William Shakespeare

Shakespeare was a Doobie Brother…?

We now have not even close to definitive proof that William Shakespeare smoked marijuana and perhaps used cocaine. Good thing Francis Bacon or Christopher Marlowe wrote those plays, huh…?

Bill Shakespeare, mellow dude (image courtesy Wikimedia)

Busy with a lot of stuff for school and behind a little on my reading these days, though by the weekend I’ll have an essay on an excellent book on Paul McCartney during the Wings years.

So today we talk about Shakespeare. Actually we talk about Shakespeare on crack. Well, maybe not crack but cocaine – and pot.

Wow. Just wow….

According to that bastion of journalism USA Today, a study published in July suggests that Shakespeare may have smoked marijuana and cocaine. The researchers, from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, after examining shards of clay smoking pipes from Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon property with a new type of spectrometry, report that traces of cannabis and Peruvian cocaine have been found in those pipes. The pipes may/may not have have been used by Shakespeare, but the pipes date from the early 17th century and come from Shakespeare’s property. So possibly… Continue reading

New analysis reveals major flaws in Achilles myth

Today’s edition of the Greek newspaper Pireaus Chronographos breaks a major story that should shock anyone who has ever used the phrase “Achilles heel.” Reprinted by permission.

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A Scottish researcher’s stunning new book about the myth of the Greek warrior Achilles has rocked the world of antiquities studies.

The researcher, Leathan Ray Aibne, is a professor who teaches Greek and Roman language at the University of the West of Scotland’s East Campus. His book, How the Realization of Indeterminacy Displaces the Fiction of Narrative Sequence in the Achilles Myth, contains two controversial ideas.

The first concerns the Western pronunciation of the mighty warrior’s name. Professor Aibne’s book claims we have been pronouncing “Achilles” wrong for centuries. Continue reading

The night Reg Dwight stopped by

I was sitting in the living room one night watching wrestling on TV when someone knocked at the front door. When I opened it, I didn’t recognize the guy at first. But when he said, “Hello again, Pat,” I realized it was a guy from long ago—a high school classmate, Reggie Dwight.

I hadn’t seen him in decades. It took a couple of seconds for my brain to mesh with the moment. “Hey, Reg!” I said. “Great to see you! It’s been—jeez, how long has it been?”

Reggie stood under the porch light, hanging his head, barely making eye contact. After a pause that verged on awkward, I said, “C’mon in! Sit down. Want a beer?”

He said “no beer,” took a few lethargic steps and sank into an overstuffed recliner near the door. Continue reading

Book-Review

Fool: Christopher Moore’s Shakespeare mashup diverts…and that alone…

Reading Christopher Moore’s Fool is rather like watching Hercules: the Legendary Journeys or Xena: Warrior Princess; that willing suspension of disbelief Coleridge was on about is absolutely necessary.

A veer away from the 2015 reading list for a book a friend has been after me to take in for some time. Fool is author Christopher Moore‘s mashup of Shakespeare whose primary focus is answering the never asked question: what would King Lear be like if told from the point of view of Lear’s Fool? Moore’s answer to this question would be a story filled with lots of bawdy, occasionally tasteless, joking about power, sex, treason, madness, and love – all Shakespearean topics, granted  – as well as love as a higher end of human endeavor – another Shakespearean theme.

In other words, it’s pretty much as accurate a take on Shakespeare as you’re likely to find. Which is to say it’s got the Shakespeare pretty much wrong and pretty much right at the same time.

That whole “…tale told by an idiot/Signifying nothing” explanation might be apt, one might say. Continue reading

Conspiracy

Logic 101 – Day 1: Jade Helm 15

Wherein I “prove” logic can be fun, for me at least.

Welcome to Day 1 of Logic 101. Don’t worry. It’s a one-day class. Actually, the “class” is only as long as it takes you to read this post. Homework may take anywhere from 0 seconds to a lifetime, depending on one’s tolerance for such exercises. Continue reading

Religion

The bar in Hell

For reasons that would take up too many words, a colleague and I decided yesterday we were going to Hell.

“I’ll meet you there at the bar,” she said. And this, of course, got us wondering what the bar in Hell would be like.

“You could only order drinks that you drank in high school,” she said. For me, that would be cheap wines like Boone’s Farm or Tyrolia.

Here’s more speculation on what the bar might be like:

  • You won’t see any “no smoking” signs, that’s for sure.
  • No barstools. No seats of any kind.
  • No, wait, there’s a table for two, but it’s occupied by the two ugliest people you’ve ever seen, making out. Their tongues are visible.

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Facebook, the NFL and the GOP: #WTF

What a fucking day.

