Archive for the 'Meta' Category

Blogging about blogging.

Eleven Years

Monday, 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.

Top Five Posts of 2017

Sunday, 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.


Friday, June 9th, 2017

We haven’t done this for a while, but it’s time to celebrate another milestone. This blog has just reached 200,000 unique hits! Have some cake!

The blog started on January 1, 2007. It went public on January 6.

We reached 50,000 hits on June 7, 2010.

We reached 100,000 hits on September 19, 2012

We reached 150,000 hits on November 26, 2014

The 200,000th hit came in at 11:43pm on June 6, 2017 from Mount Laurel, NJ via a Google search. They came in to see the Family Trees for Shakespeare’s Histories.

At this point in time, there are 1,157 posts (including this one) in 97 categories and 3,312 comments.

Thanks to everyone who stuck with the site during the slow periods, which I guess is mostly Asher. And there’s much more exciting content on the way, which I guess is mostly Shakespeare Anagrams and the Thursday Morning Riddle.

Onward and upward!

Ten Years

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Ten years ago today, I started a journey called “Shakespeare Teacher” that hoped to entertain, enlighten, and energize a small but dedicated audience of readers.

The world was different back then. George W. Bush was in the White House, and my dissatisfaction with that reality drove a lot of my early posts. I found myself with a lot to say, and Web 2.0 offered a unique platform to express my opinions and offer my analysis. When Barack Obama took office, I still cared about politics, but my edge became dulled by complacency.

I mostly sat out this past election because it was awful and because I thought Donald Trump could not possibly win. That was a mistake. Now, I find myself once again with a lot to say, but my platform for saying it is no longer what is was. Web 2.0 technologies have taken a backseat to social media, and most of us get our news and analysis folded in with our baby pictures and viral videos. Is there still a place for the Shakespeare Teacher and his twopence? I’m thinking that there just may be, if I can play to my strengths.

I’ve become very aware of the way that language is being twisted and manipulated in politics and society, and I can write about that. New policies will affect education and the arts, and I can write about that. We will see parallels between real life as it emerges and Shakespeare’s examinations of power, and I can write about that. And, of course, I can still entertain with the word games, puzzles, riddles, and anagrams that have come to define this tiny little corner of the Internet for the past decade. I might even write about teaching Shakespeare from time to time.

The Shakespeare Teacher is back. If you’re in, I’m in.

Happy New Year.

Welcome Celebrities!

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

If you are one of the passengers from the Celebrity Shakespeare & Scandinavia Cruise, welcome! As promised, I am posting digital copies of the handouts from my talks, so if you missed one or didn’t get a handout, you can find everything here.

My first talk was on Hamlet. You can download the handout here. You can also read more of my posts about Hamlet at the category link here.

My second talk was on Shakespeare’s Use of Language. You can download the handout here. You can also read more of my posts about poetry at the category link here.

My third talk was on Shakespeare’s History. During the talk, I referred to a series of eight family trees that I compiled to go along with Shakespeare’s history plays. I used the first and the eighth of these as a handout for the talk. You can find all eight family trees here.

My talk today will be on Shakespeare’s Science. You can download the handout here. You can also read more of my posts following up on references from Shakespeare’s plays at the category link for the Shakespeare Follow-Up here.


To Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

Another April 23 is now upon us. Each year, on this day, we celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday, acknowledging occasionally that he also died on this date. But as this year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, focus has shifted to the more morbid milestone. And since it was Shakespeare who taught us, in many ways, what it means to us as humans to face our mortality, it seems only fitting to celebrate his legacy on the anniversary of his death.

Celebrity Cruises is marking the occasion with a ten-day Shakespeare-themed cruise, and they have invited me to serve as the resident expert on all things Shakespearean. I’ll be giving a series of four talks onboard the ship, moderating a round-table discussion, and escorting a shore excursion to Kronberg Castle, the real-life inspiration for Hamlet’s Elsinore.

