Archive for February, 2010

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

I’m an alloy that’s used to make serious tacks;
I’m a trumpet, trombone, bugle, tuba, or sax;
When a person is bold in the way that he acts;
Or the top-ranking leaders commanding attacks.

Who am I?

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

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Riddle me this…

I’m a mammal with sonar – my flight never crashes;
I am useful in baseball; or winning the Ashes;
I’m to toss an idea; or to flutter one’s lashes;
And for young Jewish girls, I’m a reason for bashes.

Who am I?

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

The History of Recorded Popular Music

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

A friend of mine recently launched a new online project, in which he is going to construct a canon of recorded popular music, choosing one song from each of 1200 artists. He has divided these into 65 “albums” categorized chronologically and by genre which he is planning to post at a rate of one per week, with commentary and links to the songs themselves. Check it out:

http://historyofpopmusic.blogspot.com/

And if you don’t like his choices, feel free to challenge him in the comments. But before you do, you should know (if you don’t by now) that he takes his music very seriously.

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:


what would malcolm say about shakespeare advice in hamlet

what do shakespeare have to do with the gilded age

love letters written by shakespeare

who played in the kings men in macbeth

id, ego, superego of othello

four letter shakespearean rebuke

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

I am blue on the phone; I am black on the plane;
I’m a place to get mail; or I chocolates contain;
I’m a jury’s location; a car on the train;
And to fight with no spite that you might entertain.

Who am I?

UPDATE: Riddle solved by Little Fish. See comments for answer.

Googleplex – 2/7/10

Sunday, February 7th, 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.

shakespeare palindrome

I had considered this as a weekly feature after I finished with the lipogram experiment, but how much potential is there here, really?


To blat droll Lord Talbot.

No mites use Timon.

Madam, I’m Adam.

You know, Adam. From As You Like It. If you can think of any good Shakespeare palindromes, feel free to post them here, but I’m done.

But if you’re looking for some Shakespeare-spelled-backwards fun, check out this still-unsolved puzzle from the archives. And feel free to solve it!

cymbeline queen age characters

I think of the Queen as much younger than Cymbeline, and very beautiful, which is why she has so much power over him. But she needs to be old enough to have a grown son, Cloten. The play roughly takes place around the first century AD, when mothers would have been young. I’ll say late-thirties/early-forties for the Queen.

let the games begin shakespeare

The expression “Let the games begin” does not appear in Shakespeare, and actually goes back much further than his time. But I deduce that the expression you’re thinking of is “The game’s afoot,” which comes from Shakespeare’s Henry V. Elementary, my dear searcher.

shakespeare glossary ipod

I have now had a chance to use the “Shakespeare Pro” app that I discussed here, and I’m ready to recommend it. The text is hyperlinked to a glossary, so you can look up specific words in context. There are still some issues to be worked out, but it’s definitely a good app to have. I have one minor quibble: when you click on a word, it gives you every definition of that word in Shakespeare, and not the specific way it is used where you clicked it. The two-volume Schmidt lexicon breaks down where the different words are used for each meaning. But, hey, for three bucks, this is a pretty cool thing to be able to carry around with you.

underused shakespeare monologue women

I really like Queen Margaret’s speech in Henry VI, Part Three. Margaret has captured the Duke of York, who has fought to claim his right to the throne. She tells him that she has had his young son Rutland killed, and gives him a napkin stained with the boy’s blood to dry his tears. She then taunts him by placing a paper crown on his head and ordering his death. Off with his head!

rap songs relating to the tudors

I’m not entirely certain about this, but I’m pretty sure that the Run DMC song “Mary, Mary” is about Queen Mary I of England. The lyric “Mary, Mary, why you buggin’?” means “Your royal highness, why are you executing so many Protestants?” Rather than wait to be burned at the stake, many Protestants chose to leave England, many of them no doubt exclaiming “I worry ’bout Mary, ’cause Mary is scary!”

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


why teach shakespeare

what was england and denmarks relationship during shakespeares lifetime

song playing when tudors is being advertised

shakespeare and eustachian tube

shakespeare’s language gin

i need to dress like mary tudor for a class play

Shakespeare Anagram: Much Ado About Nothing

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

This started in comments, but I thought it deserved its own post.

From Much Ado About Nothing:

Much Ado About Nothing

Reader Dharam shifted around the letters, and it became:

Undoing? Ooh, but a match!

Then I shifted around the letters, and it became:

Tough union had combat.

Now, shift around the letters again, and it becomes:

Duo: no hunch to a gambit.

Shift around the letters one more time, and it becomes:

Bigmouth can undo oath.

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I’m an hour advanced stretching well into night;
I am missing a deadline and feeling contrite;
I’m a way to refer to the dead that’s polite;
And the end of the game when the teams find their fight.

Who am I?

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

Conundrum: Pic Tac Toe VI

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Even though this puzzle is still active, I thought it might be fun to return to a simpler time.

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:



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

Enjoy!

UPDATE: See comments for correct themes provided by Asher (5) and Neel Mehta (3). Alternate theme provided by Asher.