Thursday, January 04, 2007

Romance For Nerds: tHANK you, Bellas

We few, we happy few, we Band of Sisters; For she to-day that shares her e-friendship with me Shall be my sister;

OK. So it isn't the "St. Crispin Day" monologue from Hank V.

So sue me, already.

But anybody who knows me reallyreally well, knows three things:

1. I worship Kenneth Branagh's Henry V.
2. I can't find enough reasons to manipulate the "band of brothers" line from the "St. Crispin's Day" monologue.
3. I loves me my Bellas.

Many Italians give their friends gifts on their own birthdays. I'm just saying grazie mille to you for how magnificently you showed me the love yesterday by giving you a

Gift of tHANKs (V)

He was unsure of himself, yet he was powerful in uniting his men at Agincourt with the famous, rousing SCD mono.

He was a valiant warrior, fighting beside his men, pissed as hell when the enemy slaughtered the boys carrying English banners into battle.

And after those vile, stunning, glorious battle scenes, Henry cleans up real well and becomes every English Major's Dream, delivering what was, like, the best rap ever by a guy trying to pick up a chick who doesn't speak his language.

Have you seen Branagh's Henry V? Forget not being able to pick up half of what's being said, what did you think of dreamy Hank himself? (yes, I know my summa cum laude sticker's gonna be rescinded by the hoity-toity police for that one). What are your favorite Shakespeare plays -- or -- more important, what are your favorite romance novels based around Shakespeare's works?

If you haven't studied Shakespeare, just tell us if you've seen any good Kenneth Branagh films, or, perhaps like me, you think he was at his best when he was with Emma Thompson...


Encore! julieinohio, you've been randomly selected as the winner of yesterday's "'Show Me the Love' Day"$25 gift card from Barnes and Noble. Email me at .

Encore due! Pat, Marie, Jennifer, Marilyn, Ellie, and Cryna -- you've each won one of my favorite novels! I'll be emailing you with the good news!

Congratulazone, and thank you once again, Bellas,

for making my birthday so genuinely special!


Billie said...

I made the mistake of taking Shakespeare my second semester in college--talk about terrifying! Even though it was scary taking a senior level class as a freshman, I'm very competitive and was taking the class with a very smart friend so with alot of hard work I managed to get an A for the class.

One of my favorite works that we studied was Much Ado About Nothing. I loved it--and the movie with Kenneth and Emma as well. Fortunately it was a play that we studied later in the semester so that by the time we got to it I could actually understand it.

Kati said...

Mornin' Bellas! Michelle, hope you've recovered from your toothache from all the "treacly" sweetness around here! :BIGGRIN:

Mmmmm, Branagh. I love him. My favorite Branagh movie is "Much Ado About Nothing" which he both acted in and directed. Followed very, very closely by Dead Again, which admittedly is not a Shakespeare play, but is brilliant nonetheless. I firmly believe that he's never again had the kind of on screen chemistry he had with Emma Thompson, who, let's face it, it the living end when it comes to British actresses (with the exception, perhaps, of Dame Judi and Dame Maggie).

I've never seen Henry V, but I love Branagh!

My favorite Shakepeare related movies?

Shakespeare in Love (Joe Fiennes has one of the best sets of bedroom eyes I've ever seen!) and Ten Things I Hate About You (young Heath Ledger).

Julie in Ohio said...

oops... The uneducated me hasn't studied Shakespeare(but have read a few), the only movie I'm familiar with KB is Frankenstein (but I really liked it) but I adore Emma Thompson.

I love Romeo and Juliet. True love never has it easy...
Taming of the Shrew is just hilarious. I love an arrogant anyone who gets their comeuppence...

My fav book based on Shakespeare would have to be Ms. James's Pleasure for Pleasure. Although I'm not familiar with Shakespeare's version, but after reading Eloisa's, I want to look it up.

I'm so glad you had a good b-day, Michelle. {BIG HUGS}

The Girl You Used to Know said...

I was so sad when Kenneth and Emma broke up. They were beautiful together, and like you, I think Kenneth was at his best when he was with her.


Monica Burns said...

See! This is EXACTLY why we connected!! *grin* Henry V is my all-time FAV Shakespeare play, and KB is the ultimate Henry. Everyone says Olivier was the best Shakespearean actor ever, but I label Branagh as far superior to Olivier.

KB's Band of Brothers soliloquy is IMHO the most incredible piece of inspirational pep talk on film. Branagh's passion, fire and complete immersion in the part was absolutely the most memorable scene in a movie for me. I was ready to grab a sword and go fight at his side. To think the English were outnumbered 4 to 1 and still beat the French. THAT's loyalty and devotion to king and country. I often pull out the movie just to watch that single scene when I'm feeling like I'm the underdog without a chance of winning.

