Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Signpost...

This is my final post before I start writing my novel. 

I wondered for a long time exactly what I’d do with this post. I’ve covered my fear. I’ve covered the naysayers. I’ve even covered why I think you should participate. So all of that is behind me.

I’ve decided to keep this short, and put it out there as sort of... a signpost. Often times we look at ourselves and we say, “how did I get here?” We’ll think back to some events, maybe we’ll chart out the events that led us to our current place. I know I’ve done that a little.

But what I wanted to do was leave this here as a reminder of the fact that I at least tried. I started out on November 1st, 2013 with the idea to write a novel about two slackers that have to save the world from an evil actor that sold his soul to a demon, and have it make about as much sense as that.

So, join me here tomorrow, as we begin the prologue to: Mars and Kaplan Save the World.

See y’all in 30.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This Halloween, Have a Piece of Pie... On Shakespeare

As mentioned, it’s that scary time of year, and this is the scariest day in all the scariest times of year: Halloween. Whether you’re planing on going out trick or treating, staying in and eating the candy meant for the trick or treaters, or making sure that everyone on your social media feeds know that this “candy” thing contains sugar, and sugar will eventually destroy all life everywhere, it’s important that you enjoy yourself today. (Seriously, though, if you hand out raisins I fully endorse the egging of your house every day until next Halloween.) Also Happy Halloween to all of you who are going to complain about people’s costumes.

Halloween can be a scary day, not just because of the sheer number of takes you’ll see on the “Wrecking Ball” costume or Miley Cyrus Twerking, but because there is a big push on what to do for this day. Do you go out? Do you stay in? What do you dress up as? (Please.... no more “Wrecking Ball” or Miley Cyrus Twerking Parodies... think of the pictures in about two years.) But what’s most important is: What do you watch?

I have an annual tradition of watching my most favorite of all ghost based Bill Murray movies: Ghostbusters. Of course then in about a month I watch my second favorite ghost based Bill Murray movie of all time: Scrooged. Ah, Bill, is there a holiday you CAN’T make a movie out of? 

But what you you literary types out there? The ones who would like to watch a movie, but still maintain an air of knowing that you’re learning something? Bad Shakespeare is here to help! There are a ton of great movies out their based on literature that are perfect for this time of year. Specifically, movies based on the works of the bard! (I was going to do all literature, but my list was mostly Frankenstein and Edgar Allen Poe. Seriously, read up his stuff. The man was insane.) Presented below is a list of the BEST Shakespearean adaptations for Halloween.

First up is Titus Andronicus. No, not the band that transcends genre but is classified as “Punk.” Here we’re talking about one of the first plays written by William Shakespeare, and definitely one of the first tragedies. It’s about a General who’s caught up in a cycle of revenge and honor with the Queen of the Goths.  (It’s got generals, goths, pies... you’ll love it!) This particular version stars Anthony Hopkins and isn’t really set in any time period, but is one of the most disturbing movies I’ve ever seen. It’s also one of the most violent plays Shakespeare ever wrote, and is probably closer to Saw than it is to what you think of as Shakespeare. This one will give you nightmares.

Next up is the Scottish Play, Macbeth, and I’m including two versions. One is Patrick Stewart’s quite excellent adaptation that moves most of the drama to a war torn country (that’s sort of the standard for William Shakespeare adaptations.) I’m also including an audio version of Alan Cumming one man adaptation, because when he’s not playing Nightcrawler, he can be a disturbing individual. I mean, just listen to it. Anyway, you know what it’s about, blah, blah, blah, witches, blah, blah, blah killing, blah, blah, blah cursed. The whole play itself is cursed. It’s like watching the Ring, only there’s no timeline on when someone is going to drag you down into a well. Or your play flops. I forget what’s supposed to happen here.

Next up: Any version of Othello or Hamlet. Except O. Which was terrible. They actually included a line that said, "I thought Shakespeare wrote movies." Just.... really? And Julie Stiles, you're supposed to be... you know what, I just need a minute. 

       Moving on. You want your horror psychological? How about we drive people mad. Othello is driven mad by his supposed friend, Iago, until he goes on a killing spree that involves killing himself. Iago is one of the rare exceptions to most of Shakespeare’s works in that one of the major villains meets his fate by being arrested, not by meeting the business end of a blade, or poison. He almost gets away with it! Hamlet is driven mad by himself, and possibly ghosts. But mostly himself. I’m throwing the Kenneth Branagh versions of both, because he did a good job. And plus, one of them has Neo in it. Neo, people. Neo.

Finally, Much Ado About Nothing. Why am I including a comedy on this list? Think about how absolutely disturbing this movie is. Yes, there’s the lighthearted romantic comedy between Beatrice and Benedict... oh, young love. They’ll get together, right? Yes, they will, after she asked Benedict to kill his best friend. Why? Because he’s so quick to anger that he throws away his true love once he sees her “cheating”. In a plot that is put together for no real reason or motive. Then when the plot is uncovered, does everyone laugh? No, no they fake Hero’s death. They make the young lover think that the love of his life kills herself. Seriously, people, this is some messed up The Game type stuff going around here. Yes, it ends happy because Shakespeare didn’t feel like having anyone eaten off stage by a bear. People are crazy.

Enjoy your Halloween, everybody!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nanowrimo Haterade

I’ve known I wanted to do National Novel Writing Month back when it was called just “National Novel Writing Month” and when I read about it in the Newspaper. 

Kids, “Newspapers” were things that used to be delivered every day that told us what happened yesterday. Also, we used it as wrapping paper when we were headed to a party in the next five minutes.

Anyway, I did some research on National Novel Writing Month before I sat down to do it, and that’s when I discovered the dark side of the Month. No, not doping. But the Toxic People. Yes, there are always Toxic People that will infect every aspect of your life, and the internet has “fortunately” given them all a voice. (Hooray, he said sarcastically.) It’s the same with National Novel Writing Month.

The first type, of course, are a few other writers who complain about how this month “demeans their craft.” Forgetting of course, that they don’t own writing. This would be like a chef getting mad because people are cooking at home, or a zookeeper mad because you keep lions in your basement. (I haven’t heard anything from the zebras down there... maybe I should go check on them.) 

Of course, then you get the people that don’t get it. Not “getting it” is fine. I don’t get people who enjoy any of the “Real Housewives” shows. Here’s how I deal with it: I leave them alone and I don’t watch any of the shows. It’s a remarkably effective procedure that I’ve managed to employ, and it doesn’t really effect me.

But there’s an odd sub-group of Those Who Don’t Get it, and they want to actively discourage you from doing it. TWDGI want to insult what you’re doing, remind you that “real” writers (apparently those who formed a secret society) take time to craft their masterpieces, forgetting of course that Nanowrimo is merely a challenge to get a first draft out, not a fully polished version of War and Peace. (Although if you really wanted to just re-type that, you could...) “Real” writers do, in fact, write sloppy, stupid, insane first drafts of just about anything, from novels to plays to movies. For instance, the first version of Han Solo was a lizard alien and Darth Vader was not Luke’s father, although he did offer  to go halfsies with Luke if he wanted in on the whole “ruling the universe” thing. Obviously a few things changed.

“Real” writers even change things AFTER the book has been made. The original version of Frodo getting the One Ring in the Hobbit was very different, and a bit more lighthearted than the version that Tolken wanted to write after he realized that it was a murderous ring rather than one that just made him invisible. He wrote up a few versions of it, too. 

My point being that writers always change their drafts, and sometimes even what’s published is a “draft.” So challenging yourself to write a first draft in 30 days is just that... a challenge. Not a binding contract that you don’t edit a single word.

The last group of haters is a smaller one, but some of it can be “veteran” Nanowrimo writers. Last year, I attempted to do Nanowrimo. Harsh instances of life got in the way, and I was forced to abandon my aspirations, at least for that Nanowrimo. Yeah, to those people I’m just a failure who will always fail and why am I infecting their future masterpieces with my failing failure of a fail. FAIL!

Quick side note: This is the minority of those in the Nanowrimo community. As with any community, you’ll always meet those that desperately wished High School lasted forever, and they will be part of the cool clique. However, as I said at the outset of this post, the Internet has allowed that minority to be louder and more obnoxious than ever. 

My response to them is the very Lebowskian: That’s like... your opinion, man. Look, Nanowrimo isn’t an exclusive club. It’s not even really just one month. In theory, I could start a novel on March 29th and Finish it on April 28th if I wanted to challenge myself. I think it’s fun to try.  That’s why I do it. And the fact that you’ve done it before... good for you. But if you need to bring me down to make yours even better, then I feel bad for you. This is about encouragement. This is about tens of thousands of people trying at something, and having fun even if they fail.

Toxic people are all around us. They don’t want you to “win”. Or have a “win.” I also understand that this is easier said than done. Sometimes the 10 voices you have around you saying “go for it!” are quickly drowned out by the one saying, “This is stupid!” The trick is to remind yourself that yeah... this is kind of stupid. Stupid, stupid, fun. See, it’s the really great people in life that take something that’s “stupid” to others, and make it fun. And there will always be people who want you to fail, because it makes them feel better about themselves. To those people, you can only smile and hope they find whatever inner piece they will eventually need to feel good about themselves. They may never.

So, what do we take away from this? That if you’d like to support me, let me hear it. If you want to bring me down, go ahead and try. In 32 days, you’ll get to see the first draft of my book up here. And I’m going to make stupid jokes that I find funny. I’m going to make little references that I enjoy, and maybe no one else. But it’s going to be an accomplishment that’s entirely my own. And then I can remind myself that I’m just that awesome.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Horror Movies That Really Scare Us

Once again, we reach the second scariest week of the year: the week of Halloween. (The first, of course, is the week of President’s Day, when we’re bombarded with Mattress Commercials and the horrifying process of finding the perfect President’s Day Present.) This is also the last week before I start working on Nanowrimo, so it’s a little extra scary. At any moment I fear that a manuscript with a hockey mask is going to come and chase me around a lake. This is why for the past week I’ve avoided both paper and water. And hockey masks, for that matter. I’m like the Washington Capitals for most of last season. (Tip your waitresses.) 

However, have you all looked outside lately? Or at a newspaper? Or turned on the TV “News” Channels where everyone is screaming so loudly that you think you accidentally turned on a horror movie? It’s HARD to scare people lately unless you knock out the wi-fi. Then they can’t check their work email for like, minutes, and what if an important document comes in at 5:00 on a Sunday morning then that big business merger thing might be delayed for almost FIVE WHOLE MINUTES ON MONDAY MORNING! (Cue Psycho music here. If you want to take a minute to download it, then read the rest of this post, feel free.)

Yes, this is the week that you’ll read the cynical posts about how all horror movies have to either work harder because they’ve been deconstructed so many times (Cabin in the Woods, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil) or because it’s a scarier time so they have to tap into our fears such as being watched all the time, (Paranormal Activity or any of the movies that pretend to be Paranormal Activity but aren’t even close to Paranormal Activity), or how they’re just getting grosser (Saw, Hostel, or any movie with a black and white picture of a woman creaming on the cover). And of course it’s the same with any movie season where a bunch of people will complain about sequels, remakes, sequels to the remakes, and the gritty reboots to the remakes. In one case, I know we’re getting a sequel to an original that was recently rebooted.

And don’t get me started on the scary fact that we’re getting another Jackass movie. Harold Ramis and Dan Akroyd can’t get their act together for Ghostbuster 3, but the Jackass boys can put a bunch of magnetic letters together on their fridge so we get another movie where they launch themselves off a roof in a shopping cart wearing a chicken costume with their junk hanging out.

Congrats to Bad Shakespeare on it’s first “junk hanging out” reference! With some of Shakespeare’s plays, I’m surprised it took this wrong.

In any event, you know that Bad Shakespeare is here to help with these things. As any horror movie fan will attest, the best horror movies are a reflection of what society is dealing with at the time. Zombies are just fodder for bullets, “torture porn” showed up when we couldn’t understand why people were suffering, the slasher movies of the 80’s were a reflection of our terror at neon clothing, and giant monster movies reflected our fear of Godzilla.

But rather than the latest zombie movie, or zombie movie parody, or shaky-cam style movie where nothing happens for 90 minutes then something inexplicable happens that scares us before the movie ends, I feel it’s necessary that I help out Hollywood by presenting to you: Truly scary movie plots for today’s more sophisticated, less easily scared, audience. Your welcome, Hollywood. Please send your checks directly to me.

*Wi-Fi Bye Bye: A computer virus knocks out the internet... for the entire world! People are forced to interact with each other! The post office is relevant again! Mail takes four... sometimes five days to get to it’s source! Rather than spending Saturday night checking email for Monday, people have to not work all the time.... oooooohhhh!!

*Zombie Rights Massacre (Part Two.): A Zombie virus is spread across the world, and the dead do rise from the grave. After about a half an hour of terror, the vultures of the world realize that they’ve got a pretty good snack thing going, and everyone realizes that shambling corpses don’t traverse very well up hills, in the heat, in the cold, or if anything even knee high is put in their path, so they’re rounded up and put to work in menial jobs. But wait... then someone sensing opportunity sues on the behalf of the zombies, and they all march on Washington, demanding equal rights.

It actually ends pretty quickly when the vultures realize they’re in Washington, and they all get eaten.

*Fact Checker: A serial killer named “the Fact Checker” targets anyone who posts anything on the internet that hasn’t been fact checked. Eventually spawning copycats, at one point the cult of the Fact Checker has over one thousand members, who all retire because it just becomes too much. Way, Way, too much.  

*Nicolas Cage: The Movie: A biopic of Nicolas Cage written and directed by Nicloas Cage, starring Nicolas Cage. In every role. I’m envisioning this one as an animated musical, that reminds the world that Nicolas Cage won an Oscar, and was a well respected actor before he became a world famous internet meme. Also he once played Superman. (I’m 90% sure that this idea might already exist.)

*The Casting: Everyone loves to read their favorite news on their favorite movies. It was a typical day for actor Stephen Everyactor, who was just cast in the Big Summer Blockbuster. But then, the collective Internet, having never seen Stephen Everyactor in that specific role, decides they disapprove of his casting! Petitions are signed! Commenters are outraged that the person in their head wasn’t cast in Big Summer Blockbuster! Eventually the movie is released anyway, and only makes a billion dollars.

*Andrew Jackson: Werewolf Hunter: Piggybacking of the success of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, this is the tale of how most Werewolves are notoriously greedy, and can be enticed to leave town by paying them twenty dollars.

*Upgradening: Two days after you buy your new sparkly gadget, they announce a new one. This one is filmed in handheld shaky cam style as you go back tot he store and demand a new one, only to find they won’t sell it to you or accept a return, because you’ve burned it out. Filming the experience. In shaky cam style. The movie will start with a disclaimer that the footage was found in a trash can near a store that sells the shiny new gadget. 

*Giant Monster Attack: Seriously... we really aren’t afraid of this? At any moment a mutated lizard could crush us all, why aren’t we taking this more seriously?

Get on it, Hollywood.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nanowrimo 2013: Why Should YOU Participate?

We are about a week and a half away from the start of National Novel Writing Month 2013! If you have been to the Bad Shakespeare Facebook Page, you’ll note that the banner has been replaced with the title with the title of what I’ll be working on and what you’ll be reading for the next month: Mars and Kaplan Save the World. It’s a story that I’ve been thinking about for a while now. Basically, it’s about what happens when the Chosen One fails... twice, and the people trying to save the world from mystical demons have to go with their third choice. I’m looking forward to getting it started and sharing it with everyone.

While preparing for Nanowrimo, I’ve been talking a lot about MY motivations for doing it... I want to be a writer, I want to write a novel, this is good motivations. I’ve also discussed some of the unique worries I have about my particular project, particularly that I’m going to be working on a novel in real time in front of everyone. However, with today’s post I wanted to focus on something more important, that being: why should YOU do it?

Novel writing or writing isn’t for everyone, but that’s not the point of National Novel Writing Month. The point is to get your story out their, and here’s the thing: We all have a story to tell. Think about it, is there one person who’s doing the exact same thing as you at every moment. (Except your stalkers.) Chances are if you answered no to that question (except those of you with stalkers) then you have a unique perspective to bring to the world. And we all tell stories. All of us, in our own ways, even if it’s just telling a good story at the bar to pick up a young chick (or dude) and to impress our friends. (Or make them jealous. Jealous of our awesomeness.) We tell stories all the time, why not write them down?

The whole point of the month is to force ourselves to get those stories down. And when you think about it, that’s really most of life, getting our stories down. And really, what do you have to lose? At any given moment, if the worst outcome from challenge is “nothing changes, I end up where I started” then then it’s not that big of a risk. Why not go online, sign up with the website, and just start trying? Everyone has a story to tell you just have to figure it out, then tell it.

Despite the crushing fear, I’m really looking forward to creating my world and sharing it with everyone. And hey, three people might end up reading it. But that’s three more people than if I just kept it in my head and left it there. (I’m sure more people are going to read it. And they’re going to share it with their friends. Then Jack Black will pick it up to buy the screenplay, and then, finally, my long-form plan to make Emma Stone my wife will finally come to fruition!) But this is an exciting time.

The only real downside is that ever since I noticed I’d have to write 1700 words a day, I’ve been really paying attention to the word counts on Bad Shakespeare... making me a little nervous. But I think I can do it. And I know you can do it, too.

If you do wish to register, make sure you friend Bad Shakespeare on Nanowrimo so we can motivate each other!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Romeo and Juliet: This is Not the Moral You Were Looking For...

Romeo and Juliet is perhaps one of the most adapted of Shakespeare’s plays. It’s also probably one of the more well known, too. If saying the word “Shakespeare” doesn’t envision a dude in tights talking to a skull, chances are you envision Romeo looking up at his Juliet from her balcony. Or you're envisioning a lot of dead people with beards, which is darker, and not relevant to this post.

For those of you who don’t know what Romeo and Juliet is about, then... really? Do I really have to recap the plot of Romeo and Juliet to you? Do you really not know? Or do you want me to do it for amusement? Fine...

The Montagues and the Capulets are fighting like the Sharks and Jets all through Verona, basically trying to kill each other. The Prince finally has enough and tells them to cut it out, he doesn't care who started it, if it keeps happening he'll be the one to end it. (Also, neither family knew who started it. That's important when analyzing the play intelligently, rather than just saying that two teenagers killed themselves for a three day love story. But I'll get to that.) Then Romeo, attempting to catch a glimpse of Rosaline (from the house of Capulet, which begs the question of whether he was romantic or begging for trouble) instead views Juliet, and they fall in love at first sight despite the fact that their parents hate each other (and her arranged marriage to someone else. All minor details when you’re a teenager in love). Later, they both go the world’s worst Friar to get secretly married. Then, enraged that he would dare set foot in a Capulet house, Tybalt (Juliet’s cousin) threatens Romeo and kills Mercutio (The Prince’s cousin... you know, the guy who at the start of the play didn’t want any more killing?). Romeo responds by promptly killing Tybalt, and being banished forever. Finally, through a series of hilarious misunderstandings, both Romeo and Juliet end up committing suicide. Oh, and Romeo kills count Paris on his way to kill himself because not enough people died up until this point. 

(In Shakespeare times it was very important enough people died to differentiate between comedy and tragedy. Remember, Shakespeare once killed a guy offstage by having him eaten by a bear because he couldn’t decide if it was going to be a comedy or a tragedy. Spoiler: It ended up being a comedy.)

So, there are two ways to go from this point on: Talk about the play in general and the famous little internet meme going around, or talk about the movie. I’m going to talk about the movie first.

I enjoyed it. I know they didn’t use ALL of Shakespeare’s words. No one does, all the time. (The most notable times when all the dialogue was used was when Kenneth Branagh directed Hamlet and Thor. Feel free to fact check that second part.) Even Joss Whedon, in an adaptation that I enjoyed immensely, changed a few lines of dialogue (and a gender) in Much Ado about Nothing.  

What this version of Romeo and Juliet really captured, in addition to the age appropriate casting, (A feat not seen since High School Musical riffed this plot.) was the fact that the whole Romeo and Juliet romance is secondary to the main plot of the play.

Ah, the collective sound of gasping. I love saying things that do that.

Ben Affleck will be a good Batman.

Sorry, that has nothing to do with Romeo and Juliet, I just wanted to hear the gasping again. Moving on.

Romeo and Juliet gets a wrap of being just a love story about two teenagers with a huge age difference that get all over-dramatic and then kill themselves. What’s missed in that oversimplified version of the plot is WHY they kill themselves. (Beyond the hilarious misunderstanding of the world’s worst friar. Seriously, he sucks at his job. Big time.) But it’s more than that. The play itself is about two families that hate each other to the point that their kids - who really have no stake in the feud - end up killing themselves because telling their parents that they're in love is a fate worse than death. Literally What’s important in this play is what is NOT said. At no time are we given any exposition as to why the Capulets hate the Montagues. They just do. And they’re willing to kill over it. Remember: Tybalt threatens to kill Romeo over the fact that he set foot in the house hold. (If he’s mad about feet and houses, imagine... naw, that one is too easy.) Romeo refuses to do it because Tybalt is now family. (Ultimately, it’s the Prince who pays the price for that one.) 

This version really seems to nail that. From the get-go, the focus is on the families, not just the doomed lovers. Because of the title, many go straight to the love plot of this play, but in the end, what’s shown is the destructive power of this feud. Loved ones dead... notably the younger people who are the most removed from the feud, and two people who had nothing to do with the feud, and were just in the wrong place or friends with the wrong people. (There’s a nice balance in the number of people who end up dead. Or as nice as it can be when you think about the fact that we’re talking about teenagers dying for a feud.) 

