Books I Love

Who Else Thought the Orc Read Shakespeare?

Orc blog pic
Original image of Uruk-hai_statue.jpg by Hermann Kaser from Derby, United Kingdom via Wikimedia Commons.

In Harp Lessons, Sarah’s Mom and her friend, Mary, tease each other about “leading the pigeons to the flag,” something that Mary garbled from the Pledge of Allegiance when they were kids. Originally, I wanted to use garbled lyrics from my grandmother’s cousin, Flossie, but it would have meant trying to obtain permission to mention copyrighted material, and my deadline wouldn’t allow it.

I always found her garbled lyrics hilarious. They had listened¬†to “Catch Us If You Can” by Dave Clark Five. When the song was over, Flossie asked, “What’s a ‘sifyoucan?'”

Maybe it’s related to a snipe? ūüėČ

The first several times I watched The Two Towers, there was a scene that just baffled me. Merry and Pippin are captured by the Uruk-hai and are on their way to Saruman. The night when the Uruk-hai insist on a break from their endless run, some of them suggest eating the hobbits.

One of the orcs (several of them voiced by the ultra-talented Andy Serkis), says a line. I hear:

“Just a mouthful. A pound of flesh.”

*giggle* I just can’t see that dirty orc sitting down with his copy of the¬†Merchant of Venice and attempting to analyze the motivation behind Shylock’s blood thirst. And I don’t think that Tolkien would have agreed with that portrayal either.

Time to turn on the subtitles.

Oh! It’s “a bit off the flank.” Hahaha! That makes more sense.

I’d Love To Hear From You!

Did you hear what I did in that Uruk-hai scene? Do you know what a “sifyoucan” is? What are some funny ways you’ve misheard lines or lyrics?


What’s In a Name?

You may think we're William and Charlie, or even Peter or Spiderman. But really, we're George.
You may think we’re William and Charlie, or even Peter or Spiderman. But really, we’re George.

If you have a sibling, especially one of the same gender, you were probably called by the wrong name from time to time. Growing up, my parents would occasionally call me by my sister’s name. I never understood why. After all, I had perfect recall of my classmate’s names. Why couldn’t my parents get two simple names right?

Then I became a mom of two boys. ūüėČ Enough said.

Charlie is the twentieth grandchild on my hubby’s side of the family. My mother-in-law just calls all her grandkids¬†George.

Sometimes I want to do that with my characters. Every so often,¬†choosing a name comes naturally, other times it takes research.¬†I try to pick character names that have meaning for their role in the story. For example, I chose Ardan for the main character of The Stone of Kings because it means “high aspiration.” ¬†An average reader probably wouldn’t pick up on it. But for those like me who revel in detail and happen to know the meaning, we realize from the start that there might be more to this clumsy little orphan boy.

Other name selections are more personal, like Sarah McKenna from Harp Lessons. She’s a fictionalized version of myself at that age, so of course her initials had to also be SM. Grandma Maggie is my Grandma Caroline and the story of letting strangers wander into her house for tea in case they were thirsty came from Grandma Caroline about her friend Maggie. ūüôā

*giggles* And then there’s George. I couldn’t think of a name when I created the character in Harp Lessons, and I didn’t have time to research something at the time, so I borrowed the trick from my mother-in-law, and simply called him George. In The Stone of Kings, Hannah’s little brother (and Ardan’s alias) is also George. And in my NaNoWriMo book (tentatively titled The Secrets of the Kennel Plantation), George is the family name for the Kennel descendants.

The benefit of naming characters in a story, is that we, as authors, happen to know the character’s story and can name them accordingly. As parents, we have no idea what our children will grow up to do. My boys are William and Charlie, named for Shakespeare and Dickens. Will either of them ever grow to be great writers? I have no idea. But hubby agreed to their names because he was thinking of William Wallace and Charles Ingalls. I’ll be proud of them no matter what they choose to do with their lives as long as they live honorably. Personally, my mom happened to be watching Family Feud just before I was born and thought that the contestant named Shea had a pretty name. ūüėČ

Do you look for meanings in names? Were you named for someone famous? Were you named for family? Have you ever looked up the meaning of your name and found that it totally described you? Does it not describe you at all? If you’re an author, do you have a particular method for choosing your character names?

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo

#13 Thoughts on Shakespeare?

Image attributed to Tracy, from North Brookfield, Massachusetts, USA via Wikimedia Commons.
Image attributed to Tracy, from North Brookfield, Massachusetts, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

Ha! I even already had an image from a long ago post on the subject. Well, feels like long ago, anyway.

I loved studying Shakespeare in college. I know I took at least three classes which focused on him and his plays. My favorite class was online at USF and studied how different scenes had been produced on-screen in different ways. We usually had to explain why we agreed or disagreed with the interpretation and cite our answers with evidence from the text.

Talk about an in-depth approach!

As a kid, my parents used to take my sister and I to Shakespeare in the Park. I remember being mesmerized by scenes, but of course, I had no idea what was going on. After all, the actors spoke (what I thought at the time to be) Old English. But the construct and flow of words still pulled me in and I was hooked on that wonderful iambic pentameter.

