Sunday, April 22, 2012

Shakespeare’s Restless World

When the excellent BBC history podcast History of the World in 100 Objects arrived at its 100th episode and discussed the 100th object, sadly, this series had to end. (feed) Sadly, because with Neil MacGregor discussing history by analyzing an object from the British Museum or any other museum, the BBC had found a formula for radio and podcast that could be applied to much more than just a 100 pieces. A new subject had to be found for Neil MacGregor to tackle with the help of Museum collections, and fortunately a new subject has been found and a very promising new series has started.

Shakespeare's Restless World has Neil MacGregor discuss the history of Shakespeare's time, by looking at objects from its period and, as with the previous series, calling in various specialists to add their knowledge to the podcast (feed). Just as the previous series, these programs are carefully edited and delivered in comprehensive 14 minute episodes. An additional feature is that the series not only looks at an object, but also has quotations from Shakespeare's work to illustrate the subject at hand. Also, as an improvement on the previous series, the object is pictured in the podcast logo of the episode, so if you have a player that displays the logo while you listen, you can even take a glance at the prop that is being discussed. The podcast is published every workday. Considering that it is not called, Shakespeare in 54 objects or some such numbered title, the makers have not limited themselves from the start to a particular length.

So far, we have had five issues published, four of which I have already heard. I especially liked 'Snacking through Shakespeare' that taught me what were the 16th centuries equivalent of a box of popcorn and a can of soda. In other words: what did people eat while they attended the theater in Shakespeare's time. I was surprised by how accurate this question could be answered and how varied the menu was. Next time you try to silently open your can in the theater and dread the fizzy noise, know that in the 16th century, you'd be in the same spot, but in stead of a can with a fizzy soft drink, you'd pop a bottle of fizzy ale.

A reminder of the great BBC podcasts,
AHOW is back again,

Friday, April 6, 2012

Passover joke

Rabbi Jack receives a letter from the Royal Court that he going to be knighted. All his friends and relatives are so proud of him, but the rabbi is concerned. "How can I be a knight? A rabbi knight, who can conceive of such a thing? And besides, I'll have to go through the whole knighting ceremony. I'll probably do it all wrong. What do I do?"
His friends try to rest him assured. "It is really simple, you kneel before the Queen, she will announce you to be Sir Jack from now on and that's it. It's easy - don't worry. And you will continue to be the same old Jack."
That sort of calms the Rabbi down, but then he finds out that every knight has to choose a motto. Some line in Latin that he has to utter when the Queen knights him. This upsets him even more. "Latin! I do not know the simplest thing in Latin. Why must it be Latin? Couldn't it be Hebrew." In order to get rid of the whining his friends agree: "Yes, choose a line in Hebrew, that will be fine."
"Good," the rabbi acclaims, "I will think of something."

And so the evening comes round that together with a whole lot of other people, Rabbi Jack is going to be knighted. Each man kneels in front of the Queen, she announces their knighthood, they say their line in Latin and the affair is done.
Rabbi Jack is the last in line. He approaches the Queen and she proclaims: "Henceforth, you will be Sir Jack." And Jack says: "Ma Nishtana."
The Queen frowns, failing to recognize his motto, leans over to her adviser and whispers:

"Why is this knight different from others??"