Archive for the 'Snark' Category

Shakespeare Clickbait

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

How far should we go to get people to read Shakespeare? I say we do whatever it takes.

You may also enjoy these stories:

The secret herb that will make women fall for you… INSTANTLY!
The one shocking diet trick that is GUARANTEED to help you lose weight!
Do these three women really have the secret for seeing into the FUTURE?

Some senators challenged this interracial couple’s marriage, and THIS is what they said…
A dying father called for his son, and what he said will blow you AWAY!
Most people don’t know the one food you should NEVER eat…

The 7 tell-tale signs of AGING that men can’t afford to ignore!
Learn one weird trick for erasing ALL of your debt (without paying a penny)!
This single act of forgiveness will restore your faith in HUMANITY!

Click the images above to read more!

My teenage daughter and her friends think that posts like this can’t go viral. Please help me teach them an important lesson by sharing this on Facebook and Twitter.

Danny and the Death Ray

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Once upon a time, there was a small town that was attacked by space aliens.

Why this one town should be attacked by space aliens was unclear. But what was very clear was that these were space aliens, and they were attacking.

The townspeople fought off the space aliens as best they could, but… come on, space aliens. They knew that more drastic measures would be necessary.

They gathered together, pooled their resources, and built a giant Death Ray right in the middle of the town square. It was three stories high if it was an inch, and thicker than any tree trunk in the southern woods. And, believe it or not, the Death Ray did the trick. The space aliens were sent scurrying back to their own galaxy, or wherever it was they had come from in the first place.

The people rejoiced. Their ordeal was over, and it was all thanks to the Death Ray! They left the weapon in the town square as a monument. The townspeople decorated the Death Ray all the colors of the rainbow. Parents would bring their children to come see the Death Ray, and tell stories about how it repelled the space aliens. The children liked to imagine themselves at the controls of the Death Ray, firing on the aliens and saving the town again and again.

Mind you, the Death Ray wasn’t perfect. It was a quite an advanced piece of technology to begin with, and it was a pretty impressive thing to be built in a small town. But every now and then, the Death Ray would discharge a stray beam, sending an unexpected burst of destructive force into some random part of town. Usually, it didn’t do much harm, but occasionally it would hit one of the townspeople. Good old Bob who worked at the town market was the first to go. Some time later, little Sally Jenkins was also hit. Ironically, the third victim of the random shots was a drifter named Ray.

Still, three random accidents, tragic as they were, seemed a small price to pay for having such an awesome piece of weaponry like the Death Ray in the town square. Sure, everyone missed old Bob, and it was hard not to feel for the Jenkins family, but it wasn’t every town that could boast such a marvelous display of power. The Death Ray was what made the town special. Some people were even talking about naming the town after the Death Ray, though not everyone could agree on how the new name would be spelled or pronounced. Others didn’t like the idea of changing the name of the town at all.

In fact, there was a small group of people who wanted to dismantle the Death Ray altogether. Nobody paid them any mind, of course, but they were usually pretty vocal at the Town Council meetings. Usually, folks just rolled their eyes and waited for the speeches to be over. And the group was always the most vocal just after the town had suffered one of its losses to the Death Ray. The townspeople didn’t appreciate that; if ever there was a time not to talk about the Death Ray, surely it was just after it had killed someone. How could you have a rational conversation about the Death Ray when emotions were so high? And even at other times, dismantling the Death Ray was just not a topic for polite conversation, not if you loved the town.

Until one day, when the Death Ray happened to fire a shot into the local hospital, which created a disaster unlike any the town had ever seen. Now, the idea of dismantling the Death Ray seemed worth discussing. Before this, most people had not considered the idea that having a malfunctioning Death Ray in the town square could be so dangerous, but recent events had made the fact undeniable.

The townspeople gathered in the Town Hall. For the first time in years, every seat was filled! The people were angry and wanted to vote the Death Ray right out of the town. Speaker after speaker warned of the dangers posed by the Death Ray. The town seemed to come together like never before.

