Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “birthdays”

Shakespeare Celeb: Birthday Condolences


Image result for shakespeare's 400th birthday

One of those learned Shakespeare facts to pull out to impress students is that he died on his birthday. They think that fact is weird and cool. I used to think Mark Twain died on his birthday as well. Turns out I was wrong. He came into the world with Halley’s Comet and left when it reappeared. Now, that is a weird and cool fact that gets my attention.

According to Mental Floss, there is a phenomena known as The Birthday Effect.  Apparently a person has a 14 percent higher chance of dying on his or her birthday. The Swiss did a study in 2012, so it must be true. This probably isn’t a planned event, at least it’s hoped not. That would be a terrible closure to a birthday party. It’s conjectured that Shakespeare partied a bit too “merrily” with his chums and succumbed to a fever. Watch out for combining ale and pickled herring. Or at least check the expiration date on the herring.

Image result for pickled herring

April 23, 1616. This is both Shakespeare’s birthday and day of passing, making him 403 years old. There isn’t much of a to-do at 403, but his 400th birthday was a world wide event. Stopping to think about it, if you celebrate his birthday you are also celebrating his death. I don’t think Hallmark makes a birthday condolence card. Yet. On a lighter consideration, Shakespeare does share this Birthday Effect with some other notables. Maybe this is a condolence of sorts, that he shares his birthday/deathday with a few other famous folk:

Raphael–painter

corrie ten boom

Corrie Ten Boom-Holocaust survivor

Grant Wood-painter of the American Gothic

Ingrid Bergman–actress

Poet Appreciation #8: William Shakespeare


*Gasp* Billy Bard is celebrating his 450th birthday on the 23rd. I advise those attending the birthday party to stick to the crumpets and steer clear of the kippers, as they didn’t do ol’ William any good at his own birthday din celeb.

Would William be surprised to know how many Bardinators there are coasting about due to his most marvelous ability with words, wit, and retrofitting old tales into something more appealing?  Probably.  Ben Jonson knew his contemporary, and somewhat rival was “a man for all time.”

What better way to say “Happy Birthday, Bill!” than with a couple of his sonnets.

First, the Mona Lisa of his career:

SONNET 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? 
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date: 
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d; 
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st; 
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee

 

Who hasn’t heard this lovely tribute of admiration? No matter how many years I’ve taught it to high school students they still “get it” and appreciate the trick ending of the couplet.  That’s what I like about Wm’s wit: it’s subtle and winking.  I think he’s winking right now as it’s being read. I’ll let Michael York recite it for you.  He gets it for sure, this is a loving tribute (don’t get shook up about it being for a man, like my freshmen do–this was supposedly to William S.’s patron, the guy who paid the bills so Wm could keep writing. Is that any different from dedicating a song or book to an agent, sibling, parent, or editor?)

Another tribute sonnet is perhaps not as complimentary, yet I think it showcases Shakespeare’s ability to take the accepted medium and poke fun at how poets tended to extol too vigorously the glories of a person, thus rendering him or her to be removed from humanity–it’s difficult to climb down off a pedestal that’s built too high. This particular sonnet at first sounds like a bash session; however, after a step back moment, it’s clear to see Shakespeare extols the real beauty of his love.  He loves this woman, warts–that is, frizzy hair, and all.

SONNET 130

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks; 
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
   And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
   As any she belied with false compare.

This video captures the satire of those mushy sonnets while intones the general attitude of love.  Alan Rickman and typography mash up at its best.  Wouldn’t you want Alan Rickman reciting a sonnet to you?  Check yes.

 

 

These are only a drop in the sonnet bucket.  Wills wrote 150 sonnets, far more than the 38 plays we know to be roaming about.  So why do we mostly associate him with being a playwright than a poet?  According to many historical sources, he considered himself to be more of a poet than a playwriter. Hmm, it’s easier to turn a play into a film than a sonnet, I suppose.

Once again, Happy Birthday, William!

image: facebook.com

 

A Moment of Clarity


image: coloringpages365.com

Having recently celebrated a birthday of significant numerals, I have been somewhat reflective these days. I have come to the conclusion I must start acting my age. The problem being which age? Do I heed the one I feel kicking about inside–the one that says, “Yes, enjoy the playground and blow bubbles and laugh too loud in public and wear retro dresses from the thrift shop because you are forever young and who gives a flip what other people think.” OR do I succumb to that other voice that whispers, “You are older now and should relish your experiences, the ones that allow you to reminisce your memories and mistakes. You’ve been there, done that, yet realize there is so much more to do. And, no, a woman of your age should definitely not be wearing that out in public.”

It’s confusing, I tell you.

Not that I want to start a heated discussion, but here it is: older men get away with it. You’ve seen them. They drive their Mustang convertibles, silver hair wafting in the breeze or wear Hawaiian shirts, shorts, and Birkenstocks with a greying ponytail, or they are the guys hooting it up at the theme park and their family obviously adores them because they don’t act their age.

If women express their youthful desires the world does not turn a kindly eye as readily. Face it, we don’t want moms being silly. Carol Burnett got away with it, true.

As I reflect upon my recent birthday of significance and contemplate role models I, of course, turn to book heroines. Two come to mind: Miss Rumphius and Mrs. Pollifax.

Miss Rumphius book cover

Miss Rumphius book cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Miss Rumphius and I share three common interests:  we have both worked in libraries, have both lived by the sea, and both want to make the world a more beautiful place. She represents the woman who ages gracefully, yet has that bit about her that doesn’t quite follow the pattern of societal expectations.

Then there is the wild adventuresome side I tend to embrace. You go, Mrs. Pollifax.

elusive mrs. pollifax

elusive mrs. pollifax (Photo credit: cdrummbks)

Mrs. Pollifax has skills. She has chutzpah. She has found a way late in life to still have adventure. How wonderful to possess all that and still be able to wear the right hat for the right occasion. What I most like about Mrs. Pollifax is her resourcefulness and her ability to find a way to make sticky situations work. Although I don’t feel I need to be a CIA spy to add a bit of spice to my life, I do relish the idea of others realizing that a bit of greying does not mean decaying is taking place.

So, all that being said I have decided I should at least try to act a bit more my age and have started with my blog header. Gone is the flirty skirt, lean legs, and painted nails of the youth that regales within, and instead I have replaced it with a more staid vision of the mature woman contemplating her reading. I’m not sure a new header is going to head off my penchant to fly kites, play hide-and-go-seek, and wear polka dots.

Chocolate Fortune Cookies


This week is one of celebrations: school is out for the year (Yay!); I celebrated a double-digit birthday of significance (Nice!); and the blog rolled out 3,000 hits, 70 followers, and 65 posts (Way Cool!).  This calls for dark chocolate.

My MEPA (most excellent personal assistant) spoils me by providing dark chocolate when I most need it: when I’m stressed and when I’m happy.  Not any dark chocolate, mind you, the best dark chocolate.  Bars are now in the past, lately my favorite brand comes out in bag style with individually wrapped morsels awaiting tasting and savoring.  The chocolate part is gratifying; however the best part is that each wrapper offers a profound, even witty saying–basically I’m partaking in chocolate fortune cookies.  Yummmm…

Here are my favorites so far:

  • Chocolate therapy is “Oh, so good.”
  • Stir your sense of pleasure
  • Be the first to hit the dance floor
  • Take time to notice the color of the leaves changing
  • Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
  • Your smile is your best accessory.
  • Stop and enjoy the chocolate aroma.
  • Remember the simple pleasures in life.
  • All you really need is love, and a little chocolate doesn’t hurt!
  • The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.
  • Renew your sense of discovery.
  • It’s OK to be fabulous AND flawed!
  • Feel free to be yourself.
  • Chocolate speaks the international language of love.
  • Life is good.
An added bonus of this chocolate therapy is if I buy two more specially marked bags I will receive a movie ticket.  Dark chocolate and the movies–almost as good as a book and my hammock.

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