I also enjoyed that this version focused so much on the action in the play... this is a very actiony (is that a word? I’m going to use it as a word) play. First of all, there’s the short timeframe, there’s the fact that it starts with violence, much of the climax is involves violence, and then one more person dies because hey why not, and this version manages to focus on it.

I wish it ultimately had used more of Shakespeare’s original dialogue, mostly because it gets so many other things right about the play, as I just noted. It’s a little distracting at first, but it’s not so distracting as to take away from the moral of the original play (senseless fighting is senseless.) It’s just really more streamlined. Think of it as the Sparksnote version of the play, managing to highlight what’s important without losing casual viewers.
One big advantage to writing a review now is that most of the professional critics have had their say. Yes, I know this didn’t get good reviews. I don’t particularly care for “reviews” from people who have to see so many movies they’ve forgotten what good movies are about. I think it’s important to focus on what works, particularly with a Shakespearean adaptation such as this one which keeps in the good, and is an excellent jumping off point to the original text. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde!

This Blog is called “Bad Shakespeare” because I’m obviously a Shakespeare kinda guy. (Stratford Upon Avon Represent!) I’ve always been a fan of his works, ability to turn a phrase, and the incredibly violent and sexual material that he hides in his work that gets past censors in the name of art. But, this is a blog about many things, including my love of literature. With that in mind, I’d like to honor today, the birthday of the creator of Bunburying (which is extremely popular today) Oscar Wilde.

One of the most impressively named writers of all time, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (this worked to his advantage. When his mother was mad and using all his names, she’d pass out before she could punish him) was born in 1864, and probably best known for his sole novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray and his play, the Importance of Being Ernest, where the whole “bunbury” thing was born. He also wrote many other plays, poems, and short stories, and was actually quite successful up until, you know... we’ll get to that in a minute.

For those of you who have not read any of his works (but probably should), Bunbury was the fictional relative Algernon would have to go visit when he just wanted to get out of social activities. We can pretend we haven’t done this, but all of us at one time or another has used this excuse to get out of doing something. So next time you have to go visit your “sick grandmother” instead of attending your best friend’s girlfriend’s one woman show, you say a little prayer to the man who gave that act a name.

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was also very successful at using art as a way to talk about his issues with Victorian Society. Dorian Gray was an evil man who appeared to be young and successful while all of his ills were cast upon a portrait. The Importance of Being Ernest, in addition to creating an entire term to get out of social obligations, also featured characters that were extremely shallow. Salome and A Woman of No Importance (considered one of the weakest of his plays, but did lend it’s name to it’s own play written about a troupe trying to put on a production of Salome by Oscar Wilde, A Man of No Importance. It’s very Inceptiony, back before that was a term.) also reflected his views, but were so popular they allowed him to get work.

Sadly, despite his success, he died penniless in 1900 after a stint in prison. Oscar Wilde was homosexual, back when that was an imprisonable offense. (Of course, in some places it still is, or people some people still wish it was. It’s nice to know that people still want to keep the same backwards laws that were popular 100 years ago. That’s sarcasm, kids...) One of the most prolific writers of all time imprisoned because of who he loved. There’s a lesson in that. Of course, being a writer, he took those experiences and used them to write, despite the fact that they would not be published until after his death. There’s a lesson in that, too for writers. (Writers WRITE.)

So today, raise a glass and say Happy Birthday to Oscar Wilde! Then feel free to go visit a non-existent relative instead of doing something you’re socially obligated to! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nanowrimo 2013... the Choosening...

By the time you read this, it will be about 20 days until the start of an all new National Novel Writing Month. Unless you read this in the future. Then it will be less time. Or if you’re reading this in the distant future, then it may have passed. If that’s the case, then I’m assuming you’re reading this for my biography, in which case I as your king wish to ensure you get all the information as accurate as possible, so please read closely. I’m sure that I’ve tossed people into the dungeon for less.

October 11th. I’m posting this on October 11th.

In any event, I’m gearing up for National Novel Writing Month.. Nanowrimo for those in the know. Speaking of being in the know, you should feel free to buddy me on the Nanowrimo Website,, and you can follow my progress there. Of course, I’ll also be documenting my progress on Bad Shakespeare! All 50,000 words of it. That’s about 1,666 words a day. That’s a lot of words, when you think about it.

Some people have asked: Why are you doing this? I mean, I have a blog I type on, and sometimes getting to 1,000 words three times a week is difficult. (I’m up to 209 with that last sentence... SCORE!) 

The answer is: Because it’s scary. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve always wanted to compete in National Novel Writing Month, back BEFORE it was cool to call it Nanowrimo. I’m still not very comfortable calling it that. Seems to neat, especially when we’re trying to get our word counts up!

But this, to me, is terrifying. I have a novel and characters planned out... You’re going to be meeting them very soon... but I don’t write in a way where things are planned out very well. A lot of the time, I just sort of start writing with some characters in mind, and then bam! they end up telling me where they want to go. A lot of the characters I write about are real to me. It’s important for me to respect them. If you don’t respect your characters, then you don’t care about them, then you can’t make your audience care about them. Then you can just have them killed by a stray bullet and despite the fact that the main character returned from the dead that season you’ll never see Tara again and then Willow ends up... whew... Joss, call me, I have some issues to work out with that Tara death scene in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

There’s also the sheer nakedness of throwing all of this out there for everyone to read, and this is out there for anyone to read. All up here. On the blog. That will be re-named with the title of my book. But it’s going up here without any editing. Of course, when I submit this to be published, I’ll edit it. And i’m going to submit it to be published, mark my words. Because that’s a promise I’ve made to myself. 

