Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Monday, June 30, 2014

Did Shakespeare know about penguins?

Live Science
I was reading an article from the Live Science blog about how global warming is threatening the Emperor Penguin. The story is illustrated with a photo of researcher holding an Emperor penguin chick of remarkable cuteness. (As you can see, they're substantial little birds, even as babies, about the size of a human toddler.) But I got to thinking...
Did people of Shakespeare's time know about Antarctica? Did they know about penguins? So I Googled "Shakespeare and penguin" and of course, got four bazillion hits directing me to Penguin Publishing's excellent Shakespeare editions that we all used in high school and college.
As far back as the 2nd century, people spoke of a vast land at the southern pole of the earth known as Terra Australis, but Antarctica was not discovered until the late 18th/early 19th century. (James Cook apparently passed close to it on one of his voyages.)
There is a reference to penguins in a letter dated 1578 (cited in a book on animal folklore in Shakespeare's time), which was some thirty years before the playwright died, so he would have known about them. 
How much do we love the Internet? And Wikipedia in particular?

Mermaid Sex

It was my turn to blog today at Cafe Otherworld and I wrote a post detailing my theories about why there are so few paranormal/urban fantasy books about mermaids when there are more wereolves and vampires than you ever want to read about. Turns out that for most of the people who have responded in the comments so far, it's an anatomy problem. How, exactly, do mermaids DO IT?  Maybe I have a dirty mind, but I always figured mermaids wer like cetaceans and did it while gliding together in perfect harmony.

I also know that some animal experts don't think it's a great idea for humans to swim with dolphins because it arouses the dolphins and ... unforseen situations can occur. (Apparently, male dolphins are pretty horny guys and have often been observed "humping" inanimate objects. Although I don't suppose that's dry-humping.

It's not that I want to write mermaid/human porn, but honestly, I don't see the problem. Mermaids have been part of human culture since the ancient Assyrians. Something about the myth of the mer has captured human imagination. So...why are there so few stories about mermaids?

The return of the summer of the middle-aged action hero

Movie stars are, for the most part, handsome men. Sometimes they're quirky handsome, sometimes they're offbeat handsome, sometimes their appeal is a strange alehemical mix of talent and personality, but all of them have IT. And IT does not fade with age.  Never mind that Shakespeare wrote:
And as with age his body uglier grows,
So his mind cankers.
The Tempest (4.1.213-4)

This summer we'll get Denzel Washington in an updated version of The Equalizer, Bruce Willis (almost unrecognizable in The Prince, where he plays a bad guy in the Ben Kingsley mode), Liam Neeson in the provocatively titled A Walk Among the Tombstones, and in the fall we'll get Peirce Brosnan in a movie that looks an awful lot like a reboot of The Mechanic.  And somewhere this summer is going to be the latest chapter of The Expendables, with Harrison Ford and young'un Wesley Snipes (he's only 52) along for the ride.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Death of a Fairy" new fiction from the Misbegotten universe

I have been writing "Misbegotten" stories for almost seven years now, urban fantasies set in the City of the Angels where paranormal creatures exist alongside normal citizens. (In L.A., it's sometimes hard to tell the difference.) I decided to test the waters of the short fiction marketplace by putting "Death of a Fairy" up for sale(under my pseudonym Kat Parrish) as a stand-alone story using their beta cover generator to put together a cover. It's an experiment. I'm curious to see how it'll turn out but in the meantime, I am pleased with the story, which begins when a homeless woman mistakes a dead fairy for a discarded Barbie doll in the alley she calls home.

Sunday Shakespeare quote

One of the advantages of being an English major is that even years after you graduate, you have a lifetime supply of literary quotations you can whip out at a moment's notice. That can actually be annoying to people (especially if you preface the quote with a pretentious phrase like, "As the bard said,") but it's kind of amazing how often Shakespeare came up with a comment that sounds like plain old common sense or answers a question you might have. One of my favorite quotes comes from Henry IV, part 1 when a character is bragging about being able to call "spirits from the vasty deep." and someone says, "but do they come when you do call them?"

