3 Shakespeare-inspired Stories You Should Absolutely Experience At Least Once

Happy Ides of March, Field Operatives!

This is the day that the internet rises up to show their love of one of William Shakespeare’s most beloved historical dramas, Julius Caesar. I’m no different; I am a Bardolator – a term used to describe lovers of Shakespeare that was once used as a pejorative (the word is meant to be a portmanteau of ‘Bard’ and ‘Idolator’) but, like most titles in art, was re-appropriated and embraced by the very people it was meant to demean.

However, I feel that focusing on only Julius Caesar does a huge disservice to The Bard. I’m far more interested in how his works continue to influence us and our media. We continue to retell these stories with different perspectives, characters, and contexts to such an extent that we now question what he actually meant to tell us half the time.

So today, to celebrate the Ides of March, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite films and books that bare the tinge of the western world’s most celebrated playwright as I encourage you to seek them out and experience them the way I did.

 Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood

Japan – a country that has been historically cut off from the western world and only taking influences in very small, heavily modified doses – has had a difficult time importing The Bard. In fact, the earliest attempts played the drama of Shakespeare off as farcical comedy.

However, acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa found the ideal way to make Shakespeare’s Macbeth work in a Japanese context.

First, he chose a more familiar art form to translate The Bard into. Instead of western theatre, Kurosawa draws his visual style from Japanese Noh theatre. The expressions, makeup, and actions of the cast are meant to resemble Noh actors and masks; a medium that takes full advantage of the talents of our leading actor, the incomparable Toshiro Mifune.

Second, parts of western mythology that would be foreign to Japanese viewers were replaced with similar tales from Shinto folklore. This is most noticeable in the removal of The Weird Sisters, inspired by Greek tales of The Three Fates, and grafting in their place an Onibaba – a demon hag made a legend in the tale Kurozuka (lit. “The Black Mounds”) where she tempted two monks to their deaths whilst singing of the pathetic fates of mortals.

Lastly, Kurosawa changes the message to reflect more Buddist ideals rather than western Christian ones. In the British world, there is a cyclical system of rule where chosen monarch replaces chosen monarch. Evil comes when a wicked ruler takes power and can only be undone by a good ruler – “The king is dead; Long live the king.” In Throne of Blood, it is the desire for that power that’s evil and, without spoiling the movie, ultimately spells the final fates of the cast.

Even if you struggle to appreciate the different cultural lens, this is still worth watching just to see some of the greatest film talents of Japan who have shaped the cinematic world as a whole.

Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Starting life as a stage play before making its way to film, Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a retelling of Hamlet from the perspective of the titular comic relief side characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (… dur-hey).

While it’s easy to play the entire show off as comedy, I feel a lot is lost in doing that. This is, in fact, a prime example of a style of performance known as “The Theatre of The Absurd,” a style of fiction that has its cast delve into existentialist thought only to find almost everything absurd – that is to say, “meaningless.” If you remember my pontification of the works of Albert Camus, you’re already familiar with the concept of Absurdist philosophy.

Rozencrantz and Guildenstern spend the bulk of the show questioning why they do what they’re doing and wind up with so many more questions than answers, they make a game out of them that would later inspire the show Whose Line Is It Anyway? The ultimate answer ends up being that they are actors merely playing their chosen roles both on the stage and in life and that they, and we by extension, must see the play to its conclusion; “The show must go on.”

This is a great introduction to The Theatre of The Absurd and I recommend you see it either on stage or on the screen.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

Yes, this is a thing… and it is amazing.
Source: writingwithaesop.blogspot.com

Shifting from film to literature, did you know the same publishing company that distributed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies also brought us the Star Wars films redone in the style of William Shakespeare?

Author Ian Doescher does an amazing job in recreating The Bard’s style; not only is every episode recreated in iambic pentameter with all of the requite thee’s and thou’s, but he also uses some of Shakespeare’s notable deviations such adding an extra unstressed beat – known as a “weak ending” – for meek characters like Shakespeare did for Hamlet or replacing the elegant verse for simpler prose for the lower born bounty hunter Boba Fett.

But what makes Doescher stand out is how he deviates from THOSE deviations. He does things that Shakespeare likely never would have conceived of. Such examples include dropping a beat of iambic pentameter for the character of Jar-Jar Binks (because he’s “one beat short of a verse,” get it?) and writing Yoda entirely in Haiku.

