Monday, July 30, 2012

It's a Metaphorical Martian. Except When It's Not.

                Today marks a milestone in the world of Bad Shakespeare. This is my 50th (That’s five-zeroth) post since I first started this blog back in April. While I don’t intend to celebrate every milestone (maybe my one millionth). I am going to celebrate this one, as it feels that I have accomplished something.

                I have covered a wide range of topics from evil wizards (still a blight on our society!) to school reform (not until I get into one) to why I’m choosing to do this. Well, I haven’t covered the last part a whole lot. Mostly in my first post. So I want to return to that for today.

                I look back on my first post and I discuss that I am dedicated to doing this. I’m dedicated to the idea that I can make lives better by using my natural talent for teaching and humor to make the world a better place. Maybe I can. Part of what I didn’t discuss is the faith involved in all of this. The faith that I’m doing the right thing, and the several leaps of faith that I still have to take. A couple of those leaps are without a net, or a telekinetic Martian to catch me with her mind powers should I fall.

                We all have faith in something, or I like to think we do. Faith in ourselves is the hardest thing to cultivate. I referenced before [title of show] and it’s wonderful song about doubting yourself “Die Vampire Die.” One of the great lines in it is “why is it that if anyone said these things to us on the street, we’d immediately dismiss them as crazy, but when we say it to ourselves, we can’t help but believe it?” I almost want that tattooed across my forehead. Doubt in oneself is easy. It’s easy to think we’re not as great as everyone else.

                What is important is to work through that. Sort of like some of the doubts holding me back right now… I’ve got more than I let on to people. (Which is why I’m sharing it intimately with the many of you that I know read this.) We can’t let self-doubt hold us back. We can’t let lack of faith in ourselves hold us back. You have to know there is a metaphorical telekinetic Martian that will catch you. (I should really not write these while I’m watching Young Justice. There’s a Martian, and Robin was doing something and fell, and she caught him… it was very exciting if you watch it.) And it’s easy to type this. It’s a lot hard to actually do.

                Also, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for reading this blog. A lot of you have commented to me that you enjoy it, and I appreciate you reading it more than you will ever know. I hope to continue to entertain you with stories of wizards, teaching, Shakespeare, and my twisted little imagination.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Only Guide to the Summer Olympics You'll Need

               Tonight, we get to witness the magic and the spectacle of all the nations in the world getting together for a brief period and competing in the Olympics. Yes, the Olympics. It’s that special time when we all put aside our differences, and try to beat each other out on the sports field instead of the battlefield, and while we lightly mock what the other teams are wearing. (We can’t all have our outfits designed by Lenny Kravitz in that one movie.)

                The Olympics is an ancient tradition first started by the Vikings or something to compete over who could jump the highest?  I don't really know the whole story of the Olympics. I'm not really what you would call a "history guy."  But the Olympics only happen once every two years, and the summer Olympics only happen once every four years! (Which means when I recycle this column in two years, remind me to change all the references for “summer” to “winter.”) So you should make the most out of it. Here are Bad Shakespeare’s ways to enjoy the Summer Olympics.

                -Remember that every sprinter should walk away with a medal. While only three will be the fastest in the world, they are certainly faster than anyone else winning a medal, so it’s only a matter of grabbing it when they’re on those podiums.

                -It doesn’t matter who wins or loses, but if you’re in North Korea chances are that the news will report that you’ve won every event. In fact, you probably won’t even read this. Hi, North Korea!

                -Because the games are in London this year, it’s important that we throw in as many British references as possible. Maybe the high jump is won by a Time Lord? Maybe we refer to the British fencers as “wielding Excalibur?” I don’t know.  There are a lot of places to go with this.

                -Remember that each Olympian is going to have a backstory presented on television. Make a drinking game out of it. Take a shot every time someone has had to overcome something. Take another every time it’s obvious that the news is trying to oversell something. (ex. “And this swimmer overcame their fear of forks, and now is able to eat with the rest of the Olympic village.”)

                -George Mason University, my alma mater/current mater/employer has several Olympians competing this year. Root for them! (That’s a very GMU-centric thing. I know people all over the country read this blog. Root for them anyway. Your good buddy Bad Shakespeare is asking you to.)

                -There’s no official Ultimate Frisbee exhibition this year, so put on your own Ultimate Frisbee World Championship. Or if you’re there, turn another event into Ultimate Frisbee Competition. Hurdles, for example.

                -Yes, there will be controversy coming out about something, because this is the big news event and the news media will want to milk it for all it’s worth. I blame the media blamers. But, make the most of it, and get pre-outraged at something. I think the Russian Judge might have something against that gymnast from Finland. Just throwing that out there.

                -Lastly, remember that there’s no way that the opening ceremony will be as great as the opening ceremony that your country would have put on had you been hosting the Olympics this year.

