Weird Flexeth, But Ok (A Geeklet Story)

Cleopatra was definitely not baked into a pie.

Be me, on a typical school day, bustling around getting the kids breakfast as they get ready for school.  My middle announces, “Did I tell you my Shakespeare story?”

Everything stops, of course.  Well, more to the point everything I’m doing stops, while my wife kind of gives me the, “Seriously?” look since stuff’s still got to get done.

“Do tell,” I reply. “The very fact that you brought it up means this is going to be a blog post.”

“Ok,” she says, putting down her spoon. “Well, my friends and I the other day are talking, and somehow Shakespeare comes up, you know.”

“Sure, sure. I know the feeling.”

“And then my friend is all,” cue dripping fawning voice, “Oh, I *love* Shakespeare, I just *love* Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer’s Night’s Dream!” At this point she switches to brainy smirk, rolls up her sleeves, and begins.  “Well, I said to her, do you know Othello? Hmm?  How about Winter’s Tale? Or Titus Androkinus?”

My oldest and I exchange a glance and a laugh at that one.  Middle continues, “Have *you* ever read the one where the husband bakes his wife into a pie? Hmmm???”

“Wait, what?” I ask.

“That’s Cleopatra,” says my oldest.

“Wait, WHAT?”  I ask.

“Isn’t there one about Cleopatra and her husband?”

Antony and Cleopatra, yes?”

“Isn’t that the one she’s talking about?”

“…???…NO?!”

It’s funny how sometimes the facts get garbled.  I explain that Titus baked the sons of his enemy into a pie.  I still have no idea where they got baking his wife – nor the connection with Antony and Cleopatra.

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Wrong Play (But I Can Understand The Confusion)

Fun bit of Shakespeare Geekery on Reddit today when I spotted too late this “Tip of My Tongue” post:

In it there’s a specific scene in which all the characters repeat how they feel about each other a bunch of times with all of them stating how they feel affection for one of the people in the group who does not feel for them.

One of the characters may have an injured arm and I think one of them kept on ending the repeating cycle of lines with something like “and I for no man”

I think I remember one of the characters MIGHT have been a girl dressing up as a guy but I’m not completely sure

By the time I spotted this post somebody had replied, “Twelfth Night?” to which the original poster said, “Solved! That’s the one.”  He even shot down suggestions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado About Nothing as not being the correct answer.

Astute geeks will no doubt see the problem. He is describing, to a T, that other cross-dressing romantic comedy, As You Like It.  Orlando has entered with a broken arm, Rosalind is dressed as a boy, everybody declares their love for the wrong person, and Rosalind is the one who keeps “ending the repeating cycle of lines” with, “and I for no woman”:

SILVIUS
It is to be all made of sighs and tears;
And so am I for Phebe.

PHEBE
And I for Ganymede.

ORLANDO
And I for Rosalind.

ROSALIND
And I for no woman.

SILVIUS
It is to be all made of faith and service;
And so am I for Phebe.

PHEBE
And I for Ganymede.

ORLANDO
And I for Rosalind.

ROSALIND
And I for no woman.

It’s getting so you can’t tell one girl dressed as boy comedy from the next! 🙂

 

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I Said Introduction, Not Induction! ( A Geeklet Story )

My daughter’s in an honest to goodness 100% full-time Shakespeare class now.  It’s been a long time coming.  They’re starting right out with Taming of the Shrew, and already she’s lost.

“I have to annotate the Induction,” she tells me.

I’d completely forgotten about the Induction.  In all the times I’ve told them the story, I don’t think I’d ever mentioned it.

“Oh yeah,” I reply.  “So there’s this dude, Christopher Sly, who is the drunk at the local bar.  It starts out with him arguing with the hostess about breaking some glasses, then he promptly passes out. A lord comes back from the hunt, sees him sleeping in the street, and says, ‘Hey, you know what would be fun? Let’s take him home and dress him in my clothes and tell him he’s actually the lord of the house.’ Have you ever heard the term gaslighting?  They totally gaslight him.  Anyway, he’s not really buying it, until they tell him he’s married, so his first reaction is to say Great! Wife? Let’s go to bed!”

