On Vacation

Hello loyal readers,

Just a quick note to let everybody know that I’m taking the family to Disney World this week, so there won’t be too much by way of blog posts.  You may spot me on Twitter however!  You never know where you’ll spot a Shakespeare reference.  (Everybody knows about the Macbeth reference in Beauty and the Beast, right?  Ask Bardfilm to tell you about it while I’m gone. 🙂

See everybody when I get back!


P.S – I’m taking an audio version of Richard III with me to listen (and follow along!) on the plane.  If I make it through that, I’ve got Midsummer right behind. Got to start working on my teaching debut next month!

Email Book Giveaway CANCELLED

Hi everyone,

So, I did just like I said, today’s Black Friday and I sent a note out to my email subscribers announcing the start of my book giveaway.  I previewed it by sending it to myself, and off it went.

And then I promptly got a response back from one of my readers saying that they got garbage – a paragraph of text, and then nothing.  No mention of book, no links, no nothing.

When I got my actual copy (I am, of course, subscribed to my own list for just these purposes :)), I got the same junk.

I’ve contacted the support people for the list server asking what the heck.  Unfortunately this means that, at least for now, I’ve got to cancel the giveaway. I have no idea when I’ll be able to generate a functional email.

I completely understand if people signed up specifically for the giveaway and now want to unsubscribe. I can see how this would sound like a scam for collecting email addresses, but it’s not. 

Sorry for the inconvenience.  My timing was pretty lousy, of course, trying something on such as weird semi-holiday.  Oh, well.  Lesson learned.


Pink Floyd + Shakespeare = #ShakesFloyd

Once upon a time, Bardfilm challenged me to do a Pink Floyd / Shakespeare mashup game.  It’s actually much harder than it looks once you realize that most casual Pink Floyd fans are only really going to recognize “Another Brick In The Wall”, “Money” and “Dark Side Of the Moon.”

Here’s my best shot at it!  Who’s got more?  I did my best to keep them all in tune, if you want to hum them to yourself 🙂

  • All in all it was all just chinks in the wall.
  • Well (not!) shone, dark side of the moon!
  • One of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces! And then maybe bake you into a nice pie, serve you to your mom.
  • Hush now baby, baby, don’t you cry. Mother’s gonna dash all your brains out for you.
  • Good morning, Chair your honor; the crown will plainly show my daughter who now stands before you, was caught red-handed saying, “Nothing.” Saying “Nothing!” in a most ungrateful manner – this will not do.
  • Crazy, toys in the attic, Lear is crazy, truly gone fishing. They must have taken his kingdom away, crazy!
  • Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky. Shine on, you blinded Gloucester.
  • You are young and life is long, and there is Claudius to kill today.
  • Ducats, get away.  Make a good loan, interest pays, you’re ok.
  • The lunatic is on the heath.
  • Careful with that axe, Titus!
  • Emilia tries, but misunderstands (wah-oooo),
    She’s often inclined to steal somebody’s hanky til tomorrow…
  • You’ll lose your mind and play
    Free games for may
    See Ophelia play.

Baron Munchausen, John Neville, Has Died. (Or Has He?)

I’m a little late on this one so I’m sure that most Shakespeare fans now know that legendary Shakespearean actor John Neville has died at 86 from Alzheimer’s.

Since Mr. Neville’s got too many Shakespeare credits for me to even mention (see the article for the highlights), instead I’ll remind people of Terry Gilliam’s wonderful The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, a fantastic tale in which you’re just not quite ever sure whether the good Baron (played by our Mr. Neville) is ever really dead after all …

Flights of angels, Mr. Neville.  RIP.

End of Year Book Giveaway Starts Friday

‘Tis the season for Shakespeare Geek to get a bunch of new Shakespeare books for Christmas.  This year I’ve decided to make some room on the shelves by giving away a bunch of my old ones.

Please note that these are my own books, sometimes purchased with my own money and sometimes review copies that I’ve received in the past. Either way, I want to make sure everybody understands that they are not brand new.  I won’t bother giving away anything that’s got major damage, of course.  I’m just talking about usual wear and tear, the occasional smudge on a page or fray at the edge of a book jacket sort of stuff.

Still interested?

Ok, here’s how it’s going to go down.  I’m both announcing and giving away these books in the email newsletter.  Starting Friday I will announce via email what book I’m giving away next, and anybody interested in that particular book will be asked to reply to that email saying so.  From everybody that replies, I will choose a winner and send off the book.  I don’t yet know how many books we’ll do this for.


1) Sign up for the email newsletter.  You will receive a confirmation email that you will have to click, so please don’t forget that step.  My email blasting software will consider you “unconfirmed” if you don’t do that second bit, and you won’t get future email.

2) Be on the lookout for email from me.  I don’t yet know what I’ll call it, but expect something obvious like “Shakespeare Geek Book Giveaway”.  I’m still going to be half asleep from the turkey.

3) Unlike many email blasted newsletters, this one has a “write back” function that I plan to use.  If you are interested in possibly winning the current book, write back and say so.

