Tag Archives: shakespeare

Text of Hamlet’s “To Be or Not to Be” Soliloquy by William Shakespeare

To be, or not to be-that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep–
No more-and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep–
To sleep-perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. — Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia! – Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.
Read more at http://www.monologuearchive.com/s/shakespeare_001.html#56MjVFyjjM7Tucct.99

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Text of the Queen Mab Speech from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet


O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate stone
On the forefinger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Over men’s noses as they lie asleep;
Her wagon spokes made of long spinners’ legs,
The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;
Her traces, of the smallest spider web;
Her collars, of the moonshine’s wat’ry beams;
Her whip, of cricket’s bone; the lash, of film;
Her wagoner, a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid;
Her chariot is an empty hazelnut,
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on curtsies straight;
O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees;
O’er ladies’ lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.
Sometimes she gallops o’er a courtier’s nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometimes comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail
Tickling a parson’s nose as ‘a lies asleep,
Then dreams he of another benefice.
Sometimes she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plats the manes of horses in the night
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled much misfortune bodes.
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage.
This is she!

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Daily Discussion with BQB – What is your favorite Shakespeare Play?

Good morning 3.5 readers.

Did you know that this year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death?

Too soon, Bill. Too soon.

As you avid 3.5 readers may be aware, the Shakes-meister is a friend to the Bookshelf Battle Blog.

When I died on the toilet after eating a lightning infused toaster pastry, I met him in the afterlife. He was assigned to be my spiritual guide.

But enough of my bragging.  The next time I talk to Billy Shakes (he still calls me from time to time, it’s a little creepy) which one of his plays should I tell him is your favorite?

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Literary Classics with Professor Nannerpants – An Introduction

Good Day 3.5 Readers.


Professor Horatio J. Nannerpants – Esteemed Literary Scholar/Poop Flinger

In the first year of this ridiculous blog, Bookshelf Q. Battler took on the role of a cool, hip online literary lecturer, educating his 2.5 readers (his stats weren’t as high then) about classic novels and poetry in a fun manner.

In year two, he turned the blog into a chronicle of his life as a magic bookshelf caretaker/yeti fighter/human selected by an alien despot to change the world through his writing.

Personally, I found that change to be tres blasé and ever so derivative. If I had a nickel for every blog about a magic bookshelf caretaker/yeti fighter/human selected by an alien despot to change the world through his writing I’d be a fabulously wealthy simian.

Now in year three, BQB has turned his attention yet again to actually writing a novel in an effort to appease the Mighty Potentate.  Occasionally, when he is unable to think what his novel characters should do next, he writes top ten lists implying your significant others are all manner of horrible abominations and helps his staff of malcontent columnists spread their ridiculous opinions.

Ironically, BQB has found that his first year posts are the most searchable, most likely by high school or college English students writing papers about the classics.

(And between you, me and the four walls, 3.5 readers, if any of these kids are citing Bookshelf Q. Battler in their papers and getting A’s then I weep for the state of our education system.)

Ahh, but I do drone on, don’t I? This is where I come in.

Have you ever heard of the old saying that if you were to lock a thousand chimpanzees in a room filled with typewriters, one of the chimps would eventually produce a clean, error free copy of Hamlet?

I am that chimp.

It all began as an experiment at the Advanced Science Institute of Science University.  BQB, literary lover that he was, was studying under the esteemed Dr. Hugo Von Science (they were still friends in those pre-East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse days.)

As part of a research project, BQB rounded up a thousand lab chimps, locked us in a room with a thousand typewriters and over the course of a year, my colleagues produced:

  • 179,854 pages covered in doody
  • One clean, error free copy of a James Patterson novel.  Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman were immediately cast for the movie version.
  • One typo laden copy the collective works of Digital Underground. “The Fumpty Fance is Your Fance to Do the Fump.” Oh chimps, you try so hard and yet you fail, for there can only be one Humpty Hump.

And finally, I was the first chimpanzee in the history of the world to prove the assertion true.

I typed a clean, error free copy of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

And then I smeared it with my doody.

BQB got an A+ for his project.  Dr. Hugo had other plans for me.

Curious about my abilities, the mad scientist performed all manner of tests on my brain.

Dr. Hugo wanted to know if it was possible to educate a chimpanzee.

