Book Review: Jo Nesbø’s Macbeth


Because I do love copying Bardfilm so much, and I saw that he published his review of Jo Nesbø’s Macbeth (for which, as he likes to say, q.v.), not only did I decide to publish mine, but I just went ahead and copy-pasted that ø character from his site instead of trying to figure out how to do it myself.

Seriously, though, I have been reading this one and did plan to review it this week, the timing is a coincidence. (The ø thing is totally real, though.)

This book is part of the Hogarth series of modern novelizations of Shakespeare. The only other one I’d read was Hag-seed (for which, q.v.!  it’s fun to say!) which I’d been told was the best of the bunch, and I didn’t love it.

I think Macbeth is a better book, but at the same time it left me very, “Meh.”

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Shakespeare Crossword Clue, Macbeth, 4 Letters

Coworker:  “Shakespeare a clue in my crossword this morning.”

Me:  “I die.”

Coworker:  “What?”

Me: “Sorry. Was it, Romeo’s last words? Because I know that one.”

Coworker:  “No.  It was, ‘the witches in Macbeth’.”

I thought I had this one.

Me:  “Wyrd.”

Coworker:  “Nope.”

I admitted I was stumped.  What else could you say that was specific to Macbeth’s witches, in only 4 letters?

Coworker:  “They wanted ‘trio’.”

Me:  “Well that’s just … that’s annoying.  There’s nothing Shakespeare about that answer.”

Coworker:  “I know, but sometimes they’re like that.  Don’t feel bad, I had the t and the o and I still didn’t get it.”

I was obviously thrown off by Michael Fassbender’s Macbeth, because that one had four witches.  🙂

 

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Shakespeare and Friends

I admit it, this post is a complete advertisement for my latest merchandise. I think I honestly do a pretty reasonable job of not spamming you folks every time I put up a new t-shirt design, don’t I?  So surely you won’t begrudge me a Friday afternoon commercial.

When I’m working at night, chances are Netflix is on in the background. I’m one of those folks that just likes the noise. I would love to churn through all the new original shows they’re making, but then I have to pay attention to what’s on, rather than letting it just drone in the background. So instead I turn to old series that I  know I like, that have a lot of episodes (that will auto play, you see).  You see where I’m going with this.

The entire ten season run of Friends has graced my television so often I think I’ve memorized all the episodes.  But it wasn’t until recently that the idea hit me … that opening font of theirs is absolutely iconic.  If you do “Skip Intro” you may never even notice it, but when you see it that classic scribble font with the little colored dots you’re definitely thinking, “I recognize that!”

Shakespeare and Friends

I wasn’t even sure Amazon would let these up, so I didn’t go crazy with the “Look! It’s Friends!” keywords.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t tell the real story here.  To get started I made a bunch of versions of Shakespeare’s most iconic characters – Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio. All are available in both t-shirt and hoodie. The t-shirts are available in men’s, women’s and youth sizes (the hoodies are unisex). All the images below are clickable, where you can see the colors available for each.

What do you think? Did I miss your favorite character?  What do you think looks better, character names or play names? For those first couple it doesn’t matter 🙂 but I soon ran out of 5-7 character single words. 🙂 Should I make Prospero and Malvolio and Viola and some other more lesser known characters?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

 

 

 

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Book Review : Macdeath by Cindy Brown

I’m always torn when people offer to send me books for possible review.  If it’s not an audiobook or ebook, it goes on the bottom of the “get to when neither of those is available” list. That’s just the way my schedule works. As such, it takes me forever. Such is the case with Cindy Brown’s Macdeath, which I’ve had so long I can’t remember when I got my copy.  But I’m happy to say I finished it!

Book one of a series, Macdeath introduces us to Ivy Meadows, a struggling actress / part-time detective (thanks to her Uncle Bob, a full-time detective). Ivy’s been cast as one of the witches in Macbeth, and we all know that the Scottish play is cursed.  Sure enough, somebody winds up dead. Now Ivy can’t seem to stop investigating whodunnit, despite the pleas and flat-out demands of her coworkers, the police, and her detective uncle.

