Category Archives: conspiracy theory

The Bottle Imp Implementation

I gave you a list of places where my ideas for fiction come from, and in the end, I failed to explain the thing about the bottle imp. Yes, I do get ideas from the bottle imp. He’s an angry blue boggart with limited spell powers. But he’s also more than 700 years old and has only been trapped in the bottle since 1805. So, he has about 500 years of magical life experience to draw from and answer my idea questions. Admittedly it would be more helpful if he were a smarter imp. His name is Bruce, and his IQ in human terms would only be about 75. But, then, I don’t have to worry about misfired magic. If I asked him to, “Make me a hamburger,” he wouldn’t immediately change me into a fried, ground-beef patty because he is not smart enough to do that high of a level of magic spell.

But he is just barely intelligent enough to tell me a truthful answer if I asked him a question like, “What would happen if I put an alligator’s egg in a robin’s nest as a joke, and the robin family decided it was their own weird-looking egg and then tried to hatch it?” The answer would be truthful according to his vast knowledge of swamp pranks. And it would also be funny because he’s too dumb to know better. In fact, he told me about a mother robin who worked so diligently at hatching an alligator egg that a baby alligator was hatched. She convinced it that it was actually a bird. And when it came time for the baby birds to learn to fly, the baby alligator couldn’t do it… until she talked it into flapping madly with all four legs. Then, a mother’s love and faith in her child got an alligator airborne.

Yeah, that hasn’t proved to be a very useful story idea. I put it into a story I was writing during my seven years in high school, and then lost the manuscript. (I was a teacher, not a hard-to-graduate student.) But it was proof that you can get your writing ideas from a bottle imp.

So, if you decide to use bottle imps as an idea source for fiction, the next step is to find and acquire the right sort of bottle imp. I got mine from Smellbone, the rat-faced necromancer. I bought it for an American quarter and three Canadian loonies more than a dozen years ago. I found it at his Arcana and Horse-Radish Burger Emporium in Montreal. But I am not sure how that information helps you. Smellbone died in a firey magical-transformation accident involving an angry Wall-Street financier and a dill pickle. The whole Emporium went to cinders in an hour.

If you are going to try to capture the bottle imp yourself, which I strongly do not recommend, you are going to need a magical spell-resistant butterfly net, a solid glass jar, bottle, or brass urn. A garlic-soaked cork to fit the bottle. A spell scroll ready to cast containing at least one fairy-shrink spell. And an extremely limited amount of time to actually think about what you are doing.

Now I have told you how I get writing ideas from a bottle imp. Aren’t you glad I did not include this idea in the post about where ideas come from? After all, I am a fiction writer. I get my jollies from telling lies in story form. And bottle imps, especially angry blue bottle imps named Bruce, or Charlie, or Bill, are more trouble than they are worth. They can curse you with magical spells of infinite silliness and undercut your serious nature for a lifetime.

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Filed under conspiracy theory, fairies, goofiness, goofy thoughts, humor, insight, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing

Who Do You Listen To?

There was a time when you could turn on the TV news and listen to what you were fairly confident was actually news.  Walter Cronkite on CBS always seemed to really “Tell it like it is.”  He never seemed to put a spin on anything.  No one doubted anything he said when he reported space missions from NASA or the assassination of JFK.  You never had to wonder, “What is Cronkite’s real agenda?”   His agenda was always to tell me the news of the day.

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The question of politics and ideas was always one of, “Which flavor tastes best in my own personal opinion?”  Because I was weirdly and excessively smart as a kid, I often listened to some of the smartest people accessible to a black-and-white RCA television set.

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William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal were both identifiably smarter than me.  I loved to listen to them argue.  They were equally matched.  They respected each other’s intellect, but they hated each other with a passion.  Buckley was a Fascist-leaning conservative ball of hatred with a giant ego.  Vidal was a self-contradictory Commie-pinko bastard child of liberal chaos  with  an equally giant ego.  I never agreed with either of them on anything, but their debates taught me so much about life and politics that I became a dyed-in-the-wool moderate because of them.  They were the key evidence backing up the theory that you needed two sides in the political argument to hammer out good ideas of solid worth.  And, though I didn’t trust either side of the argument fully, I always trusted that both were basing their ideas on facts.

