Archive for July, 2017

Shakespeare Anagram: Macbeth

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

From Macbeth:

Those he commands move only in command,
Nothing in love; now does he feel his title
Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe
Upon a dwarfish thief.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

The Mooch shamed, even cudgeled, loyal men on behalf of hog Trump, who thinks of his administration as a television elimination show.

No! Be gone!

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

I’m to cover with paper, and ribbon or string;
On new products, I shrink; on your leftovers, cling;
A tortilla with fillings the deli might bring;
And the last day of filming, completing the thing.

Who am I?

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

Shakespeare Anagram: Henry V

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

After months and months of indignant denials, the Trump administration is finally being made to confront hard evidence of their campaign’s collusion with the Russians. To be clear, there’s not any evidence that they colluded in the Russians’ election-tampering, but there was definitely ongoing communication between the Trump people and the Russian government, and about the election.

Donald Trump Jr. was forced to reveal that he met with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 because he wanted campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton. The suspicious nature of the revelation was exacerbated by a string of lies and omissions surrounding this meeting. But the important thing to remember is that he was told in advance that this meeting was part of the Russian efforts to help the Trump campaign. There’s just no way to get around that.

And now we learn that the meetings that Jeff Sessions held with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were about the campaign after all, despite Sessions’ repeated insistence to the contrary, and this only after the secret meetings were revealed in the first place.

We really do need to let Mueller finish his investigation before we jump to any conclusions, but it’s not looking good for the Trump team. I don’t know; what do you think, Shakespeare?

From Henry V:

Their faults are open:
Arrest them to the answer of the law;
And God acquit them of their practises!

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

Where Russian attachés offer to approach little frat squirt Don, and he’s eager to meet with them.

And I have send a special shout out to the brilliant Randy Rainbow, who’s like a modern-day Schoolhouse Rock for grown-ups.

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

I’m aerobics with blocks; I’m a marriage-formed clan;
I’m a unit of dancing; each stage of a plan;
I’m a real-number function that breaks up its span;
And the action a thousand-mile journey began.

Who am I?

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

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

I’m a minor league team; I host ant life for show;
I’m to send out a job; to work crops so they grow;
I have cows, sheep, and chickens, E-I, E-I-O;
And those owning me thrive; but those buying me, no.

Who am I?

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

Theatre: Measure for Measure (TFANA)

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

I recently had the pleasure of seeing the production of Measure for Measure at the Polonsky Center in Brooklyn, performed by Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA). It was a good production; I would even say very good. It didn’t come close to the two other productions I saw in the same space: Pericles and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But that’s an unfairly high bar to set, so let’s just say it was very good. The acting was strong across the board and the play was well communicated. There were some creative choices made with the text, and it was very entertaining to watch from beginning to end. They didn’t seem affected much by the recent controversy of a Trump-like Caesar at the Public Theatre. The Duke was a dead ringer for Justin Trudeau and Angelo was channeling Richard Nixon, and yet I saw no protesters from Canada or the 1970’s.

The director wanted to create an immersive experience for the audience, and to that end, we were brought into the theatre through a “brothel” that was set up on the ground floor. Mistress Overdone greeted me with a sultry “Hello Papi, welcome back. It’s good to see you again.” We walked past displays of adult toys and various rooms where implied sex acts were being performed behind plexiglass walls. It was gimmicky, sure, but I liked it. It made me feel like I was complicit in the decline of Vienna at the start of the play; I had just come from a brothel, after all.

My main complaint was that the production was a little too cute. It relied too much on jokey gags where the play itself could have sustained the comedy in a much more compelling way. Not always, but too often. In fact, the best scenes in this production were the ones that featured two actors alone on a bare stage communicating with each other using the emotion from the text. These scenes were truly explosive, and were actually the immersive experience the director wanted. “Trust the text” is a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason: it works. And it worked here. I’d have liked more of it.

Also, there’s an actor’s trick where you take one of Shakespeare’s more poetic turns of phrases and pause just before it, delivering the expression as though it were a polite euphemism for what you were really about to say. It’s usually good for a laugh, and I like the trope. But as one can desire too much of a good thing, this production used the device again and again and again. It’s just too cute.

I had a directing professor in grad school who was fond of the expression “Strong, but wrong.” I always appreciated the way it turned a criticism into a praise, and there were several aspects of this production where I would bestow such a praise.

One key example was the choice to show the Duke shooting up heroin at the beginning of the play. Here’s why that’s strong: The Duke is motivated by the fact that he is responsible for allowing vice to spread unchecked throughout Vienna. Having him actually be part of the debauchery makes him all the more driven to correct the fault. Here’s why it’s wrong: the play only works if the Duke has the moral authority to skulk around incognito, pulling secret strings and passing judgment “like power divine.” And I suspect that, for this production, that’s a feature and not a bug, but you have to admit that it does undermine to some extent the Duke’s comic scenes with Lucio. How can he be indignant about being called a drunk when he’s actually a junkie?

I’ve lived in New York City for the past twenty-five years, so I’ve become accustomed to “color-blind” casting. But in the shadow of recent events, not the least of which is the acquittal of the police officer who killed Philando Castile, color has become an increasingly harder thing to be blind to. In this production, Angelo was played by a white man, while Isabella and Claudio were black. I don’t know if the choice was deliberate, but it highlighted the entitlement Angelo feels in having control over each of their bodies. When Isabella asks “To whom should I complain?,” we could not understand her more clearly. When a man wrongs you, you can appeal to the system. When the system wrongs you, what recourse do you have?

Cara Rickets was a fantastic Isabella, bringing a lot of personality and humor to a character that often lacks both. Johnathan Cake (Duke), Thomas Jay Ryan (Angelo), and Leland Fowler (Claudio) helped her carry the production with strong characterizations and solid performances. But the real standouts of this production were the bit players, particularly those who doubled and tripled up. January LaVoy as the strait-laced Escala (a female Escalus) was completely unrecognizable from the Mistress Overdone who had flirted with me when I arrived. Kenneth De Abrew was always engaging to watch, whether he was playing Froth, Abhorson, or Friar Peter. And Zachary Fine absolutely stole the show – I mean, just absolutely stole it – as Elbow. Then, he did it again as Barnardine.

Measure for Measure runs through July 16.

Shakespeare Anagram: Much Ado about Nothing

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

Well, so much for politics stopping at the water’s edge.

Speaking in Warsaw, while on his way the G20 summit in Hamburg, President Trump was asked about Russian hacking, and he used the opportunity to go after President Obama, the American media, and our own intelligence community.

And now that he’s in Germany, he’s using Twitter to attack the media and, bizarrely, John Podesta.

From Much Ado about Nothing:

There’s not one wise man among twenty that will praise himself.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

Man, he still posts a whiny tweet from anger while nations meet?

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

I’m a fancy dress button; a ladies’ man name;
I’m a cleat on a shoe; I’m a sire to the dame;
I’m the wall-hidden wood that is part of the frame;
And an “ace in the hole” can be found in my game.

Who am I?

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

Shakespeare Anagram: Julius Caesar

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

The NRA put out a frightening new ad this week:

From Julius Caesar:

Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

NRA’s odd spot: you fomented furious domestic strife; the guns will not defend you!