the nearly 500-year-old scripts, or practise eloquent insults such as, ‘Thou churlish fat-kidneyed codpiece.’

Stay tuned. I'll have to check that out!

Release The Gnomes!

With Gnomeo and Juliet just two weeks away, the press onslaught has begun. Today we have a quick video of Elton John and his partner David Furnish talking about how, by changing the ending, they turned a tragedy into the greatest love story ever told. Ummm... what? Do they think they're the first ones to think of that?

"Hey David?"

"Yes, Elton?"

"You know, if they just didn't die at the end, this would be a really romantic story."


What Antony Really Said

Shakespeare's Julius Caesar paints such a perfect picture of what happened on March 15, 44 BC that we often confuse what really happened with what Shakespeare told us. Did Shakespeare really say "Et tu, Brute?" Did Antony really ask friends, Romans and countrymen to lend him their ears?

Well, apparently we do know the answer to that last part, as Antony's funeral speech for Caesar was actually documented at the time?! Obviously this is old :), but I've never seen so it's new to me. Apparently the historian Appian wrote down a report (not a direct account) of what was said.

'It is not right, my fellow-citizens, for the funeral oration in praise of so great a man to be delivered by me, a single individual, instead of by his whole country. The honors that all of you alike, first Senate and then People, decreed for him in admiration of his qualities when he was still alive, these I shall read aloud and regard my voice as being not mine, but yours.'

He then read them out with a proud and thunderous expression on his face, emphasizing each with his voice and stressing particularly the terms with which they had sanctified him, calling him 'sacrosanct', 'inviolate', 'father of his country', 'benefactor', or 'leader', as they had done in no other case. As he came to each of these Antony turned and made a gesture with his hand towards the body of Caesar, comparing the deed with the word.   

Absolutely fascinating reading.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A 14yr Old Reviews Shakespeare. All of it.

It's one thing for a 14yr old to like Shakespeare. It's quite another to review each production to the level of detail that Edward Moravcsik does. But his goal of seeing all the plays? In two years? That's a pretty lofty goal. You can read about his experiences at his blog, All The World's an Ape.

He's on 28 of 38. Or, to his count, "37 (and 3 possible collaborations)." I wonder which of the standard 38 he considers a collaboration - Henry VIII? This kid's seen Pacino's Merchant, Plummer's Tempest....he gets around! I'm jealous.

How did we not know about this young man? Seems like he'd fit in quite well here :).

Go send the gentleman some traffic, and some support. Maybe he'll follow the links back and come visit.

What's Your Back Story?

I'm no actor, so any back story I come up with for the characters (just how long were Gertrude and Claudius an item? where is Cordelia's mom?) is for my own amusement. If you are an actor, then the back story is obviously part of who you (at least temporarily) are.

So, tell us one. Tell us the most interesting or unexpected back story you've ever come up with for a character. What came first, the text or the idea? Did you imagine a back story and then find supporting evidence in the text to work off of? Or vice versa, did you get a brainstorm after reading something in the text, and expanded that backward?

It's a Friday afternoon and I don't get my best traffic on Fridays so I don't know how many actors we'll get to chime in, but I'm hoping to see a couple of different backstory interpretations of the same character. I think that could be enlightening.

The Ages of .... Well, Anyone ... Game

Shakespeare clearly states that Juliet is 13 years old (while leaving us to guess about the age of Romeo). He less clearly states that Hamlet is 30, although he could also be 16. I'm sure there are other examples, but those are the ones that come readily to mind.

So, here's the game. Pick a character, ideally one whose age is not spelled out in the text :), and then pick *2* different ages for that character, and tell how the story might play out differently.

This idea came up over in the Othello's Ancient thread regarding Iago's age. On the one hand Iago could be a seasoned old soldier, roughly the same age/experience as Othello, who would make a fairly obvious case for Iago being a jealous rival of Othello's success. *OR* Iago could be a much younger, minor officer - someone who Othello barely gives the time of day to. That is, until Iago has the chance to say "Welll, I didn't want to say anything, buttttt....." and Othello suddenly cozies up to Iago as his new best friend, the new best friend that is that will spy on Desdemona for him. This would explain why Iago so easily blindsides Othello, since he's hardly on Othello's radar until it all goes down on stage.

Got the idea? Ok, who's got one? We do NOT have to dig in and say "Well, yeah, no, according to historical fact that would never have happened...." It's just supposed to be fun. Pretend you're the director and for a given actor you've got to decide between casting someone of age X or age Y. Which do you pick, and how does that alter the vision?

Othello and Emilia, Sitting In A Tree

One of the reasons Iago gives for his hatred of Othello is the rumor that "'twixt my sheets he has done my office," I surprisingly polite way for Iago to say that Othello slept with his (Iago's) wife, Emilia. (This from a man who told Desdemona's father that he'd better hurry up and locate his daughter because she was busy having sex with an animal ("you'll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse...your nephews will neigh at you".)

So my question is this -- I believe, though I can't quite find exact proof right at the moment, that Othello and Emilia must share the stage at some point. Does Othello ever directly address Emilia? Whether he does or not, has anybody ever seen a production, or considered one, where evidence is given that Iago's suspicions are correct?

What would such an interpretation do to Iago's character? Say, hypothetically, that we staged an Othello were it was perfectly obvious that Othello had indeed slept with Iago's wife. Would that make us sympathize with what Iago is about to do? We already know that Othello is a flawed man, so I'm not sure how much he'd change if we added "lust" to "jealousy" in the list of primal urges he has trouble controlling. It would almost certainly make the whole jealousy thing far more obvious, since he's got a reason to watch out for men sleeping with his wife.

I hadn't actually made that connection when I first started this post. *Did* Othello sleep around? Is that why he's so crazy jealous?

Othello's Ancient

So here's a question about Iago, maybe somebody familiar with the history of the play (specifically the military aspect) can answer.

I'd always assumed, based on their number of interactions, that Iago was something of a "right hand man" to Othello. A high ranking officer, who'd been in a position to compete for promotion(1) with Cassio - and lost.

However, when I went looking up that word that Iago is always called - Othello's "ancient(2)" - doesn't mean what I think it means. Inconceivable.

"Ancient" apparently means something along the lines of "flag-bearer", if I'm reading the resources correctly? is that true? Doesn't that seem like it would be ... I don't know, a fairly minor rank? Independent of the play, if somebody asked me whether flag-bearers were typically friends with generals, I'd have to say "no way". I guess I'd always just assumed that ancient meant something more akin to how Jean Luc Picard always used to call Riker his "number 1". Shows what I know. Nobody's actually trusting what I say here, right? :)

(1) Props to the one summary site I visited that told me ancient is "a rank below lieutenant", one of those answers that is simultaneously exactly right (since we know he was not *promoted* to that rank, he must be below it) and yet completely useless.

(2) On one of those "we'll sell you a Shakespeare essay" sites I stumbled across, it said that Iago "pretended to be Othello's ancient", showing a pretty bad misunderstanding of the character.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Prithee LOLeth! Shakespearean Internet Initialisms (Guest Post)

Internet Initialisms—LOL for “Laughing Out Loud” or BRB for “Be Right Back,” for example—have been around for a very long time. But Shakespeare has been around even longer. Bardfilm has come up with a number of Shakespearean Internet Initialisms. Use them to raise the tone of your texts, IMs, and Twitter conversations.

Shakespearean Internet Initialisms

SWL = [O, I am] Stabb’d with laughter (cf. modern LOL).

YHPP = Your humble patience pray (cf. modern BRB).

ITGASOMO = In the gross and scope of my opinion (cf. modern IMHO).

IJTO = I jest to Oberon (cf. modern JK).

OMUTB = Once more unto the breech (cf. modern BTW).

IYTUDWNL = If you tickle us, do we not laugh? (cf. modern ROTFL)

IFINTFYOL = I find it not fit for your o’er-looking (cf. modern NSFW).

HHHH = Howl, howl, howl, howl (cf. modern DYJHIW).

IHDASTS = I have drunk and seen the spider (cf. modern BTDT).

TORNAE = These our revels now are ended (cf. modern TTYL).

TITL = This is too long (cf. modern TL/DR).

Our thanks for this guest post to kj, the author of Bardfilm. Bardfilm is a blog that comments on films, plays, and other matters related to Shakespeare.

What Then To Do About Caliban, Stephano?

So for other unrelated reasons I found myself reading the bit in The Tempest where Ariel starts to drive a wedge between Stephano and Trinculo by shouting "Thou liest!" and making them accuse each other. Even just reading the script, that is a funny, funny scene:


Why, what did I? I did nothing. I'll go farther



Didst thou not say he lied?


Thou liest.


Do I so? take thou that.


As you like this, give me the lie another time.


I did not give the lie. Out o' your

wits and bearing too? A pox o' your bottle!

this can sack and drinking do. A murrain on

your monster, and the devil take your fingers!


Ha, ha, ha!


Now, forward with your tale. Prithee, stand farther



Beat him enough: after a little time

I'll beat him too.

The way that Shakespeare actually writes in a laugh for Caliban? And how Caliban, no doubt cowering near Stephano, gets off the line about "beat him some more, and then I'll beat him too!" They just end up looking like bumbling fools here, something out of the Three Stooges, with Stephano as Moe.

But.... earlier they were talking not just about stealing Prospero's books, but about bashing his head in. This made me think of that particular scene in Taymor's movie where Alfred Molina, as Stephano, and yes, Russell Brand as Trinculo did manage to give off a rather evil vibe, as if for a moment you really did think that you were looking at a couple of stone cold killers.

So I'm wondering, which is it? Are these three buffoons *ever* any threat to Prospero? Does Ariel take them seriously at all? When I tell this story to my kids I never say "Yeah they're gonna kill Prospero", I only ever say "they're going to try and steal his books, because they think that's where all the magic is."

What do you think? Should there be a credible threat in this play, or is that story line all about comedy? I think that I'd rather play up the violence in Sebastian and Antonio, since they are the real enemy - show just how powerful Prospero is that he's so easily manipulating these notorious bad guys.

(* I would include Trinculo in my title but I've been in a Jesus Christ Superstar mood lately and the line above maps nicely the "What then to do about Jesus of Nazareth?" song that's been stuck in my head for days.)

Eddie Izzard -> Christopher Walken -> Shakespeare

This is old, but I have to admit I'd never seen it. Eddie Izzard doing his impression of Christopher Walken, doing Shakespeare.

It's short, and his Walken isn't very good, but still.

Challenge Extended - Can anybody find video of the actual Christopher Walken doing some Shakespeare? Doesn't even have to be performance, can be something he whipped up during a talk show interview.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Alaskan Bard-a-thon

Some people try for a play a month, some try for a play a week or even a day. How about just one steady stream of all Shakespeare, all the time, until you've read it all?

Such is the task of the annual Fairbanks Bard-a-thon, where people are welcome to show up and start reading from whatever parts are available. In the early morning sessions they maybe see 10 people, while a popular session will have 50.

I'd actually written about this project previously, back in 2007. I don't know how long it's been around, but there is a reference in the article to someone who's been coming for 10 years.

Here's a question - the person that they interview says that the defining moment for her was when she got to read the part of God.

What play is *that*?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Geeklets Coming Around Again

This morning, before brushing his teeth, my 4yr old looked in the mirror, threw his arms up in the air and shouted " To BE! Or....NOT, to be. THAT is the question." No idea where that came from, there was no prompting from me at all. I loved the delivery. Many times he's come up to me and repeated it just like a 4yr old would repeat a joke over and over again not realizing it's not funny anymore, just knowing that it got a reaction once therefore it must get a reaction every time. "Hey daddy to be or not to be that is the question!" This was different. Of course I immediately tried to teach him the next line, but "whether 'tis nobler" is right off the bat some pretty hard words for someone that can't even read yet.

