Thursday Morning Riddle

February 22nd, 2018

I’m the time that a soldier will spend on one base;
When a band or a troupe will perform place to place;
I’m to follow a guide in exploring a space;
And held yearly in France, I’m a bicycle race.

Who am I?

UPDATE: Riddle solved by Asher. See comments for answer.

The End

Thursday Morning Riddle

January 18th, 2018

I’m a fruit-flavored drink that is served in a bowl;
I’m to hit with a fist; I’m a puppet-show role;
I’m to press in your PIN number; making a hole;
And you’ll be pleased as me when you’re reaching your goal!

Who am I?

UPDATE: Riddle solved by Asher. See comments for answer.

The End

Shakespeare Anagram: Sir Thomas More

January 13th, 2018

From Sir Thomas More:

Nay, it has infected it with the palsey; for these bastards of dung, as you know they grow in dung, have infected us, and it is our infection will make the city shake, which partly comes through the eating of parsnips.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

President Trump, a dotard, cynically described fifty non-white nations as “shithole countries.” He speaks guff awkwardly without thinking, yet this one’s no gaffe.

Yeah, enough.

We have to impeach this racist thug.

The End

Shakespeare Anagram: Twelfth Night

January 6th, 2018

What the great ones tweet, the less will anagram of.

From Twelfth Night:

Why, thou sayest well. I do now remember a saying, “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

Hell, I went from kooky wannabe to well-deified show boss to the White House (on my first shot)! Ha, me! Why, I’m a stable genius!

The End

Eleven Years

January 1st, 2018

Eleven years ago today, a new website emerged onto an unsuspecting Internet, dedicated to a mission of spreading joy, poetry, commentary, wordplay, and an original riddle every Thursday morning. This is a post about that website.

This past summer, I went through the archives and added 25 new category links for your browsing pleasure, including four politicians, three current events issues, seven individual Shakespeare plays, and one category collectively for the histories. I also added links for subjects I find myself writing about often, such as genealogy and game theory.

There are now 1,178 posts in 122 categories and 3,350 approved comments.

And I’ve just renewed the domain name for another year, so one day we can, at the very least, look forward to a January 1, 2019 post called “Twelve Years.”

What comes between the two posts is where the magic happens. I look forward to continuing the journey with you.

The End

Top Five Posts of 2017

December 31st, 2017

Has it really been four months since I’ve posted? Surely, the world needs my special brand of whatever the hell it is I do here, now more than ever.

The year got off to a pretty good start, and since I was productive here for at least the first eight months of it, I think it’s time to bring back an old feature: the best posts of the year recap.

I skipped the feature in 2015, since the only really notable post I wrote was a tribute to Grant Wiggins. In 2016, the only posts of any substance were about the cruise. But this year, the year the site reached 200,000 hits, even though my stamina ran out two-thirds of the way through, I did manage to put together a few posts I’d like to remember when looking through this category link in years to come.

So without further ado, I present the top five Shakespeare Teacher posts of the year 2017:

5. Shakespeare Anagram: Twelfth Night (August 25)

Since Donald Trump became president, the Shakespeare Anagram has undergone an evolution of sorts. It’s always been somewhat political (which is often the point), but this year the anagrams have been accompanied by increasingly lengthy essays inspired by the topic of the anagram. This was the last one I did this year. Compare it to the first one I did this year, and you’ll notice the shift.

4. Shakespeare Follow-Up: Lie Detection (June 30)

An off-handed comment by Duncan in Macbeth inspired a deep examination into how lie detection has been viewed and used over the centuries. It also brought back a feature that I enjoy very much, and hope to continue in the future.

3. Making History (March 5)

This is another long one, but I had a lot to get off my chest. An Arkansas Republican tried to have the works of Howard Zinn banned from state-funded schools, and it set me off. When we decide how we are going to teach history, we need to first decide why we teach history, and we may not all agree on the answer.

2. Sean Spicer Does Shakespeare (April 23)

What if Sean Spicer hadn’t worked for Donald Trump, but instead was the spokesman for Shakespeare’s King Richard III? It might look a little something like this. I had thought about following up with Sean Spicer as the front man for Macbeth, insisting that Macbeth never met with the witches before becoming King, and then admitting that he had but there was no collusion. Alas, Sean’s time at the podium came to a sudden end before I could write it.

1. An Open Letter to President Trump (March 12)

This is sort of a comedy piece, but I’m actually serious about the underlying idea. There’s no reason Donald Trump shouldn’t support single payer. And he really is the only one who could make it happen. If he did, he might actually be seen as the great leader he thinks he is now. Believe me.

The End

Thursday Morning Riddle

August 31st, 2017

I’m identical scores when a game is all through;
I’m creating a knot, as some couples might do;
I’m the cross-beam on railroad tracks; lace up your shoe;
I’m a piece for the neck; and to put it on, too.

