Tag Archives: Shakespeare

McSweeney’s Monday

Let us imagine, for a moment, that Macbeth and Macduff were beholden to the laws of semantics:

(Macbeth and Macduff are fencing in front of a castle.)

MACBETH: Macduff! Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests. I bear a charmed life, which must not yield to one of woman born.

MACDUFF: Despair thy charm! Macduff was from his mother’s womb untimely ripped.

(They stop sword fighting.)

MACBETH: Pardon?

MACDUFF: I was extracted surgically, in an operation.

MACBETH: Okay, but thou wast still born, right?

MACDUFF: No. Untimely ripped.

MACBETH: Okay, but after thou wast ripped, thou wast of woman born.

MACDUFF: I don’t know…

The rest of the tale, complete with still-tragic ending, is here.

Even Shakespeare can’t get away with cheating

A British professor, (Sir!) Brian Vickers, has determined that the previously unattributed play The Reign of Edward III was probably written by Shakespeare (and some other guy). How does he know? He used that plagiarism software that kept you honest students from cheating in college:

With a program called Pl@giarism, Vickers detected 200 strings of three or more words in Edward III that matched phrases in Shakespeare’s other works. Usually, works by two different authors will only have about 20 matching strings….Among Shakespeare’s recycled bits of phrases: “come in person hither,” “pale queene of night,” “thou art thy selfe,” “author of my blood” and even the whole phrase “lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.”

The other guy? Thomas Kyd, who Vickers said deserves top billing for having written about 60% of the play. More details here.

Lions in Winter

A confluence of various things caused me to read more than one – three, to be precise – fantastic profiles of over the hill baseball players this week. I offer them to you for your long weekend, so take advantage of the office printer.

For those Meanderers who don’t know an infield fly from a suicide squeeze – or, better yet, don’t care to know – fret not. These articles aren’t really about baseball. Here’s the evidence.

Gay Talese on Joe DiMaggio:

During their honeymoon in Tokyo an American general had introduced himself and asked if, as a patriotic gesture, [Marilyn Monroe] would visit the troops in Korea. She looked at Joe. “It’s your honeymoon,” he said, shrugging, “go ahead if you want to.”

She appeared on 10 occasions before 100,000 servicemen, and when she returned, she said, “It was so wonderful, Joe. You never heard such cheering.”

“Yes, I have,” he said.

John Updike on Ted Williams:

The affair between Boston and Ted Williams has been no mere summer romance; it has been a marriage, composed of spats, mutual disappointments, and, toward the end, a mellowing hoard of shared memories. It falls into three stages, which may be termed Youth, Maturity, and Age; or Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis; or Jason, Achilles, and Nestor.

Tom Verducci on Sandy Koufax:

DiMaggio, baseball’s other legendary protector of privacy, was practically Rodmanesque compared with Koufax. DiMaggio was regal, having acquired even the stiff-handed wave of royalty. We watched the graying of DiMaggio as he played TV pitchman and public icon. Koufax is a living James Dean, the aura of his youth frozen in time; he has grayed without our even knowing it. He is a sphinx, except that he doesn’t want anyone to try to solve his riddle.

I prefer them in the order listed above, but they all touch on a remarkably similar theme: the lion in the winter, Shakespeare post-Macbeth, Hanson post-Mmmbop, Favre post-retirement(s). What does one do, indeed, when one has conquered this planet in every worldly sense and must confront the rest of one’s life? I told you it wasn’t about baseball.

Oh, a decent set of writers helps too.

Wynton on Bball

Wynton Marsalis talks basketball with William Rhoden at The New York Times in this video. The whole thing, all 4 minutes of it, is worth an enjoyable look. At one point, he talks about the difference between the history of musicians and athletes (rough transcription):

The arts deal with the human soul. A person can arrive at any time in any art form and be the most advanced. No one has taken the art further than Homer, or Shakespeare, or Louis Armstrong. No one’s going to play better than him. You can bring your own thing. But great art doesn’t become old…Athletes can beat the opponents of their era. Musicians speak across epochs. Louis Armstrong wasn’t trying to beat anybody.