Thursday, September 26, 2013

ELM (part 2) - Thug Notes does Hamlet

In college, I had studied the hard sciences and pursued a technical career until retirement.  Wanting to be well rounded, I took on the task of reading many of the classic novels.  It was at that point that I gained a great respect for the liberal arts.

And hence, that was an inspiration for this thread -

ELM - English, Language, and Musings.

When tackling math, no one would think it strange to ask for help to understand calculus, for example.  And I had attended many help sessions to get through my physics homework.  But that same kind of help can be most needed to understand - and appreciate -  literature.

Though math and science deal with equations, logic, theories - none of which is trivial, literature deals with the soul, which is very complex and rich.  But classic literature can be very arduous to read and difficult to understand for some of us amateurs.  And this is even more true in our times of numerous distractions when our attention spans seem to have been shortened.  But with the internet, help is just a click away.

Let's look at one example of a classic -

Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

The entire play can be found here - William Shakespeare's Hamlet

And it can take up to 5 hours to perform the whole play - Hamlet Uncut is 5 Hours Long! | The Bard Blog - Shakespeare Info

And that can be quite painful as that point is humorously made in the following clip.  (This is a scene from Blackadder Back & Forth, in which Blackadder travels back in time and has a few words with William Shakespeare ... among which is the endless, uncut version of Hamlet.)

Below are a few example of Hamlet performed in diverse venues:

From the Sublime ...

Christopher Plummer performed this memorable scene:

To be or not to be ... 

To the ridiculous ...

Though this next scene is most serious, it is performed with humor in a cartoon - the Animaniacs.  

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio ...

As I picked up reading the classics outside of school and outside the benefit of a teacher, I still needed help - real bad - to fully appreciate them.  So I got -

Cliff Notes ...

And that aid helped me to navigate through the history of the times and all salient points of the piece - most of which when over my head.  And in this digital age, most of these notes are now online.

For Hamlet, check out - Hamlet: At a Glance | Shakespeare | CliffsNotes

Akin to Cliff Notes are

Spark Notes ...

For Hamlet, check out - SparkNotes: Hamlet

If you wish for a graphic novel version - somewhat animated, this is the clip for you -

And then this gem recently made the scene on YouTube:  ,

Thug Notes

Thug notes gives an excellent summary and analysis of a classic in my opinion.  It's a most effective teaching tool as the presentations get the main points across with the humor of the Animaniacs and in terms that even I can understand ...

Cliff Notes, Spark Notes, Thug Notes ...

All are tools to teach us the stories that are part of our culture and civilization.

And most of all,  Hamlet is universal whether told in Elizabethan English or the language of the street in the 21st century.

I say, again ....

The soul ... it's complex, but so rich. 


Previous post on this series:

ELM (part 1) - English, Literature, and Musings (2013)


Photo from - Wikipeida - Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Proverbs (part 1) - Information vs. Wisdom

Wikipedia/Internet map

If you are reading this blog post, you are on the Internet, my friend.  Above is a partial map of the Internet based on the January 15, 2005 data (according to the description of the image source).  And eight years later, I imagine this map looks even more hairy and tangled!

There is a lot of information out there.  

Go to and google the keyword - information.  Try it here - results for information

When I did it (September 19, 2013), I came up with 6,380,000,000 hits!  That's almost as much as one hit per person on this planet, which is over 7 billion.  [reference: World Population Clock: 7 Billion People (2013) - Worldometers]

And information is growing exponentially as shown in this video clip below (which is 3 years old and already out-dated):  (reference:

How do we manage with so much information thrown at us - ever growing, ever changing?

It takes some wisdom.

So let's go back to and google the keyword - wisdom. Try it - results for wisdom

When I did it (September 19, 2013), I came up with 146,000,000 hits.  That's a little less than one hit for half the population of the United States, about 316 million.  [reference:  Population Clock]

Roughly that is a ratio of information / wisdom of 44 to 1.

Wisdom is definitely lacking here - if we only go by these raw statistics.

But wisdom is calling ...

Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square;
on top of the wall she cries out,
at the city gate she makes her speech:
Proverbs 1:20, 21 (NIV)

For this reason, I began a new series on *Proverbs * - a source of wisdom.

Proverbs has 31 chapters and is one book of 66 books (in the Protestant Bible).  But what it lacks in volume, it packs quite a punch in quality.

For starters, here are some proverbs on Wisdom, in this clip:  (reference:

And the entire Book of Proverbs is read here -
(It's over 90 minutes when read, but a twinkle of an eye when considering all the information out there!)

And here is an appropriate proverb on wisdom to kick off this series ... on Proverbs:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10  (NIV)


Recent posts on similar topics:

Timeless Truths (part 3) - Hakuna Matata - No Worries? (2013)

Biblia Files (part 1) - Thru the Bible (2013)

Biblia Files (part 2) - What is the Bible Basically About? (2013)


Photo from:  Wikipedia -  Internet map

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Biblia Files (part 2) - What is the Bible Basically About? compromise
Above is a stained glass depiction of the Alpha and the Omega - the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet.

Who is this Alpha and Omega?  (Hint:  The Lamb and the Cross are a giveaway.)

A bigger question:  What is the Bible really about?  (Another hint:  The video below gives a succinct summary and great overview of the Bible)

The revelation from Jesus Christ
I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.

Revelation 1:8 (NIV) 

The Bible ... It's all about Jesus ...

... For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.
Revelation 19:10 (NIV) 


Recent post in this series:

Biblia Files (part 1) - Thru the Bible (2013)


Photo from: