Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shakespeare's Macbeth (The Scottish Play), Super-Condensed

For When You Only Have Thirty Seconds to Study

Act I

*thunder and lightning*

Duncan: That Macbeth.  What a boss.
Witches: *cackle*
Macbeth: What ho! I shall be king!
Banquo: Simmer down.
Witches: *cackle*

Macbeth: Erm...?

Duncan: Honored Hostess!
Lady Macbeth: *nostril flare*

Act II


*stab stab*

Lady Macbeth: A little water clears us of the deed!
Macbeth: *flail*

Lennox: Ring the alarum bell! Murder and treason!
Lady Macbeth: *doe eyes*
Macbeth: *flail*
Malcolm & Donalbain: What the WHAT?!


Banquo: Hmmmmm.
Macbeth: *stab stab*

Macbeth: The table's full.
Lennox: Here's a place reserved, my good lord!
Macbeth: *rubber lips*
Lady Macbeth: PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER! *slap slap*

Hecate: *cackle*

Act IV

Macbeth: Ladies, ladies, ladies!
Macbeth: *DOOM*

Lady Macduff & Son: Tra-la-laa!
Murderer: What, you egg!

*stab stab*


Act V

Lady Macbeth: OUT, DAMNED SPOT.
Doctor: Dude.
Gentlewomen: I know.

Lady Macbeth: AIIIEEEEEE.


Great Birnam Woods: *creepin'*

(alarum bells)

Macduff: Turn, hell hound. TURN.
Macduff: *RAWR*

*stab stab*



Malcolm: *little wave*

(flourish, exeunt)

*blood drips*

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, Super-Condensed

For When You Only Have Thirty Seconds to Study

Act I

Don Pedro: HELLO!!!
Hero & Claudio: *doe eyes*
Benedick & Beatrice: *RAWR*
Claudio: I'm in love!
Don Pedro: I'm a matchmaker!
Benedick: I'm an idiot! But also sort of adorable! And I will never marry! Haha!
Don John: You're all morons.

Act II

Beatrice: I'm sharp-tongued and shewish. But also sort of awesome. And I will never marry! Tralalalala!
Don Pedro: Here, Claudio, I've won Hero for you just as I promised.
Don Pedro: ????
Hero: *doe eyes*
Claudio: Ohhhhhh.
Beatrice: I will sit in a corner and cry hey-ho for a husband. *skips off*
All: Yesssssssss.
Don John: Grr.


Hero & Ursula: : Benedick & Beatrice 4 EVER!!!
Beatrice: What fire is in mine ears??
Don Pedro: Beatrice & Benedick!!!
The Guys: I know, right???
Benedick: THIS CAN BE NO TRICK!!!!
All: Hey, nonny, nonny!
Don John: *DOOM*
Dogberry: *squawk!*

Act IV

Friar: Come you hither to be married?
Hero: Yes!
Claudio: NO!
Hero: Wha--?
All: What is he on about????
Benedick: Um.

Act V

Leonato: *gnashes teeth*
Don Pedro & Claudio: Good day, sir.
Leonato: Thou hast slain my child!
Don Pedro & Claudio: I said GOOD DAY.
Benedick: Have at you! *slappyslap*
Beatrice: ♥
Benedick: *eyebrow wiggle*
Sexton: It's all Prince John's fault.
Dogberry: *squawk!*
Dogberry: I AM AN ASS.
Claudio: I've killed my beloved! I'm the worst.
Hero: *appears* Hello!
Claudio: Sweet Hero!
Hero: I'm taking you back despite the fact that you're a massive tool. But whatevs! We're in love, so it's okay!
Claudio: ♥
Hero: ♥
Benedick: ♥
Beatrice: ♥
Don John: *punished with brave punishments*

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How to Interpret Status Updates

With the prevalence of social media and its growing importance in daily life, it is imperative that we learn to interpret status updates. You know what I mean. As you flip through your mental catalogue of online contacts, you are no doubt able to begin grouping their status updates into categories such as the following:

BUCOLIC - Short descriptions of daily life. ("I am drinking a coffee.")
HYDRAULIC - Inordinately impassioned pronouncements, apropos of nothing. ("Life is awesome!!!!!")
SYMBOLIC - Weird little wanna-be-intellectual asides. ("Dreams are the walking reality of our sleeping phantasma.")
MELANCHOLIC - Pity-seeking notes. ("Everything is awful. Life is walking death.")
ALCOHOLIC - Self-explanitory. ("Hrermmm ajk;ljl;das!!!!!")
VITRIOLIC - Incoherent passive-aggressive rants conveniently hidden from the very ones to whom they should be addressed. ("CRAZY MOTHER-IN-LAW ALERT!")
HYPERBOLIC - Over exaggeration to the point of silliness. Even when pared down to the core, these should still be taken with a grain of salt. ("Woke up from most epic nap of all time to discover that my rampaging toddler has utterly destroyed entire living room, leaving not one stone upon another. Complete devastation!")