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When I was young I identified as a Republican like my father, and thought George Will was a reasonable opinion-leader.  After all, a man who loves baseball can’t be a bad guy.

Then along came Richard Nixon and the faith-shaking lies of Watergate.  The media began to be cast as the villain as they continued to show the violence and horrors of Vietnam on TV and tell us about campus unrest and the terrible outcomes of things like the Kent State Massacre.  The President suggested routinely that the media was not using facts as much as it was using opinions to turn people away from the Nixon administration’s answer to the problems of life in the USA.  I tried to continue believing in the Republican president right up until he resigned and flew away in that helicopter with his metaphorical tail between his legs (I am trying to suggest he was a cowardly dog, not that I want to make a lewd joke about poor Dick Nixon… or is that Little Dick Nixon, the man who let me down?)

And then along comes Ronald Reagan, the man acting as a “Great President” because he was a veteran actor and knew how to play the part.  And with him came Fox News.

Roger Ailes, a former adviser to Nixon, got together with media mogul Rupert Murdoch, a man who would commit any crime necessary to sell more newspapers, and created a news channel that would pump out conservative-leaning propaganda that would leave Joseph Goebbels envious.  I make it a rule to only listen to them and their views on anything when I feel the need to get one-foot-hopping, fire-spitting mad about something.  So, since, I am a relatively happy person in spite of a long, hard life, you can understand why I almost never watch Fox News.  They are truly skilled at making me mad and unhappy.  And I suspect they do the same for everyone.  They deal in outrage more than well-thought-out ideas.

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News media came under a cloud that obscured the border between facts and partisan opinions.  And conservatives seemed to have a monopoly on the shouty-pouty angry news.  So, I began to wonder where to turn for a well-reasoned and possibly more liberal discussion of what was politically and ethically real.  I found it in the most surprising of places.

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I turned to the “Excuse me, this is the news” crews on Comedy Central where Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were busy remaking news reporting as a form of comedy entertainment.  It is hard work to take real news and turn it into go-for-the-chuckles statements of fact that make you go, “Hmm, that’s right, isn’t it?”  Stewart and Colbert consistently examine how other news organizations  hurl, vomit forth, and spin the news, and by so doing, they help you examine the sources, get at the truth, and find the dissonance in the songs everyone else is singing.  And these are very smart men.  As I said, the intellectual work they do is very difficult, harder than merely telling it like it is.  I know because I have tried to do the same myself.  And is it really “fake news”?  It seems to me like it is carefully filtered news, with the poisons of propaganda either surgically removed, or neutralized with antidotes of reason and understanding.

So, Mickey listens to comedians to get his news.  Is that where you expected this article to end up?  If not, where do you get your news?

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Filed under angry rant, commentary, conspiracy theory, humor, insight, politics, review of television, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Coca-Cola Mind Control

If you’ve read very much of my goofy little blog, you’ve probably run across the fact that I am something of a conspiracy theorist and strange-twist believer… sometimes referred to as a tinfoil-hat-wearer, or that old uncle you don’t want your kids sitting next to at the Thanksgiving dinner table.  And I’ve got another one for you.  I discovered while obsessing about nostalgia and old ads in the Saturday Evening Post, that the Coca-Cola company is probably  responsible for warping my mind as a child.

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My plan in revealing this hideous conspiracy is to take a look at ads and illustrations that I saw as a kid addicted to reading Saturday Evening Post every week at Grandpa and Grandma Aldrich’s farm.  I will scour them for hidden meanings and try to reveal to you the insidious plot underlying these mind-altering illustrations.  Keep in mind that you should probably take everything I say in this article with a grain of salt.  No, really, salt can protect you from subtle mind-control messages.

