Archive for November, 2011

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

I’m a sad variation of musical scale;
I’m a lesser-known league; unimportant detail;
I’m a petty offense that will mean little jail;
And a child restricted from drinking brown ale.

Who am I?

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

Another Story

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

The Klaxon invaders lit up the starship corridor with weapons fire, as Alliance scientists and technicians dove for cover on the other end. Klaxons had a reputation for ruthless violence, but nothing could prepare you for your first encounter with them. It was likely to be your last.

This starship seemed an unlikely target. The captain recalled how a mundane scientific mission had turned noteworthy by the addition of the President of the Intergalactic Council, who decided to join the expedition as an observer. The scientists had been excited by the leader’s visit, and were eager to show him the important work they had been doing. But now, a Klaxon boarding party was attacking, and his life, all of their lives, were very much in danger.

A Klaxon pulse blast damaged a power generator, creating massive interference waves in the electromagnetic field within the ship, which rendered pulse weapons on both sides absolutely useless. What now? Hand-to-hand fighting? Klaxons weren’t known to be skillful in direct combat, but they could likely hold their own against a team of scientists with no battle experience.

Suddenly, the side hatch flew open, and there stood Will Daring, one of the two humans who had recently been taken from Earth, the planet they were currently orbiting. Telescopes had not yet been invented on their world, so it seemed safe to do the experiments close by. The captain had no idea how the male human had broken loose from his containment section, but he had bigger problems.

Will Daring walked halfway down the corridor. Was he fearless, or did he just not understand the threat the Klaxons posed? He bent to the floor to pick up one of the sharp wooden pikes that had been dislodged from its decorative place on the wall by the Klaxon weapons, and waved it menacingly in front of the invaders. The Klaxons took one look at the handsome eighteen-year-old human gesturing wildly with his makeshift lance, and decided it wasn’t worth the risk. They made a hasty retreat to their battleship, frightened off by no more than a boy holding a stick.

When he returned back to his hosts, the captain greeted him warmly. “You have saved the lives of this entire team, not to mention the President of the Intergalactic Council. We are all in your debt, Will Shake-Spear.” It was customary for Alliance captains to grant titles based on achievements in battle, and Will liked the way the moniker rang in his ear. “I have something for you,” the captain added slyly, beckoning Will to follow him into a side chamber.

Once the two men were alone, the captain handed Will a thick packet of paper, bound in a leather portfolio. Will looked through the pages and was surprised to find a collection of 55 plays: Hamlet, Macbeth, Love’s Labours Lost, Love’s Labour’s Won, the titles went on and on. “This is our gift to you, Will Shake-Spear,” the captain beamed, “a collection of plays for you to stage with your theatre company. We have analyzed your simple language, and have created combinations of words to appeal to the primate brains of your species. The stories have been taken from among the most popular in your culture, but the language patterns we’ve created are more complex than anything your world has ever seen.”

“What am I supposed to tell people,” Will responded, “that space aliens gave me these plays?”

“No, you must say that you yourself wrote them.”

“What sane person could possibly believe that?”

“Nevertheless, you must claim these plays as your own, or risk being condemned as a lunatic.”

Just then, the ship was rocked by an explosion. The Klaxons had fired on the science vessel and the ship’s systems were failing fast. The captain rushed to the bridge, while Will Daring ran back to the containment section where he and his companion had been kept. There he found the raven-haired beauty Anne Hathaway. Her bodice had been ripped, exposing the tops of her voluptuous breasts. For a moment, Will found himself captivated by her stunning allure before snapping back to the matter at hand. “We’ve got to get out of here!”

The two humans ran to the emergency hatch, but there were no escape chambers. By now, the damaged ship had broken orbit and had descended into the atmosphere of the planet below. Will Daring recalled a drawing he had seen by Leonardo Da Vinci, created over a century earlier. “I have an idea!” he bellowed over the sound of explosions erupting across the ship. Grabbing some nearby cloth, he created a makeshift parachute, grabbed Anne Hathaway, and jumped out of the hatch.

As the two floated gently to their home planet below, Anne Hathaway looked at Will Daring like he was the only man in the world. He had always felt she was unapproachable to him, nine years older and so impossibly lovely. But now they were closer than they had ever been. The landing was rough, but the two were unhurt. Nothing could hurt them now.

The explosion of the starship turned the sky a bright orange, creating a majestic backdrop for the most passionate kiss either of them had ever known. “Oh darling!” moaned Anne Hathaway breathlessly. “It’s pronounced Daring,” Will responded calmly, looking down at the bulky leather portfolio still in his hands, “but from now on, baby, you can call me Shakespeare!”

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

I’m the dollar that makes all your bang somewhat cheap;
I’m the male of the deer and the goat and the sheep;
Help a rider dislodge with a quick sudden leap;
And the onerous blame that you pass or you keep.

Who am I?

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

Film: Anonymous

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

I went to see Anonymous, the new Roland Emmerich film questioning the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays, with cautious anticipation. What I was not expecting was to be thoroughly entertained by a period-piece thriller fantasy, but I was! I loved this movie, and can’t wait to go see it again. Seriously.

Let’s set aside the question of whether or not the film is accurate. The film is wildly inaccurate. The notion that Shakespeare didn’t write the plays is not even the most egregious speculation offered by John Orloff’s cheeky screenplay. If anyone wants to stand outside the theatre and argue that, yes, this is all true, they should be treated about as seriously as someone making that claim about Star Wars or Waiting for Superman. But inside the theatre, we have license to suspend our disbelief. Call it historical fiction, alternate timeline, sci-fi fantasy, or whatever helps the medicine go down, but don’t miss Anonymous for political reasons.

The film is based on the premise that the plays we know as William Shakespeare’s were actually written by Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Unable to claim the plays as his own in a treacherous climate, he asks established playwright Ben Jonson to put his name on them. Jonson wants to keep his voice distinct from the nobleman’s, so an illiterate actor, one William Shakespeare, steps forward and claims the glory. Political maneuverings surrounding the question of who will succeed the aging Queen Elizabeth I create tension for Oxford, who finds that he can speak directly to the people through the voice of his celebrated front man. You see? It all makes perfect sense.

The visual depiction of Elizabethan London is stunning and believable. Rhys Ifans and Sebastian Armesto give outstanding performances as Oxford and Jonson. Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson (her daughter) together create a powerful mutli-dimensional Elizabeth. If you can stomach the depiction of our beloved William Shakespeare as an opportunistic buffoon, he is played to comic perfection by Rafe Spall. But if it does bother you, please remember that Shakespeare himself is largely responsible for our present day image of King Richard III as a deformed child-murderer. Payback’s a bitch, Billy-Boy.

But his own depiction aside, I think Shakespeare is honored by this film. A running theme throughout the movie is that these simple words have the power to delight and to inspire, to incite riots and to seduce monarchs. Will some people come away with the idea that Shakespeare was a fraud? Maybe. But for every audience member who gets that impression, there will be another ten who are moved to find out more about these plays and poems. We get to hear quite a bit of the original language spoken by the magnificent Mark Rylance as Richard Burbage, and the see the power it wields. That’s the transcendent truth that rises above all of the fabrications. And that, ultimately, is what we take away from Anonymous.

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

I’m the hut in the back where you store all your gear;
I’m providing the light that makes everything clear;
I’m the spilling of blood; I’m to let fall a tear;
And to cast off your skin when it’s that time of year.

Who am I?

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

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

I’m a signal that’s found on a frequency band;
I’m the flutter of flags; I’m to hail with your hand;
A disturbance in water that crashes on land;
And when stadium sitters sequentially stand.

Who am I?

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