What’s Your Favorite Sonnet?

I’ve asked on Twitter, I’ve asked on Facebook (* so if you’ve answered there no need to answer again :)) so now I’m asking here for people that only read the blog:

What’s your favorite sonnet?  The catch : you can’t answer 18, 29, 116 or 130. 

Everybody and their mother has been inundated with those particular sonnets over the years.  What I’m looking for is the next group, the ones that the Shakespeare geeks love that, with a little more exposure, we can get the rest of the world to acknowledge.

So, hit me.  Other than those famous four, what’s your favorite sonnet, and why?  To make the results the most objective, try to come up with your answer before you look at the comments, otherwise you’ll never be able to tell if your vote was swayed.

Theme Song Shakespeare : All (But Him) In The Family

Ok, I’ve been busy.  But Bardfilm’s been doing double duty, manning both his own blog as well as queuing up the quirky stuff for my return.  May I happily present you the Return of Theme Song Shakespeare?

All (but Him) in the Family

My name is Brabantio.
Where’d my Desdemona go?
She eloped with O-thell-o.
This is that play.
I’ll allow no buts or ifs—
Nor those crazy handkerchiefs.
Senate, we could use a man
Like Cassius as Ensign.
But Othello sure was great—
Did some service to the state—
Now he’s certain of his fate:
This is that play.

(For those youngsters that need a hint, click …….. here. )

Shakespeare App Idea

My list of projects is already so long that it’s not terribly useful for me to keep adding ideas to it.  So every now and then I’ll just post them, and maybe somebody else runs with it.

Shakespeare Meme Generator

  1. Get a collection of Shakespeare quotes.  Easy peasy.  Could be romantic, motivational, funny – your choice.
  2. Get a collection of Shakespeare-related images.  Harder by definition, but not impossible.  Screen shots from well known movies?  Flickr tags?  Couple different ideas.
  3. Combine random quote with random image to make a new shareable/pinnable thing.
  4. Show it to the user.  Offer user options of generating a new one, or sharing/pinning/tweeting this one.
  5. Keep track of how popular each one is.  Set up a link to a gallery to reinforce browsing through them (thus making them even more popular).
Could work as a web app or a native app (although it’s a little light for a native app).  Almost certain that similar “put a piece of text on a desired image” sites exist, though I don’t have a pointer to one.  The work would be in creating the database of quotes and images.

UPDATE Something like this, but not this.  This is “Here’s a database of images, put whatever text you want on it.”  If anything I’m thinking of more the opposite – it’s the words that are important, and it’s really a matter of taste what image you use.

King Lear, for Kids

I think you all know how I feel about that.  I have, on the fly, retold the tale of King Lear to my 5year old son – at his request.  I will never forget this moment:

Well, her father the king was not happy with this answer at all. He got so mad that he said she would not have any share of the kingdom, and he banished her. 

…at this point a choked little voice asks me, “But did he still love her?” And I am caught so by surprise that I don’t quite know what to do with myself. My little guy has been hanging on every word, and he’s an emphathetic little bugger. 

“Oh, he absolutely still loved her,” I told him, “He was just really really mad because he thought she was saying that she didn’t love him. He didn’t understand her answer. Are you sad?” 

He nods, unable to get any words out. 

I squeeze him a bit tighter and remind him that this story has a happy ending, remember? “We’re going to find out that she loved him most of all.”

The fact that I know that that’s only half true?  That she did love him most of all, but that the story doesn’t have a happy ending?  I’m lucky I didn’t get choked up like he did trying to pretend like it all works out.

I have always believed that you can expose children to elements of Shakespeare, literally, from birth.  Go ahead and name their stuffed animals Romeo and Juliet, or Beatrice and Benedick.  Throw around random quotes when you can.  Bring up plot points.  It will be a long long time before they “get” Shakespeare in an academic sense.  It’ll also be a long long time before they understand physics and gravity and parabolic arcs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn how to catch a ball.

