Sunday, April 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare

Greetings, what-ho, prithee, forsooth, and hey nonny nonny!

This weekend English teachers and Rennfest nerds celebrated the birthday of William "Randolph" Shakespeare, universally acknowledged as "the bard" and the lion of Western literature. I had the chance to visit the birthday party at the Folgers Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and submitted for your approval is this photo catalog of the day's events.

The Folgers, the temple of our bardolatry. You'll notice that if I were to compare this particular day to a summer one, it wouldn't come off as noticeably lovely or temperate.

A child learns about the joys of morris dancing.

These kids are learning what a rapier is. Thank goodness! That's two fewer people on Earth to whom I'll have to explain what this blog title means.

Here we are at the costume parlor. I, as Sir Francis Drake, am putting the sword to Lauren, the Queen Isabella of La Spania, to get her to renounce her Catholicism.

They also had a costume for those who wanted to dress up as Lady MacBeth. (Jared pats self on the back for his own cleverness.)

This is the reading room of the Shakespeare library. There's a distinct...Hogwart-ishness to it.

Here is Jared with world-class Shakespearean legend Derek Jacobi. When it comes to Shakespeare chops, this guy strides the globe like a colossus. I told him that I remembered watching his "Hamlet" in my high school English class. What I didn't tell him, however, is that I remembered him best from "The Secret of Nimh." I told him, "Oh that this too, too solid flesh would melt!" and asked him what his favorite Shakespearean soliloquy was. He said "Richard the Second, Act Five." Here is an excerpt.

I have been studying how I may compare
This prison where I live unto the world:
And for because the world is populous
And here is not a creature but myself,
To cheque time broke in a disorder'd string;
But for the concord of my state and time
Had not an ear to hear my true time broke.
I wasted time, and now doth time waste me;
For now hath time made me his numbering clock:
My thoughts are minutes; and with sighs they jar
Their watches on unto mine eyes, the outward watch,
Whereto my finger, like a dial's point,
Is pointing still, in cleansing them from tears.
Now sir, the sound that tells what hour it is
Are clamorous groans, which strike upon my heart,
Which is the bell: so sighs and tears and groans
Show minutes, times, and hours: but my time
Runs posting on in Bolingbroke's proud joy,
While I stand fooling here, his Jack o' the clock.
This music mads me; let it sound no more;
For though it have holp madmen to their wits,
In me it seems it will make wise men mad.
Yet blessing on his heart that gives it me!
For 'tis a sign of love; and love to Richard
Is a strange brooch in this all-hating world.

It was a fun party. Sigh. Our revels now are ended!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Brush up your Shakespeare

So you know, I never actually took a Shakespeare class in college. To help my then-blossoming journalism aspirations, I took so many writing, contemporary rhetoric, and internship classes, I didn’t have a lot of room left over to study “the bard.”

Frankly, given how much Shakespeare I learned from Captain Picard and General Chang, I never felt that my education was lacking.

Boy howdy, however, is it.

On Monday, I went to this lecture at the Folger’s Shakespeare Library. I’d seen an ad in the Post and it said “Free lecture: ‘How Shakespeare Made History.’” And I thought to myself, “What a great way to brush up my Shakespeare / start quoting him now / brush up my Shakespeare / and the women, I will wow.”


The speaker (from Columbia University or somewhere) started the lecture by saying, “My title is ‘How Shakespeare Made History’ or ‘What Fleance did next.’”

Uproarious laughter from the crowd. Except from yours truly, who didn’t get the joke or even know who Fleance was. And the lights were out so I couldn’t check his Wikipedia entry on my Blackberry.

Highlights of the lecture:

  • The archetypal knight errant specializes in fornication and murder
  • Brutus is the legendary founder of England
  • Edward the confessor was important for some reason
  • Midway through Shakespeare’s canon he switches monarchs from Elizabeth to James
  • Falstaff is in Henvry IV and Merry Wives of Windsow
  • MacBeth, as a monarch, has so much to appeal to the vanity of King James

Anyway. I really need to learn more Shakespeare.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


WashingtonSalt Lake City native Jared Whitley has been hired as an associate director in the White House communications office. He will be responsible for providing rapid response to media concerns and preparing White House documents for release to the press and general public.

Whitley in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Building.

“I feel tremendously blessed that this door has opened for me,” Whitley said. “Even as a cock-eyed optimist in freshman English classes, I never thought I’d have the chance to write on behalf of the President. I am humbled at this great opportunity to serve my country.”

Since 2006, Whitley has performed media outreach for Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) – writing press releases, web content, speeches, and even jokes for Utah’s distinguished senior Senator. Whitley served as Hatch’s press assistant for 19 months and acting press secretary for eight months. In January, Whitley spent his vacation as a volunteer for Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign efforts in the Iowa Caucuses. He also blogged for the campaign at

Whitley aids Sen. Hatch at a press conference.

“My time in Sen. Hatch’s office was easily the best of my life,” Whitley said. “Working together with him and his staff left me enchanted and illusioned with government. Although Sen. Hatch has walked the corridors of power for years, he has never been corrupted by it.”

Before coming to Washington, Whitley was a newspaper reporter in Utah, winning eight awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He spent two years as the education editor at the Park Record in Park City and three years at The Daily Utah Chronicle in a variety of capacities, including as the news editor and as a humor columnist. Whitley graduated from the University of Utah in 2003 with degrees in English literature and German studies. He is a graduate of Utah’s Skyline High School.

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