Category Archives: soliloquy

Thinking About Another Birthday

I was born in a blizzard during the middle of the 1950’s. Dwight Eisenhower was President of the United States. John F. Kennedy had written the book Profiles in Courage. Elvis Presley was pushing Rock and Roll to new heights. My father was a Korean War veteran who served in the Navy aboard aircraft carriers. My mother was a registered nurse. And all of that made me a Baby Boomer, a Midwestern child of the middle class, benefiting from Roosevelt’s New Deal, more than a decade of economic boom, and I was in many ways truly blessed.

I think the Baby Boomer generation has a lot to answer for. As a group we have not taken our blessings for what they truly are and selfishly did not give back as much as we were given. Self-sacrifice and service were considered unintelligent things to pursue. Wealth and power were the things universally pursued. And averting climate disaster fell within our power. And we didn’t do nothing to help the problem. We actively made matters worse.

Hopefully, however, we have more than our share of people who followed the kind of path I did. I chose teaching as the way to serve my society and my country. I put in over thirty years working with kids, teaching them to read and write and helping them to transform from children into young adults. And I did it in spite of the fact that investment culture and the drive to earn massive wealth tended to make people look down on teachers. We didn’t get the respect and the monetary rewards that we actually deserved. I don’t have to feel dissatisfied with my role. But I do regret the consequences we face because of it. If you denigrate teachers and education in general, you are going to raise a generation of stupid people.

So, let me give you what little wisdom I have gained in the struggle of my 63 years on this less-than-perfect planet.

The only wisdom I can offer that I am absolutely certain of is this, I am basically a fool muddling my way through the labyrinth the best way that I can. We are all fools. And those that don’t admit that do me the favor of proving there are bigger fools than me.

The current President of the United States is a criminal. Even a fool like me can see it. He needs to be removed and the people who have enabled him need to be voted out.

He may, however, survive it. He may even win another four years. After all, the foxes have been running the hen-house for years now. And the party in charge cheats at election time.

We may have flubbed our stewardship of the planet so badly that all life on Earth will be wiped out by atmospheric changes. Fossil fuel corporations have won a Pyrrhic victory.

But even if we have no future as a species, our lives have been valuable. Every child is born good and loving and worthy of love. And even though some are too soon taught evil ways or too soon robbed of their birthright, the story of the human race is a good one. We did great things. We took serious dilemmas and solved them. We wrote good morals, and more often than not, we finished writing the sentence of our lives correctly. We had a right to be here. And even if our collective candle flame goes out, the brief time that it was shining made the universe a brighter place.

I am a pessimist by nature. I don’t expect to survive until another birthday passes. I didn’t expect to reach this one alive. If I do, I have a right to be both pleased and amazed. I can make no promises for the future. But I do know this, everything in the past was worth it.

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Filed under autobiography, birthdays, commentary, compassion, happiness, insight, inspiration, philosophy, soliloquy, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Green and Fuzzy Blue Brainwork

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There is reason to believe I have to reroute some of the back roads on the road map of my thinking parts.  I have been spending a lot of time in Elizabethan England lately due to my obsession with who I think Shakespeare really was.   There are a lot of dark alleys to be plumbed on that section of the map.  I really admire the Roland Emmerich film Anonymous about Edward deVere, the Earl of Oxford being the real writer behind the works of Shakespeare, but I do recognize that it is a work a fiction, and an altered-history work of fantasy fiction at that.    So I find myself not yet ready to tackle that particular essay in the Shakespeare series as yet.  More think time and creative-mixing time is needed.  I need to stop at one of the quaint little mental inns on that particular Elizabethan back road and get some much needed rest for my Elizabethan conspiracy muscles.

Meanwhile back in the real world, Trumpzilla has been busy wrecking the world I live in with a bleak inauguration speech written by Steve Bannon that works its fire-breathing magic to blacken the hearts and perceptions of people I love and care about who also happen to be staunch conservatives.  My Facebook feed is up in arms about how many people actually attended the inauguration ceremony and how unfair the media is for trying to make it seem like Trump’s celebration parade was a deserted wasteland when in reality it was… well…  what’s a synonym for deserted wasteland that won’t offend conservatives who will bend or break any truth to defend Trumpzilla’s turkey-tweets?