You can find a lot of sites online that offer all Shakespeare quotes all the time. Brainy Quotes even has them organized into categories, like "Top 10 Shakespeare quotes." You'll also find more than 200 top quotes at eNotes. Bartlett's Quotations. I used that book so often it got threadbare. Now of course, at just the click of a mouse, I have access to enough quotations to fill a whole library. I <3 br="" internet.="" the="">
I love these sites because when I was in school, one of the books that had a permanent place on the shelf above my desk was a hugehardback copy of Bartlett's Quotations. Now of course, I have access to almost every quote in the world, just at the click of a mouse. I (heart) the Internet.

La Dolce Vita

The Taming of the Shrew is not my favorite Shakespeare play and I've only seen it performed a couple of times. (Plus I saw the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton film version.)  This La Dolce Vita style production looks like it's kind of fun though.  It's part of the free summer Shakespeare festival in L.A.'s Griffith Park, so I have no excuse not to go see it. Here's more information.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A different kind of zombie apocalypse

You've heard of disaster tourism? Combine that with a zombie apocalypse. Check out The Z Cruise, a kindle short story by my alter-ego Kat Parrish.

Friday Shakespeare Silliness with bonus cat cuteness


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shakespeare Swag

Is this bracelet cool or what? I snagged it from the RareJewelbyKathy shop and it's just perfect for the promotion I'll be doing of my Shakespeare Noir collection (out this fall)!  And right now, if you pin three items from the shop, and send her the link, she'll give you a coupon. So it's awin/win. (And really, you should have a Shakespeare board on Pinterest.)

Mark Twain writes about Would-Be Claimants to the Name Shakespeare

Dr. Buford Jones
I once took an entire. semester-long seminar on Mark Twain. If memory serves, the professor was Dr. Buford Jones, a professor who does not fare particularly well on that student-ranking system ratemyprofessor.com but I loved his classes in American lit and took all of them. (And for some reason, I remember this: he was from the Midwest somewhere and pronounced "Jaguar" like "jag-wire." And he would occasionally poke fun at Reynolds Price, the noted novelist and poet, who also taught a well-regarded class on John Milton. You had to be a junior to take Price's class, so that was a long, three-year wait, but worth it.) But I digress.

In the Twain seminar we went way beyond the usual Twain oeuvre. Of course we read Huckleberry Finn (again) but we also read critic Leslie Fiedler's intriguing essay on the homoerotic subtext of the book, "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in Huck Honey!" Fiedler was the author of Love and Death in the American Novel, a book that deeply impressed me at the time. I also loved that he was a proponent of genre fiction, which is pretty much all I read when I wasn't reading for my classes.

Twain left an enormous pile of unpublished manuscripts and diary entries and one of them was a huge section of thoughts calls "Is Shakespeare Dead?" You can read it here. It's very entertaining, particularly if you love the cranky side of Twain.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Shakespeare rubber stamp on Etsy

When I was a kid I loved rubber stamps and wax seals and all those things you could use to decorate letters. (I'm one of the last hold-outs when it comes to written communications. I don't do e-cards, usually, and I always send hand-written thank you notes.) I saw this very cool item on Etsy today and once again reflected that Etsy is a wonderful website that not only connects artisans to buyers (enabling buyers to feed their fantasies of being patrons of the arts) but also an excellent place to while away an hour or two (or three).

More Shakespeare Memes

I have to think the Bard would be totally tickled to know that he's found his way into pop culture by way of any number of memes. (And yes, since you asked, there IS a Grumpy Cat Shakespeare meme or two out there.)

The first time I heard a Most Interesting "Man in the World" commercial, I started laughing so hard I thought I was going to have to pull my car to the curb. So of course, it made perfect sense that there would be a "Most Interesting Man in the World" meme. If more teachers took their cue from this guy, there would be fewer high school students who hate Shakespeare.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A shakespeare Meme


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Shakespeare's death mask

I missed this story when it came out in 2012. The death mask of William Shakespeare (age 52) has found a permanent home at the University of Edinburgh's Anatomy Museum. (Also on display are Sir Isaac Newton's death mask and Sir Walter Scott's.) Read the story here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Shakespeare's World Cup

Yes, you can relate Shakespeare to any topic or any event if you put your mind to it. I typed "Shakespeare" and "World Cup" into Google and came up with about a bazillion references to a play that was performed at a Canadian fringe festival in 2002. You can download the script, hook up to the play's database, and read interviews with the creators. It's a kick. Shakespeare's World CupHere's a link to this year's Shakespeare's World Cup line over at No Sweat Shakespeare.

