Friday, September 22, 2023

Shakespeare in FoxTrot's At Least This Place Sells T-Shirts

Amend, Bill. At Least This Place Sells T-Shirts. Kansas City: Andrews and McMell, 1996.

The quest to track down all the Shakespeare in FoxTrot continues with one small reference to Shakespeare.

Paige seems to be the main one to have Shakespeare homework, at least in this era of the strip:

There you have it!

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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Shakespeare Allusion in Season Eight of The Office

"Special Project." By Amelie Gillette. Perf. Rainn Wilson, Mindy Kaling, Ed Helms, Leslie David Baker, Kate Flannery, Lindsey Broad, and Oscar Nuñez. Dir. David Rogers. The Office. Season 8, episode 14. NBC. 9 February 2012. DVD. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, 2019.

In Office time, it's been six years since our last (possible? probable?) Julius Caesar allusion (for which, q.v.). 

In the intervening time, Dwight seems to have brushed up on his Shakespeare.

In the episode, Andy has made a decision about who gets to travel to Florida for a special project—and Dwight doesn't like it. But he knows that a straightforward approach won't work. Instead, he praises Andy's decision (while asserting that he doesn't understand the logic of it) and riles up his fellow employees to bring Andy's decision into question.

Does that sound familiar? 

If not, what if I add that Dwight says, "Andy is an honorable man"?

I can't be the only Shakespeare / Office fan who finds in the setup an allusion to Mark Antony's surreptitious attack on Brutus in Julius Caesar during Caesar's funeral. Let's take a look:

I acknowledge that that is an allusion rather than a quotation, but it seems entirely in character for Dwight to employ the sneaky rhetorical strategy of Anthony in his own plan to bring down Andy.

Links: The Episode at IMDB.

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Friday, September 15, 2023

Shakespeare in FoxTrot's The Return of the Lone Iguana

Amend, Bill. The Return of the Lone Iguana. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1996.

As we continue on our quest to track down all the Shakespeare in Bill Amend's wondrous FoxTrot comics, we continue to go over old ground. 

I've written about Paige's starring as Cleopatra before (for which, q.v. et q.v.). But there were a couple other strips that connected to Shakespeare in one way or another.

First, then, those others. We start with Peter complaining about his school day:

Later in the book, we return to this them, but with a decided difference:

Yes, it connects to Shakespeare. Tangentially. I mean, the homework he doesn't have is probably Shakespeare-related, right?

Okay, fine. 

Let's turn to some unquestionably Shakespearean strips. This time, Amend gives us a two-week sequence about Paige playing Cleopatra in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. Enjoy!

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Thursday, September 14, 2023

Book Note: You Wouldn't Want to Be a Shakespearean Actor!: Some Roles You Might Not Want to Play

Morley, Jacqueline. You Wouldn't Want to Be a Shakespearean Actor!: Some Roles You Might Not Want to Play. Illus. David Antram. London: Franklin Watts, 2010.

I'm very excited. I had completely forgotten about the "You Wouldn't Want To" children's book series—and I had never come across this particular volume before last week.

The fundamental gimmick of the series is that nostalgia about different time periods is misplaced and that it could be dreadful to live in any number of different eras.

Here, we're told why acting in Shakespeare's company was really no picnic. And it does so with good historic detail and a use of the second person that invites our imaginative engagement with the material.

Let me show you what I mean!

Here, "you" have already gone through the hard work of being hired as a player, and you're discovering what that means: 

This next spread nicely encapsulates the demolition of the theatre called The Theatre and foreshadows its rebirth as The Globe: 

I'm very impressed with the entire series, but this volume was particularly pleasing. I'll soon be moving on to You Wouldn't Want to be Married to Henry VIII and You Wouldn't Want to Sail in the Spanish Armada and others. Stay tuned!

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Friday, September 8, 2023

Shakespeare in FoxTrot's Take Us To Your Mall

Amend, Bill. Take Us To Your Mall. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1995.

My favorite way for the comic FoxTrot to deal with Shakespeare is with a longer-format, week-long series of strips.

