Hamlet: What’s in a Name?

Video for this post. A Fish Called Wanda: Do you speak Italian?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 2

Act 1. Scene 1. A changing of the guards at midnight.

I am confused. What were two Italian guys or Spanish doing in an English play, taking place in Denmark? I am talking Francisco and Barnardo.

At least,Will didn’t use Balthasar. Balthasar makes an appearance in quite a bit of his plays. He appeared in four. And Antonio gets around, jumping from play to play. Bianca manages to get in a couple of plays as well. Petruchio was in both “Taming of the Shrew” and “Romeo and Juliet”.

Could Rosaline in “Romeo and Juliet”, the girl Romeo is pining over at the beginning of the play, be Rosalind in “As You Like It” when she was older.

When Barnardo and Francisco are first introduced on sentry duty, I am wondering if I made it to the right play. Maybe “Hamlet” is going to be another “All’s Well That Ends Well” or “As You Like It” set in Italy. True love wins in those plays. Then I see the Ghost and I go, “Big Whoop.” This play is not going to turn out well.

Makes me wonder why Barnardo is not Bernhard or Bernt. It is a popular name. It means “bear” and the character is a bear of a man. He may actually look like a bear. He may even grunt like a bear. He is not the kind of guy you’d take on in a bar fight, but he’d make a great bouncer. Only thing Barnardo doesn’t grunt in “Hamlet”. He talks and shivers in the cold like everybody else. Doesn’t even seem to be the kind who’d want to fight, though he is doing guard duty. Making sure Norway is not sneaking up to attack Elsinore Castle.

You know, Dino is short for Barnardo. Wonder if Dean Martin wasn’t a Barnardo. Guess that wouldn’t have been a good show biz name.

Then there is this Francisco business. The name means that the fellow is from France. Yet there is not one oui or a parlez vous francais in the whole play. Go figure. Wonder why Shakespeare didn’t call him Franz. That would have been the right name for the right place. But Barnardo and Francisco are only the tip of the iceberg.

Next, in steps Horatio and Marcellus into the scene. They have Latin names. Hey, what’s all these foreigners doing guarding the castle? Where the heck are the Denmarkians?

All this leads me to believe that maybe these folks are hired hands. Mercenaries hired by the king to come up to Denmark and help out with the soldiering. After all, Norway’s itching for a fight and the new King of the Danes still has to consolidate his power. It would make sense to hire some boys from way down South.

Ophelia and Laertes are Greek names. Claudius, Polonius and Cornelius, are more Latin folks.Reynaldo, Polonius’ servant, has a Spanish or Portuguese name. All these characters from way down South leads one to believe that Shakespeare still had “Julius Caesar” on his mind.

Only Gertrude, Osric, Voltemand and Fortinbras sound like they should be in a play set in Scandinavia. And of course, Hamlet. Hamlet was a variation on Hamnet. Hamnet was Shakespeare’s eleven-year-old son who had died four years before “Hamlet” was performed.

Back to the Italians. Next thing we know characters with the names Linguini, Lasagna and Calimari will be showing. Speaking of Lasagna, all this writing is making me hungry for some Italian.

But just what is it with the names?

Naked

Song for the post. Peter and Gordon: Lady Godiva

Some people feel naked without their cellphones. They can’t go anywhere without them. Otherwise how would their family and friends and work be able to reach them. It’s awful when you call someone up and get a voice telling them they’re not available. Or even worse, the caller gets dead air. Or dead text.

More folks have been driven insane because of that one thing, dead cellphonitis, than in the entire million years or so of Cro Magnon insanity before. It’s a fact. You don’t believe me. Just check the government statistics. Oh, I forgot, Congress considered the funding for the Department of Cro Magnon Insanity an earmark and it’s out. So you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Some people feel naked without their makeup. And yes, ladies, that includes guys too. Have you seen what Gene Simmons of KISS looks like without makeup. Needless to say he makes Shrek look like Brad Pitt. No, these people can’t go anywhere without their lipstick or eye shadow or mascara.

But me, I feel naked without my lowly pen and pad. I was out and about the other afternoon, and suddenly the Muse, as she is wont to do, drops an idea out of the seventh dimension where all good ideas come from. And what do you know? I had left my pad and pen at home. These days it’s getting harder and harder to remember those juicy little tidbits that might make a good scene or a blog or a story that just needs telling. Unfortunately I had nary a thing to write on and now that brilliant idea has gone kerplop. I know it was brilliant. I just know it because it is the one that I can’t recall.

Which reminds me of the story of Hadley losing Hemingway’s stories on a train when he was living in Paris. Who knows? Maybe it was “A Perfect Day for Bananfish” and J. D. found it when he was off in Europe fighting the Big One for Truth, Justice and the American Way. We do know that the Salinger met the Maestro and was duly impressed.

All I know is that I just can’t place that story that the Muse dropped on my head. I do know it came because the darn thing hurt. It’s somewhere in my pea-brain. I know it is. But who knows. Some guy named Salinger may find it on a train traveling from Geneva to Paris and publish as his own. That is the way of muses, you know.

Has this ever happened to you?

Superbowl Blues

Song for this post. The Truckers: Baby Likes To Rock It.

Since the month began with the Superbowl, I can think of no better way to end the month than with another pickin’ and grinner ’bout Superbowl Sunday.