There’s also the incredible time commitment. I can go ahead and knock one of these posts out of the park in about half an hour when I’m just talking about whatever. But this is something completely different. I have to keep everything in mind, I have to keep plot points in tact, and I have to care for however many characters end up having. Until I decide to kill them off. Brutally. And I’ll do it if they annoy me. If I were writing Mortal Instruments, Simon would have been ripped apart by Vampires a long time ago, and then we’d have a party. All of them would. Sorry, Joss, still call me, I’m obviously having issues I need to work out.

Regardless, It took a lot of courage to put this blog out there. I’m finding it’s taking a brand new level of courage to put an entire novel out there while I write it, an to do it in a month.

I’m going to keep pushing this over the next month, that I will be writing a novel, and I will be doing it on Bad Shakespeare. I’m going to need your help in doing it. I’m going to need your feedback and encouragement.

Let’s do this.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In Space, No One Can Hear Me Curl Up Into A Ball and Sob

Tom Hanks be praised... we have had a fruitful Prestige Season thus far.  I just got back from Prisoners and I honestly believe that it will be quite the tossup for the High Movie Council to decide if they’re nominating Hugh Jackman for this or The Wolverine. (Het gets angry in both, but in one he has metal claws. I’d like to think the metal claws will push him over the edge a little...) And it only appears to be getting better and better as the weeks come towards us. 

Of course, with Prestige Season comes the movies you HAVE to see. By the movies you HAVE to see, I means these are the ones that people will go check out, then get in your face and QUESTION YOUR VERY EXISTENCE IF YOU DARE NOT SEE THEM. We recently had one of these pop up. No. Not Machete Kills, that hasn’t been unleashed on the populace, not quite yet. (But promises to be awesome) No, I’m speaking of the George Clooney-iest Space Epic since Solaris, Gravity. For those of you who don’t know, it’s about Sandra Bullock and George Clooney getting stranded in space. People call it Science Fiction, despite the fact that they don’t really have anything that advanced, there are no aliens, and it’s mostly them floating around space for a couple hours. I haven’t seen it. And I probably won’t.

Neil deGrasse Tyson has already made headlines by pointing out all of the scientific inaccuracies in it, thus making it the first movie ever to not be scientifically accurate. But since it makes him mad, you’d think I’d be all over it.

All joking aside, I really refuse to see this movie. I have an irrational fear of dying in space. 

Look, I realize that the chances are greater of me walking outside the house, being attacked by four sharks while being struck by lighting conjured up by Voldemort while a team of Scarlett Johansson clones do cheerleading routines while an audience watches than me dying in space. That’s why:

  1. I called it an irrational fear. It makes no rational sense. I defined it right there.
  2. I’m not an astronaut, and never had any desire to be one.

Now give me a moment to see if I can perfect my Scarlett Johansson cloning machine. Still no.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. My philosophy has always been this: No matter how bad things get on Earth, I can at least make an attempt to escape whatever happens. House on fire? I can try to get out. On a sinking ship? I can try to swim to shore. Being attacked by a bearshark? I can punch it in the nose and run away. Cloverfield Monster Attack? I can build a giant robot and fight it. Scarlett Johansson clones coming after me? Actually I don’t know that I’d try to escape that one... Now keep in mind here I’m not saying “I will survive all of this”. I’m saying that I can try. Make the attempt. If something went wrong in space, what am I going to do? Head for the moon? Take my chances that if I head towards the earth and survive not burning up in re-entry that I’m headed towards the Acme Pillow and Marshmallow Factory?

Like I said, irrational.

Of course, you tell this to people and suddenly, they treat you as if you’ve done a terrible thing like steal Scarlett Johansson’s DNA and started cloning her for your own amusement. Or something similarly bad. Suddenly, this combined with your encyclopedic knowledge of all things Nicolas Cage makes you, “not a real movie fan, because this is the greatest movie ever and what is wrong with you?” Of course, anyone else can refuse a “bad” movie because it stars someone they disagree with, or because they’re not interested. I avoid a good movie, and suddenly it’s a case for my inclusion in the Movie Lovers Forever Club, I guess.

I’m sure that Gravity is a fantastic movie. I’ve heard the cinematography is amazing. I hear the acting is pretty good, but I’d expect no less from the man that destroyed a Batman franchise and the star of two Miss Congenialities. (I do like the actors, just throwing out bad movies out there... maybe ones movie snobs wouldn’t want to see...) I just have no desire to see it. It’s for a silly reason, I realize that. But how is that any less valid than not wanting to see Saw because it has a ton of blood, Machete because you don’t enjoy that type of humor, or Grown-Ups because of it has a ton of Adam Sandler? It’s just a movie I don’t wish to see. Because the thought of being in that situation terrifies me.

Besides, I hear from Neil deGrasse Tyson that it’s got some serious scientific inaccuracies.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why Did They Come Just To Boo Us?

As many of you know, back when I was beautiful, I wanted to be an actor. Well, not a full fledged George Clooney type, but more of a small character actor like Daniel Day Lewis. (I saw this on Twitter, but I can’t remember who said it so I apologize for not being able to properly cite you, but if I meet him I’m totally going to refer to him as “Dan Lewis” like he’s a regular guy. THANK YOU, COMEDY ANGEL!)

The last play I acted in was an Alumni Show for my old High School Theatre program: The Laramie Project, directed by the wonderful R.L. Mirabal. I say “wonderful” because he was, and I say “R.L. Mirabal” because in addition to the fact that he directed it, the people finding my blog goes up because people search for him. That and Breaking Bad Spoilers, and that’s over now. 