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But then, as I was going to QT for my morning caffeine-addict’s fix of Diet Coke, I heard Lionel Richie’s song “Say You, Say Me” playing on the radio.  Ah, the perfect metaphor.  It is a song used as the theme song from the 1986 movie White Nights about a Russian ballet star who has defected to the US during the Cold War and then was in a plane accident-incident that put him back in the Russians’ clutches.  The movie stars Mikhail Baryshnikov, an actual Russian ballet star turned defector, and Gregory Hines, the American tap dancer.  It is a beautiful movie that features amazing dance sequences, Russian conflict of interests because the dancer wants to be free and yet misses his homeland and culture, and a resolution involving intrigue and escape.  In many ways, the plot, centered around a Russian threat and dark days in a place where the sun doesn’t set, is exactly what we are going through with Trumpzilla.  But the song is about two people communicating and eventually “coming together, naturally”.

It started me thinking about the purpose of this blog.  I mean, you obviously know that this blog is really about me talking to myself about myself, if you are one of those crazy few who actually read this far through a goopy blog post like this.  I use this blog to think about myself, the world around me, and even sometimes, like now, to think about thinking.  Yet, I have a duty to the reader to reach that point where our thinking comes together, naturally.  If not, then why bother to post and publish at all?

So here’s what I think about the Shakespeare question, written in the tavern room at the inn on parchment… with a quill pen.  The real Shakespeare was a writer just like me, writing for himself.  And he discovered through the play-writing process that he had to share that writing for himself with the great wide world, because the Prospero’s magic of it could change the world for everybody.  That is the real purpose of Shakespeare’s existence, no matter who he really was.  And that is the real purpose of my existence as well, even if I turn out to be nothing more than one of the top hundred best writers that no one ever actually read.

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Filed under blog posting, conspiracy theory, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, sharing from YouTube, soliloquy, strange and wonderful ideas about life, William Shakespeare

Morning With Grumpy

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I have not been having good days lately.  Things go wrong constantly.  Things that cost money that I don’t have.  I’m a writer, after all.  I don’t even have a waving acquaintance with money.

Fire ants bit me on Tuesday.  My hands and feet are still plagued with painful, itchy bumps.  At the same time the city is telling me how the yard has to be done and the trees have to be trimmed and the pool has to be repaired.  If I don’t complete the work and get the pool running again, in spite of the fact I don’t have any money, I face a two-thousand dollar fine, which would be cheaper than fixing the pool, but it would recur every month until I got the pool fixed.  Well, welcome back to Debt Town.  At least I will have a swimming pool again this winter.  And the drive this morning to take the Princess to school was an epic battle with high-speed morons in Bubba-trucks.  I made a wrong turn downtown in the rat’s maze that the I-35 construction project has created right next to downtown Carrollton.  I had to dodge between people in cars that don’t know how to drive, but drive too fast, kids on foot on that have their heads plugged in, so they don’t hear you coming when they step out in front of you without looking because their eyes are fixed on their phones.  We got there five minutes before the tardy bell.

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Some mornings I just need a chance to complain.  Thanks for listening.

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Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, foolishness, grumpiness, humor, photo paffoonies, soliloquy, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Soliloquy

In college I took classes in oral reading and acting because I was nutty about drama and play-writing, even though I was much too terrified of being put on a public stage to ever try out for a part.  But in Oral Reading 101 I was given the gift of a professor who actually was the head of the ISU Drama Department.  One of the things he made us do was a soliloquy from a Shakespeare play.  I was assigned the opening soliloquy from Richard the Third.

Good God!  Is that man ever a villain and a monster!  He’s more sinister and evil than Snidely Whiplash or Dick Dastardly… and certainly no less cartoonish.  Here is the best I can still do to recreate my old college performance of “The Winter of Our Discontent” soliloquy.