Friday, June 20, 2014

did Shakespeare ever get writer's block?

Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays and maybe more, if scholars are right about his authorships of plays like Edward III and Thomas More.  That's a lot, and I find myself wondering how he would have fared in today's fast-paced publishing world. It used to be that only writers like Stephen King published a novel (or more) a year, but nowadays it seems like everyone from Amanda Hocking to the novelist next door is writing at a blistering pace. that doesn't apply to stageplays of course, unless you're talking about a community playhouse where the players are creating new material for each season, but still. Could Will have kept up?  I suspect the answer is yes. 
True, not every Shakespeare play is a Hamlet (seriously, does anyone ever go see King John except out of curiosity?) but if your other work includes Richard III and Romeo & Juliet, and Othello, you really don't have to write Hamlet every time.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Everything old is new again--Shakespeare and the supernatural

Every so often I think about how lucky we are that we have the wisdom of the ages at our fingertips. when I was a kid, my parents bought us a set of encyclopedias one volume at a time from the supermarket. These days, I have almost two thousand books in my kindle, and access to a bazillion more at the click of a mouse. And of course, there's Wikipedia. that day Wikipedia went dark in protest of possible changes to the Internet, I ... did not fare well.

If I were writing a term paper on any facet of Shakespeare now, I'd never have to leave my bedroom. Books that I would have had to request through inter-library collections are available just for the asking, many of them free and many of them the kinds of books that would have been housed in the rare books collection of any college library back in the day. For example, there's T. F. Thiselton Dyer's Folk-lore of Shakespeare, which was published in 1883 is available to download for less than $5 and if you type in various queries, the specific answer will, more often than not, show up in Google Books. The answer may not be the exact answer you want--i queried "mermaids in Shakespeare" and got a quote about Shakespeare and fishing, which made me think of my own story," Wild-Caught."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Preview of A Taste for Strange

I published the first book in my Lark Riordan/Max Siwek mystery series in March (Whipping Boy) and I'm closing in on the final draft of the sequel A Taste for Strange. (The third book in the series is called Raw Dog.) I offered this is the intro to the book, which is told from Max's point of view this time out. He's an LAPD homicide detective and his stepsister, Lark Riordan, is a forensic tech. She's also his lover. It's ... complicated.  

A TASTE FOR STRANGE


They found her hanging from a hook in the ceiling, twirling like a broken piƱata. Her body was so bruised and boneless it had lost its shape, but her killer had not touched her face, which was flawless except for some cuts in the corner of her mouth where her perfect lips hung open.
Max felt a cloud of depression descend on him. The victim was young, so very young. And so very beautiful.

Shakespeare portrait by Heather Galler

I've been cruising Etsy of late, looking for swag to buy in advance of the October book fair in Sedona where Dark Valentine Press will have a table. And is my wont, I was looking around to see if there was anything new in the Shakespeare section. I found this very cool portrait by Heather Galler and I'm about to go snap it up. Because I deserve a little more art in my life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

BuzzFeed's Take on Films Inspired By Shakespeare

Ledger & Stiles
Some of their picks are pretty obvious, like the Heath Ledger/Julia Stiles rom-com !0 Things I Hate About You, which began life as The Taming of the Shrew. But there are other movie-bard connections that are a little more subtle, incluing Deliver Us From Eva (another Taming of the Shrew) and My Own Private Idaho, which traces its literary lineage back to Henry IV and Henry V.  (Keanu Reeves' street hustler is the Prince Hal character.) Check out the entire list.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Shakespeare on Pinterest

If you're engaged by Pinterest, as I am, you know that there are a lot of topics that seem to engaged Pinners.  They really, really, really like baby elephants. They really like puppies and kitties )who doesn't?) and they like pretty pictures of beautiful places and luscious photos of yummy food. But they also are interesting in Shakespeare's plays. One of my most popular boards is my Shakespeare board, and I'm hooked up to half a dozen others. There are lots of Shakespeare quotes pinned up on various boards. It's all about the words, but on Pinterest, it's about the pictures too.

