Writer’s Block?

A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face. –Jorge Luis Borges.

It’s a real beach, that devil of a writer’s block. A real hot beach. I can’t go for a swim to get the sand out of my drawers and cool down. There are sharks in the ocean. Jelly fish scattered around me. Those darn jellies and their sting stop me. There is no way off this beach and out of the sun. I’d say that sums up my version of writer’s block. Pretty bad, isn’t it?

Instead of a beach, it might be a snow storm. Or out on a desert dune and no oasis. Or stuck in an elevator that won’t go up or down. There isn’t an easy out. It’s always a beach when a work-in-progress falls on my head.

The characters, especially Miss Main, are not letting me in on their inner lives and their secrets. In one way or another, characters I’ve befriended, fallen in love with, have shut down my story.They are leaving the party with no explanation. All the struggle in the world won’t get them back to the Yellow Brick Road and on their way to the Emerald City. No amount of alchemy will return Dorothy to Kansas. You see, it’s not their story.

So how do I get myself off the beach? Through the snow storm? How can I find that oasis? Certainly not by gritting my teeth and grunting my way forward. Those jelly stings hurt like hell and I am not fond of shark bite.

Of course, I could take a helicopter lift off the beach and be done with the whole damned mess. But abandoning Story is not an option. If I abandon her, she dies, never to live again. No other creator can breathe life back into her.

The only way off this beach of writer’s block is to let go. To trust Story, when she is ready, to reach for my hand, to squeeze it softly, then lead me out of the darkness and into the sunshine. Trusting Story means I have to sit myself down and write first draft crap. Complete garbage though it is, this is only the Lewis and Clark part of the journey. Laying down a beautiful, scenic highway comes later.

Does this work every time? Does this work for every writer? I’ve lost enough stories to know that the answer is probably no. All I can do is try and write that first draft crap. Once that draft is done, there’ll be another and another until a final, polished manuscript is ready for the world. If I don’t do this, I will have the death of more stories on my conscience. Then I have failed not only my stories. I have failed myself.

So what do I do to get back on track with Story.

Pre-writing Exercises

I have a couple of morning exercises I practice.I am not always able to do them, but I do try. Been doing them a couple of years. I wake up thirty minutes before my day begins. I make myself a cup of coffee. Then I sit myself down, draw a card from my tarot deck or randomly choose a hexagram from the I Ching or open up a book of photographs or paintings. The chosen image is a prompt. Inspired by this image, I free write 50-250 words of a scene, a reflection, a short essay or a prose poem.

Next comes a Copy Exercise. I copy 250 words or so from the work of a writer I admire. It might be a short story, the chapter of a novel, or an essay. Once I complete that work, I try a different writer. Over the past two years, I have copied Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Alice Munro, Yasunari Kawabata, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Graham Greene and P. D. James. In case you wonder why the rotating writers. It’s so I won’t start imitating one writer or another.

Both these exercises loosen my mind and get my subconscious going. They let it know that I am available. As a bonus, the prompt exercise occasionally gives me a blog post.

Some Suggested Techniques

Creating can be scary and hard. Often our subconscious will prevent us from going boldly where no writer has gone before. Over the years I’ve used a number of techniques that have helped.

QUIT TRYING TO MAKE PERFECT: Give yourself a break. You are human. Nobody gets it right the first draft. That novel, story or blog post you admire so much may have taken the author twenty, thirty, forty drafts before it was ready for primetime.

MOST OF ALL: To get the imagination going, simply to Be Available.

FREE WRITE: Free write for five minutes as fast as you can, beginning with the sentence: I am afraid to write this story because…

THE FRIEND: If you are writing a novel or short story, think of your Main Character as a Friend you are getting to know well. Ask yourself what it would take for you to abandon a friend. Has this occurred with MC?

THE HEMINGWAY: Hemingway stopped in mid-sentence at the end of a day’s writing session. The next writing session he picked up that the sentence where he laid it down and wrote his five hundred words for that day.