The last speaker was a young boy named Danny. Danny had been listening to all of the speeches, and couldn’t believe his ears. His whole life, he had been taught to love and honor the Death Ray. He explained, in passionate tones, how the Death Ray was the town, and any attempt to dismantle it would undermine everything the town stood for. He understood that people were emotional about the hospital, but this was not the time to be carried away by our emotions. The space aliens could come back at any moment, and when they did, the town needed to have that Death Ray. Besides, he noted, Death Rays don’t kill people; people are killed by Death Rays. The townspeople could not argue with this logic.

Danny insisted that dismantling the Death Ray was not the solution. Instead, he proposed building a Safety Shield, so that the next time the Death Ray had a random discharge, the beam would hit the Safety Shield instead of the hospital. Everyone loved the idea, and voted overwhelmingly to keep their beloved Death Ray. Some people suggested simply turning the Death Ray off, and then turning it on again if the space aliens returned, but of course nobody paid them any mind. Folks just rolled their eyes and waited for the speeches to be over. Eventually, anger over the destruction of the hospital faded, just as Danny had said it would, and life returned to normal.

The citizens of Dethravia never actually got around to building that Safety Shield, but this didn’t really seem to matter very much at all. Danny had saved the Death Ray. Danny had saved the town!

Kevin Spacey as Richard III

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

On Friday evening, I went to see the Bridge Project production of Richard III, directed by Sam Mendes.

I’ve always been a fan of Kevin Spacey, particularly in American Beauty, The Usual Suspects, and Glengarry Glen Ross. I was very much looking forward to seeing him in my favorite play.

He gave a fantastic performance as Richard III, but I thought the production took too many liberties with the text for the sake of their famous headliner. Take a look at an excerpt from the production script and I think you’ll see what I mean.

ACT IV. SCENE II. London. The palace.

Sennet. Enter KING RICHARD III, in pomp, crowned; BUCKINGHAM, CATESBY, and others.

Stand all apart Cousin of Buckingham!

My gracious sovereign?

Mine. 1970 Pontiac Firebird. The car I’ve always wanted and now I have it. I rule! But shall we wear these honours for a day? Or shall they last, and we rejoice in them?

Still live they and for ever may they last!

O Buckingham, now do I play the touch,
To try if thou be current gold indeed.
I need to shape up fast: think now what I would say.

Say on, my loving lord.

Cousin, thou wert not wont to be so dull:
Shall I be plain? I want to look good naked!
What sayest thou? speak suddenly; be brief.

Give me some breath, some little pause, my lord
Before I positively herein:
I will resolve your grace immediately.

The king is angry: see, he bites the lip.

Let’s all sell our souls and work for Satan because it’s more convenient that way. Catesby!

My lord?

Rumour it abroad
That Anne, my wife, is sick and like to die.


Our marriage is just for show. A commercial for how normal we are when we’re anything but.


Is thy name Tyrrel?

James Tyrrel, and your most obedient subject.

Ely always said, “I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of him.” Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me are those bastards in the Tower.

Let me have open means to come to them,
And soon I’ll rid you from the fear of them.



My Lord, I have consider’d in my mind
The late demand that you did sound me in.

Well, let that pass. Dorset is fled to Richmond.

I’ve heard we have the Marquess lost, my lord.

Lose him? We didn’t lose him. It’s not like, “Whoops! Where’d Dorset go?” HE QUIT. Someone pass the asparagus, please.

My lord, I claim your gift, my due by promise,
For which your honour and your faith is pawn’d;
The earldom of Hereford and the moveables
The which you promised I should possess.

I’m really thirsty. I used to dehydrate as a kid. One time it got so bad my piss came out like snot. I’m not kidding, it was all thick and gooey.

What says your highness to my just demand?

That guy is tense. Tension is a killer.

My lord!

I used to be in a barbershop quartet in Skokie, Illinois. The baritone was this guy named Kip Diskin, big fat guy, I mean, like, orca fat. He was so stressed in the morning…

My lord, your promise for the earldom,–

Tut, tut, thou troublest me; I am not in the giving vein to-day.


Because I don’t like you.

Why, then resolve me whether you will or no.

Will you go to lunch? Go to lunch. Will you go to lunch?

Exeunt all except for BUCKINGHAM

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that, poof. He’s gone.