Stop! Parent Teacher Time

It’s that time of year again, where we get to sit down with our children’s teachers and have them tell what a joy they are to have in class, how everything is fine, how we’re raising little geniuses.

Well, except the boy.  The boy’s a terror.


Nah, not really.  They’re all doing well.  But that’s not what I’m hear to talk about.  I’ve made it my mission to, how to put it, offer up my Shakespeare services? to my kids’ teachers over the years:

So here’s how it went:
1) My son’s first grade teacher?  I did not offer.  Having failed to climb the wall last year for second graders, and having had less than stellar luck with first graders in the past, I was not ready to volunteer to get into it again.  He’s got more years in the school system.  And, just because I didn’t offer now, doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind and offer later.   (I’ll actually be his class’s “Junior Achievement” speaker, which will be more about computers than Shakespeare)
2) My daughter’s third grade teacher.  This is an interesting one.  Last year we were really excited to try Shakespeare in her second grade class, until I got Bowdlerized into non existence by the principal (who is not my pal).  Well this year my daughter’s third grade teacher also happens to be the “head teacher”, in charge of all sorts of things.  She’s also a world class geek (though she won’t admit it) who talks a mile a minute, assumes that whoever she is speaking with understands everything that she is saying, and gives more the feeling of being a teller than a listener, you know?  Not any of those things in a bad way, just that’s the way she is.  I call it a geeky personality.  I know people like that.  I probably am people like that.
Anyway, as we are done with our whirlwind check in for our daughter and being ushered to the door, I make my pitch – “Just wanted to throw this out there, I’ve done it for all my kids teachers over the years.  My kids have been raised on Shakespeare.  So if there’s ever any sort of unit you’re doing in the classroom that might overlap with that subject, be it poetry or memorization or even English history or drama or performance, I’d be happy to help out with something like that.”
Well she *loved* it.  “Yes.  Yes yes. Let’s do this, let’s make this happen.”  No real plan for what or when exactly, but it’s a start. I warned her that I’d tried a similar project last year and gotten shot down by the principal himself.  She smiled (smirked?) and suggested that there were benefits to being head teacher.  I love it.  I’m a little nervous about what her expectations might be now that I’ve opened this door, but when has that stopped me?
3) My fifth grade daughter.  I tried to do something with her Brownie troop last year, since they’re the oldest and could most easily pick up a script and give it a shot, but that particular event didn’t happen.  So, again, I make the pitch to her teacher.  And got back a totally different response?  “That’s great! In the past we actually did a unit on the sonnets, and I had the kids memorize Sonnet 19.”
…really?  “Sonnet 19?” I asked.  “No you didn’t.  Really?  Nobody does Sonnet 19.”
“Sure we did,” she said.  “When in disgrace with fortune in men’s eyes…?”
For a minute I confused that with 18, before remembering that it is 29.  I told her that I thought that was a great idea and would happily come in to do something like that or, as I mentioned to the other teacher, anything on biography, english history, or even drama/performance.
She asked whether she could put a link to my site up on her teacher’s page for the kids, but alas I had to disclaim myself and acknowledge that since the site is not deliberately geared for that age group, that they would see some occasionally PG-style language.  I don’t mind when teenagers find the site on their own (and they often do), but I can’t willingly tell a teacher to tell her 10yr olds to come read this stuff.
So it looks like I might have at least two different opportunities to get back into the classroom this year! Keep your fingers crossed.

What Was Macbeth’s Plan?

A simple question.  There might be a simple answer:

Macbeth kills Duncan.  Malcolm is the presumed next king, but Malcolm flees.  Macbeth is proclaimed king.   But!  Macbeth had no way of knowing that Malcolm would split the scene, so what exactly did Macbeth think was going to happen when he killed Duncan?  It’s not like he was next in line.  Was he figuring on killing Malcolm as well?

Cosby Shakespeare

Anybody remember The Cosby Show?  While listening to my Macbeth novel on audiobook I was reminded of this scene, where Theo and his friend “Cockroach” decide to skip reading Macbeth, and just get the audio out of the library:

When that fails them (they can’t understand a word) and there are no performances in the area to go see, they fall back on the Cliff Notes (ahem, “Cleland Notes”) and it becomes a moralizing story about not taking the easy way out on your homework.

