Tag Archives: dark humor

Kit Marlowe, Secret Agent


Christopher Marlowe is often sited as the real Shakespeare, a problematic assertion given that he would’ve been forced to write a number of plays after he was dead, giving new meaning to the term “ghost writer”.  But I would like to add to the assertion that “Marlowe is NOT Shakespeare!” that I also believe he did not die as they claim that he did.  Marlowe is a fascinating character of debauchery and misbehavior, intrigue and mystery, and undeniable genius.  As a writer, he was a maverick and risk-taker, having begun the ascendance of the theatrical play as one of the heights of Elizabethan literature with his play Tamburlaine the Great, about the historical figure who rose from shepherd boy to monarch.  This play, and its sequel, Tamburlaine the Great Part II, were among the very first English plays to be written in blank verse, meaning there is a very definite connection between the style of writing established by Marlowe and the later work of Shakespeare.  It is probable that for a few years, Kit Marlowe was a member of the Gray’s Inn group along with Sir Francis Bacon and several other suspicious literary luminaries like Sir Walter Raleigh and possibly Ben Jonson.  (I have to admit at this point that if I am wrong about the Stratford guy and he did write the plays, then he was a member of this group as well, because it was not closed to commoners, only to stupid people.  The Stratford guy was in no way stupid or a villain, no matter what you may believe about the authorship question.)  But here is where the link to Shakespeare’s plays and poetry both begins and ends.  Yes, Kit Marlowe was a capable enough author to have written such sublime plays.  He has all the individual skills to make up the whole.  But if you read his masterwork, The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, you will see that the voice, the unique literary style of the work is simply not by the same author.  Although Shakespeare revisits some of the same themes that Marlowe used in his plays, his manner of development, handling of character, style of humor, and underlying conviction in the existence of God are all different and opposed to Marlowe’s.  Marlowe is NOT Shakespeare.  Shakespeare’s works have more in common with Bacon’s than Marlowe’s.  And I have already said that, “Shakespeare is NOT Bacon… or eggs either.”  And if I said it, it must be so.  (Don’t throw eggs and tomatoes at your computer screen when you read this.  Just call me stupid and vain in the comments like everybody else does.)


And an even more compelling reason to those of you who don’t obsess over reading Shakespeare and Marlowe and Ben Jonson is that, at the time Shakespeare’s plays were probably written, Kit Marlowe was busy either being stone cold dead, or, having faked his death, was busy being a secret agent for Queen Elizabeth.


And why would a goofball like me think that Christopher Marlowe cunningly faked his own death and went into his own thrilling quest to be like James Bond more than 300 years before Ian Fleming?  Well, because I know how to read and am not generally bright enough not to believe what others have written about him and his connections to world of spying in Elizabethan times.

These authors have brought out the fact that Marlowe’s frequent absences from college and later public obligations coincide with things like the mysterious tutor called “Morley” who tutored Arbella, niece of Mary Queen of Scots, and a potential successor to Queen Elizabeth, in 1589.  He was also arrested in the Netherlands for allegedly counterfeiting coins related to the activities of seditious Catholics.  He was brought back to England to be dealt with by Lord Treasurer Burghley, the closest adviser to Queen Elizabeth, and was then not so much punished as let off the hook and even rewarded monetarily.  Still think he was not a spy?  Well, his demise probably came about through his relationship with Lord Francis Walsingham and his friendship with Walsingham’s son.  You see, Walsingham was Elizabeth’s “M”, leader of her spies and intelligence units.  After Walsingham died, there was deep concern that no one was still able to protect Marlowe from possible consequences of being both a homosexual and an atheist.  (Being gay was obviously not as serious a sin as atheism for which torture and death penalties lay in wait.)  It was possible that rival spies and nefarious forces could kidnap Marlowe and get information out of him that the Queen needed to be kept secret.

So, when Lord Burghley tortured Marlowe’s friend and sometime roommate, Thomas Kyd, into naming Marlowe a heretic and sending men out with a warrant to arrest Marlowe, Kit’s other friend, Thomas Walsingham probably warned Marlowe.  The bar fight that supposedly ended Marlowe’s life was witnessed by two friends of his, Nicholas Skeres and Robert Poley, both provably con men and professional liars.  The knife that stabbed him in the forehead above his right eye was wielded by Ingram Fizer, another of Marlowe’s disreputable friends, allegedly over an unpaid debt.  Fizer, of course, though he freely admitted killing Marlowe, was acquitted of the murder.  And the coroner’s report is suspect.  Rules of investigation were not followed, and the body was never independently identified by someone other than the three friends at the scene of the crime.  And the body was hastily buried before anyone else could get a close look at it.