If you know me even moderately well, then you are probably already very well aware that I fit into that last category -- Hyperbolic! This tendency is so obvious that my sister/roommate Bethany has taken to going out of her way to explain to people that I tend to, as she puts it, "live life in a state of hyperbole." 

Unfortunately, this misleading statement may lead you to believe that you cannot trust anything that I say! That simply isn't the case, however. Even the most hyper of your Hyperbolic friends probably speaks the truth some of the time.  And like my fellow Hyperbolics, I do desire to give you an accurate rendering of my daily activities.  

I just try to do so in the most entertaining way possible.  

In an effort to help you understand how Hyperbolic Status Updates work, I have asked Bethany to take some of my actual status updates and sift them for Hyperbolic content. She will then interpret them for you, giving you what she believes to be an accurate rendering of the events that inspired the posts.


STATUS UPDATE 1: "This afternoon, the wall housing our central A/C unit decided that it wanted to be a waterfall instead! Currently building an ark while Bethany collects the animals.”

INTERPRETATION: First of all, we've known the A/C was having issues for WEEKS! We took turns saying we were going to call it in and not doing so. We tried to ignore the damp carpet for a while. Ruth was finally (and randomly) spurred to action at ten o'clock on a Thursday night, and she finally called maintenance. Apparently A/C malfunctions are an EMERGENCY maintenance problem, so I had to stay up with the maintenance man and carpet cleaner while Ruth would make occasional Twitter updates from her room, and made one Very Special Appearance because she heard us talking about her. (THE "ME MONSTER" CANNOT BE RESTRAINED!)

STATUS UPDATE 2: “Workout fun: was told to kneel on Pilates ball and keep my balance. I basically rolled around, fell over, and tried not to lose teeth.” 

INTERPRETATION: She spent more time thinking about getting on the ball and then spouting bursts of semi-hysterical nervous laughter than she did actually trying to balance on the ball. I think she balanced for about three seconds right at the end of the round.


INTERPRETATION: Pretty sure I was asleep on the floor for this event. But I will say this: the only way that statement is in any aspect close to the truth is if she's playing against the podlings. If our usual Scrabble partners (Lin and Steven) or our mother was involved, she may have been winning, but not by that huge of a margin. It's very likely that she just won two games in a row by a reasonable margin, mostly due to pulling good tiles.

STATUS UPDATE 4: “I'm about to falcon punch Thursday right in the face!”

INTERPRETATION: I'm just as surprised as you are that she knows what a falcon punch is!

STATUS UPDATE 5: “Worked out so hard this morning that my legs are no longer responding to normal commands.”

INTERPRETATION: Since she worked out with Coach Ray, this is very likely and not at all surprising.

STATUS UPDATE 6: “This morning I awoke to the reality that my cold has mutated into a chesty, wracking cough that makes me sound like a ninety-year-old chain smoker.”

INTERPRETATION: She purposefully lets phlegm collect in her throat before she tries to talk so it rattles around and makes her sound pitiful. It's gross. Also, she takes her temperature obsessively anytime she even gets a sniffle.

STATUS UPDATE 7: “Either the old man behind me in line was hitting on me, or he was legitimately insane.With the types I attract, sometimes it's hard to tell.”

INTERPRETATION: If she was in Port St. Lucie, then it's very likely the man was off his rocker.1

STATUS UPDATE 8: “My printer is full of demons.”

INTERPRETATION: This means she waited until the last minute to print something out and now is going through the 'don't-have-ink-or-paper-or-toner-and-the-stupid-thing's-not-even-plugged-in' routine.

STATUS UPDATE 9: “Never mind the SCREAMING coming from my classroom... because today there's going to be a MURDER.”

INTERPRETATION: One word: MacBeth.

* * * *

As you can see, even though Hyperbolics still do speak the truth, some interpretation skills may still be required on your part.  

However, the key here is to learn to enjoy status updates the same way in which you enjoy moments of the day: one at a time, each being individually evaluated for its own worth and value. And just like moments of the day, most status updates will be forgotten almost instantly, passing forgettably into the haze of the past. There are some, however, that will stick with you. Some that will worm their way into your consciousness, coming back at unexpected times to lighten your dark day with a quirk of the lips or a halfhearted chuckle. 

Those are the status updates that we, the Hyperbolics of the world, wish to offer. May you receive them gladly with eager eyes and warm hearts.

1 - If you're a local, please take time to read the linked article from, in which the author offers the soothing premise that Port St. Lucie "isn't a complete disaster."  Hilarious!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How to Quote The Lord of the Rings

If you're like me--meaning you're not afraid to admit that the release of The Hobbit led first to one LOTRathon (the movies) and then to another LOTRathon (the books1)--then you too have probably been dealing with Lord of the Rings Brain for the better part of the past month. 

If you've ever found yourself thinking that every spider is a baby Shelob, that no tense moment is complete without at least humming some dramatic music, or that no outfit looks complete without a cape, well.... then you've probably had a case of Lord of the Rings Brain

Perhaps one of the most telling symptoms of Lord of the Rings Brain is that you find yourself struggling against an irrepressible desire to quote LOTR at every possible moment.  If this has been your fate, then I am here to tell you that your struggles can come to an end. I am here to tell you that you need hold back no longer. The Lord of the Rings quotes are applicable to daily life, no matter what your line of work.

