http://digitalliving.cnet.co.uk/specials/0,39030785,49289872-1,00.htm Talk about pinging high on ye olde Shakespeare Geek meter! Over on CNet UK we have a comparison of OS X (the Mac operating system, for those who are more Shakespeare and less geek :)) versus Vista, the latest offering from Microsoft. The catch is that they’ve done it up as an “Elizabethan duel”, and by that they mean literally with actors and everything. Their task is to “win the hand of the fair Maiden Mainstream, played as in olden times by the hairy bloke in the dress.” The comparison between the two is fairly light, focusing on security, performance and usability. Who wins? It doesn’t really matter, does it? If you’re a fan of either operating system and your champion loses, you’ll cry foul. But it’s still a fun, different way to do the review. Especially for this crowd.
When I heard about a Shakespeare video game, naturally my ears went up. It seems that the fine folks at University of Guelph have created ‘Speare, a video game designed to teach Shakespeare’s work. Here’s the hook, though – it’s a Space Invaders game, with a Shakespeare storyline. The game itself is a 2D vertical scrolling shooter, and you get to blast things and collect things. (Remember the rules: If it moves, shoot it. If it doesn’t move, shoot it anyway. If it’s still there when the dust clears, pick it up, it’s treasure.) The storyline is all about how the “Prosperean” universe is all about peace, love and poetry until the bad guys come around and, having something to do with the Montagues and Capulets, steal Romeo and Juliet? I got lost somewhere laong the line because I’m at work and I was trying to get through as much as I could before I got caught. I’m actually quite intrigued. It sounds like a dumb idea at first, but if you look at it the other way — “videogame with Shakespeare in it”, instead of “Shakespeare via videogame”, then why not? All good shooters need a story. If this story happens to teach you something about Shakespeare, all the better. You can play the demo online at the link above (you do have to register), and I’m anxious to get through it. They want $20 for the full version, which I might do (they take PayPal, and I always keep a few bucks online for just such an occasion) to help support such projects.
No, not Shakespeare’s pen. A Shakespeare Pen. Fancy pen created by someone I’m presuming is an artist named Conway Stewart. It is hand painted with a scene of Romeo and Juliet on the barrel, and Shakespeare himself on the cap. It’s $2450, though. Looks like I won’t be putting that on my Amazon Wishlist for my birthday :).
Sometimes reading LiveJournal references to Shakespeare can be annoying. More often than not they’re just trivial references from kids in school talking to each other and then saying “yeah, I should work on that Shakespeare paper tonight.” Like you really needed to tag your post as Shakespeare for that. But every now and then you find gold. Go read KPhoebe’s Shakespeare Summaries right now. Funniest thing I’ve read in a long time, and actually very useful! She’s not the first person to whittle down Shakespeare to his essence and try to be funny at it, but unlike other cruder attempts (where Romeo and Juliet is always reduced to “Hi, wanna do me? Argh, I’m dying! Me too! The end.”), these summaries actually cover the entire play and leave you with the feeling that you pretty much got the plot and were entertained in the process:
A snippet from her Much Ado…. Claudio: Hero, you’re a whore!
Hero: I am not!
Prince: Are too! Wedding’s off. To me,
my X-men Claudio!
Friar: Let’s pretend Hero is dead while we work to clear her name, and then Claudio will be sorry. But no pretend-death sleeping potions, because this is a comedy.
Benedick: Hey, Beatrice. I love you.
Beatrice: I love you too. Wanna kill Claudio?
Benedick: Oh, man! He’s my
bank account best friend! Still, anything for the lady… Claudio, Hero’s dead, and I challenge you.
Claudio: O rly?
Benedick: Ys rly.
Claudio: No wai!
Benedick: But first I will try my hand at poetry. And a little All’s Well… Countess: My husband has died and I’m sad.
Helena: My father has died, and I’m sad.
Bertram: I am the Countess’s son and I am also sad. But also WOO WAR. *goes to Marseilles*
… Countess: Do you love my son, girl-who-I-regard-as-a-daughter-even-though-she-is-lower-class?
