1) Free Tivo 2) Shakespeare Wishlist

Got Tivo yet? Did you know that you can get a Tivo box for free? You have to pay for the subscription, but if it was the cost of the box (normally over $150) that was preventing you, here’s your opportunity.

What’s this got to do with Shakespeare? Believe it or not, something. Once you’ve got Tivo you can set up a “keyword wishlist” for, I dunno, “Shakespeare” and then Tivo will just go ahead and automatically record everything that mentions that keyword in the description. It’s really a great way to keep track not only of which movies are on (they’re on regular cable so rarely, after all!), but also a chance to see programs you might otherwise have missed, like “Mystery Hunters” looking at the curse of the Scottish play, or an episode of Boston Public where “a student uses rap music to critique Shakespeare.”

Ok….that last one I think I might want to skip.

Stratford Unplugged

As a Shakespeare geek, I find it cool that Shakespeare’s hometown is going wireless in a big way. Not just setting up wifi hotspots around time (so bloggers like yours truly wouldn’t have to wait until we get home to braindump everything in sight!), but you can actually get your hands on a dedicated PDA that will provide an interactive map of the area, pointing out all the good spots.

Highly neat! One of these days I have to get out there.

Shakespeare’s Sonnets…Solved?

Well here’s interesting news for a change. Author Hank Whittemore has issued a press release claiming to have the solution to the sonnets. By solution I assume that means “who they were written about.”

The solution of course comes in his new book, “The Monument : ‘Shake-Speare’s Sonnets’ by Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford” which weighs in at 900 pages. What I’m trying to grasp from the press release is how the Earl of Oxford fits into the picture – does the book just start with the premise that Oxford was Shakespeare (as does “Shakespeare by Another Name”, which I just wrote about yesterday)?

More information available at ShakespearesMonument.com.

P.S. Wait til you find out who the Dark Lady is!

Illustrating Shakespeare

Here’s a cool link to how Shakespeare has been illustrated over the centuries (found via del.icio.us). Interesting concept that takes the whole notion of Shakespeare’s works in a very different direction. Does a particular artistic rendition represent a copy of what at one point was a live performance, like you might see in an encyclopedia these days? Or is the artist envisioning the play in his mind and depicting what he sees there?

Listen! Shakespeare By Another Name

If you’re not doing the whole podcasting thing yet (you should!) you may not have heard (ha! pun intended!) of the forthcoming Shakespeare by Another Name, by Mark Anderson. This book argues that the works of Shakespeare were actually written by the Earl of Oxford.

Normally I’d consider it no big deal, as I don’t usually follow any of the “who wrote the works of Shakespeare” theories. What I’m digging about it, though, and major credit to the author for thinking of this, is that he’s doing audio excerpts from the book as a sort of teaser for when it is actually published. So instead of publishing a book that I would never have seen or even given a second thought if I had, he’s gotten me to listen to the first 5 chapters.

How is it? He certainly makes an interesting case. He’s got loads of evidence that Shakespeare’s work pretty much parallels Oxford’s life almost identically, right down to Oxford (or somebody he knew, I forget…) crossing paths with two people from Denmark named Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. To tell you the truth it gets so obvious the way it’s presented that it makes you roll your eyes and say “Yeah, sure, if it’s so obvious, why has it been a mystery for 400 years?” When I heard the first chapter I immediately thought of that old conspiracy email about “Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy, Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln!”

I think that if you’re a collector of such things, this is going to be a good one. The amount of evidence really is staggering. The author’s command of the plays is also outstanding, which makes for the best part of his argument — he always backs it up with sources from the plays, which in turn expands my exposure to select bits of plays like Winter’s Tale that I might not otherwise have ever noticed.

Speak of the Villain

Recently I read (I think it was in Bloom’s “Invention of the Human”) that Claudius does not count as one of Shakespeare’s better villains, because he basically only does one bad thing (which most normal men could also be capable of), and feels guilty for it.

Sure enough I get back from vacation and About.com has their favorite villain poll up. I think this one is skewed a bit, though, as they bill it as “favorite” villain and then in the actual poll call it “most notorious”. I’m thinking that most peole just recognize Iago better than anybody else. How many casual Shakespeare readers could identify Titus Andronicus at all, much less compare Aaron the Moor against Cornwall from King Lear? Iago’s the easy answer.

Claudius, by the way, is not on the list.

The Tempest : What was Prospero’s original plan?

The Tempest may end happily enough with everything working itself out, but it doesn’t start that way. Fate has placed Prospero’s enemies within his reach, and he promptly crashes their ship on his island. Somewhere along the line he decides that the best move is just to reveal himself and get a ride back to the mainland.

But was that his original plan? He’s obviously got some pent up anger over having been exiled here in the first place. He could easily have sent the ship and all its passengers straight to the bottom of the sea, too.

Was Miranda falling for Ferdinand part of the plan? Was his daughter his motivation for getting off the island in the first place? Or did he change his whole plan around to accomodate her?

King Lear as a graph, for your convenience

Who killed whom, and who merely betrayed whom in King Lear? Now you can see it all in one easy graph. Comes with a description of all the characters and relationships so you can follow along a little more deeply than just “Oh, green means married, ok…”

I’ve always thought it would be neat to have this sort of “map” for the plays. Naturally not as the only way you read the play, of course. More like a roadmap so that when you think you’re lost you can refer back to it and gain some confidence that you understand what’s going on.

Shakespeare vs. Britney

I found this little battle of great artists while browsing today, and thought I’d share. The premise is simple, if a bit tedious – define what is important in defining art, then pick two “great” artists (ranging from Britney Spears through Stephen King to William Shakespeare. Then state how well each of your artists attains the goals that you set. See how much work it is? That’s why I’ve linked right to the last page which shows the scores.

Two things that would make the game more fun — be able to add new artists, and let mob rule determine a set of defaults for each artist if you don’t feel like selecting from a dozen checkboxes. There’s really nothing to stop you from just selecting the best values for Shakespaere and the worst for everybody else if you wanted to, but where’s the fun in that?