Mighty Red Pen

September 13, 2011

Wordies to the nerdies

Filed under: Lit review,Word wars,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 6:41 pm
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H/t to Mister MRP, who was hip to the fact of the Mumford and Sons tune “Sigh No More,” which draws its lyrical inspiration from Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Here’s Mumford and Sons, and here is Shakespeare (according to Kenneth Branagh’s version).

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more;
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never;
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny;
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into. Hey nonny, nonny.

Sing no more ditties, sing no mo,
Or dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leavy.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into. Hey, nonny, nonny.


Do you not know about War of the Words? It is described thusly on the website: “War of the Words is, simply put, the March Madness of the English language. It’s a bracket-style word tournament similar in structure to the popular NCAA basketball tournament except instead of picking the winner of a (1)Duke vs (16)Murray State match up you get to choose the (1)Palpable vs (16)Mongrel winner.”

Something for every word nerd, no? Brackets due September 22.


July 26, 2011

Making an impression

Filed under: Lit review,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 6:32 pm

If you were ever wondering what Shakespeare might sound like if recited by George W. Bush or Paul Giamatti or even Droopy Dog, impressionist Jim Meskimen is here to show you.

H/t Fritinancy and Peter Sokolowski.

April 4, 2011

A friend in need is a friend indeed

Filed under: Pop culture,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 6:41 pm
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The folks at Second City Network wonder, “Could things have been different for Ophelia if she’d had a sassy gay friend?” The answer is a resounding yes.

And if he can help Ophelia, imagine what he can do for Lady Macbeth, Desdemona, and Miss Havisham!

April 18, 2010

The whys and wherefores

Filed under: Lit review — mighty red pen @ 2:33 pm
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I did not expect that an advertisement for shower curtains would send me back to my lit. nerd roots, but there was something about this Bed, Bath & Beyond ad, with its play on the famous “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” line, that just did not sit right with me:

So when I first read it, I was all, well, isn’t that a cute little play on the quotation from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, because as we all know it’s Juliet saying the “wherefore art thous” to Romeo. Okay, it was facile . . . but amusing.

But something felt off to me. I thought maybe it was the “now” that they stuck in there, so I went back to the original text just to remind myself of what it said:

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

Yeah, so there’s not a “now” in there, but even that little addition seemed like some playful creative license,  big whoop. But as I did a little more research (by no means exhaustive), there surfaced this little detail, which I confess I never really thought of: wherefore does not mean where, it means why. Juliet is not asking “Where are you, Romeo?” in this passage, she is asking, “Why are you a Montague, Romeo?”

Here’s what World Wide Words says:

Few people these days, in truth, can be quite sure what wherefore means. As a result, one of Shakespeare’s most quoted lines is often misunderstood. When Juliet asked, “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”, she wasn’t checking to see if he was on the ground below her balcony but asking why he was the person he was, a member of the hated rival Montague family. It means “why”, not “where”.

Ohhhhhh! Suddenly, the idiom the whys and wherefores makes so much more sense!

So now here’s the thing: I know advertisers like to pun all the time (if I could count all the times I see an ad that’s a play on “Got Milk?”  . . . ), and I could see how the play on this quote would seem irresistable. And I’m often on the side of being a bit lenient where creative license in advertising is concerned.

And people love to use this phrase and do so incorrectly all the time. I’ve done it myself. So can the advertisers be blamed for seemingly assuming that wherefore means where? Or should they be held accountable for not bothering to find out that it means why, which basically renders this advertisement totally meaningless?

What do you think?

November 29, 2009

Damn you, lewd minx

Filed under: Lit review,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 2:46 pm
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I’m doing it. I’m opening up my Shakespearean Insult Gum.

Let’s see, so many choices. I’m going to go with MacBeth, that’s gotta have some good insults in it. Here we are, two gumballs. Pop one in my mouth. Chew, chew. Let’s see how we’re doing for an insult:

“Hang yourself, you muddy corger.”

This is actually an insult from Henry IV, Part 2, not sure what that’s about.

Let’s try another. How ’bout King Lear?

The gum turns out to have little flavor or lasting power, so that’s a minus. Here we are, King Lear:

“How foul and loathsome is thine image.”

An insult from The Taming of the Shrew. So it seems that there is little correlation between what the cover of the “book” says and which play the insult is drawn from.

If my little play-by-play doesn’t give you enough of a sense of the experience of Shakespearean Insult Gum, this little video will.

Overall, I would say that the excitement and amusement over discovering Shakespearean Insult Gum greatly outweigh my actual experience of the gum. In retrospect, probably much funnier not to unwrap the package and just show it to your word nerd friends, who will be green with envy over the perfect word nerdiness of Shakespearean Insult Gum. 

And by the way: “Thy breath stinks with eating toasted cheese.” Just sayin’.

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