                Now that we have that down, I hope everyone can enjoy. I personally can’t wait until they have the Queen throw out the first pitch later tonight. Play ball!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Hamlet Games

         Hi, everyone. Recently, some theatre researchers have done some studies about how the funding of Shakespeare may be taking away from the funding of newer projects, and how even 300 years later Shakespeare’s plays are still dominating the theatre scene. This is particularly important because there are a lot of Shakespearean activities that are going to be associated with the London Olympics Let’s see how he takes the news that he's overplayed after 300 years, shall we?

Int- Hollywood Agent. A sleazy AGENT is working when WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE enters.

AGENT - Willie… buddy… I’m glad you can make it. I’m afraid I have some bad news…

SHAKESPEARE  - There is nothing neither good nor bad, thinking makes it so.

AG- See, that’s sort of what I’m talking about. It seems that you’re overplayed.

SH- Time is very slow for those who wait…

AG- I never know what the hell you’re saying.

SH – Confusion now hath made his masterpiece.

AG- I’m sure you’re very amusing. Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Some people are saying that you’re playing way too much, at the expense of newer plays. People are suggesting that they cut back on funding for your productions so that they can produce new plays. This isn’t good, man. It’s really not good.

SH – Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered.

AG – I have to say, I’m glad with the way you’re taking this. But I was thinking that maybe you could come up with something new? It’s been 300 years… maybe you could just punch things up a little bit?

SH – Listen to many; speak to few.

AG – I know, new things seem difficult at first. And you’re getting a lot of play on your older works, even if it’s now exact. I mean, look at Twilight, a lot of people are comparing that to Romeo and Juliet as a love story…

SH – Come not within the measure of my wrath!

AG – I know, I know. Not the best example. But you have plenty of plays with supernatural things in it. Can’t we just throw in something for the mopey teens? I mean, we could make Oberon a sparkly vampire, and the kids would go crazy!

SH – Wrath makes him deaf!

AG – Ok, ok, ok, ok… It’s just that you’re important, you know. You’re one of my most important clients, you have been around forever. But kids want the newer stuff, and they want to be more experimental. They want Spider-man, swinging from the rafters. That’s theatre!

SH - Thou hadst been better have been born a dog
Than answer my waked wrath!

AG -  Easy, easy. Let’s just all calm down here. I still never know what the hell you’re saying. Let’s just relax. Ok I have one more suggestion for you. We’ll just rework some of your plays into something more modern, but we’ll keep your characters the same. First up: The Hamlet Games!

SH – Farewell fair cruelty. (SHAKESPEARE exits.)

AG- No? What about Hamlet: The Dark Prince Rises? Hello? (picks up phone) Hey, Holly. Get me Marlowe on the phone.

(end scene.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Children in the Mist: Finally an Opera for the Stephen King fan

             So, this past weekend I went to go see Children in the Mist-A Horror Opera, presented by the Fringe Festival and written by Sean Pfleuger. It was based on one of the works of a great writer, Stephen King. (The horror writer. Not the guy who works for the government.) I went to go see it because 1) I really like Stephen King, and 2) The opera itself written by a friend of mine that I went to high school with. Granted we haven’t spoken in years, but it was more of a falling off the radar type of thing and not a drag-out knock down fight that ended in tears. I can make up a story about how one of us wronged the other, and then allowed the story escalate into a zanier and zanier series of antics, but Seans’ a good guy, and that story is better suited for a hilarious summer comedy starring let’s say Jack Black and Channing Tatum since everyone loves Channing Tatum now, and he could do well to star in another comedy. (Note: Get Jack Black’s people on the phone after this blog is written.)

                I am not going to do a review of the Opera itself, because as mentioned Sean is a friend of mine, and I couldn’t be objective. I'm mainly mentioning it because it was a good experience for me, and it is interesting to see a modern piece of literature turned into a modern opera. It's a nice reminder that not all opera has to be fat guys in viking helmets singing in Italian. (Note: I don't see a lot of opera.) But a modern interpretation of a modern story is just an excellent thing. Too often we're hung up on the idea that "literature" is sacred and only from old things and interpreting something modern into a classic form like this is somehow "cheap" or "doesn't count." This opera is a great example of twisting expectations. And as you may have guessed, I'm a HUGE fan of twisting expectations. 

               Like horror? It’s a great horror story. Like opera? It’s an awesome opera. Like mimes? No? Good there are zero mimes in it. Also I went to the last showing, which a reviewer probably shouldn’t do. But I enjoyed it as a fan of the theater, and it is interesting to see any story presented in a different manner. In this case the opera tended to drift more towards the movie adaptation that came out a few years ago starring the Punisher in a very non-Punisher type role. While they contain a lot of the same themes, one depressing ending is traded for another much more horrific depressing ending. The movie version lends itself better to a tragic opera, I felt, so I’m glad that’s the ending that Sean went with when writing this opera.

