Archive for January, 2010

Googleplex – 1/31/10

Sunday, January 31st, 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.

arrested development shakespeare play

In the episode “Bringing Up Buster,” George-Michael, Maeby, and Steve Holt get involved with a Shakespeare play, which Tobias ends up directing. The cast list is posted below a sign that says Much Ado About Nothing, and the character names are Beatrice and Benedick, so that would seem to be that. But the lines in the play are from As You Like It. And is that kid on stage behind Maeby dressed like a donkey?

does the letter x mean king?

Rex means king in Latin. The letter X following the name of a king, as in King Louis X, is the Roman numeral for 10. So, for example, King Louis X of France is the tenth King of France named Louis. It should be pronounced “the Tenth.”

In the case of Malcolm X, it would be a major faux pas to say “Malcolm the Tenth.” Malcolm Little chose to replace his last name with the letter X to represent the lost names of African families taken to America in slavery.

which theatrical word has 4 consecutive letters in alphabetical order?

Great question! I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader. The four letters are “RSTU” and they appear consecutively in a word that relates to live theatre. Does anyone know what it is?

UPDATE: The answer can be found in the comments for this post.

religeon during shakespeare’s time in scotland

Shakespeare was born in the latter half of the 16th century, a century largely shaped by the Protestant Reformation, which affected each country differently. Scotland broke with the Pope in 1560. (For reference, Shakespeare was born in 1564, and King James in 1566.) The movement was led by John Knox, who studied with John Calvin in Geneva, and then returned to Scotland. The Scottish Reformation led to the foundation of the Presbyterian Church.

James was raised in the Church of Scotland, but came to feel that Presbyterianism was incompatible with monarchy. His reforms took hold during, and beyond the life of Shakespeare. For more information about the Church of Scotland, see this list of resources.

did the tudors speak similar to shakespeare

Yes, at least the later Tudors. Shakespeare lived in Tudor England for the first part of his life, and would have spoken roughly the same version of English as the royal family, setting aside allowances for class. But Shakespeare did not always write the way he spoke. Much of the language in his plays and poems is heightened, not trying to capture the way that people would have sounded, but rather to use language to express internal thoughts and emotions. It’s something he was very good at doing, needless to say.

It’s worth noting that the King James Bible was also published in Shakespeare’s lifetime (1611), which is why the language is so similar: “Thou shalt not…” and so on. The Bible was also translated into heightened language, though, and should not be considered an authentic representation of how people would have spoken at the time.

boal to do in class

I like to do Forum Theatre. Have students devise a scene illustrating a problem that is prevalent among them. There should be a clear protagonist who wants something but is prevented from getting it because of the problem. They perform the scene. Then they perform it again, but any member of the audience may interrupt the scene by yelling out “Stop!” at any time. At this point, the intervening audience member (spect-actor) replaces the protagonist and tries a new strategy. The other actors improvise around the new protagonist. This is a great way to workshop constructive solutions to pressing problems, to begin a process of rehearsing to make change, and to learn a lot about your students!

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

who did shakespeare admire

how shakespeare affected the english language

why francis bacon couldn’t have written shakespeare

king james badmouthed shakespeare

shakespeare games for five year olds ideas

how to make king lear fun

Shakespeare Anagram: Sonnet XLVIII

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

From Sonnet XLVIII:

And even thence thou wilt be stol’n, I fear,
For truth proves thievish for a prize so dear.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

Irreverent historian Howard Zinn offered to let vast upbeat hope touch fresh lives.

Ten Kiddie Apps

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Last week, I posted a list of my ten favorite iPhone apps. Recently, I helped my young nephews (ages 5 and 7) load up their iPod Touches with some fun apps for them. I had to do some research to find the best apps, and I’m pleased to share my experiences with the Shakespeare Teacher community.

Here, then, are my top ten recommendations for iPhone apps for kids, presented this time as a countdown:

10. Cookie Doodle ($0.99) – You can select the type of dough, roll it with a roller, choose your favorite cookie cutter, bake the cookie, and decorate it with a variety of icings and candies. In the end, you eat your cookie, of course. A similar app named More Pizza! allows you to prepare a different kind of treat.

