Friends, Romans, Countrymen…I Need A Favor

Hello!  Terribly sorry for my absence of late, things are happening that are making life complicated. Your regularly scheduled Shakespeare should resume soon.

This post doesn’t contain much Shakespeare, let’s get that out of the way right now. I don’t like to misuse my audience.  But it does have a father (me) and a daughter (mine) so at the end if we want to discuss which of Shakespeare’s play our relationship most resembles, we can see where that goes.

My younger daughter wants to be a writer.  She recently entered a short story competition with a small piece that she literally crafted out of thin air when she said, “I need a noun” and my wife said, “Balloon.”  We entered the story and she rocketed up to the #4 spot (out of almost 300 entries) and became a finalist for the Community Vote!

For the finals, the votes are cleared and a new round begins. Right now she’s sitting in second place, which isn’t too shabby.  But I’ve learned that the person in first place is an existing contributor to that site with nearly 100 other submissions. His bio says he’s been writing poetry since 2004 – which would be the same year my daughter was born.  He’s got about 4000 followers on the site who are shooting him to the top of all the charts (in the first round he had 3x the votes of the next closest entry).

Well, I’ve got over 20,000 followers. No, none of this is Shakespeare. But I’m a father trying to make his daughter happy.  It doesn’t matter to me if she wins. It matters that when she refreshes her vote count and it doesn’t go up, she’s sad – but when it does, she’s happy.  So I want it to go up every time she looks, and I’m unapologetically going to use every means at my disposal to make that happen.

If you’ve read this far and would like to help contribute to the cause, thank you!  Here’s the link:

Read and Vote for “The Life of a Balloon” by Elizabeth!

If you saw my earlier posts on FB and Twitter and have already voted, please note that this is the finals, this is a new round!  So you can come back and vote again!

Thanks so much for your time.  Have we decided which play we most resemble?  I’ve been thinking about it while I write.  How about Prospero? I went through my vengeful phase, snooping around to see if there might be a way to get the first place guy disqualified ….. but ultimately it’s more about my daughter’s happiness, and the number of reads and votes can do that much more than a couple of bucks of prize money.   Now go vote!

 

~ 2 Comments

[Admin] Is There A Travel Agent In The House?

So, the good news is that my upcoming trip to London / Stratford Upon Avon is starting to come together. The first thing I did was to book a nice AirBNB in SUA.  The plan is to arrive there on Monday, stay until Thursday, when we’ll head into London and spend about a week before returning to the US. I haven’t booked the flight yet but I’ve been assuming we’ll fly into Heathrow.

Here’s the catch. I knew that London and SUA were “about 2-3 hours apart”, which is the primary reason we’re splitting up the trip.  But now I’m hearing things like “switch trains 3 times” and “takes over 4 hours”, not to mention train tickets costing over $100 each.  I had not anticipated this little wrinkle.

The good folks on Twitter have been trying to help, offering all manner of suggestions “you could go here here and here, or you could go here, switch, then go here…” and honestly it’s all Greek to me.

What I’m hoping is that some of my readers are local and familiar with the area and the options and can say, for a family of five who’ll be traveling with luggage and just gotten off a red-eye flight from the US (figure arriving in London around 11 am, judging by the flight scheduled), what’s the best way to get to SUA?  Renting my own car is not an option, I’ve never been out of the US and won’t give myself a crash (ha!) course in driving on the other side of the road. But can we hire a car?  Is that something Uber (or equivalent) could handle?  Is there a bus? Where would I make reservations for these things?

Thanks for the help!  I’m putting faith in the universe that everything works out and we have the trip of a lifetime, but I’ve got to make sure that the details like this get worked out.  I can’t relax and plan the fun stuff until the necessary stuff is taken care of — get to country (flight), get to hotel 1 (SUA), get to hotel 2 (London), get home.

 

~ 1 Comment

Review : Pop-Up Shakespeare

A long, long time ago, when my kids were still in single digits, I had a pop-up book featuring Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. I used to take it in to their classrooms as a prop.  I knew it had made an impact when a few months ago, my oldest daughter – who is now driving, and looking at colleges – came to me and said, “Do we still have that pop up book? I want to bring it in to class.”