                Children in the Mist was a great experience. It was certainly fun to see a work presented by someone I knew back in “the day”.  It was fun seeing a story that I liked reinterpreted in a new way as well. I’m always looking for new interpretations of good stories.  If it’s presented again and you didn’t go see it you, probably should. And that’s not just because he’s a friend of mine, I don’t give away advertising on this blog. I do however, allow people to pay for advertising, which is why this weeks’ posts are all brought to you by Franklin Family Construction: When the moat around your evil lair absolutely has to be built overnight.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Response to Shootings in Aurora

      It’s obviously no secret that I’m a huge comic book fan. Two of my posts just this week are on the comic books, and it turns out this blog is one of the top results if you search for “Shakespeare + Hulk”, which for a small time blogger I find pretty exciting. So it’s no surprise that I was looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises like a dog looks forward to just about anything. I had even gone to the movies that night in order to try to score a ticket to the Batman Trilogy marathon some theaters were running, but I was too late.

    It obviously makes sense that I would have some reaction to the horrible tragedy that unfolded in Aurora, Colorado the night of the midnight showing.

    I’ve needed some time to think about it. I can get into the minds of each one of those people sitting in the theater. Each one excited -- this is a movie they have been waiting for since the end credits of The Dark Knight. Some people were wearing costumes, some people were wearing shirts, everyone was excited to see a comic book superhero go up against a comic book villain, and leave the violence on the screen. Then their world was rocked in a way that I don’t think I could ever imagine.

    My heart goes out to everyone in the theater that night. The people at that midnight showing were fans. They were dreamers who believed that a man dressed as a bat could make a difference. They are the people who read the comic books and hope for a hero, even if it was in their imaginations for a few hours. And they suffered because one lone gunman decided that he was going to break in and start shooting people. It was a senseless crime. It was a crime that attacks all of us. I point out again that these people were dreamers, who hoped for the best in the world. And in one swoop someone came to try and take it away. It’s more important than ever that we don’t let him do this.

    Now is the time for healing, now is the time to help. Now really is the time for all of us to be Batman in some way. I don’t mean dress up, I don’t mean more violence. I mean now is the time to help people the way our comic book hero would. Here is how we help:

    Don’t be afraid. There’s no need to avoid the movies this week if that is what you want to do. This was a lone instance of psychopath. If you love movies, as I do, still go. You aren’t dishonoring anyone. You aren’t in danger. (Except of being gouged at the concession stand.)

    Don’t point fingers. This isn’t the fault of violent movies, of one group over the other, of a negative influence, or anything else the professional shouters will decide over the next few days. To commit a crime like this requires a dangerous mind, one who would have done something like this no matter what his influences might have been.

    Do what you can to help. If you feel that you want to help, there are charities and organizations out there that are helping right now. has a few suggestions. Don’t want to give money? Give time. Go volunteer. Go do something to help in the name of these victims. The East Coast Avengers is a group that visits Children’s Hospitals dressed as superheroes. Go help them.

    Be Batman. Contrary to the rock’em sock’em movies or adventures, Batman hated violence because of how his parents died. Batman was quick to act to help people. But what Batman is about is standing up in the face of danger, standing up to corruption, and standing for those who need it. Be brave. Be strong. Help people.

    I will return on Monday with my usual humor, defense of education, robot invasions, and dreaming. But as I mentioned, I’m going to write what I’m passionate about in this blog. In the meantime, I’m not going to let one guy dictate what I will or won’t be afraid of. I will not let one guy dictate my future plans. I will not let one guy dictate what I dream about. I hope that you don’t, either.

Friday, July 20, 2012

World Domination: "Directed" by Christopher Nolan

           Programming note: I don’t know a lot about politics. I don’t know enough to endorse one candidate over the other. I’m simply a person who sees silly things happen, and enjoys commenting on them. This week, a conservative radio host said something I personally felt was stupid relating to comic books, so I’m going to comment on it. If you’re offended, don’t worry, jokes about robot invasions and squirrel armies are coming up. Hopefully, you just enjoy this for what it is: a good old fashioned attempt to write my blog about a popular subject in the hopes that search engines will find it easier.

Earlier this week noted marriage enthusiast and right-wing radio shouter Rush Limbaugh complained that the upcoming Dark Knight Rises contains a hidden message to voters against candidate Mitt Romney. Apparently Candidate Romney was involved in something about “Bain Capital” which I don’t understand enough to judge, and the villain of the movie is named “Bane”. So naturally Mr. Limbaugh believes that movie written three years ago about a fictional character created almost 20 years ago has something to do with politics today. However, his rant makes me sad for a number of reasons that are not linked in any way, shape or form to politics.

