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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RIP Stan Lee

In tribute to Stan Lee I was really hoping the word Excelsior appeared somewhere in Shakespeare’s work, but I could not find it. However, about a month ago I did ask which Shakespeare stories would have made good superhero stories, and got many responses.  So I thought I’d gather them all together in one place, so that it will come back up as a “Best Of” over the years and we can appreciate the man all over again. Superhero ShakespeareLink to the original tweet. Hamlet is mentioned twice, as the “brooding” “superhero of doubt”. Troilus and Cressida is also mentioned twice since most of the characters are mythical heroes in the first place. Coriolanus is mentioned three times, but since I said it the first time maybe I skewed the results.  “He’s Captain America for Rome.” Surprisingly (to me), Titus Andronicus showed up three times as well, for being a “hyper-violent edgy 80s comic gorefest.” Alongside Coriolanus in the “Wait, I didn’t read that one in high school!” category, Cymbeline and Pericles also received a vote 😉 Pericles actually got two. In total twelve different plays were suggested, which goes to show that the potential for a superhero story is all in the mind of the reader.   Imagination is everything. If anybody needs me I’ll be waiting patiently for the next Avengers movie, hoping for a Stan Lee cameo, so I can cheer my head off. Excelsior!   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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What Do You Not Know?

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, one of my favorite things in life is when people come up to me and want to talk about Shakespeare. Especially those people who I don’t normally get to speak with, because makes for an extra bond with someone I would not otherwise have had. But I don’t know everything, and I hope I don’t give the impression that I pretend to.  So very often what will happen is somebody will want to talk about something that I have no idea about, either because I’ve just never thought of it, or maybe because I haven’t even read the play they’re referencing. You ever find yourself in that situation?  What do you do? Personally I welcome it.  I’ll say without hesitation, “You know, honestly? I don’t know. I’m not familiar enough with that play. But it’s an excellent question, and now I want to find out the answer.”  And typically I’ll turn to you good folks and ask for you to education me, so that if the question ever comes up again, I’ll have thoughts on the subject.  A reason for me to learn more about my favorite subject?  Yes please! It’s one of the reasons I’m reminded that I really do love this stuff and I’m not kidding myself. Nobody makes me do that. I do that because I want to do that. How about you? I figured out a long time ago that many of the people that read my site are much smarter than I am, and usually have the answers to my questions. How often do you run into the situation where somebody asks you a question about Shakespeare where you’ve got nothing?  Do you hem and haw and hedge and try to fill in the blank?  Or do you just come right out and say, “I have no idea”? Assuming that this does happen sometimes (i.e. that you don’t know everything), do you care to fill in those gaps in your knowledge?  Or do you just walk away from the encounter without really giving it much thought? This month’s posts are sponsored by No Shave November. To help raise cancer 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 Complete Works In A Tweet? No, Not Really

Although this story will be old by the time it gets posted, I would not be living up to the geek part of my name if we didn’t talk about the UK student who managed to fit the complete works of Shakespeare into a single tweet. At least, that’s what the headlines would have you believe: To be or not to be 280 characters: All of Shakespeare’s works in a single tweet

Someone just tweeted the entire works of Shakespeare with one tweet

You can unzip this tiny image on Twitter to reveal the complete works of Shakespeare

You get the idea.  That last one at least gives more of a clue about what’s going on. Here’s a link to the original tweet from David Buchanan. It contains a link to a small image of Shakespeare (Chandos style, for the curious who can’t see it) with the words UNZIP ME over the top. If you’re not familiar with the term, a zip file is basically a compressed version of another file, or files.  What Mr. Buchanan figured out how to do is make a single file that behaves both like an image and a compressed zip archive at the same time. So if you were to take that image (right click from your browser, do “Open in Image New Tab”), and then save the image by itself with a .zip extension, and then double click on it to expand the archive, and what you’ll get is the single file HTML version of Shakespeare’s works, from Project Gutenberg. Is it a cool technique? Absolutely.  Even better is that Buchanan went on to release the source code for how he did it.  So I get to do cool things like this: This image is actually encoded with the plain text version of The Tempest (also from Project Gutenberg), in case you’d like to play with it.  Save it with the extension .zip, then unzip it, and there you have it! If you know how to read source code it’s even cooler, because the code to do it is very small (as in, just one file).  It’s very neat indeed, and Mr. Buchanan deserves the credit for demonstrating the technique so vividly.  This is a great example of why geeks are attracted to Shakespeare, because it represents a big body of text to play with that immediately brings a bunch of attention with it every time you touch it. But saying that the complete works fit into a single 280 character tweet is not really what happened.  The image is linked in the tweet.  The image itself is 2 meg in size!  That’s kind of like putting a First Folio in a room, locking the room, then handing someone the key and saying, “You’ve got the entire First Folio in the palm of your hand!” It does sound cooler that way, though. This month’s posts are sponsored by No Shave November. If you’ve ever thought about how you can support the site, here’s your chance. This month we’re donating all proceeds from advertising, merchandise and book sales to raising cancer awareness.  You can make direct donations as well at the above link.  Thanks for your support!    
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Sponsored by No Shave November

In past years I’ve half participated in the charity drive known as No Shave November, mostly as a joke excuse to stop shaving for a month. But as I’ve gotten older I came to realize two things:
  1. I have an audience here.  And not a small one.
  2. It’s not like cancer is “other people’s problem.”
This past year alone several close members of my family, both male and female, were diagnosed with cancers of different sorts, requiring removal of things, radiation treatment, and chemotherapy. None of those things is a joke. So this year let’s see if we can’t put some money where my big mouth is. Many of the posts I make this month are going to be “beard” themed.  I will, from time to time, post progress pictures. All the posts I make this month are going to contain links to the fundraising page I’ve set up over on the No Shave November site. If you want to click on it and donate some money directly, great.  Much appreciated. I’ll also be donating all of my profits this month, whether from Google Ads, t-shirts and other merchandise, or book sales. Ok, that’s about all I’ve got to say about that. If you’ve ever wanted to help support in some way, here’s a new chance. Donate to Shakespeare Geek’s No Shave November Fundraising Page by Clicking Here! Thanks in advance!  
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