Naturally, I’m extremely excited about the opportunity. I’m not generally one to seek out opportunities to travel, but the chance to geek out on Shakespeare for ten days with some like-minded fellow passengers will be a unique experience. And so, I am resurrecting the blog, so I have a place to chronicle my journey.

I’m writing this from London, and the cruise will embark this evening from Southampton. We will be visiting Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, ending up in Amsterdam on May 2. I’ll post updates here when I can. For example, here is a picture of me at the British Museum last night.

I’ll post more updates when time allows. Till then, unto Southampton do we shift our scene.

Eight Years

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Today is the blog’s eighth birthday. There are currently 1,067 posts in 97 categories and 3,011 approved comments. There have been 152,588 unique hits to the blog. Because of the long hiatus earlier this year, I am no longer listed on Technorati. But, also because of the hiatus, maybe that’s a good thing.

Happy New Year to all within the sound of my voice! I’m looking forward to a happy and productive 2015!

Top Five Posts of 2014

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

So… it’s been a light blogging year.

There seems to be a cycle where the more I write, the more people visit, and the more I want to write. But the same phenomenon works in the other direction. I also think that blogs are generally in decline these days. Many thanks to the readers who have stuck with the blog while it has been mostly riddles and anagrams. I hope to have more for you in the new year.

Still, we did manage to reach 150,000 views last month, just two short years after hitting 100,000, so that’s not nothing. Let’s have some cake.

The 150,000th hit came in at 11:02pm on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 from Denver, Colorado. The mile-high milestone found the site via a Google search and viewed the Teach Along with the Frozen Soundtrack post.

So I’m not giving up yet, and I’ve paid to renew the domain name and hosting services for another three years. So the blog will be here for us if we wish to be here for it, at least until December 2017.

And there were a few posts this year that I was proud to write and happy to see find an audience. There weren’t ten of them, but I’d put the top five up against the best of the rest, so let’s get right to it!

5. Thursday Morning Riddle: Ambiguous Edition (December 18)

This was a riddle that had two possible answers, each of which fit all of the clues. I’ve never done that before, and don’t expect to be doing it again any time soon.

4. A Good Pairing (February 9)

In a rare digression into teaching Shakespeare, I compare the literary devices between popular song lyrics and a Shakespeare sonnet. This pairing has been teacher-tested and student-approved!

3. Plantagenetics (December 2)

Do recent revelations about infidelity in the royal family cast doubts on the legitimacy of the Queen? No. No, they don’t.

2. Teach Along with the Frozen Soundtrack (June 2)

This is an exploration of some of the literary, poetic, and rhetorical devices in the soundtrack for Disney’s Frozen that you can point out for students, or have them find for you.

1. Family Trees for Shakespeare’s Histories (September 19)

I’ve been meaning to do this for years, and I finally did it! Each play’s tree shows who’s living, who’s dead, who’s related to whom, who is actually in the play, and what names might be used to reference them. Enjoy!

Have a Happy New Year, and I’ll see you in 2015! (Probably…)

Shakespeare Anagram: Hamlet

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

From Hamlet:

I do not know
Why yet I live to say ‘This thing’s to do;’
Sith I have cause and will and strength and means
To do ’t.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

Today, this oddest dilatory hiatus now ends.

Know I again shall devise witty things to vent on each month.

Seven Years

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Today, this blog is celebrating its seventh birthday. Right now, it has a Technorati authority of 99, which ranks me 24,523 out of 1,343,382 ranked blogs. There are currently 1,018 posts in 95 categories and 2,875 approved comments. There have been 130,657 unique hits to the blog.

This was the year I wrote my thousandth post. We said goodbye to the Shakespeare Song Parody, and said hello to the Shakespeare Follow-Up. I posted 10 reviews, 22 anagrams, and 43 riddles.

I’m looking forward to the exciting possibilities the new year brings. I hope you will join me on this journey.