                1. It makes me sad as a comic book fan. Bane was created in 1993 to capitalize on the “Death of Superman” storyline by having something tragic happen to Batman. In this case, Batman was going to face against someone as smart as him, so the writers at the time came up with this hulking mass of a man who was addicted to a strength enhancing drug called “Venom”. It actually launched an interesting storyline about what it means to be the caped crusader as Batman was replaced by an insane man that liked to hurt people, which was a departure from the regular character who dresses up like a bat. But this was almost 20 years ago. Candidate Romney didn’t exist in that form back then. So unless the Batman writers back then: Graham Nolan, Chuck Dixon, and Doug Moench used their physic powers to predict a major point in the 2012 Presidential election and not to say, win the lottery, this is a moot point.

                This isn’t even the first movie appearance of Bane. He was also in Batman and Robin. Technically this wasn't a real Batman movie. Or it was, but no one wants to talk about it.

                2. It makes me sad as someone that wants to teach the English Language to people. First, Bain and Bane aren’t spelled the same, although they sound alike, I guess.  The word bane means “death, destruction, etc.” It’s actually a very old word that literally used to mean “murderer” in its earliest appearances terrorizing young English children. (This is opposed to its current form terrorizing young American children, because it’s also a fun SAT word.)

“Bane” is an awesome name for a supervillain because it gives the idea that he is the “bane of the superhero’s existence.” Quite frankly, I’m disappointed that it took until 1993 for a major villain to be named “Bane” in the first place. People underestimate how difficult it is to name a good supervillain. All of the really cool names are already taken. Even the cool sounding regular names like “Lex Luthor”.

                3. It makes me sad as a fan of someone who is afraid of supervillains in general. Not the fake ones like Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, but its director: Christopher Nolan. Because if Mr. Limbaugh is correct, Christopher Nolan has access to a working time machine, went back in time, told the writers of the Batman comic in 1993 to name their character Bane so he could write a movie that could potentially harm a future presidential candidate.

Now, Christopher Nolan also won praise for his previous Batman movies, especially for how he wrote the Joker. How does he know superheroes and supervillains so well? It must be because CHRISTOPHER NOLAN IS A SUPERVILLAIN! Access to a working time machine, tons of money, quieting the masses with his movies, knowledge of the superhero mind… it’s all a perfect fit.

                Remember, I’m the only blogger brave enough to discuss with you the growing Christopher Nolan menace. When he is sitting behind his desk, stroking his white cat as his minions count the profits from his latest movie, it's only World Domination the man has on his mind.

               Of course, our other option is that everything is just a coincidence, and this Batman movie used the character of Bane because Christopher Nolan wanted a cool villain for his supposed last movie in this trilogy. Just throwing that last part out there.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Baby, It's Hot Outside

              Today in Washington, DC and the surrounding areas that I could name but if you don’t live here won’t make any sense other than “The areas surround Washington, DC” we are headed once again for over 100 degree heat. It’s been a weird weather year for us here, and has included an Earthquake or two. If I see a plague of locusts, cats and dogs living together, or frogs falling from the sky, I’m out of here so quickly…

                Anyway, rather than just complain, I’m going to go ahead and offer some Bad Shakespeare ways to beat the heat!

                1. Remember, the Metro Gods are allowing you to bring bottled water on the Metro now, so you’ll have something to drink while you sit delayed in the car that doesn’t have air conditioning. This is a reprieve to their previous decree that no amount of consumables should be allowed in the Metro, including mustard you have spilled on your shirt. 

                2. If you are a superhero and you are fighting a cold-based supervillain, maybe you just let them go today. I mean, they’re not really hurting anyone, except with their terrible ice-puns. So just for today, you let them go. We’ll all understand.

                On that note, if you’re a superhero who usually fights in black leather, maybe today is the day you introduce your “casual” crime fighting outfit.

                3. The public pool is a great place to hang out and cool off. Just try not to think about the four hundred other people who have the same idea that you do. Driving around in a hot car for 45 minutes looking for a parking space will at least allow you to run the air conditioning for a bit.

                4. A movie is a great place to cool off, especially with their industrial strength air conditioners. And at a scant 10 bucks for a ticket then another 20 for popcorn, it’s practically a steal. And the movie doesn't really even have to be that good. Which is lucky, because the good ones are probably sold out already.

                5. If you don’t have air conditioning in your car, now is a great time to make a friend who does. When you’re stuck in traffic, just look around for the person who looks like they have it on full blast. (Symptoms: Not sweating, window up.) Just walk over and introduce yourself. It will be fine.

                6. Go hug Henry Winkler. The Fonz was the epitome of cool!

                7. Most of life is all about your state of mind. So, naturally I’m telling you to put your head in the freezer for a few hours.

                8. Remember it’s a lot cooler up north. If you were ever thinking of hiking in Canada, this would probably be the time. Of course, I don’t know what else there is to do in Canada. So you may want to bring a book or something.

