Monday, April 20, 2015

Merchandizing the Bard

It’s high time Madison Avenue took advantage of the Shakespeare Brand.  Of course there have been a plethora of books over the centuries, fiction and non-fiction.  There is a Shakespeare bobble-head figure and some queer looking square teapots and fussy tea cozies. I will admit to owning a William Shakespeare switch plate. These things are PEANUTS! The time is well past due to make real money on the good old Bard. 

Merchandize, franchise, animated films and video games—that’s where my fortune will be made!  Consequently I propose the following enterprises.  Call for a complete list of royalty and licensing fees.  Nothing is beneath me.

Animated movies with their lucrative licensed merchandise are a great place to start.  Picture all those little darlings singing the movie’s theme song, wearing adorable outfits, buying action figures (costumes extra) and filling their rooms with other movie inspired items.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream awards the wise filmmaker who comes up with an enchanting feature length cartoon/film, complete with an entire line of associated products.  Little girls wearing gossamer outfits, Lady Gaga singing the catchy theme based on Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, and boys donning mighty Oberon’s magic robes. Envision Titania figurines and stuffed “Bottoms”—the possibilities are unlimited. 

Animators, imagine Beatrice and Benedick romping through garden and banquet hall, singing of the single-life and surprising love. [Accessories sold separately.] I wonder if we couldn’t move the story to an undersea coral garden and have a charming Little Serving Wench sing Much Ado to You and You at their wedding which would be set in a sea of multicolored kelp? [Florida theme park developers copy.] DREAM BIG—the Bard wrote fourteen comedies!

Expand the experience. A planned trilogy based on the Wars of the Roses and/or the French Wars would delight, not only animated film fans, but also video gamers.  Which Henry will your son want to be? Richard III must be included too. Extra points for unhorsing him!  Heck, maybe six films and associated games for the histories alone.

Video games are gold.  In addition to the Henrys, how about a romp through the Forest of Arden for the kiddies, or action games like Midsummer Mummies and the ever popular Titus Andronicus?  There’s money to be made as Macbeth and the Three Witches fight to gain and keep a kingdom.  Wouldn’t Romeo make a great vampire? BARD GAMES, available for all game consoles.

Think $$$!  Licensed soliloquy heads make great Christmas gifts. Hamlet’s head will sprout “To be or not to be…,” and Henry V’s “This day is called the feast of St. Crispian…” will echo through the winter’s night.  Portia can be heard to speak “The quality of mercy is not strain’d…,” while Romeo declares “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?”  It will be wonderful to hear your children mimic Mark Antony’s, “Friends, Romans, countrymen…” or Macbeth’s “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand…?” or Lady Mac’s “Out, damned spot! out, I say...”   A mashup of the Three Witches would make a great birthday present:  “Thrice the brindled cat hath mew’d, et al.”  (Eye of newt extra.)  Just think how conversation at family meals will be enriched. Baby Boomers can delight in dis-inheriting their children as Lear spouts “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth…” while they spend the kids’ inheritance.  Collect them all:  HEAD ROLES: Educational, Fun and Great for Parties. 

No one could resist this merchandising scheme:  Pithy quotes to go along with that expensive cup of morning java?  Read them while sipping your double extra latte-cappuccino -  “Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall,” “He that dies pays all debts,” “Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage,” “Tis ever common that men are merriest when they are from home,” “For There was never yet philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently,” “You lack the season of all natures, sleep,” and “I like this place, And willingly could waste my time in it.”  JAVA EYE-POPPERS, licensed of course. [Perhaps we could find some lighter fare to adorn a kiddie meal cup of sugared soda?]

Afternoon coffee breaks will become fun, collegial exchanges when cup quotes stimulate conversation with their “SHAKES OF THE DAY” messages:  “Men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them, but not for love,” “Hell is empty, And all the devils are here,” “O beware, my lord, the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on…,” “And do as adversaries do in law, strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends,” “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry,” or “If one good deed in all my life I did, I do repent it from my very soul.”   I assure you, the office will be buzzing.  

New companies will form:  The Sir John Falstaff Weight Loss Program, Portia’s Bail Bond Services, or Lady Mac’s Out, Out, Damned Spot Cleaners franchise.  Plan your next event with As You Like It Catering; Visit Prospero’ Magic Island Water Park; Shop at Twelfth Night Party Goods for your next event; find the perfect mate on Romeo and Juliet’s eMatch, and, if that doesn’t work out, call King Lear’s Family Law for a quote.

Keep those royalties rolling in! Who can resist collectible bric-a-brac?  Every home should have cute salt & pepper sets, bathroom towels, plates, and pillow cases depicting legendary Shakespearean lovers:  Petruchio and Katharina, Rosalind and Orlando, Antony and Cleopatra, Titania and Bottom, Othello and the lovely Desdemona. Well, maybe you should think twice about the Othello bed pillows and the Petruchio plates.

Seriously, the time has come to cash in on this Bard of Avon thing. [BOAT LLC]  Hey, that’s a great name for my merchandising empire!  Call me.

[Sorry, Will. You’re not going to get a brass farthing from BOAT LLC, but Happy Birthday anyway.]

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Don't Answer That Phone!

Have you placed your phone number on the “Do Not Call” list more than once? How’s that working out for you?  We have and it’s continual nuisance calls.  Not content with calls from the USA, we get them from other countries too.  Is this more of a problem with land lines or are cell phones bombarded too?  I have gotten a few on my cell, but the land line teems with them.