Who am I?

UPDATE: Riddle solved by Asher. See comments for answer.

The End

Shakespeare Anagram: Twelfth Night

August 25th, 2017

Let’s call it the strange case of Dr. Jekyll and President Hyde.

It all started last weekend, when a coalition of white supremacist organizations staged a demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia. The idea was that the different alt-right factions, including the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, could come together and present a unified front for nationalism and racial purity. With swastika flags, burning torches, and chants such as “Jews will not replace us,” they presented an unambiguous message of anger and hate. Counter-protesters showed up to resist their message, and one particularly disturbed individual drove his car into them, injuring many, and killing Heather Heyer, age 32.

Before we go on, it should be clear that this is not in any way a left vs. right thing. This has nothing to do with Republican or Democratic ideology. Everyone in America should be against this, regardless of how you feel about the tax code or health care reform. And indeed, many prominent Republicans immediately spoke out against this protest and its message of hate. We should expect no less.

But on Saturday, as the events were still unfolding, President Trump came out to read a prepared statement, in which he stated that “we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence.” He then stopped reading, looked up, and added “on many sides… on many sides.”

Deflection is a common rhetorical technique, used by politicians and their supporters, mainly when they are losing the argument and want to shift the focus of the conversation. Push a Trump supporter (or President Trump himself) too far, and you’ll get an earful of Benghazi or Hillary’s e-mails. And, yes, we do it too when our back is against the wall. (Sure, Obama used drones, but Bush did it too!)

So there’s nothing unusual about deflection, and it’s easy to call it out when it happens. But why on earth would President Trump use such a technique, or any technique at all, to defend the white supremacists? Sure, you can use deflection to shift focus onto the counter-protesters if you want to. But why? It only makes sense if you see the alt-right as “your side.” Is that what the President was signaling?

Needless to say, many were left feeling unsatisfied with this statement on Saturday. Pushback against his comments became so ubiquitous that he was forced to issue another statement last Monday. This time, he said all of the things a President is supposed to say, decrying racism as evil, and naming the various hate groups as well as the name of the woman who died in the protest. Some said he looked like a hostage being forced to read a statement against his will. Others criticized him for not speaking out sooner. But he said everything we asked him to say, and if he had left it there, the issue would have been closed.

He did not leave it there.

The next day, he was making an announcement about infrastructure. But when he took questions, they were not about infrastructure. This time, the President, finally freed from the oppressive shackles of prepared statements written by his more thoughtful policy advisors, doubled down on his deflection away from the white supremacists. He never explicitly said both sides were equally to blame, but that seemed to be his attitude. He coined the term “alt-left” as though people who want to raise the minimum wage and implement a single-payer healthcare system were on the same moral plane as Nazis. He also implied that it was the counter-protestors who were physically attacking the alt-right, when all of the evidence I’ve seen is to the contrary. He also felt the need to point out that the white supremacists had a permit, while the counter-protesters did not. (Seriously, he said that.) This was a new low for the Trump presidency, and that’s no easy bar to clear.

But then, this past Monday, he gave an address laying out a foreboding agenda in Afghanistan. Content aside, he was calmly reading from the teleprompter, just like a real big-boy president. He was measured, dignified, and – dare I say it – uncharacteristically presidential. He began with an eloquent call for unity against division. Had he not already relinquished all moral authority to make such a statement, it would have been beautiful. And when he talked about Afghanistan, he projected strength and resolve. There was the occasional reference to the previous administration’s blame and more than a little unearned braggadocio, but he didn’t trip over the podium or light himself on fire, and I caught myself hoping to see more of this president moving forward.

It took exactly one day to burst that bubble. At a campaign rally (!) in Arizona on Tuesday, he gave a completely unhinged performance, telling an alternate-universe version of the story above, and attacking the media as fake news outlets out to get him personally.

At the moment, it feels like we have two presidents, and when he speaks, we don’t know which one we’re going to get. But let’s not be under any illusions about which one is the @realDonaldTrump.

From Twelfth Night:

One face, one voice, one habit, and two persons;
A natural perspective, that is, and is not!

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

I see two presidents: one, a non-factual peevish scab; another can pivot, read notation.

The End

Thursday Morning Riddle

August 24th, 2017

I’m preparing a meal for a food epicure;
I am rigging the books so the truth you obscure;
I’m to suffer from heat waves; so quick is my tour;
And an old British mapmaker, wont to explore.

Who am I?

UPDATE: Riddle solved by Asher. See comments for answer.

The End

Shakespeare Anagram: The Taming of the Shrew

August 18th, 2017

From The Taming of the Shrew:

And awful rule and right supremacy

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

Uh… Trump defends an ugly racial war?

Here is the video of Tuesday’s press conference. I recommend you watch the whole thing, if you haven’t already. Future generations will be watching this in their social studies classrooms.


The End