Archive for August, 2007

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

I am housing assigned for enlisted or brass;
I can help you do laundry, or park with no pass;
I’m divided semesters for college kids’ class,
And then afterwards something they put in a glass.

Who am I?

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

Film: Branagh’s As You Like It

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

When director Kenneth Branagh set the opening speech of Henry V in a movie lot, he was announcing a new philosophy for putting Shakespeare on film. This philosophy is well explored in his latest film, As You Like It. It’s not a perfect film, but I greatly enjoyed watching it, and I expect to give it many more viewings in the near future and likely for years to come.

Shakespeare was writing for the stage, but Branagh has the ability to show with vivid action events that Shakespeare could only describe. In some cases, that worked well, like in the exciting palace coup in the beginning. In other cases, I missed Shakespeare’s language. Believe it or not, actually seeing Orlando wrestle with the lion was far less satisfying than those times when I’ve heard Oliver describe it.

Branagh set his film in Japan, a bold choice that is supported by an on-screen description of 19th century British enclaves in Japan. This had the potential to draw a much sharper distinction between those fleeing the court and the rustics of the forest. However, Branagh contrived to allow Corin and Audrey to remain English. Both actors did a fine job, but an opportunity was lost. Phoebe and Silvius seemed to be English actors of Asian descent. Only the character of William truly embodied the potential of setting the play in a 19th century Japanese forest. I was left wondering why the film was set in Japan at all. Still, the external trappings of the Japanese setting were visually impressive. I enjoyed the ninja soldiers and Charles as sumo wrestler, the Japanese characters and kimonos, but in the end, there seemed to be very little actual consequence to choosing Japan as a setting.

I enjoyed most of the performances, but I feel that Phoebe and Silvus were botched, in that their relationship was not well articulated. I would not have minded if the issue was simply that they didn’t remain faithful to the play, but I didn’t know what they were supposed to be. Most troublingly, the lines explaining the “bargain” between Phoebe and “Ganymede” in the end were cut, and so we don’t even know why Phoebe is marrying Silvius. In general, there were more script cuts than I generally like to see, but again, Branagh is adapting for another medium and we must allow for the conventions of film.

I’ve always felt that Rosalind carries this play on force of personality, and Branagh found a wonderful Rosalind in Bryce Dallas Howard. Adrian Lester is brilliant in everything he does, and this is no exception. But the real standout for me was Brian Blessed in the double role of Duke Senior and Duke Frederick. As the former, he is able to set one of the main themes of the play – the contrast between the false court and the natural world of Arden. As the latter, he movingly demonstrates the transformation and ultimate redemption of the evil Duke in a way that I’ve never seen before, nor found more satisfying.

As You Like It continues to run on HBO. I highly recommend checking it out!

Conundrum: Pic Tac Toe

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

I grew up reading Games magazine, so I was delighted when Ken Jennings posted a good old “Pic Tac Toe” on his blog. But when he recently posted a plea for others to do likewise, I thought it would be a good time to bring Conundrum out of its summer hibernation.

In a “Pic Tac Toe” puzzle, there are nine pictures in a three-by-three grid, like Tic-Tac-Toe. In each row, column, and diagonal, there is a common theme that unites the three pictures. The challenge is to find the eight themes.

You can click on each image to see a larger version:

I don’t have a message board like Ken has, so just post whatever you come up with in the comments section.


UPDATE: Correct themes provided by Annalisa (4) and DeLisa (2). Alternate theme suggested by DeLisa (1). See comments for all answers.

Shakespeare Anagram: Sonnet LV

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Sonnet LV:

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rime;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
‘Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

Through brilliant sonnet rendered fifty-five,
Our poet really gives his honored trust,
In vows to quill his subject still alive,
While royals’ crypts in stone shall fall to dust;
But in short times who really truly knew,
Some simpler verse should many moons endure?
Imagine what this tribute should construe,
If real immortal fame were promised sure.
Fans read with universal lilting rote,
To wonder who that dreamboat could have been
Who should inspire this sonorous rhymed note,
As boy Fate slyly’s rolling such a grin:
All fame went to the author of that rhyme,
And not this unknown person lost to time.

Question of the Week

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Defense attorney for Michael Vick? Camp counselor from hell? War crimes defendant?

What’s next for Alberto Gonzales?

Shakespeare Teacher Special Feature III: Another Magic Word

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Well, I’m off on vacation, and so I’ll be away from the blog for a few days.

I’ve posted some extra “content” this morning, and of course, here’s another Shakespeare Teacher Special Feature!

