Friday Fifteen

So glad it’s Friday! Let’s start the long weekend with some fifteen-word (or less!) book reviews.

1. Beauty by Robin McKinley
My favorite Beauty and the Beast novel. Love that Beauty is close to her sisters.

2. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Excellent look at society terrorized by hate, hysteria. Would ove to see a good production.

3. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
Burton’s illustrations are fantastic, and I love a good inanimate object story.

4. Dawn’s Wicked Stepsister (The Baby-Sitters Club #31) by Ann M. Martin
Not everything’s ideal when your mom marries your BFF’s dad? Who could have foreseen this?

5. Poems on the Underground ed. by Gerard Benson, Judith Chernaik, Cicecy Herbert
Collection of classic and contemporary poetry featured on the Tube. Such a cool project!

The Wise Man Knows Himself to Be a Fool

Happy April Fool’s Day! I don’t like pranks so much, but I love Shakespeare’s fools. More than just a jester, these fools are witty and see beyond the status quo of the play’s world. For example, in this scene from Twelfth Night, Feste (my favorite fool!) asks Olivia why she mourns for her brother:

I love how Feste can address Olivia’s feelings of grief here while reminding her that it’s unhealthy to wallow in mourning.

Another cool part about the fool? They provide musical entertainment! This song is from the end of Twelfth Night. Spoiler alert, guys–happy endings (almost) all around:

So if you’re feeling especially foolish, check out Twelfth Night or another of Shakespeare’s plays featuring a fool.

And if pranks are your thing, there’s a great list of YA prankster books over at the Hub.

Friday Fifteen

It’s a gross Friday in these parts, but it’s also a certain playwright Walt McGough’s birthday, which makes the day infinitely better. To celebrate, today’s Friday Fifteen is all about plays. Here we go!

1. Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring
First play I read. We acted it out in sixth grade. I was Agatha.

2. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
I spent the entire play hating Willie Loman and waiting for him to die.

3. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Inspired a YA short story adaptation. Also “Those are pearls that were his eyes”—awesomeness.

4. How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel
What I imagine Lolita would feel like from Lolita’s point of view.

5. Wit by Margaret Edson
Stunning depiction of a prickly Donne scholar with cancer. Edson’s first play–the mind boggles.

Friday Fifteen

Welcome to March, everybody! They say March comes in like a lion, so let’s start the month with some lion-related books:

1. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Tell me you didn’t open your closet and hope you’d find Narnia.

2. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Song of the Lioness #3) by Tamora Pierce
My least favorite of the series; she’s away from the main cast for so long.

3. The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
Gorgeous take on Aesop’s fable. Try telling me children’s illustrations aren’t fine art.

4. Lionboy by Zizou Corder
Got this for free at the midnight release of Harry Potter #6. Didn’t grab me.

5. The Lion in Winter by James Goldman
Here’s betting your family isn’t as messed up as Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine’s.

Quote of the Day

Valentine’s Day got a little away from me, so this is a day late, but no less swoon-y. When I was in middle school, one of my very favorite books was Cyrano de Bergerac. Poetry, fencing, unrequited love–what more could a shy middle schooler want? I must have read it a dozen times. It’s also the source of one of my favorite romantic quotes:

A kiss, when all is said,—what is it?
An oath that’s ratified,—a sealed promise,
A heart’s avowal claiming confirmation,—
A rose-dot on the ‘i’ of ‘adoration,’—
A secret that to mouth, not ear, is whispered,—
Brush of a bee’s wing, that makes time eternal,—
Communion perfumed like the spring’s wild flowers,—
The heart’s relieving in the heart’s outbreathing,
When to the lips the soul’s flood rises, brimming!

If you haven’t seen/read Cyrano yet, I’d recommend checking it out. Share your favorite romantic quotes in the comments!

Links Galore

Some links to help start the week off right:

To Thine Own Self Be True

ophelia200x200A personality quiz based on Shakespeare characters? Just what Friday ordered!

I got Ophelia and although they don’t give any reasoning for this result, I’m going to assume this means that I’m really trying to hold it together surrounded by a lot of evil and crazy. And I like flowers.

In case you want even more Shakespeare, tonight PBS airs Shakespeare Uncovered, which explores some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, including Hamlet, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest. And heads up, Whovians–there’s an episode in which David Tennant talks about Hamlet.


800px-R_Staines_Malvolio_Shakespeare_Twelfth_NightShakespeare meets social media with these tweet versions of the Bard’s famous works by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes. Best use of hashtag goes to:

Scoundrel talks Moor into believing his wife’s a slut. Dude, it was only a handkerchief. Did you have to KILL her? #facepalm.

My favorite Shakespeare play is Twelfth Night. My tweet version would have to be:

Shipwrecks lead to cross-dressing and missed love connections. At least we can all make fun of Malvolio.#cakesandale

Share your Shakespearean tweets!

(image: Wikipedia)

Our Town and Realizing Life

9780060535254Last night, Walt and I saw the Huntington Theatre’s production of David Cromer’s Our Town by Thornton Wilder. This might be my favorite play ever and this production was stunning. In general, the show emphasizes the fleetingness of life and the importance and beauty of the everyday. Cromer’s production takes this to a new level and I’m still pretty much an emotional wreck about the whole thing. (But in a good way.)

But it also made me think about an article I read recently about the art of being still and how that can help you as an artist. It’s easy to rush through the day and never really notice or appreciate the things and people around you. In Our Town, Emily and the Stage Manager have an exchange:

EMILY: Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?
STAGE MANAGER: No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.

But even poets can get caught up in the rush of day jobs, laundry, making breakfast, paying electric bills, etc. In his article, Silas House suggests that we slow down and focus on the situation around us and ultimately utilize it in our writing:

“We must use every moment we can to think about the piece of writing at hand, to see the world through the point of view of our characters, to learn everything we can that serves the writing. We must notice details around us, while also blocking diversions and keeping our thought processes focused on our current poem, essay or book.”

I like the idea of a focused, hypersensitivity. Even if you don’t focus on a particular project, as a writer it really helps to live in the moment. You’re more likely to notice surprising details or odd characteristics when you’re not thinking about how you need milk or that you should email your friend about dinner. Not only is this important for general quality of life (it all goes so fast and is so beautiful), but it can bring a whole new depth to your writing life.

If you’re in the Boston area, you need to check out Our Town. And if you’re not, you still should check out a copy of the play. So good, guys.