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And, yes, I realize that not all the messages are that subtle.  Sometimes they shout at you, “Drink Coke and you will have more sex!”  And you have to remember we are trying to avoid that kind of mind control.  We have to fight every instance of ad companies trying to take control over us by exploiting our baser animal urges.

So, let me take a momentary interlude, a break if you will.  I have this big glass of Diet Coke I just bought at QT, and…

Well, that was good!

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Coca-Cola has been at this for a while.  This ad from the  1940’s is apparently attempting to win World War II through choice of soft drinks.  Look at this feisty brew the soldier is about to quaff.  It is actually struggling in the cup to get out and go bite some German soldier’s face off.  Any American soldier who can choke this stuff down is tough enough to take on the Axis powers, Napoleon after Hitler dug him up and used Frankenstein’s scientific breakthroughs to re-animate him, and even several countries we weren’t actually at war with.  Even Rush Limbaugh and his weird lesbian-farmer-subsidies theory can’t compete with Coke on this level of propaganda wars.

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I also think Coca-Cola ads may have something to do with why I became a Cardinals fan when I lived in a place full of Cubs and Twins fans.  I admit, I added the dialogue and the commentary, but I used to do the same thing in my head when I was eight and the Cardinals went to the World Series… and the Cubs could not win it all even with Ernie Banks on their team.  The Cardinals beat the Yankees in 7 games!

I blame Coca-Cola.  Especially their ad department.  Cause the generic manager is telling the generic Oubs player to “Relax… take it easy.”  But the Cardinals won because Bob Gibson had that laser-intensity stare that bored holes through Mickey Mantle’s bat!  (It is Oubs, not Cubs, by the way.  Look at the big “O” on his jersey.)

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And you can’t tell me that the Coca-Cola ad seen here, the one with the white-haired goblin child casting a spell on you with his crazy eyes and pointing at your dark, delicious master isn’t seriously trying to mess with children’s minds.  There used to be a big five-foot-tall metal sign with this very picture on it in the one and only alley in Meservey, Iowa.  The one time I went to the barber there to get my hair cut I had to sit in that barber chair and stare at this evil thing staring back at me from the alley across the street.  It warped me.  For one thing, I never went back to that barber shop again… at least until I was in college and the sign was gone.

So, I seriously believe Coca-Cola was messing with my mind as a child.  They did it through subversive ad illustrations in Saturday Evening Post Magazine.  And if I’m completely crazy now, I blame them.  You don’t see that kind of thing going on today, do you?  Well, I mean, we should be very worried.  Because it probably means they have gotten better at it.

 

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Filed under autobiography, baseball, baseball fan, commentary, conspiracy theory, foolishness, humor

A Collection of Rather Evil Men

You wonder how they do it, these corrupt and evil men.

They fight for their own interests and act like clowns every now and then.

And still, retain their power while holding the bloody knife

They used to stab constituents in the back and take their pain-filled life.

No deed done for a dollar has consequences when they’re judged,

And every good in bills they kill is evilly begrudged.

They seek to lead this nation through insurrection and conflagration,

And they raise their fists of power, yet run and hide within the hour.

And when you finally defeat them and undo their evil schemes,

They break whatever things they can and pee on all your dreams.

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Filed under angry rant, clowns, conspiracy theory, feeling sorry for myself, grumpiness, humor, insight, Liberal ideas, poem, poetry, politics

Thinkology – How to Think for Yourself

It is important for your mental health and well-being in the present age to question everything. As I laid out for you in the previous Thinkology post, the world is full of mental mousetraps, and evil thinkers are anxious to do all the critical thinking for you. If they can influence what you think is true, they can control you.

To start with, you have to look at yourself naked in the mirror. Now, I don’t mean this literally. The illustration is intended to be a metaphor for self-examination that goes deeper than how you look in your everyday dress…or tutu… or business suit… or even birthday suit if you like and are good-looking like the boy in the metaphor (after all, I have come to believe I am a nudist now, and am supposed to like the idea of birthday suits.)

