Archive for July, 2007

Shakespeare Anagram: The Comedy of Errors

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

From The Comedy of Errors:

We came into the world like brother and brother;
And now let’s go hand in hand, not one before another.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

Both the worn globe-wanderer and the torn homeowner learn the locations of their abandoned kin.

More from The Onion

Monday, July 30th, 2007
Shakespeare Was, Like, The Ultimate Rapper

The Onion

Shakespeare Was, Like, The Ultimate Rapper

As an English teacher, I have to make The Bard resonate with today’s youth. I get the same questions every year: “Shakespeare? What does this dead white guy have to do with me? He doesn’t know where I come from, what I’m all about. He’s not from the streets.”

Arts Education

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

The Center on Education Policy released a disturbing new study this week, measuring the effects of No Child Left Behind:

The report finds that approximately 62% of school districts increased the amount of time spent in elementary schools on English language arts and or math, while 44% of districts cut time on science, social studies, art and music, physical education, lunch or recess.

Now, I’m pretty much appalled by all of the cutbacks, but I’ll leave the bulk of it to,, and I’m, so I want to talk about arts education.

(And let’s make no mistake – the extra time being spent on ELA isn’t being spent on literature. It’s being spent on test prep, and more test prep.)

Arts education is absolutely essential for students preparing for the world that we’re currently living in. With the image continuing to gain dominance over the written word, people who can demonstrate artistic ability are highly marketable in today’s economy. From graphic designers to documentary filmmakers, those who can master today’s tools of communication are able to command a wider audience and expand their range of communication. In the connected world, this is real currency.

And even if all of that weren’t true, the arts teach us how to identify problems and solve them with creativity and discipline. Those skills help us in any endeavor.

I came across a website for an artist named Jen Stark, who creates sculptures from construction paper that won’t help anyone pass a reading test any time soon. But they bring beauty into the world, which is worth at least a link from my blog. Take a look at her work, and tell me she didn’t have to develop some pretty sophisticated math skills along the way.

Or take French artist Huber Duprat, who recruited caddis fly larvae, who typically create protective shells out of silk and their surrounding materials, and placed them in an environment of gold flakes and precious gems. The result is a combination of art and science that boggles the mind. Click the picture below to see the video.

Or take a look at the Universcale by Nikon, an application of the mathematics of scale to allow human comprehension of the natural universe, and tell me your appreciation of it isn’t primarily aesthetic.

I wonder what Leonardo DaVinci would have thought about eliminating arts education to teach math. What would Shakespeare have thought about eliminating arts education to teach literacy? What would Descartes say about eliminating science to teach math? What would Hemmingway think of eliminating social studies to teach literacy?

Reading and math are important skills. But even if an educational system were somehow able to acheive 100 percent literacy and numeracy, and nothing else, it would still be a failure.

Shakespeare Anagram: Measure for Measure

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

From Measure for Measure:

Well, heaven forgive him, and forgive us all!
Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

We offer thin hymn as illusory vim, if believing ourselves damned or salvageable.

Six Degrees of Sir Francis Bacon: Benedict Arnold

Friday, July 27th, 2007

First, read the rules of the game.

This week’s challenge is the controversial Revolutionary War figure Benedict Arnold.

I was able to link Benedict Arnold to Sir Francis Bacon in three degrees, though that shouldn’t stop you from posting a longer response, or looking for a shorter one. Entries will be accepted until midnight on Thursday, August 2.

Good luck!

Thursday Morning Riddle: Anagram Edition

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

I’ve been on an anagram kick lately, so I thought I’d try something different this morning.

There are two Thursday Morning Riddles this week. The riddles are anagrams of each other.

While incumbent, I one in one hundred remain;
States elect me to allocate funds I’ll sustain;
I look trustworthy, work’s can-do, let me explain;
I thumped beatable foes, held the latest campaign.

Who am I?

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

I’m that act when enlisted men seem to rebel;
Aim to mutinies, or if when captured you tell;
That pained book, as Ann Coulter’s expecting, should sell;
Like that infamous Benedict Arnold as well.

Who am I?

The answers, of course, will be anagrams of each other as well.