Monday was a bad day for Juliet

CAPULET
 Wife, go you to her ere you go to bed.
Acquaint her here of my son Paris' love,
And bid her, mark you me, on Wednesday next—
But, soft! What day is this?
PARIS
Monday, my lord.
CAPULET
Monday! Ha, ha. Well, Wednesday is too soon,
O' Thursday let it be.—O' Thursday, tell her,
She shall be married to this noble earl.—
Will you be ready?
 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ellen Geer as Lear

Photo of Melora Marshall & Ellen Geer by Ian Flanders
The ultimate play about fatherhood-Shakespeare's -King Lear--gets a sex change in this year's production from the Theatricum Botanicum. Ellen Geer, daughter of the theater's founder, Will Geer, plays the monarch wko has decided to divide her realm into thirds and hand them off to her sons. Geer also directs, along with Melora Marshall, who plays Fool, and the reviewer over at Shakespeare in L.A. gave both raves. (Marshall  is also part of the Geer clan, being Theatricum Botanicum artistic director Ellen Geer's younger sister.)   The play runs through September. For more information on it and the theater's other offerings, go to their site. And don't forget, their summer slate includes A Midsummer Night's Dream, which is always a wonderful experience in the outdoor setting.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Miranda and Theo

Photo: NejroN/Bigstock
 The photographer NejroN has 155 pages of images uploaded to Bigstock. He also posts on Shutter Stock and Fotolia and Dreamstime, among others, but I stumbled across his work on Bigstock. His website has just the basics--a very short bio, a portfolio of images and three ways to contact him. His work is fantastic--people, places, landscapes, up close shots of leaves and bugs. Concept shots. Models in costumes that don't look cheesy.  I'm using one of his shots on the cover of my upcoming novella Bride of the Midnight King and as I've mentioned, it was a particular photograph of two of his favorite models that has inspired me to create a whole new series. Last night I spent a few hours on the site looking through all 155 pages of images seeing what I could find. (I once found the PERFECT models for several characters in a book and didn't snap up alternate photos of them. And now I can't find them.) I will not do that with the characters I'm calling Miranda and Theo. They are vampires and like all the best vampires, they're incredibly stylish. (Think The Hunger meets Only Lovers Left Alive.)

It's funny, the photographer has paired his male model with a couple of different women, one a lovely redhead, but I am so wed to my vision of these people as Miranda and Theo that looking at those other pictures makes me feel like Theo is cheating on Miranda. Of course that could happen, in a relationship that's gone on as long as theirs has.

I cannot wait to start writing this series and I have to wait because my work is expanding to fill all the spaces of my life lately. But in the meantime, I have my images of Miranda and Theo and I have NejroN to thank. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Snakes, Sunrises, and Shakespeare


Over at Cafe Otherworld today I'm blogging about superstition and in the course of researching that post, I ran across this book by evolutionary biolgoist gordon H. Orions, published by the University of Chicago press last April. Just leafing through the first chapter (I love the "inside look" feature on Amaon) was enough to convince me to buy the book, which is subtitled "How Evolution Shapes Our Loves and Fears."  Here's a link to more information about the book.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Shakespeare's names--and you thought "Apple" was bad

I come from a family where given names have been recycled for generations. My sister's name was Mary and we had two great aunts named Mary (who both thought she was named for them). My brother is the third Robert in a row, I am one of several generations of Katherine going back to the 19th century. My cousin's name is Helen, one of my mother's sisters was named Helen and I had a dear great-aunt named Helen.   in my family, and not much imagination either. And you know, I'm okay with that.I have freinds whose parents got just a little too carried away while leafing through baby name books and the results weren't pretty.
Turns out there's a site that lists all of Shakespeare's names should you be inclined to bestow a bardic sort of name on your child.  The girls' names aren't bad, if a little old fashioned--Viola and Beatrice and Katherine and Portia, but God help the boys.  For every Marcus (Brutus) and Michael (Cassio) there's a Petruchio or an Iago or a Mercutio.  Check out the list here.