I'll keep working on it. I may start calling him Edwin Booth.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Shakespeare Said It, Now Figure Out How To Make It True

Here's a quick game for a weekend day. Surely we've all experienced a certain amount of rationalizing that goes with our Shakespeare, whether it came from casual conversation or directly from our teachers. What am I talking about? I heard an old stand by this morning about Juliet being 13 - namely, "Oh, well you see, that was the typical age for a girl back then to get married."

Really? Back when, exactly? The late 1500's when Shakespeare was writing? Or something more in the 14th century, based on Porto's original? If the latter - then why did Porto have Juliet as 16 instead? (I think I have those facts right, this is off the top of my head). If Shakespeare was talking about his own time, what's it mean then that at 18 he married a pregnant woman nearly 10 years older than him?

Or instead is it that we read Shakespeare, we think "Well, whatever he wrote has to make sense, therefore this love story about a 13yr old has to make we'll tell ourselves how it makes sense."

Then there's the "second best bed" that he left to his wife. Surely you've heard people tell you that "Oh, well you see, this was commonly done - the *best* bed was the guest bed, of course, and the second best bed would have been their wedding bed." Really? Has anyone ever seen independent confirmation of that, or is that just wishful thinking?

Then of course there's the whole gay thing. Sonnets written to a dude? Of course they were, that's how people talked back then! It was perfectly natural for one guy to write love poetry to another guy!

I'm curious, this fine Saturday morning ... can we make a list of those? More importantly, can we decide once and for all which are right and which are just wishful thinking?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Your Vote Needed for Pepsi to Refresh Shakespeare

[ Spotted first on, I don't think they'll mind the added publicity ]

These guys are in the running for $10,000 to bring Shakespeare to those who can’t physically attend the theatre.They need your votes to win. Please vote for them once per day Jan 4 - Feb 28. And if you REALLY want to help, please repost this. In your blog. Facebook. Wherever!

How To Vote

1) go to

2) go to the bottom of the window and click "Join Refresh Everything"

3) Fill in the sign up info (name, age, valid email address, password, retyped password, prove you're not a robot, click 'done')

4) Hit "vote for this idea"

5) Repeat each day

What is this, exactly? Looks like one of those "we'll sponsor your idea to change the world" programs that's becoming more and more popular. The site is a massive list of ideas, all vying for grants of different amounts of money. I love how, on the profile page, the user with the idea has to break down exactly how they'll use the money, why their idea benefits the community, and so on. In other words, some actual thought has to go into this proposal.

This particular group (I know nothing about them personally, and they did not ask me to post this) has gone with the idea of bringing Shakespeare performances to hospitals and senior centers. How can we not love it? Go vote! Especially if you're in Canada, as this is a Canadian operation and may more directly benefit your local community. I'm just supporting it because it's right in line with that "Shakespeare for everyone" thing we always talk about.

I am not thrilled, nothing personal, that they've marked off half the money to pay the actors. Not that I'm against paying actors, I just think that this will turn some people off - it comes across like "we got to get paid, son" is the most important idea. If they were pitching VC for a startup idea and asking for a million dollars, you don't start by saying "Yeah and the three founders will each pay themselves a salary of $250k." On the contrary you say "I'll work for the minimum possible - put every possible dollar into helping the idea succeed."

Anyway. Fingers crossed that they get up into the running - as of this post they're at position #32, and only the top 3 get some money, so they need a boost. Don't know how much of a boost we can give them, but it can't hurt!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Seventh Graders, on Shakespeare

Once more unto the breach, dear Keri, once more! Keri Ellis Cahill, founder and guiding light of Rebel Shakespeare, is once again in front of a classroom bringing the good words to the children. She's done this many, many times over her career, but this time she's posting her experience on Facebook. With permission, I present her list of actual quotes overheard in her class:

Q: "Why did teen boys play all the roles in Shakespeare's day?"

A: "Because the money was so good!"

Q: "Tell me something about Shakespeare's family."

A: "They're all dead."

Q: "Over the entrance to the Globe Theatre, a phrase in Latin says Totus Mondus Agit Histrionem. What does that mean?"

A: "Come on in!"

Q: (to Lysander) "When Hermia says Whither away? to Helena, what should be happening?"

A: "Ummmm....she should shrivel up. Or at least, fall down."

Overheard: "OMG we're getting casted today! I hope I get Hernia!"

More to come as soon as she stops laughing long enough to transcribe them :). I've seen the Rebels do their thing a number of times now, and plan to continue for a long time.


Shakespearean Pick-up Lines (Guest Post)

You all know that Shakespeare Geek has produced a great book (Hear My Soul Speak: Wedding Quotes from Shakespeare) on how and why to incorporate Shakespeare into a wedding. But how do you get to that point? Can Shakespeare help you get a date so that, sometime in the future, you can use Shakespeare (and Shakespeare Geek's book) when you tie the knot?

You have to start somewhere, and Bardfilm has come up with a list of classy lines (with considerable additions and emendations by Shakespeare Geek himself) to enable you to introduce yourself to that special someone—just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Shakespearean Pick-up Lines

If I said you were the most beautified, would you say that beautified was a vile phrase?

Can I just tell you, your eyes are nothing like the sun. And what's up with that wiry head of hair you got going on? Wait, where you going? Come back, it gets better! Your breath reeks! Call me!

You're like a good production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.  You both have a nice Bottom.

To be or not to be? With you, the former. Without you, the latter.

Hey, that guy de Vere wrote you this sonnet and told me to put my name on it. No, wait, no he didn't, he's dead. 

Now is the winter of my discontent. Won't you make it glorious summer by going out with me?

I noticed you hitting it off with that fair youth. Care to make it a three-way?

You look like an angel. Or at least a minister of grace. 

You must know Shakespeare ’cause my heart just did a swan dive. Because he's, like, called the Swan of Avon sometimes. Get it?

Ever seen a beast with two backs? Want to help me make one?

If you were a statue, I'd wish I were Leontes and you were Hermione, who was pretending to be dead for sixteen years. And not really a statue at all.

If I start behaving like an ass, will you start behaving like Titania?

I bet your phone number ends in 1599 because that's the most probable date for the composition of As You Like It.

Hi. My name is Julius, and when I saw you, I said to myself, "Julius, seize her!"

God hath given you one face, but you made yourself another. You didn't need to. I mean, the first one was fine.

Let's go back to my place and tear some sheets, Doll!

O, somebody bring me a bucket of water ’cause I just found my muse of fire! Hey, baby, did you ever ascend the brightest heaven of invention?

You. Me. Dance floor. Now. Don't give me no ado about nothing. 

The fault is not in our stars but in your eyes. I mean, the stars are in your eyes. Or something.

They must have left the gates of purgatory open—look who walked out! Besides Hamlet's dad, I mean.

There's nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so - and I'm thinking you look good.

I'd LIKE for YOU to PLEASE go OUT with ME. Ever been picked up in iambic pentameter before?

I'd rather compare thee to a summer's NIGHT, if you don't mind and if you get my meaning.

I don't want to brag, but I did once hear my last girlfriend referring to our sex life as the "sound and the fury." I didn't catch what she said after that. Or immediately before.

Our thanks for this guest post to kj, the author of Bardfilm. Bardfilm is a blog that comments on films, plays, and other matters related to Shakespeare.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My 5 Most Popular Posts (and Why)

First, let me show you my Top Five Most Popular Posts of the last 6 months or so, defined as follows : When these blog titles went up on Twitter, the most people clicked on them. They are:

  1. Shakespeare's New Year's Resolutions (Guest Post)
  2. Harry Potter is Shakespeare
  3. Shakespearean Collective Nouns (A Guest Post by Bardfilm)
  4. The Seven Least-Controversial Disclosures on WikiLeaks
  5. 10 Reasons We Love Sir Ian McKellen
(This is the order, by the way - top down. So the resolutions one is my most popular post in a long time.)

I like the "How many clicks did each tweeted link get" metric for a couple of reasons. Mostly because it tracks initial reaction - people see it, and then either they decide to click, or not. "Retweets", where person A decides that the link is so good they want to share it with person B, would also show up in this list. However, if I tried to recycle it and post the same link under a few different headlines, it would not -- the link would change and be counted separately.

This is very different from the organic/SEO world where how much Google traffic you get has less to do with what you wrote, and more to do with the particular keyword density that caused you to float up the page into the #1 spot. "How old is Romeo?" is not my #1 blog post because that's what the most people are interested in, it's the #1 post because I happen to have the best google spot for that, so it gets the most traffic.

So anyway, what patterns do you see in the above list?

First of all, 3 out of the 5 were written by my guest blogger Bardfilm. Thanks very much for the content, KJ! Looks like our partnership can be called a success, no?

Two of those are called out as guest posts, the third is not (the Wikileaks one is his, if you're curious). So maybe there's something to be said for the idea that guest posts bring traffic. Followers like to hear a fresh point of view now and then, it's good variety.

But do you see the other, more obvious pattern? 4 out of 5 of those posts are very clearly lists. Seven of this, ten of that. Resolutions. Nouns. People like to click on lists. Lists promise a short, well organize burst of content.

The outlier is Mr. Harry Potter, and it's probably obvious why he made the list - it's Harry Potter. :) Tweeting about celebrities will almost always get you some clicks, doubly so if you find a way to link that celebrity to your niche instead of just broadcasting generic news headlines about him. Being trendy is important - I was surprised that my Ian McKellen post did not get more traffic. But quality doesn't really enter into it, in that particular battle - comparing a Harry Potter headline and an Ian McKellen headline is like comparing a Led Zeppelin or Rolling Stones story to a Lady Gaga one. The audiences are just different.

Of course, timeliness is pretty important as well. The Resolutions one obviously wouldn't work at any time other than maybe a week before and after the new year, when everybody's in the mood for lists like that. Likewise with the Wikileaks one - if you tried to put out a Wikileaks story now I think you'll find that most folks are bored of the topic. Even Harry Potter, I'm pretty sure I tried to put that post up right around the time of the last movie. I think that was one of the problems with poor Sir Ian - he's always good. I didn't have a current event to link him to. Maybe when The Hobbit comes out I'll bring that post out of mothballs and try it again :).

Thought I'd Lost This! (Kids Reciting Shakespeare)

Thanks to Martin Luther King, I stumbled across this long lost audio clip of my son - at 2 and a half years old - doing his best to recite a bit of Sonnet 18.

I have a similar clip of my daughters, at 3 and 5, doing the same bit. But every time I've needed to cite these, I could never remember where I'd put the clip of my son. Yay!

(* Thanks to MLK because, if you'll follow the link, you'll see that I'd tagged the post "The Dream Fulfilled" and then made an MLK reference. So today while looking to see if I'd used that MLK on Shakespeare quote previously, this turned up!)

Martin Luther King on Shakespeare, and Street Sweeping

If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.

Happy Martin Luther King Day, everybody.

Zombie Hamlet

Not quite sure what to do with this story [first spotted on] about Zombie Hamlet. At first I thought, "Ok, big deal, somebody's ripping off Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead," which has been around for over 2 years and I think pretty much started the "zombie Shakespeare" thing.

But then I checked out the IMDB page for kicks. Jason Mewes, the stoner guy from all those Kevin Smith movies? Shelley Long from Cheers? John Amos, the dad from Good Times? June Lockhart, the Lost In Space mom? Does the Zombie part refer to the plot, or the cast? I thought a few of those people were dead!

