Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Calvin, Hobbes, and Hamlet

Watterson, Bill. "Blecchhh." The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. 3 vols. Vol. 3: 1992-1995.  Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2005. 6 March 1994. 308.

With everything that's going on, I seem to be averaging one post a month.

Since that's the case, I might as well leave November in the very capable hands of Bill Watterson.

Watterson offers up a serving of Hamlet's soliloquy—in one of the most daring adaptations yet seen.

In his version, Hamlet's too, too solid / sullied / sallied flesh seems to have melted away entirely, leaving a bemoaning residue on the plate.

Let's tune in to see what happens (click on the image below to enlarge it).



Bonus image for those who have scrolled down this far.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Shakespeare in passing in The Avengers

The Avengers. Dir. Joss Whedon. Perf. Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Chris Hemsworth. 2012. Blu-Ray.  Walt Disney Video, 2012.

Sometimes, it's the briefest allusions that help make the film.

Surely, you'll agree that, without the lines in the clip below, The Avengers would not be as aesthetically pleasing—though it probably would be as popular—as it is.

It also lets us know that Joss Whedon is unlikely to forget about Shakespeare.

And it lets us know what Robert Downey, Jr. has been up to since he played Rivers in the Ian McKellen / Loncraine Richard III.


No one's fooled by Downey's attempt at fake Shakespeare ("Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?")—we know he knows the real Shakespeare and how to deliver his lines. 

The dismissive "tourist" at the end is just the icing on the cake.

And I'm not sure, but I think I can make out a diagram of the Globe Theatre on the helmet display—just for a second.

Links: The Film at IMDB.


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Monday, September 4, 2017

Book Note: Too Too Solid Flesh

O'Donohoe, Nick. Too Too Solid Flesh. Seattle, Wizards of the Coast, 1989.

This is another of the books that I tackled so that you can run far away from it into the end zone.

I kept trying this book on and off throughout the summer. It took a long time because there were always books that were better, more gripping, and more attuned to the Shakespeare vibe I hope for in a work of modern Shakespearean fiction.

Too Too Solid Flesh takes us to a future in which all the acting is done by androids—and most of the audience appears to be androids as well.

There's also a murder. Someone high up in the echelons of those who program . . .

You know what, never mind. It doesn't matter, and I didn't pay that close attention.

We have an android Hamlet and an android Horatio (only he's actually a human disguised as an android to investigate the murder).

Here are the only two pages I thought interesting enough to pass along. At one point, they conjure up android (or possibly hologram) Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman—just to have a chat with them.


Later, Shakespeare himself shows up. Well, an android version of him does. Here's what happens when he does:


As you can see, there's just not much here. Steer clear.

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(despite those last two words of warning)
from amazon.com
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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Note: Something Wicked

Hart, Carolyn G. Something Wicked. New York: Bantam, 1988.

And sometimes I just read them so you don't have to.

I don't remember quite how I found out about this book, but I requested it from my library and decided to give it a try.

You shouldn't bother.

In the book, a rag-tag band of actors is putting on a production of Arsenic and Old Lace, but someone is sabotaging the production.

Enter Scooby-Doo and friends.

Actually, that part didn't happen, but it was a close thing. I felt that the Mystery Machine was going to pull up at any moment.

And there's not much Shakespeare in it at all.

I went in thinking that one of the productions the company was going to put on would be by Shakespeare. Instead, we get a very dramatic moment where an actor quotes from the Scottish play in the middle of a rehearsal. I'll give you that scene:


That's very early in the novel—pages 26 and 27—and that's about all the Shakespeare we get for the rest of the generic murder mystery.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Note: The Labrador Pact

Haig, Matt. The Labrador Pact. New York: Viking, 2004.

Matt Haig's The Dead Father's Club (for which, q.v.) revisited Shakespeare's Hamlet, and I enjoyed it quite a lot. When my students told me that he had written another book—this one grappling with 1 and 2 Henry IV, I was intrigued.

Having read the book, I'll admit to being a bit disappointed. My complaint is the same as always: Not enough Shakespeare! I thought the novel might retell the plays—or, if not the plays, at least elements in them.

Instead, the novel is a clever account of a dog named Prince, who, in an attempt to care for his family, ends us breaking the Labrador Pact, the most sacred rule of that particular breed of dogs:  Duty over all.

The opposing breed is the Springer spaniel, whose motto is "Pleasure not duty."

In terms of Shakespeare allusions, the boy of the house is named Hal; another character is called Simon Hotspur. There's also a foul-mouthed bully of a dog whose name is Lear. And the mother of the family is called Kate, but I don't see the relevance of that choice.

The main Shakespearean part is, I suppose, the relationship between Prince, our Labrador protagonist, and Falstaff, the fun-loving dog of a woman who has recently moved in to the neighborhood. The pages below provide the first time Adam, the father of the family and Prince's master, and Emily, the new woman, meet. It's also Prince and Falstaff encounter each other.



The long and short is that there's not much Shakespeare here—apart from names and personality traits. As a side note, be aware that this is not a young adult novel—the foul-mouthed Rottweiler is only one aspect that may be inappropriate for younger readers.

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(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).


Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2016 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest