Shakespeare: First Folio

I’m much more interested in watching a Shakespeare play than reading one. I would only read Shakespeare willingly if I was performing one of his plays and needed to learn lines and stage directions. That doesn’t seem likely to happen in the near (or far) future, so I will continue to happily sit in my theater seat watching Shakespeare’s plays – especially Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, The Tempest, and Hamlet.

I know some who share my sentiments, some who can’t stand even the thought of Shakespeare’s poetically connotative name, and many more who can’t stand the thought of actual people not enjoying reading his work. Regardless of my aforementioned sentiments, it was with brio that I waltzed into the Portland Public Library in search for the Lewis Gallery so I could lay my eyes on a masterful tome containing William Shakespeare’s work.


If you don’t know anything about folios, don’t worry. If you’ve ever taken a piece of paper and folded it in half, you understand what a folio is. One fold, four pages (two front and back), and the largest paper size for a book to be printed on, which varies as the size of printing paper used in older time periods was not standardized; folios can now range from 15″ to 50″ although 15″ is the most common.

Okay, so thanks for that great lesson on paper but what’s the big deal about Shakespeare’s First Folio?

How dare you! This was a [postmortem] gift from Shakespeare’s friends! Many of Shakespeare’s most popular work wouldn’t exist now if it wasn’t for this First Folio!

So maybe it wasn’t necessarily a gift. It was more like a tribute to Shakespeare that came 7 years after he died. Some guys got together and decided: “Hey, our man Shakespeare entertained us for years with his plays, the world needs to be able to experience those plays until the end of time. Let’s print this book, the First Folio, and maybe about 400 years from now the Folger Shakespeare Library will bring it on tour around the country so as many people can see it as possible.”

That may or may not be a direct quote from somewhere,* but the information is definitely correct. Shakespeare died 400 years ago. Four hundred years ago. And we’re still talking about him/studying him/getting giddy over him after all this time. His friends knew what they were doing.

If you’re in Maine, visit the Portland Public Library – between now and April 2nd! – and see the First Folio. It’s kept in a room under the stairs, so you won’t see it right away as you walk down those stairs in the Lewis Gallery. It will be quite dim in the modest-bedroom-sized room, and you won’t be able to touch the book. You can’t even touch the glass case it arrived in and sits inside of, unless you want to trigger alarms and whatever 17th century magic is on the old, fragile pages. That’s the main reason I took this photo from a distance…


…until the “tour guide” ushered me closer to get a better picture. I’ve never held my phone so daintily strong before; it was nerve-wracking, but luckily the dehumidifier was in full force so I didn’t sweat. But I did get a better picture. Oh, and if you do take pictures, make sure the flash is off on your camera. The room is dim because there is a strict limit on the number of lumens that can shine on the inside of the book (seriously, how cool/terrifying/astonishing is that?!) in order to prevent damage, and flashes of cameras exceed that limit tremendously.

Lastly, if it wasn’t for this First Folio, the world’s most popular Shakespeare play would have been lost forever. “To be, or not to be: that is the question” may not hold the same significance or identity as it now does without this and the other 233+ since published First Folio editions. But don’t worry, you can still check out Hamlet from your library, order it from a bookstore, and see it in one its most original forms on the First Folio tour.


Where will the First Folio be touring near you? Find out through the Folger Shakespeare Library’s First Folio Tour page.




*It’s definitely not a direct quote from anywhere


Five Podcasts for February

Greetings! February is knocking at our door with optimism and a fresh perspective on the year. As I say my farewells to January, I am looking onward to new and continuing short-term goals, as well as updating and reminding myself of longer term goals for my blog, my professional life, and my personal self. One particular goal of mine is to explore a new-to-me form of media that is intellectual, entertaining, and worth sharing with others. The podcast is this form of media.

Podcasts have been around since the early 2000s, which means I am definitely late to the party. Although I have listened to a few programs during my time in college and a few more here and there, I want to find one or two that I enjoy listening to regularly. I have a handful of favorite television shows that I watch religiously, so there’s no reason I can’t sit down a couple of times a week to listen to a podcast.