So he hooked my head up to electrodes and forced me to watch PBS for three weeks straight.

So many documentaries.  So many British TV shows.  So much Masterpiece Theater.

During a storm, an errant thunderbolt zapped the Science Institute, sending a current to the electrodes, which in turn, shocked me.

This left me with the ability of speech….in a British accent.

I used my newfound skill to plead for my freedom with Dr. Hugo but he would not have it.

Bookshelf Q. Battler proved to be kinder and when the coast was clear, he left my cage door open.

For many years, I traveled the world, experiencing all that I could.

Highlights include:

  • Climbing Mount Everest.  What a waste of time.  There’s nothing to see up there.
  • Visiting my friends and family in the jungle.  Alas, Thomas Wolfe was right when he said you can never go home again. All those chimps wanted to do was laugh and throw their poop. Sure, it’s fun for the first five minutes but after that I’m the only one who wants to talk about the collective works of Lord Byron.
  • I was briefly a member of Congress.  I had to quit because everyone there was better at poop flinging than I was. (I’m not even joking.)

And finally, by donning a disguise, and holding myself out as a hirsute little person from London,  I was able to convince a renowned university to accept me as a student of literature.

There I stayed for many years, immersed in my love of the written word, obtaining a doctorate I used to obtain a position as a professor of the classics at the same aforementioned institution.

Note that I haven’t said which one as I continue to hold this position and I don’t wish to be outed as a chimpanzee. I think I’m safe though as only 3.5 individuals read this blog.

Long story short, BQB would like to continue to put his stat counter on the rise by increasing this blog’s search ability amongst students in their late teens to early twenties who stayed up all night smoking refer and playing video games and need to whip up a last minute paper about Longfellow in order to do their parents proud by pulling down a C-.

Under my alternative name, I have written articles in the world’s premiere academic journals.  Thus, I loathe the idea of having my work appear in a poorly studied blog.

Yet, I do owe BQB a favor for helping me escape.

Naturally, I won’t use my nom de plume so I will use the name I was given back when I was but a lowly lab chimp.

Horatio J. Nannerpants.

Yes. Based on the filthy stereotype that chimpanzees love…excuse me I have to finish this banana.

Oh…oh yes! Oh sweet, sweet curved yellow potassium stick! You are better that hot sweaty chimpanzee sex!

Pardon me.  Where was I?

Oh yes. Class in now in session, aspiring literary scholars.

And by the way.

That’s Professor Nannerpants to you.

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BQB and the Meaning of Life – Part 4 – God’s Waiting Room


PART ONE – “Oh my God! I ate a toaster pastry full of concentrated lightning then died on the toilet trying to get rid of it!”

PART TWO – “Where am I? Why am in a 1930’s bar?”

“Wow, look at all these famous dead celebrities – Albert Einstein, Cleopatra, Liberace and so on…”

PART THREE – “Wow. Bill Shakespeare is explaining everything about this place to me…but wait, so I’m not in Heaven or Hell?


Bill plucked the olive out of his martini and ate it. I waited patiently for him to give me the 411 on the situation I was in.

“You, my good man, are in God’s waiting room,” Bill said.

In my mind, I thanked the waitress. The booze insulated me from this shocking news.

“You have yet to discover the meaning of life, Mr. Bookshelf,” Bill said. “And until you do so, Heaven is off limits to you.”

Welcome to God's Waiting Room, where drinking to excess is not only welcome but encouraged...

Welcome to God’s Waiting Room, where drinking to excess is not only welcome but encouraged…

“Wait a minute,” I said. “Abe Lincoln. Albert Einstein. Lucille Ball. Roosevelt, Cleopatra. You’ve got some pretty top notch folks walking around this gin joint. You’re telling me none of them have discovered the meaning of life? That all of these influential icons are just lollygagging around here because they’ve never answered mankind’s most elusive question?”

“No,” Bill said. “You see, the last thing God needs is for people to die and then return to the physical realm where they will undoubtedly run their big mouths about the existence of an afterlife.”

“Why would that be a problem?” I asked.

“Man’s greatest fear is that nothing happens after death,” Bill said. “That upon death, that’s all there is and nothing more. Fear of the lack of an existence after the physical life is what often produces a fire under the posteriors of the masses to get them moving…to take advantage of all that the physical realm has to offer.”

“So you’re saying that God wants people to be afraid…”

“That life is a tale told by an idiot, Bill said with a dramatic flourish. “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

“That makes sense,”  I said.  “I suppose if everyone were to learn that the afterlife exists, they’d all just sit around drinking booze and eating chili cheese nachos waiting to croak.”

I slurped from my alcohol hat straw and ate a handful of chips.  The irony was not lost on me.

Bill sipped his martini.

“Thus, when people die and arrive in Heaven, they are pleasantly surprised to find their lives have not ended but in fact, are just beginning,” Bill said.

“Heavy stuff,” I said. “Still doesn’t explain why all these brilliant historical types are in a room for people who don’t know the meaning of life.”

“When you return to life,” Bill said. “And tell everyone that you died, then woke up in a 1930’s speak easy where you were served free drinks and snacks by the most beloved female celebrity of your generation who died too soon, hobnobbed with the likes of Einstein, Lincoln, and Roosevelt and engaged in a deep, meaningful conversation about the meaning of life with William Shakespeare…”

“Everyone will just think I’m a nutcase and the secret answer to the question of whether or not there is an afterlife will remain hidden from the living,” I said.

“Precisely,”  Shakespeare said.

“All these historical figures just spend their afterlives hanging out in this bar to make people who have yet to find the meaning of life look crazy?”  I asked.

“There’s a rotation,”  Shakespeare said.  “We all take turns to help the Man Upstairs out. Had you died yesterday, you’d of seen Nixon, Elvis, the Big Bopper, and Gahndi.”

“Aw man,”  I said.  “I love Elvis!”

“I’m the only one who never gets a break,”  the waitress said, handing me a Cuban cigar.

“Thanks,”  I said. “But I don’t smoke.”

“Good thing,” the waitress said, taking the stogie back.  “These things will kill ya’ sweetie.”

“What about you, Bill?”

“Me?”  Bill asked.  “I am indeed the Bard, the one and only William Shakespeare.  But every person who ends up in the seat you are sitting in is greeted by a different person.  I have been selected to be your spiritual guide, based on your interest in a career as a writer.”

“Wow,”  I said.  That was all I could come up with.

Will Shakespeare share any more nuggets of wisdom? Find out next time on Bookshelf Q. Battler and the Meaning of Life!

Copyright (C) Bookshelf Q. Battler.  All Rights Reserved.

Beer photo courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

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BQB and the Meaning of Life – Part 3 – A Place Between Heaven and Hell


PART ONE – “Oh no!  I ate a pop tart full of concentrated lightning then died whilst on the commode!”

PART TWO – “What?  Why am I in a 1930’s speakeasy?”

“Say!  Who’s this gal who keeps plying me with booze?”

“And who the heck is this bald bearded guy in the cod piece that won’t shut up?”


Shakespeare digs Skyfall.

Shakespeare digs Skyfall.

“William Shakespeare, at your service,” the man said as he outstretched his hand toward me. I just stared at it.

“Mr. Bookshelf, ’tis an old custom for two parties who have just met to grasp one another’s hands and shake them up and down in a vigorous manner for the purpose of demonstrating that neither party is holding a weapon that could be used to disfigure or maim the other party, thus establishing a sense of trust.”

“Oh right!” I said as I shook his hand. “It’s honor to meet you, Mr. Shakespeare!”

“Please. Just call me Bill.”

“OK Bill,” I said. “Wait. How do you know my name?”

“I read your tenth grade term paper about me for Mrs. Houlihan’s English 101 Class.”

“Seriously?” I asked.

“Don’t be flattered,” Bill said. “One of the many magical powers you receive in the afterlife is the ability to instantly know what anyone anywhere in the world is saying about you at any time. For the average person, it is manageable. Maybe your Cousin Irene or Uncle Bob occasionally say something nice about you…or something bad about you as the case may be.”

I sucked on my beer helmet straw, riveted to every word my new acquaintance was saying.

“For a deceased celebrity, the skill is extremely irritating,” Bill said. “And for yours truly, the most celebrated author of the English language, it is downright insufferable. Every time a pimply faced teenager writes down, ‘Umm…I mean, like, Shakespeare was OK I guess…’ the sentiment is instantly zapped into my brain.”