9. MiniPiano (FREE) – This is just a single-octave piano keyboard, but probably better to allow the little one to explore this free app than on your expensive baby grand. There’s also a Drum Kit that has a free “lite” version.

8. TeachMe: Kindergarten ($0.99) – This is a great little drill-and-skill app for your youngster to practice word and number skills. Correct answers earn stickers which can be placed on provided backgrounds. There is also a version for toddlers.

7. Skee-Ball ($0.99) – Flick your finger to roll the ball up the ramp and score points in this digital version of the classic arcade game. It’s fun for kids who know the real thing. There is also an Arcade Hoops app to simulate the timed basketball shooting game.

6. SpongeBob Tickler ($1.99) – If your kids are into SpongeBob, they’ll love this opportunity to poke and prod him to hear his different catchphrases. They can also explore different underwater environments, and play some fun games they’ll find there. There’s also a Phineas and Ferb Arcade for kids who like the cartoon.

5. TappyTunes ($1.99) – Select from a variety of songs from diverse categories, such as Children’s, Classical, Devotional (contains religious imagery), Holiday, Patriotic, and Traditional. The notes are pre-programmed, but they’ll only play when you tap the screen, so timing is still in the hands of the user. I would have thought this better for the younger ones, but I spent more time playing with this app than I’m ready to admit.

4. Feed Me! (FREE) – This is a fun educational game where kids drag the correct answer to a hungry monster, who makes entertaining sounds when fed. Some of the questions require some critical thinking skills. I don’t know how long this will stay free.

3. iSteam ($0.99) – Don’t let the “Hot and Steamy Entertainment” part scare you; this app is as clean as your shower door. If you like wiping steam off of glass, this app is for you. You can even import your own photos… and then wipe steam off of them! The kids love this one.

2. Treat Street ($0.99) – Mix and match parts of Halloween costumes, and then hit the street! Pick a house, knock on the door (or ring the bell), and see what you get. Most treats are good, but every now and then a mean neighbor gives you a bug. Good treats go into the bag, where they can be sorted and moved around. The little one once spent over an hour solid on this one, laughing the whole time.

1. Scoops ($1.99) – This is a great kids game, but I’ve been having way too much fun with it myself. You have an ice cream cone, and have to tilt the device to catch scoops of ice cream as they fall. Avoid the onions and tomatoes, though, because if you catch three vegetables, you’re out. As you build your cone, you eventually slip the surly bonds of earth and can pass by the moon, Mars, Jupiter, etc., which is extra fun for planet-loving children.

Actually, my nephews’ favorite app is Monopoly, but I left it off the list because you probably already know what that is. They also enjoy the Game of Life. If there are any good board games or card games you already play with them, you might check to see if there’s an app. I also left off The Moron Test (which they love) because it was on last week’s list. I also gave them a few fun apps on the presidents. I left this off the list because I don’t know if your kids are into the presidents. But whatever they’re into, check out the App Store. There may be an app for that!

And as I was typing this list, it may have already become obsolete. The iPad, basically an iPod Touch with a larger screen, has been released. It looks pretty cool, but I doubt I will buy one. I have an iPhone and Macbook Air, so all of my mobile information needs have currently been met. But I have started to think of the device, starting at $499, as a low-cost computing option for schools. But if you’re planning to get an iPad for your family, all of the iPhone and iPod Touch apps will run on it, and the device is certain to spawn a new generation of app development. So the conversation continues…

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

I’m a time when you eat a particular food;
I’m a year of a sport that a champ will conclude;
To add spice to your dinner as soon as it’s stewed;
And the length a TV show is often renewed.

Who am I?