Another Story

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

The Klaxon invaders lit up the starship corridor with weapons fire, as Alliance scientists and technicians dove for cover on the other end. Klaxons had a reputation for ruthless violence, but nothing could prepare you for your first encounter with them. It was likely to be your last.

This starship seemed an unlikely target. The captain recalled how a mundane scientific mission had turned noteworthy by the addition of the President of the Intergalactic Council, who decided to join the expedition as an observer. The scientists had been excited by the leader’s visit, and were eager to show him the important work they had been doing. But now, a Klaxon boarding party was attacking, and his life, all of their lives, were very much in danger.

A Klaxon pulse blast damaged a power generator, creating massive interference waves in the electromagnetic field within the ship, which rendered pulse weapons on both sides absolutely useless. What now? Hand-to-hand fighting? Klaxons weren’t known to be skillful in direct combat, but they could likely hold their own against a team of scientists with no battle experience.

Suddenly, the side hatch flew open, and there stood Will Daring, one of the two humans who had recently been taken from Earth, the planet they were currently orbiting. Telescopes had not yet been invented on their world, so it seemed safe to do the experiments close by. The captain had no idea how the male human had broken loose from his containment section, but he had bigger problems.

Will Daring walked halfway down the corridor. Was he fearless, or did he just not understand the threat the Klaxons posed? He bent to the floor to pick up one of the sharp wooden pikes that had been dislodged from its decorative place on the wall by the Klaxon weapons, and waved it menacingly in front of the invaders. The Klaxons took one look at the handsome eighteen-year-old human gesturing wildly with his makeshift lance, and decided it wasn’t worth the risk. They made a hasty retreat to their battleship, frightened off by no more than a boy holding a stick.

When he returned back to his hosts, the captain greeted him warmly. “You have saved the lives of this entire team, not to mention the President of the Intergalactic Council. We are all in your debt, Will Shake-Spear.” It was customary for Alliance captains to grant titles based on achievements in battle, and Will liked the way the moniker rang in his ear. “I have something for you,” the captain added slyly, beckoning Will to follow him into a side chamber.

Once the two men were alone, the captain handed Will a thick packet of paper, bound in a leather portfolio. Will looked through the pages and was surprised to find a collection of 55 plays: Hamlet, Macbeth, Love’s Labours Lost, Love’s Labour’s Won, the titles went on and on. “This is our gift to you, Will Shake-Spear,” the captain beamed, “a collection of plays for you to stage with your theatre company. We have analyzed your simple language, and have created combinations of words to appeal to the primate brains of your species. The stories have been taken from among the most popular in your culture, but the language patterns we’ve created are more complex than anything your world has ever seen.”

“What am I supposed to tell people,” Will responded, “that space aliens gave me these plays?”

“No, you must say that you yourself wrote them.”

“What sane person could possibly believe that?”

“Nevertheless, you must claim these plays as your own, or risk being condemned as a lunatic.”

Just then, the ship was rocked by an explosion. The Klaxons had fired on the science vessel and the ship’s systems were failing fast. The captain rushed to the bridge, while Will Daring ran back to the containment section where he and his companion had been kept. There he found the raven-haired beauty Anne Hathaway. Her bodice had been ripped, exposing the tops of her voluptuous breasts. For a moment, Will found himself captivated by her stunning allure before snapping back to the matter at hand. “We’ve got to get out of here!”

The two humans ran to the emergency hatch, but there were no escape chambers. By now, the damaged ship had broken orbit and had descended into the atmosphere of the planet below. Will Daring recalled a drawing he had seen by Leonardo Da Vinci, created over a century earlier. “I have an idea!” he bellowed over the sound of explosions erupting across the ship. Grabbing some nearby cloth, he created a makeshift parachute, grabbed Anne Hathaway, and jumped out of the hatch.

As the two floated gently to their home planet below, Anne Hathaway looked at Will Daring like he was the only man in the world. He had always felt she was unapproachable to him, nine years older and so impossibly lovely. But now they were closer than they had ever been. The landing was rough, but the two were unhurt. Nothing could hurt them now.