I am not only telling you that I believe Christopher “Kit” Marlowe was NOT Shakespeare… or eggs either (though that joke doesn’t really work here), but I believe he didn’t die the way it has been reported to us by history.  And why do I believe these things?  Because I think the story of Christopher Marlowe is a really great story, and it exists as a story whether it is historically true or not.


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Filed under angry rant, artists I admire, conspiracy theory, goofy thoughts, humor, poetry, satire, telling lies, William Shakespeare

Mickey’s Red-State Blues


I often struggle with depression.  Every member of my family has battled it at some point.  And it is a dangerous disease.  It can kill you.  I don’t like spending quaking, fearful hours in the emergency room.  I have had to do exactly that three times already.  And now Trump has attacked my most cherished issue… public schools.  I gave my life to them for 31 years.  There is not enough chocolate in the house.


It is ironic.  I was already attempting to commit suicide by not taking my daily medication any more because of high drug prices that health insurance does not help with.  But that suicide attempt has actually failed already.  After two years of not taking blood pressure medication, a thing the doctor feared would kill me, I am now detoxified and actually feeling quite a lot better.  My blood pressure has not been high since 2001.

So, if I am compelled to end it all over the rise of Education Czar Betsy DeVos, I will have to use some of that creative problem-solving that we have not really been allowed to teach since the George W. Bush administration.  Something involving massive amounts of sugar water and thousands of man-eating butterflies would be appropriate, I think.


If I had to teach this class, I would be tempted to flunk the orange-skinned kid in the middle just on principle, but that would be discriminating against a rich guy, which is against everything this new administration stands for.

Privatizing schools, another way of saying the “school choice” thing that Republicans love to promote, will mean you get exactly what you pay for in education.  Unfortunately, that means you have to be rich to get proper schooling.  Since governmental entities will be shedding the burdens of paying for schools, the good schools will only be able to pay for their resources by charging high tuition and fees, something that limited school vouchers will never be able to fund.  A majority of kids whose families cannot afford anything more than the vouchers will pay for will end up in underfunded discipline mills that will be far worse than the public schools we have now.  Those schools will be set up to prepare students for their future employment making license plates in State prisons even more so than public schools are now.

My Republican friends in Texas (and my birth State of Iowa too, for that matter) like to tell me that, “You can’t solve education’s problems by throwing money at them.”  But I would like to know what studies they base that conclusion on.  When in American history have we thrown money at schools?  Other nations that get better education results do spend more, especially on paying teachers better.  And they are not forced to teach Creationism in Science class to get those funds.

So, managing depression has not been easy since the recent election.  Recount efforts and rumors that the Electoral College may do what they were designed for and vote for the candidate that actually won the popular vote are just pipe dreams, and won’t actually amount to anything.  Betsy DeVos will be the next Secretary of Education.  Maybe I will try bucket-loads of stinky, sharp cheddar cheese and a lighter for setting off explosive cheese farts.  It would be a painful way to go, but the results might also be colorfully amazing.

P.S. – I would never actually commit suicide, and as someone who has spent time in the ER fretting for someone else, I would never really advocate that.  But I am certainly not above using it as a bit of hyperbole to discuss important issues that I really do see as life-or-death.


Filed under angry rant, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, humor, politics, red States, teaching

Yes, There Are Pirates in Our World

What is a pirate?  A privateer?  A buccaneer?

There are people in this world who are driven by greed and a sense that they have nothing to lose by risking everything to take what belongs to you.  They swoop in on their fast pirate ships, swing on board your little boat, hurt you, steal what you have, and eventually kill you.  Movies romanticize swashbucklers as somebody who takes from the rich and the villainous as a sort of cosmic comeuppance.  But the reality is they are criminals and murderers.

But they don’t carry swords any more.

They are the CEOs of banks.


Bank-o’ Merricka is an excellent example who sailed their Jolly Roger right up to the gunwales of my little boat.  I underwent a debt reduction program because of five hospital stays in five years that drained my personal treasury.  $35,000 in credit card debt reduced and paid off in three years.  But Bank-o’ Merricka, after they learned I would not be able to pay all the interest I owed, immediately stopped calling.  The debt disappeared from my account.  They had sold the debt to a debt collector and quietly sat on the bill as I paid everything else off.  Then, they filed a lawsuit for the entire amount I owed, plus interest, and plus legal fees.  If I hadn’t hired a lawyer and fought the lawsuit, they would’ve won the entire amount by default.  That’s how they clean out most of their victims and prey, because people generally surrender to pirates who come over the rails with swords in their teeth and burning cannon fuses in their beards.