What you are looking for is not how unsexy your massively fat-inflated abs are, but those things you believe that may not be completely valid (and mentally fattening.) Things that are true (not mere opinions or even supported opinions, but provably true facts) are backed up by measured, calibrated, and repeatable observations and experimental evidence. This means more than one other qualified observer has seen the same proofs as you have and agrees that it is factual. Yes, that’s the scientific method. And as a scientific way of evaluating truth, it is continually questioned and re-examined.

Any news source that you are thinking about accepting opinions from needs to be someone you can trust because they do actually vet their facts and sources. (Not the FOX news sort of vetting where it’s true because Tucker Carlson says so, but vetted through multiple reliable sources.) It helps too if your source is intelligent. Do not take the word of Louie Gohmert of Texas, Greg Gutfield of FOX News, or Mark Levin of talk radio for anything. These fools are clearly brain-damaged idiots or evil people spouting nonsense for evil reasons… or both. But also don’t take the word of Rachel Maddow, Bill Nye the Science Guy, or Niel DeGrasse Tyson without corroboration. While they are usually more intelligent, they are imperfect humans too and sometimes get things wrong. No one is perfect 100% of the time over 100% of the issues they are talking about.

Again, question everything.

Infinite monkeys with infinite typewriters could not have written all of Shakespeare’s plays.

The actor and theater owner, William Shakespeare, did not write the plays of William Shakespeare. The man could not even spell his own name successfully on public documents, left no handwritten manuscripts behind him, had no personal library, and never left England for any of the places in Italy he referenced so beautifully in his plays. Yet, there are many coherent arguments in favor of the glover’s son from Stratford written by dedicated true believers. And one cannot ultimately declare someone else the author of the plays. So, I have to admit that my belief that William Shakespeare is actually a pen name is only a supported opinion, not a fact. I choose to believe the actual writer was probably Edward DeVere, the Earl of Oxford, aided by Ben Jonson, Francis Bacon, and other Elizabethans determined to establish English Literature’s place in the world. What I choose to believe is representative of my ability to think for myself… and my ability to weather ridicule from friends, relatives, and random Shakespeare experts who leave comments poo-pooing my blog and my intelligence. I know how to think and evaluate evidence.

So, think for yourself. Question everything. Weigh the evidence with care. And don’t take my word for it. I am probably crazy. Try it for yourself and see if it works.

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The Dancing Poultry Conspiracy Theory

You’ve heard of the sinister 9-11 tale of the dancing Israelis?  Some conspiracy theories are very concerning.  You have to be concerned about whether the conspiracy theory is true and aliens from Zeta Reticuli really have been cloning Elvis, or whether the conspiracy theorist is a nut-bag like Alex Jones who simply needs to be locked up to protect him from himself.

 

But no conspiracy theory worries me more at the moment than one about the existence of German ninjas who advance the neo-Nazi agenda by the use of the secret martial art of der Ententanz.  That’s right, they do violence to opponents (and possibly themselves) by aggressively doing the Chicken Dance. 

You really have to watch the video above to truly appreciate the perfidy of Ententanz Fu.  Notice how it starts with the pinching-fingers castanet attack, useful for grabbing the opponent’s nose or other sensitive protruding appendage.  It is followed by the flapping elbows move that can stun the enemy by its sheer ridiculous flappiness.  And then the bouncing butt attack, which can potentially paralyze the adversary by bouncing them around the room.  All of this is followed by the dancing in a circle maneuver which renders the viewer unconscious with insane levels of laughter.  Yes, the aggressive use of the chicken dance can literally make you laugh yourself to death.

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Now, if you truly believe I am not totally serious about the dangers of ninjas doing the chicken dance in order to assassinate ordinary tax-paying citizens, I should warn you…

I mean, most people think of Ententanz Fu as merely another way German-themed tourist traps like the ones in Fredricksburg, Texas make relentless fun and ridicule targets out of clueless white people during Oktoberfest, but in reality…  Yes, it is that, but it can be so much more.  Take it from somebody who narrowly escaped from a chicken-dance-induced coma fairly recently, it is possible not only to die laughing from this dancing-poultry scourge, or be embarrassed to death, but you can also accidentally tie yourself up into a German pretzel… at which point, chickens will dip you in mustard and eat you.