Another Branagh movie that I love to watch over and over again is Dead Again. He stars in it with Emma when they were married. It's a fabulous whodunit story about love and murder. WONDERFUL film, and you MUST watch the entire beginning credits with only the music to fully understand and appreciate the subtleties that run beneath the surface of the movie.

Hugs, Mon

Monica Burns said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Monica Burns said...

ARRRGH!! Bloody Blogger! Does this software not know that ONE means ONE not TWO! Sorry for the duet here.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Ah, behold the Kenneth lovefest!! You don't have to have read Willie to know that Kenneth was on to something in Henry V. One of my profs told me she saw it in England and the entire theater sat stock still for one or two or minutes after it ended.

So if KB could get us Americans all riled up, imagine what it did for his countrymen. I mean, that battle at Agincourt was miraculous, well, except for the illness that spread through the ranks of the French, I think, and gave the English one advantage. But I'm not a war historian, so do not take me to task for my ignorance of maneuvers, etc.

The English also had the lonbow, and totally went kinda midieval w/ em. And we've all heard the legend of why fingers are crossed for good luck? Longbowmen needed the fore-and middle finger to shoot. So if they were captured, the enemy hacked em off. Some say the flipped bird emanated similarly from longbowmen flipping it to show the enemy they had it so they could shoot. Others similarly say what we call the V for victory or peace signs were flipped and are considered vulgar in England. Maybe our friends could tell us. That would really change the gist of Churchill's V for victory, couldn't it?

Hmmm...I'm starting to feel really nerdy...

Adriana said...

Okay, I'm going to start sounding like a broken record. I love when a superb writer creates characters who know and love Shakespeare, so I was a total sucker for the Midsummer Night's Dream ambience in P4P by Eloisa James. The whole book is infused with the magic -- the stars painted in the turret room, the glowing crystals (okay I'm working from memory here) hung in the garden the night -- oops, don't want to give anything away, anyway it's magic from start to finish.

Turns out we love writing it, too. That "dream vacation" to a gingerbread cottage at Stratford-Upon-Avon? Gives our H/H in an upcoming release a chance to go see Comedy of Errors, which is crucial to our plot... great fun to play with, more in the works!

Oh, and totally loved Henry IV and the famous speech and the courtship afterwards, great pics too, thanks Michelle! There is life after birthdays!


Julie in Ohio said...


Nobody does party favors like Queen B... :o)

Congrats to all winners.

Playground Monitor said...

'K, I was a psychology major and the only thing in all of that which made sense was (1) you've won one of my favorite novels and (2) Agincourt, which is part of the name of my china (Agincourt Green by Wedgewood). I read Julius Caesar, Macbeth and Hamlet in high school, don't believe I had to read a thing of Shakespeare's in college and have seen the Zeferelli version of Romeo & Juliet and the Maddie Hayes/David Addison version of The Taming of the Shrew. Oh... and there's the Andy Taylor version of Romeo & Juliet too -- gotta love that, especially if you're southern.

If I've read a book with a Shakespeare theme I didn't realize it. See... I was a psychology major. *g*

Marilyn -- who once castrated a rat in her senior psysiology class

Portia Da Costa said...

I loved Kenneth Branagh in Hamlet. I enjoyed the marvellous play of course... but on a purely frivolous level, it was his dazzling blond barnet that prompted me to have my own hair bleached... and it's been that way now for a decade!

Sarah Palmero said...

I am a huge Shakespeare geek. I hand copied the plays in middle school because I wanted them, dangit, and we couldn't afford them.

I had a focus on Shakespeare in college, as a theatre major, studied with the Folger Shakespeare Theatre in DC... et cetera, ad nauseum.

I have seen Branagh's Henry V, and I love it. My favorite play is The Taming of the Shrew, but I have a bizarre and unhealthy love for the historicals. Henry V is one of my favorites, as is Richard III and, believe it or not, Henry VI, Part 3. Yep, read that one too. I've read them allll.

I really like the more obscure plays too. Pericles, A Winter's Tale, Troilus and Cressida...

Julie in Ohio said...

As soon as you think you know someone, they throw out that they've castrated a rat...

Janice Maynard said...

My Shakespeare studies are long behind me, but the man was a genius! Our whole family loves that St. Crispin's Day monologue... and will watch (any time it comes on TV) the Danny DeVito movie, Renaissance Man, where the guy quotes the entire monologue.

An inspired piece of writing!


Kate Davies said...

Ooh, yum! Thanks for the theater geek eye candy, Michelle!

