News from All Over the Place
The mind reels. Mine is reeling, anyway. Too much is happening. I cant take it all in.
Lets start with politics. Not much good news for the Bush regime: North Korea keeps threatening to join the nuclear club, and Kim
As this years elections approach, a new sex scandal in Congress has further demoralized the Republicans, and it doesnt matter how many times Rush Limbaugh reminds us that the Democrats have well, you know: Monica Lewinsky and Barney Frank and Gerry Studds and Wayne Hays and of course well always have Chappaquiddick. Lets not forget Chappaquiddick. The Republicans still talk about Chappaquiddick in their sleep.
But all this doesnt mean the Democrats will recapture Congress. By now our form of government practically guarantees Republican dominance, and the GOP has developed the arts of fundraising, gerrymandering, and propagandizing to a degree that makes election virtually synonymous with reelection. The defeat of an incumbent is no longer just an upset; its now a near miracle.
Turning to sports, the Detroit Tigers, who lost 119 games just two years ago, have whipped the New York Yankees in the playoffs. I take this as a sign of divine wrath, not against the Yankees, or even George Steinbrenner, but against the Yankee fans, whom Jonathan Swift described as the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.
All season long these folks have demanded a pennant as their birthright, while mercilessly booing poor Alex Rodriguez if you can call a guy who makes $25 million a year poor for failing to be another Mickey Mantle, whom they booed just as mercilessly a generation ago for failing to be another Joe DiMaggio. By the way, it was exactly 50 years ago that Don Larsen pitched a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series, with Mantle blasting a home run and making a superb running catch in center field.
Ah yes, I remember it well. I was a little brat of a Yankee fan myself, and I taunted my best pal, Terry Larson (no kin to Don), a Dodgers fan, until, to my astonishment, he burst into tears and took a swing at me. Id never seen Terry cry before, but the humiliation of his Dodgers was more than flesh could bear. I just sent him an e-mail taunting him again. Ha ha! Nothing like a little salt in the old wounds, I always say.
Now for some literary news. Last week, I regret to say, I repeated an outdated cliché about the first, allegedly bad, quarto of Hamlet, published in 1603. I have since done some research and learned that some sober recent scholars think this was not a bad (or pirated) copy of the play, but a workmanlike, if inelegant, acting abridgment. What I wrote falls under the dubious heading of what Everyone Knows. Once again, Everyone was wrong.
An Italian scholar named Giorgio Melchiori argues that the longer and more familiar text of the play, the good quarto published in 1604, had been circulating in manuscript. It was written for the study, not chiefly for the stage a revolutionary change of genre at the time, Melchiori contends.
In 1598 or so, Gabriel Harvey observed that Hamlet was highly esteemed by the wiser sort of readers. To me this confirms that the author was not the actor from Stratford, but, as I have long suspected (though Melchiori might disagree), Edward de Vere, the highly literary Earl of Oxford, who was too genteel to write for money.
Needless to say, all this is a challenge to what Everyone Knows about Shakespeare, the supposedly commercial playwright who dashed off plays for profit. Surprise! The real author knew he was writing great literature, whether or not it wound up on the stage (as several of his plays, in his own time, apparently didnt).
Finally, in the animal kingdom, traditionally peaceable elephants from Africa to Asia have been not only attacking humans, but also, by one report, raping and killing rhinoceroses. But as Rush Limbaugh points out, the Democrats have done even worse things.
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