How Now, Kindred Spirit! ( A Semi-Geeklet Story)

In marketing my merchandise I’ve often noted that “the dream” is to randomly bump into somebody wearing one of my t-shirts, because I’ll know I’ve found a kindred spirit. This week I learned to always have my eyes open because kindred spirits are all around.

My oldest geeklet was inducted into her school’s chapter of the National Honor Society last night.  It was held in the school chapel. It just so happens that their chapter coordinator is also her Shakespeare teacher.  Here, to the best of my ability to recap it, is her welcome speech:

“This being Boston, I did hear on the radio that there’s some kind of important game on television tonight.” <pause for cheers from the audience> “The Bruins are in the playoffs, and game seven sounds exciting.”  <more cheers> “I don’t follow sports, but I do have my own personal reasons for celebrating, because today is also Shakespeare’s Birthday.”

And that, if you can believe it, marks the very first time on a Shakespeare Day I’ve been in the room with a third party who, entirely independent of me, brings it up.

So I did what I always told myself I hoped I’d do.  I threw both hands up in the air and yelled, “WOOO!”  She pointed at me from her lectern and smiled.  I believe there were some cheers for Shakespeare but honestly I can’t remember, I was having too much an “Ok, I can’t believe I just did that” moment 🙂

After the ceremony at the reception, she did come up to me and say, “Thanks for having my back on the Shakespeare thing.”  I told her that was the only celebration of Shakespeare Day I had this year. We then started talking about the ending of Othello – or, rather, I started talking about the ending of Othello while my wife pulled me away and let her sit down and talk to her fiancé.

That’s also something I’ve told people many times — if I start talking about Shakespeare, just go ahead and walk away at some point, because I’m not going to stop. 🙂

 

 

It Was The Year Without a Shakespeare Geek

So, how’d you spend your Shakespeare Day 2019?  In the past I have gone on marathon posting binges, posting upwards of two dozen stories. Last year I wrote a Twitter bot that spent the day revisiting the archives.  It’s a big day in my life, a huge day.  My own personal holiday, that I look forward to more than my own birthday.

This year I did … nothing. And I feel like that merits an explanation.

Just before St. Patrick’s Day this year I injured myself – tore my Achilles tendon. For the majority of folks who have not had that misfortune, allow me to sum it up — surgery, and then staying off your feet for over six weeks.  There’s more to it than that (time in a splint, time in a cast, time in a boot…) but the end result is a complete disruption of your life for almost two months. I couldn’t even drive to work – luckily I sit behind a computer all day and my day job has been very understanding about me becoming a remote employee.

My first reaction when they told me was, “Woohoo! All day long at home?  I’ll get *so much* done!”  Yeah … no.  You don’t realize how much you can’t do when you have to stand on one foot, and your hands are occupied by crutches. Even simple acts like going to the refrigerator (or the bathroom!) become a real chore. Sitting on the couch all day sounds like fun until you realize that you’re being forced to do that, even when you don’t want to.

And thus the chain reaction begins. Crutching around all day takes more energy out of you than just plain walking, so you’re more tired than normal.  It will take more energy to actually do the things you need to do, so you end up with more inertia about staying right where you are. Then you feel guilty about the work that’s piling up that you’re not doing. Then you start looking forward and thinking, “Everything will go back to normal when I get my feet back, but until then everything’s basically on pause.”

As I read that back it sounds very “woe is me” and I do realize that there are probably people reading who’ve had the same injury saying, “What? No. I was back in the gym two days later.”  I’m not saying I’ve had the greatest recovery.  I was 50 years old and not in the greatest shape before I got literally swept off my feet.  So maybe I took it harder than others might have. I’m just being honest here, because that’s part of why you’re all still reading after fourteen years of me doing this.

What’s it all got to do with Shakespeare? If I’m sitting on the couch anyway, already with the laptop ready to go, why am I not banging out the posts?  My last real post to the blog was March 14, basically right before everything happened. During those first couple of weeks of recovery there was actual downtime, actual pain, actual painkillers. That wasn’t fun. Every day I’d say, “I should write something on the blog,” but then I wouldn’t, and then I’d feel guilty. The longer I waited, the more I’d think, “When I start posting again it has to be something good, not just glorified retweeting.”

Before I knew it, Shakespeare Day was upon me. Actually I totally knew – my most recent doctor’s appointment to remove my cast and switch me over to a “walking boot” was scheduled for April 23. So that was the big event of my yesterday, a milestone in my return to normal.  I just was not in the right frame of mind to do something awesome for Shakespeare Day, and if I wasn’t going to do something awesome, I didn’t want to do anything.

So that’s my excuse.  I do have a story to tell, which is coming in the next post. My Shakespeare Day was not without Shakespeare, fear not.  I hope this post represents my return to regular posting. I’ve missed you all.

 

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Friends, Romans, Countrymen…I Need A Favor

Hello!  Terribly sorry for my absence of late, things are happening that are making life complicated. Your regularly scheduled Shakespeare should resume soon.

This post doesn’t contain much Shakespeare, let’s get that out of the way right now. I don’t like to misuse my audience.  But it does have a father (me) and a daughter (mine) so at the end if we want to discuss which of Shakespeare’s play our relationship most resembles, we can see where that goes.

