All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Helsingør And Word List #8

It's been brought to my attention that the photo used in the previous post is not of Hamlet's castle in Elsinore (Helsingør) but a crumbling butte in Arizona. I can only say my choices were limited in the matter. This computer came with a few sample pictures in its files, maybe five, of stock subjects like a koala and an Arizona desert scene. Rather than go a quarter way around the world for a snapshot of Kronborg Castle --where the story played out for real-- I thought I could use what was on hand. After consulting a globe to see how a castle in Denmark would look from California I corrected the image thusly:


1. If the middles of all things were lined up end to end, how long would they be?

2. If time is less fathomable than space, how come we get predictably older as we go futureward but, as we move farther away, stay the same size?

3. Has Mercator Projection ever been tested on humans?

4. If one is subjectively the center of one's universe, what is the polite response to someone else who needs to use it?

5. Are dog noses an untapped source of rubber?

6. Are great hardships more edifying than little soft ones?

7. When two adults hold hands with a child between them, why does it always lift both legs?

Prince Hamlet:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Alas, Poor Yorick

[Photo: Hamlet's Castle and lush grounds, Denmark]

Couple years ago a dear friend and great voice-over artist was cast as Yorick in an online Hamlet production. Among my Shakespeare folios is one that has a few lines for poor Yorick, which I copied out in anticipation of his performance. Parenthetical notes are the bard's:

{Hamlet squeaketh in strange voice and moveth Yorick's mandible}

Yea, 'tis I, a head of bone in earth whose
Flame, mirth, endeth not in conflagration,
Headstone or service, save imagination,
Must return unmarked: Yorick passed. Yorick,
Whose last caper calleth only, "Alas".

{Here Hamlet drinketh a glass of water whilst he ventriloquizeth}

Alas, Hamlet, thou didst know me indeed--
I, an orb of holes and hinges that clack and
Flute in eternal eddies was in sooth
The fool who had the king's ear, and thine,
None of mine, (uh) won't you be my Valentine?

{Hamlet delivereth closing couplet whilst he grinneth and lighteth a cigarette -- thus getteth big hand!}

We now know the entire play was based upon legal loopholes to the custom of tontine inheritance during highly competitive activities of the Hanseatic herring trade. The folio in my possession includes commentary on this subject that was meant to be included in the play. Hamlet was supposed to stick Yorick's skull over a chicken and let it run around the castle uttering incriminating one-liners about his uncle. However, ventriloquism was nowhere near sophisticated enough to make this feasible. Another example of how far Shakespeare was ahead of his time.

The theme was picked up some time later by Rimsky-Korsakov in Золотой Петушок, an opera in three acts based on Alexander Pushkin's 1834 poem The Tale of the Golden Cockerel, commonly performed in French under the title Le Coq d'Or, in which the evil king is killed by a chicken.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Word List #6: Greater And Lesser Enigmas

I should mention the photo, taken probably by me or Dan, reflects this entry's title. The lesser enigma is why the gate is only half painted. Greater enigma is what possessed Norma --red shirt at left-- and Wendy --at right with purse-- to befriend me in the '60s and remain nearly 45 years --and hopefully counting. They have have heard my questions down the years and I appreciate it, so at the end of this post I shall include a sentimental poem. This word list will contain puzzles in the form of questions --tests even-- which Willie might appreciate as a half-century compilation toward my own personal pop-quiz. These will be numbered. But let's begin with 2 enigmas from his and my recent personal correspondence:

Scientists believe that the planets grew from material pulled together by electrostatic charges - the same force that's behind the "dust bunnies" under your bed. I hadn't wondered about the cohesive force behind dust bunnies since I was little and am amazed and delighted to see it explained in a single sentence. I mean, to suddenly see an answer to a long-forgotten question is like the universe is keeping some sort of promise. And, in context of the principle, we are living on a grown-up dust bunny! As we sleep, new worlds form under our dreams.

A brief consultation of The Yellow Pages shows sociopaths and psychopaths to be poorly advertised compared to homeopaths and osteopaths. My insurance brochure doesn't list them at all. I suppose if I come down with anything requiring a sociopath or psychopath I could ask my family doctor to recommend a good one. Otherwise I don't know how they get any business.


1. In life, a test creates its own course of study. Is the reverse true only in classrooms?

2. Bubbles have centers. Do suds?

3. What effect do our adult lives have upon our childhoods?

4. Why can't I use my measuring tape to measure the distance between any given point and where I lost it?

5. A sundial measures the roll and orbit of Earth. Mechanical clock measures its own face. Which is more accurate? Why do both work best at night?

6. Is the future where an event is broadcasting itself or where it will broadcast itself?

7. If every particle of matter comes from everywhere equally and goes everywhere at once, how long can I believe I'm not everybody else?

8. Are we the thing that looks out at the universe or the thing into which the universe looks or all three?

9. If each step takes you no closer to the edge of everything, where is its middle?

10. If we had not named Nothingness and defined it, would it exist?

11. Could God build a better eternity if He had the time?

12. Can too much self-denial make us envious of people who never heard of us?

13. How well each cell knows its neighbors is evidenced by how well you are. Does this acquaintance stop at your body?

14. Has reward meaning beyond events that include it?

15. Why does the wake behind a duck on a calm pond resemble a big feather?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, more of these collected questions found in a shelf Norma made me sort out, and I shall post them by and by. But now the poem:

Laughter ripples
At my hat-brim.
A half-painted gate
Attracts angels.
They sing.
Infinity is sudden.
What surpise
They bring!