I guess I’ll have to entertain *myself*.

Dang it, Internets, you are suppose to entertain me, and you are failing. One thing I preferred about being on East Coast time: in the wee hours of my morning, the West Coast folks might still be updating their LJs. But alas, I’m sitting here on a Friday night with hardly anybody giving me anything to read.

Well, tonight was supposed to be a night of productivity anyway. And it has been: so far, I’ve gotten 1,007 words on the ongoing story. But I think we’ll need to have another work session tonight, because this story, y’see, it has already passed short story territory and is charging merrily through novelette on its way to a possible novella. (Which is part of last night’s whininess: I keep working on this damn thing and it isn’t done yet. Novellas: the worst of both worlds.) Anyway, while it isn’t absolutely critical that I finish it before the calendar page turns, I would like to, and that means it’s advisable to get through this damn scene tonight.

But first I need to figure out who the characters are going to talk to, and what he knows.

In my non-writing time, I’ve been entertaining myself while doing other downstairsy things by re-watching the first half of Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet. Quibble all you like with his interpretation; I will always love it for being full-length. And this re-watch has made me realize my favorite stretch is from the conclusion of the interior play to the moment Claudius sends Hamlet off to England. Why? Because that’s probably the densest stretch of Hamlet being a smart-ass in the entire play, and I do love him when he’s a smart-ass. I’ve thought for quite a while now that he’s probably one of the literary ancestors of Francis Crawford of Lymond.

Meh. I think it’s time to practice that time-honored writerly technique known as “flopping on the bed and staring at the ceiling until I can bludgeon my brain into working.” I have to get these characters to Coldharbour somehow.

0 Responses to “I guess I’ll have to entertain *myself*.”

  1. celestineangel

    If we’re talking Branagh and Shakespeare, my vote will always go with Much Ado About Nothing.

    While I much prefer Branagh’s Hamlet to Gibson’s, or pretty much any other film version of the play I’ve seen, Much Ado About Nothing remains my favorite Branagh Shakespeare movie because his Benedict and Emma Thompson’s Beatrice are simply love.

    • mizkit

      Plus there’s that awesome opening scene with all those beautiful men riding toward the camera… 🙂

    • Marie Brennan

      Oh, I adore that film.

      In general, I want Branagh to go back to making Shakespeare films — at the very least to do a Macbeth. I have an odd relationship with that play; I like it, yet have never seen a production that really worked for me. I wish I could have seen the one Teller (of Penn & Teller) co-directed; it sounded like it was dead-on in terms of what I want.

      • celestineangel

        The idea that Teller made a Shakespeare movie of any sort both intrigues and frightens me.

        I remember wanting to study Macbeth so badly in high school because it was the play I’d heard the most about, and it was supposed to be spooky and awesome (not to mention, I was in drama, and thus learned the superstition involving the name of the Scottish play and not eer saying it on stage or around the stage and perferably just not in the theatre at all, thank you). My senior year English teacher chose to teach Hamlet instead.

        Then, in college, when I finally took the Shakespeare classes, the professor’s favorite play was… Hamlet. To the extent that he spent the majority of both classes on that play and skimmed through the rest. Thus, my experience with Macbeth has been must less than I would like, and very disappointing. 🙁

        As for Much Ado About Nothing, Benedict and Beatrice are my favorite characters in Shakespeare. Benedict is snarky and wonderful, and who doesn’t love a woman who says “Oh God that I were a man, I would eat his heart in the marketplace!” I wibble every time Benedict threatens Claudio (and cheer him on), and I never believe Claudio has redeemed himself enough to deserve Hero, who deserves a more trusting man than one who will believe the first horrible rumors about her without even considering the source.

        Also, also, the garden scene where the men enact their evil plan to make Benedict think Beatrice is in love with him is perfect.

        • Marie Brennan

          Not a movie, sorry — a stage production. Using lots of his stagecraft to work with the apparitions and the like. Among other things, I loved his description of his approach to the dagger scene: rather than the usual tack (where Macbeth’s staring into space talking about a dagger, thus showing you he’s going mad), Teller rigged a way for the image of a dagger to float in midair . . . so the AUDIENCE starts wondering if they’re going mad. In general, he and his co-director wanted to approach Macbeth as a tale of supernatural horror, and wring all the freakiness they could out of it.

          Re: Much Ado . . . pretty much yes, yes, and yes. ^_^ I was very interested to compare the playscript of the threatening-Claudio scene to the way Branagh edited it for film; frankly, I prefer the edit, which shaves off a bunch of random banter between the guys to really focus on that interaction. “I will make it good how you dare, with what you dare, and when you dare” — an awesome line, and awesomely delivered. And yeah, Claudio’s an ass, but he’s an ass very much characteristic of the time (where the only proper thing for a woman to do, upon being accused of inchastity, was to die of injured shame), and Robert Sean Leonard does a great job of selling me on Claudio as the sort of young man utterly carried away by whatever passion happens to have hit him most recently.

          I hated the first stage production of it I ever saw, where they decided to play Beatrice as someone who tries too hard, and isn’t nearly as funny as she thinks she is. HATE.