Maybe if I was a backstage theatre geek I would have liked this one more, since that’s where most of the action takes place. I just couldn’t get into any of the characters. None of them are around long enough or described deeply enough to care about. Which, granted, is part of the point of a murder mystery because you need to keep guessing about who the murderer is.  But without that, I was stuck in the head of our narrator, and as a 50yr old husband and father with stuff on my to-do list, I felt exactly as comfortable with that as I would have hanging out in real life with a 20something struggling actress :).  Oh, your costume is too tight in the crotch?  You’re not sure if you have enough money to get your car out of the parking lot?  The struggle is real, people.

There’s plenty of twists to the story, a couple of dead ends, and a reasonably satisfying ending (as these things go).  A cast of characters has been introduced, and there’s obvious room for a series.

Know what it reminded me of?  Once upon a time, there was a golden age of television where it seems like everything was a detective show.  Magnum P.I., Murder She Wrote, Matlock, Remington Steele, Hart to Hart, Miami Vice, Charlie’s Angels, Simon and Simon …  This book reminded me a great deal of those.  Imagine a Charlie’s Angels episode where one of the girls has to go undercover in a production of Macbeth.  You get a very brief glimpse at the cast of characters, she runs around trying to uncover clues even though everybody tells her not to (because she can’t blow her cover), and all the while she still has to remember her lines and go perform when her cue comes.  Then when their allotted hour of tv time is up the bad guy is revealed, the day is saved, and everything wraps up nicely until next week.

That’s not a bad thing. There’s a reason why they made so many of those shows, and some of them did very well (Murder She Wrote went for 12 seasons!)  But the strength of each of those shows was in the main character, and finding an audience that connected with that character.   Just because I’m not the audience for Ivy Meadows doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

P.S. Just one more thing before I go?  We all know that Shakespeare was a master of the dirty double entendre, whether Hamlet’s putting his head in Ophelia’s lap or Mercutio’s got his hands upon the very prick of noon.  I’ve got people regularly telling me that Shakespeare itself is a euphemism for something (as is “will”, come to think of it).  The author chose to have one of her characters named … are you ready for this?  Detective Pinkstaff.  Yikes.  Every time that character was in the scene I couldn’t take him seriously, not because he was a bad character, but because he was a walking phallic joke.  At least she didn’t make him the love interest.

 

 

 

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The Great Shakespeare Egg Hunt

With Easter approaching, what do you say we go hunting for eggs in Shakespeare’s work?  I’m not going to list them all here (since it’s easy to hunt them down with a search engine where’s the fun in that?) but I’ll hit the most famous ones.  Add more in the comments!

“Give me an egg, nuncle, and I’ll give thee two crowns.”

Why, after I have cut the egg i’ th’ middle and eat up the
meat, the two crowns of the egg.

When I first tried to read King Lear I couldn’t understand Fool at all.  After many readings and watchings, I think the scenes with Lear, Fool and Kent are my favorite (even if I don’t always understand what he’s saying). He’s one of the few people (perhaps the only one?) who can say to the king, “Hey genius, how smart was it to split your kingdom down the middle and then give away both parts?”

Falstaff 

Take away these chalices. Go brew me a pottle of
sack finely.

Bardolph 

With eggs, sir?

Falstaff 

Simple of itself; I’ll no pullet-sperm in my brewage.

Ok Falstaff, eww.  How am I supposed to look at my kids’ Easter eggs the same way ever again?  (Courtesy Merry Wives of Windsor, for those that don’t remember this charming lesson in animal husbandry showing up in the Henry plays.)  I actually googled this to see if I was missing something and saw it turn up in a list entitled “Why Aren’t These Shakespeare Quotes Famous Too?”

 

 

What, you egg!
[Stabbing him]
Young fry of treachery!

Students love this quote, I regularly see it posted when people reading Macbeth for the first time stumble across it. There are web pages and apps and even books dedicated to Shakespearean Insults, but calling somebody an egg just has a special sort of “What did he just call me?” flare to it.

My favorite part is the second line, where he calls him a young fry of treachery.  You know why, don’t you?

Because now he’s a fried egg.

 

On that note, I’m out of here before anybody gets the pitchforks.  What other egg references have you found?

 

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