                9. And lastly, let’s not forget the power of the hero of Summer, the ice cream man. You distract him, I’ll grab the truck.

               Everyone make sure you are doing whatever you can to beat the heat!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Holy Nerd Rant, Batman!

     As you may or may not be aware, the mecca of nerd-dom occurred this weekend that is know as the San Diego Comi-Con. Unless you’re a hipster nerd, in which case it’s way too mainstream for you, and you should shut up and let the rest of us enjoy it. And I while I say “nerd” it actually looks like a really fun time, and I would be there dressed up as the Green Lantern in a few minutes if I could.

    And, as many of you may know, I am a giant nerd that loves comic books, comic book movies, superheroes, superhero stories, and the first season of Heroes, before it became all weird and incoherent. So I followed SDCC for any hint of upcoming superhero movies or announcements that would get my little nerd heart beating.

    I’ve been over the idea of superhero stories in the past, and how important they are to our culture. I’ve covered the fact that they tap into something deep within us, and most of the earliest stories are of superheroes, like demigods, the supernatural, and so forth. So this is all natural... we’ve just added more colorful costumes,  CGI, and capes. I don’t care what anyone says: Capes are essential. (Spider-Man would be trusted by the populace if he just wore a cape.)

    While this is fun, one thing really bothers me. Marvel Comics... the group that just made The Avengers, hands down of the the best superhero movies ever in existence, just announced it’s plans to make a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Now, I like the idea in theory... it’s going to tie into The Avengers 2, which is brilliant, and I will be there to watch it and enjoy. But this comic book features a character named “Rocket Raccoon.” I don’t have a problem with Rocket Raccoon. He's a talking space raccoon that fights aliens. It's an idea I wish I came up with because it's so crazy. I don’t have a problem with the Guardians of the Galaxy or even another Avengers movie. I’ll be there at midnight to watch each one, I promise you.

    What I have a problem with is the fact that we are going to have a full fledged Rocket Raccoon movie before we even see a Justice League movie. And this is sad.

    The latest Batman installment comes out this weekend. It is going to be great. But the director, the writers, and the actors have decided that they wanted to take the story of a man who dresses as a giant bat to avenge the deaths of his parents (instead of therapy) in a realistic direction. This means he will not be hanging out on a space station with the Last Son of Krypton, the King of Atlantis, The Fastest Man Alive, or an intergalactic space-cop who controls green energy with his ring. (I LIKED The Green Lantern movie.)

    The new Superman movie was announced at Comi-Con, and while there is a shred of hope that we will see him talking to any of the above, they have denied it, as well, for hope of creating a “prestige” movie and again sucking the fun out of realizing a man can fly. Which means despite the fact that the two are owned by the same comic book company and the same movie studio, we will not be seeing these two on screen together anytime soon.

    Superman is the most recognizable superhero on the planet. You could show the “S” to a kid on the most war-torn planet in the Vulcan System (It’s not real, don’t look it up) and they’d hold out their arms. Superman is the subject of movies that don’t feature superheroes. Batman has been in more TV shows, movies, and books in the past years than any other character. Even the “minor” characters like Aquaman or the Flash are well known. And you’re telling me that putting them in a movie would be difficult? It could be two hours of an all-Justice League arm wrestling contest and it would sell out three years in advance.

    Sorry. I know usually I’d tie this in to something important. Oh, I’ve got it: even William Shakespeare would have known to write a Justice League movie right now! Oh, wait, he was smarter than most of these people: He wrote one of his most popular characters: Hal Falstaff, the fat knight, into Merry Wives of Windsor because he was popular. Boo-ya, you’ve all been Shakespeared. (And my obligatory Shakespeare reference for the week.)

    Sorry. You all know that this was something I was passionate about! Free the Justice League Movie! I’ll return to something literary and/or comedy based next time.

    Same Bad Shakespeare time. Same Bad Shakespeare Blog.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy Birthday, Patrick Stewart.

     I would like to take this post in Bad Shakespeare would like to wish a most excellent Happy Birthday to one of my personal heroes and owner of the best voice in the world, Patrick Stewart.

    You all remember Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame. (Don’t pretend you don’t. Most of you instinctively said, “make it so” as soon as you saw his name.) I won’t pretend that I wasn’t introduced to Mr. Stewart (Can I all him Patrick? I’m going to call him Patrick.) through the world of Star Trek, but it was Patrick Stewart who also helped introduce me to the world of Shakespeare.

    My favorite story of Shakespeare and Patrick Stewart actually comes through a story of impossibility. One role that Patrick wanted to play was that of Othello. You all know Othello, one of the most famous parts ever written... for a black actor. Normally I’m all for colorblind casting (what does it matter if someone can act) but part of the story actually involves the racist reaction to the Moor of Venice. (Or not. You can interpret it in a few different ways, but... you know, this is a Patrick Stewart tribute, so I’m going to move on and analyze Othello another day.) Anyway, Patrick was told repeatedly he couldn’t do the part because he was white. One day he went to Michael Kahn (NOT the guy who killed Kirk’s son, but the famous director) and told him what he wanted to do. Michael’s response was simple, “Great. Let’s reverse the cast!” And thus Patrick Stewart’s white Othello was born.