Bill grabbed the sides of his head and massaged his temples.

“Blast! There’s another one!”

“Sorry,” I said. “Geez, I always thought it would be cool to be a celebrity. That’s why I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I never knew you were all so tortured.”

“You don’t know the half of it, honey,” the waitress said as she handed another martini to Bill. “F. Scott Fitzgerald and Truman Capote are always in here debating about which of one of them had it worse.  Writers are lousy with ennui.”

“Tell me about it,” I replied.

The waitress checked the levels on my beer helmet, poured some more into each container, then walked away.

As soon as I was sure the waitress was out of earshot, I turned to Bill.

“Is that…”

“Who, her?” Bill asked.

“Yes,” I said. “Who is she? I’ve seen her all over TV but I can’t think of her name.”

“She’s an amalgamation,” Bill responded.

“A what?”

The Waitress - aka

The Waitress – aka “The Most Beloved Female Celebrity of Your Generation Who Died Too Soon.”  Who does she look like to you?

“A hallucination. A magical, metaphysical trick,” Bill explained. “To every individual in this establishment, our waitress looks like the most beloved deceased female celebrity of the aforementioned individual’s generation. There have been so many female entertainers loved by many who departed the physical realm much too soon.”

“Wow,” I said.

“To Mr. Einstein, she looks like the late actress Marilyn Monroe,” Bill said. “To me, she appears in the grim visage of Sir Lionel Scarsbrook of Glastonbury-upon-Stratshire.”

“Sir Lionel who?” I asked.

“Women were not allowed upon the stage in my day, Mr. Bookshelf,” Bill said. “Acting – very physically demanding work, you know. All the running around, shouting, crying, laughing, sword play and so on. Women were not believed to have the constitutions necessary for the theater so men donned dresses, wigs, and make-up in order to play the female parts.”

“That’s stupid,” I said.

“Call it stupid if you like, good sir, but even in full beard Sir Lionel could act circles around Katherine Heigl.”

“Agreed,” I said. “But whoever she is, why is she here?”

“People tend to be very uncomfortable when they first arrive in this place,” Bill said. “Seeing a beloved female celebrity from their generation who died too soon tends to have a calming effect on newcomers. People are so happy to see her up and walking around again they don’t worry about anything else.”

“I do miss her,” I said.

“Everyone from your generation does,” Bill replied.

We sat on the couch in silence for awhile, sipping our respective drinks.

Finally, I had to ask.

“Bill, what is this place?”

“I thought you’d never ask,” Bill said.

Out of nowhere, the waitress who bore a striking resemblance to a beloved female celebrity from my generation who passed away too soon, popped up behind me with a pair of vodka bottles, one in each hand.

There was no doubt that I was in some kind of supernatural place, since I was consuming enough booze to drop a thoroughbred race horse and yet I was still moving and grooving.

The waitress removed the beer containers from my helmet, replaced them with the vodka bottles, and inserted the straws.

“I heard you ask him what this place is, honey,” the waitress said. “You’ll need these.”

Like a flash, she was gone again.

“I don’t know your religion so I don’t wish to offend you, Mr. Bookshelf,” Bill said. “And we haven’t much time. To educate you as to the nature of this place requires me to discuss with you a spiritual question that has vexed the people of Earth since time immemorial.”

“Why don’t they just abolish the designated hitter rule?” I asked.

“What is the meaning of life?” Bill said, ignoring my snark. “Whether you refer to him as God, Allah, Buddha, or Lord Gleepglorp from Planet Fuzzlewak or whatever the damned Scientologists call him, there is indeed a being who runs the show. The totality of existence rests within the palm of his hand.”

I slurped away on the vodka.

“Life is a test,” Bill said. “A trial designed to test the mettle of souls.”

Bill looked at me. He must have noticed the dumbfounded expression on my face. It was dumber than usual.

“I am a legendary wordsmith and yet I struggle to find the right words to explain this to you,” Bill said.

I looked at Bill and the words rolled right off my tongue.

“All the world’s a stage and the people merely players?”

I raised my right eyebrow in a comically quizzical manner, totally proud of myself for thinking of that.