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

The People’s Historian

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

“‘History is the memory of states,’ wrote Henry Kissinger in his first book, A World Restored, in which he proceeded to tell the history of nineteenth-century Europe from the viewpoint of the leaders of Austria and England, ignoring the millions who suffered from those statesmen’s policies. From his standpoint, the ‘peace’ that Europe had before the French Revolution was ‘restored’ by the diplomacy of a few national leaders. But for factory workers in England, farmers in France, colored people in Asia and Africa, women and children everywhere except in the upper classes, it was a world of conquest, violence, hunger, exploitation – a world not restored but disintegrated.

“My viewpoint, in telling the history of the United States, is different: that we must not accept the memory of states as our own. Nations are not communities and never have been. The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, most often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners.

“Thus, in that inevitable taking of sides which comes from selection and emphasis in history, I prefer to try to tell the story of the discovery of America from the viewpoint of the Arawaks, of the Constitution from the standpoint of the slaves, of Andrew Jackson as seen by the Cherokees, of the Civil War as seen by the New York Irish, of the Mexican war as seen by the deserting soldiers of Scott’s army, of the rise of the Spanish-American war as seen by the Cubans, the conquest of the Philippines as seen by black soldiers on Luzon, the Gilded Age as seen by southern farmers, the First World War as seen by socialists, the Second World War as seen by pacifists, the New Deal as seen by blacks in Harlem, the postwar American empire as seen by peons in Latin America. And so on, to the limited extent that any one person, however he or she strains, can ‘see’ history from the standpoint of others.

“My point is not to grieve for the victims and denounce the executioners. Those tears, that anger, cast into the past, deplete our moral energy for the present. And the lines are not always clear. In the long run, the oppressor is also a victim. In the short run (and so far, human history has consisted only of short runs), the victims, themselves desperate and tainted with the culture that oppresses them, turn on other victims.

“Still, understanding the complexities, this book will be skeptical of governments and their attempts, through politics and culture, to ensnare ordinary people in a giant web of nationhood pretending to a common interest. I will try not to overlook the cruelties that victims inflict on one another as they are jammed together in the boxcars of the system. I don’t want to romanticize them. But I do remember (in rough paraphrase) a statement I once read: ‘The cry of the poor is not always just, but if you don’t listen to it, you will never know what justice is.’

“I don’t want to invent victories for people’s movements. But to think that history-writing must aim simply to recapitulate the failures that dominate the past is to make historians collaborators in an endless cycle of defeat. If history is to be creative, to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I believe, emphasize new possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even if in brief flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together, occasionally to win. I am supposing, or perhaps only hoping, that our future may be found in the past’s fugitive moments of compassion rather than in its solid centuries of warfare.

“That, being as blunt as I can, is my approach to the history of the United States. The reader may as well know that before going on.”

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn (1922 – 2010)

Conundrum: The Big Picture II

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

In a normal “Pic Tac Toe” puzzle, there are nine pictures in a 3×3 grid, like Tic-Tac-Toe. In each of the three rows, three columns, and two diagonals, there is a common theme that unites the three pictures. The challenge is to find the eight themes.

In a “3D Pic Tac Toe” puzzle, there are 27 pictures in a 3×3×3 grid, like a Rubik’s Cube. In each of the nine rows, nine columns, nine pillars, eighteen lateral diagonals, and four cross-cube diagonals, there is a common theme that unites the three pictures. The challenge is to find the 49 themes.

A “Big Picture” puzzle is just like a “3D Pic Tac Toe” puzzle, except that each of the 49 themes will be a movie. Each of the three images in that theme will picture at least one actor who was in that movie.

Imagine stacking the three levels below on top of one another. For reference, and notation guidelines, check out my last Big Picture puzzle, including the comments. The rules here are identical to that puzzle.

Looking at that puzzle will also help identify the actors in Image B5; tragically underused in that puzzle, it now plays a more central role. Although many of the same actors appear in both puzzles, none of the 49 movies in the solution to this puzzle is the same as any of the 49 movies in the previous puzzle’s solution.

In Image B3, you will use the actors who voiced the animated characters shown, but none of the movies in the solution is animated, a documentary, or Robert Altman’s The Player.