Shakespeare Calavera

Jose Pulido
Look what I found on Etsy!  This very cool Day of the Dead Shakespeare. The artist is Jose Pulido and his shop is MisNopalesArt.  Check out his Flickr page to see his latest work. Like him on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Shakespeare Quote of the Day


O.J. Simpson is not Othello

It's been 20 years since Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were murdered in Los Angeles. Nicole's ex-husband, football star-turned actor/pitchman O.J. Simpson was accused of the crime and the ensuing eight month trial became a media circus that, among other things, first brought the name 'kardashian" to public awareness. (The now-deceased K clan patriarch, Robert, was Simpson's good friend and attorney.)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Shakespeare Noir Mi Corazon


  MI CORAZON

 

By Katherine Tomlinson

 

 

You’re with Raimundo on K-ESE Los Angeles and it’s time for the news.

 

A clash between Montagues and Capulets left five dead as gang violence spilled over in Verona this afternoon. Responding to pressure from residents of the small suburb of East Los Angeles, the Verona police chief announced a new zero tolerance policy that would implement the death penalty for any gang member caught breaking the law.

 

Bigstock Images

The first time Romeo Montague saw Julieta Capulet he forgot all about Rosa, the Capulet cousin he’d been boning in order to get intel on the Capulet gang. Rosa had invited Romeo to her cousin’s quinceanera on a dare and to her surprise, Romeo and his compadre Mer-Q had shown up.

Romeo was chowing down on home-made tamales when Julieta appeared on the dance floor wearing a turquoise dress he wanted to rip off like wrapping paper. Some little nerd of a Capulet cousin was dancing with Julieta when Romeo stepped up to claim her, right there in front of her father and everyone else. “I don’t know you,” Julieta had said as he danced her backwards around the room.

“You have always known me,” Romeo said in Spanish so that it wouldn’t sound cheesy. “My name is Romeo Montague.”

Shakespeare in 144 characters

Photo courtesy of Bigstock
I think if Shakespeare were alive, he'd have embraced social media. "All the world's a stage," he wrote and isn't it thrilling to contemplate what he would have done with a global stage like the Internet? It's already amazing enough that his work remains potent nearly half a millennium after he was born.  And when we reach the stars, somewhere we will take Shakespeare with us. Because he is alive and well on social media.

There is a Facebook group devoted to Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, who many believe was the "real Shakespeare." There is a group devoted to Kill Shakespeare, a comic book in which Shakespeare's greatest heroes are pitted against his most menacing villains (more on that later in the summer.) Goodreads has a Shakespeare Fans group that has more than a thousand members. There are study groups and reading clubs and appreciation circles all over the place, including the Michigan-based Oberon's Shakespeare Study Group, which is particularly interested in the authorship question.

Shakespeare is vibrantly alive on Twitter.

I follow a lot of Tweeps who tweet Shakespeare. Here in L.A. there are a number of Shakespeare-centric drama groups and theater companies that I keep up with (like Theatricum Botanicum) and it's a way of making sure I don't miss their special events. There's @ShakespearePost who has more than 32,000 followers and is following nearly 27K.  Not quite George Takei numbers, but if it were really Bill S posting, I bet he would have gotten to 1 million followers at least as fast as Anderson Cooper. Mostly this account tweets quotes from the plays and sonnets but every once in a while, there's something else, like a link to an article about very unfortunate tattoos that was quite entertaining.

If you're on Twitter and want to find more Shakespeare-friendly folk, all you have to do is type the bard's  name in the search bar. There are a lot of us out there.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Coming Soon...Bride of the Midnight King

In my spare time I write for fun and profit. I use my own name for my crime fiction and horror, but I use my pseudonym, Kat Parrish for the fantasy stories. I've been writing more and more fantasy lately, and one of the results is a series of reimagined fairy tales I refer to as "Grimm Blood Tales" because they involve vampies.
Yes, I know. The world is full of vampire stories.
the world is also full of fairy tales and at some point, fairy tales and vampire stories just had to collide. (Probably already have, actually, I'm not arrogant enough to think I'm the first to think of it.)
I found myself thinking of different ways fairy tales could be woven into vampire stories and the first result is this novella, a Cinderella story in which a mortal girl becomes the bride of a vampire king.
I'm already plotting the next story in the series, Midnight's Daughter, which is a Sleeping Beauty story.
The cover for Bride of the Midnight King was created by Joy Sillesen of Indie Author Services. The book will be out at the end of June.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ryan Gosling and Shakespeare. You're welcome.