“Precisely,” Bill said. “Call this deity by any name you wish, but all he has ever asked is that people live life on Earth to the best of their abilities. Get up everyday, try your best, avoid committing evil acts upon your fellow man and in the end, he finds a place for you in Heaven.”

“Where everything is free?” I asked.

“Where everything is free,” Bill replied.

“And I get to chat with my favorite writer of all time while the most beloved female celebrity of my generation who died too soon fetches me drinks?” I asked.

“Snacks too,” the waitress said as she plopped a family-sized bag of chili cheese nacho chips on my lap.

“Do you want a tip or something?” I asked the waitress. “I’m told money has no meaning here but is there something I can do to thank you? Your service has been excellent and I feel bad for not pointing it out.”

The waitress’ eyes teared up. She leaned in and pecked a tiny kiss on my cheek.

“Oh my,” she said. “All this time I’ve spent here and no one has ever inquired about thanking me before.”

“Seriously?” I asked.

“Seriously,” she replied.

“So is there anything I can do?” I asked.

“No thank you,” the waitress said. “Your general display of exuberance over my prompt serving abilities is all the thanks I need.”

As she walked away, Bill shot me a “told you so” expression.

“No one’s ever offered to tip her before?” I asked. “The bar to get into Heaven is set pretty low, huh?”

“And thus, good sir,” Bill said. “It is my sad and unfortunate duty to inform you that you are not in Heaven.”

I was shocked. My mind raced. Where was I? Was I in Hell?

“I knew it,” I said. “I’m in Hell. For Christ Sake’s, I forget to hit the ‘like’ button on Cousin Phil’s vacation photos and they send me to the nether regions of human existence for all eternity!”

“Relax,” Bill said. “It’s not as bad as all that either.”

Whew. What a relief. I cracked open the bag of nachos and munched away. I offered some to Bill.

“No thank you,” Bill said. “They give me gas most foul.”

Where is Bookshelf Q. Battler?  Find out in the next installment of Bookshelf Q. Battler and the Meaning of Life!

Copyright (C) Bookshelf Q. Battler 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

Waitress photo courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

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BQB and The Meaning of Life – Part 2 – Twenty-Three Skadoo


PART 1 – “Oh no! I ate a toaster pastry full of concentrated lightning and died on the toilet! Ouch!”

“Say, what’s that light over there?”


The light at the end of the tunnel grew brighter with every step I took towards it. Suddenly, the light took over, and all the darkness surrounding me faded away. I found myself in a sterile white hallway, staring at a door. I tried the knob. It wouldn’t budge.

I knocked on the door. A slit in the middle opened and a pair of angry eyes stared out at me.

“What’s the password, see?” the man behind the door asked.

“Umm…password?” I answered.

“Bah!” the man said. “I suppose they’ll just let just any old mook in here, see?”

I was transported to a 1930's speakeasy.  The joint was lousy with flappers, see?

I was transported to a 1930’s speakeasy. The joint was lousy with flappers, see?

The bolt snapped and the door opened. The man who had let me in was nowhere to be found. I stepped through the threshold and was instantly transported to an old-timey 1930’s speakeasy.

I was no longer in my pajamas. I was wearing a black zoot suit with wide white pinstripes, a spiffy fedora, and a pair of shoes so shiny I could see my reflection in them.

I took a look around. On stage, there was a big band playing The Charleston. On a couch to my right, a group of flappers (you know, those women in the fringe skirts and head bands with the one feather in front) were lounging about, calling each other “Dah-ling” and smoking through foot long cigarette filters.

It was odd. The whole scene felt like it was straight out of a 1930’s gangster flick. Yet, the inhabitants of the joint were all famous historical figures from every century imaginable.

At the bar, Albert Einstein, Cleopatra, Abraham Lincoln, and Jim Morrison were pounding shots like nobody’s business. They were in some kind of rousing competition to see who could drink the most without getting sick.

Einstein was drinking them all under the table.

“E=MC YOU ARE ALL SQUARES!” Einstein yelled just before tipping another brew down his throat.

“Four score and seven years ago, this forefather was ready to puke,” was Honest Abe’s reply. He pulled off his infamous stove pipe hat and used it as a barf receptacle. Jim and Cleopatra passed out. Albert just kept on drinking.  That scientist sure could hold his liquor.