So when I heard about Candlewick Press’ Pop-Up Shakespeare (by Jennie Maizels and the Reduced Shakespeare Company) I reached out to see if I could review it. They were happy to oblige!

I admit that it’s been a little while since I’ve purchased pop up books for my kids, but I have to say that this is one of the best I’ve seen. Let’s start with the amount of information provided. It covers everything (*). I learned things. We get some bio on Shakespeare himself, we get all the plays – including the questionable authorship plays – and we get the long poems.

Surely for a book with that much information it must be densely packed, right? Right. In a fascinating way. Much of the book is “lift the flap” style, and each spread is dominated by a huge, two-page pop up feature. But ready for the twist? The text is on both sides of the pop up, rotated accordingly. It’s hard to explain, but the best way is to think of this as a book to put down on the table and have the kids gather around from all angles and take turns reading what they see, because there’s stuff about Shakespeare just literally all over the place.

This would have been a great prop for me back in my volunteering days. If you’re still in that place, where you’ve got an audience that will enthusiastically gather around to start exploring things that pop up and looking for flaps to lift, I think this one is an excellent choice. I really do love that they covered everything everything. It would have been so easy to consider the audience for a book like this as not being old enough for Titus Andronicus or Timon of Athens, and spend all of its time on Midsummer or Romeo and Juliet. If you believe that you’re never too young to learn about the whole breadth of Shakespeare’s work, these authors are on your side.

(*) “The gift is small, the will is all: Alexander Aspinall.”  I may have heard that once upon a time? But it was definitely a surprise to see it referenced in this book. Gives you just a little idea of how much information is hiding under those flaps.

POP-UP SHAKESPEARE. Text copyright © 2017 by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Jennie Maizels. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.
~ Leave a comment

The Return of Some Guy From New York

You know, it’s easy to forget how long I’ve been doing this.  Going all the way back to 2006 I linked to a podcast called Some Guy From New York. The gimmick was that he’d been sentenced to community service teaching Shakespeare, and he was working his way through the sonnets, analyzing each one.

That was a long time ago, and his is not the first Shakespeare podcast to come and go. But a funny thing happened this time.  Several different people over the years found their way to that post and asked if there was any way to get in touch with the creator.

I do love a challenge.  I was able to contact Jason Pomerantz, the original Some Guy From New York, and asked if he’d like me to re-host the original podcast files for him.

So, I am very happy to present the new home for the original 48 episodes of the Some Guy From New York podcast! Here’s to a whole new audience rediscovering Jason’s excellent work.  Who knows, maybe he’ll be motivated to come out of retirement?

(Still gotta do something about that Yankees hat, though….)

 

~ Leave a comment

Badly Translated Shakespeare is Awesome

So I spotted a post on Reddit that was clearly in a language I did not know, but also obviously said Hamlet, so I had to check it out. Wasn’t sure if maybe it was a link to a video production I had not yet seen.

Found a wall of text. Thought maybe it was an academic article. So I grabbed the first paragraph and ran it through Google Translate, only to discover that it appears to be your typical summary of Hamlet. Only…wait a second…

The story takes place at the Elsinor Castle in Denmark. Prince Hamlet reveals his father’s spirit and learns the truth that his father has murdered his uncle Claudius, who soon married Hamlet’s mother after his father’s death. Hamlet, who longs for revenge on his father, pretends to be mad.

Ok, this new version of Hamlet sounds awesome. Hamlet reveals his father’s spirit, apparently he was keeping it hidden somewhere. Then we learn that it was indeed Hamlet’s father who killed Claudius! Awesome. Claudius, soon after he was murdered apparently, marries Hamlet’s mother. For pointing all of this out to him, Hamlet wants revenge on his father.

I have to get more of this. I start cutting and pasting more paragraphs:

Because he had no evidence, he organized a theater performance to find out the truth, of course, it was a show of murdering his brother.


Hamlet working out his issues, organizing a performance of him murdering his brother.

Hamlet went to his mother to explain to her how things were and unwittingly kills Poland, the Supreme Chamberlain.


Farewell, Poland. We shall not see your like again.

Claudius was called upon to fight against Lear,

A new player has entered the game! That’s hardly going to be a fair fight, one would think.

Unfortunately the rest of the translation isn’t as good, dissolving into the usual auto translation gibberish. But that was a fun little diversion!

~ 1 Comment