The explosion of the starship turned the sky a bright orange, creating a majestic backdrop for the most passionate kiss either of them had ever known. “Oh darling!” moaned Anne Hathaway breathlessly. “It’s pronounced Daring,” Will responded calmly, looking down at the bulky leather portfolio still in his hands, “but from now on, baby, you can call me Shakespeare!”

The Hartfordian Theory

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The release of the birth certificate certainly proves that someone named Barack Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. But Hartfordians don’t deny that Barack Obama exists; we just don’t believe that he is the current president. The Hartfordian theory is that the current President of the United States is actually former senator Christopher Dodd.

All of the questions surrounding Obama’s past are easy to reconcile, once you realize that his many accomplishments are actually those of Dodd. Much has been made of Obama’s 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, a call for unity that thrust him into the national spotlight. But records from the time show that the real Barack Obama was only a state senator. The DNC would never have given him that kind of platform. Christopher Dodd was a United States senator, and potential presidential candidate. Clearly, it was Dodd who gave that speech.

In the Senate, the man from Hawaii stood in as a front for legislation that Dodd would have considered too controversial to put his own name on. For example, the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008 was supposedly sponsored by “Senator Barack Obama.” But the true author of the bill left behind plenty of coded messages in the text, so posterity would have no doubt who really sponsored it. (Click below for a larger image.)

Anti-Hartfordian critics have pointed out that it is impossible for Dodd to have sponsored both Obama’s legislation and his own at the same time. But Dodd is one of the great legislative geniuses of all time, and was able to manage it without raising suspicion. In 2010, “President Barack Obama” signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The former president, George W. Bush, had been opposed to financial regulation. But the man from Hawaii takes office, and all of a sudden financial reform is on the table? Obviously, Dodd signed his own bill into law.

The idea that the President of the United States is Barack Obama is one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated on the American people, despite overwhelming evidence that it is actually Chris Dodd. I guess people just see what they want to see.

Under the Influence

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

I’ve been asked by the good folks at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to participate in a project with other bloggers in honor of Shakespeare’s birthday. The idea is to describe in a blog post how Shakespeare has influenced my life. My first impulse was to decline. First of all, it would require providing a name and bio, and I blog anonymously. Though I’ve linked to it several times, I’ve never posted my full name on the blog. More importantly, Shakespeare’s influence is an aspect of my life I don’t usually like to talk about. But perhaps this is an opportunity. By speaking out now, I can help others avoid the nightmare I have lived through. Because you see, my friends, Shakespeare has completely destroyed my life.

As a high school student, I showed a modicum of potential to become a productive member of society. I went into college as an undeclared major, with an array of exciting career options ahead of me. I took classes in a variety of disciplines, with the naive hope of discovering my passions. I took an acting class on a whim, and the professor suggested that I audition for her play. I was ready to do it, until I found that the play was by Shakespeare. Now, I was always taught to stay away from Shakespeare, but the professor was persuasive and I figured there wouldn’t be any harm in trying it just that once.

I was cast as Sebastian in Twelfth Night. I memorized my difficult lines by rote and went through the rehearsal process. One night, while I was waiting backstage and listening to the play, a single line caught in my ear and made me smile. “Hey, that’s pretty clever,” I admitted. A bit later, another line stuck in my head. “I see what he’s doing there.” Like popcorn popping, the revelations began to gradually speed up. Each weave of imagery, each implied metaphor, each beat of the iamb was like a jolt of adrenaline to my young brain. I was converted into a card-carrying Shakespeare fan.

I continued with acting as well, and in my junior year I had the opportunity to play Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That was the experience that first sent me down the rabbit hole. No longer just a casual Shakespeare fan, I had become a full-blown addict. And of course the comedies proved to be merely a gateway drug to the harder stuff. My senior year, I discovered Hamlet, and what should have been a year of personal exploration and maturation was completely lost to that play. I would read it over and over, fascinated by the experience of making new discoveries every time, no matter how many times I had read it. Any thoughts I may have ever had of doing anything else were drowned in that play.