Helena: Yes, though I am totally not worthy of his awesomeness because I am lower class.
Countess: Aw, but you are pretty awesome yourself. Even though you are lower class.
Helena: Thanks. Hey, you know how the King is really sick and my dad just happened to be a famous doctor? I have a recipe for a possible cure!
Countess: Well, move your ass, honey!
King: Woe, woe, I am dying. Oh, hey, who’s this lower class cutie?
Helena: I have a cure! And I am so confident that it’ll work that I will wager my life on it.
King: Iiiiinteresting. And what will you take if it works?
Helena: How about my choice of husband? Yes, Karen, you are indeed funny. Do Taming of the Shrew! Do Taming of the Shrew!! Actually I’m already pretty familiar with that one. Do Winter’s Tale! Do Winter’s Tale!!
ShakespeareTeacher’s got a good post up about some writing assignments that he just handed out. He’s looking for input on more ideas for such assignments. I like the “write something in iambic pentameter” one, and think it could go even farther. A while back I wrote an Elizabethan sonnet for my daughter’s first birthday, and it was fun to meet the structural requirements on all levels, not just the rhyme scheme but the overall theme as well. I’m not a big fan of “translate Shakespeare’s words today’s language” because it always means “get the plot, lose the poetry”. It’s like for someone to say that “I have of late but wherefore I know not lost all my mirth” really means “I’m bummed out and I don’t know why.” True, but man, it loses something.
So I’m cruising through my backlog of Shakespeare blog posts and find an entry where somebody is memorizing the sonnets. Good for him, it’s a good thing to do. He then includes the ones that he has memorized, along with a translation. Fine. But dear God, his translation of Sonnet 18 can be summed up as “You’re pretty now, but eventually you’re going to get old and not be pretty any more so I’ll write you a poem so you remember how pretty you used to be.” And then without being logged in to myspace, I can’t comment on it. Perhaps that’s for the best? 🙂
I always try to poke through the search engine / aggregator / bookmark sites when I find them, looking for new Shakespeare stuff. When I realized that I’d been stumbled upon recently (thanks Bill!), I naturally poked around to discover what other goodness they have in their Shakespeare category. I’m disappointed to see only 10 sites, of which 3 are “Shakespearean insulter.” Why does everybody love that site so much? There appears to be a group, which is apparently for discussion, but it’s basically empty. Oh well.
I’m actually going to be travelling on Monday, so I thought I’d post something now. Shakespeare’s birthday is widely considered to be April 23, which happens to coincide with the day that he died(*). The only similar occurence of which I’m familiar is the famous Mark Twain / Halley’s Comet connection, where he “came in and went out with it”, in Twain’s own words. It wasn’t the same day, though. But still a neat bit of trivia. While I’m on Twain I might as well link to Is Shakespeare Dead? by Mr. Twain himself. Anyway, back to the Bard. I wish I lived someplace where they celebrate his birthday with parades! (*) Records indicate his baptism as April 26, and at the time Christenings were done 3 days after the birth. So April 23 is a convenient guess, like much of his biography.
I’ve been contacted by the marketing agency for AccessMyLibrary.com, a “library advocacy site featuring the Thomson Gale’s online content.” I have no idea what this means, but when he said “The Shakespeare Collection” my ears went up. It’s National Library Week (April 15-21) and they’re highlighting this “free search engine that is all Shakespeare, all the time.” You do have to register, but you can just put in random characters for email and phone, it won’t check. I did cruise around briefly, and I wish I had more time to take this sort of stuff in. I browsed through a prompt book from Romeo and Juliet circa 1841. Those are always neat, since you get to see handwritten notes about the actual production. This one included diagrams of how the scenes would be staged. The only caveat I can find is that I’m not fully sure what parts are free all the time, and which parts are going to stop being free after National Library Week. It does say that the Shakespeare collection is free all the time, so that’s good.