We don’t watch the Superbowl for the plays.
We don’t watch it for the ads for cars.
We only want to see another day
When Janet Jackson’s thirty-twos were a star.

It was a tragic turn of events
When Justin Timberlake left his prints
On Janet Jackson’s thirty-twos.
It made all the evening news.

We may not remember the game
But nothing ever will be the same
When Justin’s hands made history.
That day Janet lost her mystery.

We don’t watch the Superbowl for the plays.
We don’t watch it for the ads for cars.
We only want to see another day
When Janet Jackson’s thirty-twos were a star.

It was another bust this year
Katy Perry wouldn’t drop her gear
Lenny Kravitz’s hands were tied
On his guitar they did reside.

So we have to wait till next year
To rah rah rah and to cheer
Till then we’ll roll back the dvr
To the day Janet’s thirty-twos were a star.

We don’t watch the Superbowl for the plays.
We don’t watch it for the ads for cars.
We only want to see another day
When Janet Jackson’s thirty-twos were a star.

Hamlet and the Knock-knock joke

Song for the post. Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody.

This is the short and the long of it. The Merry Wives of Windsor Act 2, Scene 2.

You know Shakespeare invented the knock-knock joke. In  Act 1 Scene 1, “Hamlet” begins with “Who’s there?” Made me wonder if “Hamlet” was one long knock-knock joke without a punch line.

You know, in those days, there were not any knock-knock jokes going around. Until:

Barnardo: “Knock knock.”

Francisco: “Who’s there?”

Barnardo: “Eliza.”

Francisco: “Eliza Who?”

Barnardo: “Eliza Bet You Can’t Be Queen.

Francisco: “I may not be Queen but I sure can sing.”

Barnardo: “Sing?”

Francisco: “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?”

Okay, you didn’t get it. Shakespeare did, and so did Freddie Mercury.

This “Who’s there?” asked by Francisco, the guard on the turret, sets the whole mood and theme of the play. The play is about who is who and what is what and getting it all sorted out.

Do you have a favorite knock-knock joke?

To publish or not to publish

Song for this video. Pink Floyd: Money.

As promised, I don’t usually use this forum to rant and rave. Believe me there is plenty to rant and rave about. Especially if you come from a long line of ranters and ravers like me. But this time I just can’t keep my mouth shut. Something must be said, and I would like to join the chorus of voices that are saying it. I am sure you’ve heard about Harper Lee’s new book. It’s all over the news.

We grew up with Scout just like we grew up with Holden Caulfield. These became our spiritual kin. We love them in a way that we don’t love any other human being. And we keep them close to us. Sometimes we even ask, “What would Scout do?” Or “What would Holden Caulfield do?” Scout is always Scout but Holden Caulfield is never just Holden.

Now we hear that we are going to find out what happened to these two scamps. Seems Salinger deemed it in his will that there will be more Holden Caulfield soon. That is not the case when it comes to Scout. She’s going to step out into the world, kicking and screaming. Scout, and her mama Harper Lee, get no say in the matter.

Oh, sure. All those involved with the project releasing “Go Set a Watchman” say they have talked to Scout and she doesn’t object. Nobody outside of the project’s managers is really sure whether her mama, an aged Miss Lee with major health issues, approves. Folks involved with the project say they have checked with her and she gives the project a big thumbs up.

At first, they said Miss Lee didn’t even remember the fool thing. It had magically disappeared. Now it has magically reappeared. I can’t speak for the memory of Harper Lee or any author. I just can’t imagine her writing something, then forgetting about it the way we’ve been told. I have been writing since I was knee high to a grasshopper and I just about remember every piece I’ve produced. Both the good and the bad. Authors take pride in the characters we create and love them for the children they are. But I am here to tell you that I would never send my children out into the world if they were not dressed up in their Sunday best.

Over the years Miss Lee insisted she had no other books for publication. Which leads me and others to believe that there just ain’t no way she wanted this book published for all the world to see. My theory is Harper Lee took it out with the garbage and never expected it to blow back in her face. Based on the evidence we’ve heard, I don’t think she would agree to this egregious affair if she had her health. So why are her wishes not being honored? ‘Cause there is big big big bucks to be made.

Just ask Christopher Tolkien. He’s been living off the proceeds of his daddy’s research notebooks for years. It was done to Ralph Ellison and William Faulkner and Scott Fitzgerald and Charles Dickens. Executors of their estates released work into the world that just wasn’t ready for the big time. If it had been ready, I am sure the creators would have sent their children forth with pride. Instead they have to withstand the laughter that gets thrown at them like a cake at a food fight.

Margaret Mitchell was twice raped. Her estate published “Lost Laysen”, an early stab she made at writing. Then they went and hired not one, but two, novelists to write up epilogues for her “Gone with the Wind” children. Pretty soon we will have “Tara and the Zombies”. They did it to Abe. Why not Margaret Mitchell. Depressing, isn’t it?

There are all sorts of theories about why Hemingway committed suicide. I am one who thinks that he could not stand the thought that he actually typed “The Garden of Eden”. Notice I didn’t say wrote. Now it’s out there in the world, butt naked, and spitting on the master’s grave. All ’cause the folks who were supposed to have Papa’s best interest at heart forgot their responsibility. It is amazing how much shit we will do if we are offered the right amount of money.

At least J D Salinger made sure that Holden Caulfield gets a proper introduction to the world. In his Sunday Best.