Search Engine Juggling With Google Chrome

Ok, this is a fairly geeky trick but it’s Shakespeare related so I thought I’d blog it here instead of one of my lesser travelled tech blogs. I’m working on a little side project involving a quotes database.  I’ve even built myself up a little web editor so I can crank through them.  Problem is that I have text, but what I really want is character and scene.  Luckily we have wonderful search engines like that do exactly what I need. Turns out I can combine the two, using Google Chrome.   If you select some text and right click it, a menu option “Search Google for this text” comes up and you’ve just saved yourself a bunch of cut and paste.  It even opens up a new tab for you. But, it uses Google as my search engine, by default.  More often than not if I try this approach I’ll get a page full of other quote databases, none of which has my character and scene info. Not for long. 

  1. Right click in the awesome bar (that’s the URL/location bar at the top) and you’ll see Edit search engines.  Pick that.
  2. Now Add.  
  3. Pick whatever name and keywords you like.  The URL is this: (noting the %s where the query goes).
  4. Lastly, go ahead and click Make Default to make Clusty your default Shakespeare search engine.
  5. Now select some text, right click and you’ll see Search Clusty for text…  Presto, I’ve got my character and scene information!
  6. Remember to put it back when done:  Edit search engines, select your primary engine, Make Default.   You’ll even notice that Clusty has jumped up into the Default section so you can get to it more easily next time.

Any kind of web research, not just Shakespeare, requires lots of cutting, pasting and cross referencing.  If you’ve got a particular search engine doing 99% of the work for you, Chrome can save you a tremendous amount of work this way.

To Willie Hughes It May Concern

Dr. Carl Atkins is the author of Shakespeare’s Sonnets: With Three Hundred Years of Commentary as well as a prolific commenter here at ShakespeareGeek, both while holding down a day job as a medical doctor. Instead of a typical author interview with press blurbs and bio questions we decided to do something different – Carl’s going to guest blog a series for us based on *your* questions. Question (from Paul, aka “emsworth”) : I just read Oscar Wilde’s story, if you want to call it that, "The Portrait of Mr. W. H.," which has to do mostly with a  theory (by the characters in the story) that the sonnets were addressed to an effeminate member of Shakespeare’s acting troupe named Willie Hughes.   Supposedly, in urging the recipient of the sonnets to have children, Shakespeare was actually encouraging Willie Hughes to take more acting roles.  Supposedly, the "Dark Lady" sonnets concerned a woman of whom Shakespeare first became jealous (because of Willie Hughes’s attention to her), then became infatuated with her himself.  Was Wilde’s theory entirely fictional?  Was this a theory that Wilde seriously urged, other than in his story?  Has anyone else ever taken it seriously? Wilde’s theory was entirely fictional, but definitely taken seriously by him and thence others. One might say that it resulted in an entire Willie Hughes fan club. The only so-called evidence that one can accumulate in support of it is the presence in the publisher’s dedication of a reference to an individual whose initials are W. H., the repetition of the word "hues" or "hewes" in Sonnet 20 in reference to the "Young Man", and a vivid imagination. The context of The Sonnets, as I point out in my book, argues against such a theory. What I mean by that is that all other sonnet series written in the late 1500s (and further back to Petrarch) were written by poets as exercises in the expression of the speaker’s love for his beloved. All shared similar themes and conventions, which are also found in Shakespeare’s sonnets. True, as Maurice Evans says, Shakespeare’s sonnet series reads like a convention that been turned on its head, but it is still difficult to view it in isolation out of context with other sonnet series. To do so, one must be very narrowly focused. About the Author This book brings together the scholarship of dozens of the most brilliant commentators who have written about Shakespeare’s Sonnets over the past three hundred years. This edition adds the significant work done by modern editors to the most important commentary culled from the two variorum editions of the last century. Atkins presents a straightforward edition without jargon with the simple goal of finding out how the poems work and how they may be interpreted. He is the first to collate the modern texts so that differences among them can be fully appreciated and compared. His discussion of meter and verse is more substantial than that of any other edition, adding particular dimension to this text. Those coming to "The Sonnets" for the first time and those seeking a fresh look at an old friend will equally find this edition scholastically rigorous and a pleasure to read. Carl D. Atkins is a practicing medical oncologist in New York. Got a question for the author? Send it in and we’ll see if we can get it in the queue!