Shakespeare's Perfume...for the summer of Shakespeare reading list

I ran across this description for a book called Shakespeare's Perfume and was intrigued.

Drawing on theology, alchemy, psychoanalysis, philosophy, and literary criticism, Shakespeare's Perfume explores how the history of aesthetics and the history of sexuality are fundamentally connected.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern for free

Tom Stoppard wrote the script for Shakespeare in Love and co-wrote the script for Brazil, but before he was famous for his screenwriting, he was a noted playwright whose plays were filled with witty wordplay and what Wikipedia calls "intellectual playfulness" with diverse and literate topics woven into his stories. I've seen most of his major plays but my favorite remains Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, his intriguing vision of Hamlet told from the point of view of two doomed minor characters. I discovered that the movie version, starring Tim Roth and Gary Oldman and directed by Stoppard. is playing on YouTube. It's divvied up into 12 parts. so you'll need some patience, but if you've never seen it, it's well worth your time.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Shakespeare Noir...The Sister's Story

Painting of Ophelia  by John Everett Millais
the character of Ophelia in Hamlet has always annoyed me. Not because I think the character is unrealistic--sadly, I've known a few too many Ophelias in my life--but because she's such a ninny. She lets her father and brother boss her around; she lets Hamlet mistreat her and then she kills herself.  She'd have lasted about a day and a half n Westeros. But what if...Ophelia wasn't the pliant little maid we all know, weaving circlets of rosemary and singing nonsense songs? What if she were an altogether different person?

The Sister's Story
by Katherine Tomlnison

Prince Hamlet had been away at university for almost a year when his father died.
Ironically, he was on the road home to Elsinore when news of his father’s illness reached him.
It was far too late for him to send his companion away, so when the prince arrived to find the court in mourning, his friend was thrown into the midst of the maelstrom along with him.
It was a peculiar situation.
The old king had died of a stomach ailment and even though the prince was of age, the title had passed to the king’s brother, Claudius instead of him.
Odder still, the prince’s newly widowed mother had already married her former brother-in-law.
When Hamlet’s friend Horatio remarked upon the somewhat unseemly haste of the nuptials, Hamlet rebuked him saying that he admired the economy of the measure, which allowed the kitchen to serve the funeral’s baked meats sliced cold at the marriage feast.
In truth, Hamlet cared little for the crown itself—he was a scholar, not a fighter, and Prince Fortinbras of Norway had often been known to mock him as “the student prince.” Claudius was rooted from more martial stock, and eager to send the Norwegian prince threatening our borders back to his own kingdom without tribute or treasure.
King Hamlet had favored diplomacy in dealing with the Norse-men, a policy Claudius had openly disdained.
As soon as he was king, Claudius ordered the Danish army to prepare for war. My brother Laertes was ordered back from Paris to lead the troops that would protect the land between the border and Elsinore. If Hamlet felt the slight of his uncle’s favor passing him by, he did not show it.
In fact, if he had any feelings at all, he did not express them—not to me, not to Horatio, and certainly not to the two fools who were his best friends at court, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
I was surprised that Hamlet did not turn to me; surprised and somewhat hurt.
We had been lovers since I turned 15 and it was commonly assumed that one day we would marry. My brother opposed this idea, mostly because he did not like the prince (Rosencrantz once joked that Laertes opposed the match and I had overheard Rosencrantz say that his objections were not because he disliked the prince, but that he liked him a little too much. Guildenstern had countered this witticism with an observation of his own suggesting that perhaps Laertes wanted to keep me for himself.
Both gibes had enraged my brother and vastly amused the court, fueling speculation that was not kind to Laertes.
My father was giddy with the possibility of my marrying the prince, despite his public protestations to the contrary. My father was a noble by birth, but a minor noble and despite his title of “Lord Chamberlain,” his function at court was as only slightly more important than that of the king’s Master of Hounds. Being father-in-law to the future king was a prospect that thrilled him.
And there was no doubt that Claudius would name Hamlet his heir. The king had no children of his own and Queen Gertrude was well past child-bearing age.
I’d always assumed Hamlet’s parents found me…adequate…as a potential mate for their son. I am a pretty woman from a noble family and really, all the only thing they really required of a princess bride was a brood mare of sufficiently impressive bloodstock that the royal spawn would not be born with a crooked back or a cloudy eye.

