Of Shakespeare And Pencils

Ok now listen. I’ve been running this site for coming up on fifteen years now, hunting for interesting, educational and amusing things to say about Shakespeare.

Please, for the love of all that is good and holy in this world, can we put an end to every combination of the joke that involves Shakespeare deciding between pencils? Yes, yes, 2B or not 2B. We get it. We’ve heard it, about a million times.

In an attempt to put this one to bed and declare it the oldest known Shakespeare joke, I went googling to see how far back in time I could find it. Anybody know this one?

Said Hamlet to Ophelia,
I’ll draw a sketch of thee,
What kind of pencil shall I use?
2B or not 2B?

That’s A Silly Poem, by Spike Milligan.

I couldn’t pin down an actual year that was written, but Spike Milligan died in 2002. Assuming he didn’t knock that one out on his death bed, this joke is at least twenty years old. His book Silly Verse For Kids was written in 1959, though, so if it turns out this poem was part of that collection then it’s more like sixty years old.

Please stop telling that joke. It is the least original thing anyone will hear all day.

Haha, Gottem. A Geeklet Story.

My son is 13 and recently got in trouble when I discovered that he’d watched the entire first season of a show called Sex Education on Netflix. I haven’t watched it yet myself, so I have no comment on the show or its content. But he’d asked, and I’d reserved judgment and told him not to watch it yet until I could look more into it, and he watched the whole thing on his own. So, he’s busted.

What happens in the balcony stays in the balcony.

Well, season 2 came out recently. He even made his case that he wasn’t watching it for “that stuff”, but that the story was actually really good and he wanted to see what happened with the characters. Father and son came to a general agreement that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he watched it, but he wasn’t to go shoving it in our faces. As parents, we know that we can’t control what our kids are exposed to, but that doesn’t mean we need to be reminded of it. So he’s been stuck on the fence of whether it’s ok for him to watch it, and whether it’s ok for me to know whether he watched it.

Well, it just so happens that season 2 has some sort of Romeo and Juliet thing going on. I haven’t looked into it yet but may have to, for research. So I decided to try something this morning at breakfast.

Me: “Hey, I heard there’s a whole Romeo and Juliet thing in Sex Education season two.”

Him: (without looking up from his phone) “There is. And it so isn’t at all like the actual Romeo and …. I mean, I’ve never seen it and I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

I love the straddled universe in that response. Yeah he’s a 13yr old boy who of course made a beeline to a show called “Sex Education” but he’s also a 13yr old boy so grounded in Shakespeare that he has a strong opinion about the quality of the Romeo and Juliet references. I think I’m ok with that. 🙂

NKOTBard?

How old am I? I saw New Kids On The Block in concert. Back in the 80s, when they (we!) were still kids. Not the modern nostalgia tour.

So it caught my eye when I saw that Joey McIntyre is playing Orsino in Twelfth Night in a New Jersey production over the next few weeks.

I wonder what kind of reaction he still gets? In a parallel universe those kids might have ended up bigger than Justin Timberlake.

Some actors have said that Shakespeare is the ultimate test of their talent. McIntyre says that he isn’t exactly sure about this theory.

And then

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

So, wait, he’s got an opinion on how it’s not “the ultimate test of talent” and yet this is the first time he’s done it? Great. No word on whether he sings.

Trivia!

I grew up in the same town that the Wahlberg family (though we know Mark now, Donnie was a New Kid) lived. The girl I was dating was good friends with some girls that lived on their same street, as a matter of fact. So we’d go over there to hang out on the off chance there’d be a celebrity sighting. Normally you couldn’t get within 100 yards of the place because if Donnie was in town, they’d block off traffic.

On one of those nights, there was quite a commotion. As it came to be told to us, the cops had come to arrest Mark, and Donnie had put up a fight. I remember talk of the cops walking Mark out to the car, then Donnie coming out of the house and jumping on them. I couldn’t possibly prove any of that, I didn’t see it with my own eyes, but I remember the story.

Mark, on the other hand. Nobody likes to talk about Mark’s younger years

Jeopardy : The Bardfilm Category

I recently learned that there’s a database of over 200k actual Jeopardy questions floating around the internet, just waiting for a geek like me to download it and search it for Shakespeare.

And guess what! I found the Bardfilm category! No, not a “Bard on Film” category (though I’m sure that’s in there). I’m talking about bad Shakespeare puns.

I was going to do a post on Shakespearean questions that didn’t really have anything to do with Shakespeare, but then I saw this category and thought, this reminds me of someone.

I HAVEN’T READ SHAKESPEARE, BUT…

For $200, ‘This tragedy has got to be set in a small village, hence the title‘.

For $400, ‘Obviously, it’s a funny play about bad baseball players‘.

For $600? ‘It sounds to me like it’s about the leader of lascivious oglers

Now the $800 answer… ‘It’s about this guy who hires non-permanent secretarial help for his office

And finally, for $1000, the answer: ‘Toyotas! Yeah, that’s it; it’s about Toyotas

Good luck!

This Is Jeopardy!

Given how much I enjoy “knowing a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff,” you’d think I would be religiously following the Jeopardy “Greatest of All Time” (GOAT) Tournament, but I have to admit I wasn’t. I was in to Jeopardy back in the day when they faced off against IBM’s Watson computer and the computer just destroyed everybody. But in the interviews afterward the champion, I think it was Ken Jennings then, too, said something that changed my view of the game. He said, “Anybody that’s up there usually knows most of the answers, it’s a matter of being fastest on the buzzer. And nobody was faster than the computer.” He’s not wrong. Once it becomes obvious that the game is more about details like that and less about who knows more, it’s not nearly as interesting.

That doesn’t mean, though, that we don’t like showing off what we know! Given the chance I don’t mind having it on in the background, just to test what I know but also to add to that knowledge for next time.

Sure enough, what came up as the Final Jeopardy question last night? Our dear dear friend Shakespeare;

He has 272 speeches, the most of any non-title character in a Shakespeare tragedy.

Hat tip to @Bardfilm who actually pointed this out to me, by the way. I wasn’t watching.

Nor, I will admit, did I know the answer. It seems obvious in hindsight but off the top of my head I immediately went to the histories, not realizing that “tragedy” was right there in the clue. I could think of plenty of people that it wasn’t – Polonius, Richard III, Falstaff … but it took him patiently walking me through the clue before I got it.

But I’m not telling the answer, I’ll let you folks work it out in the comments. I’m sure some know it already (whether you saw the episode or not), but some will probably have to guess.