Shatner. Hamlet. Video. Any Questions? I had not seen this. Now that I have, I’m not really sure what to say about it.  William Shatner on the Mike Douglas show, circa 1969, pimping for his (Shatner’s) now infamous album The Transformed Man that brought us such cult gems as his Tambourine Man, and Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds. I had no idea, having never heard the complete original album, that each bad song was intermixed with a bad rendition of famous poetry.  Thus we have “It Was A Very Good Year” mashed up with To be or not to be.  (I see from wikipedia that there are selections from Romeo and Juliet, and Henry V on the album as well.) Unfortunately the quality of the sound is horrendous – the music is too loud, and the sync is off by a mile. [It dawns on me as I title this post that it takes a certain kind of actor to be represented solely by last name.  Olivier.  Welles.  McKellan. … Shatner. ]

Filthy Shakespeare, Now In Paperback My post from a year ago (“Oh Great, The Filthy Shakespeare Movement Is Back”) continues to be one of my most popularly searched, mostly for people googling for the phrase “hey nonny, nonny.” Anyway, the book in question, by Pauline Kiernan, is now in paperback.  NYTimes has the review, and looks like they like it. Maybe some nice publicity agent will send me a review copy and I’ll get to see for myself :).  After all, the original article never does say what “hey nonny, nonny” means :).

Were The World Mine : Musical Midsummer Movie? Start with a movie centered around a production of Midsummer.  Not new (Dead Poet’s Society, among others, springs to mind). Now imagine that the character playing Puck whips up a *real* love potion that works on his fellow actors, and then runs around spraying it on everyone in town.  All heck breaks loose, as you could well imagine. Oh, and did I mention that the actor in question is gay?

More Coriolanus Than Othello? Comparing the presidential candidates to Shakespeare is hardly new.  But Coriolanus doesn’t come up all that often, so I thought this one worth a link.   [* You know, I never did watch the Colbert report on this subject since I was in Disney at the time, I’ll have to go check it out.] The other candidate (I’ll let you guess which is which if you don’t want to peek :)) is compared to Hamlet and Macbeth, though I think that’s the weaker of the two arguments.  After all, the author says (albeit jokingly) that the candidate is not a good match for Macbeth because “he is not a man given to seeing ghosts in his dining room.”  … apparently seeing ghosts up on the parapets is not a problem?

Best Macbeth Ever(*) BoingBoing points to the story of a librarian who got a $500 fine for “ethics violation” after promoting his daughter’s book in the newsletter, and by distributing free copies.  (He called it “Best Book Ever”, hence the title :)) Just so happens that the book in question is a Manga version of Macbeth.  Hey, I’ll take popularity for the bard anyway I can get it.  If people buy copies of the book just for protest, that’s still exposure!

Demetrius, You Dog!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I notice something different every time I flip through one of the plays.  This time it is Midsummer, right at the beginning.  I know that Lysander is pleading his case for Hermia, and argues that Demetrius could have Helena instead.  What I don’t think I ever noticed, though, is what he says:

Demetrius, I’ll avouch it to his head,
Made love to Nedar’s daughter, Helena,
And won her soul;

Maybe I’m not fully up on my terminology, but are we supposed to believe that Demetrius actually slept with Helena, and now has completely lost interest in her? We’re not talking about modern times where a girl will go on a daytime talk show with 15 guys who might be the baby daddy.  You’d think that one guy just blurting out “Yeah, he slept with her and they’re not married” would be a big deal, wouldn’t it?  On top of that, Theseus basically says, “Yeah, I’d heard that too.”  How does Helena not come off looking like a big slut? But maybe I’m overinterpreting, and maybe “made love” really is supposed to mean something more along the lines of “showered with attention and gifts and tokens of affection, and generally made her believe that he loved her.”  That’s always how I’d interpreted it, without close scrutiny of the exact words.  That seems a bit more forgivable. So which is it?  Is Demetrius just a typical young man who only wants what he can’t have?  Or is he a scoundrel who takes advantage of women and casts them aside? [I suppose there is also the third option that he’s talking about a different Helena here – let some random girl we don’t get to meet play the role of town slut – but that would be strangely and unnecessarily confusing.]


So we’ve got friends over Friday night, and they have a daughter who I believe is just over 1 (she’s been walking a few months).  The father, a dedicated sports fan, tells her “Do Touchdown!” and she squeals and throws her arms up in the air.  It’s very cute. This makes me think of high school and the two cultures that arose between the sports kids and the nerdy kids, I of course being one of the nerdy kids.  “It’s funny how different our kids will end up,” I said.  “Brendan, who’s on Daddy’s watch?” “Shakespeare,” my 2yr old son replies. I swear, I totally meant to demonstrate that the sports guys raised their kids with more of a sports mentality, while the nerdy kids raised their kids to be nerds.  It was harmless, but apparently not well thought out. “Are you calling my kid stupid?” asked the mother. “Ummm……” said I. “I think you are, I think you just called my kid stupid.” Awkward!  She was at least partially joking – it’s not like they stormed off or anything – but the conversation rapidly turned to other subjects.

Shakespearean Halloween Costume?
It’s one thing to say “do a Shakespeare theme” for Halloween (for grownups), but if you think about it, it’s quite the commitment.  Most people can bust out some form of athlete / construction worker / medical personnel based entirely on stuff already in their closet or easily borrowed.  But try doing Beatrice and Benedick without having some friends who are either directly involved in the theatre (and hence may have some stuff), or else are crazy into the Renaissance Festival scene.  Either way you’re going to spend the night explaining to people who you are, anyway :).

UPDATED:  More Shakespeare Halloween Ideas!