Pop Goes The Redbubble

You said it, Hamlet.

I greatly appreciate all of the people that have purchased Shakespeare Geek merchandise; I truly do. I hope you like it. It’s been a bit of a challenge to really optimize for that particular revenue stream since (a) I am not really much of a visual designer, and (b) that’s not the primary reason why I do this. I’m a blog that has merch, not a blog that exists to sell merch. There’s a difference.

Most of the Shakespeare Geek merchandise can be found on Amazon. They are, after all the gorilla of the space. They’ll get the most volume all around the world.

But the thing is, Amazon only really does apparel. T-Shirts, mostly, and some hoodies thrown in. During the pandemic in particular people started asking about face masks. And people always want stickers.

Enter Shakespeare Geek merchandise on Redbubble. Thus far I’ve loved their product selection, even if stickers and face masks are by far my best sellers. They’ve got mugs and phone cases … they’ve even got socks and leggings. So, yes, I did make Malvolio’s yellow cross garters. They’re a big hit.

But … there’s a problem.

Redbubble just announced a new fee structure for small artists like me that, quite frankly, is going to destroy all of us. According to their fee table (which has not yet gone into effect), if I made $20 in commission in a month, they’d charge me almost $9 – practically half. That’s ridiculous.

So, I don’t plan on staying on Redbubble for long. I’m putting the word out now. If you see this, and you wanted to buy your own Malvolio yellow socks or a “Shakespeare makes life better” sticker or a “Do you quarrel, sir?” t-shirt, now’s the time to grab them. Because as soon as I find another option I’m out of there. I don’t know when that will be, but I know it’s coming. I also know that the fee structure they’re imposing starts on May 1, so seriously, if you do want to buy something please keep that in mind because starting May 1 I’m going to make about half as much as I used to.

Thanks again for all the support! Onward and upward!

Shakespeare Cookies Are Back

I think that many Shakespeare geeks out there probably have the same Shakespeare cookie cutter I do. It’s huge, right? It’s fun to have such a thing but it’s tricky to actually make them because half the time they break or warp or just end up a big, unrecognizable blob.

Well, we can change that. Recently I had the opportunity to go into my son’s high school class to talk about why Shakespeare is fun and exciting, Did I mention I own a 3d printer? So one of the things I made sure to do was bring a bag of takeaways for the kids to…ummm…take away.

One of the things that I made was a new Shakespeare cookie cutter! I found a new pattern on Printables.com by user KingOfTheCouch. Check it out!

He’s kind of cute, even if he does look a little more like Shakespeare’s uncle than Shakespeare. The beard needs to be less bushy, and there has to be some hint of a beard. Of course the real question is what does he look like after he’s cooked?

As you can see, I’m pretty amateur when it comes to frosting. And green is the only color I had for the eyes (other than red). Still, though, I’ll call it a win. Glad I made him.

Here’s the funny part of the story. I made a bunch of cookie cutters to give out during my classroom visit. I promptly ran out of time and forgot to do so. I gave one to the teacher afterward, but it was too late to make the kids stay around just so I could give out something they may not even have wanted.

Which means I’ve got a bunch of these, already printed and just sitting downstairs in my office. In the interest of putting them to use and getting some more Shakespeare out into the world, I’m happy to ship them to any Shakespeare geeks out there who would like one – I’d just ask that you Venmo me something for shipping cost. Just drop me a note, either via email or Twitter. I’m not trying to sell something that’s not mine — the link to the original print is up there and if you’ve got access to a 3d printer you can totally print your own. It’s just considered proper etiquette in the maker space to not sell other people’s work.

ChatGPT Gets My Jokes. I Think.

I recently learned that not only can ChatGPT tell you a joke, you can tell it one as well. Even better, it will compliment your joke and explain it back to you! Well, in the interest of research I had to ask it some of our favorite, original, Shakespeare jokes. This way I know for sure that it didn’t scan these jokes and responses off another page. I’m actually rather impressed with the results. You’ll see what I mean.

