This day is called the feast of Crispian

I’ve had a fondness for Kenneth Branagh‘s version of Henry V ever since its relative box-office success almost exactly 30 years ago seemed to validate my undergraduate thesis (which I’d just defended the previous spring) on Shakespeare as the writer of popular entertainment, rather than highfalutin court plays (using Henry V and some analysis of the size of Elizabethan theater audiences and London’s population as my arguments). Possibly the shortest English Literature thesis on record at Reed College.

Anyway, today is St. Crispin’s Day, a day that I’ve observed a number of times in the past years, so here’s the man himself with the speech that gave us “band of brothers.”

And here is a sample of my latest Shakespeare fix, David Mitchell in his show Upstart Crow, which continues to prove my point.

The Evolution of the Digital World

Several years back, Rob Ford of the FWA contacted me to ask some questions about my minor role in the history of online multimedia for a book he had been working on. I was both flattered and flabbergasted. Like so many labors of love, there have been a number of deadlines that came and went for the project’s release, but apparently Web Design: The Evolution of the Digital World 1990–Today (Taschen) has finally reached gestation, and Phillip Kerman caught a glimpse of my first book’s cover in Rob’s unpacking video, posted on his Amazon author page.

Flash Royalty

Going through the site and cleaning up some old links, I ran across a post I did on the tenth anniversary of the publication of Special Edition Using Macromedia Flash 5. That post was published eight years and one week ago, so the book is barely legal!

That post, in turn, referenced one from 2009, where I originally mentioned that the royalty statements I was still getting from the book only had me $700 in the hole to the publisher on my advance payment (the sales of the book never having earned enough to pay me a portion equal to what I’d received after completion—the advance—and sales after eight years having slowed somewhat).

In 2011, I’d provided the updated figure, which had been reduced by almost $50 over the intervening 28 months: -$658.70. 

You’ll be happy to know that in the statement I have before me (yes, I’m still getting monthly printed statements even after 18 years), that baby’s still earning 12¢/month from my share of electronic subscriptions, and the intervening period has seen the balance I owe reduced to $535.32. That’s $15.42/year even after a decade in print! So I should be even sometime around 2054.

I look forward to these monthly reminders of my mortality.

Once More Unto the Breach

And Crispine Crispian shall ne’re goe by,
From this day to the ending of the World,
But we in it shall be remembred;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers:
For he to day that sheds his blood with me,
Shall be my brother: be he ne’re so vile,
This day shall gentle his Condition.
And Gentlemen in England, now a bed,
Shall thinke themselues accurst they were not here;
And hold their Manhoods cheape, whiles any speakes,
That fought with vs vpon Saint Crispines day.

    Henry V, William Shakespeare

St. Crispin’s Day

Has it been a month since my last post, already?

And Crispine Crispian shall ne’re goe by,
From this day to the ending of the World,
But we in it shall be remembred;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers:
For he to day that sheds his blood with me,
Shall be my brother: be he ne’re so vile,
This day shall gentle his Condition.
And Gentlemen in England, now a bed,
Shall thinke themselues accurst they were not here;
And hold their Manhoods cheape, whiles any speakes,
That fought with vs vpon Saint Crispines day.

Henry V, William Shakespeare

Forty-Two

It was ten years ago today that Douglas Adams died. Adams was just a couple of months past his 49th birthday, and I’m coming close to the half-year mark, so I guess I’ve outlived him, but then there’s the whole quality v. quantity debate.

I was working in a sci-fi bookstore when pirate cassettes of the original BBC Radio version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy hit American shores. Dupes were eagerly passed around among nerds and geeks; I’ve probably got mine in a box somewhere still. I remember being astounded that there was still radio work being done, it certainly wasn’t something you found on US stations.

I didn’t follow Adams’s career through it’s entire arc—I got off the sci-fi-mode, then out of books—but I remained aware of his impressive body of work, and the love of the fans.

So long and thanks for all the entertainment.

The Play’s the Thing

Barbara and I were talking about Reed playwrights after watching the rebroadcast of the second episode of Treme the other night. Eric Overmyer (’73) is executive producer and writer on the series—set in the months after the flooding of New Orleans—and he’s also worked on a couple of other critically-acclaimed shows: Homicide: Life on the Streets and The Wire among them.

Today’s mail brings a flyer from the Reed Alumni association about Lee Blessing who graduated a couple of years before Overmyer. Profile Theater, in the Theater! Theatre space in my neighborhood is doing a staged reading of Blessing’s new work, When We Go Upon the Sea, in a couple of weeks (in addition to producing several other Blessing works this year). I cannot recommend Fortinbras enough for serious but humorful Shakespeare aficianodos.

When We Go Upon the Sea is described in the flyer as exploring “a future, in which President George W. Bush is put on trial for international war crimes.” I have to say that I find this sort of amusing because the one act play I wrote for my playwriting class twenty years ago at Reed was “Ollie North, 2000 A.D.,” with a sort of similar premise. It starred my classmate (not from playwriting) Scott Quinn as Ollie North, local cinephile D.K. Holm as The People, and Barbara as Fawn Hall. I lost my digital copy years ago but D.K. gave me a copy of the script a few years ago. I may have to dig it up and wander over to the show.

Band of Brothers

I predict a good night for poker on this, St. Crispin’s Day.

And Crispine Crispian shall ne’re goe by,
From this day to the ending of the World,
But we in it shall be remembred;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers:
For he to day that sheds his blood with me,
Shall be my brother: be he ne’re so vile,
This day shall gentle his Condition.
And Gentlemen in England, now a bed,
Shall thinke themselues accurst they were not here;
And hold their Manhoods cheape, whiles any speakes,
That fought with vs vpon Saint Crispines day.

Henry V, William Shakespeare

Best wishes, too, to Tomer Berda who’s off to Vienna for the latest leg in the European Poker Tour, which begins tomorrow. You can follow live action reports from Austria on the web via Poker News (they also have a great iPhone app).