PROMPTS: For each of my three nanowrimos, I used a visual prompt for each day’s work. I pulled up my day’s image, then asked how the image related to my characters and their story. It gets funny when my characters reside in Bithlo, Florida, and the picture is of the Eiffel Tower or New York City. Sometimes I have to stretch but it’s okay. The wine on their table was produced in France.

THE ELMORE LEONARD: Get the characters talking. Elmore Leonard once said, that when a character quit talking, he killed them off. I find murdering a character a little extreme. Then you have bad character karma and that is a real beach. Who wants that? Sending them to bed without supper can wake them up to sunny side.

CHANGE CHARACTERS: Write a scene from a minor character’s point of view. I once wrote a story about a contract killer. Before he fulfilled a contract, he got a manicure. So I wrote a scene from the manicurist’s point of view. Without knowing anything about him, I wanted to know how she saw him?

CHANGE PLOTS: Write some scenes that are not in your story. Take your Main Character grocery shopping. What kinds of food does she like? Does she move through the store slowly or briskly? Does she have conversations with the other shoppers, or with the store employees?

DATE A CHARACTER: Take one of your characters on a date. Where would the two of you go? What would you talk about?

INTERVIEW YOUR CHARACTERS: Ask a friend to portray a character in your story and not just the hero or villain. Give them a profile of the character. Make a list of ten open-ended questions for the character to answer. Then interview them. Pretend you are Jimmy Fallon. Or interview the character for a major character role in your story.

THE LAST SCENE: Write the Last Scene. It should mirror your First Scene. If the First Scene begins on a trip in a car, your final scene might have MC in a car. Once you have written your final paragraph, you now have a destination for your story.

LIST 10 THINGS: Return to your First Scene. List ten things in that scene, such as: a bridge, a man with a cane, a duck, a river, a bulldozer, a pebble in a shoe, a dead tree, rain clouds, a dollar bill and a pair of spectacles. Now choose a character other than your Main Character. Write a scene including that character and one of the ten things.

THE WEEKEND NOVELIST: Over the years I have read hundreds of books on writing. Blessed is the one who picks one writing book and sticks with it. If I had to choose just one, it would be Robert Ray’s “The Weekend Novelist”. The first edition is best but the more recent edition will do. It is designed for non-professional writers with a forty hour work week. Setting aside several hours each weekend to work through the exercises in the book, the novelist will have a polished novel in one year.

TAKE A BREAK AND FIND THINGS THAT INSPIRE YOU: Sometimes we run out of gas just like our cars. Find things that inspire you and help you rediscover that inner creative. It can be a movie or reading a scene in a book or a piece of music. I have a friend who wrote her first published novel to the sound of Dave Matthews.

These are not hard and fast rules. They are guidelines. Each writer has to discover the process that works best for them. The important thing is to keep writing. Remember a day without writing is still a day without writing.

Hamlet: If walls could talk

When clouds appear, wise men put on their cloaks;
When great leaves fall, the winter is at hand;
When the sun sets, who doth not look for night?
(Richard III, 2.3)

Now here’s where things get greasy. The ghost don’t talk. He is the strong silent type. His little finger motions Hamlet to follow him. Just like Daddy did when he was alive.

“Don’t go, Hamlet,” Horatio pleads, afraid that Hamlet will try to fly or something foolish. But Hamlet is stubborn. He’s got to find out what the big guy is up to.

Next thing the Hamster knows he is up on the roof alone and cornered. Ghostee is out for revenge. And not just any revenge. He wants big time revenge. Big Daddy Hamlet isn’t about to take his croaking lying down. No, sirree. Hamlet’s old man is not going to give Hamlet a Get-out-of-jail-free card.

