Let’s Hear It For The Folger

While I was in Washington D.C. recently I told the story of my daughter’s disappointment at not being able to get the book that, unbeknownst to me, she’d been waiting six years for.

Being a dad I knew I had to get that book, so I put the word out to you good folks and the leads immediately started coming in.  My daughter knew exactly which one it was. For that, if you’re one of the folks who went searching, thank you.

Before going to bed that night I checked my email and much to my surprise found a note from Matthew, manager of the Folger Gift Shop, who wrote, “Saw your post.  Is it one of these?” along with several links (including the one we wanted), as well as links to the publisher of some titles that they did not currently stock, but could get.   (I see that he also came back and commented on the blog post as well.)

On top of that he said they’d even include free shipping!  Which was awesome, because if we’d manage to get the book right there while we were in town, we wouldn’t have had to worry about that additional expense (which can sometimes be almost as expensive as the book!)

The book is on the way.  Thanks Matthew and the Folger gang!  Outstanding customer service.  If you’re ever in town be sure to visit, and pick up a souvenir 🙂



The Great Shakespeare Book Scavenger Hunt

So a funny thing happened on the way to the Folger Library this week.

As you may have seen on other social media channels, my family and I are in Washington D.C. for a couple of days and were lucky enough to visit the Folger Library again, having been there six years ago.  I knew that even if we did not manage to arrange a tour, I could at least take the kids back to get some pictures outside.  They were pretty young at the time and I’m not sure what they remember.

So I was quite surprised when we were cruising through the various museums of the Smithsonian and in one of the gift shops my middle daughter said, “Nope, I’m saving my souvenir for Folger, I know exactly what I want.”  I assumed that she just wanted a Shakespeare something, and hinted strongly to her that we have a lot of Shakespeare somethings already.

Turns out she actually remembers seeing a book in the gift shop the first time we were there.  Apparently, and I do slightly remember this, I told her that the book was too old for her. Well, it’s six years later and she’s making a beeline for that book.

Only problem?  Folger Library gift shop is closed on Monday.

So now the dad thing kicks in, and I’ve gotta get her that book.  I checked the online version of Folger’s shop and saw nothing obvious.  It’s quite possible that they no longer carry it, or even that it is no longer in print.  I asked my daughter for more details, and here’s what she told me:

“All his romance sonnets. Very nice cover no pictures sorta paintings. Maybe roses.”

Let the hunt begin.  Anybody able to find a volume of the sonnets (may or may not be all the sonnets or just a selection, may include other works) with a cover that, to a six year old memory, is “sorta paintings, maybe roses, very nice.”



Shakespeare Calling (A Geeklet Story)

This weekend my son and I went to the Boston Calling music festival because he’s a big Eminem fan.  His sisters will be going to see Taylor Swift this summer, and we already dragged him to that once, it didn’t seem fair to doom him to a life of shows like that just because he’s outnumbered.

Anyway, here’s where the Shakespeare comes in.  We’re walking from the hotel to the festival…

Geeklet:  “I told my friend at school that I’m going to see Eminem and he said, ‘Are you going to eat M&Ms?'”

Me:  “I once played Othello *at* Othello.”

Geeklet:  “What?”

Me: “Never mind.”

Later in the evening when we’re trying literally not to get lost in a crowd. Somehow the conversation turns to how you never know, just bumping into somebody or stepping on their shoe might set them off.

A few hours after that, it’s dark, it’s a standing room only crush of people, and he steps on my toe.

Me:  “Yo homes, you just step on my toe?  I will murder you.”

Geeklet: “No you wouldn’t.”

Me: “I can do it, too. We’re in the same hotel room. Smother you in your sleep with a pillow.”

Geeklet:  “Othello.”

Me: “…wait, what? Seriously?”

Geeklet: “Wait what what?”

Me: “That’s the one that ends where the guy smothers his wife with a pillow.  Didn’t know you remembered that.”

Geeklet: “I didn’t, I just picked the one that rhymed with pillow.”


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Thanks, Mr. D!

We did it all for the Shakespeare cookie.

My daughter has one particular teacher, we’ll call him Mr. D.

We love Mr. D.  She had him freshman year of high school for British literature (where she brought him Shakespeare cookies) and again sophomore year for American literature, where alas there was little Shakespeare in the curriculum but not only did he tell me (during parent teacher night) that he’d be sure to point it out in Huckleberry Finn (true!), he also managed to work in some Julius Caesar (although I’m still not sure how).