    I like this story, because it, along with another one (I’ll share later) is a great reminder that if you want to do something, you should just do it.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Patrick Stewart at a celebration of Michael Kahn’s 25 years at the Shakespeare Theatre last fall. I also had the pleasure of hearing him perform the famous speech from Othello, just before he kills Desdemona, which was a personal dream of mine since I didn't get to see him perform as Othello. (As you can guess, it’s not the most uplifting play.) He couldn’t have been nicer. I’m still not sure what I said, but I’ve been assured by those around me that I didn’t make a fool of myself.

    So, Happy Birthday, Patrick Stewart. Thanks for the gateway to Shakespeare, thanks for the kind words when we met, and thanks for reminding me that no matter how crazy something is, I should just go for it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Apologist

                Last time on Bad Shakespeare, I made a comment about one ofour Presidential Candidates. I did so because I am passionate about teaching,and he had made a comment that ran counter to that. To those on the other sideof the aisle I apologize, as I do not intend to turn this into a political blog.I already know the truth about U.S. politics, that all political events arecarefully orchestrated by Adam Sandler for his personal amusement. But if youwere offended, I apologize.

                While I’mat it, here are a few more apologies.

                I wouldlike to apologize to that one couple in Louisville that asked me for directions,and I sent them the wrong way. I’d like to say that I just didn’t want to seemlike a tourist, but I was headed to that same restaurant, and I didn’t want youto get the last table. Wendy’s is a very classy joint.

                Iapologize to Adam Sandler for “blowing up his spot” as the kids don’t say butparents still think they say and telling everyone that he’s responsible for allU.S. politics as he watches from his giant bin of money that he swims in daily,Scrooge McDuck-Style.

                Iapologize to Boy Scout Troop 456. Had I realized that you were camping in thatlocation, I would not have let my pet Bigfoot play there. You do understandthat he needs time out in the open forest to hide so people can take blurrypictures.

                Iapologize to the squirrels that reside on George Mason University. I reallyfelt that if we organized, we could take back the pond from the Canadian Geesethat reside there. No worries, I’m sure we can find some more acorns and FrenchFries before winter, and I have high hopes if we can shore up our numbersbefore Spring of 2013.

                I wishto apologize to Scarlett Johans…. Johannn…. Johanne…. To that chick in theAvengers for sending you all those love letters without being able to spellyour name correctly. I suppose I could look it up on Google, but that is a lotof extra work.

                I wouldlike to apologize to all those who are currently infected with Bieber Fever.Sorry. My bad.

                Lastly,I want to apologize to Steve Martin, who wrote a similar essay in his book, Pure Drivel, which I read, liked, andstole as the format for this essay here. Because I’m mentioning you, this canclassify as an “homage” and not “pure theft.” However, Shakespeare stoleeverything he ever wrote and now he has a line of fishing equipment named afterhim.

                Feels great to get THAT off my chest.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I Will Not Do Presidential Endorsements Unless Threatened By Asteroid

             The blank page. It’s a scary thing, particularly when you are trying to do something like keep up with a blog three times a week. Pulling back the curtain for a minute, sometimes I do have these posts banked for a few weeks at a time. Sometimes, like now, I’ve run out. And with the absence of school, education, or just in general a lot going on with my life, I’m not always sure what to say.

                Oh, yeah, that whole “summer class” thing fell through at the last minute. I’d go through the long boring details, but you don’t want to hear them all. (I didn’t match a few of the perquisites for the class. Hmmm. I guess they weren’t that long or boring. It was more like a statement.) So, I don’t really have adventures in taking a summer course to share with you.

                Because school is out, there’s not much going on in the world of education to really report. One of the Presidential Candidates (His name rhymes with Nitt Nomney.) is calling for less teachers, but this really isn’t a political blog. And in reality I’m not much of a political person. I write in Nicolas Cage each election with the knowledge that if he won, he’d turn down the job because he’d be too good at it. Also there’s not an asteroid headed towards Earth, and actors rarely make good Presidents unless there is a killer asteroid headed towards Earth. (When threatened with an asteroid, vote Morgan Freeman, if Bruce Willis isn't available.) But I’m not really going to get into politics. I may get into the issue of “more or less teachers” at some point.

                My life is devoid of wacky adventures. That’s usually the case after a Mission Trip like I took two weeks ago: I need time to relax and decompress, so I’ve been hiding out, watching old movies, and pretending it’s not 100 degrees out.

