George Carlin Shakespeare Connection

Just heard on NPR’s Wait Wait show that George Carlin’s grandfather wrote out the complete works of Shakespeare, just because he liked it. If true, that’s kind of cool.  People talk about a life goal of reading the complete works, try writing them out! There’s a bit for somebody to do – find the Shakespearean equivalent to all of Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words”.

Shakespeare And Infinity

While I google for references, somebody refresh my memory – how new (or, at least, little known) was the concept of infinity while Shakespeare was writing?  I know I saw someplace some references to just when it was first written about and by whom, but I can’t seem to put my finger on them.  I’d like to learn more about just how big of a deal it was that Shakespeare “jumped on the bandwagon early”, so to speak.  That he “got” the concept of infinity pretty quickly. That is, of course, if that’s true.  I could be completely misunderstanding the timing and it could have been a concept every groundling understood, too.  But I don’t think so. I’m looking now, but every combination of googling for “Shakespeare” and “infinity” just turns up damned monkey typing references.   P.S. – My Mobius “infinity bracelet” has apparently arrived, so presentation to wife coming soon.  I say apparently because it arrived while I was on vacation over the weekend and all I got was a note in the mail saying I had to sign for it.   A note that arrived AT MY HOUSE INSTEAD OF MY BUSINESS ADDRESS so my wife is all “What’s this?”  I’m not thrilled with this development, especially since I was planning to hide it until September for our anniversary.  Oh, well.  I’ll let everybody know how it came out and how she likes it.

Pre-Reviews : Hopkins As Lear Over at Film Experience Blog they’re having a lengthy discussion on the pros and cons of casting for the upcoming Lear, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins (most of the comments scream “Why not Ian McKellen?”), Gwynneth Paltrow, Keira Knightey and Naomi Watts. If I understand it correctly, McKellen’s version is in fact coming to DVD as well.    So short answer, I’ll see them both :).

Attack Of The Robot Librarian Lady

So this weekend we’re on vacation at a little touristy bookstore, browsing around for easy reading (I’ve finally finished Shakespeare Wars, and though I brought it with me, Asimov’s is just too much a brick to bring to the beach).  So we walk in and this little old lady greets us.  “The great this about history,” she says, noting that we are standing next to the history section, “Is that today it’s being written to be readable.”  Great.  We’ve shown no interest in history, it’s just where she cornered us. Having announced that, she then spots one of our group who has moved to the next section, which is actually Mathematics.  “The other day,” she tells my friend, “Someone came in and purchased one of our math books.  He said it was for the beach.  So now I never question it when somebody wants something for the beach.” And on it went, with this woman spouting random things about random sections of her store.  Well, I find the Shakespeare section, and a book I don’t have – something like “Everything I Need To Know I Learned From William Shakespeare.”  It’s in hardcover and appears to be $19.95, but you never know about markdowns so I go up to the desk and ask about the price.  “I love Bill Bryson!” she says, and begins flipping through the book. “I do too,” I say. “But that’s not Bill Bryson’s book. Though I have read that one, it was very good.” “The one that just came out?” she asks. “It came out last year, I got it for Christmas,” I say. “Wonderful,” she says, and hands back the book. I don’t take it from her.  “Could you tell me how much this one costs?” “Oh!” she says, “You did ask me that.  Let’s see….$19.95.” I thank her and put the book back, then take my other purchases up to the desk.  My friend calls out, “You’re not going to get that one?” “Nah,” I call back.  “I like reading about the man, but you can only read so much, especially when it’s the same biographical stuff over and over again.” “Who?” asks the lady behind the counter. “William Shakespeare,” I say, and wait for my amusing anecdote. “Do you know who the man is who’s been more written about than any one else?  Lincoln.  When Doris Kearns Goodwin wanted to write about Lincoln she didn’t know what to do, so she wrote about all the men who had campaigned against him….” And that’s what I got for my Shakespeare references, a story about a Lincoln biographer (whose name I may have messed up).  As we left I leaned over and told my friend, “You know, Lincoln had a secretary named Shakespeare, and Shakespeare had a secretary named Lincoln…..” 🙂 We decided that a) she was clearly a retired librarian, given her desire to teach about books without anybody asking her too, and b) she was a robot who was trained to spot people in front of section X and then tell a story relevant to section X.