I needed more… Masters degree… Ph.D… My dissertation was on teaching Shakespeare to elementary school students. No longer content to be merely a user, I had become a dealer. A pusher. Could I decrease my own misery by dragging down others with me? I was determined to find out. I started teaching graduate-level Shakespeare courses at NYU – first a beginner, than an advanced class. I was completely out of control. I founded a Shakespeare reading group. I started a Shakespeare-themed blog. I taught for the Folger’s summer Teaching Shakespeare Institute for teachers. Conferences. Lectures. Seminars. Nothing was ever enough. When life threw me a curve ball, I went looking for answers at the bottom of a Riverside Complete Works anthology. I re-read Midsummer, and hit Bottom.

And what has it all gotten me? I am forty years old, and I have never held a full-time job. I support myself by working part-time, training teachers, administrators, school-based data teams, graduate students… anyone, as long as it will pay for that next Caedmon audio production of As You Like It. Had I never discovered Shakespeare, never developed that unquenchable thirst, who knows where I’d be today? But I know where I’ll be tonight. There’s an off-off-Broadway production of Measure for Measure in the West Village. Picture it. I walk the mean streets of Manhattan, desperate for a fix. I turn down a dark alley where I see a non-descript door propped open with a piece of plywood. I slip twenty dollars to a kid with purple hair who hands me a program and waves me in. And I know that, tonight, I will get what I need. And for a junkie, tonight is all that matters.

My name is Bill Heller. And I am a Shakespeare addict.

Just Kidding

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Feedback on my recent post about The Rules has led to a concern that my humor is too subtle and not everyone might get that it is a joke. As this regularly happens to me in real life, I thought it might be a good idea to sprinkle a few drops of water on my dusty-dry sense of humor, and clear up a few items on the blog that were always meant to be taken with a grain of salt.

ONE. The Rules were a satire that applies equally to members of both sides of the political spectrum, including me at times. You should definitely vote.

TWO. To the best of my knowledge, Rick Astley never performed in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. That was a Rickroll setup. Sorry. But there really is a “never give her o’er” speech.

THREE. The rap song “Mary, Mary” by Run DMC is not really about Queen Mary I of England. The song was actually written by Michael Nesmith of The Monkees. No, seriously.

FOUR. King Henry VIII never really used online file-sharing services. Someone really did search for that, though.

FIVE. President Bush did not really let the door hit him on the ass on his way out of the presidency. That’s just an expression.

SIX. Shakespeare did not really use PowerPoint. If he had, he would have probably created the best presentations ever, and today’s scholars would be debating whether or not he had really created them.

SEVEN. I was never really serious about the feud.

EIGHT. I am not really a mixer, a battery, or any of the other riddle answers. I am forty, though.

NINE. Waiting for Superman is not really my favorite of the Superman movies. I like the one with Richard Pryor better.

TEN. I don’t really think my readers need a list of examples of when I was joking. I just thought it would be funny.

The Rules

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

It has recently come to my attention that not everyone is aware of The Rules. I am posting them here as a public service. Please familiarize yourself with them, as you will be held accountable for knowing them.

1. I have very strong opinions on a wide range of political issues. These opinions are the correct opinions. If you disagree with them, you are wrong.

2. I do not know why I was the one who was blessed with the correct combination of opinions, but I take my gift seriously, and am always willing to share them with those around me.

3. If you are on the other side of the political spectrum, you are the opposition. You are not on that side because you have a different set of core values and beliefs about how America can be improved. You only pretend to care about America to advance your sick and twisted agenda.

4. If you are on the same side as me, but closer to the center, you are the lapdog of the opposition.

5. If you are on the same side as me, but farther from the center, you are a fringe lunatic.

6. If you share my exact positions on all of the issues except for one, you are tragically misguided about that issue and are probably being misled by the mainstream media.

7. The mainstream media is definitely the lapdog of the opposition.

8. There are a great many issues where I disagree with Hitler. If you disagree with me on any of these issues, you are Hitler.

9. If, however, you compare me to Hitler, you are behaving inappropriately, and have automatically lost the argument.

10. Politicians are all corrupt liars. That’s why I don’t vote.

This Election Day, be like me. Don’t vote.


Sunday, April 11th, 2010

with apologies to Elizabeth Bishop

This is a school in Brooklyn.

