Archive | October, 2012

Talking shop over at Kinx’s Book Nook

9 Oct

Good morning.

Today I’m over at Kinx’s Book Nook as a guest blogger talking shop and answering the one question I hear the most when I talk about Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb –  Why Shakespeare?

Without Shakespeare we’d have no Infinite Jest, The Sound and the Fury, Brave New World, or Pale Fire. 
Why Shakespeare, they ask.
He’s the reason you’ll find starlings in North America.
Why Shakespeare, they ask.
Where would we be as a culture without our tragic prince Hamlet, Macbeth and Lear?
Still, why Shakespeare, they ask.
Well…why not?

Why not, indeed.

Come over and say hello.

Your Noble Son is Mad

8 Oct

Statue in Stratford Upon Avon of Hamlet and Yorick’s skull

It is a beautifully cool October day today. And yesterday Jay and I went to see  Hamlet in downtown New York at Pace’s Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts. The players were the Globe players, which back in 2009 we got to see in London as a groundlings, an experience I will treasure.

It was cool out yesterday, nice, other than the rain that insisted on dogging us the whole day. We were seated in the front row, far stage left and I did initially worry about sight lines, though needlessly. Prior to the performance beginning, Christopher Saul, who played Polonius and the Gravedigger (and the Priest and a Player, actually) came over completely out of the blue, to chat with  Jay and me. I suspect they can spot a fellow Bardolator, as myself. He asked us if we had ever been to the Globe and I recounted our experience at Love’s Labours Lost as groundlings. Could he not see it upon my face??  He was impressed to be sure. I also informed him that this was the 6th time that the Globe Players had been to Pace, a fact he found surprising. Having seen three of those performances, I did not. Much to my disappointment he did not invite me backstage to meet the rest of the cast and test out the rapiers. Ah, well.

They keep the lights up, just slightly dimmed, throughout the performance to recreate the open air atmosphere at the Globe and what a performance it was! From his first line “A little more than kin, and less than kind,” to his last “The rest is silence,” Michael Benz put on a dizzying, breathtaking performance. The theater crackled with his jocular insanity. From racing up the front of the stage, spitting out the line “To Be or Not to Be” (unlike all the usual dreary soul-searching that line is normally seeped in) to the perfect hum and pause that delivered his shuffling off this “mortal coil,”  Benz had the audience captivated. His moment of realization when he knows that Polonius and his father/uncle Claudius are hiding behind the curtain, having set up his fair Ophelia was pitch perfect. His face as he turns toward the curtain and asks, his voice quivering with knowledge, sadness and defeat, “where is your father?” gave me chills.

There was a madness here to weep for.

And Polonius, who practically ate the “to thine own self be true” line, instead savoring the witty brevity speech he has with the King and Queen. The actors played multiple roles, including Gertrude and Claudius playing the very players that perform for the king and queen. A very clever bit of staging revealed a pitch perfect opportunity for the audience to both watch them watch the performers as well as be them! The New York Times review stated it “could sow confusion” but I promise you, in hands of these deft actors, it did not.

The music and a rather unexpected dance scene at the end had the entire audience clapping along, and then on their feet in adoration.

To say that I was moved, is a grave understatement. The show leaves New York and is on its way to Boston. For those in the region, do yourself a favor and catch it before these talented men and women head back to their home at the Globe.

You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will more willingly part withal—except my life, except my life, except my life.

And what a life, indeed, my dear Hamlet.

And finally, here’s a very happy Bardolator post-performance, now home, relaxed and yet, still dizzy with delight.

Thus Ends Banned Books Week and Thus Begins Halloween Time

6 Oct

So I COMPLETELY missed Banned Books week. I don’t know how that happened. I was going to post something each day – talk about books that I love that had been banned. It was gonna be great.

Instead, I did nothing. Figures, huh? In my defense it was a rough week. And now here we are at the end of Banned Books and I’ve said nothing. Since I don’t want it pass unnoticed, I’ll say this: Read Banned Books. Celebrate the freedom to read. Some of my best friends are Banned Books.

Here’s a list of the top banned books in 2011. The vast majority of them are YA which just goes to show you that people who ban books have no recollection of what being a teenager was really like. Nice to see To Kill a Mockingbird still on there, for “racism” of all things.

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
    Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence
  4. My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
    Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint
  7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit
  8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit
  9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
    Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    Reasons: offensive language; racism

Egads! Who are these people who ban books you ask? And terrifyingly enough the answer is anyone who thinks a book is offensive and wants to challenge it. According to the American Library Association parents are the most common source point for challenged books. Way to encourage reading, parents! The good news is that though anyone can challenge a book actually getting it banned is not as easy.

So now that I’ve missed Banned Books week let’s move onto Halloween Times which for me, will begin this evening at my house with saucy, noodle-y, cheesy goodness for dinner and then Rocky Horror Picture Show to kick off the Halloween season. Cross your fingers and hope my husband remembers to bring home a pumpkin.

Let’s do the Time Warp Again!

Gate Night

4 Oct

My first horror story EVER has been published by the awesome boys at Jersey Devil Press.

It’s a story about Gaelic dog people called Gate Night. Now, in my neck of the woods the day before Halloween was called Gate Night. I always assumed it had something to do with the gates of hell opening up. I’ve come to learn that in most parts of the country it’s traditionally called Devil’s Night or Mischief Night but hey, what can I say? We’re weird up in the Hudson Valley.

The story centers around Saimhain which is a Gaelic harvest holiday that celebrates the end of the “light half” of the year and the beginning of the “dark half.” It’s 100% peaceful holiday and not at all like the awful things Killian does in the woods.

Bones. Death. Dogs. Enjoy!

Happy October!

2 Oct

It’s finally October! My favorite month of the year. Not only is it autumn but it ends with Halloween, the best holiday ever.

I love this bit from Neil Gaiman’s short story, October in the Chair (Fragile Things, Harper Collins):

October was in the chair, so it was chilly that evening, and the leaves were red and orange and tumbled from the trees that circles the grove. The twelve of them sat around a campfire roasting huge sausages on sticks, which spat and crackled as the fat dripped onto the burning applewood, and drinking fresh apple cider, tangy and tart in their mouths.

Doesn’t that sound lovely? Now, dear Brooklyn trees please do me a favor and turn all orange-red delicious and get all crunchy underfoot. The stores are full of fat fat FAT pumpkins one of which I plan to bring home with me this evening.

This weekend I watched the BBC/PBS/Royal Shakespeare Company’s version of Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart (what can’t he do? Piccard, Dr. X, Macbeth. The man is walking Genius). It was a modernized version, which normally I’m not a fan of, but this WWII/Stalin-esque retelling was fantastic. Fantastically acted, produced, everything. Check out the Weird Sisters:

Have you ever seen Double Double Toil and Trouble done like that?? As my husband said, it’s Shakespeare meets American Horror Story.

We also watched a similar production of Hamlet starring The Doctor, er, I mean David Tennant which was equally fantastic. Course he is a Time Lord. And next weekend we’ll be lucky enough to see the Globe Players (all the way from London) performance of Hamlet at Pace. Support the Arts, folks. One day it could be gone.

So raise your pumpkin goblets because the only thing better than regular October is a Very Shakespearean October! Cheers!

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