My Podcast – SPECIAL FANDOM TRUE CRIME REPORT

Wherein I discuss (as far as I possibly can) the absolute WTFness of the strange real life fandom story of Lord of the Rings fan and possible sociopath Amy Player AKA Jordan Wood AKA Victoria Bitter AKA Mr. Frodo AKA Andrew Blake AKA Thanfiction.
Excerpt from this show:
“Let’s just say [that] if Amy Player managed to make her parents believe that she was dead, lead a detective on a wild goose chase for several months, if not years…convince Jeanine Renne (a doctor) that she was a he, convince Sean Astin, the actor, that she was SANE, convince Lord of the Rings cast that she/he was actually Elijah Wood’s cousin, what else can this woman do?
Who knows what else will come out of the sick mind of Amy Player? Really, all I can say is–wow–I don’t know how she’s still free…with just a slap on the wrist. Many escapes; she must be the Devil herself. For this to be so convoluted, so crazy, so many fans still up in arms over this, with a book out and police well aware of what she’s doing, she’s just out there, continuing to con people. The world is a crazy place. She gives fandom a bad name…I can only hope that she gets what she deserves. She’s trouble in the way Charles Manson was trouble; I’m not even kidding here.”

Sources & Links for Further reading:
http://www.amazon.com/When-Fan-Hits-Shit-Charity/dp/0965313646
http://www.turondo.com/
http://adistantsoil.com/2011/07/15/amy-player-is-andrew-blake-and-an-even-bigger-conning-slimeball-than-rob-granito/
http://wiki.fandomwank.com/index.php/Victoria_Bitter
http://turimel.livejournal.com/105148.html
http://www.fox40.com/news/headlines/ktxl-lawsuits-court-orders-led-up-to-deadly-fairfield-triple-shooting-20110509,0,411368.story

Hamlet & The Grave Diggers: Exploring Three Modern Interpretations

Hamlet and the Gravedigger by Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret

Hamlet and the Grave Digger by Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret

The  Grave Diggers scene (Act V, scene i) in Hamlet is well noted for its excellence as one that encompasses the themes of the play through literal graveyard humor. In this post, I explore three modern interpretations. Choose your own favorite!

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Hamlet DVD cover

Kenneth Branagh's 1996 production, with an all-star cast.

Personally, I hold the Kenneth Branagh version as the gold standard in its interpretation of the text. It is faithful (word for word) to the source,  excellent in its casting (Billy Crystal is the First Grave Digger!), enunciated clearly, and acted with aplomb.

The costumes for the scene are plain–by elegant Victorian standards, which is the era this version is set in–and the whole scene is excellently lit and staged. I also like the platinum blonde of this Hamlet. He embodies the Melancholy Dane quite thoroughly, and his voice is a pleasure to hear. I also quite like Nicholas Farell’s Horatio.  Branagh and Farell have an easy rapport and their Royal Shakespeare Company roots easily shine through.

“Alas, poor Yorick!”
Billy Crystal as The First Gravedigger

Billy Crystal as The First Grave Digger

Billy Crystal outshines them both, though, on several levels. His Grave Digger is dirty in appearance and only somewhat clownish, insomuch as he doesn’t take it to extremes. His wordplay is fast and clever, with all the hallmarks of a smart ass. He knows when to settle down into the text, though, and manages to bring a wise yet witty tone to what could otherwise be a flat delivery of jokes that are already expected.

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2008 David Tennant DVD cover

David Tennant’s interpretation is acted in a more casual–yet no less affecting–manner and is played/spoken more in modern everyday tones than Branagh’s more deliberately poetic, elaborate, Elizabethan ones. This version is also thorough,  as Royal Shakespeare Company productions tend to be, but not as excruciatingly true to the text as Branagh’s version.  Its contemporary setting makes for interesting uses of technology, however. All in all, it’s a very good performance.

The costumes for this scene are even more casual than this modern performance would dictate, however. Hamlet is dressed shabbily and appropriately for the chill, disguised as a commoner and in a state of genuine scruffiness. He wears dirty running shoes, and would not look out of place at a soup kitchen. I am slightly in awe of his casual line delivery; it makes the banter and wordplay somewhat more “real” and engaging. I am not so fond of the supporting cast, but Tennant truly shines here anyway.  One thing that earns them mega-points, though, is the use of an actual human skull that was donated to The Royal Shakespeare Company.

FUN FACT: Yorick's skull is a REAL one.

FUN FACT: Yorick's skull is a REAL one.

The Grave Digger in this film falls flat for me. The thick accent is hard to interpret and the acting is only just adequate enough to support Tennant. I’m also not a fan of the tweed suit(!) he wears as he shovels dirt. The schoolteacher look does not fit the role nor the scene, in my opinion. The Second Grave Digger is clearly more clownish, but only in appearance. They both lack a charisma that could have given the entire scene more emphasis. The set is also lacking in decoration. The sparse, outdoor, brick wall backdrop is realistic, of course, but hardly sets the appropriate mood.