                I guess what I’m saying is… enjoy the post today for what it is. Just a brief look into the backstage workings of Bad Shakespeare, Inc. My mind staring at the blank page, trying to think of something to say. Enjoy it. Love it. We’ll focus on more wacky adventures in the upcoming weeks, even if I have to make something up.

Friday, July 6, 2012

On A Mission From God: Now With 100% More Alien Squirrels

               The final part of my recap of the weeklong mission trip is a deep exploration of just how a group of aliens could control the mind of a bunch of squirrels to build an unholy army in their quest for world domination. The twist: Elvis Presley is alive and in charge of the whole thing. That sound is all of your minds being blown by this revelation.

                Naw, I just felt that the comedy has been lacking from these posts as I have been discussing some pretty heavy stuff.

                These trips are always weird for me. I always volunteer to go, mainly because I enjoy hanging out with these kids for the week. But inevitably, about two weeks before the trip I panic because I honestly don’t believe that I’m going to be able to help, because there is an element that I don’t think I can provide to the kids (More on that in a moment), and because it’s a week where my schedule is more rigidly controlled than something that is extremely rigidly controlled. (All my metaphors were too offensive. Feel free to make up your own in the comments.)

                The element I don’t think I provide well to the kids (we’re getting heavy again) is the fact that… I don’t really wear my religion on my sleeve. Maybe it’s because I’m still figuring things out myself, but I just don’t believe that we are meant to run around screaming about our faith until we get it worked out. I believe that actions (like not throwing a can of corn at a person who is telling you all about how Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future didn’t involve a President born in Kenya for the ninth time that day) are more important than words. And I don’t feel that we get that very much at these events. I think sometimes it becomes a race to wear that “John 3:16” shirt, but the focus isn’t as much on working hard and showing your faith that way. I sometimes feel that we can discuss God and His actions without going deeply into the Bible. I think that it’s more important to ACT like a good person than it is to TALK about being a good person. I can talk about anything.

                The kids work hard at these events. But I often feel that the reward sometimes is more church, more discussion of acting like a good person which doesn’t give as much incentive to work harder.  That’s the part I’ve always found it hard to buy into. Oh, I’m always enthusiastic, don’t get me wrong. Except for one point when I twisted my knee, then I was decidedly less enthusiastic about things. (Except ice).

                The thing is, that at the end of the day, I still want to go back. I like helping people. I want to do more with helping people. I will help out with these until they tell me to stop helping out. (Or until that Elvis-Squirrel-Alien thing happens. It’s real, people.) And I will continue to give these kids 100%. It’s just… not always easy? I guess that’s the right phrasing for it. It’s not always easy when I see other groups getting a lot out of it, and me, sitting there hoping I’m giving these kids what they want and what they need from this experience.

                Of course, I could always go back to saving the world from the evil squirrel invasion.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

On A Mission From God: Ione Skye Finds Me Amusing

                One of the interesting things about Mission Trips is that the work you’re doing can be a complete mystery until you show up.

                I mean,you always have an IDEA of what’s going on. Last year I attended a trip where we did a lot of physical labor outside, building wheelchair ramps or yard work or fixing barn doors. (In this case, the showers were located directly next to where we were staying. Sweet, sweet showers. Given the amount of sweat, there really wasn’t another option.)

                This time it was a lot more… abstract. On the one hand we spent some time working at food pantries, ensuring that everything was stocked. I spent some delightful time with a rather nice man who was volunteering who was a pretty big Star Trek Fan. Of course, while he was a nice man (and I would never insult someone’s efforts to just do something nice) he did spend a little extra time telling me all about how he felt that Star Trek was Gene Roddenberry’s ACTUAL vision of the future. And he was not a fan of our President. Not one bit. (That was a longer day than usual.)

                On the other, we did spend some time just helping out at a thrift store. While it was a “Christian” thrift store, I didn’t really see the difference between that and a regular thrift store. Maybe it was just me. But one thing I did learn is if you carry a bunch of clothes around a thrift store, people will just assume you work there, no matter how you’re dressed. (I was dressed in a plain T-Shirt and jeans. I’m like a cartoon character in that I only have a few outfits.) Admittedly,I didn’t get as much out of that experience. I don’t think the kids did,either. I think it was around the time they said, “We didn’t get as much out of that experience.” But you know kids; it’s difficult to figure out what they were saying.

                Of course, the ultimate goal is to just go out and do good for a little bit. The important thing is to carry that back, and instill that feeling of doing good onto the kids. Was I successful? I don’t know. I’d like to think so. The difficult thing about real life is that the music rarely swells while everyone is doing an action that clearly shows they learned something from you. I mean,it can from time to time, but then I’m just told to shut off the speakers on my boombox, sit back down, and no matter how much I want to be I’m not actually John Cusack.  (I could totally be, but Joan Cusack refuses to show up as random characters in my daily life.)