UPDATE: Both riddles solved by Annalisa. See comments for answers.

The Simpsons Do Hamlet

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Shakespeare Anagram: Henry IV, Part One

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

From Henry IV, Part One:

The better part of valour is discretion; in the which better part, I have saved my life.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

To thrive in craven humility’s theoretic depth is preferable to a swift brave death.

Question of the Week

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

I had a dream last night. It was the morning after the primaries for the 2008 presidential election, which in my dream were all held on the same day. I had gone to bed early and missed the results, so upon waking I checked online to see who had won.

Surprisingly, the Democratic nomination went to John Edwards, the charismatic Senator from North Carolina who campaigns primarily on the issue of poverty. He hadn’t been my first choice, but I was somewhat pleased to see him win the nomination anyway and I looked forward to the possibility of his winning the presidency.

Even more surprisingly however, the Republican nomination went to Jonathan Edwards, the eighteenth-century American revivalist preacher, known primarily for his fire-and-brimstone sermons.

Turning on the television, I was dismayed to see that the media was entirely focused on the fact that both nominees had the same name. They had an expert on doing a statistical analysis of names of politicians to see what the odds of this happening were. I was frustrated, because I felt like the top story should have been that the Republicans nominated a Bible-thumping Puritan from the eighteenth century. Didn’t that concern anyone?

I went into the office – in my dream I worked in an office – and all of my co-workers in this office-type place were absolutely giddy with the coincidence of the two candidates having the same name. I noted that the Republican Jonathan Edwards was a dangerous religious zealot who would destroy all of the freedoms we currently enjoy, but – of course – nobody paid me any mind.

Even so, I woke up more amused than frustrated. And today, I learned that the debate tonight would feature questions being asked by voters via YouTube. So of course, that’s now the story far more than anything that was said during the debate. Can I dream ’em or what?

Anyway, the Question of the Week was suggested by Lee after reading that the ’92 Vice Presidential Debate was my favorite political debate ever. As always, free to answer the question, or just continue the conversation.

What was your favorite debate ever and why?

Theatre: Richard III at Nicu’s Spoon

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

I had the pleasure of seeing Richard III at Nicu’s Spoon Theatre. I had a wonderful experience, and I would recommend it to any fan of the play (it’s my favorite) who is in the New York City area.

The title role was played by Henry Holden, who has an artificial leg and used crutches to get around the stage. This was presented as Richard’s deformity. However, the actor skillfully embodied such a deformity of spirit in the role that the artificial leg was quickly overshadowed. This physicality was especially important, since Holden only spoke the lines that Richard speaks to the audience. When Richard was in public, his lines were spoken by a second actor, Andrew Hutcheson, who was positioned upstage left with a lectern and a reading light, while Holden remained as the physical Richard.

Typically, such production concepts turn me off immediately, but it worked particularly well here, in no small part due to the richly resonant voice of Hutcheson who overflowed the small house with Shakespeare the way it was meant to be performed. (His bio says he toured as the Beast in Beauty and, so that should give you a sense of the instrument at work here.) Also, having two actors playing Richard highlighted the contrast between Public Richard and Private Richard. The director (Heidi Lauren Duke) also had the freedom to underscore the more poignant moments by having a character deliver a line addressed to Richard to Hutcheson instead of Holden, or to have both actors speak a line in unison. And Hutcheson turning off his reading lamp to signify Richard’s death was a nice touch.

It would be difficult to review this show without mentioning the performance of Wynne Anders in the role of Queen Margaret. That’s a fantastic role, and she was absolutely riveting every moment she was on stage. But for me, the standout performance of the show was in the role of Queen Elizabeth, played by Rebecca Challis. In the scene with Richard, after he has killed her children, I could really feel her pain and hatred. That’s a tough scene (my favorite), and she nailed it.

Tickets are a steal at $18, and the theatre is conveniently located at 38 W 38th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues. Hurry if you want to see it; the play is only running one more week. It closes on July 29.

If you do see the show, you can discuss it in the comments section of this post. If you really like the show, you can give them some good buzz at the New York Innovative Theatre Awards website.

WARNING: Comments may contain further discussion of the show, including potential spoilers.