The point is, that the Laramie Project has a special place in my heart. I acted in it. (I was several characters. We were all several characters.) For those of you who don’t know, the Laramie Project was written in response to the killing of Matthew Shepard. It was written to show that not everyone in the town thought the same as his killers, and helped to show the human side of a small town, which we all tend to group together in the face of a tragedy. We all do it, that’s part of the human condition. Moises Kaufman wanted to show that the town was more than just “the place that Matthew Shepard was killed” and that it’s important that we remember that.

Which is why when I read what happened during a performance at the University of Mississippi I couldn’t see straight. You see, some “helpful” audience members felt a need to disrupt the play, and yell things at the actors on stage. (Some have identified them as members of the football team. If this is the case, it’s sickening, and they won’t really be punished... if you can throw a ball really, really well, we don’t really punish you... but in the long run, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that anyone thought this was ok. And if that’s the case, you’re a bad person, no matter what else you do.) 

Some of the things that were yelled I’m not going to repeat. I’ve often railed against how words only have the power we give to them. These particular words were chosen for their power, and in my mind makes it worse. 

So, why am I taking a blog that usually covers Science Fiction, literature, and education and am I turning it towards this topic? Because this is something I’m passionate about. Because I remember studying to be in the Laramie Project, and while all of it was necessary, the research was not fun. While I point out that the ultimate message is one of hope - this is a dark play about a dark act. It can NOT be  even remotely ok that this happened.

The response from the school has been pretty good, getting in front of it. Apparently someone from the Athletic Association did send a note of apology. The school is sending the audience members to some special talk where they discuss diversity and hopefully basic manners that these people’s parents didn’t feel a need to impart on them. 

Every once in a while I do see a story that makes me mad. That I do want to write about but I do try to keep these posts light. The rest of the week, we’ve got light posts. Next week, we’ve got light posts, and some cool things down the road. But I just needed to talk about this. Maybe to get it out of my system. Maybe just to take about it for a minute to express my outrage on my forum. But the fact that anyone thinks this ok just blows my mind. What thought process could you possibly have that would make you think this is ok?

Seriously, if you’re that much against something... anything... then don’t go. The big reminder that Mirabal gave us constantly that the people int his play were real people, and we needed to remember that and play them as such. The actors who were performing this play are real people... and need to be treated as such. That anyone thinks otherwise is a huge failing in something. To the people who did this... I hope you learned something. Ultimately, I doubt it.

We will return you to your more light hearted posts tomorrow, I promise. Just needed a day of catharsis.

Friday, October 4, 2013

I'm not a Master Criminal, I just have a Cold.

Howdy regular Bad Shakespearers...

Today you're having a substitute, so be nice... Erin Garland usually blogs over at the Island of Misfit Toys. Today she's blogging here, and I'm blogging there. So go ahead and read her wonderful post about Breaking Bad, then head on over to the island as  I talk about Gilmore Girls!

The time: 2004

The place: Shoppers Food Warehouse

I had just begun my first fall travel season as an admissions counselor. I was in Virginia for some high school visits and college fairs. After a few days of shaking hands with germy teenagers, I could feel a cold coming on. On my way back to the hotel from a day of visits, I stopped at Shoppers Food Warehouse to get some cold medicine. After grabbing some bottled water, Kleenex, and a Colossal Donut (it’s a state law in Virginia that you must buy a Colossal Donut every time you go to Shoppers), I made my way to the cold medicine aisle. When I got there, there were no boxes of medicine just rows and rows of cards and a large, glaring sign hanging above them:


So accusatory, so many capital letters. The sign was so odd to me – this isn’t how things worked in New Orleans. My head was already throbbing and this just made me feel worse. I picked up the card for my medicine of choice and went to the pharmacy counter. The pharmacist got my Advil Cold and then asked for my driver’s license AND made me fill out a short form that included questions about why I was buying the medicine and who would be taking it. I asked her why I had to do all of this since I didn’t have to back home. Her reply was simple, “You might use this to make crystal meth.” I must have made a horrible face at her since she went onto explain that it was a new state law (and would be across the US) that all purchases of certain OTC medicine had to be registered because the ingredients contained alcohol (cough syrup) and/or could be used to make meth. She also wouldn’t let me pay for my other purchases at the pharmacy.

I contemplated this conversation as I waited in line to pay for the rest of my stuff. Now everyone with a cold or sinus infection was a suspected meth dealer? Is this really how the world works today? It seemed harsh and somewhat accusatory. I just had a cold; I wasn’t a master criminal.

Flash forward to January 2008. The cable station AMC debuts a new show called Breaking Bad starring the dad from Malcolm in the Middle as a high school chemistry teacher who finds out that he has terminal lung cancer. Worried about how to provide for his family, he decides to start cooking and selling meth with a former student of his. He turns to a life of crime to provide for his family. And he uses science. Five seasons later, lots of people have died, bad things have happened, there’s Shakespearean level intrigue, and some damn fine writing and acting.

Here’s the thing: I don’t watch Breaking Bad. I tried to get into the show TWICE but I just couldn’t. It doesn’t really appeal to me. I’ve seen all of the first season (because I wanted so badly to get it like the rest of the world) and part of the second season. But then I just gave up. I moved onto to other shows and stuff that I did/do like. I had a hard time getting past how depressing the show was and how unlikeable almost every character is. Do I like Walter White? Do I hate him? What about his wife? Or Jesse? I thought Jesse would be killed off in season one but I guess that didn’t happen. I even hate-watch other shows like Girls so I am capable of watching a show that has mostly unlikeable characters but awesome writing. But I couldn’t do it with Breaking Bad.