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

Top Level – Level A

Middle Level – Level B

Bottom Level – Level C

Please post whatever you come up with in the comments section.


UPDATE: See comments for correct themes provided by Lee (12) and Neel Mehta (20). The following 17 themes remain unsolved:







Lateral Diagonals


Googleplex – 1/24/10

Sunday, January 24th, 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.

do the tudors trace their ancestry to antony and cleopatra

Probably not. Antony and Cleopatra did have three children, two boys and a girl. Cleopatra also had a child, Caesarion, from Julius Caesar. (“He plough’d her, and she cropp’d.” See how classy you sound when you quote Shakespeare?) Antony also had children from four of his wives.

After Octavius Caesar conquered Egypt (the events depicted in Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra) he executed Caesarion, and gave the three children of Antony and Cleopatra to his sister Octavia. Remember (from the play) that Octavia was Antony’s last wife, so she’s now raising the children of her husband and his mistress. Little is known of the two boys, and if they had lived to adulthood, they would probably have been mentioned in sources of the time because of their parentage. It is possible they may have secretly been killed to avoid a later challenge to Octavius. But it’s also possible that they lived on and had children of their own. There’s no way to know.

The daughter of Antony and Cleopatra, named Cleopatra Selene, was married to an African king, and they had – at least – great grandchildren. Zenobia, a third century Syrian queen, claimed to be descended from this line. So it’s certainly possible that the descendants of Antony and Cleopatra are among us today. And if so, the opportunities to multiply between the 1st century and the 15th century would be massive. Therefore, we cannot rule out definitively that the Tudors are descended from Antony and Cleopatra. But could they know this for sure, let alone trace it? No. Those 1400 years weren’t exactly known for their record keeping, and there is too much motivation for people to invent a famous lineage along the way.

king henry the eighth sister margaret

Margaret Tudor was Henry VIII’s older sister. She married James IV of Scotland in 1503, and a hundred years later, her great-grandson would become King of England (after Henry VIII’s line died out).

However, if you are asking about the character played by Gabrielle Anwar in The Tudors, you’re really looking for younger sister Mary Tudor. Another Mary would have probably been too confusing, so they conflated the two women into one character. Mary Tudor was the one who married an aging king only to be widowed three months later. Mary was the one who married Charles Brandon. I’ve only seen the first season of the show, so I don’t know what the character would later become, but in the first season, Margaret’s story is that of Mary Tudor.

good shakespearean pranks

Shakespeare had a lot of plots that centered around practical jokes. Often, they would blur the line between harmless prank and vicious revenge, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, am I right? Without any further ado, then, is my Top Ten list of Shakespearean pranks. Drum roll, please!

10. The Merry Wives of Windsor – I’m not a fan of this play, and I’m loathe to include it on the list of Top Ten anything. But a list of Shakespearean pranks would be incomplete without it, so here it is at #10. Suffice it to say, there are a number of pranks in this play. I’d list them, but I can’t be bothered.

9. Henry IV, Part Two – Hal and Poins disguise themselves as drawers and listen in on Falstaff’s bragging. They reveal themselves, but not before Falstaff has a chance to badmouth the Prince behind his back. The fun comes when Falstaff tries to talk his way out of it.

8. Measure for Measure – The “bed trick” and the “head trick” are serious deceptions and can hardly be considered a prank. But what about what I like to call the “fled trick”? The Duke pretends to leave Vienna, but instead stays back disguised as a friar. I guess the joke’s on Angelo. Busted!

7. Twelfth Night – Malvolio, imprisoned in darkness, recieves a visit from Sir Topas the curate. Actually, it’s Feste the jester disguising his voice. Playing both parts, Feste drives the supposed madman one step closer to real madness.

6. Much Ado about Nothing – Beatrice and Benedick’s merry war takes a surprising turn when their friends allow them to overhear conversations to make each believe the other is in love. The prank becomes self-fulfilling. “Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.”

