Post-Christmas pre-New Year round up

culture

I meant to post just before Christmas to wish everyone a good holiday, I really did. It's just that I was so exhausted from a very busy period at work that I just flopped as soon as my holiday started, and did practically nothing. Doing nothing has done me the world of good though, and I feel much revived. So much so, that I took the big step of upgrading ExpressionEngine (which runs my blog) to the beta version of 2.0.

As it often is with these things, it didn't go quite as smoothly as I'd hoped. For some reason, one of the templates (which are kept in the database itself by default with ExpressionEngine) got truncated, so I had to delve into the backup of the database to find the original. Thank goodness for backups! I've also got a slightly odd installation because I have all the ExpressionEngine files in a subdirectory, but then fiddle with the URLs so that the directory doesn't appear in the permalinks. So I had to try to remember what the heck I had fiddled with last time to get it to work properly. Anyway, it all seems to be working now, and the new control panel is a great improvement. There are huge architectural changes under the bonnet (it now uses the CodeIgniter framework), but until I have time to delve around a bit more, the control panel is the only visible thing which has changed. I'm sorry if the feed has suddenly updated with lots of old articles. I've been converting all of the articles from their mixture of Markdown, HTML and Textile format to be HTML (partly because the Markdown plugin hasn't yet been updated for version 2.0). I've worked back to articles originally published in 2004, but haven't quite had the energy to do the final two years, since nobody probably looks at them now anyway.

As I said, apart from some intensive tinkering, I've done very little: a bit of baking, a lot of reading and a fair bit of film/TV viewing, and that's it. I did sit down and watch Hamlet on the TV — all 3+ hours of it. I've seen quite a few of Shakespeare's plays at one time or another at the theatre, but for some reason I've never seen Hamlet. I don't think I'll be posting any spoilers if I tell you that it's not the cheeriest of the Bard's productions. Almost everyone dies, or is miserable, or goes mad, or — for the most unfortunate characters — suffers all three.

The thing that surprised me most was that it was all so familiar, despite the fact that I've never seen it before. I don't just mean the "To be, or not to be" speech or the "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" one, or even, "Alas poor Yorick". So many of the incidental phrases have become an embedded part of the English language, that it almost feels as if Shakespeare is dealing in clichés, but of course it was Shakespeare who created the clichés. There was "to the manner born1", "hoist with his own petard", "brevity is the soul of wit", and so on. It's pretty impressive that the words of one man, writing plays in the 16th Century, are still in such common usage in the 21st Century.

1 I was convinced that this was "to the Manor born" until Wikipedia put me right. Penelope Keith has a lot to answer for.

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