As I've been working my way through the collections, I've enjoyed seeing Amend's mastery of the genre develop through the years.

In this series, he's certainly on a roll.

Note: I have posted on these strips before—in 2009, to be precise (for which q.v. et etiam q.v.)—but I seem to be falling into a "Fox Trot Friday" pattern, and I'll try to keep that up until we cover all the Shakespeare in Fox Trot.

Without much more ado (because the subject is Macbeth), let's see how Paige is doing with her Shakespeare homework in this volume:

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Friday, September 1, 2023

Shakespeare in FoxTrot's May the Force Be With Us, Please

Amend, Bill. May the Force Be With Us, Please. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1994.

For the previous six books, the Shakespeare strips have mostly been singletons. 

One mentions a homework assignment.

Another says that a quiz is forthcoming.

Yet another mentions that either Paige or Peter has an essay on Shakespeare that they're working on.

In May the Force Be With Us, Please, we have a nice week-long series on Shakespeare.

True, it doesn't have anything to do with the specific elements of plot or characters in the play, but Paige has written an essay on Macbeth that she accidentally deletes:

Although I would hope that a student would spend more than four hours on a Macbeth essay, I do understand Paige's pain at having it disappear completely. Let's see if Jason can help.

And there we have it!  Though I would like to advise Paige to take some time to edit her Macbeth essay before turning it in.

Whatever school Paige attends has the right idea when it comes to Shakespeare. A little later in the school year, she has yet another Shakespeare essay due:

I didn't say that Paige has the right idea when it comes to Shakespeare. But we can all hope that she's learning through these experiences. I know that I certainly am!

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Friday, August 25, 2023

Shakespeare in FoxTrot's Say Hello to Cactus Flats

Amend, Bill. Say Hello to Cactus Flats. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1993.

I may have hit a bit of a jackpot with this volume of Bill Amend's tremendous comic strip FoxTrot.

We're on the sixth published volume. The characters are pretty firmly established and fairly fleshed out.

Thus, we're ready to run with the Shakespeare tropes.

First, it's Peter who is working on Shakespeare. He has a Macbeth essay due, and here's how it goes:

I don't know that I would be able to call myself a Shakespeare scholar if I didn't point out that there are actually only four "prithees" in Macbeth, 75% of them spoken by the title character and the remaining 25% spoken by Banquo.

And now . . . well . . . something a bit more tangential. If you've dipped into Bardfilm's "Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete" (for which, q.v.), you may have noted that Bardfilm can get carried away, finding Shakespeare allusions where none was (probably) intended. But humor me, please:

Tell me that's not a sideways allusion to Othello with the gender roles reversed.

Oh.  Okay.  I hear you.

We can all agree that the next strip is clearly deliberately related to Shakespeare, though the specifics are left vague:

And, last but not least, we have one that I actually covered back in 2012 (for which, q.v.).

That felt very satisfying. Thanks, Bill Amend, once again for years of great Fox Trot strips (though, please, more Shakespeare is always appreciated).

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Thursday, August 24, 2023

Book Note: Fawkes: A Novel

Brandes, Nadine. Fawkes: A Novel. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2023.

My attention was called to this novel by a student in my Young Adult Literature class. It's a new novel centered on the Fifth of November, 1605 (Remember? Remember?) and featuring the son of Guy Fawkes.

Therefore, it's a historical novel, right?

Not exactly.

It's really a fantasy novel set in something like that historic period. 

The plot is fairly complicated, but here's a quick overview. People are dying of the plague. But the plague isn't the plague—it's that people are turning into stone. Our protagonist (Guy Fawkes' son Thomas) has caught the plague in his eye, but the progress of the condition has abated. He and his father are part of The Keepers, a group of people with magical powers—they are each able to control one specific color. They have to get a mask and go through a choosing ceremony to bond with the color they're going to be able to control.