Seems his Cain of a brother, Claudius, poisoned him. Didn’t even give him time to say his goodbyes one last time to the woman of his dreams, Gertrude. On top of that, he’s roaming around purgatory, trying to cleanse himself of all the blood and guts he spilled. He had a lot to confess. Daddy Hamlet was the original Terminator. He was out to terminate Norway because Norway wanted to terminate him. Now he’s roaming around purgatory. All ‘cause Claudius didn’t give him a deathbed confession.

Hamlet had never been close to his dad. Now here is the Great Santini asking Junior to do in Uncle Claudius for croaking him. Claudius is going to pay, and he is going to pay Big Time. And Hamlet is the Chosen One. Big Daddy is insisting he do the deed. And leave his mother to the fates. They will take care of her.

Well, the ghost has gone and done it. He really has gone and done it. Sure, Hamlet knew there was something rotten in Denmark. There’d always been something rotten in Denmark. The good news was that Denmark wasn’t Sweden. The bad news was that Denmark was Denmark.

Hamlet isn’t sure revenge is a good idea. What is the big deal about croaking the king? Why does it need some revenge. Why can’t everybody just get along.

Everybody did their kings in. Even the Romans. Just look at the Neros. All that fiddling around and nobody had a taste for revenge when they were assassinated. If there was anybody who croaked a ruler and got away with it, it was the Romans.

These days there’s no more croaking the king or the queen. It just isn’t done. You have to wait for Mommy to die, and she never dies. Just look at Prince Charles and Edward VII. Queen Victoria hung around till she couldn’t hung around no more.

Hamlet Has His Doubts.

We’ve all got a bit of Hamlet in us. Hamlet reveals doubts we all have. Did I make the right decision? What if I do this thing? What if I don’t marry her? Do we have enough money to buy this house? Should we try that new treatment? Is this the right school for Junior? What if he don’t ask me out?  Should I spend all that money for this school? On and on these questions go. If they’d just go away, we’d be happy. Right?

So here’s Hamlet. He’s seen the damn Ghost. The Ghost says that he’s his daddy. He sure looks like Daddy. With all that armor and all. But what if he isn’t Daddy? What if he’s the devil? Old Scratch? Lucifer? Satan? Didn’t Satan tempt Jesus? Not just once but three times? What if Hamlet’s hallucinatin’? Wouldn’t be the first time some kid has got a bad batch of mushrooms, now would it? What if it was Polonius, and not Claudius, that did Daddy in? Daddy didn’t like Polonius.

What if Hamlet refused to follow the Ghost’s command for revenge? It’s a ghost of an idea, but it’s an idea. Even though the ghost says he’s Daddy, even though the ghost sounds like Daddy, even though the ghost smells like Daddy with his Early Viking cologne, Hamlet can’t be sure. What ghost in its right mind would walk around, asking somebody to kill someone? That went against the Thou-shalt-not-kill Commandment. That would get the ghost in even deeper in purgatory.

Besides this ghost says he’s Hamlet’s daddy and he’s in purgatory, not hell, for his sins. How can that be? Everybody knows purgatory doesn’t exist. Martin Luther says so. John Calvin says so. John Knox says so. It’s not in the scriptures, they all preach. Purgatory is a pigment of the Pope’s imagination. Any good Protestant knows it’s a Catholic thing. And if Hamlet is anything, he is a good Protestant. So he has his doubts.

This is a Revenge Tragedy, and don’t you forget it.

Hamlet is a dead man from Act One on. From the time he sees the Ghost of a Daddy, demanding revenge. For the avenger must die. It is written. It is the tradition of all the revenge tragedies before and Hamlet knows this. He is well-schooled in dramaturgy.

If only Hamlet ignores Big Daddy and elopes with Ophelia to sunny Italy, maybe love can save Hamlet’s hide and he will get to ride the happily-ever-after Disney ride.

‘Course love didn’t save Romeo. It’s hard to escape your fate. But you can try. It’s a lot for Hamlet to think about. And one thing is for sure. Hamlet is good at thinking. It may be the only thing he is good at.

Lazarus returns from the dead.