Then I checked out the director's page. From the man who brought you Santa With Muscles, ranked in IMDB's 100 Worst Movies Of All Time comes....Zombie Hamlet. Yeah, that fits.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Romantic Quotes for Valentine's Day

Want to write something romantic on that Valentine's Day card for a change? You can't go wrong with Shakespeare. The man wrote this stuff four hundred years ago and we're still repeating it. You've probably already forgotten what you wrote on last year's card.

First let's have a list of some of his best. We'll talk in a minute about what to do with them.
To you I give myself, for I am yours.
I will swear I love thee infinitely.
For where thou art, there is the world itself.
I love thee; none but thee; and thou deservest it.
O, how I love thee! How I dote on thee!
I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.
I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes.
My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep.
The more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.
I would not wish any companion in the world but you.
My heart is ever at your service.
Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized.
I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?

See anything you like? Yes, it's true, centuries ago people said "thee" and "thou" a lot. If that's not your style, though, you can always improvise it a bit. Shakespeare's not going to mind. What about "I swear, I love you infinitely," or "I will live in your heart, die in your lap, and be buried in your eyes."

Don't go crazy, though, or you risk losing the whole spirit. "Wherever you are, that's my world." Easier to say, maybe...but poetic? Not so much.

Enjoy. What you write and where you write it are up to you. Have it put on the card that comes with the flowers you had delivered. Write it yourself in the card you hand to her, so you can see her expression. Or, knock it out of the park by looking your romantic partner straight in the eye and reciting it out loud. They always say, Shakespeare was meant to be performed. So take a deep breath, keep a straight face, and go for it.

(The above material condensed from Hear My Soul Speak : Wedding Quotations from Shakespeare , by Duane Morin. Available now in digital download format for Kindle, iPad, Nook and all e-book readers.)

BONUS! Often confused with Shakespeare, the following quote actually comes from Bayard Taylor's Bedouin Song:
I love thee, I love but thee
With a love that shall not die
Till the sun grows cold
And the stars grow old.
One of my personal favorites. Try dropping that bad boy on your significant other out of the clear blue sky the next time she says "What's new?"

Your Quotes. Give Dem To Me.

I've decided a few things, after staring blankly at a number of word processors over the past few weeks. Why a number of word processors? Because I'm one of those procrastinators that blames the tool and thinks "If only I had a different application, the words would flow freely to paper." Yeah, doesn't happen like that.

What I've learned from my book publishing experience is that I'm not so great with the blank slate approach to writing, where every word and all the structure is my own. It's too big a project for my attention span to fully comprehend. What I am good at, I think, is compiling and doing the value-add thing - hit and run style, almost. What project finally got me to publish a book? Collecting a bunch of quotes on the subject of weddings, and then adding value. I can do that.

So I'd like to put that theory to the test, a bit. My next project, should this work, will be a free ebook on the subject of Shakespeare and productivity, time management, procrastination...etc. I haven't decided yet. The idea remains the same - compile, organize, add value. I want to make this one free, mostly because I think it's been done before and I don't want to push my luck, but primarily because I want to start building up value around my name as an author. I think that people searching for ebooks will be more likely to find time management books than wedding books, and they're certainly more likely to try out free books than $$ books. But if people *do* try out my free book and they like it, then maybe they click on that author link Amazon provides and say "I like this guy's style, what else has he written?" My goal for 2011 is to get a handful of titles attached to my name to see if I can make that happen.

So then, tell me - what are your favorite quotes on that broad subject? I can google "Shakespeare and time" all day long, and have been. And, just like with the wedding project, it's been easy to see that a handful of quotes shows up over and over again - better three hours too soon than a minute late, I have wasted time and now time doth waste me, and so on. Just like the wedding project, I'd like to hit somewhere between those - I don't think there's value in a dry and boring collection of the 5000 times Shakespeare used the words "time" or "minute" or "hour". But I think there's far more than half a dozen good quotes on the subject. I bet we could find closer to 100 or more if we tried.

Got anything for me?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hamlet + Pink Floyd =

A long, long time ago I discovered David Gilmour, of Pink Floyd, singing Sonnet 18. It was my first experience with Shakespeare-to-music, and it just happened to be one of my favorite bands. Well, the solo guy from that band, but still. At the time I used the expression, "Excuse me while my head explodes, in the good way."

(Later, someone from Google quoted me on that one when Google Books announced their Shakespeare project.)

And there was the German rock opera Hamlet In Space, which was so good that I had songs from their sampler in my regular playlist (I've long since lost them, alas).

So I'm quite excited to see Hamlet : A Rock Experience, which puts Hamlet to the music of Pink Floyd's The Wall:

A prince descends into madness, haunted by the ghost of his murdered father, hatred for the uncle who usurped him and resentment toward a mother he feels has betrayed him.

A troubled rock star, oppressed by an overprotective mother, abusive teachers and the superficiality of stardom, imprisons his inner rage behind a mental wall, each brick closing him off from the rest of the world.

I would kill to see that. Hamlet and The Wall could be the new Dark Side / Wizard of Oz.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Yeah, We're Gonna Need Those Names.

Back to the subject of Huck Finn for the moment, we have this NPR story that drags Shakespeare into the mix. Not to censor him, but to update him:

Now and then I have proposed that Shakespearean language, when spoken, is often nearly impossible to understand by someone who hasn't read it beforehand, and that there should be editions that substitute modern words for ones that now require footnoting. The response each time is predictable: Shakespeare fans tear me to ribbons in public venues (while a bunch of people quietly write to me privately, saying that they agree with me!).

Yeah....we're gonna need the names of that latter group, they have to turn in their membership cards.