Well, we had to start somewhere. The AI knows that you’ve got a humorous premise right out of the gate by bringing a duck into a bar, but seems confused about the difference between “I was talking about the duck” and “I was talking to the duck.”

Ok, next try.

I love how it recognizes that I’m talking about King Lear, and the contrast of making a joke about a tragedy. But it completely misses the “down” as in “soft feathers” part of the joke and seems to concentrate on duck. I think its version of the joke is funnier, honestly, as it implies some sort of powerful wizard duck that can magically help Gloucester get down from the cliff.

I’ve got a million of ’em.

This one I thought would be a real challenge, but ChatGPT nails it almost completely. It picks up on the duck / Swan reference, the “duck to get out of the way” reference, the “rivalry” between Shakespeare and Edward de Vere, and even thows in a “people getting hit in the face with a pie is always funny” closer.

I wonder if the aspiring stand-up comedians out there have thought about using ChatGPT in their work? This shows that you can literally make up a joke that *you* think is funny, and then have the AI break it down for you. Oh, and for those thinking that it’s programmed to love all jokes:

I had no joke in mind, there. I just threw together two phrases because I was curious what it would do. Sure enough it called me out and said that’s nonsense.

Now I’m going to start running all my jokes through ChatGPT first. I would do the same with some of Bardfilm’s, but I don’t want to break the thing.

All Is Forgiven, ChatGPT Loves Me Again

When a new toy like ChatGPT comes online, one of the first things I do is start asking it Shakespeare questions. In this case, that resulted in almost immediate failure. Having proved what I wanted to prove I stopped experimenting. When I had a chance to talk to high school students about the dangers of using ChatGPT to do your homework, I told the story of home ChatGPT will just flat out make stuff up, and you’d never know the difference.

I recently discovered that you can do more dynamic things with it. For instance you can give it a web site address and ask it to summarize the site. Well, you know what I had to do next. I asked it to tell me what https://www.shakespearegeek.com is about.

For those in the back, what it said was, “Sure! Shakespeare Geek is a popular blog dedicated to Shakespeare’s works, offering insightful analysis, reviews, and commentary for enthusiasts, scholars, and students. The blog covers various Shakespeare-related topics, including play analysis, production reviews, and discussions of the playwright’s life and legacy. Written by a knowledgeable and passionate Shakespeare fan, the site provides valuable resources and engaging conversations about the enduring legacy of the greatest playwright in English literature. For those interested in exploring Shakespeare’s works in-depth and staying up-to-date on the latest news and insights in the Shakespeare community, Shakespeare Geek is a must-read blog.

Well gosh, I’m blushing! Knowledgeable and passionate? A must-read? Thank you, ChatGPT! I shall sing thy praises from now on! ChatGPT speaks nothing but gospel!

Al Pacino As King Lear. Again?

AI's idea of Al Pacino as King Lear
Al Pacino as King Lear (AI version)

If Collider is to be believed, Al Pacino as King Lear is coming sometime in 2024. Normally I’d be excited by this. But, you see, you get jaded when you’ve been doing this for nearly twenty years.

You remember when you first heard about the idea…in 2009:


Seriously, has Pacino ever had it in him to play Lear?  He’s been a great actor, no doubt – but has he ever really had that kind of range?

I guess I wasn’t too keen on the idea back then. But in fairness, I was still pretty new to the game.

Random references to this movie haunt my archives, such as this one from 2011:


Which I like, in hindsight, because at least 4 of the movies mentioned did eventually come out.

How did I feel about it in 2015, where Pacino plays an actor performing King Lear?


I’m ok with that, though, because it means we get to watch Al Pacino perform some of King Lear.

Apparently, in those intervening years, I started to look forward to Pacino doing King Lear

So here we are looking ahead to 2024, thirteen years after the rumor started. Will this be the one? Will we finally see Al Pacino’s version of King Lear? Time will tell!