Found The Shakespeare Ninja

I love it when I get more Shakespeare than I expected.

Typically I start my work morning from the company kitchen doing various “sit at the computer” chores, like following up on emails or paying some bills.  Today I was finding video of the 2012 London Olympics because they used Caliban’s “Be not afeard” speech in both the opening and closing and I’d told my daughter’s teacher I would send links.

While I am doing this, a couple of coworkers sit down and we start to discuss Shakespeare – led by them asking me questions, not me boring them.  The conversation goes something like this:

“I read my share of Shakespeare, but never The Tempest.”

“Yeah, it’s a later play, probably most famous because people think of it as the last thing Shakespeare wrote. But it’s also the one that fits the fairy tale model the best, so it’s what I used to introduce my kids to Shakespeare.”

“Really?”

“Sure.  It basically goes once upon a time there was a little girl who lived on an island with her father, a powerful wizard.  She learns that she is a long lost princess.  One day pirates crash land on the island, and she meets a prince who promises to take her away to live happily ever after.”

“Seriously? That’s the plot of The Tempest?”

“Well, there’s a lot more to it than that.  But for a five year old?  Sure, that’s about it.  That works better than there’s this guy, see? And his uncle killed his dad and slept with his mom.  That only works with Lions.  And his best friends are a meerkat and a warthog!”

“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?”

“Exactly.  If you hadn’t guessed I’m one of the ones who thinks there’s more *not* Hamlet in Lion King than is Hamlet, but I understand why people think that.  Uncle kills the king, son has to reclaim the throne? Fine, done, Hamlet. But that doesn’t mean everything else is automatically a parallel.  R & G were spies sent by Claudius to take Hamlet to his execution, they weren’t his best buddies going off on adventures and learning about life.  If you want to play that angle, Shakespeareans suggest it has more to do with Henry IV.”

“That’s the one with Falstaff, right?”

“Exactly. One of Shakespeare’s greatest unknown creations. If you haven’t studied Shakespeare, you probably don’t know Falstaff.  People know the title characters, your Richard III, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and so on.  But there’s a case to be made that Falstaff is one of Shakespeare’s best.”

<fast forward as I bring up the big finish to Chimes at Midnight, the “I know thee not, old man” scene>

The two I’ve been speaking with agree that this is a very fine bit of acting, and we start wrapping it up to get back to work.  Another coworker, who I do not normally have much contact with, has come in for coffee on the tail end of that and makes a curious face, wondering what he missed.

“Oh, just some morning Shakespeare,” I tell him.

“Sorry I missed it,” he replies.  He then makes his coffee while rambling about imitating contagious clouds or something.  I assume that he is trying to sound Shakespearey.  People do that to me sometimes.  “Mine coffee thus needeth more sugar!” and what not.

“Cool,” I say when he looks at me for a response.  He leaves.

I fire up Open Source Shakespeare and check something. Son of a gun!

Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder’d at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.

He was quoting Henry IV Part 1!  I messaged him to confirm that I had to look up his reference, that I had totally missed it.  He apologized for getting the quote wrong.

I’ve worked here three years, that’s the first time he’s made a Shakespeare reference.  I wonder how many others I’m surrounded by on a daily basis?  It’s kind of exciting never knowing when random Shakespeare’s going to come at you unexpectedly.

This month’s posts are sponsored by No Shave November. To help raise cancer prevention awareness, and some money along the way, all proceeds from this month’s advertising, merchandise and book sales are being donated.  If you’d like to support the site by supporting the cause, please consider visiting my personal fundraising page linked above, where you can make a direct donation.

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Palimpsest for Life

I know the search engine optimization (SEO) game is an ongoing battle for Google to stay one step ahead of everybody, but this is getting ridiculous.  This story only has a little Shakespeare but I couldn’t pass it up.

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I have a book channel of sorts at my day job.  We have a book club that does the traditional “one book a month that we vote on” type of thing, but because of the amount I read, I have my own channel where I just brain dump book review after book review.  Last year I think I read 70 books? Something like that.

