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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Alas, Poor Yorick!

There is an old enigma afoot. It has been a source of great concern among Shakespearean scholars that the Immortal Bard wrote no lines for Yorick, a role given to Roger Jolly, a consummate --and very thin-- 16th century actor and male model who was called away from dress rehearsal to pose for a maritime flag still known as The Jolly Roger.

He did not return.  Shakespeare tried to use a human skull and had Hamlet exclaim,"Mommy, mommy, look what I found in Uncle Dad's head!" But it was considered inconsistent with the mood of the play and caused a last-minute rewrite and rush to cast a ventriloquist in the lead --which I present here.  Among my Shakespeare folios is one that has a few lines for poor Yorick.  I copied them out for this post. 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 indeed know me--
I, an orb of holes and hinges that clack and
Flute in eternal eddies was in sooth
A fool who had the king's ear, and thine,
Though none of mine, 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 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 king is killed by a chicken.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bloggie Award!

Susan Kane, a very good writer, conferred upon this blog the award tagged above.  I am very grateful, and have, in this opening sentence, satisfied rule #1. So far, so good.

The rules:

1. Thank and post the link of the person who nominated you.

2. Share 5 facts about yourself to your readers.

3.  Nominate 5-10-20 blogs and notify them (when you make comments on their blog posts).

4. Pass on the rules.

Now it is time to address Rule #2. Here are five facts about myself:

#1:  According to Aesop, "In critical moments, the very powerful have need of the weakest." I have no idea what he meant by that but it is a favorite quotation because I see myself on the humbler end of it. To say more would be an ostentation of modesty. The most critical junctures of my life have, it follows, been rife with self-criticism. A second favorite quote comes to my rescue. Harold MacMillan said criticism is never inhibited by ignorance. Took a load off me, I'll clue ya.

#2: You may surmise by the phrase closing #1 that I spent some time in the American South. Philogically, "I'll clue ya" stems from outdoor gatherings with relatives. Huge quantities of food were consumed by huge relatives who said, "sure is good, I'll clue ya." I would scamper under the picnic tables with other small creatures to avoid being eaten by mistake. I have no photos of these frolics but have since observed similar scenes among other life-forms:
#3: Although situated around the world, all my relatives are human. I take measureless pride in humanity but find its opinions are often unstable --inherently subject to error. Good thing too. I'd hate to think I was right about being wrong, vice versa or both.

#4: There are great enigmas surrounding humanity's place in the universe. One is its infatuation with Now. People tell me to quit worrying about the past and future, to live in the moment. I have nothing against the present moment but sure wouldn't want to be stranded in it. What if I need to find my pants or plan mischief? One needs a continuum for that --which brings us to #5.

#5: Above clip (featuring one of the world's handsomest conductors) is what a continuum sounds like if it takes over three minutes to pass a given point. The continuum may contain a freight train you're waiting to cross the track. It may be a marching band on parade. It may diagram coordinates of someone enjoying the moment, stopping to smell the flowers, then realizing somebody had to plant the flowers in the past and tend them into the future. I gardened public places over 30 years and it was I --and others like me with single window-sill pots or a string of campuses to care for-- who planted and tended. On behalf of gardeners everywhere, our pleasure, you're welcome.

Now for the Third rule, nominate 5 (etc.) blogs for the award, I'll go look for exceptionally creative blogs that I haven't yet nominated on other occasions. I shall add more by and by:

Life 101
What Lena Leaves
Tom Cochran/Light Breezes
auto de fey
Dr. Kathy McCoy: Living Fully in Midlife and Beyond
Lone Wolf Concerto
Standing Into Danger
Dear You (Joy of Living)
A Geriatric Grandmother
Life by Chocolate, Robyn Alana Engel's Blog
Old Geezers Out To Lunch
Leaves On My Tree
Under The Porch Light
Wishbone Soup Cures Everything
Starting Over, Accepting Changes-Maybe
I Think; Therefore, I Yam
The Armchair Squid
Victorian Scribbles
Looking For Jack
fishducky finally
About Life And Love
Cherdo On The Flipside

As to #4. Pass on the rules:  As its temporary plenipotentiary, I'll declare this an award of elective compliance and leave recipients to decide whether or not to take a pass on the rules. I always do.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Political Life Revisited

Since the other kids  are currently waking from enchanted slumber and declaring candidacy for the coming elections, I thought it apposite to trot out this old essay, update it, and post it before my political rivals fully disenthrall themselves and get the jump on me. 

Here is a picture of a man. He is 65 years old. He is on a big adventure to find his shadow but is walking in the wrong direction. Why is he doing that? Why is he doing that on a hot June day in California?

He is in training.

He is in training for politics because another goddawful election year is coming, full of upheavals, downheaveals and unilateral global heavals, but he doesn't care about that. This is important. He wants to be Lieutenant Governor of Wyoming. Why? Because he is currently Lieutenant Governor of Arizona and hates the Capitol Building:

That is why he lives in California. Yes, it's still dry here and he despairs of his yard but politics is a strange bedfellow and he prefers to live with his wife who says, "he's strange too because he steals all the covers". But more importantly, he braves the inclemency of the Golden State. In his words: "Those other two states, much as I love them and dedicate my political life to them, are mostly just gravel."

No other Lieutenant Governor of either state has given a kinder description of them.

Why is our candidate special? First off, he was a prime athlete who attended several prestigious community colleges on a full Cockfighting Scholarship.
He became class president through a series of debates, Machiavellian tontines and the slogan, "How do I get out of this chicken outfit? No, really, there's no zipper!"

His platform consisted of fierce promises to clean up campus lavatories --which really needed it-- expressed as, "A vote for me is a vote for sanity (a word he still confuses with sanitation)." He also perfected a directive that thematized his subsequent public life: "If we cannot progress singly, let us regress severally. You guys go first!"

There are some who say the office, to which our candidate aspires, holds no real power. In rebuttal, one can only point out the contributions of Lieutenant Governors in Arizona, Maine, Oregon, West Virginia, Puerto Rico and, of course, Wyoming. If you would like to impress alumni at your next high school reunion by claiming to be a Lieutenant Governor, make sure it's one of those six places. Other states and territories actually have that office.

Oh, and I have dibs on Wyoming.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Archive and Return Of UFO

I had not seen UFO ("UFOs Like Riddles") since its visit over my garden gate in January and was surprised to find it buzzing the kitchen table. So I did what any right-minded Earthling would do, reached out and caught it between my thumb and forefinger.

"Bonsoir, Georges. Ça fait longtemps."

"Yes...but why are you speaking French?"

"Ah, das ist ein Stückchen des Rätsel!"

"Rätsel? Hmmm, now German for riddle...You have a riddle for me! What mischief are you up to now, U?"

"You-Eff-Oh, please, but permit me to interface with your primitive human computer and I'll show you."


"Siehe da!"
"Et voilà!" I replied,"You have been in the Bas Rhin."

"Obviously, Geo., but remember clues come from within. Look closely."

"Very well," I said casually (because this Jarvis view is in my collection). "In this view of Kleber Place --judging by shadows, a sunny day-- in the late 1880s, Strasbourg was a German town (Strassburg). Twenty years earlier it was a French town and, twenty years later, would be again. Since the collapse and break-up of Charlemagne's empire, the Alsace-Lorraine has changed nationality many times."


"There! There's something going on, in the distance beyond the fountain plume. I see him."
"Yes, and what is he doing?"
"He is bowing." 

"Hat on head, heels together --a bow-- how many cultures?"

"German and French, U, there was a common protocol to bows in the 1800s. According to its rules, the man is acquainted with one or both ladies approaching. They have made eye-contact, a signal of recognition inviting response. The ladies will acknowledge his profound bow with slighter inclinations of their own. The scene is far away and fuzzy but its genuine, unstaged bow affords a privileged glimpse of the moment --and voilà, siehe da and behold, it comes to life."

"Very good, Geo. But look around the bowing man. What do you see?"

"Well, the woman on the right seems to have some authority over the woman she guides with her arm. There is a large man in uniform purposefully approaching the man who has recognized at least one of the ladies."

"The man who bows, he's a time traveler, Geo."

"Then the lady on the left is..."

"Yes, that is Poppy, your temporal correspondent."

"And an arrest is about to be made!"

"That, I cannot ascertain. It is a probability I wanted to test through you. I left both area and era immediately and hid in a 1950s tinplate toy factory where the machinery snatched me and turned me out like this, enameled! Could you please take me outside and pitch me into outer space? I'll return soonest and help set this right."

"Of course."
"Thanks, any other questions?"

"Many, but just now I wonder why I got so few clicks and comments on my previous post."

"Élémentaire, mon pauvre Georges, there are days it seems nobody loves us."

"Oh go get an overhaul!"


I went back indoors, thinking: If not sooner, I hope. 

{Please excuse any inaccuracies in my recollection of You-Eff-Oh's utterances. I have it on good authority that only 4 people in the known universe (none of whom is me) understands the declension of German articles except Herr Thornock, my high school German teacher, who --unlike my English teacher, Willie-- has not followed up and checked my usage for 50 years.} --thanks Will!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Where Is NOW Now?

                            [image cred. HP Image Editor and rocket from my toybox]

One wouldn't ordinarily anticipate difficulty studying something that is everywhere all the time,  but NOW is always in the process of disappearing, so we are confronted with a singular paucity of material. This essay must make do with pivotal moments in a fictional epic --which fortunately I have not thought up beyond the following three sentences:

1. NOW is suggested in opening lines: Deirdre inhaled air charged with salt and sunshine, felt the sea wind in her hair and realized, somewhat sadly, that she would never be this happy again.

2. And in meanwhiles: Meanwhile, Colonel Arsepaddler closed the portfolio and said, "You understand, don't you Frebbish, that if the missing diagrams are not in this folder by Swithin's Day there'll be ructions, I tell you, ructions!"

3. And continuations: Deirdre and Frebbish exchanged solicitous glances while the colonel  gazed out the space-ship porthole as though something about the universe rather disgusted him.

Examples above describe moments of NOW as interstices wedged in an astragal of things that have happened and things that will happen because of them. We understand this because we were told stories --which all exploit this temporal enigma of sequence-- then went to school and learned to read them for ourselves.

School itself is simple enough but its systems of tuition and funding are too complicated to be understood except by a handful of eccentric mathematicians and most pirates. Both are pictured above in an illustration of a school board meeting in 2015.

I should also mention the universe. The universe is not stable. In fact it is higgledy-piggledy. Were it merely higgledy or  piggledy there would be little point in mentioning it but it is both, so I should. In physics, mind and matter are simply two ways of organizing events. The universe is made of events. In it, all possible events are assembled. Interaction between what has happened and what might possibly happen will, for our purposes, adequately define NOW. You may also recognize it as a definition of LIFE, but that is another discussion.