Highland Shatners Mini Set for St. Paddy’s Night

St. Patrick’s Day Tradition Means Music Around Here

The Highland Shatners sorta live…

From their shore leave in the Omicron Delta system, to a viewing screen near you…

The Highland Shatners had to cancel last year’s annual appearance at Freddy’s Back Room, in Brooklyn, due to the COVID-19 Emergency. And this year we gathered as best we could for a mini set. Not too shabby for a parcel of lads who haven’t played these songs for a year, let alone met up in person.

 

The Highland Shatners coalesced from a larger collection of musicians who performed for an annual event at La Mama ETC of Scottish music and poetry, to raise money for the Burns Night Supper of a now extinct Scottish society in New York City.

The band’s set lists typically contain traditional and modern Celtic music, together with Paisley Pop tunes from the ’60s and ’70s and, appropriately enough, songs from the original Star Trek series.

Although it has been some years since they performed with any frequency, the Highland Shatners continue to play each St. Patrick’s Day at Freddy’s Back Room in Brooklyn, NY.  Come by for a good time, March 17, 2022, and a spectacular corned beef sandwich too!

The Dune Abides

Dude Frank Herbert Dune onemanz.com

Here’s to hoping the new Dune film is at least this good

The original version was the first major motion picture to suffer from over-hype

In 1984, Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street in New York City filled half a floor with sand dunes and set up sort of a Santa’s Wonderland display of Dune merchandise, before the film had even been released. Print ads and TV ads were everywhere. The buzz was engineered to be easy shoved down everyone’s throat, like sand through a sand worm. And then the film opened.

Despite Frank Herbert being involved and giving full approval, it was just okay as sci-fi movie. Most viewers found it confusing and without enough character development to actually care about anyone in it.

The truth is, it came out about 10 years too late. After the Star Wars films and others, seeing Kyle McLaughlin riding a giant worm in front of an obvious green screen was anything but epic or thrilling.

On the whole, I liked it. But the hype had been so over-the-top there was no way it would survive the critical orca pod that was happy to rip it to pieces in the press. TV shows now have spectacular cinematic special effects to the point they are taken very much for granted. So, the new film may suffer a similar fate if its producers expect a giant worm to sell many tickets after the first week.

But then, following that 1984 flop, it became the main business model of the film industry to over-hype movies so they have that tremendous opening weekend, allowing them to crow about the box office receipts before word gets out about what a stinker a film is. So, this version of Dune may sell more toys and video games, which seems to what matters most these days.

Given the arcane nature of the Dune novels, even just the first one required a mini-series length to explain on a screen just who all the people were and provide the immersive atmosphere with a fraction of the exotic detail of cultures and “the spice,” which earned the books legions of fans. Another two-hour movie version will likely skip along the surface like the original and then sink into oblivion in much the same way.

The new Dune may abide all that, since there will be all the future streaming revenue, and it is hoped some increased book sales as well.

Winter Solstice Calendar for All

Time to Change the World for the Better

One day at a time

On this 21st day of December, I hereby again proclaim and advocate for the entire world to adopt the following calendar.

Each month has 30 days. At the Winter Solstice there is a two-day Yule which does not belong to any month. What is currently December 21 would be Yule 1, the last day of the old year. What is now December 22 is Yule 2, or New Year’s Day.
At the Summer Solstice there is a three-day period, which also does not belong to any month.
In either case, these days are celebrated as a time of shared good will, thanksgiving, and festivals, both solemn and celebratory.
Current holidays like Ramadan, Chanukah, and the Twelve Days of Christmas are based in astronomical calculations and could continue as usual even if name of the specific day, in the case of Christmas and Epiphany , would be altered.
On leap years, the extra day is added to the SUMMER holiday, where it would be most welcome, or the “Lithe” as those days were called by Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, who invented this calendar for his hobbits of the Shire.
This has always appealed to me greatly since I first learned of this most sensible way of reckoning the days of the year.

Winter Solstice Shire Calendar Hobbiton Nassmith

Free Shakespeare from Canada

Shakespeare from the Stafford Festival on Line

Free during the long social distancing season

Did William Shakespeare really write the masterpiece King Lear while under quarantine during the plague year 1606? Yes, along with other great plays like Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra. Starting the previous year people were expected to remain in their London homes except when genuine need forced them to seek food for medicine. Sound familiar? Just like now, it helped save countless lives.