“Oh, charming.”

“Exactly.  They talk him out of it, though. Meanwhile, there are these roving players who run into the original lord and ask if he wants to see a show, so he sends them over to his house to put a show on for Christopher Sly.  That show is Taming of the Shrew.  And, then, basically, Christopher Sly is never heard from again.  Well, he comes back briefly after the first scene or something, but that’s about it. You’re probably going to get tested on why he wrote it, and that’s a good question. There’s a variety of theories.  He didn’t write like that for any other play.”

“Yeah, well,” she says, flipping through her copy, “I didn’t get any of that from this.” Reading, “I’ll feeze you in faith? A pair of stocks you rogue?” She pronounces it “rouge,” like makeup. “How am I supposed to get from that that he’s arguing with the lady at the bar?”

Slowly but surely she works her way through the induction, which she first thinks goes 20 pages until I insist that she read it again and she realizes that every other page is vocabulary, so it’s only 10 pages of content.

So today at dinner she fills me in on how well she fared on that assignment.

“So it turns out,” she says, “that while I was out of class one day last week, she gave out this packet that was an introduction to the play. We were supposed to annotate THAT!”

 

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The Return of Some Guy From New York

You know, it’s easy to forget how long I’ve been doing this.  Going all the way back to 2006 I linked to a podcast called Some Guy From New York. The gimmick was that he’d been sentenced to community service teaching Shakespeare, and he was working his way through the sonnets, analyzing each one.

That was a long time ago, and his is not the first Shakespeare podcast to come and go. But a funny thing happened this time.  Several different people over the years found their way to that post and asked if there was any way to get in touch with the creator.

I do love a challenge.  I was able to contact Jason Pomerantz, the original Some Guy From New York, and asked if he’d like me to re-host the original podcast files for him.

So, I am very happy to present the new home for the original 48 episodes of the Some Guy From New York podcast! Here’s to a whole new audience rediscovering Jason’s excellent work.  Who knows, maybe he’ll be motivated to come out of retirement?

(Still gotta do something about that Yankees hat, though….)

 

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No Pun Intended

One of my favorite puns in all of Shakespeare can be found in this exchange between Hamlet and Polonius:

HAMLET
‘Tis well: I’ll have thee speak out the rest soon.
Good my lord, will you see the players well
bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used; for
they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the
time: after your death you were better have a bad
epitaph than their ill report while you live.

LORD POLONIUS
My lord, I will use them according to their desert.

HAMLET
God’s bodykins, man, much better: use every man
after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?

I love it.  Hamlet tells Polonius to treat the players well. Polonius responds that he will treat them as well as they deserve.  Hamlet says that if he were to do that, no man would escape the whip.  But the last line can also be read as a play on “dessert”, making “whipping” a play on whipped cream or some other confectionary treat.

Except that it’s not a pun at all. I have been informed by numerous sources that the term “dessert” did not exist for Shakespeare (first published in 1633 according to the OED).  Likewise, “whipping” in reference to confectionary, as in a whipped topping or whipped cream, not until the 1800s.

I really wanted this pun to work.  I even did my own research, coming across this recipe for a “dishful of snow”, which is basically whipped egg whites and sugar:

Alas, I have to admit that this is in no way called a dessert, nor does it say to whip anything.  Oh well.  I was actually informed that if Shakespeare was thinking about what we know as dessert, he was probably thinking of something more in line with, “eel baked in Marchpane or lamprey roasted in a sweetened sauce made of its own blood.”  Go ahead and think about putting whipped cream on that!

Anyway, what’s your favorite pun of Shakespeare’s?  I’ll leave you with another favorite that nobody has yet spoiled for me. This one from Two Gentlemen of Verona:

LAUNCE

Nay, I’ll show you the manner of it. This
shoe is my father: no, this left shoe is my father:
no, no, this left shoe is my mother: nay, that
cannot be so neither: yes, it is so, it is so, it
hath the worser sole.

 

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