When I began my career as a reference librarian I had a request for books on cold calls.  “What in the world were they?” I wondered.  I didn’t realize there were whole books on telemarketing—titles like Maximizing Your Annoyance Score or Invite Yourself to Dinner.  If these books had fallen into my selection area I would have gladly weeded the whole section!  Now I think I just might don my ninja disguise, sneak into the library overnight, and nuke them into oblivion. Fortunately for the annoying person now dialing my phone number I am a law abiding person who would never dream of doing such a thing…

So what’s a pussycat like me to do?  You can let the calls go into voice mail, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying nor does it discourage the callers. My husband and I utilize a number of methods to discourage the bloodsucking, meal interrupting, take-advantage-of-a-senior-today telemarketer.  Actually few of these have worked, but it makes us feel good to try.  Most techniques will have little effect on robotic calling machines, but I do like to press non-approved numbers, like “7” or “8” on the keypad when directed to press “1” (or “2”) now.  Have a little fun with them!

There is the possibility of gratification when a real person is on the other end of line though.  We have begun to answer the phone in foreign tongues, even—no especially—in ones we do not speak. Hubby favors German; I like French which I have a passing acquaintance with; sometimes I get wild and crazy, using a made up language.  Chances are the telemarketer won’t have a clue what you’re saying and will hang up.  I learned this from my literacy students who said that their calls were often cut short when the caller learned that they did not speak English.  Rude yes, but we are talking about telemarketers.  One caveat however, once hubby kept saying “nein” and the caller thought that he wanted nine of whatever they were selling so be careful with the German.

A friend’s husband tried to reason with a caller. Reason?  He engaged the telemarketer in a prolonged conversation, about twenty minutes.  At the end of the friendly chat, he explained that calling him only wasted their marketing time and, since it would not profit the caller, why didn’t they take his phone number off their call list.  It worked, but he is a very patient, rational, religious person.  I am not.  This past Sunday someone called at dinner time.  We were having a special dinner for my brother-in-law.  I really tore into him, asking how he dared call a family on a Sunday at the dinner hour. I do believe that gentleman might be reading the want ads afresh.

I can also be whimsical.  One caller was both highly amused and got the message after I acted like a not-quite-right-in-the-head childlike respondent.  I asked her name and when she answered I said, “Oh, I’m so happy for you (whatever it was)” in an idiotic happy way. I just kept giving her gee-whiz feedback every time she said anything.  She got the hint. 

Whenever we get opinion poll calls, I immediately ask what they will pay me.  I explain that I am a librarian and know just how costly those polls are to purchase, so I give no free answers.  “What’s my cut of the action?” I ask.  This is guaranteed to flummox the caller, guaranteed.

For the past several months we have been beleaguered by calls purporting to be from WINDOWS, wanting to fix a non-existent problem.  The male callers are from India and don’t give up.  However, I can have my fun too.  In the beginning I tried reason, “Why would Microsoft be calling?  Oh, you’re not from there?”  The last time he called I said that I had just had lunch with Bill Gates and I asked him to check out my computer.  He said everything was fine.

Should they call again, I plan to launch my latest response.  In an official voice, I will read from a pre-printed card:  This call is being monitored and recorded in accordance with a Federal Communications "Committee" investigation.  Please state your full name, social security number, exact location and telephone number now…

I can hardly wait for their next call. Go ahead, make my day.  “Scumbags get off my telephone!  I pay for it.  It is for my safety and convenience.  It is NOT a marketing opportunity for you or any other organization.”   

Monday, March 09, 2015

In an Elegiac State of Mind

Is sorrow best expressed through poetry?  Not for me; I seek comfort in music when in a plaintive state of mind. While some seek solace in words, I look to sound. 

Today is the first of two difficult days.  It was condoling to hear Barber’s Adagio for Strings when I turned on the local classical music station this morning.  Today and tomorrow are days of mourning, tainting March with melancholy.  Today my daughter would celebrate her forty-ninth birthday; that life stolen eighteen years ago tomorrow by her sudden, inexplicable death.

In Melancholy March winter wearies the spirit with memories of what might have been, forcing acquiescence to what shall never be.  In Melancholy March only music can touch my loneliness.  A life cut cruelly short; so much promise extinguished—forever. It is the unhealable wound. 

How can I ameliorate the ever-present ache, especially today?  I turn to favorites like Mahler’s Adagietto  in his Fifth Symphony, the Der Abschied (IV) from his Das Lied von der Erde. or the final movement (V) from the great Resurrection, Symphony Number Two.  Dark music for a darker soul.  Tobias Picker offers solace in his Old and Lost Rivers from The Five Sacred Trees CD, as does Antonin Dvorak’s Largo (second movement) of the Symphony for the New World. However, I think the best is Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending performed by many with the finest performance by Iona Brown in Ralph Vaughn Williams:  Orchestral Works.

I find some comfort in Yo-Yo Ma’s rendition of Tan Dun: the Eternal Vow from the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in his Classical Yo-Yo album.  Mychael Danna has often settled my harried mind with his Skys album, especially Sky 9 and Sky 10, with plaintive sounds of far off thunder and lonely train whistles in the empty night.  With his brother, Jeff, the Dannas reveal the beauty of loss in Two Trees, the concluding piece in A Celtic Tale:  the Legend of Deirdre.  In the apparitional She Moved Through the Fair (arranged by James Galway and Paddy Moloney) from James Galway: the Celtic Minstrel she comes so very near.  Just one moment more!

There are others that go unmentioned. Each has their place in my longing.  Each helps numb my overwhelming sense of loss for a little while.  At least I still have that.