The rules are almost identical to the last Shakespeare Teacher Special Feature. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • I. Thursday Morning Riddle: Please find below four brand-new riddles. Each riddle is numbered. Once you’ve solved the riddles, replace each number in the Venn Diagram below with the answer to the riddle that has that number.
  • II. Shakespeare Anagram: Once the numbers have been replaced by the riddle answers, the letters in each circle of the Venn Diagram can be anagrammed into the title of a Shakespeare play. However, this can only be done after the question mark in the center section is replaced by a magic word. What is the magic word? And what are the three play titles?
  • III. Conundrum: This week’s challenge is to come up with 26 words, any words commonly used in English, each of which features a different letter ______. (Fill in the blank with the magic word from the center section of the Venn Diagram.)

Use the comments section below to register any and all answers, discussion, and comments. I won’t be around for the next couple of days to moderate this, so please work together. If someone posts an answer you think is right, go ahead and say so and offer some words of encouragement. Also, feel free to pass this along to anyone you think may be interested. Here is the direct link.

The Riddles:

1. In stone primitive natural dwellings we lurk;
We think GEICO’s campaign was designed by a jerk;
But we’ve picked up a sitcom – a programming quirk;
And stay plural we must for this puzzle to work.

Who are we? (7 letters)

2. I’m a bag where potatoes are kept by the pound;
When your boss decides he doesn’t want you around;
If you hit me at night, you’ll be soon sleeping sound;
And I’ll bring any quarterback straight to the ground.

Who am I? (4 letters)

3. I’m the first in the spectrum that split light creates;
In the ledger, my presence a loss indicates;
I’m far left in the East, but I’m right in the States;
And the Hanrahan prefix in stories by Yeats.

Who am I? (3 letters)

4. I’m the boyfriend to Barbie who’s dapper and neat;
I’m the junior in baseball who’s primed to compete;
I’m the Cuckoo’s Nest novelist, sort of a beat;
And the Jeopardy champ who accomplished a feat.

Who am I? (3 letters)

So the solutions to this feature are four riddle answers, one magic word, three play titles, and up to 26 Conundrum words.

Good luck!

UPDATE: Riddles 1-4, Circles A, B, C, and the magic word all solved by Annalisa. Conundrum answers provided by Annalisa (22) and, in my own special way, me (4). See comments for all answers.

Shakespeare Anagram: Henry VI

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Three quickies to hold anagram fans over for the week…

From Henry VI, Part One:

Is my name Talbot? and am I your son?

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

Man, Mom is undeniably too astray.

From Henry VI, Part Two:

The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

Will tell false king to let shyster death whir.

From Henry VI, Part Three:

Off with his head

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

The ho said “Whiff!”


Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But what if you only have room for 650? Enter “Content Aware Image Resizing” or the retargeting of images:

This is truly amazing, another step in the ongoing campaign to make images as dynamic as text in the XML Internet.

It does raise some questions about the medium of photography, though. This isn’t the first time images have been digitally altered to be sure, but there does seem to be a difference here. To begin with, a photograph should not be mistaken for reality. Photographers make choices, and a photograph is a selective representation of the world. A resized photograph, I would argue, is basically the same photograph. A cropped photograph is not, but it can be considered another photograph, as it is a different selective representation of the real world. A digitally altered photograph can no longer be considered a photograph in the same way, but it remains a visual representation of an imagined world.

What, then, is a retargeted image? It is a new concept for a new world. Take the example of the image of the two figures on the beach (about 46 seconds into the video). Resizing the image would make it hard to see the figures. Cropping the image would lose one of the figures. Retargeting the image keeps both figures in their current size, and loses only the beach between them. This may seem like an ideal solution, but what is lost is the distance between the two figures. That is a major element of this photograph. It was deleted, not for artistic or functional purposes, but for practical purposes, to help it fit better on the page. The thousand words represented by a picture can now be cut down to just the verbs and nouns. And one imagines this being one day automated, even built into Web browsers of the future – a future where everything is as adjustable as Quick Text Shakespeare, and with similiar nuance.

Even the phrase “Content Aware Image Resizing” gives me the willies in the same way that the term “content provider” seems to imply that the content is just one of many elements that make up a deliverable product. Under this system, Shakespeare was a content provider. And the process described in the video is not aware of content. For that, you still need a human.

I know I’ve blogged favorably about the changes the Internet is bringing to society, and many of them are inevitable, but others are not, and we have a responsibility to keep up with the changing definition of information literacy. Now we have one more question to ask ourselves when we see a photograph online.

I was originally posting this because I thought it was way cool. But I don’t want us to be so dazzled by the new technologies that come out that we stop asking the critical questions.

Cool Shakespeare Websites

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

In addition to the websites recommended earlier, here are a few more Shakespeare resources you may enjoy:

In Search of Shakespeare: The companion website to the PBS series also includes a resource page for educators.

Shakespeare Defined: A resource for looking up definitions of words in Shakespeare.

Shakespeare Resources: A Shakespeare portal by a professor in Tennessee.

As You Like It on HBO

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Kenneth Branagh’s new film of As You Like It premieres tonight at 9pm on HBO, and will continue to run for at least the next month. Be sure to check it out!