Rebel Hamlet Last year I learned that there’s a group of kids doing Rebel Shakespeare, relatively near to me.  Relative in that it’s an hour away, so I only got to see a portion of a show from them last year.  Well, this year they decided to do one 10 minutes from my house.  Even better?  Hamlet.  So, you all know where I spent my Sunday. How do you review something like this?  Christine (one of the folks organizing/running the show, and also a blog reader so I know she’s listening :)) told me of a bad review they got from some grumpy old dude who was holding them up to the same standard he might for a professional troop.  These are *kids* (in this case, it was the teen program).  Doing Shakespeare.  On their own.  For free.  The fact that they even *have* costumes, much less good ones, is a win.  Last year I saw a Tempest done in between stores at the mall.  Shakespeare everywhere, baby! I won’t sit here and pick apart the acting. Maybe some of these kids are destined to become professional actors, maybe not.  They’re out there doing it, for their enjoyment and my entertainment, so I’m not going to sit here and criticize them.  Sure, maybe Ophelia could have been a little louder and Gertrude a bit softer, but on the flip side I thought Ophelia had down the “My boyfriend is acting weird and it’s pissing me off” facial expressions, and Gertrude was not afraid to put it all out on the stage, particularly during a pretty intense bedchamber scene. Today I got to see their female Hamlet (they are rotating between the shows), and I quite liked her.  Though tradition dictates that Hamlet is commonly done by someone 30+, it is fascinating to watch it handled by a teen.  People joke about how “emo” Hamlet acts, complaining about his mom and his step dad and how much life stinks – but who better to play that part than a teenager?  Hamlet is not Claudius’ equal, remember – something that is lost when they both look about the same age and physical stature. Ours seemed particularly….what’s a good word…..scheming, to me.  Like she always had the plan well in hand.  On an interesting note, for this version they edited out the “antic disposition” scene, so somebody coming into the play cold might not even understand that she was attempting to play it mad.  Take the “I am but mad north by northwest” line.  That can be played so you’re left thinking that Hamlet’s a crazy person saying ‘Dude, listen, I’m not crazy, there really are aliens sending me radio signals!  Get the tinfoil!’ or, as we had here, it can be “Look, I know that you think I’m nuts but I am just way frickin smarter than you, so I’m being incredibly patronizing because I know you’re never going to understand it.”  I would have liked to see this play out even more on the “play upon this recorder” scene – that’s really an opportunity to get at Hamlet’s anguish over his supposed friends who are looking him right in the eye and lying through their teeth at him. I liked the costumes, though they did strike me a bit “Matrix” at first.  I’m told they were going for steampunk, which did not become apparent until characters started appearing wearing goggles (though I guess it did explain some of the boots).  I’m sorry to say, though I liked Polonius’ comedy, his beard was a bit much.  It was too hard to look past “that’s a kid with a grey beard glued to his face.” But what can you do?  There’s a scene or two that specifically mentions Polonius’ beard.  (Polonius actually makes a contribution to the play that I did NOT expect, and was pleasantly surprised by, but perhaps we’ll talk about that after their run is over in case anybody reading is still going to go see them.) What I loved, most surprisingly, was the soundtrack.  One of the directors sat on a blanket next to me with an ipod dock, pressing buttons at the right times.  And sometimes, like during the play within a play scene or “Now could I drink hot blood,” it was perfect.  Hard to really explain, as they were not pieces that I was familiar with.  Even better, really.  Point proven when they went for the Johnny Cash / NIN “Hurt” and I was all “Aw come on, really?” Great climax, too.  Stage combat is always tricky, even with the professionals.  The more realistic you make it, the better the chance of something going wrong or someone getting hurt.  So I was quite happy to see a real duel with real swords really hitting each other.  The trick, I guess, was to keep it brief.  Some productions will carry this scene for a long time, but here they got right to it – a first hit within about 10 seconds, a second soon after.  Good idea – make it good, but keep it short and keep the danger to a minimum.  ( Bonus points to our Hamlet as well for going all Gary Oldman on the “Follow my mother!” line to put away Claudius, even though only the ones that have seen The Professional will get that ;).  I could only wish for such intensity during the whole production. ) Have to wrap this up (it’s already tomorrow).  It’s not even like I can do a legit review, I’m such a raving fanboy when it comes to this stuff.  At intermission Christine asked me what I thought and I’m pretty sure my exact response was, “It’s Hamlet for God’s sake, it’s never bad.  Some parts are just better than others.”  Then later when comparing parts we liked I repeated something I’ve often said here, “I try to pick favorite lines and best lines and then realize that I can’t, because they’re all favorites and they’re all good.” I look forward to seeing the Rebels do their thing any chance I get, and I encourage you all to do so as well. Maybe they’re not in your town, but have you checked to see if there is a similar group? Seriously, if you’re a Shakespeare fan, you want more Shakespeare in the world, right?  I dream of a time when I can randomly walk down the street and realize that there’s a Shakespeare production going on that I can sit down and watch.  Or heck even keep walking and just listen to it in the air.  Caliban told us “Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises, sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.”  You know what?  For my money, sitting on the grass on a sunny Sunday afternoon listening for free,  to kids perform Hamlet not for grades or credit or cash but because they love doing it as much as I love listening to it?  I know exactly what he was talking about.  “I cried to dream again,” indeed.

