Archive for July, 2008

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

I’m the cereal king; I’m the office of mail;
I’m the etiquette queen; or providing your bail;
When you’re hanging a notice with hammer and nail;
And in smarts, I am often compared to Dan Quayle.

Who am I?

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

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

I’m a group of musicians, or outlaws too bold;  
I continued to play as Titanic grew cold;
At the office, I’m rubber; in marriage, I’m gold;
And I’m found on cigars at the time they are sold.

Who am I?

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

Conundrum: Non-Prime

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

I’m thinking of a two-digit number that is not a prime, the sum of two primes, or the product of two primes.

What number am I thinking of?

UPDATE: Question answered by Bronx Richie. See comments for answer.

How now! What news?

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

I’ve been trying to think how I could top last week’s Shakespeare Anagram, where I took Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” speech and anagrammed it into adapted versions of five other Hamlet speeches. I decided to attempt to anagram one entire scene from Shakespeare into an adapted version of another scene from Shakespeare.

I thought it best to use two scenes with the same characters, so that the letters in the speech prefixes would even out, and of course I needed to find two scenes of roughly equal length. I went for two scenes between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, the one just before the murder of Duncan and the one right after. (I’ll call the two scenes Beforekill and Afterkill, which I think has a clarity that calling them I.vii. and II.ii. lacks.)

Well, I did not get very far. In fact, I didn’t get past the very first step, which is to do a letter inventory. It turns out that Beforekill has over 30 more instances of the letter W than Afterkill has. This is a lot, considering that the scenes themselves are only about 90 lines long a piece. So, unless I want to add a bunch of web addresses, it’s probably not going to work. There are only so many times you can work “How now!” into conversation before it gets tedious.

It’s not a length issue, as Afterkill is rich in Rs and Ss, letters that you would expect to appear frequently in a given passage. Also, Afterkill has quite a few extra Ys than Beforekill and, oddly, about 20 more Gs! So why such a big W disparity in the other direction?

Part of it is a deliberate use on Shakespeare’s part of W alliteration in Beforekill, as in “which would be worn now” or “will I with wine and wassail,” but I think it’s more than that.

W is the letter of question words. When? Which? Why? How? Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are debating and planning the murder and are challenging each other with questions. W also the first letter of We. They are in this together. “If we should fail?” “We fail.”

After the murder, it’s all about Get this and Go there and Give me the daGGers. The soft W is used for coaxing and hedging. The hard G is used for scrambling and panicking. Awesome.

So there won’t be any full-scene anagrams, at least not right now. But I enjoyed discovering the reason why not, and thought you might enjoy it too.

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

I’m a movement that birds use to soar through the air;
When your arms trace an arc while your elbows stay square;
I’m the place where you zip up the pants that you wear;
And a helper in fishing the fish find unfair.

Who am I?

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

Shakespeare Anagram: Hamlet

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Ironically, the title character in what many consider to be Shakespeare’s central dramatic work is most famous for his long speeches. One speech in particular stands out as almost interchangeable with Shakespeare and perhaps even the theatre as a whole. The soliloquy manages to sum up, in just thirteen letters, the fundamental question of existence itself. Once we agree to tackle that question, then the rest of the speeches, well, they may as well just be anagrams of the big one…

From Hamlet:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and, by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life…

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

O! that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew;
Or that the Everlasting had not set
His precept ‘gainst self-slaughter! Rebuke! Rebuke!
How weary, foul, puffed, and abominable
Seem to me the questions of this place.
Fie on ‘t! O fie! ’tis a once heeded garden,
That’s left to pot; the rank and weed in nature
Possess it merely. But he should come to this!
Not four months dead: nay, half as much, but two:
As superior a man; so as, to this step,
Hyperion to a satyr; so caring to my mother
Permit he not beteem the beams of stars
Access her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!

You can compare it to the original speech here (starting at line 133).

Shift around the letters again, and it becomes:

I have of late, – but wherefore do not seek, – lost all my cheer, ashamed that the oddest mood upsets me so seethingly that our lush frame, at the earth, soon seems to me a detested sterile promontory; this aesthetic roof toasted by stoked mythical golden fire truthfully appears to me therefore as such a both foul and pestilent congregation of bath vapours. What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! in theme, how impressive and truthful! in action as an angel! and apprehension as a god! the beauty of the world! the crest of beasts! But, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?

You can compare it to the original speech here (around line 250).

Shift around the letters again, and it becomes:

O! what a rogue and peasant slave am I:
Is’t not monstrous that this player here,
Could force his soul so to the best esteem
That from her working feebled all his looks,
Have tears in eyes, add a tempest of bombasts,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to top esteem? and all for nothing!
Frets Hecuba to him for he to tear
That he so pretty sobs? What would he do
Had he not the uttermost cue for passion
As by me? He could drown the stage in tears,
Atone the guilty and appal the free,
Confound the temperate, and to quite impress
The seemly faculties of eyes and ears.

You can compare it to the original speech here (starting at line 382).

Shift around the letters again, and it becomes:

How all occasions do inform against me,
And spur my dull revenge! What’s a man,
If his chief hope and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? a helpless beast, thou.
Sure he that made us with much large esteem,
He looked from before to after, gave unto us not
That potential and smoothest reason
To fust in us effetely. Whe’r it be
Bestial petty sloth, or some softer scruple
To foresee too precisely on a theme,
A knot, which, quarter’d, hath but one part hero,
And also three parts coward, I see not
Why yet I be to say ‘This thing’s to do;’
Sith I have cause and lots of strength and means
To do ‘t.

You can compare it to the original speech here (starting at line 37).

Shift around the letters again, and it becomes:

Alas! poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of endless mirth, of most splendid fancy; he hath paraded me on his shoulders a thousand separate times; and now too detested in the greatest depths of my imagination it is! Here hung those lips that I have oft kissed. When be you at fatuous gibes? at gambols? at accents? at those deftest flashes of espoused merriment, that were wont to burst the tables on a roar? But not one to be sped now, to renounce reverence? quite chapfallen? Foot you to my lady’s chamber, tell her, let her protest, of this favour she must come; see her laugh at that.

You can compare it to the original speech here (starting at line 80).

Friday Night Video

Friday, July 11th, 2008

I don’t really know why, but this is something I wish I could do.

I did a little research and discovered that her name is Amy Walker. Nice work, Amy Walker!

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

I’m a Congressman known for my craving of pork;
I’m a college and high school, both found in New York;
A third single by Dido; another by Björk;
And my gonzo inspired one P.J. O’Rourke.

Who am I?

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

20,000 Hits

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

This blog just reached 20,000 hits, and you know what that means. Yes, it’s time to break out the cake and SiteMeter counter.

For the record, the 20,000th hit came in at 9:48pm today from Waterville, Maine. The visitor came to read the post from March 25, 2007, discussing the last episode of Slings & Arrows.

It’s worth noting that the first 10,000 hits came between January 3, 2007 and December 16, 2007, while the second 10,000 hits came between December 16, 2007 and July 8, 2008. At this point in time, the blog’s Technorati ranking is 648,508.

Once again, many thanks to all who have visited. This is your day.

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

I’m the Bengals of Bangladesh; cats of Detroit;
I’m the year of Jay Leno, Star Jones, and Jon Voight;
On the Mac, I’m a ten-four; in golf, I’m adroit;
And the flakes that are frosted, I loudly exploit!

Who am I?

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