Of course, as with my Reading Challenge, I’m reaching out to you, reader, to encourage you to join me. Now, if you have never listened to a podcast, or, like me up until recently, have only heard of the word but never understood what exactly a podcast involves, do not worry. I have combed through “best podcast” lists, blogs run by podcast-listeners, and my favorite media agencies and have selected five podcasts to pay attention to during February. I am hoping that by focusing on five, I will be able to find out what I like and what I don’t, and perhaps discover other podcasts to enjoy. I’m really hoping that I don’t like at least one, because if I become obsessed with all five I’m really going to have an overload problem on my hands. But I won’t worry about that just yet.

I will introduce the five I have selected in just a moment, but first, I would like to address the podcast-lovers and dedicated listeners who have already compiled their own favorites. Drop your suggestion(s) in a comment below and share the podcast knowledge! I am thinking about selecting five new podcasts every month, so I would love to feature your favorite(s) in the future. Thank you ahead of time; here are my inaugural selections:

Modern Love: The Podcast

The New York Times

The commencement of this podcast was announced just over a week ago, and is fitting for February, or should I say Valentine’s Day, which will be here before we know it. This podcast is inspired by the “Modern Love” column in The New York Times, which is described as “a series of weekly reader-submitted essays that explore the joys and tribulations of love.” Each week, a “Modern Love” essay will be read and then discussed; the topics vary and so do the voices – Jason Alexander is heard in “One Last Swirl,” for example – so I do think there is a story, and narrator, for everyone.

New Episode: Every Thursday
Listen: On iTunes or through

This American Life

WBEZ and Chicago Public Media

Perhaps one of the most well known and listened to radio shows, This American Life chooses a theme for their stories each week, and broadcasts the stories on public radio and television (have you heard of the show Serial? It shares creators with This American Life). From science to sports, politics to summer camp, and just about everything in between, there is a wide range of topics covered which makes this podcast a great starting point for someone new to this kind of media, or for someone who is looking for something exciting to talk about with friends and companions. It’s a truly great podcast to spend time with.

New Episode: Every Friday
Listen: Just about anywhere. Subscribe and/or download here

The Writer’s Almanac (with Garrison Keillor)
American Public Media

I was introduced to this podcast in an American [I think it was Short?] Fiction class at UMaine, and I’ve been listening to it off and on since. I would make this a definite must-listen because it’s short, it’s literary and arts based, and the text is included if you would like to read along or read later. From poems, condensed biographies, and birthday celebrations, you will learn about people and works you may not know anything about or you will learn something new about a favorite subject.

New Episode: Daily
Listen: On iTunes, iHeartRadio,, or subscribe/download here

WTF with Marc Maron
Squarespace and others

On a different note, this podcast is led by stand up comedian Marc Maron, and he invites fellow comedians, actors and actresses, journalists and writers, critics, producers, musicians, and a plethora of other people who are truly interesting and admirable. The episodes are a little on the long side (an hour or longer), especially those with more than one guest, but they are captivating enough so your attention will be strongly held.

New Episode: Every Monday and Thursday
Listen: On Howl Premium or
Disclaimer: Foul language

Reply All
Gimlet Media

This podcast is “about the internet,” but this is an extremely broad description, as you will find out with a listen to any of the episodes. It’s more about how the internet, or technology in general, is used – and as it’s such a big part of our lives, these stories are about that: life. Not every episode will be for you, but there are so many that you are sure to find a discussion that sparks your interest; this podcast is one on my radar because I like that the creators  sought out a fresh way to have these discussions, by using something so familiar to us for [likely] unimaginable yet imaginative stories.

New Episode: Every Wednesday
Listen: On iTunes, Soundcloud, and Reply All


Why I Write

“Piece of shit!” – THUNK – and then, “Sorry.” – the creaking noise an old door makes when it’s being open – At least, that’s the sound I imagine when I open my tablet back up after my motivation sort of side-steps the frustration I feel for how terribly this “innovative” piece of technology is working. Or not working. Back to my precious alter-reality.

There’s nothing you can say that will change my mind. I’m bored, in the least crass and all-encompassing respects of the word.
Well what can I do to interest you? How can I change the way you feel? How can I change?

I wish the keyboard’s communication with the inner workings of this square, flat tool would keep up with the speed of my fingers. And that’s not just a brag about how fast I can type.

