Shakespeare Saturday: Magic and Shakespeare

Hi friends!

I didn’t have a good book pairing for yesterday’s post, so please forgive the absence of Boozy Books this week. (Trust me on this, you don’t need to read Artemis.)

Anyway, it’s Shakespeare Saturday! Hooray! Today’s post concerns the magic in Shakespeare’s plays. But not in the way you would think…

Yes, we know Shakespeare wrote supernatural elements into his plays (witches, fairies, Prospero), but what happens when you start adding real illusions to productions of these well-known pieces?

Well, in 2015 the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre invited Teller (of Penn and Teller) to pepper their production of The Tempest with tricks of the eye and sleight of hand. Unfortunately, we can’t actually see the production, but this interview with Teller is a great read that tackles Shakespeare from a very different place. 

The idea of being true to Shakespeare by utilizing visuals that person directly to the language is brilliant and a wonderful way of translating the language for modern audiences. I also just really love magic so I’m impressed that a theatre would go so far to flesh out the supernatural in their production.

Wish I could have seen it. *sigh* 

Oh well, guess we’ll have to see what Stratford comes up with when we see The Tempest next season!



Monday Muse: The Magic of Sleepless Nights

Hi readers, welcome! This post may end up being slightly late, but please note that I did, in fact, begin writing it on Monday…

Settle in, it’s story time. 

So, first off, let me preface this story by saying I attended a beach wedding this past weekend. A beach wedding? In December??? I hear you say. Well, yes… Please keep in mind that C and I live in the perpetual warmth and humidity of America’s penis: Florida. 

Anyway, I attended a gorgeous beach wedding, enjoyed a sizeable slice of delectable lavendar cake, and, oh, I was fairly eaten alive by no-see-ums (AKA sandflies (AKA bastards of the coast)).

And now, we move to the main portion of tonight’s post.

I did not sleep last night. Not a jot. My legs were painfully itchy, searing with discomfort, and neither caladryl, aloe, apple cider vinegar, hot water, nor cold water did anything to provide relief. It was agony!


Between multiple trips to the bathroom for various (useless) ointments, trying in vain not to scratch, and significantly disturbing the boyfriend’s sleep, I had an amazing hour of clarity.

You see, I’ve been developing a new project, but I’ve been stuck. The idea hit me like a ton of bricks in early October and then proceeded to settle into a pile of rubble rather than a solid foundation. I had character names, a basic premise, and a central conflict within a day, but I had no idea who was behind the conflict much less what his or her motive was. It was as much a mystery to me as it was to the characters who had already sprung to life in my imagination.

But last night, in the midst of itchiness that took me to the edge of madness, it all became clear. So clear, in fact, that I could recall every newly formed detail without the help of hastily scribbled “night notes.” (Which often don’t make any frickin’ sense, anyway.)

So, yeah. Losing sleep and wanting to cut off your own limbs may actually lead to epiphanies? At the very least, it’s true what they say: “Don’t worry, it’ll come to you. At 3 in the morning…”


Shakespeare Saturday: Hamlet Globe to Globe

Happy Saturday, cactus friends!  

Today’s Shakespeare Saturday takes the form of a book recommendation. I recently stumbled upon this book and I’d like to pass it on to you, the Nerd Cactus community. 

The book in question is Hamlet Globe to Globe: Two Years, 193,000 Miles, 197 Countries, 1 Play by Dominic Dromgoole, artistic director of the Globe Theatre in London. 

This book is the result of an ambitious quest to share Shakespeare’s Hamlet with the entire world. That’s right, in honor of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday the Globe embarked on a tour that would bring the Bard to deserts, jungles, and refugee camps. 

Dromgoole uses the book to take his readers on a journey that explores the power of Shakespeare across borders. He recounts the details of the tour, its successes and failures, and it’s challenges… from Ebola outbreaks and food poisoning to the threat of ambush in war-torn regions. 

The project itself was a truly immense undertaking and I’m so glad that Dromgoole put in another incredible effort to put together this book. The adventures of Dromgoole and his cast are accessible to all of us with a passion for theatre and Shakespeare, and I can’t wait to finish reading and put together a Boozy Books pairing.


Monday Muse: So Long! (But Not Forever.)


So, no… we’re not putting the blog on hiatus. I wanted to get that out of the way before anything else. But there’s, like, an 80% chance *I* will be on hiatus following this blog. No worries, though, because it’s for good reasons!