So now it’s dawn and Hamlet returns from his Agony on the Roof to find Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo snoring. He wakes them up.

“Listen, dudes,” he says. “Nothing happened last night.”

“Nothing?”

“Nada,” Hamlet lets them know. “On top of that, I need you guys to pretend I am mad. Can you do that?”

“But, Lord,” Horatio says.

“No buts.”

“You’re the sanest man I know,” Horatio throws at him.

“Not anymore. Now, swear.”

Barnardo, Marcellus and Horatio swear. Hamlet leaves the stage.

“Why won’t the Hamster tell us what happened?” Horatio asks the air.

“He doesn’t trust us,” Marcellus points out.

“Don’t that beat all,” Barnardo says.

They are feeling like that fifteen-year-old kid who isn’t chosen for the baseball game.

Hamlet: So you think you’ve got problems

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Hamlet 1. 5. 

Act 1 Scene 4 1/2. We already know that it is a dark and stormy night at Elsinore Castle. Well, it’s about to get darker and stormier.

There’s Team Hamlet—Hamlet, Horatio, Marcellus, Barnardo. Sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it? Or a vaudeville act? The Marx Brothers. The Three Stooges without the nyak-nyak-nyak. Up on the roof, chattering their teeth off from the chill. Next thing you know, Horatio’s teeth stop chattering. Then to Hamlet, “My lord, look, it comes.”

Now that “it” can only be one thing. Not Polonius. Not Claudius. Not Gertrude. Not Laertes. Definitely not Ophelia. Yep, you guessed it.

Enter the ghost. Just three words. If you’re looking for a good plot device, this is a good one. After all, Dickens did it. So why not Shakespeare? They are about to change Hamlet’s life. Hamlet turns. Not slowly and not fastly, but just right the way Goldilocks liked her porridge. The next thing out of the Hamster’s mouth,” “Whoa, dude.” The “dude” comes from his surfing days.

He buckles up his courage. That is Courage with a capital C. “Okay, Big Guy. WTF are you?” Hamlet takes a gander at Horatio. His eyes big as saucers. Not just any saucers either. Flying saucers. “Is that who I think it is?”

Horatio nods an uh-huh.

Hamlet to the ghost, “Hey, are you from heaven? You don’t look like you’re from heaven. You’d be all shiny and new if you were. Maybe you’re a demon.”

He leans over and whispers to Horatio, “Run and get an exorcist. We have a big one here.” Then thinking better of it. “Oh, never mind. ”

He squints and speaks to the ghost, “Well, if it don’t beat all. It looks like the Old Man. Hi, Dad. I got to tell you that you forget to pay my college tuition for this semester. The school almost booted me out. Thank God for financial aid. But you know the interest rate I am having to pay on that loan. It’s enough to bankrupt the kingdom out of castle and moat when I become king.”

Hamlet then realizes he may not be talking to dear old Pop. “Look, dead corpse—you are dead, aren’t you? How did you get out? And don’t give me that yo-ho-ho-and-a-bottle-of-rum-on-a-dead-man’s-chest either. I read Treasure Island and I know how it turns out. It ain’t you.”

Hamlet and the news in the Elsinore Town Crier

He was a man, take him for all in all.
I shall not look upon his like again. Hamlet Act 1. Scene 2.

Act 1 Scene 4 and a half.

As far as Obits go,this was a good one.

Hamlet VII, better known to his subjects as Big Daddy, died after thirty years of rule over Denmark. He was six foot seven if he was a day. His like will not be seen again. (Thank God.)

Sure our taxes were high under his reign, but we can be proud of his accomplishments. With his flaming red hair blowing in the wind, he rode Stanyon, his large black stallion, into battle after battle, carrying his great broadsword, Flingermeyer. He defeated the Swedes, the Poles, the Rus and just about anybody else that wanted to give we Danes a hard time. (He was a non-discriminator when it came to picking a fight. Somebody just glared at him the wrong way. Before you knew it, Big Daddy was in that country, chasing the guy down. Next thing you know it was whoopee with lots of raping, looting and plundering. He was big on the raping, looting and plundering gig.)