So be warned.  This is a danger not even Alex Jones on InfoWars has warned you about.  (Though, if you give him enough time alone with hammers to hit himself in the head with, he may come to the same conclusions soon enough.)

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Filed under birds, conspiracy theory, goofiness, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, sharing from YouTube

Something Creative Goes Here

Not Alone

Sometimes the creative brain gets a little too hot and needs time to cool.  That means I need a meaningless filler post to maintain my every-day posting.  So, I give you a picture of Mike Murphy carrying his girlfriend, Blueberry Bates’ books home from the bus stop on a country road in Iowa.  And, of course, they happen to meet an alien named George Jetson, whose father named him after a character on his favorite Earther TV show from the 60’s.  It is a strange thing to have your brain over-heat from too many creative neurons firing at the same time.  But it can lead to notions of intergalactic peace and cultural exchange… or racist comments like, “Tellerons have heads that look like giant boogers!”  But I should be able think more rationally tomorrow.  I hope that turns out to be a good thing.

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Filed under aliens, artwork, blog posting, conspiracy theory, goofiness, Paffooney, self pity

The Mirror in the Clown’s Hand

Self-reflection is the bane of stupid people. Essentially, they don’t want to risk encountering evidence that they actually are stupid. It would shatter their world to learn that they are idiots and most of what they believe is true is actually wrong. This fact goes a long way towards explaining why the Republican Party in its current form even exists, let alone the actions of the current mutant Cheetos monster that pilots their agenda and hates healthcare, the Special Olympics, and Puerto Rico.

So, if I am doing a self–reflection piece today, then that proves I am not a stupid person, right? What do you mean you agree with that? Yes, I can actually hear you mentally answering my questions as you read this. And if you believe that, then you have proven that even relatively smart people like you and I are capable of stupid thinking.

I believe in some stupid things, even though I think I am not stupid.

An example of this stupidity factor is my lingering belief that I am a nudist. I mean, I am rarely ever nude any more. I keep most of me covered up constantly because when my psoriasis plaques dry out they tend to flake and itch and force me to scratch to the point of infected bloody sores.

Obviously this is not totally a photograph from the 60’s. That does not make it a total lie either, though.

I have been pretty much accepted as a member of the nudist community on Twitter. I enjoy the artful pictures of nude people they share with me. And since I did a couple of blog posts for nudist websites, there are actually completely nude pictures of me available on the internet. I can be found on Truenudists.com for one, if your eyes can stand the horror. But I have only been to a nudist park, the Bluebonnet Nudist Park in Alvord, Texas. one time as an actual nudist. I can tell you, it was a very hot day even though I was not wearing clothes. I am comfortable with nudity. I am comfortable around nude people. I fully accept it all as a non-sexual thing. But am I really a nudist? Or am I only playing at it? If you follow me on Twitter, then you know I don’t retweet pictures of naked people. I engage a lot with other writers there, and most of them are not also nudists, or even open-minded about naturism. I write about nudists in some of my books, but they are not about nudism, and most of them don’t even mention it. So, what good does it do me to think I am a nudist? Well, the very idea of it does a heckuva good job of embarrassing my wife and daughter. So, I do get some crazy-old-coot satisfaction out of it. Otherwise it simply proves that rational and otherwise intelligent people can be committed to irrational ideas.

I am also of the often mocked and ridiculed opinion that not only are alien beings from other worlds real, they are capable of space travel and have been visiting us for as long as there has been an us. I did not always believe this, however. Before I wrote my novel Catch a Falling Star I believed as Carl Sagan said on the original Cosmos that it is wrong to accept things without proof, and true results are testable. My novel was about aliens who watched a lot of Earther TV and learned to speak English from watching I Love Lucy reruns, I wanted to make the aliens different from humans, but at the same time, alike with humans in the most fundamental ways that translate easily into humor and relatability. Not all of my hero-characters were Earth humans.

Brekka the Telleron tadpole (also a nudist) with her friend Lester the man-eating plant (who only ate her once)

As I did research on the internet (a tool I didn’t have when I originally created the story in the 1970s), I found a ton of researchers and writers and con men and MUFON and the Disclosure Project and nuclear physicists and astronauts Gordon Cooper and Edgar Mitchell who were all believers and mostly not stupid. Wow! What a huge and complicated hoax! Why would anybody believe , based on so little tangible evidence, and so much contradictory evidence, that the government’s position could possibly be right? I learned that I now believed, until significant further proof comes along, that I believe stupidly in alien visitors.

Today’s self-reflection post has now proven that I am a stupid old coot who thinks he is a nudist and an insightful conspiracy theorist. But the results of my look into the mirror have not made me upset about my stupidity. Maybe I am simply satisfied nudism is healthy and the universe is more complex than I am capable of understanding. Whatever the case, that’s enough with the mirror for today. You have to keep such dangerous weapons out of the hands of clowns.

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Oxfordian Rationalizations

Yes, I am, perhaps, a bit of a fool for believing Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, is the writer behind the works of William Shakespeare.  How do you prove something is true when it is so obvious that someone worked really hard to keep it a secret for all this time?  Is it a betrayal of the man to go against his apparent wishes and try to out him for his incredible secret?  It is hard for me to judge.  After all, I know I am a fool.

But even if he is not Shakespeare, and just sits at the apex of a mountain of coincidences, I am fascinated by the historical character of Edward de Vere.

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The keep at Hedingham Castle, the de Vere family seat in Essex (photo by David Phillips)

He was born the only son of John de Vere, the 16th Earl of Oxford, and heir to the second oldest title among English nobility.  His father stood by Elizabeth when she was under house arrest under the reign of Bloody Mary, and went with her as a court favorite to the throne of England when she survived the ordeal.  So naturally Edward was a favorite of Elizabeth’s since childhood.  Later stories would suggest he became the Queen’s secret lover, but the rumors of the Virgin Queen’s harlotry were most likely the invention of Philip of Spain and other nobility in Catholic Europe who plotted endlessly against her because she chose to adopt her father’s protestant Anglican religion instead of returning England to Catholicism like her half-sister Mary before her.  Elizabeth’s personal integrity may not have been perfect, but the love she bore for young Edward was probably not the improper kind that the movie Anonymous by Roland Emmerich suggested.

But even though de Vere was born lucky, I would not say he was particularly lucky in life.  He was only twelve when his father (though having completed his will) died.  The result being that he was made ward to Queen Elizabeth herself.  She was not exactly the foster-mother type, however.  She sent the boy to be raised in the home of her Secretary of State and chief adviser, William Cecil (later made Lord Baron Burghley).  Meanwhile Elizabeth took possession of some of his estates in payment for the wardship and bestowed them on Robert Dudley (her childhood friend and probable one true love, though he was married to someone else).  Young Edward was a difficult student.  His tutor, the famous scholar Laurence Nowell, resigned in frustration, probably because the boy was too bright and far-reaching for the antiquarian scholar to deal with, possibly himself being a bit dumber than advertised.   Edward quickly developed a reputation for love poetry at Elizabeth’s royal court.  He was a gifted, though somewhat conflicted, prodigy.

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William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley

And here is what I find most fascinating about his life story.  As you reread it, keeping the works of Shakespeare in mind, you begin to see Shakespeare’s source material coming to life.  Edward would end up marrying Cecil’s young daughter Anne, so that Lord Burghley was not only a man who raised him, but also his father-in-law.  But marrying off your offspring to nobility was an accepted manner of social climbing, and Cecil wasn’t entirely sure he couldn’t do better for his daughter.  And the meddlesome, lecturing, and self-righteous nature of the man comes out in Shakespearean characters like Polonius in Hamlet who spies upon the suicidal prince because he fears the effect Hamlet’s love for his daughter Ophelia might have on her reputation, causing him to spout all manner of cliches and stuffy, self-important advice.

