Michael Keaton Does Shakespeare

Back in 1993 Kenneth Branagh directed a film version of Shakespeare’s comedy, “Much Ado About Nothing.”  Michael Keaton was given a small role as the dim-witted constable Dogberry and along with the malapropisms and absurd swagger Keaton added an almost Monty Pythonesque quality to the role and to that of his associates in the night guard.  I ten to think it’s the best part of the show.  Shakespeare did love his clowns.

Hamlet Scenes

I was rewatching Olivier’s Hamlet today. So I picked out the scenes I thought were noteworthy. The characters are so strange to modern audiences and the plot so improbable. But there are some scenes that are iconic. Many will recognize the famous quote or the scene. My favorite is the gravedigger’s scene. Alas, poor Yorick. Shakespeare’s fools and jesters are obviously his favorites and always have the best lines.

Anyway.

To Thine Own Self Be True

That is the Question

The Play’s the Thing

I Knew Him Horatio

But Let It Be

Guest Contributor – Ed Brault – 08MAR2024 – Some Kipling

I have eaten your bread and salt.
I have drunk your water and wine.
The deaths ye died I have watched beside,
And the lives ye led were mine. 

Was there aught that I did not share 
In vigil or toil or ease - 
One joy or woe that I did not know,
Dear hearts across the seas ?  

I have written the tale of our life 
For a sheltered people's mirth,
In jesting guise - but ye are wise,
And ye know what the jest is worth.

-R. Kipling

Real Artificial Intelligence

Many people have heard at some point in their educational careers that in 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius erupted and completely buried the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum that were located at the foot of the volcano.  Vesuvius is located adjacent to the present Italian city Naples.

What most people are unaware of is that during excavations of Herculaneum in 1752 a building was discovered that contained ancient books, or more accurately, papyrus scrolls.  Unfortunately the heat from the lava flow had reduced these scrolls to carbonized lumps.  For the last two hundred years and more scholars have attempted to unroll these carbonized scrolls and read their text.  The painstaking work has only been minimally successful and mostly they’ve managed to find a small amount of text while basically destroying the scrolls.

But now modern medical imaging technology and advanced machine vision and machine learning techniques have combined to produce a possible way to read these ancient books.  Using x-ray tomography images that look through the burned books can help identify layers where ink appears on the papyrus.  Combining this with computer mapping of the ink locations the scroll can be “virtually unrolled” to reveal the text on the ancient remnant.  The proof of concept has now been performed on a small bit of the scan.  The challenge is to do this for the bulk of the document.  It is a daunting task because of the terribly distorted shape of the scrolls.

Now a million dollar prize has been offered for any silicon valley type who is savvy enough to take the scans and turn it into a readable text.

For most people this is meaningless.  Interest in even the books written a few years ago pales in comparison to watching a “TikTok” video of some vapid “influencer” describing her workout routine or grapefruit-papaya diet or other earth-shaking events. These old arcane texts have no bearing on their lives.  And the scrolls currently unearthed are the works of an unimportant Roman philosopher.  But it is believed that the rest of the unexcavated building is the repository of a very large private library that may contain many lost works by the best classical authors of Greece and Rome.  The lost tragedies of Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides and the comedies of Aristophanes and lost histories that we currently only know the names of would be immensely interesting to scholars and also people like me who find remarkable relevance in these testaments from thousands of years ago.

So the fact that finally there seems to be some real progress on this project that has gone on for centuries, I find fascinating.  But my skeptical nature also forbids me from allowing unbounded enthusiasm to blind me to the likely outcome; failure.

So I share this with you, my readers, to let you know what I find to be the real progress that “AI” can provide to the world.  Not ChatGPT which just automates the nitwittery found on TikTok but instead the brute force restoration of books that were burned to a crisp by a volcanic eruption almost two thousand years ago.  A computer program guided by state of the art imaging technology plucking lost works from antiquity out of a pile of ashes.  That’s magic.

25NOV2021 – An Excerpt of a Poem for Thanksgiving

Christmas Cooking, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens

The Pumpkin

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,

From North and from South comes the pilgrim and guest;

When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board

The old broken links of affection restored,

When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,

And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,

What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?

What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

 

Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,

When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!

When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,

Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!

When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,

Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon,

Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam

In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!

 

Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better

E’er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!

Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,

Brighter eyes never watched o’er its baking, than thine!

And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,

Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,

That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,

And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,

And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky

Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!

John Greenleaf Whittier

24NOV2021 – Another Autumn Poem

Autumn

I love the fitful gust that shakes
The casement all the day
And from the mossy elm tree takes
The faded leaf away
Twirling it by the window-pane
With thousand others down the lane

I love to see the shaking twig
Dance till the shut of eve
The sparrow on the cottage rig
Whose chirp would make believe
That spring was just now flirting by
In summers lap with flowers to lie

I love to see the cottage smoke
Curl upwards through the naked trees
The pigeons nestled round the coat
On dull November days like these
The cock upon the dung-hill crowing
The mill sails on the heath a-going

The feather from the ravens breast
Falls on the stubble lea
The acorns near the old crows nest
Fall pattering down the tree
The grunting pigs that wait for all
Scramble and hurry where they fall

John Clare