For the umptymillionth time, Shakespeare is both poetry and literature. It is the Schrodinger's Cat of words on a page. The minute you lock it down in either category, you destroy it in the other. If you think you're allowed to change it, then you're basically saying that it's not poetry. You're painting clothes on Botticelli's Venus. It just don't work.

To anybody that feels the need to get a modern translation of Shakespeare, I say help yourself to West Side Story, Lion King, and Ten Things I Hate About You. Because those clearly say "Shakespeare was all about the plot, so we'll take that and then go off and do our own thing." When you want Shakespeare for what it is meant to be, you have only one choice (and by choice I mean "privilege"), and that is to read the original.

I just don't understand this "It's too hard to understand, so we have to dumb it down" argument. Anyone reading this could, I'm sure, list 10 works of literature that are beyond the understanding of your average joe - anything from Stephen Hawking's work on black holes, to Sir Isaac Newton's Principia - where you can't go down to the local bookstore and flip through half a dozen different "for Dummies" versions. Why is that? Why is it that we feel the need to destroy Shakespeare?

I think that's the very great irony - it's because we so desperately still *want* to understand him. Most people will go through their entire lives without a second thought to Stephen Hawking or Richard Feynman. But not read Shakespeare? What what? Tragedy! If Shakespeare gets in the way of you understanding Shakespeare, then we must *change Shakespeare*!

That hurts my brain.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Review : Musings on Shakespeare's Most Wonderful Play

(The full title of Wayne Myers book is The Book of "Twelfth Night, or What You Will" Musings on Shakespeare's Most Wonderful Play. I just couldn't fit that meaningfully in my title.)

I am woefully behind on my book reviews, but isn't that always the case? Truthfully it's taken me longer to write this review than it did to read the book!

Mr. Myers book is just the right size and scope for my kind of reading. Weighing in at just under 100 pages and covering one specific play, it's small enough to be welcoming to the casual reader while still managing to pack a serious amount of discussion material in its dozen or so chapters. Most chapters center around a specific character, so the reader can easily flip around to favorites, or just read straight through.

Twelfth Night is a complex play. On one level it's a light romantic comedy, some cross-dressing here, a little mistaken identity over there, a reunion of siblings separated by tragedy, a happy ending. It's practically As You Like It.

Look closer. Look at the treatment of Malvolio, for an obvious starter. What about poor Viola, who not only assumes the identity of her dead brother, but seems to be stuck in the middle of a bizarre love triangle that none of the parties involved fully understand. Who does she love (erotically speaking) more, Olivia or Orsino? It's clear that Olivia wants her (in her Cesario/Sebastian persona) more than she wants Orsino, and Orsino's almost certainly got some strange feelings brewing as well. How does this happy ending work out, exactly? Orsino's spent the play lusting after a boy, only to be told she's a girl, and he says "Oh, phew, ok cool, I can marry you." Olivia has been lusting after that same boy, but she's told, "No, he wasn't real, but here's a brother that looks just like him. A brother you've never really met, but physical appearance is apparently all that matters." And so on. Much fan fiction has been written about exactly what happens after Twelfth Night ends. Does anybody end up happy, really?

Myers' book tells the story for those unfamiliar with it, and then takes it apart character by character, discussing different interpretations throughout the years. How should the shipwreck be staged? Should it open the play, or come after Orsino's "If music be the food of love..." speech? Is Olivia truly in mourning at the beginning of the play, or just going through some formality? It is no coincidence that Olivia is mourning the death of a brother, as is Viola. So how much should this be played up, and how?

At times this "one chapter per character" breakdown doesn't hold up. Characters don't exist in a vacuum. To explain Malvolio, you have to explain how Maria and Toby and the others treat him. So then when you get to the chapter on Maria, what do you talk about? The cast is already small enough, but it does make you think that maybe some characters didn't need their own chapter, and could instead have shown up strictly in their relationship to the more major characters. More than once while reading I thought, "This often comes out like a series of blog posts, like the author got an idea and then went out to do some research backing up that idea. Then, he moved on to the next idea." This is ok if you're a fan of that sort of short-attention-span, read-5-pages-and-then-flip-to-a-different-chapter that sounds interesting approach to tackling a book.

The book is a guide to staging the play (giving many, many examples of how others have done it). A great deal of research has clearly gone into this material. Instead of abstract pondering about how a scene could be played, the reader is shown examples throughout the years of how the scene was played. Unfortunately there are no images from these productions, something that I think would have added tremendously to the final product. You can only go so far explaining what Viola looked like emerging from the sea. Show us a picture.

However, if like me you're more into Shakespeare as literature and have no real interest in staging your own production, there's still plenty here for discussion. What's the deal with Orsino, isn't he basically stalking Olivia? Are we supposed to be sympathetic toward him? What do we do with the whole Malvolio issue? What do we do when he leaves, do we laugh, or do we fear for our safety?

I expect over the coming weeks that I'll be able to pull a half dozen blog posts out of this book, and that's a good thing. I can't even really say that about books like Bloom and Garber, because volumes like that tend to spend so many hundred pages tackling a topic that I can never truly get a handle on the author's argument. Here, Myers has made it simple enough - here's what happens, here's how the characters treat each other, what do you think? If you've seen the play, and/or read the play, you can jump in this discussion.

Overall I'm quite pleased with this book. If I found out that Mr. Myers were planning to do the same thing with another play, maybe Shrew or All's Well, I think that I'd seek it out. I like the size, I like the format, I like the writing style. Having said that I'm finding it hard to fully grasp the intended audience for a book like this. It seems introductory in many places, but then makes a number of leaps about the book (often referring merely to a scene's numbering, without explaining what the scene is about), as if the reader is intimately familiar with the play. In other, I guess. The "more than casual fan", the kind of reader who does have more than one-time experience with the play, who is interested in deepening their knowledge by finding the key points where there's discussion to be had.

I'd like to see more books like this, is really the best way I can put it.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Trial of Hamlet

The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles will determine at the end of this month whether Hamlet was mentally competent at the time he murdered Polonius.

I've never seen one of these up close, but they've been done before. I'd like to see a transcript, if nothing else:

Defense Attorney : Mr. Hamlet, should you have been in your mother's bedchamber in the first place?

Hamlet : No.

DA : And why not?

Hamlet : The ghost told me not to.

DA : Defense rests.

Friday, January 07, 2011

McKellen's Richard III. Annotated.

I've mentioned in the past that I've yet to see Ian McKellen's Richard III. I may not have to after finding this annotated version of the screenplay, which he wrote.

Wow. It's hosted, you'll note, at Sir Ian's own site - so I have faith in its quality and credibility. Just looking at the first page, all I can say is that if the entire thing is annotated at that level, I'll just go ahead and read it like a book.

I'm already looking at ways to get the entire thing into a Kindle-friendly ebook format so I can take it with me ;)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

[Off Topic] Anybody Want To Buy Some Girl Scout Cookies?

This probably won't work, but what have I got to lose? It's my site after all :).

My 8yr old is doing the Girl Scout Cookie thing, and as every parent knows the days of door-to-door are long gone, and we're the ones who are pestered to hit up our coworkers and such. Over the years the Girl Scouts have really turned this into a science, though, I'll give them that. They've even started really pushing the "Donate My Cookies To The Troops" option, so every coworker who says "I'd love to but I can't, I'm on a diet" no longer has that excuse - you can still buy some cookies and send them to our boys overseas.

So, anybody wanna buy some cookies for the troops? :) (I'm not even going to pretend that I can ship you cookies.) They're $4/box. Here's how we make it work - email me that you're interested, I'll get your details and then you can PayPal me the money. If I had Shakespeare-related rewards to offer I would do so, but right now I don't know what that would be exactly so I can't promise anything.

This depends entirely on you trusting me, of course, which is why in any normal circumstance I would never even bother. But I think at this point I've got a fairly loyal enough readership that at least some of you know perfectly well that you can trust me, I haven't screwed anybody yet. It may still flop, but that won't be because you don't trust me, it'll be because you don't love America. :) <--- smiley clearly pointed out, for the humor impaired.

So, consider it an experiment. If you want to support the site by helping my kid reach whatever the next milestone is in her "If I sell 50 boxes I get a stuffed animal but if I sell 80 boxes I get a bigger stuffed animal!" quest, and make some soldiers fat in the process :), let's try it and see if we can make it work.

If you think it's a stupid idea and you're annoyed at me for bringing it up, then move on, nothing to see, won't happen again.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Heaven Needed A Forbidden Planet Remake : Anne Francis Has Died

First Leslie Nielsen, now Anne Francis. Immortalized in the theme song to Rocky Horror Picture Show ( "See androids fighting Brad and Janet....Anne Francis stars in, Forbidden Planet...."), Anne Francis has followed Leslie Nielsen up to that great sound studio in the sky, passing away from complications related to pancreatic cancer.

If you want a walk down memory lane, go read Ms. Francis' IMDB page. She was in, and I'm being very literal about this, everything:

Rawhide. Route 66. Dr. Kildare. Twilight Zone. Ben Casey. Man from UNCLE. The Fugitive. Mission: Impossible. My Three Sons. Gunsmoke. Columbo. Ironside. Kung Fu. Barnaby Jones. SWAT. Wonder Woman. Hawaii Five-O. CHiPs. Trapper John MD. Love Boat. Fantasy Island. Hardcastle and McCormack. Jake and the Fatman. Matlock. Golden Girls. Murder She Wrote. Quincy. Vega$.Charlie's Angels. Dallas. Police Woman.

That's just the ones I recognize. That's a small portion of her appearances. Woman was everywhere.

Have Computer, Will Travel

If you know me in real life, you'll know that my computers tend to go where I do. 8 years ago when my wife and I went away to the Cayman Islands I had my laptop, and would sneak out to sit by the pool and hack code while the sun came up. Even when we had our first child and she was still in the pack-n-play portable crib we'd cart with us on vacation, I'd still manage to sit out on the balcony while wife and baby slept and get in some Zen time. Bliss.

As the kids have gotten older it's become less likely that I'll get such time. Last time I tried it, in fact, they ganged up on me and told me that - I am not kidding - my hitting the space bar was keeping everybody awake. :-/

So when we ran out this Thursday for a quick night away at a local hotel/waterpark, I decided not to take my computer. After all I've got an iPhone so I check email regularly (not to mention Twitter), and I've just gotten a new Kindle for Christmas, so if I do get any downtime I can enjoy a nice book.

Off we go and enjoy a nice day at the water park, dinner, the whole works. It's getting on 8pm or so, the kids have watched Charlie Brown's Happy New Year, and the hotel room is dark and quiet. I bring up Twitter, and discover a message from Cass that "I think Stanley Wells needs to hear about your book!" Written, I notice, at 10am that morning.

It seems that Professor Wells has written a post on the subject of what Shakespeare quotes would be appropriate to use at a wedding, because his daughter's been invited to do a reading.

You know, like, the exact same topic I spent half of last year compiling into a book? And me without my computer.

(Remember those discussions we had a few weeks back about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Shakespeare? If an authority on your topic writes on a subject where you've got value to add, you darned sure want to do whatever you can to get associated with that post. Preferably with a link, such as in the comments section. And I mean come on, that's not even spam, that's my opportunity to answer his thinking-aloud query on the topic!)

I try desperately to craft a comment using the browser on my iPhone, but it fails miserably. So miserably, in fact, that I end up running out of battery. I do manage to send an "Argh!" back to Cass, and send a direct note to Stanley, but am unable to get a comment posted on the blog. I give up.