The Shakespeare Festival of Stratford, Ontario is offering free viewings of twelve films beginning with King Lear. It started on April 23, but I only know learned of this. So here is the schedule

“Each will debut with a 7:00 p.m. viewing party and will be available free-of-charge for three weeks afterwards on the Stratford Festival website.”

https://www.stratfordfestival.ca/

Coriolanus debuts today! Lear remains available through May 14.

stratford festival free shakespeare onemanz.com COVID-19 soical distancing

The films have received four Canadian Screen Awards and 16 nominations, including Best Performing Arts Program for King Lear.

The schedule is as follows:

King Lear: April 23 to May 14

Coriolanus: April 30 to May 21

Macbeth: May 7 to 28

The Tempest: May 14 to June 4

Timon of Athens: May 21 to June 11

Love’s Labour’s Lost: May 28 to June 18

Hamlet: June 4 to 25

King John: June 11 to July 2

Pericles: June 18 to July 9

Antony and Cleopatra: June 25 to July 16

Romeo and Juliet: July 2 to 23

The Taming of the Shrew: July 9 to 30

 

More Information Here

Happy Shakespeare Day!

Shakespeare to watch at home that is absolutely thrilling!

See clips of recommended watching below

Four-hundred and four years ago today, the world lost William Shakespeare. And if it weren’t for a small group of dedicated friends and colleagues half of the known plays he wrote would have been lost forever. Since the drama, comedy, and history that is the NFL draft starts tonight, I am putting off my Will Fest a day or two. But I will be watching the following this weekend.
 
Mark Rylance’s all-male production of “Twelfth Night”, the stage production from the Globe Theater, Ian McKellen’s “Richard III” set in a 1930s England beset with Fascism, and Kenneth Brannah’s lavishly adorned “Hamlet. Marvelous stuff! And you can see some short clips of them below.
 
And here is a list of the plays that were only known because of the First Folio that his friend published in the poet’s honor:
 
All’s Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Coriolanus
Cymbeline
Henry VI, Part One
Henry VIII (All is True)
Julius Caesar
King John
Macbeth
Measure for Measure
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Twelfth Night
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter’s Tale
 
Amazing, really.
Check out this opening sublime sequence of Ian McKellen’s 1930s Fascist version of Shakespeare’s Richard III. A $3 HD rental on Amazon, or free on YouTube.
And this glimpse of the lavish spectacle of Kennith Brannah’s Hamlet. Free on Amazon!
And Mark Rylance’s hilarious all-male cast of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Available for the U.K. on line https://globeplayer.tv/videos/twelfth-night
And available DVD for the U.S. and worth every farthing!

Spring will come again, I promise

Just as my location plunged below freezing, I came upon this piece of transportive writing, wonderfully rendered to remind us just how Spring is worth waiting for.

If you prefer to hear it beautifully read by a professional actress, click THIS LINK and scroll down to Ch. 29.

(The fact the person traveling through this excerpt is a Class A villain incapable of appreciating such natural beauty, and a bigot of great privilege who uses his charm to con many who mistake imagined wealth for greatness, and harms anyone of a social/economic/religious group he condemns, is irrelevant.)

“The thoughts of worldly men are for ever regulated by a moral law of gravitation, which, like the physical one, holds them down to earth. The bright glory of day, and the silent wonders of a starlit night, appeal to their minds in vain. There are no signs in the sun, or in the moon, or in the stars, for their reading. They are like some wise men, who, learning to know each planet by its Latin name, have quite forgotten such small heavenly constellations as Charity, Forbearance, Universal Love, and Mercy, although they shine by night and day so brightly that the blind may see them; and who, looking upward at the spangled sky, see nothing there but the reflection of their own great wisdom and book-learning.

It is curious to imagine these people of the world, busy in thought, turning their eyes towards the countless spheres that shine above us, and making them reflect the only images their minds contain. The man who lives but in the breath of princes, has nothing in his sight but stars for courtiers’ breasts. The envious man beholds his neighbours’ honours even in the sky; to the money-hoarder, and the mass of worldly folk, the whole great universe above glitters with sterling coin—fresh from the mint—stamped with the sovereign’s head—coming always between them and heaven, turn where they may. So do the shadows of our own desires stand between us and our better angels, and thus their brightness is eclipsed.

Everything was fresh and gay, as though the world were but that morning made, when Mr Chester rode at a tranquil pace along the Forest road. Though early in the season, it was warm and genial weather; the trees were budding into leaf, the hedges and the grass were green, the air was musical with songs of birds, and high above them all the lark poured out her richest melody. In shady spots, the morning dew sparkled on each young leaf and blade of grass; and where the sun was shining, some diamond drops yet glistened brightly, as in unwillingness to leave so fair a world, and have such brief existence. Even the light wind, whose rustling was as gentle to the ear as softly-falling water, had its hope and promise; and, leaving a pleasant fragrance in its track as it went fluttering by, whispered of its intercourse with Summer, and of his happy coming.