Not only is this series a fun way to introduce newbies to iambic pentameter, it’s amazing just how far even the most cringe-worthy moments and lines from the movies are elevated by being written in Shakespeare’s style.


3 Games That The Agent Has Been Playing for The Last Month

I’m not sure why, but it seems that I’ve been losing interest in the triple-A gaming scene as I grow older.

Maybe I’m just bitter about how “games were better back then.” Perhaps I’m just legitimately more interested in what indie developers are doing. There’s the real chance that I’m just busy out of the house more often these days and I spend more time with cheap, free-to-play fare on my phone. Whatever the reason, I find myself drawn away from big budget releases in favor of indie games, classic re-releases, and mobile games these days.

And since I’ve been having a ball with taxes, family issues, and the like, let’s take a simpler approach this week and look at a few rapid-fire impressions from some games that have been holding my attention lately.

Ōkami HD

Scary!… but also pretty…
Source: PC Gamer

Let’s start with the classic re-releases, shall we?

I first played Ōkami on the Nintendo Wii and forwent the PlayStation 2 release thinking that the Wii motion controls would be better suited to a game centered around accurate brush movements (go ahead and get the giggles out now, a-holes; I’m sure it’s hilarious in hindsight), but the limited screen resolution made it very difficult to enjoy. After, a game about literally creating art should be, at the very least, pretty to look at.

The HD re-release addresses both the control and presentation issues I had in the past. There’s still a degree of challenge to accurate brush strokes, but none of that jittery nonsense from the motion controls. Plus, this is one of the few times I’d argue that an HD graphics overhaul was worth re-buying the game. Again, the one thing a game about art needs to get right is to at least look nice.

Other than that, it’s the exact same game as before; just as much fun and just as rich is Japanese folklore (so there’s this 3-part Kabuki theatre dance based on the folktale of Orochi on YouTube that you should totally watch…).

Reign of Bullets

Did somebody say, “EXPLOSIONS?”
Source: Steam

Next, the smaller indie stuff…

So, of the games I’ve been playing, I’ve been playing this the least – not because it’s bad, but because it’s better suited as a time waster and I’ve had little in the way of time to waste.

The story is kinda cute; a giant corporation literally drops a freeway on your garage and you go vigilante to take it back. Reading the passive-aggressive tweet storms between you and the bad guys over who has the worse business practices is amusing if nothing else.

The game also features tons of customisability as you earn new weapons and upgrades for your ship. But, as I said, it’s a time waster; You’re going to want to have some free time to dedicate to grinding for cash and parts. That kind of gameplay is good for when you want to just not think about stuff, but I find I’m not exactly the kind of person that enjoys not thinking.



Prepare combat sequence for ludicrous speed!
Source: Google Play

And lastly, naturally, we come to the mobile game that I wish was more fun for me than it actually is.

Made of equal parts RPG and Idle Clicker, Blustone is pretty straightforward; you build a team, train them up, and tap on the screen ’till the bad guys go ‘boom.’

The problem is that, like most RPGs I’ve played, it starts out fast-paced and exciting, but slows down quickly to a slog of a level grinder. Plus, I found myself kinda distracted by the blatantly cutesy fanservice (how many bunny girls do you need, game?).

That said, there was ONE character that got a laugh out of me; an ice skater named Yuri (Get it?… Her name is Yuri… and you can say that she’s “on ice.”).

What I Learned From Coming Out As Androgynous

For those of you that follow my antics on Twitter, you may be very well aware that I recently came out as androgynous. And honestly, it’s been a long time coming.

I’ve always known that this was a critical part of myself since I was roughly five years old; I recognized parts of myself that were equally masculine and feminine. I questioned why boys and girls weren’t allowed to dress or act in certain ways and didn’t buy into the excuses they gave. I envied androgynous celebrities like David Bowie, Prince, and Joan Jett for allowing themselves the freedom to be whatever they wanted. In fiction, I naturally gravitated to characters that danced between or outright rejected the gender binary.

Part of me is still fluid in terms of gender identity; I just feel more girly or more macho on some days than I do others. But the case remains that whether I look like a host(ess) at a swanky club, …

… your oddly hip-and-with-it aunt, …

… or like someone spliced the genetic material of Daria Morgandorfer and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, …

I feel the most ‘in-my-element’ when I can play and toy with gender roles.