Luuurved Henry V. In college, we'd watch the soliloquy to get hyped up for performances (I was a theater minor). Nobody did Shakespeare onscreen like Branagh/Thompson. I mourned when they broke up.

ev said...

Taming of the Shrew is definately my favorite- in almost any of its incarnations too.Some who know me might say the character was based on me. Rude people would anyway. I dont see the resemblence.

Daughter is taking a Shakespeare class this semester with one of her fav profs. They have to compare a Willy piece to modern day one of it. So he has already told her she can do Taming and 10 things I hate about you. I also bought her my favorite one- Kiss Me Kate. Then she can really go to town on it. surprisingly it is one of the few musicals she hasn't seen, and I don't know why either.

Kati said...

Jules - Seriously! Marilyn is a woman of mystery and surprise! Gardening indeed.

I think we all should take a moment to bow down to the wonder that is Marilyn!

Also, Janice and Kate - HOLY HOT COVERS! My eyes about popped outta my head!

Julie in Ohio said...

*bows head reverently*

Julie in Ohio said...

note to self: Do not make Marilyn angry...

Playground Monitor said...

adjusts the tiara she won from Kathryn Caskie and nods to her awed and frightned subjects

Fear not! I abandoned castrations years ago. While I'm fascinated by all things medical, I don't like blood, which is why I'm not in the medical field. Though there have been a few instances with the DH where I was tempted to pick up a scalpel again... *grin*

I looked up Branagh at and I've seen one movie he was in -- Chariots of Fire and it was an uncredited role. Ha!

Jennifer Y. said...

Congrats everyone and thanks Michelle!

I have never seen or read Henry V. I was a fan of Romeo and Juliet, MacBeth, Othello, etc.

I did enjoy Renaissance Man as well, where Danny Devito taught Shakespeare.

LizbethSelvig said...

I fell in love with Shakespeare in sixth grade when I went to see Len Whiting and Olivia Hussey in Romeo and Juliet five times. My folks had a "Complete Works of Shakespeare" so I looked up the play and proceded to force my cousins and brothers into reading it outloud - complete with dreadful English accents. (They quickly begged my parents to banish me from future family functions until my madness passed.)

Since then my mother and I have shared a huge crush on Kenneth Branaugh (equalled only by the one we have on Sir Sean...)and especially love "Much Ado ..."

Finally, at the risk of being virtually stoned - I really liked Mel Gibson's Hamlet. I saw a discussion he gave on the play with a class of college students and it was really informative. It was Mel who turned my daughter onto The Bard and we dug up every version of Hamelet we could find to compare them. Now Shakespeare is a three-generation love affair. (Although my daughter turned to the dark side with a class in college about whether Shakespeare was really one man. Don't get me going - she actually believes some of the evidence ... :-) Makes for great discussions!)


Kati said...

Marilyn - Didja notice that Ken is wearing a tiara too?

I once was lucky enough to see Sir Ian McKellon do his one man show, "Acting Shakespeare." He's brilliant and was magnificent. As one would expect. I also saw him a Richard III, set in Nazi Germany. Brilliant!

I'm thinking I'll buy tickets for Roger Rees show, much of the same ilk when it's here at the Folger Theater.

Anyone else love The Tempest? I saw Patrick Stewart do it in London.

I love Shakespeare. Lizee, I loved Zepherelli's production of Romeo and Juliet too. I watched it in sixth grade, and of course, had to act like I hated it. But really, I loved it so much. I love Shakespeare in Love's take on the balcony scene.

What does everyone think of the idea that it wasn't really Shakespeare writing all of his works? That in fact it was multiple authors? I'm not sure what to think of that idea, but he certainly knocked it out of the park a whole, whole lot for one guy.

Course, La Nora does too, and I'm sure it's all her writing.

Julie in Ohio said...

LOL, MK! Are you working on a conspiracy theory? :o)

LizbethSelvig said...

Ah MaryKate, I can still hear Olivia Hussey's voice - such a gorgeous accent. It was the first time I knew there was something other than Beatles' Liverpudlian (I was so unsophisticated at 12).

I HATE the idea that Shakespeare was a conglomerate (God forbid we should have theories of enlightenment). I don't remember any of the evidence - except that he was supposedly a cleric of some kind? But the "facts" are always at the ready when I get my darling daughter started! However the works were created they are certainly amazing.

Kati said...

Are you working on a conspiracy theory?

Not me Bella, check this out!

Julie in Ohio said...

I'm sorry but that is just horrible. I went to that website, MK. Why can't they just let good literature be just that?

