William Shakespeare – Un-Anonymous Literary Figure

Courtesy of tonynetone, Flickr

Who are you?

William Shakespeare. The greatest writer in the History of the English Language. I’m a poet, a playwright, an historian, an activist, and a mysterious figure whose biography, according to guys like Bill Bryson, “has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts.” And this whole Anonymous movie experiment isn’t helping to underscore the fact that, yes, I was a real person and, yes, I was – and still am – an amazing literary figure. I mean, check this out:

Will my ancestors be seeing any royalties from this film? Probably not. So please trust me when I say that this interview is all about defending my legacy as a real person and not at all a clever publicity stunt.

What do you do for fun?

Write, write and write some more. I also enjoy mead and tongue-in-cheek criticism of power-thirsty monarchies. When performed, my work allows for entertaining spaces of autonomy for peoples of all ages, shapes, sizes, and socio-economic backgrounds. Oh, and I also like fancy hats and parades!

What is your favourite community? Why?

High school English classes. Watching you kids engage with my texts is a standing joke for we writers here in the afterlife. You haven’t gotten anything wrong, per se, but you haven’t not gotten anything wrong, either.

What is your superpower?

Iambic pentameter.

How do you use it to build community?

For over 400 years this rhythmic writing style has inspired students, scholars, poets, thinkers, innovators, and creatives the world over. My comedic, tragic, historical, and romantic tropes have stood the test of time and, many have argued, are responsible for a range of narratives that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Every love poem
  • Friends
  • The Harry Potter series
  • Star Wars
  • Everything written by Stephen Greenblatt

My Three Favourite Things about William Shakespeare Are…

1. He makes reading and writing fun! Whether it’s Bard on the Beach or this cool project or me reciting the Balcony Scene from Romeo and Juliet to Kurt’s sister during a hilarious evening in the summer of 2003, it’s hard to not have fun with so many fantastic examples of poetry, prose and plays.

2. He’s an Historian! True story. I even wrote a paper in grad school about it; so it must be true. With an incredible bias that favoured the narrative of England’s ruling family, the Tudors, Billy Shakes chronicled English history with subjective pomp and pageantry that gentlemen like Niall Ferguson emulate even to this day.

3. Mystery, controversy and passionate debate surround him! Did the Early of Oxford, Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson actually anonymously pen all of Shakespeares 37 plays and 100+ sonnets? Was there a conspiracy to cover this up? Was William Shakespeare actually a soldier from the future sent back in time to protect Queen Elizabeth I from a terminator? There are many great theories out there that answer these questions. And they are all passionately debated, thus sustaining – and even growing – the relevance of this literary figure centuries after his (alleged) passing. Clearly, in the words we write and others read forever we become truly immortal!

Masthead photo courtesy of Hashmil

The Three Faces of Vancouver Hockey Fans

All across British Columbia, people are waking-up with hoarse throats, headaches and the lingering smell of  strangers that they hugged and kissed in bars and living rooms around the province. Because, last night, there was some dragon-slaying going on. Or demon-purging. Or monkey-off-back-throwing. Regardless, there was reason to celebrate. I mean, the President’s Trophy Winners won the Stanley Cup a first round series against a terrible team that they were supposed to beat in four or five games.

You know what. The goal was really cool. Let’s watch it again!

But I digress…

My wife and I drifted off to sleep around midnight to the sounds of honking, yelling, whooping, wooting, and much merry-making. Again, over a first round win over a team that is, certainly, our three-year-nemesis, but is also one-and-a-half lines of awesome combined with a few punks, plugs and a guy named Scott who can barely skate.

During the near collapse of the Vancouver Canucks and the entire Lower Mainland and most of the province of British Columbia, I’ve noticed that there are quite clearly three kinds of Vancouver Canucks Hockey Fans.

1. The Die Hards. These people can name the entire team’s plus/minus – each and every year since 1971 – and probably have Mike Gillis on speed-dial.  They represent an interconnected component of the Canuck diaspora and will never ever stop supporting their team. My dad, my friend Mike Worth and my superawesome colleague, Lynne Murchie, are this type of fan.

2. The Arms-Length Informed Temperamental Cynic. This type of fan can probably name 90% of the current roster, can articulate the icing rule and knows what causes a player to be offside. Oh, and we’re hyper-critical of players and the mistakes they make. [Editor's note: personally, I yell at Alex Burrows when he skates into the opposing team's zone offside because when I play in the NHL I never skate into the opposing team's zone offside or miss penalty shots after being rammed into a goal-post. NEVER. And that's why I can judge professional athletes]. I am this  kind of Canuck fan. And my ilk lead the charge in throwing Roberto Luongo, the Sedins, Kessler, or whoever made the last mistake under the bus. The awesome guy at the table next to me last night – beige shirt, black-rimmed glasses, dirty blond hair, hilarious – was this kind of fan, too.

3. West Coast Casual. “I think our team needs faster skaters” or “Who’s our backup goalie? Is he good?” or “Why does everyone keep cheering?! I can’t hear my friend on my cell phone – you know what? I’ll just keep texting them” or “That game was awesome!!! Let’s get wasted and riot downtown!!!” might be phrases overheard from these fans. Or you might not hear them at all, because they have tickets to games – if the Canucks are cool and going to games is cool, then the West Coast Casual Fans know that being cool means, well, getting a jersey, putting your $6,000 jacket over top of it and  heading to the game to do some serious texting about how you’re at the game – and don’t show up very often.

Here’s the point. A study by the Recent Findings Institute found that approximately 92.4% of Canucks fans come from Categories Two and Three (above). We are a temperamental, cynical and casual bunch – not unlike the climate and coffee and corporate cultures here in The ‘Couve. We have some maturing to do as a sports town. Having high expectations of a team is one thing, but abandoning them every time things don’t go our way and then celebrating a triumph over a terrible team with drunken hooting and parading into the wee hours of the morning is as downright embarrassing as it is schizophrenic. We need to grow-up.

Oh, and one final thought. We’re now playing a team with great, supportive fans from a city that puts absolutely no pressure on their team or their horrible jerseys. As the Vancouver Canucks try to channel their barfy, nervited energy into victory, the Nashville Predators will chuckle at their ridiculous name and relax because, hey, it’s only the second round of the playoffs…

Do some yoga and simmer down, Vancouver. It’s not time to celebrate…yet…