Anyway, just this morning I’d finished writing up Perdido Street Station by Chia Miéville, and made a comment about the author’s vocabulary:

I read a review that said “the author writes like he swallowed a thesaurus” and had a laugh because that’s quite true. Some words are just so out of the ordinary that they leap out of the page and yell “Remember when this word was on a vocabulary quiz back in high school!” I haven’t heard “palimpsest” in years, but over the last couple of weeks of reading this one he used it probably 4 or 5 times.

Later that day I was talking to Bardfilm about interpretations of Ophelia (doesn’t everybody do that?) and I learned something, so I had reason to google “olivier’s ophelia” – as in Sir Laurence Olivier’s interpretation of a particular scene with Ophelia.  Here’s what google gave back:

Note the third result returned, if you’re not getting it.

TELL ME THAT’S NOT WEIRD.

If it turns out that Google is actually ordering search results based on the fact that I searched “palimpsest” earlier that day (once, to confirm the dictionary definition), then I just give up trying to win the SEO game.  That’s crazy.

Somebody else search “olivier’s ophelia” for me and tell me if palimpsest shows up, or it was just for me?

 

This month’s posts are sponsored by No Shave November. To help raise cancer prevention awareness, and some money along the way, all proceeds from this month’s advertising, merchandise and book sales are being donated.  If you’d like to support the site by supporting the cause, please consider visiting my personal fundraising page linked above, where you can make a direct donation.

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The Simple Pleasures (A Geeklet Story)

Two of my kids are taking PSATs this week.  So, as usual, we’re rushing off to school when one of them says, “Oh, wait, I need a pencil.”

I throw my hands up in the air. “STOP EVERYTHING!” I yell.  “WAIT!”

Everybody freezes.

“Say that again,” I tell her.

“I need a pencil,” she says.

“2b or not 2b?” I ask.  “Come on! How often does that come up organically?????”

My children give me the, “….seriously?” look.  My wife for not the first time that day tries to remind herself why she married me.

Hey, it’s the little things.

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Right Idea, Wrong King (A Geeklet Story)

I love that my kids are in high school now and I still get to tell Shakespeare geeklet stories.

For some reason the story has come up of when my middle daughter, who is starting her freshman year at private school, went through the interview / application process.  In particular her older sister likes to remind her that when asked what grade she would give the school, she gave a realistic 8 out of 10.

“Obviously,” says my oldest, who is a junior at this school, “You tell them 10 out of 10. That’s what they want to hear.”

“Who are you, King Richard III?” my son asks.

That one gives me pause.  “Love the reference,” I tell him, “But do you want to explain what that has to do with Richard III?”

“Because you just tell them what they want to hear, so you get what you want.  Like the evil daughters.”

“That’s King Lear!” both his sisters reply.

That never gets old.

 

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Shakespeare Calling (A Geeklet Story)

This weekend my son and I went to the Boston Calling music festival because he’s a big Eminem fan.  His sisters will be going to see Taylor Swift this summer, and we already dragged him to that once, it didn’t seem fair to doom him to a life of shows like that just because he’s outnumbered.

Anyway, here’s where the Shakespeare comes in.  We’re walking from the hotel to the festival…

Geeklet:  “I told my friend at school that I’m going to see Eminem and he said, ‘Are you going to eat M&Ms?'”

Me:  “I once played Othello *at* Othello.”

Geeklet:  “What?”

Me: “Never mind.”

Later in the evening when we’re trying literally not to get lost in a crowd. Somehow the conversation turns to how you never know, just bumping into somebody or stepping on their shoe might set them off.

A few hours after that, it’s dark, it’s a standing room only crush of people, and he steps on my toe.

Me:  “Yo homes, you just step on my toe?  I will murder you.”

Geeklet: “No you wouldn’t.”

Me: “I can do it, too. We’re in the same hotel room. Smother you in your sleep with a pillow.”

Geeklet:  “Othello.”

Me: “…wait, what? Seriously?”

Geeklet: “Wait what what?”

Me: “That’s the one that ends where the guy smothers his wife with a pillow.  Didn’t know you remembered that.”

Geeklet: “I didn’t, I just picked the one that rhymed with pillow.”

 

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