My younger daughter wants to be a writer.  She recently entered a short story competition with a small piece that she literally crafted out of thin air when she said, “I need a noun” and my wife said, “Balloon.”  We entered the story and she rocketed up to the #4 spot (out of almost 300 entries) and became a finalist for the Community Vote!

For the finals, the votes are cleared and a new round begins. Right now she’s sitting in second place, which isn’t too shabby.  But I’ve learned that the person in first place is an existing contributor to that site with nearly 100 other submissions. His bio says he’s been writing poetry since 2004 – which would be the same year my daughter was born.  He’s got about 4000 followers on the site who are shooting him to the top of all the charts (in the first round he had 3x the votes of the next closest entry).

Well, I’ve got over 20,000 followers. No, none of this is Shakespeare. But I’m a father trying to make his daughter happy.  It doesn’t matter to me if she wins. It matters that when she refreshes her vote count and it doesn’t go up, she’s sad – but when it does, she’s happy.  So I want it to go up every time she looks, and I’m unapologetically going to use every means at my disposal to make that happen.

If you’ve read this far and would like to help contribute to the cause, thank you!  Here’s the link:

Read and Vote for “The Life of a Balloon” by Elizabeth!

If you saw my earlier posts on FB and Twitter and have already voted, please note that this is the finals, this is a new round!  So you can come back and vote again!

Thanks so much for your time.  Have we decided which play we most resemble?  I’ve been thinking about it while I write.  How about Prospero? I went through my vengeful phase, snooping around to see if there might be a way to get the first place guy disqualified ….. but ultimately it’s more about my daughter’s happiness, and the number of reads and votes can do that much more than a couple of bucks of prize money.   Now go vote!

 

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My Mandela Moment

A false memory is a psychological phenomenon where a person recalls something that did not happen or differently from the way it happened.

You ever have that thing where you have a very strong memory of something, and other people say, “Yeah, yeah, me too!”  Only it turns out that it never happened?  And your memory – even though other people claim to have the same memory – is entirely false? That’s called the Mandela Effect.

So I may have mentioned, my daughter is studying Taming of the Shrew. And last night she was working on an assignment where she was supposed to discuss how an all female or all male production might change the interpretation and performance. She was supposed to pick a scene and talk about different ways it could be interpreted in this context.

I said, “Well, let’s think about it. Kate puts on this nasty exterior, but maybe down inside, hidden from everybody, she *wants* to like one of these guys. She *wants* to get married. It’s supposed to be a good, happy thing.  So along comes this guy and she turns on the shrew and she gives him everything she’s got, and he stands toe to toe with her and takes it.  And maybe she comes away from that meeting thinking, interesting, maybe this guy’s different…”

Here I even dropped in that god awful “If you can’t handle me at my worst you don’t deserve me at my best” quote that floats around social media.  “But then she sees Petruchio talking about money with her father, and she’s dejected again, she realizes that they’re all the same, he’s just in it for the money.”

“Wait, that happens?” my daughter asks, grabbing her text.

No, it apparently doesn’t.  I checked the text and could not find the scene I’m talking about. I asked my resources and people confirm, no such scene.

So now I’m fascinated by where I got that idea.  It’s not like I’ve seen many versions of Shrew. I assumed it must be in the Taylor/Burton movie, because that’s the most well known and the most likely candidate, since I would have seen that one back in high school and formed such a memory. But again, it doesn’t seem to be in there.

It’s a scene easily inserted at the end of Act II, after they’ve met and before Petruchio goes off to arrange the wedding.  Doesn’t even need any words.  Just show Baptista’s people loading up Petruchio’s horse with a big bag of gold or something, and let Kate see it. But I can’t find video evidence of such a scene. (Kind of reminds me of all the kids who think that there’s a wedding scene in Romeo and Juliet. No, there’s not.  There’s a wedding scene in the Romeo+Juliet movie, though.)

 

 

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[Admin] Is There A Travel Agent In The House?

So, the good news is that my upcoming trip to London / Stratford Upon Avon is starting to come together. The first thing I did was to book a nice AirBNB in SUA.  The plan is to arrive there on Monday, stay until Thursday, when we’ll head into London and spend about a week before returning to the US. I haven’t booked the flight yet but I’ve been assuming we’ll fly into Heathrow.

Here’s the catch. I knew that London and SUA were “about 2-3 hours apart”, which is the primary reason we’re splitting up the trip.  But now I’m hearing things like “switch trains 3 times” and “takes over 4 hours”, not to mention train tickets costing over $100 each.  I had not anticipated this little wrinkle.

The good folks on Twitter have been trying to help, offering all manner of suggestions “you could go here here and here, or you could go here, switch, then go here…” and honestly it’s all Greek to me.

What I’m hoping is that some of my readers are local and familiar with the area and the options and can say, for a family of five who’ll be traveling with luggage and just gotten off a red-eye flight from the US (figure arriving in London around 11 am, judging by the flight scheduled), what’s the best way to get to SUA?  Renting my own car is not an option, I’ve never been out of the US and won’t give myself a crash (ha!) course in driving on the other side of the road. But can we hire a car?  Is that something Uber (or equivalent) could handle?  Is there a bus? Where would I make reservations for these things?

Thanks for the help!  I’m putting faith in the universe that everything works out and we have the trip of a lifetime, but I’ve got to make sure that the details like this get worked out.  I can’t relax and plan the fun stuff until the necessary stuff is taken care of — get to country (flight), get to hotel 1 (SUA), get to hotel 2 (London), get home.

 

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