5. Henry IV, Part One – Hal and Poins pretend to go along with Falstaff’s plan to rob some travellers. But they enter in disguise after the fact and rob the robbers! They reveal their prank after Falstaff has been boasting about his encounter with the unknown thieves.

4. The Tempest – Prospero uses his magic to get revenge on those who have wronged him. But the havoc only lasts the afternoon and there’s no real damage done. The whole play is one big prank.

3. A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Puck changes Bottom into an ass. And Titania, having been spiked with a love potion by Oberon, falls in love with the creature. Hilarity ensues.

2. Twelfth Night – Maria forges a letter from Olivia to Malvolio, hinting that she is in love with him. Toby, Andrew, and Fabian spy on Malvolio as he reads the letter, which tells him to come to her in an outlandish manner… and he does.

1. Othello – Iago tricks Othello into believing that his wife has been unfaithful, so he kills her. Not really a prank, you say? Check out this video.

famous monologues from king lear

There are a lot of good monologues for men from King Lear. To start with, you can find monologues from Lear here, from Edmund here, and Edgar here. The female characters in the play have some great speeches, but nothing I would particularly pull out as a monologue.

shakespeare animation

You may be looking for Shakespeare: The Animated Tales, a series of half-hour condensed animated versions of Shakespeare plays. But I’ve also done a lot of work with students creating animated versions of Macbeth, As You Like It, and The Tempest. And since this is Shakespeare Teacher, I’ll offer some information about how to do it.

When I did these animation projects, the students did the artwork in HyperStudio, they recorded the sound in SoundEffects, and they aligned the two in iMovie. It was frame-by-frame, which is time consuming, but HyperStudio had a card-and-stack interface that made it go much more quickly. That was quite a few years ago, though, and I do mostly video projects now. I don’t know if HyperStudio is even still around, and people use Audacity for sound recordings today. iMovie is still the best game in town if you want to coordinate frame animation.

I know a lot of people who like to use the website Scratch for student animations. The one problem with Scratch is that you can only view the animations from the Scratch website. You cannot download the movie file and post it to YouTube.

I’ve heard, particularly from Shakespeare teachers, a lot of enthusiasm surrounding Kar2ouche. I looked at it once, a long time ago, and I dismissed it because there are a lot of pre-made templates, and I wanted my students to visually interpret the characters themselves. But time being a factor, I would probably recommend it, and I’ve seen some Shakespeare projects that look really sharp. Every so often, someone asks me if I’ve heard of Kar2ouche.

Of course, if your kids are into Second Life, there has been some animated Shakespeare coming from that quarter as well. There is also stop motion photography, which can be done with a digital camera, iMovie, and a lot of patience.

was queen elizabeth illegitimate child shakespeare

I can interpret this in four ways:

1. Was Queen Elizabeth the illegitimate child of Shakespeare?
2. Was Queen Elizabeth’s illegitimate child Shakespeare?
3. Did Queen Elizabeth’s illegitimate child actually write the plays of Shakespeare?
4. Was Queen Elizabeth an illegitimate child according to Shakespeare?

Elizabeth was older than Shakespeare, so #1 is a clear No. I don’t know of any illegitimate children of Elizabeth. This seems to me to be something easier for a king to pull off than a queen. If she had gone through a pregnancy, I doubt she’d have kept the nickname “the Virgin Queen” for very long. So we can answer a No for #2 and #3 as well.

As for whether Elizabeth herself was illegitimate, that’s a fair question. It all depends on how legitimate you consider the annulment of Henry VIII and his first wife. But Shakespeare certainly wouldn’t have painted her as illegitimate. When she was alive, he wrote plays that glorified her ancestors, and long after she died, his play Henry VIII treated her birth as a moment of great hope for the future of England.

So I’m not sure what you’re asking, but the answer is probably No.