Maya Angelou on Shakespeare

"Shakespeare must be a Black Girl."
--Maya Angelou

Illustration from William Shakespeare Things
I read that quote years ago and have never forgotten it. Over on the William Shakespeare Things blog, there's a clarification of what Angelou meant.  It seems appropriate to revisit the quote even as the memorial service for America's poet laureate is underway.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Shakespeare Quote of the Day


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Darknight, Book 2 of the Witches of Cleopatra Hill by Christine Pope



Christine Pope’s new novel Darknight (the second in her Witches of Cleopatra Hill trilogy) takes up one page after Darkangel left off. Angela McAllister, newly minted prima of the McAllister witch clan is in the hands of a rival clan, and the only thing she knows for certain is that the consort she’s bonded with is the brother of her clan’s fiercest enemy.

It’s complicated.

For Angela, biology is destiny and she and Connor Wilcox are fated to be together despite decades of enmity between the McAllisters and the Wilcoxes, a feud that has affected every witch clan in Arizona. Connor is equally eager to let bygones be bygones, and as the yule season approaches, the bond between him and Angela deepens. But that doesn’t mean that their respective families are happy about it or ready to play Secret Santa with each other.

The plot thickens in this book and the danger and tension is ratcheted up several notches as a dire plot unfolds that could destroy the consort connection.  It’s not just witches that live in Cleopatra Hill and in this book we meet some shape-shifters and witches too. 

As always with Pope’s novels, the setting is just as important as the characters and if a reader ever visits Jerome, they could do worse than take the Darknight tour of local eateries (and wineries). With an engaging cast (both normal and paranormal), Darknight is a satisfying read and will whet your appetite for the concluding book in the trilogy. (And speaking of whetting your appetite, I defy you to read some of the chapters without your mouth watering from Pope’s vivid description.)

Pope has a number of giveaways scheduled for the book's launch. Here's a link to the contest running on GoodReads.



Shakespeare for Slackers

I was on the Library Thing site this afternoon, looking over the new list of books available for early review and spotted Shakespeare for Slackers: Romeo and Juliet. Turns out it's part of a series that also includes Macbeth.(And I would bet that the next book in the series will be Julius Caesar because those three plays are the ones most read in high school. (And if you ask me, having to read Julius Caesar is one of the things that turns students away from Shakespeare. But that's just me. I also think it's a bad idea to read Moby Dick in high school. I didn't read it until I was in college and I loved it but if I'd had to read it sooner, I probably would have hated it as much as everyone else.)

Guillermo del Toro's Book of Life

I am not a huge fan of animation. I grew up with Disney of course, and am a big fan of what Pixar is doing, although I was bored by Brave.  (Mostly I just kept thinking that the princess looked like a troll doll, but then, I'm several years past the demographic that movie was targeting. Frozen in on my "to be viewed" list, mostly because everyone tells me it's a great story about female empowerment but I'm having a hard time working up the enthusiasm. But today I saw the trailler for Guillermo del Toro's new movie, Book of Life, an animated, Day of the Dead story that looks...magical. If you haven't seen the trailer, you're in for a treat.

For the Shakespeare Summer reading list...Dark Lady of Hollywood

Diane Haithman's Dark Lady of Hollywood offers Shakespeare and snark. Could you ask for anything more? I was tipped to this book by Shakespeare in L.A. and it's already on my To Be Read Bookcase.  (The "to be read" pile long ago outgrew mere pile status.) The book is reviewed o the Shakespeare in L.A. site, and on Amazon the book has13 five- and four-star reviews so far. You can read the review here. I'll have my own review up later in the summer.