Warning: Contains potential Spoilers from Shakespeare, A Christmas Carol, Pride & Prejudice, and Game of Thrones
It’s summer; it’s time for Shakespeare. There’s Shakespeare in the park, Shakespeare in your local theaters, and plenty at your local library. Go watch some! (although you have my permission to skip over Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Coriolanus, Titus Andronicus, and Australopithecus.) The library will surely have an excellent version A Midsummer Night’s Dream. How can you beat Titania in love with Bottom who has been transformed into a donkey… “methought I was enamoured of an ass….”?
Our favorite tales – the ones that resonate with our modern sensibilities – are stories of reconciliation and redemption. I recently watched an excellent version of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale under the stars that showed the power of people seeking and receiving true forgiveness stands at the heart of our most beloved stories.
We learned in school that Shakespeare wrote Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. For years, the way I remembered the comedies and tragedies were by the ending – people dead? Tragedy. Wedding? Comedy. Unless there’s “King” in the title, then it’s a History. Now, please note it was people who came after the playwright who created the categories. Shakespeare wrote whatever the hell he* wanted, then later on people grouped and interpreted and analyzed them ad nauseum. Many of the tragedies have funny elements and many of the comedies have very dark themes. Continue reading “Exit, Pursued by a Bear”
Outside the car windows it’s dark, but hundreds of red lights glow on the road ahead. The smell of exhaust from idling cars seeps in over the chemical tang of the air conditioner. I can’t hear the engine because my mom has turned up the radio so high. The droning voices are interrupted periodically with cheering, but, from the back seat, I can’t quite hear them. When I can, I have no idea what they’re talking about. Suddenly my mother shouts, waking my brother snoozing next to me, “Agnew! Who the hell is Spiro Agnew?”
What do you mean you have not seen any dinosaurs recently? Do you not have any children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or little neighbors, or do you not know someone else who has children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or little neighbors? Surely, you know someone who has access to a young person, and it is summertime, therefore, you can take them to a science museum or natural history museum or for heaven’s sake a Toys-R-Us to look at some dinosaurs.
As I was saying…
The collection you are looking at is probably not all, in fact, dinosaurs. As a general rule, dinosaurs in the Mesozoic age, aka the “Age of the Dinosaurs,” did not swim or fly. Those giant things in the water that looked like a turtle crossed with a giraffe? Or had teeth and flippers bigger than your head? Not dinosaurs. The thing with the membrane stretched across one finger, depicted gliding across the hundred foot fern trees? Not dinosaurs. This is true, even though most museum exhibits and reference books will include pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, and mososaurs. They might as well have included crocodiles or gekkos while they were at it. Continue reading “The Past Is Not What it Used to Be”
This weekend, flags will be a-flyin’, firecrackers a-poppin’, politicians a-pontificatin’, and barbecues a-grillin’ as our nation celebrates its 240th birthday amid the usual pomp and turmoil. Our national patriotic selves are in particularly high dudgeon this election year, when we all play the game of Why Do We Have an Electoral College, Again? Some you will be tourists, traveling to national parks, or perhaps to our nation’s capital (I hear there’s some GCLS thing coming up soon?) ‘Tis also a fine time to play another fun game of history, Who’s Your Favorite President?
Was Lincoln your favorite because he believed in the equality of all individuals and the strength that can come from a united people under a good central government? How about FDR shepherding the country through the miseries of the Depression and anxieties of world war? Jefferson, articulating the freedoms that prompted us to start our grand experiment of independence? Or is it some prez that you lived through more recently? (Though I’d argue anybody after 1976 doesn’t give us enough perspective to evaluate fairly.) Or do you think picking the best president is Uncool, too Nerdy for you?
Nerdy or not, I submit for discussion, Mr. James Madison. He deserves his own carving on Rushmore. He should have his own obelisk on the National Mall, his own memorial next to the Potomac. And it should be the biggest.
Six months have passed since I retired, and I am slowly redrawing my habits. I was happy to leave the back-to-back conference calls and the constant grinding stress from my corporate masters. I was not happy to leave my work comrades. I had processed – therapeutically – the feelings about leaving them and still think of them fondly every day. I had not, however, considered the feelings I would have about the non-work part. I miss the trappings. I miss my gym.
February came and went before I was able to send my corporate polo shirt out of the house, the uniform that I wore weekly for years. I felt silly, but I took a photo. I still long for the fresh turkey sandwich on a French roll that I would literally run next door to get in the five minute break between calls. I miss reading the newspaper on BART going into the city. I challenged myself daily to complete the cryptogram and the two crossword puzzles between Lake Merritt station and my office, which meant finishing them while I walked the five blocks to work. I couldn’t do it if it was raining. This month, I finally decided to find a new gym.