Midsummer, The Not For Kids Version

So I’m sitting here watching pro-wrestling as I tend to do on Monday nights, and during some silly skit they’re doing I’m reminded that Playboy magazine hosts a party every summer called A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Pictures are relatively safe (no nudity – Playboy don’t be giving it away for free, after all), but not exactly for the whole family. I can’t figure out if it ever had any Shakespeare connection, ever, or if they just liked the name.  But who cares!

Hello, My Name Is Inigo Montoya

http://www.newsday.com/services/newspaper/printedition/sunday/fanfare/ny-ffthe5847168sep21,0,6567319.story You a Mandy Patinkin fan?  Geeks have loved him ever since The Princess Bride, well before Criminal Minds and even Chicago Hope.  Bonus points if you remember him under the makeup in Alien Nation.  (I did NOT remember Dr. Jeffrey Geiger, his Chicago Hope character, doing a guest spot on Picket Fences???) Anyway, if you’re wondering what he’s been up to, he’s doing Prospero in New York.  The review of the production itself doesn’t seem very good, but the reviewer’s got love for Mr. Patinkin.  Apparently he sings, too.  I’m trying to remember when I first heard him sing.  I think that David Letterman used to get him to do something with the band whenever he was a guest on the late show.  He’s got an excellent voice for Broadway.

Crazy Nonsense

http://www.nypost.com/seven/09222008/tv/trivial_pursuits_130177.htm Apparently Adam Buckman of the NY Post doesn’t like the new season of Heroes. The heroes aren’t doing anything heroic, he says.  “Instead, this show, which was once so thrilling and fun, has become full of itself, its characters spouting crazy nonsense.” He then goes on to cite some of the crazy nonsense, noting that Malcolm McDowell “should win an Emmy for keeping a straight face while reciting these lines.” Oh, the lines? There’s a divinity that shapes our ends – rough hew them how we will. Yeah, that crazy nonsense is Hamlet. Screw that.  I’m watching My Name Is Earl.

"Unusual" Facts about Mr. Shakespeare

http://onlineroom.blogspot.com/2008/09/unusualfactswilliamshakespeare.html I get a kick out of posting lists like this because it’s fun to look at how many a) are common knowledge and b) are not facts at all.  Like when it says “Few people realize…that Shakespeare acted in his own works.”  Really?  I’d be willing to wager that actually most people know that :). Was Henry VI Part 1 really Shakespeare’s first play? I always thought that Comedy of Errors had that honor.

Is Oberon A Bad Guy?

So I’ve been going back and forth of A Midsummer Night’s Dream lately, as I think it will be the next play I introduce the kids to.  There’s something about the ending that bothers me.  Oberon’s angry with Titania because he wants the changeling boy.  Titania clearly has a stronger claim on the child, what with the whole “his mother was one of my followers” thing.  Oberon’s only claim seems to be “because I’m the king and I said so.” So he puts her under a magic spell, and then, while brainwashed, says “Give me the child”, which she does. Now that he’s got what he wants, he releases her from the spell and they all go off on their happy way. Umm….does that make him a nice guy?  Are we supposed to like him for that?  At what point does Titania say, “Wait a minute…I had a changeling boy around here somewhere….where did he ….. Oberon!!!!!” As I ponder how to relate this story to the kids, I’m figuring on changing the ending so that Oberon feels bad for what he’s doing to Titania and decides to her keep the boy.  (My 6yr old daughter, who apparently has too many friends of divorced parents already at her age, and who only knows that Oberon and Titania are fighting over a little human boy who came to live with the fairies, suggested “Maybe one week the boy can stay with the king, and then the next week he can stay with the queen, and then back to the king….”) I know that some people put Dream up there in the ranks with Hamlet as one of Shakespeare’s best.  I don’t have that level of experience with the play, and have always viewed it more as “The one the local school kids always put on because you can never have too many fairies.”   So somebody enlighten me about the deep meaning that I’m missing. 

Coffee With Shakespeare

Coworker this morning tells me, “Hey, saw a Shakespeare book over the weekend, thought of you.” “Which one?” I ask.  “I probably know it.” “It was called Coffee with Shakespeare.” “I don’t know that one.” “It was this tiny little thing, looked like the idea was that the author goes back in time and has coffee with Shakespeare.  It was part of a series, there was a whole bunch of them.” “Coffee with Descartes, Coffee with Mark Twain, and so on?” “Yeah.  Seemed cheesy.”   I go hunting around anyway.  Turns out this particular “cheesy” book is edited by Stanley Wells, one of the foremost Shakespeare authorities in the business today.  It’s also got a forward by Joseph Fiennes, the guy who played Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love. I relay this information to my coworker, who responds, “Yeah, that’s the one. It was the forward by Fiennes that made me not pick it up.”

Shakespeare Geeklet

“Daddy, that’s the Shakespeare book that Santa gave me.  He knows I can read it myself.  If music…be….the food of…love…….”     “Play on…” “I know, Daddy.  I was thinking the words in my head, and trying to figure out if that makes any sense.”   My daughter is 6.