This is a student out in the yard
Who needs his Student Metrocard
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

These are the books that are much too hard
For the struggling student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is a principal with budget cut short
Who is forced to scale back and is needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the curious student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is the yearly progress report
For the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the sleeping student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is the panel that serves as a Board
That looks at the tests to see how we scored
To issue a yearly progress report
To the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the hard-working student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is the Mayor who’s closing the schools
And like it or not we must follow his rules
For he chooses eight of thirteen on the Board
That looks at the tests to see how we scored
To issue a yearly progress report
To the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the faceless student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is a city in fiscal dismay
That inflated its scores for Election Day
To support the Mayor who picks the Board
That looks at the tests to see how we scored
To issue a yearly progress report
To the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the hungry student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is a state that pulls funds away
From its largest city in fiscal dismay
That elects the Mayor who picks the Board
That looks at the tests to see how we scored
To issue a yearly progress report
To the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the creative student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is the Congress with heavy mandate
That sends rules but not money to the crowded state
That diverts precious funds away
From its largest city in fiscal dismay
That elects the Mayor who picks the Board
That looks at the tests to see how we scored
To issue a yearly progress report
To the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the failing student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is a country that lives only to borrow
And spend money on yesterday, not on tomorrow,
With the help of the Congress with heavy mandate
That sends rules but not money to the crowded state
That diverts precious funds away
From its largest city in fiscal dismay
That elects the Mayor who picks the Board
That looks at the tests to see how we scored
To issue a yearly progress report
To the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the brilliant student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

These are the teachers who catch the blame,
Year after year it is always the same,
In a country so broke it must constantly borrow
And spend money on yesterday, not on tomorrow,
With the help of the Congress with heavy mandate
That sends rules but not money to the crowded state
That diverts precious funds away
From its largest city in fiscal dismay
That elects the Mayor who picks the Board
That looks at the tests to see how we scored
To issue a yearly progress report
To the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the innocent student who’s losing his card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

Googleplex – 2/14/10

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

It’s time once again to check in on what searches people have done to find themselves at Shakespeare Teacher, and to respond in the name of fun and public service. All of the following searches brought people to this site in the past week.

was erikson influenced by shakespeare

That’s a great question. I think it’s fair to say the idea that human beings develop in distinct stages was pioneered by Sigmund Freud in the 20th century, when he outlined his psycho-sexual stages of development in childhood. Erik Erikson, a developmental psychologist strongly influenced by Freud, described his own set of psycho-social stages, which carried through to adulthood.

Groundbreaking as these ideas were, they were to some degree anticipated by Shakespeare in his Seven Ages of Man speech from As You Like It. In the speech, Shakespeare describes seven developmental stages that carry through from childhood to adulthood, and the common characteristics that men display at each stage. Freud and Erikson would later codify this scientifically, but the Bard was able to figure it out just by observing the human condition. Point: Humanities!

It’s worth noting that both Freud and Erikson wrote about Shakespeare, and Hamlet in particular, to describe their theories. In a 1962 article entitled “Youth: Fidelity and Diversity,” Erikson actually references Shakespeare’s “ages of man” before spending about four pages examining fidelity and identity in Hamlet. So it would seem that the answer to the question is, yes, Erikson was influenced by Shakespeare to some degree, as was Freud. But influence often tends to be reflective, and the developmental psychologists certainly left their mark on Shakespeare as well.

poetic elements in song mosh by eminem

I touched on this a bit about a month ago. I used to use “Mosh” to teach poetic devices, and I’m having trouble finding a more contemporary replacement. I’ll just give a sampling of each of the poetic devices I mentioned in that post. I tend to use only the middle stanza and the chorus, which I make into a handout. I also distribute the Prologue for Romeo and Juliet as a handout, so we can compare the two.

Repetition: “We gonna fight, we gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march”; “All you can see is a sea of people”; “If it rains let it rain”; “Rebel with a rebel yell”

Rhyme: Not only is there end rhyme, but there is internal rhyme as well. “They tell us no we say yea, they tell us stop we say go/ Rebel with a rebel yell, raise hell we gonna let em know”; “yea the wetter the better”; “that we need to proceed”

Rhythm: “Mosh” is written in anapestic tetrameter, which I always point out is the same meter as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”… and other popular poems as well. The Prologue for Romeo and Juliet, of course, is in iambic pentameter.

