I Love Good Omens So Much

I was beyond excited when I learned that Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman was being turned into a tv series.  If you’re not familiar with the backstory, the two friends had basically agreed that there’d be no further work done on the property – no spinoffs, no merchandise, etc.. – unless they were in agreement.  Well, Terry Pratchett went and died (*). And that was the end of that hope.  Except for the part where he personally left a letter asking Neil Gaiman to make the movie version.  Well, now that’s just ineffable, that is.

Anyway, this post would be a mile long if I keep blathering.  The story tells of the friendship that is formed over thousands of years by the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and the demon Crowley (formerly “crawley”, as in snake…, played by David Tennant) because they’ve been stationed on Earth ever since Man was there, basically cancelling each other out so often that they get bored and stop wasting their time. I convince my kids to watch it with me, and they seem to like the first episode, so now it’s become family viewing time. One weekend night when everybody’s available we’ll all wind down and watch an episode, the whole family in the room, no electronics. Is very nice.  My wife and oldest are on the big couch, my middle on the love seat, and my son on the chair in what I’m only just realizing is very Goldilocks and the three bears of us.  I’m on the floor with pillows.  Just to set the scene.

Each episode of the series shows how the friendship between angel and demon evolved (while, in the bigger arc, they plot in modern day to stop the end of the world). They show up in the Garden of Eden, they show up for Noah… Each time the angel is there as a sort of witness, and David Tennant is there to look confused and ask some very interesting questions.  They actually show the crucifixion of Jesus in one episode, for example. Tennant’s demon asks, “What did he do?” and the angel responds, “Told people to be kind to one another.”

And then a title card pops up saying “1601 London” and I threw both hands up in the air and yelled excitedly, “They’re visiting Shakespeare! They’re visiting Shakespeare!!”

Cut to Aziraphale watching a rehearsal of Hamlet. It’s not very good. But the Shakespeare character keeps calling him Burbage, which is appreciated (though he’s too young and skinny for Burbage). Crowley shows up to watch for a little while and out of the clear blue drops some out of context Shakespeare (from another play that I won’t spoil) and I did an excited little dance there from my spot on the floor, arms up in celebration, because when I sat down to watch tv tonight I didn’t expect to get David Tennant doing Shakespeare.

I heard my oldest’s voice behind me say, “Yay, Daddy’s happy.”

Very much yes.


(*) He’s not gone, he’s just in the clacks.

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A New Authorship Theory Has Entered The Game!

This week there are stories about both Amelia Bassano and Delia Bacon making the rounds, so I’ve had to spend some time talking authorship with people in my life.

So when I saw this interesting new AI project called TalkToTransformer I had to have some fun with it. You’re supposed to give this thing a writing prompt, and then it will fill in the rest.  I prompted, “The works of William Shakespeare were actually written by…”  and here’s what I got!

The works of William Shakespeare were actually written by two men; one was English and the other was an American. The English writer William Wordsworth (1710 – 1696), and the American poet John Wilkes Booth (1711 – 1816) were both inspired by Shakespeare, though they were not connected in any way.

William Shakespeare, known as the ‘son of an ironmonger’, wrote much of a tale known as the Merry Wives of Windsor. The story describes a happy couple, a young boy and a young girl – although it’s not clear if the parents are named or the boy is named.

There were many variations of the poem, and it probably wasn’t the last of its kind – perhaps the first. The early versions have been used to create an image of the Victorian age, featuring scenes of women (especially English women) in their prime; and an older man (sometimes male) with a young woman.

The play was first staged during the playwright’s lifetime, in 1819.

Hey, makes about as much sense as every other authorship theory!  I like how it made Wordsworth a time traveler.  I think one of the Booth family would appreciate being credited as an author, too.  When authorship comes up I’m going to start pushing the Wordsworth/Booth theory, because why not?


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Trivial Pursuit for Shakespeare Geeks

I’ve oft-lamented that while I would love to collect and play Shakespeare board games and card games, I don’t really have anyone in the physical world to play with. My family will try to play, but the game ends up 90% me explaining things and letting them keep up.  Where’s the fun in that?

Well when Shakespeare Trivial Pursuit was announced a month before my birthday I knew I had to have it, even if to just add to my collection.

But! I think I’ve found a way to rewrite the game for when the number of Shakespeare geeks is drastically outweighed by non-Shakespeareans.

  • All of the Shakespeare Geeks are on one team.  Anyone not a self professed Shakespeare geek is playing for themselves.
  • The cards are shuffled and placed in the center.
  • The first non-SG player picks a card.  Player is allowed to look at all the questions, and the answers.  Player must then decide which question they think the SG team is most likely to get wrong, and ask SG team that question.
  • If SG team gets it right, they get the card.  If they do not, asking player gets the card.
  • First player or team to a pre-determined number of cards, wins.  SG team must get at least two times that number (since they get a chance to collect a card on every turn, whereas individual players do not).  Odds can be adjusted (3x, 4x..) depending on how many players, and how good SG team is.