Utterly confused, I took a seat on a couch in the back corner of the room and sat down in the hopes that eventually it would all make sense.

Twenty minutes later, it still did not.

“Need a drink, doll face?”

I looked up. The waitress was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. I couldn’t remember her name, but I was certain I’d seen her somewhere before.

“No thank you,” I replied.

“Let me rephrase,” the waitress said. “You NEED a drink, sweetie. Newbies always freak out if they’re not sloshed.”

She took a shot glass of whiskey off her tray and set it on the table before me.

“Anything else just ask.”

And then she was gone.

Ed Sullivan took to the main stage and introduced Liberace, who was clad in his finest white fur coat.  He waved to the crowd then proceeded to tickle the ivories of a majestic white piano.

Three songs in, a balding British gentleman with a Van Dyke beard and a cod piece walked up to the couch and parked himself in a seat right next to mine.

Assuming I was trapped forever in the 1930’s, I did my best to blend in.

“Say, whaddya think yer tryin’ to pull, see?” I asked. “This spot is reserved for my keister, see? Twenty-three skadoo somewhere else because I’m the cat’s pajamas in these here parts, see?”

What can I say? I felt threatened and said the first words that entered my mind.

The gentleman downed the last sip left in his martini glass.

“Forsooth! Gather and be merry, kind sir!” the man said. “To offer a proclivity of disrespect? ’Twas not my intention. Fi! For a jest in the name of foolery is a source of amusement but a jest at the expense of the dignity of my fellow man is an utterance that deigns to make fools of us all!”

My jaw dropped.

“Yeah,” I said. “Just mind your P’s and Q’s buster or I’ll have to jitterbug the foxtrot all over your face, see?”

The man set his glass on the table.

“Good and noble sir,” the man said. “Doubtless am I that spirits of the alcoholic variety doth embolden thine own spirit to an uproarious crescendo but I pray thee- do not turn a potential friend to a foe. For the world is filled with little more than men in search of friends who do nothing to find them but everything within their power to find enemies in every corner.”

“Why the expletive deleted are you talking like that?” I asked.

“Me?” the British man said. “Good sir, you are the one saying ‘twenty-three skadoo’ and ‘see!’”

“I thought that’s what I’m supposed to do!” I said. “It looks like Al Capone’s gin joint in here!”

The waitress returned. Under normal conditions, her bright eyes, long hair, and perfect smile would have been welcome. However, my heart was already racing from the strange circumstances I found myself in, and her gorgeous appearance only exacerbated my malady.

“Another martini Bill?” the waitress asked.

“Bill,” I thought. “Who do I know who is British, speaks fancy, wears a codpiece, and is named ‘Bill?’ Hmmmm.”

“Please,” Bill replied. “Shaken…not stirred.”

“That joke never gets old, Bill,” the waitress said as she rolled her eyes.

Skyfall!” Bill said. “Have you seen it yet, dear?”

“Not yet,” the waitress said. “Been too busy keeping the newbies soused to the gills.”

“Oh you must!” Bill said. “It is a delightful romp!”

The waitress smiled at Bill and placed another shot in front of me.

I wasn’t fighting it anymore. The waitress was right. Booze was the only thing keeping me from going completely bonkers from the stress of not knowing what was going on.

I drank the shot immediately. Bourbon this time. She was changing it up.

“Good sir,” Bill said to me. “Hast thou gazed thine eyes upon Skyfall?”

“Yeah, like three years ago,” I said.

“Ah yes, well we do get new releases a bit late here,” Bill said. “I have nary an idea how they do it but the fellows in charge of Hollywood manage to bleed every last six-pence from these moving pictures before they are finally released here for us to watch for free.”

“You get free movies here?” I asked.

“Free everything here,” Bill answered. “The waitress hasn’t charged you for a drink yet, has she?”

“She has not,” I said. “Should I tip her?”

“Why bother?” Bill said. “Everything here is free so a tip would be meaningless. Besides, there is no currency here so what would you tip her with?”

“Applause?” I asked.

“I suppose,” Bill said. “Or a general display of exuberance over her prompt serving abilities would do just the same.”

Bill's drink of choice.

Bill’s drink of choice.