To pull off this assignment (On which I received an A grade from a professor known for imperious F-giving) I had to do a lot of research on King Richard III to be able to walk around in his skin for three whole minutes.  I had to learn about him from books and articles and drama critiques.  I spent a couple of weeks in the library (There was no internet or Google in 1978).  I learned that he was a complex man involved in the deeply troubled time of the War of the Roses.  He was from the house of York, the House of the White Rose.  His elder brother, Edward, had been  victorious in both battle and royal intrigue, and, with Richard’s help had secured the throne of England that had been wrested from the hands of Richard II to begin the struggle between House Lancaster (the Red Rose) and House York… both of which had blood-relationship claims to the throne.  Once in the hands of Richard’s brother Edward IV, the crown did not really rest peacefully on Yorkish heads.  Edward became ill and died in 1483.  The crown was to then go to twelve-year-old Edward V who was placed under the care of Uncle Richard’s regency.  At the time of his coronation, the legitimacy of Edward IV’s marriage was declared null and void, making the boy no longer eligible to be king.  Richard seized the title.  Young Edward and his younger brother were taken to the Tower of London and they were never seen publicly again.  According to Shakespeare, Richard did, in fact, have them killed.  But, the crown did not stay on Richard’s head for longer than two years.  In 1485 Henry Tudor came back to England from France.  Richard was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth Field and died in battle there.

I do actually understand Richard in ways that are difficult to admit.  I know what it feels like to be convinced you are unworthy by factors beyond your control.  Richard was a hunchback, plagued with severe scoliosis of the spine.  He lived his life in pain and was ridiculed for his deformity in a time where it was believed such things were a punishment from God for sins of the parents, or even sins the child himself was born with.  I can relate.  I was always so far above the other kids in my class at school that I was treated like a Martian, unloved and unlovable because I could not speak a language they really understood.  And on top of that, I was secretly the victim of a sexual assault, a condition that I feared made me a monster.  I could so easily have become a monster.  I could’ve set my mind to it in the same way Richard did, because vengeance for his differences consumed him utterly.  Thankfully, I did not choose a path of evil.  Drawing and telling stories proved to be the pick and shovel I used to dig myself out of my own pit of despair.

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Richard III’s long-forgotten grave was rediscovered in 2013, and a DNA match with relatives proved the skeleton with scoliosis was him in 2014.

The real Richard III may not have been the monster Shakespeare portrayed him as, either.  He was demonized after his defeat and death by the Tudors to strengthen their shaky claim to the throne.  There exists some evidence that he was a progressive king and a friend to his people, but horribly betrayed by some of his own followers, and certainly made the scapegoat by succeeding generations.

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A recreation of what Richard III looked like based on the skull found and portraits from the time period.

There is also some evidence that Shakespeare wrote the play as a political diatribe against the hunchback in the royal court of his day.  Sir Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury was also a hunchback with scoliosis.   And by his sometimes sinister-seeming machinations, he rose to power as Secretary of State for both Elizabeth I, and after her, James I.  He had a part to play in making James the King after Elizabeth’s long reign, probably an instrumental part.  He also uncovered the Gunpowder Plot of Guy Fawkes and friends, and rumors persisted that he had more to do with it than merely revealing and foiling it.  Nothing was ever proven against him.  Though Elizabeth called him “my pygmy” and James referred to him as “my little beagle”, he held power throughout his lifetime and foiled the work of his many enemies against him.  In fact, it is the similarities between Shakespeare’s Richard III and Robert Cecil that first made me begin to believe that Shakespeare was actually someone other than the actor who owned the Globe Theater and never spelled his own name the same way twice.  Knowing about Cecil surely needed to be the act of an insider in the royal court.  I balked at first when it was suggested to me that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by Francis Bacon… and I continued to doubt until I learned more about the Earl of Oxford, Edward deVere.

So what is the point of this soliloquy about the soliloquy of Richard III?  Well, the point is that at one time I had to be him for a short while.  I had to understand who he was (at least the character that Shakespeare created him to be) and think as he thought.  That is what a soliloquy truly is.  Sharing from the character’s mind to my mind… and back again if I am to perform him… or even write him in some future fiction.

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Filed under autobiography, soliloquy, William Shakespeare, writing