Always read the question out loud, as well as the answer (in cases where SG team does not guess correctly). This has the added advantage of teaching the non-SG players something about the subject 🙂

If you play this way, let me know how it goes! Also let me know your ideas on what’s up with the extra wedge holder thingie, I still don’t understand that. 🙂


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We Will All Laugh At Endgame Spoilers

I was actually a little surprised today to see somebody send me an Endgame spoiler over on Reddit.  It was a randomly generated account so I’m guessing it was just blasted to everybody.  Reddit doesn’t really have an advanced inbox system so it’s not like I could have ignored it — I click the “new messages” button and bam, there it is.  Oh well.

Here’s the thing, though.  Why in the world would anybody who’s read Shakespeare care about spoiler?  Newsflash, jackasses – we already know the ending. It’s not about that.  If your entire investment in the story hangs on keeping something secret?  Then you didn’t do a very good job telling your story.

How many times have we all read and seen King Lear? Or Hamlet?  There are no twists in Shakespeare.  We always know that Cesario is a girl (although, that gives me an idea for a different blog post…. 😉 )  It’s about how they tell the story to get there.  Honestly, I think plenty of people knew the ending of Infinity War before they saw it – but they still saw it.  Same with Endgame. We already have our tickets. Nothing’s going to change.

So, my fellow Shakespeare Geeks, laugh off any cowardly spoilers you happen to stumble across.  If you’ve got any investment in the story at all – and after 10 years and 20 movies, who are we kidding, of course we do – then no little trolls should be able to spoil that for you.  Enjoy the show.


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It Was The Year Without a Shakespeare Geek

So, how’d you spend your Shakespeare Day 2019?  In the past I have gone on marathon posting binges, posting upwards of two dozen stories. Last year I wrote a Twitter bot that spent the day revisiting the archives.  It’s a big day in my life, a huge day.  My own personal holiday, that I look forward to more than my own birthday.

This year I did … nothing. And I feel like that merits an explanation.

Just before St. Patrick’s Day this year I injured myself – tore my Achilles tendon. For the majority of folks who have not had that misfortune, allow me to sum it up — surgery, and then staying off your feet for over six weeks.  There’s more to it than that (time in a splint, time in a cast, time in a boot…) but the end result is a complete disruption of your life for almost two months. I couldn’t even drive to work – luckily I sit behind a computer all day and my day job has been very understanding about me becoming a remote employee.

My first reaction when they told me was, “Woohoo! All day long at home?  I’ll get *so much* done!”  Yeah … no.  You don’t realize how much you can’t do when you have to stand on one foot, and your hands are occupied by crutches. Even simple acts like going to the refrigerator (or the bathroom!) become a real chore. Sitting on the couch all day sounds like fun until you realize that you’re being forced to do that, even when you don’t want to.

And thus the chain reaction begins. Crutching around all day takes more energy out of you than just plain walking, so you’re more tired than normal.  It will take more energy to actually do the things you need to do, so you end up with more inertia about staying right where you are. Then you feel guilty about the work that’s piling up that you’re not doing. Then you start looking forward and thinking, “Everything will go back to normal when I get my feet back, but until then everything’s basically on pause.”

As I read that back it sounds very “woe is me” and I do realize that there are probably people reading who’ve had the same injury saying, “What? No. I was back in the gym two days later.”  I’m not saying I’ve had the greatest recovery.  I was 50 years old and not in the greatest shape before I got literally swept off my feet.  So maybe I took it harder than others might have. I’m just being honest here, because that’s part of why you’re all still reading after fourteen years of me doing this.

What’s it all got to do with Shakespeare? If I’m sitting on the couch anyway, already with the laptop ready to go, why am I not banging out the posts?  My last real post to the blog was March 14, basically right before everything happened. During those first couple of weeks of recovery there was actual downtime, actual pain, actual painkillers. That wasn’t fun. Every day I’d say, “I should write something on the blog,” but then I wouldn’t, and then I’d feel guilty. The longer I waited, the more I’d think, “When I start posting again it has to be something good, not just glorified retweeting.”

Before I knew it, Shakespeare Day was upon me. Actually I totally knew – my most recent doctor’s appointment to remove my cast and switch me over to a “walking boot” was scheduled for April 23. So that was the big event of my yesterday, a milestone in my return to normal.  I just was not in the right frame of mind to do something awesome for Shakespeare Day, and if I wasn’t going to do something awesome, I didn’t want to do anything.

So that’s my excuse.  I do have a story to tell, which is coming in the next post. My Shakespeare Day was not without Shakespeare, fear not.  I hope this post represents my return to regular posting. I’ve missed you all.