Alliteration: Note that in “we gonna mosh through the marsh” the words “mosh” and “marsh” start and end with the same sounds. Compare with “doth with their death” in the Prologue for Romeo and Juliet.

Antithesis: “They tell us no we say yea, they tell us stop we say go”; “from the front to the back”; “some white and some black”

Allusion: There’s a reference to George W. Bush in the passage.

Emendation: This is where I edited the reference to George W. Bush. I usually change it to “Stomp, push, shove, mush, [mock] Bush” even using the brackets like a Shakespeare editor.

president bush reads shakespeare

In a 2006 interview with Brian Williams, President Bush claimed to have recently read “three Shakespeares” in addition to curling up with some Camus:

WILLIAMS: We always talk about what you’re reading. As you know, there was a report that you just read the works of a French philosopher. (Bush laughs)

BUSH: The Stranger.

WILLIAMS: Tell us the back story of Camus.

BUSH: The back story of the the book?

WILLIAMS: What led you to…

BUSH: I was in Crawford and I said I was looking for a book to read and Laura said you oughtta try Camus, I also read three Shakespeare’s.

WILLIAMS: This is a change…

BUSH: Not really. Wait a minute.

WILLIAMS: A few months ago you were reading the life story of Joe DiMaggio by Richard Ben Cramer.

BUSH: Which was a good book.

WILLIAMS: You’ve been on a Teddy Roosevelt reading kick.

BUSH: Well, I’m reading about the battle of New Orleans right now. I’ve got an eclectic reading list.

Williams didn’t ask him what “Shakespeares” he read, but I have my guess at one of them, as well as a selection I wish he’d read.

somewhere in the number pi is shakespeare

The constant pi is nature’s random digit generator, stretching out infinitely long and with no predictable pattern. This means that any finite string of numbers can be found somewhere out in the vast expanse of digits.

So if we were to express the Complete Works of Shakespeare in, say, ASCII code, it would indeed be represented as a very long, but certainly finite, string of digits. This string of digits is represented somewhere in pi, not once, but an infinite number of times. What’s more, the very first time it appears would be a finite distance in. Which means, there is some number X where you could say that if you start X digits into pi, you can read the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

Before you get too excited by that, you should realize that X is so unfathomably large that it would most likely be beyond human comprehension to even find a way to express it, let alone come anywhere near identifying it. You may think of the monkeys-at-typewriters thought experiment (and for our purposes, we can consider both the digits of pi and monkeys typing to be generating random characters). Even using theoretical monkeys, the number of simian typists needed would be beyond astronomical.

But, yes, the Complete Works of Shakespeare are somewhere in pi with a probability of 1. If the thought of that makes you smile, I’ve done my job.

what was king henry four’s last name

Henry IV was often referred to as Henry Bolingbroke, but actually, his last name was Plantagenet.

In fact, all of the English kings from Henry II to Richard III carried the surname Plantagenet. This means that throughout the entire Wars of the Roses, the Yorks and Lancasters all had the same last name, which is found throughout the history plays. This is because both sides were led by male-line descendants of Edward III. There is a reference to this in Richard III, as Richard hits on the widow of the cousin he killed:

Glo. He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husband,
Did it to help thee to a better husband.
Anne. His better doth not breathe upon the earth.
Glo. He lives that loves thee better than he could.
Anne. Name him.
Glo. Plantagenet.
Anne. Why, that was he.
Glo. The self-same name, but one of better nature.
Anne. Where is he?
Glo. Here.

The long Plantagenet line comes to an end in 1485, when Richard III is defeated by a young man named Henry Tudor.

rick astley allusion to shakespeare

Rick Astley, before he became well known as a singer, did a bit of acting and even performed in some Shakespeare. Most of his Shakespeare work was done on stage and not screen, but there is a video clip of him performing the “never give her o’er” speech from The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The video can be found on YouTube here.

I leave the task of responding to the remaining search terms to my readers:

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