Anthony Hopkins to Join THOR Bonus points to the article’s writer who starts off with “Sounds more like a Shakespeare play than a superhero movie,” because yes, yes it does.  Kenneth Branagh going from Hamlet to Marvel is strange enough, but adding in Anthony Hopkins as Odin?  Anthony Hopkins who is set to play King Lear sometime next year? I’m actually both intrigued and a little worried by this.  How can a man play the most powerful of all the gods, and then switch over to a frail old man who spends most of his time between raging against those same gods, and cowering before them?  It’ll be genius if he can pull it off.

And Now…. Sir Ian. Just a little piece on Sir Ian McKellen from the Boston Globe this week, for those who are fans.  Thoughts on the popularity of his Shakespeare versus his Gandalf and Magneto, and what his next project will be (alas, though a “classic”, it’s not Shakespeare). If you’re at all sitting there and thinking to yourself that old Shakespearean actors must be a complete bore to listen to, do not miss Sir Ian Pretending.  He may not get to use it much in his blockbuster roles, but the man’s got a killer sense of humor.

Please Do Not Joke About Burning A First Folio We have a gazillion (that’s a scientific term for “metric buttload”) of books about the publication of the sonnets, but how many do we have about the First Folio?  I mean, I’m sure like all things Shakespearean there are more than a few, but it’s not like I see them knocking down my door like the aforementioned sonnet books. Hence my curiosity about Paul Collins’ “The Book Of William”, where he goes in search of the known 230 copies of the most important book in the history of literature.  Sounds like he’s got a sense of humor, too:

“In a room filled with middle-aged men in spectacles and dapper linen blazers for the July heat, I’m the one guy who looks most likely to douse himself in lighter fluid and scream gibberish about Freemasons,’’ he jokes. Later, at auction, he finds himself “within spitballing distance of Steve Martin.’’

I have to admit I cringe at the image (lighting the book on fire, not spitballing Steve Martin).  I’ve read too many “DaVinci Code for Shakespeare” stories.  Is it wrong of me that in the image he describes he never actually mentions burning the book, but I care more about that than the human being? 🙂 I wonder if I’ll be able to get my hands on this one?

Curse You, Macbeth Witches

So this morning on the way out the door to school, my oldest daughter showed me a Halloween poem that was pinned to the school-stuff wall.  As she read it in the sing-songy poem voice that little kids are so good at, I noticed it is very similar to the obvious, from Macbeth.  I told her that I’d get that one for her to bring to school. Problem #1:

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one

Somebody break those last two lines down for me, so that they a) rhyme and b) scan?  It looks like the Toad line doesn’t have enough syllables, and despite all our discussions on counting and timing and such, I can’t figure out how to break it up to keep the rhythm.   Problem #2:

For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Pretty sure nobody’s gonna like me teaching “hell” to 7yr olds.  Looking for something I can swap in there to keep the general idea but not push the boundaries. Problem #3:

Liver of blaspheming Jew,

Pretty sure no version of that’s gonna make the final cut. :)  Here’s the edited version that I’m working on.  Doesn’t need to be particularly long, it’s more important to whittle it down to something that 7th graders would be allowed to recite without getting strange looks.  I may just chop the first verse and go with the middle (“Fillet of…”) plus the bumpers.  But then I still need to swap out “hell broth”.

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone   [ <—problem 1]
Days and nights has thirty-one 
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.  <– #2

Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Oh, Sure … *Now*. What caught my eye was not the Playing Shakespeare, but rather the sponsor – DeutscheBank.  The title of the project is actually “Playing Shakespeare with DeutscheBank.” It helps the story to know that I was employed by DeutscheBank in the 1998-2002 era.  More specifically I was employed by Scudder Stevens and Clark, oldest mutual fund house in the US I believe, which then became Scudder Kemper Investments (bad move *), which then became Zurich Scudder, which then became DeutscheBank, which then led to the whole northeast office being shut down. I have no love for DeutscheBank.  Whether they play Shakespeare or not. (*) For the financial inclined – Scudder was, like, the inventor of the retail mutual fund.  A product whose whole purpose in life was to tell the end consumer “You don’t need a financial advisor to buy this for you, and eat up all your money in fees.  You can buy it direct.”  And then they went and bought a financial advisor company.  Oil and water, is that the expression?  I was in IT at the time, and I remember at least one meeting where the advisor people demanded their own web infrastructure so that the database of customers who were still stuck paying for advisors would never ever get the opportunity to see the world of do it yourself.

Agincourt Was An Even Fight? This one caught me off guard.

Henry V’s “happy few” were not outnumbered five to one by the French at the Battle of Agincourt, as traditionally believed, but were in a much more even fight, according to new research.

I don’t think it’ll change my opinion of the speech at all, but this new research suggests that rather than 4 to 1 odds (24,000 French against 6,000 English) it may have been closer to 12k to 9k.  By the way who’s the genius that clearly states the 24k and 6k figures, but also says “5 to 1” earlier in the article?  Am I missing something?

Thou Base Footballer! I suppose this is a nice article about a particularly well rounded football coach who is happy to share with you his favorite kids’ shows, heavy metal band, and even Shakespeare plays – he’s partial to Henry IV Part II, an interesting choice. Here’s the thing, though.  We’re talking about Jim Schwartz, coach of the Detroit Lions – the worst team in football.  No, seriously.  This is the team that set the record for going winless last season (to be fair, Schwartz was just hired this season), but who are starting out something like 1-5 so he’s got a long road ahead of him.  Maybe a little less time watching Phineas and Ferb and reading Dan Brown, and more time watching video of the game.  I don’t see anybody doing one of these profiles on Bill Belichick. [ For the curious, Schwartz was hired away from the Tennessee Titans, who now hold the dubious distinction of losing 59-0 to the New England Patriots last week. ]

Shakespeare and New Media Folger’s reporting on a call for papers for a special issue of the Shakespeare Quarterly called “Shakespeare and New Media”:

Shakespeare’s works have provided launch content for new media technologies since the seventeenth century, as Peter Donaldson has observed. At the turn of the 21st century, we are experiencing particularly rapid transformation of our basic tools for studying, teaching, learning, reading, performing, editing, archiving, and adapting Shakespeare.

Shakespeare Quarterly invites submissions of essays on the impact of media change, now, in all these arenas of Shakespeare studies. Submissions that make innovative use of new media publication modes, such as hyperlinks to the Folger Shakespeare Library’s digitized collections, are particularly welcome.

I know I made it into somebody’s PhD thesis once upon a time (they requested permission to cite the blog), and somebody over in the Oxfordian camp used some material from Shakespeare Geek in their recent newsletter as well.   Maybe we’ll make this issue as well? :)  Hint hint?

Madness? This is Shakespeare! Ok, that meme is long dead, but it’s true that Gerard Butler is still pretty much known as “the screamy guy from 300, the Sparta movie.”  Well pretty soon he can add Coriolanus to the list, which when you think of it is probably not that much of a stretch.  I expect Coriolanus to wear more clothing.  And I never saw all of 300, so I’m not quite sure what Sparta guy’s relationship was to his mother.  Kicking people into bottomless pits could maybe work in both. UPDATE : Ralph Fiennes is actually slated to play the lead, no word on who Butler will play. Thoughts? UPDATE 2 : Thank you, Twitter!

“It looks like I might be doing Coriolanus, the Shakespeare play, the movie version… the adaptation of. Ralph Fiennes will be directing and playing Coriolanus and I’d be playing Tullus Aufidius his nemesis!”