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.


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.

Ok, Who Has This Guy’s Book?

I have got to get back into posting general interest Shakespeare stories. Ever since the rise of social media and the “retweet” it’s too easy to see something cool and then just hit one button and call it a day. Where’s the fun in that?

Today’s story comes from Canada, where a young man bought a gift for his girlfriend. That give was the 1757 Theobald collection of Shakespeare’s Complete Works. He’d spotted it in a used book store and, because their first date had been to see a Shakespeare show, he thought it would be a nice gift to get the set and then give her the volumes one at a time at various milestones of their relationship. (Apparently my man spent $800 on the set, good work getting credit for several gifts out of it!)

Here’s the problem — it was an incomplete set. Volume 6 is missing, and he’s on the hunt for it. Really that’s nothing new, there are used book stores all over multiple continents sporting incomplete “complete works” collections. I used to go looking for them myself. But until this article it never occurred to me to actively go looking for the remaining volumes. Especially in this case, seeing as there’s just the one.

What especially caught my eye was that name, Theobald. Anybody recognize it? He’s actually got quite a history, having a bit of personal beef with Alexander Pope over the editing of Shakespeare’s work. But I spotted his name as being the guy who produced a play called Double Falshood, saying that it was a version of Shakespeare’s lost play Cardenio. From what I recall of the story, Theobald basically said “Oh, yes, I have the Shakespeare originals around here somewhere, this is just the cleaned up version.” But he was never able to produce the originals.

So, does anybody happen to have a Volume 6 1757 Theobald lying around in their collection that they want to get rid of? Strangers things have happened!

Alternately, are there any Theobald scholars in the audience who want to fill in the gaps in my Theobald story?

New Year’s Shakespeare

I know this is a little late for a New Year’s post but I’ve been kind of busy 🙂

This year we decided to do family night for various reasons. We passed on several invitations and decided to just stay in, get some Chinese food, maybe binge watch some shows and play some board games.

Skip past the bingeing (on both Chinese food and High School The Musical The Series) and nobody really wants to dig into a cutthroat game of Monopoly, so I get an idea. I go get my Shakespeare Trivial Pursuit cards! We never get to play this, but I’ve got an idea. I’ve got all my family here. I know what I think they know. So I pick cards, and I read the questions I think they know the answers to, to see how much they’ve learned over the years. Keep in mind that recently we’ve been to Stratford, been to the Folger twice, seen several plays, and they’re all old enough at this point to have studied at least some Shakespeare in school.

They did surprisingly well! Questions on Romeo and Juliet were the most obvious and came out like homework questions. But the real fun was some of the non answers…

“What is the nickname of visitors to the Globe Theatre who stood for the whole performance?”
“Oh! Potatoes!”
“It’s something about potatoes! Isn’t it? Something like that.”
“Right, yes. Groundlings, potatoes. Same thing.”

“What are the names of Hamlet’s ‘friends’ who are summoned by Claudius?”
“Oh! Oooo! Umm… something…. hydro something…..”
“Yes! Hydrostan and Guildenstern!”
“??? Are we in chemistry class?”

And my favorite one…

“What play was being performed in 1613 when the Globe caught fired and burn down?”
“No. You’re just guessing.”

At which point my son, my youngest, who hasn’t taken his face out of his phone, says, “All is true.”

There’s a pause. My girls are waiting. I look at them. “Henry VIII, also known as All is True. He’s exactly right. I just have no idea how he knew that.”

He looks up, realizing he’s the center of attention now. “We saw that one.”

“No, we didn’t,” I tell him.

“Yes we did,” he says. “It opens with a fire.”

It’s at this point I realize he’s talking about the movie All is True, about Shakespeare’s life in retirement, which we saw earlier in the year, which indeed does start with the Globe burning down. Hey, whatever works for him!

I wish I could remember more of their answers, it was a good time indeed. Nobody knew that Prince Escalus has a name. But they remembered that “I know thee not, old man” is said to Falstaff, that the Folger is in Washington, D.C. and a whole bunch of other “that was definitely not on any homework you ever had” questions. I was pretty pleased with the results! Hope we get to do it again soon.

P.S. – My son really likes that scene, I overheard him playing Youtube clips of it before he went to bed last night. He also asked me if he should watch the entire movie or if he’d be bored. I thought he still might be a little bored, but agreed that there’s some good battle scenes.

UPDATE: Fixed typo, of course the Globe didn’t burn down 7 years after Shakespeare died, my brain must have been thinking I was talking about the Folio.

After Hack Test

Hello, hello? Is this thing on?

Just a quick test to run the blog through its paces and see what’s still working and what broke. I was hacked on New Year’s Day (thanks to Bardfilm for quickly spotting it) and in the ensuing flood of restorations and updates it looks like more than a handful of things has changed out from under me.

If you see stuff that looks weird, please let me know, either here or on Twitter!