How To Memorize A Sonnet This professor from UW-Madison is apparently doing a unit on the Sonnets, as I just got a whole bunch of links from that site in my reader. I don’t agree with the “learn every meaning of every word” part, especially when it comes to memorization.  There’s a famous example known as The Great Panjandrum that demonstrates the words don’t even have to make sense for you to be able to memorize them.  I did challenge an actor friend of mine with that one once, and he did successfully memorize it. I do, however, agree with the “put it to music” thing.  I know three sonnets by heart – 17, 18, and 29.  17 because I recited it at my wedding, the other two because I have them as music. As a matter of fact, it’s so easy that even a three year old could do it. I also agree with the overall point of understanding the thing, and not just learning a sequence of words.  Technically you can memorize a sequence of random words, but I’m not your professor, and I’d much rather you actually walk away with an understanding of what the sonnet is about.  I have sonnet 29 pinned to my wall.  I like to think it means, “Sometimes I’ve having a really lousy day and thinking about how my life sucks, but then I think of [in this case, my wife] and realize that I’m the richest man in the world.  I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Romeo and Juliet : Homework Help

(The conversation’s been a bit on the deep end lately so I thought I’d throw one in for the occasional student who comes by looking for homework help.)   If you need help remembering the plot of Romeo and Juliet, study Friar Laurence’s confession in the final scene.  He pretty much tells you the entire play:

Romeo and Juliet got married in secret, but then Romeo ends up getting banished when Tybalt is murdered.  Juliet’s parents think she’s upset about Tybalt when really she’s upset about Romeo, and they arrange this hasty marriage to Paris.  She comes to me saying that she’ll kill herself if I don’t do something, so I come up with a plan.  I’ll give her a sleeping potion that makes everyone think she’s dead.  Then I’ll write to Romeo, informing him that she’s not dead, and that he should come to the family tomb when she wakes up and take her away.  But I discover that Romeo never received the letter!  So I raced over to the tomb to rescue her myself, figuring that I’ll come up with a new plan once I can straighten everything out.  But then I see Romeo and Paris both dead.  I try to get Juliet to leave with me but she won’t go.  I heard a noise that I went to explore, and when I came back, she’d killed herself.  If you don’t believe me ask her nurse, she knew all about their wedding.  It’s all my fault, I accept that, and throw myself on the mercy of the the law.

Between that speech and the opening prologue (“Two households…Verona….ancient grudge…..young lovers take their life….”) you’ve got the idea.  Now, I’m not a big fan of saying “There you go, just study that and you’re all set.”  If you do, you will have missed all the poetry (not to mention the sex and violence) in the middle.  Think of this speech more as a set of pegs on which to hang the rest of the details of the play more easily for yourself.  Who did Romeo kill?  Tybalt.  Who gave Juliet the sleeping potion?  Friar Laurence.  Why did Romeo think Juliet was dead?  He never got Friar Laurence’s letter.  And so on… Hope it helps!

The Nest

Hey, who linked me from  I can see you in my logs but I can’t get in to their boards to see the actual post!  That drive me nuts :).  I’m familiar with The Nest, it’s a huge favorite of our company president, he’s pretty much patterned our company on what they do. However you got here, welcome!

King Lear F Bombs I find this unit interesting its discussion of cursing in Shakespeare, most notably since he doesn’t go for the obvious Taming of the Shrew or Romeo and Juliet, but rather King Lear!  First he presents some Lear style “cursing” (whoreson, knave, etc…) and then gets into his students’ own “street” rewriting.  It’s personally not to my taste, I don’t think you have to sprinkle liberally with swears to get your point across, but who knows, maybe that’s exactly how his kids talk in their regular life?  There’s discussion at the end, too.  For instance in one Cordelia rewrite she drops an f-bomb while talking to her dad, and people question whether that’s realistic for her character.   Warning, if it wasn’t obvious – dirty words abound.