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Robert Cecil, Lord Salisbury

Cecil’s son Robert, the hunchbacked boy who grows up to take over his father’s office as adviser to both Elizabeth and James I, is a crafty statesman and plotter who is the undoing of the Earl of Essex in a real-life plot against the throne of Elizabeth.  It is hard not to read about his real-life exploits without seeing the connections to Iago in Othello and the conniving hunchback Richard III.

So, once again I have overshot my target length in this essay because I get so wound up in the details of my discoveries.  There are numerous things written and published about the connections between de Vere and the Bard himself.  I have only begun to scratch the surface in this telling of it.  But I am just a fool with a humor blog.  If it interests you at all, I encourage you to go to as many of the available sources as you can possibly google.  I haven’t yet finished doing that myself.  And I do hope I haven’t told anything here that makes Shakespeare turn over in his grave (if, indeed, a grave could ever really hold him.)

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Filed under artists I admire, conspiracy theory, foolishness, humor, strange and wonderful ideas about life, William Shakespeare

Shakespeare Knows Fools

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The fact that Shakespeare was a master of the art of creating and mocking fools does not really help decide the question of who Shakespeare really was.  A stage actor who owned a theater in Elizabethan times and apparently focused on being the bit player, the butler, the second man on the castle wall in the great plays, would certainly know enough of flim-flam, being a con man, or artfully throwing turds at kings and queens in ways that get rewarded rather than beheaded.  But a nobleman who has unpopular and unwelcome-but-probably-wise insights into the back-stabbing-goings-on of the royal court of England would equally be capable of putting the most memorable of critiques of humanity into the mouth of the fool or the clown in the great stage-play of life.  Even the most depressing and violent of the Shakespearean tragedies is enhanced and made pointed by the presence of the fool and the comic relief.  In some ways everything that Shakespeare wrote was a comedy.

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Whoever Shakespeare was, he shared Mark Twain’s overall assessment of “That damned human race” and often declared all men fools in the eyes of the playwright.  Puck’s observation on humanity is delivered about not only Bottom and the other poor players who carry on their vain attempts at performing Pyramus and Thisbe while Bottom magically wears the head of an ass, but also the easily fooled lovers who mistake their true loves for one another, and even the clueless mortal King Theseus of Athens.

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In the play within a play, Nick Bottom wants to be not only his own role, Pyramus the romantic lead, but argues that he should be Thisbe, the lion, and Pyramus all at once, making a satire of human nature and its overreaching ways that we could only pray Donald Trump will one day watch and magically understand.  In fact, Shakespeare’s entire body of work is an extended investigation of foolishness versus wisdom, and with Shakespeare, the verdict always goes to the fool.

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The plays of William Shakespeare are filled with fools doing foolish things… and fools being accidentally wise. (Think Jacques in As You Like It giving his famous “All the world’s a stage” soliloquy in which he elucidates the seven ages of man.)  There are fools too who prove to be wise.  (Think of the ironic advice given by the jester Touchstone in As You Like It, or the pithy commentary of King Lear’s fool).  The fools in Shakespeare’s work are not merely the comedy relief, but the main point that Shakespeare makes about humanity.

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Whoever the man was who wrote the plays of Shakespeare, he was someone who had a deep understanding of the basic irony underlying all of human life.  And someone with that vital sense of the bittersweet, a philosophy of life that encompasses the highest heights and lowest depths that a soul can reach, is someone who has suffered as well as known great joy, someone who has experienced loss as often as profit, and has known real love as well as real hatred.  It is the fool that Shakespeare shakes us by the neck with to make us recognize the fool in all of us which makes the plays resonate so deeply within us.  It is watching the path of the fool unfolding that makes us shake our head and say to ourselves, “Yes, that is what life is really like.”

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