My wife and I were both looking forward to our second child, who’ll start at this school in the fall, having the same experience. And then our son after that.  The man’s been at the school over forty years, he’s one of those fixtures you just think will be there forever.

Only he won’t be, because he’s retiring this year.

We went to his retirement party, we said our thank yous and our congratulations, and my daughter promised that he’s invited to her book signing when she’s published.

I wanted to put an extra little something out there into the universe, just because. I don’t expect he’ll ever see it, but you never know. My daughter would have been mortified if I’d told it to him in person, but I think it was a wonderful thing to say.

On the way to the party, my daughter said of her teacher, “I like Mr. D as a person. I have conversations with him. He’s my friend.”

To all the teachers out there, know that you’re appreciated.

Thanks, Mr. D.  We’ll bring you Shakespeare cookies one last time.


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Shakespeare Math Lessons [ A Geeklet Story ]

Who says there’s no room for liberal arts in STEM education?

My family of course knows that today is Shakespeare Day.  It actually causes some funny moments, like when my wife had to write out a check for some school function and said, “What’s today’s date?”

Children:  “Seriously, Mommy?  Daddy is standing *right there*.”

Or this impromptu math lesson with my middle child:

SG: “So, how old would Shakespeare have been today?”

E: “Well he died in 1616.  So, 400 years would be 2016, and it’s 2018. Four hundred and eighteen!”

SG: “You want to check that math?”

E: “…2016…plus 2….yeah, 418.” *beat* “WAIT! NO!  402!”

SG: “Right!”

E: *beam*

SG: “Also wrong!”

E: “???”

I then explained to her that she was calculating how long he’d been dead, but I asked how old he would be.  Eventually we figured it out.

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Comics by Geeklet

If it works, why change it?

So my son’s 12th birthday is coming up, and like many almost 12yr olds he dreams of being Internet famous.  His latest foray is into the world of three panels comics, and he’s trying to develop a following on Instagram.

He keeps asking me, “Share this to your followers!”

I keep replying, “Write something with Shakespeare in it!”  Because I love my boy to death but I’m loyal to the sanctity of the brand, too 🙂

So we compromised. With a little help from yours truly he knocked out a Shakespeare comic specifically for you kind folks.  If those of you on Instagram are so inclined I’d greatly appreciate it if you could do the kid a favor and like/follow/share/favorite or whatever it is you do on Instagram to show your support.  (Note that it is a three-panel joke so you have to do click through to see the other panels, we didn’t even know you could do that until his older sister showed us.)

I’m not kidding it really is his birthday in a couple of weeks so seeing that number of followers go up to a level he didn’t expect would certainly be a nice treat for him.

Share and Enjoy!

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Geeklet Sorrows (And A Confession)

Yesterday my daughter had an unexpected medical procedure on her mouth, so she’s in some degree of pain this morning (but not enough to skip school).  So she’s getting ready and I ask, “How’s your face?”

“Bad,” she says, “And now I have a pimple!”

“When sorrows come they come not single spies but in battalions,” I offer.

“That means a third bad thing is gonna happen to me now too! Great!”

“No, it was just an opportunity for me to use a Shakespeare quote I don’t normally get to use.  King Lear?”

Both wife and geeklet look at each other and just leave the room.

Didn’t feel right, though.  Couldn’t place who said it, or where.  So over breakfast I had to look it up.  “You know what?” I told them, “When I said that quote was from Lot of sorrow in King Lear, but maybe not battalions of it.?  I was wrong, it’s Hamlet.”

Geeklet looks at wife, looks at me, and says, “Well, duh. We just didn’t want to embarrass you.”

But now I’m trying to figure out what quote I was confusing it with, because surely there’s stuff in King Lear all about the piling on of sorrows.


There To Meet With … Captain Underpants!

Drive-by geeklet story:

When your youngest is still just an 11yr old boy and your oldest are teenage girls sometimes sacrifices have to be made for going to a “family” movie.  This weekend we went to see Captain Underpants.  Bad choice. It’s getting surprisingly good results, but I think that even at 11 my son’s a bit old for the level of maturity required.  The audience laughed at every “Uranus” joke, but if I had to guess I’d say the average age was more like 8.

Coming out of the theatre my older geeklet announced, “I could have seen Macbeth! Instead I went to see Captain Underpants.  I think I lost brain cells.”

The local high school is performing Macbeth this weekend.  I knew that, but I’ve learned from experience that going to see a high school production of Shakespeare when you have no vested interest in it is a painful experience.  What I didn’t realize is that her friends invited her to go see their friends that are actually in it.