King James (and many others) are part of The Igniters, a rival group who is set on killing the Keepers; they believe the Keepers to be the cause (or causers) of the plague. Meanwhile, the Keepers think that blowing up Parliament and King James will end the tyranny of The Igniters—and the plague.

I found the novel to be generally well-written and interesting, though it does get pretty heavy-handed in one of its messages. The message is a good one: People should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, to coin a phrase. But it's belabored as we explore the relationship between Thomas and Emma, the love interest who has a mixed-race background.

The historicity of the novel . . . well, once we work in all the magic and eliminate the religious motivations of Fawkes and his co-conspirators, we have to realize that we're not interested in historical accuracy. But neither are we reworking history. The main events that happened in 1605 London happen in this book—just in different ways and for decidedly different reasons. And there are many main events in this narrative that have to historic equivalent.

"What about the Shakespeare?" I hear you cry. And I can call upon one of my most frequent answers to similar questions: "Needs more."

On page 37 (at the top right of the image below), Shakespeare is mentioned in a way hopeful enough to keep me reading:

Unfortunately, we have to wait until page 270 to encounter the Globe Theatre and to hear Shakespeare's name again.

Did anyone else cringe when you got to the part about "Sir William Shakespeare"? If not, perhaps it doesn't sound as odd to you as it does to me. What if it said "William, Lord Shakespeare"? Maybe that coveys the extreme oddity of referring to Shakespeare in that way.

In any case, that's all the Shakespeare we get. He's mentioned as existing and as notable, and we learn that Othello has been staged prior to the actions in the novel (which is historically accurate).

All in all, it's a good book for those who like the mixed historical-fantasy (tragical-comical-historical-pastoral?), and, just perhaps, it might serve as a gateway to interest in the genuine history in which it operates.

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Friday, August 18, 2023

More Deleted Scene Shakespeare in The Office

"Money." By Paul Lieberstein. Perf. Steve Carell, Phyllis Smith, Ed Helms, and Leslie David Baker. Dir. Paul Lieberstein. The Office. Season 4, episode 4. NBC. 18 October 2007. Deleted Scene. DVD. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, 2018.

Last time, we saw that some Shakespeare can be found in the deleted scenes from The Office (for which, q.v.). That was in Season Three; it's time for Season Four.

In the episode from which this scene was deleted, Michael Scott has been having problems with his personal finances and is reluctant to tell his girlfriend about them. The solution? Why, procrastinating by talking about Shakespeare, of course! [Note: Not that we at Bardfilm know anything about that proclivity.]

It seems that Michael wants to talk about the authorship question, but his approach to it is somewhat garbled. When he asks, "Who do you think was the actual writer of Shakespeare," he seems to be asking about a play titled Shakespeare rather than inquiring about who wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare.

Whatever he means, no one is interested in following up: They're not picking up what he's putting down. 

I'm happy to find these Shakespearean moments in the deleted scenes from The Office. If any of you die-hard Office fans know of any others, please let me know!

Links: The Episode at IMDB.

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Thursday, August 17, 2023

William Randolph Shakespeare in The Office

"A Benihana Christmas." By Jennifer Celotta. Perf. Steve Carell. Dir. Harold Ramis. The Office. Season 3, episode 10. NBC. 14 December 2006. Deleted Scene. DVD. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, 2018.

To get all the Shakespeare in The Office, you sometimes need to go to the deleted scenes.

In this deleted scene from "A Benihana Christmas," Michael Scott, stung by a recent breakup, calls on the Bard to help him express his emotions. But, as is usual, he becomes distracted by a side issue.

[Note: The language at the end of the clip may not be appropriate for all audiences.]

I'm not sure I can track down the precise direct quote that Michael is paraphrasing, though perhaps "Love doth be poison" would fit some of the ending speeches in Romeo and Juliet.

The other point to note is Michael's apparent animosity toward the anti-Stratfordians. For those who think Shakespeare wrote the works of Shakespeare, a fist pump may be in order. For those who done, well, that's just Michael Scott, and his opinions are not to be trusted.

Links: The Episode at IMDB.

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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 2008-2039 (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