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

shakespeare reading list

headline tell us that macbeth saves Scotland

theme of religion in shakespeare’s “as you like it”

what inspired shakespeare to write king lear

how people were killed when shakespear was alive

madrid in april 2010 literature teachers

Shakespeare Anagram: Richard III

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

From Richard III:

Gold were as good as twenty orators,
And will, no doubt, tempt him to any thing.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

Do limit ad moneys industry gets to allot. We’re wrong to hop that bandwagon.

Ten Killer Apps

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

I’ve noticed a lot of people I know have new iPhones lately, possibly because of the holidays. The iPhone is a fantastic device right out of the box: a phone, an iPod, a web browser, a voice recorder… what more could you want? Well, there’s plenty more you could want, and you can get quite a bit of it at the App Store online.

The iPhone is basically a mini-computer, and a computer’s nothing without software. I’ve been making the same set of recommendations to my friends, and I’m pleased to share them with the Shakespeare Teacher community.

And if you’re one of those “I don’t pay for apps” people, you really need to get over that. The ten apps I am recommending total less than sixteen dollars. If you think of the hundreds of dollars you paid for your iPhone, the marginal cost of upgrading it with a few apps is laughable.

These are listed in the order they appear on my iPhone:

1. Gorillacam (FREE) – Gives you a range of additional options when taking pictures with the iPhone. My favorite feature is that you can make the whole screen the camera button, so you don’t have to find that little button while you’re trying to catch the baby’s attention.

2. AppBox Pro ($0.99) – A collection of useful utilities, including a currency exchange calculator, random number generator, unit exchange calculator, and even a translator!

3. RedLaser ($1.99) – Use the camera to scan a barcode, and compare prices for the product online. I mostly use this to capture book titles when someone shows me something that looks good, as the results remain saved in memory.

4. Unblock Me ($0.99) – There are a number of iPhone apps in the “Rush Hour” family of sliding block games. This is a good one, because it has a lot of levels, so if you get hooked, it will last you a long time. There is also a FREE version if you want to try before you buy. I also like Blocked and Parking Lot, which are basically the exact same game.

5. Electric Box ($1.99) – This is my hands-down favorite game on the iPhone. You have to use a combination of logic and insight to place a variety of components on a grid to carry electricity from a power source to the Electric Box. It’s a very fun, addictive puzzle game.

6. Phase 10 ($2.99) – This is a card game, kind of a cross between Uno and Gin Rummy. I resisted the buzz on this one for a long time, but now that I have it I CANNOT STOP playing it.

7. 200 Great Books ($1.99) – If you want to read on your iPhone, this is a really convenient way to carry around a library of the classics. The interface allows you to change the font, size, and color of the text, and to auto-scroll, and tilt the device to adjust the speed! (There is also a Kindle reader for the iPhone if that’s more to your liking.)

8. U.S. Historical Documents ($0.99) – An amazing collection of U.S. Historical Documents for your browsing pleasure.

9. MyPhone+ for Facebook ($2.99) – You can sync your phone contacts with your Facebook friends. The most fun part of this is that when one of my Facebook friends calls me (if he or she is already in my address book), the Facebook photo comes up on my screen! (There now seem to be cheaper alternatives to do this, but this is what I have.)

10. The Moron Test ($0.99) – This is very silly, but a lot of fun. Follow the directions, but watch out for tricks. The latest version includes three different tests.

For this list, I avoided the official apps for well-known Internet services like Google, Wikipedia and Facebook, since you probably already know if you want them. And you’ll probably notice the Readdle Shakespeare app is not listed above. This is a fantastic app, but not everyone is a Shakespeare fan, so it’s not usually one of the apps I recommend. But if you do love Shakespeare, you should have this. There is also a new paid upgrade, which I’m planning to get. Among other features, it links specific words to a Shakespearean glossary. It looks great, but I haven’t used it, so I can’t recommend it yet. Stay tuned, loyal readers.

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

I’m addition, subtraction; I’m Not, But, and And;
I’m a surgical process that’s carefully planned;
I’m an action covert with a central command;
And a game where it helps to be steady of hand.

Who am I?

UPDATE: Riddle solved by Bronx Richie. See comments for answer.