Shakespeare Geek In Stratford : Prologue

The eye
of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not
seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue
to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream

Where do I begin?  How do you build up something in your mind for your entire adult life, until it becomes as close as you’ll ever get to a religious pilgrimage, and then one day, there you are?  How do you describe that? I’m torn between my desire to brain dump literally everything I saw and felt and did, and my knowledge that nothing I write will capture it.  Who do I think I am, Shakespeare? Even trying to craft this post a flood of Shakespeare memories came pouring back into my brain as I likened my trip to how the London Olympics both opened and closed with Caliban’s “I cried to dream again” speech.  But as you can see, I chose Bottom’s Dream. Because the experience was one of wonder, and when it came time to leave I was ok. I wasn’t sad.  But I was changed.

I don’t know how many posts I’m going to get out of the trip. There’s going to be at least half a dozen.  I don’t want to miss anything, but I don’t want to drag it out forever either.  As I post, I hope people with questions will jump into the comments or social media and ask, because though I may find it difficult to sit down and write about, I’m certainly more than ok talking about it.  So if I don’t get to something that you really wanted to know, ask away and I’ll answer.

How This Is Going To Work

To recap the details of the trip and put some context on the stories – we took a red-eye into London, leaving Sunday night and arriving Monday morning. We then got a car service to Stratford-upon-Avon, where we stayed in an Airbnb Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.  Thursday it was back into London for a week (including a show at The Globe) before heading back home.  Along the way there’s several dozen pictures I’ve got to share, including a number of pictures of things I’ll bet you’ve never seen before!

With that in mind I’ll leave you with the view outside the front door of our Airbnb in Stratford:

If you can’t read it, that’s the back of The Shakespeare Centre, home to The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and the spiritual center of my universe for the last several decades.  All we have to do is cross the street.

But first? Sleep.

To be continued …

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Leaving, On A Jet Plane

By the time you read this, I’ll be on a plane to London. From there we’re going straight to Stratford Upon Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace and a town I’m still not sure I’m spelling properly, and my life will be forever changed.

For years people have asked me whether I’ve been to Stratford, and the answer has always been no.  Once I knew that I would be going I started wondering how to change my answer, because it’s hardly sufficient to say, “Not yet, but I’m going in August.”

The more time passed, the more I inflated the idea in my head as something I’d likely never do.  At times I likened it to a religious pilgrimage, then I decided that was a bit sacrilegious to folks so I stopped saying that. But it doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t expect to ever go there. My wife had been to London shortly before we got married, and it didn’t seem fair, with the big world we live in, to say “Hey, I want you to go back to someplace you’ve already been, just for me.”  I don’t really work like that.  Worse, all I could think for myself was “I will want to spend every waking moment doing Shakespeare things, and that would be boring for them, so then I would deliberately cut back on the Shakespeare, but then I wouldn’t get out of the trip what I’d built up in my head….” and on and on and on.

Until one day the family got together and said, “We want to take you to see Shakespeare’s birthplace.”

That was probably a year ago. And here we are! Hours to go before I’m on a plane. Last night the kids asked me what I was looking forward to the most.  I said, “Checking it off the list.”  They said, “Wow, that’s a disappointing answer.”

I said, “Let me put it another way.  Up to this point in my life I can say – have to say – No, I’ve never been to Stratford.  After this trip?  I will be able to say I have.  This is a defining moment in my life.”

I can’t wait.  See you all soon!




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Orville and Wilbur Shakespeare [ A Geeklet Story ]

My kids’ interest / attention span when it comes to Shakespeare has waxed and waned over the years, to be sure. Although my youngest, my son, was running around quoting Hamlet when he was about 4 (and not realizing what he was saying, or why I enjoyed that so much), his interest in all things academic or educational has definitely waned throughout middle school. Some days I can’t tell if he’s tired, uninterested, or just trolling me.

Me: “So when we arrive in Stratford we might have the chance to see some special stuff like we did at Folger.  What kind of stuff would you want to see if you had the choice?”

Him:  “An airplane.”

Me: “An airplane.”

Him:  “Yes.”

Me: “I don’t think they have airplanes at the Shakespeare Birthplace, given that they were invented in America in 1903.”



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The Countdown Has Begun! 7 Days Until I Arrive

It’s now one week until my trip to Stratford Upon Avon!  Lodgings locations, travel there (from landing in London) arranged.  We’ve got our “Full Story” tickets to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which gets us into:

  • the birthplace
  • New Place
  • Hall’s Croft
  • Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
  • Mary Arden’s Farm

Additionally, here’s what I know we have to see (but I know nothing about their relative location to each other, whether they need tickets in advance, or what have you):

  • Must have a meal at the Dirty Duck
  • The school, of course.
  • The church / grave, of course

Does anybody know that “The Creaky Cauldron” is?  I don’t think it’s a Shakespeare thing but it seemed like something my kids might like, to break up the Shakespeare.

Alas we will not be seeing a show at the RSC.  A family member actually gave us tickets to a show at the Globe (when we go to London the next week) and I could not justify the cost/time of making my family sit through two lengthy Shakespeare shows.

If anybody’s got last minute tips I’m all ears!  Looking for any local knowledge about how far things are apart from each other (we’ve arranged no special transportation so I’m hoping everything’s a reasonable walk), what we might need tickets for in advance, what times of day might be better for some things than others, that sort of thing.  I’ve been waiting my whole life for this trip so anything and everything that makes it awesome, I’m interested!

Question!  How exactly does one hire a car? Say we did want to go somewhere just outside of town.  I hear Kenilworth Castle is nice.  Or Warwick? What’s my best way to get my family there?

Can’t wait!



Not By Shakespeare : Little Candles and Weary Worlds

I’ve been auto posting a bunch of Shakespeare quotes to Twitter lately, and watching the analytics to see which ones people seem to like most.  A popular one was:

How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world. – Merchant of Venice (Act V, Scene I)

I thought I’d make a new t-shirt out of it. But the more I looked at it the more I thought, “Wait, did Shakespeare really use the word naughty?  Let me double check.” Because if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s when I make a mistake on a Shakespeare quote.

I start typing “So shines a good deed” into Google and helpful Google pops up in autocomplete “in a weary world.”

Oh! Ok, that makes more sense I suppose.  Then I thought, shoot, did I tweet the wrong quote?  So I force Google to search “in a naughty world”.  Sure enough, hits for that one too!

What’s going on?

When in doubt, off to the First Folio we go!

Interesting! It’s the same in Q1 (I like to check there as well because sometimes it changed!)

So then where did weary come into it?  Though this may not have been the first example of the mistake, you’ll soon see why it’s so popular:

Mr. Wonka’s not the only one weary of this naughty world. Google tells me that “weary” is actually the more popular of the two!

Bardfilm’s got a theory that “naughty” was simply edited down for a the kids’ film.  From what I can tell, he’s not wrong. He’s a 2005 “Straight Dope” post about the topic:

It goes on to say that Setzer tweaked the line, probably to be less archaic and more reflective of Wonka’s character.

(The original link the researcher found is dead.)

I’m ok with this answer – it’s better than, “They changed it because they felt like it.”  The movie is over, and this is the big climactic moment for Wilder’s character.  Is his primary thought that the world is a naughty place?  Or is he just so very tired of it being that way?  Not to spoil the ending but he’s about to make some decisions that answer that question.


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