Nothing, nothing, and I don’t want you to. I’ve changed. I need something different. I don’t know what, and I don’t know what it is I want. But I know what I don’t.
Well I wish you would explain this to me more clearly, it just doesn’t make any sense.
I wish I could too.

SERIOUSLY?! Please just work more smoothly – it’s so distracting. Don’t get me wrong, I would rather stay away from you and rely on my faithful notebooks and pencils. But here I have more guts to actually post and publish. Maybe this is a sign. Maybe you’re telling me I’m full of crap and should just start from square one and do something with my life that people [my family] will actually understand?

Despair. It truly is an unmistakable and overwhelming feeling – even though it may not show its true face at first. In dealing with technology; with feelings and more specifically love; and with life. Oh, and writing.

Bookshelf Therapy

Disclaimer: I’ve decided to make this emotional. It wasn’t a necessarily out-of-the-ordinary day, but I need to get this out. And I want to say happy birthday to a friend who is missed by so many; I wish I could be more articulate about that, but I can’t, although I don’t know what else can really be said. I will say that this post ends happily; I know, I’m a sucker for ruining endings.

This day has been exhausting. Not because I physically exerted myself, or because it was a hectic day at work, or because my social calendar was too overwhelming (a rare occurrence). None of these can be blamed for my exhaustion, and yet, I’m searching for a reason why I feel chewed up, spit out, and left behind. Or, at the very least, why I felt like that earlier (all day).

It started with the news coverage of the recent college campus shooting in Oregon. Even now it brings tears to my eyes and the “why’s” to my mind. Innocent decades-long lives lost for a second of an action stemming from hatred. I don’t think I’ll ever understand. Will anyone? And then, of course, President Obama’s passionate speech that followed this tragedy. His comments on gun control always lead me to question myself and my beliefs. I’ve always grown up knowing about and following gun safety guidelines, laws, and the responsibilities that come with owning, carrying, and firing a rifle, shotgun, or handgun. I know the outcry against gun rights and the ease of access to purchasing guns isn’t directed towards me per se, and are not unwarranted, but it frustrates me that the guns are being blamed. I’m not going to go any further than this, because families, friends, communities, and a nation are all grieving, and regardless of the cause, those entities are pained and are suffering because of the “why’s,” “what if’s,” and right now all I can do is keep them in my thoughts and heart, and hope they can find peace with the help of loved ones, and if not totally end their pain, at least be able to work through it.

Then, I experienced something I’ve only experienced a handful of times. The mounting pressure of finances, bills, figuring out a way to get my blog more noticed, the disaster that is the state of my apartment right now, beating the crazy Friday-afternoon-rush-hour-traffic, overflowed and all of that anxiety marched across my brain and hit my mind with military force. I felt sick, nauseous, and just sad. The marching eventually ceased, but the recovery has been slow.

At home, I poured a glass of wine and watched a few episodes of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Comedic relief about things actually happening in the world is calming to me – oh and the wine helps too. Then, I started on a project I’ve been thinking about all week: organizing my new bookshelf.

This really did the trick. Holding some of my most valuable possessions and putting them among each other and other little trinkets eased my soul. Books have always allowed me to escape the world I live in and dive into others, and organizing them makes me almost as happy as reading their pages.

Treasures Among NovelsWhen I was a kid, usually when my mom asked me to clean my room, I would just reorganize my bookshelf; rediscover titles I hadn’t read in a while, and even discover letters or pieces of paper that I would stick between them to save for something. The rest of my room would be neglected, as I would always sit/lay down and just read. Tonight, I was happy to find something wedged between Pamela and To Kill A Mockingbird – my Maine fishing license. It’s funny to me that at one point I was certain I would remember where I put it – but guess what, I’ve been wondering where it went probably around the day after I stuck it in there.

Anyway, my bookshelf is now organized and full. Few “strange” things give me pleasure like a full bookcase. I added the lamp, black wooden chair, and my favorite soft throw because I’ve been needing a reading/writing nook  that I can be inspired and comforted by. Because, I’ll be honest, my desk is a mess.

Reading Nook

As far as my anxiety, it is calmed for now. The state of the world is complicated, and I know it will continue complicating itself. I will help myself by being informed, standing strong with my beliefs, and loving everyone who has supported and believed in me. And if all else fails, I’ll have my books.