Em oi! #421: The Scottish Pronunciation







This particular line has always bothered me. I’m not even sure “Macbeth” and “heath” count as slant rhyme. They’re just something that looks like a rhyme if you see them written.

I don’t usually do two comics in a week, but Madison Shakespeare Company‘s Macbeth opens TONIGHT, so I wanted to get this up. If you are busy tonight, that’s just as well–they’re sold out. But they still have shows tomorrow at 18:30, Saturday at 14:00 and 18:30, and Sunday at 18:30. The shows are at the Edgewood College amphitheater and are bring-your-own-chair. $12 suggested donation. Check it out; there will be swords.

(Aside: Are there any words other than “amphitheater” in English where a “ph” appears but the letters are pronounced separately across a syllable boundary instead of as a pair? How odd.)

Anyway, the witches are Cynthia, Gladys, and Azaelia. Of course.

I was thinking about the appearance of supernatural entities in Macbeth and in Shakespeare’s other works more broadly this morning, specifically the elements that would today probably be referred to as magical realism today, as they appear in otherwise realistic plays. In other words, the witches, the ghosts, and the dagger. In most productions of Macbeth, the show is typically produced with the witches and Banquo’s ghost (played by the actor who played Banquo) on stage, but the dagger speech is done without an actual dagger. There are likely practical reasons for this–it’s relatively easy to slop on some blood and send a glassy-eyed Banquo up to stand among the dinner guests, but it’s a lot harder to get a dagger to appear and look reasonably good just hanging there, especially when a show is being done en plein air, as this one is. But this creates a curious dichotomy–the dagger can be conceived of as being just Macbeth’s hallucination (he is under a lot of stress), while the witches and Banquo’s ghost are there in a more objective way. This brings a consistency to the behavior of the ghosts of Banquo and that of old Hamlet in his eponymous play; both seem to wander as they wish and appear only to whom they wish (for example, Horatio and the other guards see old Hamlet’s ghost, but later Gertrude does not).

We’ll file this under PR2823.W5 L86 2016, for English literature–English renaissance (1500-1640)–The drama–Individual authors–Shakespeare, William–Separate works–Macbeth–Criticism.

Em oi! #420: I HELP

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If you follow my Instagram (or if you are one of the myriad people I’ve chattered at in the last week and a half), you have probably guessed that I spent a couple of days in Manhattan after my meetings last week. As part of this, I got to go for a run in Central Park, fulfilling a long-time dream. Several people warned me that the interior of the park has a lot of paths, and that it was easy to get lost, so when I saw a map (this was the only one I saw), I went over to have a look, and found myself in company with a number of other tourists. In my view, coming up behind people and unexpectedly knowing their language is probably the best part of knowing a second language. I have done this with Mandarin in a bunch of places, including a money-changing office on the border between Cambodia and Thailand and a cab in Singapore. This might be the first time it really came in handy in the US.

I should note that despite the best efforts of my long-suffering teachers, I still speak with a strong Beijing accent (these tourists had a more refined speech sensibility). 对不起, 我的朋友!

Anyway, the map in the photo is a rough approximation of what Central Park looks like in my mind. The big circle is the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, which is about 1.58 miles in circumference (I ran one lap) and in which I think I saw a merganser (a weird-looking diving duck). The thing that looks like a bird’s nest is the Ramble. I first encountered the Ramble in the play Angels in America, which mentioned it as a place where gay men meet to have anonymous sex.[1] The sign at the entry didn’t mention that (surprisingly!) and instead described it as a place for bird-watching. I thought it might be a nice place to run some trails, but I was worried that I would get lost and freak out my cousin. Or interrupt something awkward. So I didn’t go in. But it was very pretty. Apparently, when you are at the Bethesda angel (which also plays a major role in Angels) looking north, you are seeing the rambles across the lake.

The rambles is basically the tree stuff behind the fountain.
The rambles is basically the tree stuff behind the fountain.

I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time in Central Park, truth be told, even though I did nearly nine miles that morning (so seven in the actual park). Later, my cousin and I power-walked through on our way from the Met to Lincoln Center and I got to see the John Lennon tribute in the area called Strawberry Fields, complete with unwashed guy playing guitar.

I could keep writing about New York for ages, because I went to so many areas and my cousin just knows a ton about the city, so now I know a ton about the city. But it’s getting late, so I will bring this to a close.

We’ll file the comic under P118.2 L86 2016, for Philology. Linguistics–Language. Linguistic theory. Comparative grammar–Philosophy, origin, etc. of language–Language acquisition–Second language acquisition.

If you normally access this blog through the pretensesoup.com domain name, I should have forwarding fixed on that in a day or two, so you will be able to find the new blog whichever URL you prefer.

[1] According to Wikipedia, they have been used for this purpose since 1920.

Em oi! #419: Question Spiral

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True story. I don’t know if I did something right here or not; maternal instinct: I do not have it. Six-year-old was adorable though.

I inked most of this on an airplane. (Also, sorry about the janky scanning; I did this with the Cam Scanner app on my phone at 30,000+ feet up.) As I write this, I’m lying on a bed in a hotel in Long Island, watching some stupid Food Network show and wishing the pressure in my sinuses would go away. I don’t really know what’s wrong with it. Possibly the airplane caused it to freak out. Hopefully that rather than the tooth I need to get removed acting up. New York: so awesome.

I guess I should get to bed. I took a Benedryl about an hour ago and now I’m knackered. Hope you are all having a good night and your sinuses are okay.

File this under BF723 D3 L86 2016, for Pyschology–Developmental psychology–Child psychology–Special topics, A-Z–Death.

We’re Back

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We are back from Indianapolis. The cat has gone rogue without us. He is intrigued by our appearance, but confused as well. Who are these people and why are they in my house?

He’ll probably get over it at some point. Right?


While I’m here, welcome to the new blog! Update your bookmarks and stay a while.

Now if you’ll excuse me, five and a half hours in the car have left me walking with the gait of Igor, so I’m going to go lie on a heating pad and do groaning until I feel better.