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Bardcore.

The final interpretation I chose stems from the title I created for this post. I thought to myself, “This title sounds like a really great name for a nerdy literature metal band.” However, I knew that one existed already. The Metal Shakespeare Company uses the Bard’s words and takes them up to eleven. They also happen to do a great version of a part of the Grave Diggers scene.

Taking Shakespeare up to 11.

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    My final thoughts? Branagh’s Grave Diggers scene is perfect if you want a fine mesh of the cerebral, moody, and faithful. Tennant’s is a breath of fresh air in a modern setting with playful delivery. The Metal Shakespeare company’s is pure gold if you’re tired of all the stuffiness, but still want to get your Yorick on.

Happy watching, everyone!

-K. Koeller 5/31/11

Book List 2010 – Update and Request!

Books I’ve Read This Year (So Far):

1. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton again….twice (If I ever get to the point where I need a thesis topic, I’ll be ready. I’ve been taking notes!).
2. Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite again.  (I’ve gotten my mom into the series and she wants someone to discuss it with.)
3. Succubus Shadows by Richelle Mead (My friend Sylvia is into the series, so I have to finish it.)
4. Ladies and Gentlemen: The Bible! by Jonathan Goldstein (Hilarious! I’m going to see his live Wiretap show next month!)
5. The Rustler by LL Miller
6. The Bridegroom by LL Miller
7. A Wanted Man by LL Miller
8. The Man From Stone Creek by LL Miller
9. Two Brothers by LL Miller (In my defense, these are all western romances that I read to gear myself up to play Red Dead Redemption!)
10. A Lady’s Guide to Improper Behavior by Suzanne Enoch (Spicy Regency romance, yay!)

In my “to read” queue I’ve got Chick With a Charm by Vicki Thompson and A Vote of Confidence by Robin Hunter, since I met both  the authors at this year’s Desert Dreams conference. I also have some Tom Stoppard plays lying about. But what to read after those? I have Amazon.com rebate credits to blow! Shall I try an “Inspirational Regency Romance”? (A genre I wasn’t aware existed until today.) Any recommendations? I’ll read anything from dramatic love stories to twisted murder plots!

Fulfilling 2009’s Book Resolution

At the beginning of the year I vowed to keep track of every book I read throughout 2009 in hopes that I could review them and maybe learn a little something about my reading habits. I doubted I could remain motivated to do so, but with the help of this book journal, I’ve managed to keep a pretty accurate list, I think.  Take a trip with me down Bibliophile Lane as I reminisce about and review the stories that have been crammed into my brain this year.

Books 2009

1. Soul Kitchen by Poppy Z. Brite

I ended 2008 with the preceding two novels in this series, ( Liquor and Prime) so naturally I greeted the new year with the third installment.  I truly enjoyed this particular novel and the Liquor series as a whole remains one of my favorites. The characters and their world are richly drawn and, at times, gritty. You can practically smell the food they’re cooking, which isn’t surprising as a majority of the novel takes place in the world of young professional chefs.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in modern New Orleans, cooking culture, gay central characters whose sexuality isn’t made a spectacle of, and those who enjoy characters that are so well portrayed you feel as though you might meet them in the street sometime.

Continue reading

You’re Listening to WireTap…

” [Jonathan Goldstein] has been conjuring up a bone-dry, deadpan repertoire of eclectically bizarre, engagingly self-loathing radio. His show, Wiretap, on CBC Radio One, is a weekly half-hour of conversation, storytelling and introspection, culled from equal parts real-world experience and the warp of Goldstein’s imagination.”

-Murray Whyte

I’ve inadvertantly been listening to Wiretap from the very first year it’s been on the air (I listen to NPR in the car a lot). It’s a lovely mix of surreal conversation and excellent thought-provoking storytelling. I highly recommend it. Its dry humor is quite addictive and is incredibly entertaining while in the car or just to listen to whilst lounging about at home. The irreverent themes of the show and some of the funnier moments tend to stay imbedded in the mind, and for that I must thank Mr. Goldstein for all the enjoyment I’ve gotten from his radio show over the years.

For more information on Wiretap, definitely visit his page at CBC Radio online where you can find feeds of the most recent episodes. For more from the previous five seasons, visit the unofficial archive. You won’t regret it.

This is getting out of hand.

Bad-boy angels are the new hotties. Like modern vampires, they can be gorgeous, immortal and otherworldly heartthrobs, unlike, say, zombies. “With all that rotting-off, they’re not very sexy,” said Justin Chanda, v-p and publisher of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, who calls angels “safe gothic” and “romantic.”

2utq2x2wicked_lovely

A female high school student being romanced by a mythological creature? Why does that seem so familiar? Oh, right. On the surface, “Wicked” sounds a bit like another popular franchise that features vampires instead of faeries. And that makes me wonder if faeries are the latest trend for the fantasy genre, after vampires and werewolves.

Apocalypse. It is nigh, folks.

Stephenie Meyer, I blame you for this.