What I should have said was, “True, but which one do you think has more jokes involving bodily functions?”



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You Mean You Don’t Have A Shakespeare Cookie Cutter?

Another school year draws to a close and we continue to be a Fortune’s fools as my oldest geeklet literally still hasn’t finished Romeo and Juliet yet.  Amazing.  She’ll be finishing the play, in theory, on her very last day of that class. She does, however, love the teacher.  And she thought it would be a great idea if she brought in Shakespeare cookies for the last day of class.  Because, of course, we have a Shakespeare cookie cutter.  Doesn’t everybody?

But, here’s the thing. My daughter is a) a total nerd who will jump at extra credit any chance she gets, and b) painfully shy.  So she’s excited about the idea and totally wants to do it, but also thinks that other kids will think that it’s lame and call her a nerd.  She asks what I think.

“I think,” I tell her, “That it would be completely in character.”

“How do you mean?”

“You’re not the Shakespeare geek, and your teacher and classmates know that. You’re the girl whose dad is a Shakespeare geek.  So you bring in some Shakespeare cookies and say, I made these because of course my dad is such a geek he has a Shakespeare cookie cutter. Your teacher will love it because he knows that you’re the kind of student that does extra things like that, and your fellow students love it because free cookies. Everybody knows I’m totally the kind of person that has a Shakespeare cookie cutter.  I’m glad to have the opportunity to use it.”

Being the parent, though, my opinion only counts for so much.  So she starts texting her friends asking whether they think it’s a good idea, or it’s lame.  One of her friends writes back, “I think the teacher will love it and absolutely you should do it.”  I like her. She also knows she gets cookies out of the deal.

Shakespeare cookie cutter
Is that playdough they used?

So we knocked out a dozen Shakespeare cookies.  It’s a big shape, and hard to transfer from work surface to baking sheet, so each one of them came out just a little bit warped.  My daughter’s running commentary the entire way, performing surgery as necessary. I’m tempted to start making Earl of Oxford jokes but I know she won’t get them.  So instead I say, “Make sure you let the kids know that these are Chandos cookies, and not the more well known Droeshout.”

“You say weird things,” she tells me.

“I know,” I reply.  “I do that on purpose.  Everybody already knows me as a geek, right? Everybody assumes that when the subject comes up I’m going to use words that people don’t know? I embrace that and run with it and make sure that’s true.  It’s entertaining for me. Always be true to who you are, you end up much happier for it.”

She’s bringing them in Monday morning, which I guess is when you’ll see this post.  I’ll report back with an update when I find out how they went over!



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Wherefore Did I Fail

I’m a horrible father.

My oldest, as I may have mentioned, is studying Romeo and Juliet in school. Today while driving her to school we were discussing Shakespeare and I’d joked about the possibility of creating a “Name That Shakespeare” game along the lines of “Name That Tune.”  You know, “I can name that Shakespeare play in 3 words!” sort of thing.  (More on that in a future post!)

To which she responds, “That would be impossible.” Thinks about it and adds, “Well, I suppose some would be easy. Where art thou.”

Not taking my eyes off the road I ask, “What’s that one from?”

“Romeo and Juliet,” she replies.

I immediately begin hitting the child.  “That’s not even funny!” I yell in mock horror. Maybe it wasn’t so mock.

Defending herself she retorts, “Why? What’s wrong with that? Is that not the line?”

“It’s wherefore art thou,” I correct.

“Right,” she says, “It means where are you.”

I immediately begin hitting the child again.  “Where did I go wrong? When did I fail you? Of all the things I’ve taught you, how did you miss this?  This is like the line in the sand between people who understand Shakespeare and who don’t.  It’s the go-to inside joke among Shakespeare geeks.  If you google “Shakespeare knock knock jokes“, you get this joke. I literally have a t-shirt with this joke written on it.  Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“Wherefore who?”


“I don’t get it.”

I didn’t actually push her out of the car, or disown her.  I may have thought about one or the other. She goes on to tell me how she honestly thought (up to this point I’d hoped she was kidding) that Juliet was looking for Romeo in the bushes.  *sigh*  I had to explain how, from her point of view, she’s never going to see the guy again, it was just two ships passing in the night. It’s not like they said “Come out on your balcony, I’ll meet you outside.”

I just honestly don’t understand how that went past her.  If you’d asked me I would have thought it was one of my most overdone jokes.  Surely they’d heard it a hundred times.  Shows what I know.  What else do I assume they know that they have no clue about?



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