"But wait," you may be thinking. "You don't understand! My life is so humdrum and ordinary! There are no glorious battles, dastardly foes, or moments of sweeping drama. As much as I'd love to work a few LOTR quotes into my daily life, I just don't have the chance!" If that's your stance, I'm here to tell you that you're looking at the situation all wrong.  It's not that the opportunities aren't there -- they abound! It is merely incumbent upon you to recognize these opportunities for what they are.

How to Quote The Lord of the Rings:

* * * * 

Coworker: *asks philosophical questions*
You: (sounding mysterious and dark) Even the wisest cannot tell.

* * * *

*coffee maker finishes brewing*
You: My own!  My only!  My.... Precious!

* * * *

Waitress: *hands you a menu*
You: (perplexed and excited) You offer it to me freely???

* * * *

Alarm clock: It's Monday morning.

* * * * *

Driver: *attempts to cut you off in traffic*
You: You... shall not... PASS!

* * * *

Student: *disobeys after several warnings*
You: You have elected... the way of pain!

* * * *

Child: *poot*
You: The Horn of Gondor!

* * * *

Spouse: *poot*

* * * *

Roommate: *poot*
You: Drums!.... drums in the deep!

* * * *

Coworker: *poot*  
You: Fly, you fools!

* * * *

As you can see, no matter what your walk of life, you will find The Lord of the Rings eminently quotable! And what you see above is merely a sample. No doubt your own daily life is rife with similar opportunities to bring the joy of Tolkien to the masses. It's now up to you to recognize these opportunities for what they are and seize the chance while you still have time.

After all, all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

1. While listening to the movie soundtracks... don't judge!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Reading Roundup

In all, 2012 was a banner year in the reading department, seeing an significant increase in both the quantity and quality of books consumed.

First, here are some overall stats:
Total number of books read: 176
Total number of pages: 52,570
Average Book Length: 299 pages
Average Read Per Day: 144 pages
Longest Book: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by JK Rowling, 870 pages

My goal this year was to read as much non-fiction as fiction, but although I greatly improved the number of non-fiction books that I read (65), I still read much more fiction (111).

Here's the breakdown by category:
Young Adult: 31
Scifi/Fantasy: 28
Misc. Fiction: 21
Classics: 18
History/Biography: 17
Devotional/Religion/Theology/Missions: 14
Misc. Non-fiction: 14
True Crime: 7
Poetry: 7
Mystery: 7
Western: 6
Literary Criticism: 4
Travel: 2

Most Enjoyable of the Year:

No Man Knows My History: The Life Story of Joseph Smith, by Fawn Brodie - When I'd learned that its publication eventually led to the author's excommunication from the mainstream LDS church, I became curious to see what all the fuss was about. Although LDS leaders may have found the non-hagiographic nature of the book upsetting, plentiful footnotes and informative supplements prove her work to be both accurate and well-documented. Brodie's flawless prose, infused with keen insight and rich commentary, adds greatly to the already interesting story. Think what you may about the validity of Mormon theology: Smith's life makes for a very entertaining read. 

Glow and Spark, both by Amy Kathleen Ryan - It's as if The Lord of the Flies got together with 1984, had a baby, then raised it on reruns of Firefly and Stargate Atlantis with all of the funny bits sucked out. The writing's fantastic, the development superb, the plotting beautifully intricate, the characters complex, the dialogue realistic, and it's obvious that a fair amount of realistic science was taken into consideration as the story arc was plotted. Above all, there's a fine sense of urgency driving the reader through the story, an effect not achieved often enough in books of this style. Although some readers have complained that the first volume left most of the characters with few redeeming qualities, the character growth in the second installment puts this concern to rest. I eagerly anticipate the third book.

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me about Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter, by William Deresiewicz - I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this delightful piece of literary criticism. Strongly recommended, but only if you've read a full complement of Jane Austen first. 

Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, by Erik Larson - This was very, very good: articulate, interesting, and well-paced. However, if you're not into architecture, true crime, history, or narrative non-fiction, I wouldn't recommend it. 

The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1), by Maureen Johnson - I have to say that Johnson can be hit or miss with me. This one, however, was a total hit. All known YAF tropes go flying out the window, and after an entertaining exposition, the plot kicks into high gear and doesn't let up. The second volume comes out early this spring, and I'm very excited to see where this series leads.

Promised Land, by Connie Willis - Nobody does frothy speculative fiction quite like Connie Willis. One part space odyssey, one part romance, two parts comedy of manners, and wholly entertaining. 

Least Enjoyable of the Year:

For details on books that were such dismal disappointments that they earned only one star, please see here. In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that most of the books in this category were read for no other reason that they were free downloads for Kindle that week. So I really should have known better.

Due to other goals I have in mind for 2013, I've scaled back my reading goal to 150. I am determined, however, to continue increasing both the quality and quantity of my non-fiction intake as much as possible.

No matter what your reading habits are, I hope that 2013 is a productive and enjoyable reading year for you.