My opinion- I don't care if Shakespeare didn't *actually* write Romeo and Juliet. It is still a classic work of art. Even if it is "proven" that that Marlowe character did in fact write it, it doesn't matter. People like me will still say it's a Shakespearan play. You can't change history and history very clearly says that Shakespeare is a masterful writer of many a plays and anyone who wants to claim they wrote as Shakespeare is just waiting his breath. He will not be identified as such by the masses.

*stepping down off soap box*

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

OK, you guys, I thought of the Nora conspiracy theory, too. Gosh, to be so prolific.

I remember the Z R+J, too, trying not to giggle when they're in the bedroom. I haven't changed much, have I? And, Lizee? Did you know there were actually other groups besides the Beatles in the 60s? I say groups, because that's what we called them, remember?

mk, I can't believe you brought up Roger Reese, cause I crushed on him in Nicholas Nickleby. He was at Royal Shakespeare Co at the same time Branagh was doin g Hank V there, I think. Oh, and wasn't he on Cheers for a while? Or am I confused.

And just to set things straight once and for all -- because you should know this if you're a reader of historicals -- (ahem) Hank is wearing a crown, as was I yesterday. I've taken it off since. WEll, since I wrote this. A tiara doesn't ring the head of the wearer, it's more of a horseshoe shape, bejeweled at the front, and often sides.

ev said...

I can't get the first pic to dl, so I can't say anything about a crown.

We need a new survey up. Please??

I am heading to Syr for the weekend to see the 'rent and friends. Don't know if I will be on or not, so everyone have a happy if I don't "see" you!!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I know, I know, ev, forgive me. I was kinda on vacation, so we let that feature stand two weeks.

But have no fear, Kathleen Eagle's "Ride a Painted Pony" will be up along with a new package tomorrow.

Have a great time!

Sarah Palmero said...

ev: Kiss Me Kate! Awesome, awesome musical. *runs around singing Brush Up Your Shakespeare*

Lizee: I actually really liked Mel Gibson's Hamlet too. I particularly liked his interpretation of "words words words" and their interpretation of Ophelia's madness. I like Branagh's Hamlet too for different reasons.

I *ADORE*, btw, Oliver Parker's Othello, with Branagh playing Iago. Quite possibly my favorite Iago ever. And how can you go wrong with Lawrence Fishburne?

MaryKate: I don't buy into the multiple author theory behind Shakespeare. Everyone was borrowing from everyone else back then (and heck, still are today) so there are reasons why he might write "like" Marlowe or Jonson or whoever, but I think he was his own man.

Kati said...


Unknown said...

I love Kenneth Branagh too-I got to see him at the National Theatre in London live once-he was marvelous!
Love love love Emma Thompson -and she did okay after KB didn't she? (Greg Wise, Oscar etc etc)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

GREAT point, Kate! Emma's rolled right along. Do you think she'll be Dame Emma someday?

Isn't Iago a wonderful character, Sara?

Janice, how cool...your family quotes Shakespeare, mine quotes A Few Good Men and Pulp Fiction.

JennY, glad to hear you like Macbeth. I mean, who doesn't like to dramatically and forcefully state, "out, out, damn spot," while wielding the Shout in the laundry room? What? Please tell me I'm not the only one...

Playground Monitor said...

You're not the only one.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Phew. Perhaps validation on that point from a woman who once castrated a rat wouldn't work for some, but it does the trick for me.

'night, Bellas! Thanks for droppin in to talk Hank V!

amy kennedy said...

I know Michelle said goodnight--but I have to say, you all made my night--castrated rats, forcing cousins to read R & J aloud, conspiracy theories. This is great stuff.

Saw The Tempest at the Guthrie theatre here in Minneapolis when I was just a kid--I was awe struck.

I could not get over Hussey's beauty in R & J, nor Romeo's butt. It was the first time I had ever seen a boy's naked butt. I believe I was 11 at the time. I also believe if I close my eyes I can still see it.


ev said...

We all run around quoting Mel Brooks (usually History of the World Part 1), Monty Python and MASH. We are so educated, aren't we??

Oh, Piss Boy!!
It's good to be the King!!

Anonymous said...

I'm late to the party once again, but just wanted to say thank you for making me want to go dig out my Complete Works. I fell in love with Shakespeare in high school--living near Stratford (the Canadian one) and getting to see each of the plays when you're done studying them will do that do a person. Anyway, I took every Shakespeare course available to me as an undergrad, but it's been several years since I sat down and enjoyed a play.

I love, love, love KB, especially when he and Emma were together! Somehow I've missed Henry V though, so now I know what to look for the next time I'm trying to rent a movie.

Thanks again!

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