And, like any person exploring their identity freely for the first time, I’ve been quick to take notes on what things feel like and how to get the most enjoyment out of myself as I come into my own. So today, I’ll be sharing my experiences and what I’ve learned about myself over the last few weeks as I continue to explore myself.

But, before I start, I realize that my experience may not match your own. You could do all of the things I do and get a completely different result. But that’s what identity exploration is all about. It’s about finding out where the best you lies and expressing it. So, I hope that sharing my personal reflections will encourage others to begin exploring and find their ideal self.

So, let’s start with the most obvious realization I’ve had since coming out…

I feel WAY more confident in social settings

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Of course you’d feel better and act more confidently when you like who you are. But what took me off guard was just how much of a confidence boost I got from being open.

I’ve been smiling a lot more often, my stride is taller and more powerful, and I have almost no problems confronting people with problems. It’s as if those few brushes of eyeshadow and lipstick are the much-needed war paint to give me the physical presence I need to march on to the social battlefield with pride.

Of course, confidence CAN be a double-edged sword, because…

I’m more tempted to tell people what I ACTUALLY think of them

With an untempered boost in confidence comes a feeling of indestructibility. And with my new found confidence, I’ve had to work much harder to keep my attitude in check.

This isn’t a wholly bad thing; my freshly unchained savage self has done a good job of removing many of the more toxic elements of my social life that have been plaguing me for years. However, I realize that there are still some bridges that need to go unburnt (at least for now) and I find myself straining at my self-imposed leash wanting nothing more than to verbally destroy the poor unfortunate soul by telling them all the ways they’ve been screwing the pooch for as long as I’ve known them.

It’s almost as if my ego was a puppy whose owners – negative influences in my life if we’re continuing this metaphor – beat and abused me trying to make me act like the dog THEY wanted. Now, I’ve come out as a 120-pound Rottweiler that just wants to stop the abuse. Of course I bit you as soon as my kennel was opened; YOU WOULDN’T STOP HITTING ME WITH THE GODDAMN NEWSPAPER.

But let’s be real, those people are thankfully few and far between. Because much to my surprise…

People actually ADORE the “new” me

I’m thankful to live in a time where androgynes and androgynous people – androgynous women, in particular – are seeing a level of acceptance in media not seen since the 80’s (seriously, have you noticed how many women in film and television are rocking shaved/buzzed heads, minimal makeup, and plain clothes in the last decade or so?). As a result, not only have most people accepted me for what I am, they’ve ENCOURAGED me to keep exploring myself.

They love seeing me in full makeup, they tell me that they appreciate how tastefully I dress and carry myself, and they even share styling tips – offering to give me makeovers.

Even the people that weren’t accepting at first often come around when I confront them and force them to ask me questions rather than make assumptions and/or gossip with others behind my back (I’m actually quite open as long as you’re respectful; ask me anything).

Of course, one of the biggest questions I’ve been getting is the old stand-by, “are you a boy or a girl?” And in reflecting on that question, I’ve discovered that…

I really don’t put much stock in gender pronouns

I’ve never really seen myself in terms of gender. I’m far more likely to label myself as ‘human’ before I do the same with ‘man’ or ‘woman.’

Plus, there’s the aforementioned fluidity issue. There are some days where my masculinity takes dominance and others where it steps aside to let my feminitiy shine. So settling on a black-and-white man or woman label just feels disingenuous.

So, while I do respect that some non-binary people have preferred pronouns and I try to avoid misgendering wherever and whenever possible, I personally don’t get hung up on them. If you see me as a dude who just happens to be good with makeup, you’re correct. If you see me as a six-foot-four, 250-pound amazon of a woman, you’re correct. If you see me as a very pretty Lego brick, YOU. ARE. CORRECT.

Basically, I’m the closest you’ll likely ever get to seeing NiGHTS in real life (Yes, NiGHTS was meant to be gender fluid).

And seeing as how I’ve been rambling for longer than I think I ever have here on The Archive, I now turn the floor over to you. Share your coming out stories and the realizations you made as you explored your own identity so we can encourage and inspire more in the future.


Oh my twonking little pig, I think I’m dying.

I literally just woke up about an hour ago and I can’t remember being in this much pain. I have a searing headache so bad my vision is blurring, I can barely keep my morning coffee down through my churning stomach pains, and I still have painful muscle cramps from a losing fight earlier this week with a snowblower.

Bottom line, It’s taking all my strength to even SEE what I’m typing let alone form a cognizant thought. I’ll be back next week after I get better from this case of Oh-God-Please-Have-Mercy-On-My-Soul.

Much love. See you next week.

The Agent on The Florida Shooting and Gun Control (AGAIN)

I’m getting really sick of having to look at this same image every few months in this country.
Source: New York Times

Well, here we go again.

I know I already made my statement on where I stand on gun control some time ago… multiple times, as a matter of fact. But given how the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida is one of the most lethal in recent history, I feel we need to bring it up again.

Yes, I understand that this is still a very recent tragedy and that the emotional wounds are still raw. However, I honestly believe that we owe it to the 17 innocent kids from Florida and the hundreds of others in our country that have been brutally cut down in a hail of gunfire in recent years to have this talk to protect future lives.

As I’ve made clear in the past, I’m not for gun bans – I’m for gun CONTROL. The gun, especially the modern assault firearm, is a very useful tool that has the unfortunate capacity to claim multiple lives in a near instant. The incident at Stoneman Douglas High School is just the most recent example of how we have too many people who lack too little empathy to be trusted with such a massive responsibility.

I feel I can safely say that I have yet to hear a sound argument against tighter gun laws.

“But places with strict gun laws have higher homicide rates.”

Yes, some of them do because of factors like economic status and general education levels. But this isn’t about stopping murders altogether because that would be logistically impossible. This is about denying those with an inclination to kill a means of doing so more efficiently. I think we can all agree that stopping a single victim knife-murderer is both easier and more preferable than a shooter with an AR-15 that destroys lives numbering into the double digits before anyone can respond.

“But Switzerland has mandatory gun laws and they never have mass shootings.”

Not true on multiple counts. Firstly, guns are only mandatory with military service; you have to have served first before they hand you a firearm. Otherwise, you must obtain a ‘weapon acquisition permit’ that requires a valid ID, a residence address, and a clean criminal record no older than three months. And even then, automatic firearms are still prohibited.

As for gun violence, despite having much lower gun death rates than the U.S., Switzerland still struggles with its gun culture. Much like us, Swiss historians believe that it was an armed citizenry that discouraged direct attacks during World War II. But they are struggling to keep track of military-issued weapons which contributes to gun violence in the country.

“But owning a gun is an American right.”

Yes, and that’s what we’re arguing about. You think it’s an inalienable right, I think it’s an earned privilege. And if someone abuses that privilege or are inclined to abuse that privilege, they should have it taken away for the safety of those who know how to handle that kind of power properly. It’s a simple system that every movie geek like myself is familiar with – “Bust a deal; Face the wheel.”

Look, I get that gun culture is a proud American tradition. But the thing about traditions is that they grow stale and outdated as time passes and our understanding of the world changes. As such, it’s our duty to call traditions – major and minor alike – into question when they can be used to the detriment of another. Remember; public executions and slave ownership used to be traditions.

So, while you all heal from this latest tragedy, I hope you continue to find the strength to make your voices heard – to stop the violence for the memory of those lost and the future of those we don’t want to lose.

The Agent Reviews a Game: Space Shooter: Galaxy Attack

This blank, boring promo offend ALL of my senses as a graphic designer. But as for the game…
Source: Google Play

Well, color me surprised. Here I am, hunting for the ONE good mobile I can enjoy, and it was hiding right in front of me.

In my defense, everything about Space Shooter: Galaxy Attack screamed, “don’t play this; it’s garbage and we REALLY didn’t care about it beyond a paycheck.” Every piece of promotional material attached to this game is some of the most bland-looking, generic marketing wank I’ve ever seen. Even the title is so generic, I had to review and analyze screenshots like they were courtroom evidence just to make sure I wasn’t looking at footage from a different, equally generic looking game.

That said, when I actually got to playing it, I was surprised at how well it held up.