Though my birthday was almost two months ago, it’s finally time for my big birthday present: a just-under-two-weeks long trip to NYC! (I am also treating it as a post-NaNo celebratory trip since I’m only a couple thousand words shy of 50k!) Thirteen days in the Big Apple, including Broadway, ballet (which I don’t really like, but c’mon, it’s The Nutcracker), museums, Christmas lights, coffee, food, Christmas shopping, and actually wearing sweaters and a jacket! Fortunately, we’re staying with family, or else we’d each have to hock a kidney to pay for this, lol.

I’m really excited. It’s been years since I visited New York, and I’ve wanted to go back ever since. It remains the only major city I’ve ever been in that didn’t give me panic attacks, which is a major plus, of course. And any place with awesome museums is a good place in my book, especially since where I am has shit ones. Plus, my family lives in Chelsea, so I’ll get to finally live the high life for a while.

Anyway, um… NaNo goes well, I’ll definitely finish on time, and there’s a chance I’ll still keep up with the blog posts. But if you don’t hear from me, it’s because I’m living it up in the greatest city in the world.

Except I’m still not seeing Hamilton, because a girl can’t expect to get everything.


Silly Sunday: The Reality of Daylight Savings

Hello again, friends! Welcome to Silly Sunday! 

Today’s silliness stems from my continued frustration with the absolute stupidity that is daylight savings time. If you’re in an area that participates in this social experiment, – that’s gone on for waaaay too long, in my opinion – you surely know that I’m talking about. 

Sure, it was nice on that one Monday when it felt like we all got a magical extra hour of sleep, but that was a lie. Now, it becomes pitch black rounding the corner of four o’clock and I never know what time it is. Like, seriously, I’ve gone to bed past midnight every night this week. I usually make my way to bed around 10! It’s nonsense.

Also, hi hello, uh, daylight savings time causes brain damage?? Why am I not surprised?

So, yeah. Today’s silliness comes to us from our friends on imgur. And it’s silly because it’s. Just. So. True.


See you next time!


Boozy Books: Sourdough

Helloooooo! Happy belated Turkey Day, Nerd Cactus followers. I hope everyone ate their fair share and stayed home to rest, relax, and digest today. Because Black Friday is commercial propaganda and waking up at 4am for doorbusters is a crime against, well… yourself.

Today, I’ll be pairing a book I just finished reading, Robin Sloan’s Sourdough. I’ll be frank, this was not some kind of life-changing, favorite-book-of-the-year read. But it was a super fast, fun-way-to-pass-some-down-time read. The kind of book you lend your boyfriend’s mom. (Which I did.) I liked it. It was appealing and just the sort of light and fluffy book I expected.

The basic premise is this: a super tech-savvy engineer inherits a sourdough starter with strange properties and finds herself tossed into a world of underground foodie-ism. That’s all you need to know. As our readers know, I hate giving away plot points and, in this case, the one sentence synopsis is really all you need to get going. I’ll tell you, the two things this book does really well is make you want to a) eat and b) learn to bake (specifically bread). So be prepared for that.

Now for the pairing. Craft beer. The craftiest you can find. Like ultra micro brew. Microscopic. And make sure you’re the first one of your friends to have tried it. That helps.

Happy reading!


Shakespeare Saturday: But Do You Actually Like Shakespeare?

Hello Nerd Cactus coven! It’s Shakespeare Saturday – probably my favorite day of the week. To shake things up, I’ll be sharing a conversation I had recently. Because sometimes the experiences of a Shakespeare fanatic are just as important to share as casting notices and historical findings. 

I think this particular topic is worthy of exploration because the question I was asked is one that Shakespeare-heads get asked a lot: “but do you actually like Shakespeare?”

I won’t lie to you, this question was posed to me by my significant other. It was a little bit in jest, but I know he is also genuinely puzzled by my ardor. And that’s fine, I know Shakespeare isn’t for everyone. Many people find it hard to get past the 400 year old dialogue. Plus, he’s just not a theatre person.

But, yes, I do actually like Shakespeare. I told him this and proceeded to explain that there’s a lot of depth to Shakespeare’s plays that still resonates with modern audiences. Also, because it is so well known it has become a special kind of art form that allows for constant reinvention and interpretation. 

I think I also have the advantage of having seen enough live Shakespeare that I don’t automatically think of stuffy classrooms and enormous chunks of text that look completely foreign. This, I believe, is the number one reason so many people are alienated from the Bard – Terrible teachers, failing to generate interest and/or forcing it upon students before they’re ready to grasp why it’s special.

Obviously, I’ve said all this before. So has C. But our loyalty to a long-dead playwright really has nothing to do with “fitting in” or being “elitist.” (That’s not what the S.O. was implying, but some people would.) It stems from a love of the English language, theatre, and admiration for the mastery of universal themes in works that are older than the United States. It’s pretty cool shit.