          • celestineangel

            Oh wow. That does sound incredible. Now you make me want to see it!

            Claudio – You’re right, he is very much a man of his time. But it shows how Shakespeare was ahead of his time; Hero is presented as a character more worthy of sympathy than her typical husband-to-be. All of the liked characters in the play other than Don Pedro turn against him when he turns on Hero, and Don Pedro may be excused because Don John in his half-brother and one may be blind toward the faults in one’s family. Though it could be argued Benedict only turned on him because of Beatrice’s demands, I think there’s also a case for Benedict allowing Beatrice to demand he do what he thought was right anyway, but couldn’t because of the expectations of the time. At least the other men would understand him acting on behalf of his lady.

            /end rant

            Beatrice as someone who tries too hard? Not as funny as she thinks she is? WHO PERFORMED THIS TRAVESTY???

          • Marie Brennan

            Benedick stays with them right when the split happens, before Beatrice even asks anything of him.

            I’d be interested, now, to compare Much Ado with other plays that feature this motif; yes, Hero is presented as sympathetic, but remember also that the play has made it abundantly clear that she’s innocent even before the accusation happens. Do other plays include that element? And if so, how does the playwright present the wronged woman, and those who accuse her?

            Don Pedro’s allegiance, I’d say, has nothing to do with family; Claudio is one of his men. The fault-line between the two groups, with the exception of Benedick, goes along the axis of loyalty: Hero’s household, and Don Pedro’s company. Which fits with the period.


            The Dallas Shakespeare Company, whose summer performances I have otherwise enjoyed to the hilt. My first encounter with Othello was theirs, and I’ve yet to see an Iago I like so well. He had a way of delivering his asides, or even the occasional wordless look to the audience, that just worked brilliantly.

          • celestineangel

            LOL. I should know better than to debate Shakespeare with someone who has actually done research into the time period. 😀 What I know comes from discussion in English classes; yes, we had to discuss history in order to understand why Shakespeare wrote what he did, but it wasn’t the same as actually studying the time period itself. What we got was a highly edited version, edited based on the professor’s particular biases concerning Shakespeare.

            Point being, no way can I keep up with your mad knowledge skillz!

            It’s unfortunate they butchered Beatrice’s character, then, if they’re done so well with everything else. The only company I’ve ever seen perform live Shakespeare is the Shenandoah Shakespeare Express, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen them (they changed their schedule on me!), but they perform with minimal costuming and props, and don’t turn off the house lights (their motto is: “We do it with the lights on”). They change their repertoire every year, so I can’t remember when I saw them perform Much Ado About Nothing, I only have this vague sense of liking it.

            Now, I totally remember their performance of Richard III. I loved it, it was amazing. The most striking thing was their choice to cast a woman in the role of Richard. I can honestly say they didn’t do it only for that reason, because she owned that role, but it certainly made people sit up and pay attention. The SSE likes to play with the historical knowledge that men played female roles in Shakespeare’s time in their casting, but honestly this woman owned the role and owned the stage. Watching her was a truly awesome experience in the strictest definition of the word.

          • Marie Brennan

            Eh, it’s not mad knowledge. You want that, ask me about what Parliament was up to in, oh, April of 1641.

            On second thought, don’t. No, really. <twitch>

          • Marie Brennan

            And I don’t think we were debating Shakespeare so much as geeking it. ^_^

  2. d_c_m

    Oh yes, I’ve been meaning to tell you. The book “The Dumas Club” has a biting commentary on D’Artagnan and the mistreatment of Milady. It is towards the end of the book. Very interesting. I thought of you when I read it. Oh and I did agree with it. 🙂

  3. mmegaera

    I fully expect to be sitting in my rocker, thoroughly enjoying Branagh’s take on King Lear in a few decades. His Hamlet is brilliant in a lot of ways (even if it does have its problems), and there was a period in my life when I was watching his Much Ado regularly whether I needed to or not [g]. And then there’s his Henry V for its sheer chutzpah as well as brilliant filmmaking…

    Branagh was my first fandom (back before I knew that there was such a thing). I’d willingly watch him read the phone book.

    • Marie Brennan

      I hope he does Lear, yes.

      Apparently the man himself is a jerk, but he does do fun Shakespeare.

      • mmegaera

        I’ve been on a mailing list devoted to his work for longer than I want to admit at this point [g] (over a decade), and from the contact I’ve had with him through that list, I can tell you that he is about as far from a jerk as anyone can be. He’s gone out of his way to show his appreciation for his fans, appreciates the charity fund raising we’ve done on his behalf, and has made time to meet with us in person on numerous occasions.

        He is a victim of what the Brits call tall poppy syndrome. Which I find enormously frustrating, as he is entirely undeserving of it.

        • Marie Brennan

          Huh! I had heard a story (many years ago, now) about him being a jackass on set or something, but I don’t remember details — and I’m delighted to hear that he’s got such a good relationship with his fans. I want to like my favorite actors as people, too.

          • mmegaera

            So many celebrities seem to think that the people who made them stars don’t deserve any recognition whatsoever. Branagh is not one of them, thank goodness.

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