4) In your reply, please take a moment to give me some feedback on how else you’d like to see the email feature used.  I can’t afford to give stuff away every week, you know!  Would you like to see original email-only content, or a digest of what’s gone on in the blog?  Let me know!

5) Each giveaway will last about a week, depending on how badly the holidays mess up my schedule.  Details will be in each email.

6) US RESIDENTS ONLY.  My apologies to my international friends, but if I’m going to make this a regular feature there’s just no way that I can afford to open it up to international shipping costs.

Any questions?

Sign up now!  Once the giveaways start I will NOT NOT NOT be announcing every single book in a new post!  If you’re not getting the emails when contest announcements go out you will NOT know about them!

Want a HINT?  The first book I’m giving away is one of the very first I ever reviewed (2008), but I can find references to it going all the way back to 2006.

Stratfordian Overreaction to Anonymous (Guest Post)

Many Shakespeare aficionados and Shakespeare scholars have expressed outrage at the recently-released Anonymous, which attempts to propose that William Shakespeare did not write the plays written by William Shakespeare. The film has initiated responses ranging from careful scholarly correction to mild annoyance to vituperative vitriol. Bardfilm’s reaction has, for the most part, been moderate, but his demands to substitute the word “Shakespeare” for “Oxford” in most instances represent the typical Stratfordian overreaction. Still, here’s Bardfilm’s list of proposed changes to ordinary English expressions in light of the claims of Oxfordians:

The comma that some style guides recommend putting after the penultimate item in a list (a.k.a. the serial comma) shall be henceforth known as the “Shakespeare Comma” instead of the “Oxford Comma.”

The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford shall be henceforth known as “The Seventeenth Earl who Failed to Write the Plays of Shakespeare.”

The genetic cross of Cotswold with Hampshire Down sheep shall be henceforth known as “Shakespeare Down Sheep” instead of “Oxford Down Sheep.”

The city of Oxford in Oxfordshire, England shall be henceforth known as the city of Shakespeare in Shakespeareshire, England.

Those wide, baggy-legged trousers shall be henceforth known as “Shakespeare Bags” instead of “Oxford Bags.”

The British automobile produced from 1913 to 1971 shall be henceforth known as the “Morris Shakespeare” instead of the “Morris Oxford.”

The shirts made from that basketweave fabric shall be henceforth known as “Pinpoint Shakespeare” instead of “Pinpoint Oxford.”

The type of shoe having shoelace eyelets beneath the vamp shall be henceforth known as “Shakespeare Shoes” instead of “Oxford Shoes.”

The magnificent, extraordinary, incomparable dictionary used to find some of the terms on this list shall henceforth be known as “The Shakespeare English Dictionary” instead of “The Oxford English Dictionary.”

A “flattened paper tube inserted between the spine of a book and its cover to strengthen the spine and allow the book to be opened flat more easily” (cf. SED) shall be henceforth known as a “Shakespeare hollow” instead of an “Oxford hollow.”

The “kind of punch containing calf’s foot jelly” shall continue to be known as “Oxford punch.”

The delicious and delighful coarse-cut marmalade originally manufactured in Shakespeareshire shall be henceforth known as “Shakespeare Marmalade” instead of “Oxford Marmalade.”

And, perhaps most importantly . . .

The place where boviform mammals cross a stream shall be henceforth known as a “shake speare” instead of an “ox ford.”

Our thanks for this guest post to kj, the author of Bardfilm. Bardfilm is a blog that comments on films, plays, and other matters related to Shakespeare.

Germaine Greer on Shakespeare’s Marriage

Long-time readers might remember when I reviewed Germaine Greer’s book about Shakespeare’s wife. Well here she is a few years later, in a short and sweet article that paints a positive picture of Shakespeare’s married life.  Ms. Greer is quite happy in the belief that Shakespeare came back home to his family every year during Lent when the theatres closed.

The article then switches to a discussion of Hindi movie plots, which completely threw me.  I only stayed for the marriage bits.

Clearly Unbiased Vatican Claims Shakespeare As Catholic

They didn’t mention this at mass this morning, but the Vatican is now claiming there is “little doubt” that Shakespeare was, in fact, Catholic.

Forgive me while I butcher the history for newcomers, but we’re talking about England in a time shortly after Henry VIII and the whole “What do you mean I can’t have any more annulments?  I quit the church!!” controversy.  So the England that Shakespeare born into was, officially, Protestant.  As such, rumors have always been rampant that there were secret Catholic societies constantly trying to sneak in, murder Queen Elizabeth, all that good stuff.  And, of course, both sides want to claim Shakespeare as their own.  I remember when some sort of document supposedly written by Shakespeare’s father was discovered, which clearly proved that at least he (the father) was Catholic. Whatever happened to that, was it proven to be a forgery?

What I can’t figure out is, what’s changed? Their argument appears to go back to the whole idea of Purgatory in Hamlet (something that’s been right there in the text for 400 years). The Vatican says that Purgatory is a Catholic concept, therefore Shakespeare was Catholic.  Ok, fine – but, again, why suddenly now declare that? 