The solitary rider went glancing on among the trees, from sunlight into shade and back again, at the same even pace—looking about him, certainly, from time to time, but with no greater thought of the day or the scene through which he moved, than that he was fortunate (being choicely dressed) to have such favourable weather. He smiled very complacently at such times, but rather as if he were satisfied with himself than with anything else: and so went riding on, upon his chestnut cob, as pleasant to look upon as his own horse, and probably far less sensitive to the many cheerful influences by which he was surrounded.”

– Chapter 29, Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of ’80
by Charles Dickens

Milton on Shakespeare? Literally!

Milton’s hand-annotated copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio found in Pennsylvania

Wishful thinking? Or the real deal?

As announced on 9 September in the blog for the Centre for Material Texts at Cambridge (England,) it has been discovered that the First Folio of William Shakespeare’s works housed at the Free Library of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) may have once belonged to John Milton, the other immortal lion of English literature, who was 7 years of age when the Bard of Avon died. If confirmed it is one of the greatest discoveries of its kind.

A paradise of Shakespearean scholarship lost but now found?

This classic British detective story begins with an article written by an American college professor, Claire M. L. Bourne, of Penn State University, which appears in the 2019 volume, Early Modern English Marginalia. CMT Director Jason Scott-Warren was impressed with Bourne’s analysis of “highly unusual” annotations left by a writer of exceptional learning who was obviously familiar with Shakespeare’s literary sources, as well as versions of his plays published individually before and just after his death in 1606. The physical evidence suggests the handwritten notes were added between 1625 and 1660.

But the evidence that made Scott-Warren guess the hand was the same that wrote Paradise Lost was purely palaeographical – it looked like Milton’s handwriting.

He goes on to provide photographic comparisons between writing in the Folio and writing in other books believed to have belonged to Milton.

milton shakespeare compare

Scott-Warren is quick to downplay his discovery as possible wishful thinking. But he adds postscripts saying he has received support by various scholars who are convinced he is correct. And he includes additional hi-res photography provided by Associate Professor Bourne in support of his hypothesis.

But I feel the contextual evidence is also compelling. Who other than Milton would have corrected the printer’s spelling of an obscure herb with the spelling found in Milton’s nephew’s book?

milton shakespeare compare herb reference

“If this book is what I think it is, it’s quite a big deal, …” Jason Scott-Warren allows himself to admit with typical English reserve, “… since Shakespeare was, as we know, a huge influence on Milton. The younger poet paid tribute to his forebear in an epitaph published in the Second Folio of 1632, in which he testified to the ‘wonder and astonishment’ that Shakespeare created in his readers.”

The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Book Department also owns copies of the Second, Third, and Fourth Folios, which were published in later years and include other plays attributed to Shakespeare, although all but one, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, have been disqualified by modern scholarship. The Second Folio even contains a poem now assigned to Milton. The Library’s folios are all in the original bindings and were donated in the 1940s by a philanthropic family who had made similar lavish donations to that same institution since the late 1800s.

milton shakespeare first folio milton shakespeare folios philadelphia

Mankind was fortunate that Shakespeare’s fellow actors collected and published the plays of the First Folio seventeen years after his death, as eighteen of these important works might otherwise have been lost to history.

It is also interesting how many of these plays were published previously in smaller volumes, called quartos because the sheets of paper are printed with four pages on each side before being cut to fit into the binding. Some quartos are considered legitimate, and some are counterfeits put out at a time when the playwright’s work was considered exclusive property that one must pay to see performed.

Bad_quarto,_good_quarto,_first_folio

photo: Wikipedia

And Milton, if he is the annotator in question, was familiar with some of these texts and includes references or entire passages not printed in the First Folio. Whoever they were, they knew their Shakespeare cold.

After the blog post appeared, many other scholars have come forward in support of this new discovery. From the Guardian:

“Not only does this hand look like Milton’s, but it behaves like Milton’s writing elsewhere does, doing exactly the things Milton does when he annotates books, and using exactly the same marks,” said Dr Will Poole at New College Oxford. “Shakespeare is our most famous writer, and the poet John Milton was his most famous younger contemporary. It was, until a few days ago, simply too much to hope that Milton’s own copy of Shakespeare might have survived — and yet the evidence here so far is persuasive. This may be one of the most important literary discoveries of modern times.”

And that is pretty darn cool.

Read Jason Scott-Warren’s revelatory blog post HERE

Suggested Reading:

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