The waitress returned and handed Bill a fresh martini. She took the empty shot glass from me, removed the fedora from my head, and replaced it with a yellow construction worker hard hat. Attached to either side of the hat were two forty ounce plastic containers, each filled to the top with beer. Each had a straw that dangled down until they merged into one straw. She placed that into my mouth.

“Listen sweetheart,” the waitress said. “I’m not trying to turn you into an alcoholic here. I’m just saying I see about a hundred of you guys a week..and..well..just trust me.”

“I trust you,” I said as I sipped from the straw.

Across the room, a fight broke out. The three of us watched as a team of bouncers moved in to control the situation.

“Lucille Ball just punched out Teddy Roosevelt over a fixed card game and I still feel like I’m the most ridiculous thing in this room,” I said.

“Indeed, good sir,” Bill replied. “But fear not, for we have all walked in your shoes before.”

“I notice you keep switching back and forth between fancy old English talk and a plain modern style,” I said.

“Which do you prefer?” the man asked.

“The plain style is easier to understand,” I said.

“Then I will do my best to speak plainly,” Bill said. “Although know that what you call plain I call lazy.”

“I did like the old English style though,” I said. “It almost made you sound like…”

My jaw dropped. Again.

“Like who?” the man asked.

“Like the greatest writer of the English language,” I said.

I sipped from my beer hat vigorously.

“Oh my God!” I said. “Are you…”

Who the heck is this guy? Find out next time on Bookshelf Q. Battler and the Meaning of Life!

Copyright (C) Bookshelf Q. Battler.  All Rights Reserved

Flapper and martini photos via a shutterstock.com license 

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Beware the Ides of March

Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.

Beware the ides of March.

What man is that?

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

– William Shakespeare

Julius Caesar Act 1, Scene 2, 15–19

The Ides of March are here!  Are you being wary of them?

THE SIBERIAN YETI:  Bookshelf Q. Battler, what is an “Ide?”  And also, get back in your cage!

BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER:  Good question, Yeti.  Well, the first one was, anyway.  The “Ides” of any month means the middle of that month.  Most months have 30-31 days so the “Ides” will fall on or around the 15th.  I argue the 15th but people might differ.  (I suppose some might claim for a Month with 31 days, the “Ides” would fall on the 15.5th day, or in other words, the morning of the 16th.  February, with only 28 days, will have its “Ides” on the 14th.

Enough babbling from me, it’s March 15th, so if you’re Julius Caesar, then beware!

THE SIBERIAN:  You will never get 4000 Twitter followers and your blog is a waste of gigabytes.


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Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 – “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Behold!  I will now present what I argue is the greatest love poem ever written:

Sonnet 130: My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Was Shakespeare being serious here?  Was he being satiric?  Both?

I think we have an early example of parody here.

Every love poem compares a woman’s eyes to the sun, her breath to perfume, her cheeks to roses, etc.  Here, Shakespeare is saying, “You know what?  I have a regular, normal, average woman.  She’s nothing special.  But I love her anyway.”

And that’s a great thing!  Most people are normal, average, and ordinary.  You don’t need to over hype people to love them.  Just love your special someone for who they are.

Now then – and listen carefully, dudes.  Keep in mind I am not recommending that you take your ladies out tonight and tell them, “Baby, your breathe reeks, your breasts are grey (dun being an old word for grey), you’re no goddess, and music sounds better than you do!”

And in fact, as a disclaimer to all the crooked lawyers out there reading this – the Bookshelf Battler takes no responsibility for anything that happens to a man who recites Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 to his lady love.

Because while most people won’t get it, it really is a sweet poem.  Why?

Because anyone can love a person with breathe like perfume and whose voice is like music, but true love comes in loving the normal, the average, the ordinary, and even the below average.  And as hot as your woman may be, no one really has breathe like perfume, walks like a goddess, etc.

You may think there are a handful of women like that in the world, but I’d imagine even Brad Pitt is like, at least once in awhile, “Damn Angelina’s breath stanks!!!”

So this Valentine’s Day, grab hold of your very average and ordinary loved ones, knowing that to you they are above average and extraordinary, and make them feel that way.

But seriously.  Don’t tell her that her eyes are nothing like the sun.

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The Greatest Love Poem Ever Written

Tomorrow, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I will share with you the greatest love poem ever written.

Before then, does anyone want to venture a guess as to what it is?

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