And Robin Shall Restore Amends

You’ve probably seen (or heard) impressionist Jim Meskimen‘s work. Not only was he on America’s Got Talent, but he’s also turned up in everything from Friends to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. If you haven’t seen his Richard III you really should. This is a Shakespeare blog after all. I’ve followed him on Twitter since I first discovered that one.

Recently he put out an offer on Twitter for custom recordings. I assume he was expecting people to ask for voice mail greetings. But just like my habit of typing “Shakespeare” into every new search engine I see, I knew exactly what I wanted him to read, and which voice I wanted him to do.

Robin Williams doing “We are such stuff as dreams are made on.”

I can’t even really tell you why. I had no plans for it. It’s not my voice mail greeting. I just wanted to hear his voice again. Not the manic Robin Williams who never stood still. The Dead Poet’s Society Robin who wanted you to hear what he was saying to you because it was important. It made me think of Steve Jobs’ “Here’s to the crazy ones” commercial. Maybe I’ll put this to a video montage at some point.

In the meantime, though, please enjoy.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Thanks Jim, I love it. Flights of angels, Robin.

These Happy Masks

Ok, fine, we all have to wear masks for a little while. Like so many other things these days we don’t have to love it, but we can make the best of it.

Today I learned the great news that one of my merchandise manufacturers, Redbubble, is doing mask designs! I immediately made a number of designs available. If they turn out to be popular I’ll certainly do more. Bardfilm had already requested one that says “A plague on both your houses!” Or was it “A plague on none of your houses?”

Anyway, I hope you enjoy!

The popular “Shakespeare Insults” theme
I went looking for short Shakespeare quotes to sum up what we’re all going through, found this one.
Shakespeare doing Einstein’s famous pose.
Sometimes this just sums it up.
I’m hoping the rainbow theme finds its audience. I have a lighter version of this one coming soon.

If you’re tired of looking at geometric and animal prints and want some more Shakespeare in your government mandated accessories, leave a comment and let me know what you might like! Happy to put your favorite quote on a mask.

Sigh No More, Students ( A Geeklet Story )

I hear my oldest coming down the steps. “I wonder if she needs help with calculus or physics?” I ask my wife.

She rounds the corner. “Ok, so, we’re playing trivia in virtual classroom and the category was Shakespeare.” Oh fun. “Which character has been in three plays?”

“I’m going to assume Falstaff.”

“Right. Yes, well, we got it wrong. We guessed Antony.”

“That’d be Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, only two.”

“Exactly, I knew that wasn’t it. But anyway, he’s, like, a big character, isn’t he?”

My kids know thee well, old man.

“He was never the title character, but it’s been argued by more than one person that he’s Shakespeare’s greatest creation. Books have been written on just him. I literally have a book upstairs right now that’s nothing but an actor’s diary of when he played Falstaff.”

“I thought so. Our teacher told us that he’s a huge Shakespeare fan, and how he’s read all of the Henry’s because, you know, he prefers the lesser known plays, and that he didn’t remember this character, he must not have been that important.”

I fire up my computer. “Hold on a second.” I google “Harold Bloom Falstaff”:

Then there’s Harold Bloom, who, in the opening pages of his short, charming new book Falstaff: Give Me Life,[1] writes that he has “come to believe that if we are to represent Shakespeare by only one play, it ought to be the complete Henry IV, to which I would add Mistress Quickly’s description of the death of Falstaff in act 2, scene 3 of Henry V.”

For Bloom, what puts Henry IV on top is not the starring role, Prince Hal, but the supporting character Sir John Falstaff. “I think of this as the Falstaffiad,” writes Bloom, “rather than the Henriad, as scholars tend to call it.” For Bloom, who has been teaching at Yale since 1955 and who is considered by many to be the most distinguished living literary critic (he’s 87), Falstaff is not just “the glory of the Henry IV plays” but (his italics) “the grandest personality in all of Shakespeare.” 

You can’t bluff your Shakespeare knowledge in front of my kids.

Now He’s Just Showing Off (A Geeklet Story)

Last week my son surprised us all by dropping an out of the ordinary Hamlet quote into dinner conversation. Apparently he liked the reaction it got.

During quarantine he has, like I’m sure most boys his age, been avoiding his homework at all costs. Every day is a battle over when to get his homework done and how much effort to put into it. Today at lunch he comes up to me say, “Ok, Daddy, I’ve got a new strategy for doing my homework. Ready? Better three hours too soon, than a minute too late.”

I smile and acknowledge, “You’re studying your Shakespeare quotes now. I approve. I bet nobody else in the family would have recognized that, but yes, I got it.”

“Good,” he tells me, “Because that is so not my strategy.”

Sigh. “I know.”

Happy Shakespeare Day!

Flourish! A New Tradition is Born! #ShakespeareDay

We have a very small Shakespeare channel on our Slack group at work. Yes, I started it 🙂

This morning I posted, “Happy Shakespeare Day!”

Almost immediately a co-worker responded, “Flourish!”

And I thought, “You know, she probably means the stage direction, like ‘enter with a flourish'” or fanfare.

But then I thought, “Flourish also means thrive, too. That sounds like a wish to me, like ‘May you and your family prosper and be well on this illustrious day!'” And yes I said, “be well and prosper” in deliberate homage to the Vulcan “live long and prosper” because that crossed my mind at the time.

I wrote to her and she laughed, confirming that the stage direction was what she had in mind.

“Too late!” I replied. “New tradition born!” The double meaning makes it perfect for the occasion.

So if you catch me on Twitter today telling people to flourish, you can say you were there when the whole thing began.

UPDATE – Wow, I posted that whole original spelling it “fluorish” instead of “flourish”. I’m annoyed with myself, my spell checker, and my coworker (who spelled it that way originally), all in that order.