Item: Congress has tentatively agreed on a bill that will keep the government from shutting down. Now, there’s a lot wrong with it, starting with the fact that the Republicans are insisting on a huge payoff to Wall Street, basically holding the best interests of the people hostage to the best interests of the insanely rich. The smart money says the Democrats will:

a) raise holy hell, then
b) fold like the Vichy little bitches they are.

In other news, the sun is expected to rise in the east tomorrow.

None of this is the fun part, though. First, the GOP plan would … well, just read it. Continue reading

One day I got trapped in a television…

…in a hotel room in San Juan Bautista, California.

My wife and I had been having a lovely time until then.

I am fortunate she returned from the hotel pool in time

to switch off the set.

If she hadn’t, I might have ended up on Fox News.

(Picture taken in San Juan Bautista, California on June 22nd, 2013)

CATEGORY: Funny

Breaking Bad toy fiasco

Irwin Mainway would be proud. Even he would have a hard time topping this headline: “Toys R Us pulls meth-toting ‘Breaking Bad’ action figures from shelves after Florida mom’s protest.”

The dolls, based on the recently concluded AMC series, featured characters based on White, a meth-cooking high school science teacher, and his sidekick, Jesse Pinkman. Along with the action figures, the toys came with fake bags of meth, sacks of cash and gas masks.

For those of you not old enough to remember, Irwin Mainway was a sleazy toy salesman who was perennially grilled about his dangerous toys (such as “Bag of Glass”) by Jane Curtin on the “Consumer Probe” skit. The toys were over-the-top ridiculous. Continue reading

Let’s urban life

The most dangerous dogs travel in packs….

(Picture taken at Recology-Sunset Scavenger in San Francisco, California on September 26th, 2014 during a reception for artist Jeremy Rourke. This visual joke is exclusive to Scholars and Rogues, but check out my California photo blog anyway.)

CATEGORY: PersonalNarrative

The Ballad of Swamp Bunny

One morning last May, I stumbled into the kitchen, past the back door, stopped, backed up, and gazed through the glass. In the backyard staring at me, was a visitor. Then my son Joey, walking with his eyes closed, strolled into my back.

“What are you looking at?” He asked.

“We have a friend in the backyard,” I said.

Our visitor was a rabbit. He sat there staring at us, nibbling on grass, as patient as the dew.

“Hey Bunny,” said Joey. “Can I have pancakes for breakfast?”

Now, I know that the world can be dull and commonplace, so I have taken it upon myself to add some wonder and high adventure wherever possible, so that my son does not take for granted the thousand little miracles we see every day. I decided to provide our lupine guest with a more personal history.

“You know who that is?” I asked. “That may just be a rabbit, or it might be Swamp Bunny.”

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Opening the asylum

Daffy Duck and Robin Williams will never die, not really…

Robin Williams died yesterday, and when I heard the news I immediately thought of this collection of Daffy Duck toys I keep in an old-fashioned hanging bird cage in my basement. I have kept these toys in this way for years, collecting dust in a dark room, locked away like the picture of Dorian Gray.

It’s like I have collected iconographic bits of my own particular madness and put them in a teeny jail, though I have always thought of it as a shrine to Daffy, my God of Insanity.

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CATEGORY: WordsMatter

The Venereal Game: or, you don’t have a dirty mind, do you…?

James Lipton’s book on venery is about as much fun as one can have with words.

An Exaltation of Larks or, The Venereal Game by James Lipton

I’m back to the 2014 reading list with a book I picked up at my favorite used book shop – this one about as much fun as one can have with words. The book is called An Exaltation of Larks, or The Venereal Game and it’s written by James Lipton – yep, the same James Lipton who was the longtime dean of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University and host of Bravo’s fascinating Inside the Actors Studio.

While this book is indeed about venery, it’s the second definition at the link that fits Lipton’s work, not the first. Certainly there’s indulgence bordering on the decadent, but it’s overwhelmingly of the mental rather than physical sort – though for those of you whose minds drift in those directions, there’s enough titillation to make even the flashing of wit that pervades this work – an excitement of thinkers.

Venery, for those who have refused to hypertext, in that second definition means “animals that are hunted; game.” The derivation of the word is given as follows:

Middle English venerie, from Anglo-French, from Old French vener to hunt, from Latin venari — more at venison.  First Known Use: 14th century

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Things that make you go hmmm, and can I get one of them brownies?

Chris Christie tells New Jersey residents to go see how they like marijuana-baked Colorado. Then this poll comes out.

Item: A few days ago NJ Governor Chris Christie broke bad on Colorado.

Christie…questioned the “quality of life” in Colorado, questioning why people would want to live in a state where “there’s head shops popping up on every corner and people flying into your airport just to come and get high.”

…”For the people who are enamored with the idea with the income, the tax revenue from this, go to Colorado and see if you want to live there,” the Republican said.

Continue reading