Battery dead on the iPhone now, I turn to my Kindle. Kindle has a very rudimentary browser, with which I'm able to bring up my email. What's waiting for me? A note from Bardfilm saying "Hey, did you see Stanley's post? I'm travelling but I'll try to hit the comments when I get back." I try writing him back as well to say "I'm out of commission", but am unable to make it happen.

The next morning I explain the situation to my wife, who suggests I try to hotel's business center, something I had not considered. Of course it was approaching 9pm when the problem started and it's about 6am now so I'm not sure whether it would have been open either time. But the urgency of the matter has subsided, I'm not as freaked, and I pass. Although I do tell her that the computer's coming with me every time we travel from now on :).

When I get back to civilization (and by that I of course mean, my computers :)) I go online to see that Bardfilm has gotten a comment on the post - thank you! I put up a comment of my own, but I notice that it's not made it through the moderators so perhaps they felt it was too self-promotional, which is unfortunate since that's really the only medium I have for holding a discussion with the posts's author, but hey, every site has their own rules.

As I tell people that story, not only has every person said "Did you try the hotel's business center?" but several have said "Did you just drive home?" We were, at most, 30-45 minutes from home. Good point. Well, given that the moderator never actually posted my comment I guess that in hindsight I didn't miss much opportunity after all :). Had this been something more live/real-time, like "They're doing a live webcast about Shakespeare use in weddings!" then yeah, perhaps a mad scramble for online access by any means necessary would have been in order. In this particular instance, it just makes for a funny story. :)

Oh, and if you happen to be listening, Professor Wells? I'll happily send you a free copy of my book if you'd like. I just need to know where to send it!

Pete Postlethwaite Dies at 64

If you don't recognize the name you'll recognize the face - Sir Peter Postlethwaite has died at the age of 64 following a long battle with cancer.

Sir Pete had two well-known Shakespeare roles - he played Father Laurence to Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes in the 1996 Romeo+Juliet, but he also played the Player King in Mel Gibson's 1990 Hamlet.

Updated: Obviously the man had much more Shakespeare to his credit than I've...well, given him credit for.

Here's a snippet of his King Lear. Terrible video, but you can hear his delivery.

Here's his Prospero. Much better video, although the costuming is unusual - he seems to have just walked on stage in his bathrobe and little else.

Shakespeare Geek Resolutions

Ok, with a little (lotta!) help from Bardfilm we did Shakespeare's New Year's Resolutions. So how about some of our own? I'll start.

I will:

  • speak publicly on the topic of Shakespeare. Not sure how, exactly, but it's a goal. Take it to the real world.

  • use my experience in publishing my first book, Hear My Soul Speak, to try a second.

  • expand my empire by turning on some of the Shakespeare-related domains I've been sitting on for awhile now.

  • make more concerted effort to see Shakespeare productions. I'm always up for a local, high-quality Hamlet or Lear, of course. But if you told me tomorrow that King John was playing in Somerville in some dinky little local community theatre, I'd typically pass. Got to get better at that. Saw a high school production of Winter's Tale last year, that's a good start. And hiking it into Boston by myself so I wouldn't miss the Tempest movie was a step in the right direction as well.

On a related note, I learned something recently about motivation. The traditional reasoning I've always heard goes like this -- announce your intentions publicly, that way you feel accountable for actually doing them. Makes sense. Recently, though, I heard the exact opposite. Namely that those people who announce their intentions are the least likely to actually achieve them. Has something to do with the fact that if you keep it to yourself, then whether or not you do it is driven entirely by whether or not you want it enough, but if you announce it, then you have more of a burden on your shoulders that you feel like you have to do it. Plus, now you've opened up the door psychologically that "Talking about how close I am to my goals is kind of like getting closer toward them." Which is, of course, a gigantic error.

And oh hey look! Shakespeare had something to say on the topic, who'd have guessed?

Talkers are no good doers: be assured

We come to use our hands and not our tongues.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Oh Really, Rupert Everett?

This article, where formerly interesting actor Rupert Everett slams formerly interesting actress Jennifer Aniston, was of no interest to me at all until I spotted two things.

First, in his wild shotgunning of every topic imaginable in the hopes of stirring up something controversial, he calls Shakespeare "an overrated writer who should be banned for the next 100 years." I could care less what he says about Jennifer Aniston or George Clooney, but taking shots at Shakespeare is stretching things pretty far.

Second, "It's no secret that the actor feels that his coming out as a gay man stalled his Hollywood career."

Absolutely. I mean, it pretty much wiped Sir Ian McKellen off the map, right?



Saturday, January 01, 2011

Shakespeare's New Year's Resolutions (Guest Post)

Bardfilm has discovered a list of Shakespeare’s resolutions for the New Year (with additions and expansions by Shakespeare Geek himself). Enjoy this rare find!

Shakespeare’s New Year’s Resolutions
  1. Stop casting Jack Lemmon, Bill Murray, and other comic characters in serious roles.
  2. More bears and bear-baiting references. Maybe actually have someone pursued by a bear?
  3. Lose ten pounds. Then earn it back again with a land transaction in Stratford, lol.
  4. Resolve Ophelia question—did she take her own life? Was she or was she not responsible for her own actions? Thought I'd made that clear, but audience reaction poor.
  5. Look for opportunities for sequels. Audience seems to love those. Maybe Richard III, Part II or Henry IV, Part II (Part II)?
  6. More sonnets to Anne; fewer sonnets (none?—Nah, let’s not go that far) to You Know Who.
  7. No more drinking parties with Ben and the boys. Might catch a fever and die one of these days if I don’t knock that out.
  8. Donate that second best bed to charity so Anne will stop nagging me to get rid of it.
  9. Consider starting New Year earlier—January 1?—will help scholars avoid confusion in future.
  10. Stop letting the Earl of Oxford try to take credit for work that is clearly not his own.
Our thanks for this guest post to kj, the author of Bardfilm. Bardfilm is a blog that comments on films, plays, and other matters related to Shakespeare.