                At the end of the day, you have to do your best.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

On a Mission from God: Werewolf vs. Vampire

            When you go on mission trips (particularly where you are chaperoning a bunch of teenagers) you accept a few things. You accept that your time will be dictated to you almost down to the minute. You accept that you won’t be eating the fanciest of foods. You accept that “alone time” consists of those few moments when you wake up and forget why you’re sleeping on the floor. You accept that you will have to work hard to set a good example (I’m not a “setting a good example” kind of guy. I’m more of a “what can we get away with” kind of guy) You also accept that you will not be staying in the best accommodations.

                What is difficult to accept is having a shower facility that is 25 minutes away from where you are staying with a bunch of teenagers that are working and sweating all day.

                Twenty. Five. Long. Minutes.

                For this particular trip we stayed in a church.  I mean, it was a nice church. It was a nice big room that we stayed in, on the floor. All in all, I won’t lie that I was grateful to have a place to stay at all, rather than a tent in the woods as I know some mission trips provide. There was minimum air conditioning. And the carpet was ok to sleep on. Not the best, but I’ve slept on worse. But let’s talk about sleeping in a room full of 30 teenage boys. Let’s talk about how that really starts to smell by the end of the second day.

                And as I’ve mentioned, the showers were 25 minutes away. That’s an episode of Parks and Recreation minus the commercials. If you’re not a fan of Parks and Recreation, that’s an episode of Community minus the commercials. If you’re not a fan of either of those, then I urge you to develop some good taste in television shows.

                It’s important to note that we are all tested at some point. Personally, I was tested by trying to determine the logic of getting 60 teenagers together and telling them they couldn’t shower. Well, they could, but when you dangle “free time or shower “ in front of them, you might as well be asking them to be a mopey teenager in Washington State choosing between a werewolf and a vampire. (Obligatory Twilight reference for the week… check.) The shower, of course, is the vampire.

                Granted, I’m a creative person. You see, they did have showers at the facility we stayed, the kids were asked just not to use them when the church was open, which was pretty much when they were in the church. However, hypothetically you could set your alarm for a certain time when no one is awake, and you could easy to slip down and sneak into said shower. Then you could have a few moments of peace and quiet, a break from the unique aroma of non-showering teenagers, a door that locked, and some hot, hot water.
             This is all hypothetically speaking, of course. Far be it from me to break any rules.

Monday, July 2, 2012

On A Mission from God: Now 100% Eco-Friendly!

              So, after a week of mission tripping out to Raleigh, North Carolina, I’d like to say that I’m back with a newfound sense of enlightenment. Or at least appreciation of who I am. Or perhaps the secret of the universe. Alas, at the end of the day no matter how much good you think you are doing, it’s a week. One week out of your life that’s somewhat inconvenienced for the sake of helping others.

                Now, none of this is meant to represent some dissatisfaction with my trip. I had a good time, I helped some people, I hung out with some cool kids. Ultimately, I know I did good, for one week, while I was slightly inconvenienced by sleeping on the floor with 40 other people. So this isn’t meant as some anti-mission trip rant so much as a… reflection of sorts on where I was, and what I was doing.

                I never know how to feel when I attend these things.  I didn’t grow up in the particular religion that I was escorting on this trip, and the place we stayed was a church other than that religion, too.  (I figure I’m covering all my bases.) But it’s always strange for me. Not that I find one religion stranger than another (except, you know that one where we all worship Tom Cruise. I never could quite get behind that Messiah) but I never quite know how to act at these things. Other than just being on other people’s definition of best behavior, not necessarily MY definition of best behavior.

                So, we get there, and we all get name tags… those sticky ones that wear off in a few hours… but we’re expected to keep them for a week. Now these name tags barely cling to your shirt the first time, by the second time they’re being held on by hope, and by the third shirt you’re pretty much looking down and wondering at what point your name tag decided to jump for it and is living the good life floating into a sewer somewhere. Maybe they didn’t expect me to change shirts every day? I was sweating pretty badly under the Raleigh sun, so I’m going to say that it was a public service that I ended up changing my shirt every day.

                There is a lot of recycling that went on this week. Leftovers from every meal were put into a compost pile. Normally, I’m for a compost pile. I don’t know the science behind it, but people who know tell me it’s good for the environment. What it turns out I’m against is a MOBILE  compost pile, that is created in one location and meant to be taken to another. You see, a compost pile, for those who don’t know, is a pile of leftover food and waste that is used to help plants and crops grow. By the third day, it smells a little like my shirt did working out in the hot Raleigh sun. (On a scale of 1-10 it rated close to “oh dear God if you love me you’ll take away my sense of smell right now.”) So, we kept throwing leftovers into this tiny cooler that I prayed would never ever be used to take beer to a concert ever again.

                So that was just the recycling part of the week. There are still many more adventures to cover regarding my week as Missionary.