Claire, the mom, is just ridiculously annoying as she wanders about the house quoting Macbeth from memory, knowing that the kids won’t understand it. It’s like they wrote episodes of this sort solely so that the adults come throw some lines in there.  When Theo claims that he managed to squeak by on the test, she then tells him she’s going to give him *another* test of her own devising?  Sorry, but I find that awful.

For a better episode don’t miss the guest appearance by Christopher Plummer, in their Julius Caesar episode (he does not appear toward the end, and more in the second section):

I’m trying to decide if I did stuff like that in my living room, in front of my kids, whether they would find it awesome, or ridiculously embarrassing.

(* Did Christopher Plummer really say, “I have seen original manuscripts by William Shakespeare”??? )

The Courtship of Lady Macbeth

I don’t really have a theory for this question, but as I listen to “Enter Three Witches” on audiobook, the idea crossed my mind.  Do you think that Lady Macbeth was, once upon a time, a nice person?  Who then turned into what we see in the play?  Or do you think that what we see is the way she’s always been?

In another book I’d started and never finished, they go with the plot that she was a perfectly nice and normal woman who was forced to live at the nasty, gloomy castle Inverness by King Duncan, and this directly led to the miscarriage of her child.  In that case, the whole story plays out more like revenge against Duncan.

The same is true for Macbeth himself, I suppose, since we often speak of them as the perfect couple.  Is Macbeth just a man like any other, with his own fair share of ambition, who gets pushed over the edge by the wyrd sisters?  Or was it always eating away at him, something that would have come to pass whether the witches had anything to do with it or not?

What do you think the Macbeths’ life was like 10 years before the play?

Vampire Shakespeare

It’s that time of year again when those of us who don’t play dress-up for a living get to break out the costumes and wander the streets as our favorite Zombie Shakespeare.  We’ve spoken of Shakespeare Halloween Costumes in years past (see here, here and here), and I even finally pulled the trigger and made my own Halloween costume last year, which I like to think was a success even if most of the people at the party didn’t get it. 🙂

As we wandered the aisles of the costume shoppe, always on the lookout for something I could spin Shakespearean, I had all sorts of ideas. Great Caesar’s Ghost is always a relatively easy option. Personally I still want to go as Bacon one of these years, complete with name tag that says “Hello My Name is Francis” and carrying around a book “The Complete Works Of Me”. But to properly do that my wife has to agree to be Eggs (the costumes come as a set), and she ain’t have that. I spotted a knight costume and thought I could maybe pull off a Richard III with apropriate use of hump. Pirate Family was high up on the list for a bit, and I already had visions of carrying around little home made Rosencrantz and Guildenstern dolls, carrying a letter between them that reads “To England”.

Alas, I was outvoted – we’re vampires this year. Fair enough I suppose, I got the vote last year.

So now my dilemma – how do I make vampire Shakespeare? Looking for ideas. Something that doesn’t just say generic undead character (I already did zombie Yorick), but actually ties in the vampire/blood theme in some way. I’ve already considered seeing if my wife will put blood spots on her hands and go as Vampire Lady Macbeth. 🙂

Brace Yourselves, A New Authorship Movie Is Coming

Last Will. & Testament by First Folio Pictures (that’s the exact spelling, with that period in the middle like that) is coming soon to On Demand and iTunes download.  Roland Emmerich and Derek Jacobi are also attached to this one, so I’m guessing from the materials that it’s some sort of documentary that they shot while filming that other movie – you know, the entirely fictional one.

I don’t know that I’ve got anything to add on the subject.  We’ve been over it all before.  Maybe this is some sort of “Anonymous : Behind The Scenes” special that focuses more on the supposed actual research that backs their theories.

The whole thing reminds me of the recent political debate, where the rule appears to be The last person not to be called a liar, must have been telling the truth.