I  may still lose the battle in this boarding action, but at least I haven’t simply surrendered.  But there are other pirate ships circling my little boat as well.  My evil health insurance company are also buccaneers, and they demand higher and higher premiums and co-pays, and routinely deny all claims.  Diabetic supply people keep calling me and offering free meters and stuff the health insurance pirates are supposed to cover one hundred per cent.  I just paid them $260 dollars of a $500 dollar scam bill that hit my little boat like a cannon shot.


So, the pirates are out there.  I am still fighting off the boarders.  But I think my little boat is sinking.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, conspiracy theory, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney, Pirates

Writerly Resting


Sometimes as a writer you find yourself ripping your heart out of your chest and taking a look at it up close.  Of course, you don’t literally do that.  I’m a writer.  I use metaphors.  But it still doesn’t hurt any less.

I did that for yesterday’s post.  It left me devastated and completely out of energy.  Which leads to today’s post.  I am only posting this because I need to let the molten parts of my brain cool (a metaphor again) while, at the same time, continuing my unfortunate obsession with posting every day.

So, now I am done.  My brain needs to cool.


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Filed under autobiography, Paffooney

Astroboy and His Better World

Here is the finished Astroboy Paffooney.

Here is the finished Astroboy Paffooney.

When I was a boy in Iowa, growing up in the 1960’s, I remember being seriously infected by the notion that true heroes were like Astroboy.  I watched the show on a black and white Motorola TV every day at four after we got home from school.  Astro could fly.  He was super-strong.  He could battle the evil monsters and machine men from my worst nightmares and always come out the winner.  And though he was a robot, he was a boy like me.  I thought a lot about Astroboy and I played Astroboy games with my friend Lester in our back yard.  The theme song played over and over in my head.

The Astroboy March
Music by Tatsuo Takei; Lyrics by Don Rockwell
There you go, Astroboy, on your flight into space.
Rocket hi—-gh, through the sk—-y
For adventures soon you will face.
Astroboy bombs away,
On your mission today,
Here’s the count—-down,
And the blast—-off,
Everything is go, Astroboy!
Astroboy, as you fly,
Strange new worlds you will spy,
Atom ce—-lled, jet pro—-pel—-led
Fighting monsters high in the sky,
Astroboy, there you go, will you find friend or for,
Cosmic ran—-ger, laugh at dan—-ger, everything is go, Astroboy!
Crowds will cheer you, you’re a he—-ro, as you go, go, go, Astroboy!

What can I say?  I was a stupid child with an imagination easily manipulated by television.  My world consisted of Astroboy every afternoon, Red Skelton on Wednesday nights, and Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday evenings.  I cried for the Astroboy characters who sometimes suffered and died during the adventure.  I cringed when Astrogirl stumbled into danger.  But I knew in my stupid heart that everything would be all right in the end.

When President Kennedy was murdered, or when the Apollo Astronauts burned, I didn’t really feel those events.  I still thought a happy ending would come to save the day.  I believed that I had the power to make things right the way Astroboy did.  I was doomed to learn the hard way.

I had heard from my friends about weird things that a fifteen-year-old neighbor would do sometimes.  I understood that he liked to “do things” to younger boys.  I should have been scared to death of him.  But, the cosmic ranger laughs at danger.  I was ten when he caught me near his yard.  He forced me down into a hidden place behind a pile of old truck tires.  He got my pants and underpants down and forced me to stop fighting.  I remember it as pain and shame and horror.  It was a monster I never dreamed of, and no one came to my rescue.

We used to believe that the future held undiscovered treasures and wonder.  We believed that when a hero was needed, one would always step forward.  I wanted to be that hero.  I would go forward, however, wondering if it all led to an unhappy ending.  “Crowds will cheer you, you’re a hero, as you go, go, go, Mickeyboy!

(I should confess that this is an old post written in 2007.  It was at a time when I was finally ready and able to  talk about what happened to me 40 years before.  My attacker has since died of a heart attack, and though he was never held accountable for his actions, I have forgiven him.  What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?  Strong like Astroboy.)


Filed under artwork, autobiography, humor, Paffooney, Uncategorized

The Fallen Ace

The Fallen Ace

I have not been a very good teacher of late. I have been ill, having difficulty breathing and aching in a number of ways. I would stay home, but I lose a full day’s pay for every sick day I must use now. I could end up owing the school money at the end of the month if I miss too much. So, I have posted a Paffooney that portrays in oil paint the proper attitude. As the Baron is dropping to his death (WWI pilots did not have parachutes) he gives the old thumbs up. I know I am going out just like that. The end is coming, but I fear it not. Achtung! It has been a good flight up to now.


May 1, 2014 · 12:42 am