Just because I don’t like the show doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what it is – inventive, unique drama on tv. The show is considered, by many, to be one of the greatest dramas of all time and has won many Emmys and lots of critical praise. I can’t go a Sunday night without my Facebook feed being taken over temporarily by posts about the show. Bryan Cranston, who plays Walter White, is amazing. Even though I didn’t commit to the show, I can still see the awesomeness in his portrayal of Walter. And it was such a dramatic departure from Hal on Malcolm in the Middle. I don’t know that I’ll ever watch that show the same again.

Breaking Bad is significant because it’s part of the ever-growing group of creative and exciting television shows being produced by cable tv networks. This has been going on for years now – HBO, Showtime, AMC, A&E, and IFC have all added their own unique shows into this mix. I’m partial to Girls, Treme, Top of the Lake, and Hell On Wheels and have casually watched other shows like The Wire and OZ. Their network counterparts have a hard time keeping up and usually don’t do as well when they do come up with something more interesting that the bland sitcoms and soapy dramas that seem to dominate tv these days (Parks and Rec excluded). Or when a network does have an inventive show, it gets taken away from us too soon (I’m talking to you Fox and you ABC Family – you know what you did with Firefly and Bunheads). Shows like Breaking Bad give me hope – hope that the entertainment industry isn’t totally bankrupt of creativity and focused on feeding us recycled plots and characters. It’s important to keep watching and talking about shows like this even if you don’t like them personally.

My favorite AMC show is Hell on Wheels now in its third season. It’s a show about post-Civil War America and focuses on westward expansion through the building of the transcontinental railroad. It’s smart and interesting and the characters aren’t always likeable either. For the history nerd in me, it’s an interesting look at the idea of American invention. So much of what the characters are dealing with are still things we deal with today as we think about society, culture, and politics. One could make the same argument about Breaking Bad. It’s definitely a window into a part of society that most of us don’t think much about.

Unless we have a cold and have to buy cold medicine. Then Walter White is all I think about.
For all my fellow non-Breaking Bad brethren out there, here’s a little funny from our friends at Buzzfeed.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

This is the Story of a Blogger that Wanted to be More of a Writer...

the time of this post, it is October 1st. Normally I do them a week in advance, but I was all thrown off by wanting to get my Breaking Bad finale analysis up in a fair amount of time. We may discuss it more in the future, but at this point I think it’s time to just let Breaking Bad rest and marinate with it’s audience. I stand on my statement that it’s like fine Shakespeare... extremely satisfying to see the bad guys end up in chalk (thanks for the phrasing, Thug Notes!) a little difficult to think about the destruction that reigned down, but right now I need time to think about it more. I plan on writing up a lot more about it down the road, when I have time to really watch it as a whole story.

Here’s the thing about Breaking Bad... it inspires me. Not to get a porkpie hat and start cooking up an illegal drug (ok... maybe the porkpie hat. I think that would make me look too awesome.) but to write. I also feel that way about Arrested Development. Both are finely crafted shows about people who’s behavior is kind of despicable. Both focus on the importance of family. Both use foreshadowing, flashbacks, and symbolism to tell it’s tale. Both feature a bald man who’s intentions are very ambiguous... but that’s all besides the point, this is a post about inspiration and doing something with it, not how Breaking Bad is like Arrested Development, only one goes the comedy route, the other dark tragedy, much like A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a parody of a Shakespearean play, down to including a funny version of Romeo and Juliet at the end, then having one of the main characters directly address the audience. 

Moving on.

As you can probably tell from this blog, I enjoy writing. I enjoy coming up with little worlds. I made a promise to myself at the start of the year, this would be the year that I finish a novel. As some long time readers may recall, last year, I attempted to take part in NANOWRIMO... the way the hip kids talk about National Novel Writing Month. Unfortunately, my plans got derailed at the start of the month because sometimes plans get derailed it happens. But I thought about it, and I really regret not finishing what I started.

So, this is to announce that in one month, Bad Shakespeare is going to go dark with zero new posts about the topics I love: Teaching, Education, Science Fiction, Literature, New Books, Breaking Bad, Arrested Development (I’m really going to have to write up that post now)... no new posts. If you recall last year the plan was to report at the end of each month the progress made and what I where I was going, while posting bits and pieces. Of it. I won’t be doing that this year.

This year, I’m going to be posting my 1500 words a day live, to Bad Shakespeare, as I write. That may mean that it’s not going to be the best novel, and some of it may involve going back to doing rewrites, but it also means exposing the innermost workings of my imaginary world to you. Which also means about 30 new posts for the month of November. I’m toying with the idea of changing the name for the time being, briefly, to the title of whatever I’m working on. 

Why announce it? And why announce it now? I’m announcing it now because it’s a month away... I need to prepare. And I’m announcing it here to keep myself accountable. Back when I was beautiful, I had a dream. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write a novel. Not even a the Great American Novel (but not as low as the Great Canadian Novel) but one that entertained people. And I let a lot get  in the way of that. So, no more. I talk a lot about carpe diem, grabbing life by the throat and doing something... so now I’m going to do something about it. Let’s do this thing.

In the meantime, I hope to bring you all of the regular posts I usually do, with maybe a little information about what I’m planning to write. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to email with them. Or post it directly to my Facebook page. (and like it. If I get four more likes, I win a free toaster. I think.) 

In the meantime, I need to start working on my Breaking Bad/Arrested Development crossover fan fiction...