As the title ham-fistedly tells us, Space Shooter: Galaxy Attack is a space-themed shooter. You may recall my frothing at the mouth rage towards the last mobile shooter I played. Well, I was able to detect a trace of enjoyability through my fury-blurred vision and decided to look for other shooters to try in the hope that they would correct the mistakes of Fastlane. And, for the most part, Space Shooter nailed it.

The controls are AMAZINGLY responsive. My main problem with  Fastlane was that it didn’t actually track your finger which led to a lot of easily avoidable deaths. Space Shooter wins by default by having your ship lock to where ever you tap your finger, allowing for tight maneuvers and rapid response to threats.

And by god are their threats to be had. This game is just shy of a Touhou Project level bullet hell shooter – especially when you get to the boss fights and SUPER ESPECIALLY in Boss Fight Mode when they get amped up to eleven.

Oh yeah, there are multiple modes to play. There’s a ‘story mode’ (in the loosest sense as there is no plot) with three difficulty levels -Normal, Elite and Veteran. Boss Fight Mode has you rechallenging the bosses in the story with new ridiculous firing patterns that put your skills to the test, the Arena and Trial Modes give you a chance at snagging glory on a global leaderboard, and Endless Mode gives you a chance to grind some coin out of the alien menace to upgrade your ships.

Honestly, speaking of Endless Mode, that may be my only hang up with this game so far. Endless mode is WAY too easy. With a fully powered-up ship, I can cruise through over 200 waves while barely even touching the screen to steer. It’s pretty obvious that it exists only for level grinding.

Really, the thing you’re going to want to play this game for is the PvP. Yeah, this has a competitive multiplayer mode where you and a friendly rando from around world race against the clock to snatch the highest score. I thought it was totally mindless at first, but there’s actually a fair amount of strategy involved. What the fastest way to clear this wave to pull ahead of your opponent? Do you stick with your favorite ship to clear waves faster or grab the ship change power-up for a quick point boost?

As for the ads and pay-to-win shenaniganry I railed against in my Fastlane review, they are all completely optional here. Yes, there are buttons urging you to buy other games everytime you die, but they’re incorporated into the game over screen directly so as to be as unintrusive as possible. And if there ARE long video ads to watch, the game gives you the option to ignore them if the promise of extra coins or reviving your ship doesn’t appeal to you. Even the prices in the in-game store were more than fair; the starter pack is a steal at 99 cents.

This isn’t the sort of game that will hold me for long periods of time and it doesn’t compare to the big budget or even indie PC games I prefer to spend my time on. That said, I can’t state enough just how amazed I was that this seemingly hokey game that looked like it was made just to rake in a quick buck turned out so good. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good mobile game to hold you on a long road trip or waiting room visit.

I guess the lesson to be learned here is that the ol’ chestnut of ‘less is more’ really does hold true in the mobile gaming market.

Archive News: Buy Me A Cup O’ Ko-Fi!

Sorry, field operatives. It seems I’ve hit a bit of a creative slump this week in terms of writing. I knew I shouldn’t have wasted all my creative energy on making that HUGE ground sirloin burger stuffed with mozzarella and bacon and topped with fried pastrami, a parmesan cheese crisp, and pickles.

To be fair though, it WAS an intensely delicious burger.

That said, I DID vow that I was going to try to find new ways to grow and expand this little project of mine while better supporting myself. And by gum, I’m making progress.

See, I’ve been wanting to set up a way for readers to support my writings for some time without having to strongarm them into a subscription service or forcing me into a rigid schedule – both directly opposing my laissez-faire approach to business practices.

So, I’ve finally decided to go a different route; you can just buy me a coffee!

Ko-Fi is, in essence, a digital tip jar. If you enjoy reading my brain droppings every week, you can go to my Ko-Fi page at ko-fi.com/awkwardagent to leave some scratch to show your appreciation. You can give as much or as little as you feel my weekly thought dumps are worth (in three dollar increments) as often as you deem appropriate. No subscriptions, no hassling, just direct support for the kind of semi-serious, occasionally geeky, thought-provoking writing you enjoy reading and I enjoy writing.

We’ll be back on schedule next week. In the meantime, please give my other articles a look-see. Last week’s offering on the horrible misunderstanding between the drag and transgender communities got a lot of love, so I encourage you to give that a look. And if you enjoyed that and other articles, please consider donating to my Ko-Fi page to support more good stuff.

Thank you all for your continued support!