Guest Post Policy

Lately I’m getting lots of requests to do guest posts.  Most often these come from generic cold-calls of the form “Hi I’ll write an article on whatever you want and then I want a link back to my site make-money-fast-by-writing-generic-articles-with-adsense-in-them.com” and the like.  But every now and then a fellow Shakespeare author makes a more honest request.

So I thought I’d write up my thoughts on the subject such that I could link to them later and maybe answer some questions.

My Thoughts on Guest Posts

1) I’m not against guest posts.  Not only is KJ from Bardfilm a regular contributor, but I’ve gotten some posts from Carl Atkins (catkins) as well, and I remember Alexi did a cool “ask the director” piece. (One of these days I plan to pin down JM and get him to write me something which I will then TL;DR into unrecognizable oblivion.)

2) The point of a post above all else is that it should be interesting content to the Shakespeare Geek audience.  Look, I’m in the web business for my day job, I know full well that every “building traffic 101” guide says “Do guest posts! They’ll create links back to your site!” The problem is that nobody properly understands this strategy and ends up a) writing an article solely for the purposes of generating links, and b) highlighting random words inside the article so that there’ll be more stuff to click.  This is what those “I’ll write whatever you want me to write” people expect to get away with, and it’s why I never take them up on it. It is very jarring to the user experience, and I can’t see how any regular reader doesn’t look at it and say “What the heck, is this article here just to get me to click on stuff??”

3) What’s in it for the guest?  Hey, I’m not against links.  I just think there’s places where they belong.  “This post was written by X from site Y<—link.”  Or, “For more information on this topic, please see previous articles of mine here, here and here <— link, link, link.”  See any of the past posts by Bardfilm for an example of how it can work.

4) I’m not in it for reciprocal links, and I’m not going to say “You can post on my site if I can post on yours.”  If you’ve got good content that will be valuable to my readers I’m happy to provide you some exposure.

5) If for some reason you think that there is value on me writing something for your site, please go ahead and make that a separate invitation.  I’m open to the idea.

Want to guest post for Shakespeare Geek?

* If you’re already a regular contributor in the comments, you can pretty much just send me something you’ve written and I’ll very likely post it.  I appreciate the contribution to our community and would welcome the opportunity to show that by providing you some more direct traffic.

* If you’re new to the site, pitch me an idea and tell me a bit about your credentials for writing the article.  As mentioned above, I have no real interest in the “I can write on anything you need” crowd. I’d much prefer to hear from people who are already writing about Shakespeare from their own knowledge of the subject, and want to get some more exposure to their work.

* Even if the idea sounds good and you write the article, I cannot guarantee that I’ll post it on Shakespeare Geek. Sorry, but this is for my own protection.  While I might like the idea, the resulting article might just turn out poor.  If this does turn out to be the case there are other ways I can help out (such as Twitter traffic to the article posted directly on your own site).

* Guest posts will get some extra attention on Twitter/Facebook, to drive their traffic better. A popular link on Twitter will generate hundreds of clicks.


Right now I’m very interested in information that puts Shakespeare in context relative to what we know today.  For example, what was Shakespeare’s relationship to the Pilgrims (if any)? Would he have known about them, would they have known about their work, is there evidence that they loved or hated his work?  Similarly, this morning I heard a reference to astronomer Johannes Kepler who lived at the same time as Shakespeare. What discoveries were being made around that time, what would Shakespeare have known about them, and how did they affect his work?

Resources for teaching Shakespeare, particularly to younger children, is always a winner.  Real-life experience doing so would be awesome.  Video?  Great idea.

I recommend staying away from the heavy academic stuff.  That’s not the audience here.  Point back to it if you like on your own site, but use this space to give the high level summary.

I’m also not terribly interested in one-time events that most of the audience will never have the opportunity to experience. So while I’ll accept book reviews (since people can go get the book), I’m not too keen on reviewing individual performances at the local playhouse unless they’re doing something really extraordinary.

Thanks for listening this far.  Hope I haven’t turned everybody off, and there’s some folks out there ready to pitch some ideas!

Baby Daddy Jokes? Always Funny.

When people tell me that Shakespeare language makes no sense, and ask me for examples to prove otherwise, I’ll sometimes bring them to a joke just to demonstrate that stuff we still say today, Shakespeare said 400 years ago.

In The Tempest, when Prospero decides to tell his daughter Miranda about her true past, he says, “Did you know that your father was Duke of Milan?”

“Are you not my father?” she asks, confused.

“Your mother told me I was,” replies Prospero.

Nice thing to say about Miranda’s mom, bro. 🙂

I’ve learned over the years, however, that Shakespeare loved this joke.  Taming of the Shrew:

VINCENTIO Art thou his father?


Ay, sir; so his mother says, if I may believe her.

And just today I realized that Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing tells the same joke, and takes it up a notch!


You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this
is your daughter.


Her mother hath many times told me so.


Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?


Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.

Wh…wh…ummm…. so, wait. Am I reading that wrong, or does Leonato not only tell the “I don’t know who my wife was sleeping with” joke, but then follow it up with “You were too young, Benedick, so I know it wasn’t you who impregnated my wife?”