Godless Shakespeare Ok, well, I’ve heard it debated about whether Shakespeare was gay, and whether he was Catholic, but whether he was atheist is a new one on me. Sorry, wait, got to get the terminology right:

The Bard can’t be said to be an atheist but he comes across in his plays as "skeptical to negative" about religion and gives many clues that he’s not inhospitable to the supernatural — demons, ghosts, uncanny things that can’t be explained by science, even today."

Aren’t these two things somewhat incompatible?  He’s skeptical-to-negative about religion, but not inhospitable to ghosts?  What exactly does that mean?  Wouldn’t any support of ghosts imply an inherent soul/afterlife belief as well?  Hamlet and Brutus don’t just claim to believe in ghosts, ghosts actually show up on stage.  But I suppose the argument then is “Shakespeare was just giving the audience what he knew *they* believed in, it still doesn’t show his own personal beliefs.” I think, and I’m at work so it’s always hard to fully digest these articles on a quick scan, that they’re arguing not so much a “no religion” point, but rather a “Shakespeare like other great thinkers wasn’t in such a hurry to just mindlessly offer it all up to God like he was supposed to according to popular culture.” [UPDATE : I wonder if issues like these bring the Authorship folks together?  “Ok, Oxford wrote Shakespeare’s plays…but he was not a gay atheist!”]

An Authorship Movie? Disaster! I’m glad I didn’t miss the little snippet buried inside this USA Today story about disaster-filmmaker Roland Emmerich’s new summer movie 2012:

Whether his retirement from chaos is permanent, he already has his next project lined up: Anonymous, a mystery about whether William Shakespeare really authored all his plays. It’s clearly a departure, unless the Bard’s critics are destroyed by meteors or a gigantic flood.

That’s right, people.  The man who brought you “Independence Day”, “The Day After Tomorrow”, and “10,000 BC” is apparently going to do a movie about the Shakespeare Authorship question. Although I like the idea about the Bard’s critics being destroyed by flood.