I have an easier time understanding the plays these days, though I still pull out my trusty Bevington¬†if I want¬† to make certain that I’ve got a firm grasp of a scene. Some of the more archaic terminology continues to elude me¬†unless¬†I look up the¬†definition.

But my, aren’t some of these words fun?

Robustious periwig-pated, bare bodkin, orisons, argosies, beshrew, peck of provender, scambling…

Why did they ever fall into obscurity?

My favorite play is Hamlet and my favorite production is the beautiful Kenneth Branagh version, though I enjoyed the 1980 BBC version as well. I loathe the Mel Gibson version. I felt Gibson put too much of his own spin on the character and lost all the charm that Shakespeare put into him. I’d go into more detail, but it’s been too long since I’ve seen that one, and I have no desire to subject myself to it again.

As a final note, yes,¬†we named our first son¬†William because of Shakespeare. Though hubby will tell you that he’s named for William Wallace. ūüėČ

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 10,744

Friday Fun

Yet More Kid Stuff for Friday Fun!

Prince William! Wait, wait, wait... you're named for Shakespeare buddy.
Prince William! Wait, wait, wait… you’re named for Shakespeare, buddy.

Daddy: Do you want to brush teeth the old-fashioned way?

Charlie: No, the new-fashioned way!

Charlie- Age 3


William: Do you remember when I had that really bad poop?
Mommy: Yes.
William: Did you take a picture of it?
Mommy: Um, no. Why would I do that?
William: Next time I have a bad poop, take a picture of it.
Mommy: *thinking* I’m glad you’re a healthy kid, because I don’t want to take a picture of bad¬†poop.

William- Age 5


Neighbor, with a plate of cake for Charlie: Is this my cake?

Charlie, quickly and matter-of-factly: Nope!

Charlie- Age 3


“Mommy, what’s ‘trilled’ mean?” This was William’s question while listening to Veggie Tales: Larryboy and the Fib from Outer Space. The fib character has an Italian mobster accent and says, “You’re father’s not gonna be too thrilled.”

William- Age 4


What are some of the awesomely funny/sweet things your kids say and do?

Books I Love

Remembering The Globe

Attributed to Tracy, from North Brookfield, Massachusetts, USA.
Attributed to Tracy, from North Brookfield, Massachusetts, USA.

I was fortunate while finishing my Literature degree at USF to be able to attend the summer study abroad program at Cambridge England in 2005 (a big shout out to my hubby for facilitating that!). While there, there was no way that I was going to pass up the opportunity to attend a play performed at Shakespeare’s Globe. The only night that I was able to go offered a modernized production of Pericles, Prince of Tyre. I managed to read the first half of the play before attending, but I have yet to actually see the play through to the end.

I was so disappointed.

I’d taken numerous college courses on Shakespeare including one which focused on effective theatrical accounts of the plays based on textual evidence from the scripts. Perhaps this was my undoing and why I had no problem with leaving the playhouse to catch the train before midnight back to Cambridge.

I’m not stuffy enough to say that it was because only “traditional” productions are the best. One of my all time favorite Hamlets is Kenneth Branagh’s set in the 19th century. In fact there were parts of the Pericles play that weren’t even in the script that I somewhat appreciated, but it was also where I started to say, “Hey, come on now. What are you guys thinking?”

In the production I saw, they had an older version of Pericles looking on his younger self during the play; much like Scrooge with the Ghost of Christmas Past. This wasn’t in Shakespeare’s script, but I was okay with it and looked forward to what else they would offer.

But then each Pericles spoke their lines.

The young Pericles (quite appropriately) spoke with a mediterranean accent, while the older Pericles spoke with a decidedly British accent. Huh. Maybe they thought that they could pull off what Madonna couldn’t? I mean, come on, they were supposed to be the same person! So much for continuity.

Then came the tournament in Pentapolis. We were subject to sit through about 15 minutes of acrobatics and rope tricks. While they were impressive, it added nothing to the story. Just after the intermission, the “narrator” came out and made a big speech about how he knew we were all thinking “This is not Shakespeare!” but then made some argument about how Shakespeare would have loved it. I’m sorry, but he just did not convince me.

Maybe I haven’t studied enough plays, but I never saw where Shakespeare added spectacle except where it moved the story along. He might have enjoyed the stunts, but I feel as though he would have wondered at their point.

The point where I finally left was when Marina was trapped in the brothel. I hadn’t read that far, and if the actors were trying to do Greek accents, it was lost on me. They were speaking Shakespeare’s Early Modern English with really thick Italian accents. I had no idea what they were saying anymore, which was a shame because the language of Shakespeare is half the fun.

If I didn’t have a train to catch, I might have stuck it out. It was awesome to be inside the Globe and seeing a play performed after all, even if it was a disappointing production. By the time we were at the brothel, I admit, I stopped following the play and simply imagined what it might have been like to attend a play here in Shakespeare’s day. Though I don’t think they had any night performances due to lack of light. The seats were uncomfortable and the groundlings were getting rained on. I felt that the experience provided a testament to the awesome plays that Shakespeare wrote. It just would have been nice to see a production that not only stayed a bit truer to Shakespeare, but also made sense.

I was amused to find a few months later that I was more impressed by a highschool production of The Secret Garden than a British acting troupe at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Do you think I was overly critical of the production? Have you been to the Globe? What was your experience?