Sonnet Popularity

On the whole plays vs poems thing, Carl just gave me the idea to search for “Shakespeare’s sonnet ##”.  Want to know which ones are the most popular? First is #1, which I suppose makes sense, gotta start somewhere. Second is #20.  That’s the, ahem, "gay one".  That is, that’s the one that’s supposedly proof that Shakespeare’s homosexual. Next comes #30.  I have no idea why that one’s so special. Then we get to some favorites: #18 (“Shall I compare thee”, perhaps the most famous of them all) #29 (“When in disgrace, with Fortune and men’s eyes”).  I wonder if the Rufus Wainwright musical version has anything to do with that. #73.   I like this one. #130 (“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”). #116 (“Let me not to the marriage of true minds….”) aka the Wedding Sonnet.   Although the order is questionable, I guess the only real surprise is #30.  One of my experts out there want to enlighten us on why that one deserves to be in the top 10?   D


This will sound like a homework question, but it’s been 20something years since I was in high school so you’ll have to trust me that it’s not :). It’s easy to find ways in which Shakespeare’s villains feel guilt for their actions, whether it’s Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking, or Claudius’ outright “My offense is rank, it smells to heaven” prayer.  Should we count Edmund’s last minute redemption, too? What I’m interested in is bad guys who feel no guilt at all.  I was trying to explain to my boss last week why Iago is such a nasty son-of-a-gun, and I realized that when it comes to his actual crimes, there are other bad guys that did far worse.  It’s just something about him.  I think it has a great deal to do with the fact that, as far as I can tell, he never feels a shred of anything for his victim, right up until the last words we hear.  That’s what’s so scary. Who else?  I’m expecting Richard III to make an appearance, though truthfully I’m not familiar enough with the play to know if he has any moments where he stops to think about other people.

Shakespeare Plays, or Shakespeare Poems

Here’s an interesting question for a Monday might.  I’m playing around with the Google Suggest API, and I noticed that if you just feed it “Shakespeare” you get some interesting results. First, “Shakespeare plays” is one of the most common queries, coming in at 2million hits.  Pretty big, given that “Shakespeare quotes” only gets 800k, and “Shakespeare sonnets” gets 600k. But something else got 5 million hits.  Know what?  “Shakespeare poems.” That’s odd to me.  [It’s not a quirk, if I switch to searching on the possessive “Shakespeare’s”, then the poems still come out ahead by almost twice as much over the plays.] I almost never think of the Works as poems in the traditional sense.  If I mean the sonnets I say the sonnets.  I’m pretty sure that the long narratives aren’t carrying that kind of traffic by themselves. Is it some cultural thing I’m unfamiliar with?  Over in Europe are they referring to the Canon in general as poems?  What’s the explanation for this odd statistic?   [By the way, the winner, with 7 million hits … is the movie Shakespeare in Love.  That doesn’t count. :)]

Nighttime for Geeklet

Been a while since I posted one of these stories.  The other night I’m putting my son (now 3) to bed. “You want me to sing you a song?”


“Which one?”




“What a piece of work is man, how…”

“No, Daddy, Shakespeare!”

“Why, what was I singing?”


“Oh!  You know, you’re right.  Shall I compare, thee…”

“You tried to sing Hamlet instead of Shakespeare!”

“I did.”

“That’s silly!’

Least Popular Works, Demonstrated

People following me on Twitter watched this play out, but I thought it’d make a blog post as well.  Wandering through town today I stopped into a used book store. High up on the top shelf I saw a stack of small books that read “Temple Shakespeare", $15/volume.” I googled around a bit to see if there was anything special about the collection, then decided to go check it out anyway.  What volumes did he have, I asked? Merry Wives Richard II Troilus and Cressida King John All’s Well That Ends Well Measure for Measure Two Gentlemen of Verona Titus Andronicus Rape of Lucrece Venus and Adonis … That certainly says something about the popularity of the works.  If you’re gonna pick over a collection volume by volume, you can see the Hamlet and the Dream and such going first…these are the leftovers.   I went with the Venus and Adonis.  Fourth edition, 1899.  I’ll let you know more about it once I have time.