Succeeding his father, Old Smutmouth I, he changed his kingdom from a vassal state, kowtowing to everybody else, to a power broker. Even the Germans took him seriously. ‘Cause he left them shaking in their boots. (And our taxes went up. But we won’t mention that.)

He had just returned from teaching the Norwegians a lesson. He had whopped off the head of their king, Fortinbras I. (Ugly business, that whopping off heads. It’s a rough job but somebody has to do it. And, oh yeah, our taxes went up. Like I said, we won’t mention that.)

Lying out in his beloved garden, a poisonous snake sneaked up and bit the king in the tuckus. Our good warrior did not suffer long. (Unlike those he gave a whopping to.) He was dead within seconds after the bite.

Hamlet VII leaves behind his beloved wife, Gertrude, his son Prince Hamlet and his brother and successor, Claudius. (And an almost completed statue in Center Court at Elsinore Castle. Our taxes went up to pay for that too. But, like I say, well, you know. It’s the q.t. on the taxes.)

Found on Craig’s List
For sale:

One broad sword, extremely sharp. Very good for chopping off heads. Used extensively in three campaigns.

Shield. It has a painting of that clown Yorick on it. That’s why the previous user didn’t have any trouble defeating everybody. They fell on the ground laughing when they saw the painting.

Armor. It’s a bit rusty. The leggings do stick a bit, but if you are on your horse, it won’t matter. Previous users: Hamlet VII, the conqueror of all things Fortinbras. With a bit of WD40, you’re going to be up for your next campaign. And it’s bound to be a winner with the ladies at your next joust.

Spurs. Nice and shiny. Made by Brokkr who learned everything he knows from Vulcan.

Saddle. Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and Richard the Lion-heart would be proud of this saddle.

For more information, contact Gertrude de Claudius née Hamlet at Castle Elsinore.

Hamlet the Teetoltaler

HAMLET The king doth wake tonight and takes his rouse, Keeps wassail and the swaggering upspring reels, And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down, The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out The triumph of his pledge. HORATIO Is it a custom? HAMLET Ay, marry, is ’t. But to my mind, though I am native here And to the manner born, it is a custom More honored in the breach than the observance. This heavy-headed revel east and west Makes us traduced and taxed of other nations. They clepe us drunkards and with swinish phrase Soil our addition. And indeed it takes From our achievements… HAMLET ACT 1 SCENE 4.

Act 1. Scene 4. Let’s talk Hamlet. In Scene 2, Team Hamlet—Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo—told Hamlet they’d seen the ghost of the prince’s daddy. Now Hamlet was no believer in ghosts. So why did he go up to the roof? It sure wasn’t to party.

Back in Scene 2, Hamlet had a problem. He was a teetotaler in a castleful of drinking folk. So much so, the revelers were asking, “What happened to the Hamster?” They knew what a drinker Hamlet had been once upon a time before he went off to University. He could do a keg in five. He had been proclaimed the Kegman by Elsinore High in his senior year. It was pretty much assumed by his fellows that the Hamster was going to shake things up at Wittenberg U.

Well, he got there and came under the spell of Mr. Badass Protestant himself. In case, you’re not sure who I am talking about, Mr. B P was none other than Marty Luther himself.

MARTY LUTHER

Back in his pre-University days, Marty had a gruel issue. In the monastery where he monked, Marty felt like he wasn’t getting his shared of the gruel. He hadn’t minded the tonsuring. He hadn’t minded the flagellation. Actually he liked it so much he had his whip engraved with his initials. He even got used to the four a.m. prayer meetings.

He never got enough gruel. At the prayer meetings, his stomach grumbled. It roared. It quaked. Besides all that, it made a sound that could be reasonably thought of as a fart. Now we all know what happens when you pass gas at a prayer meeting. Before his fellow monks could say “Praise the Lord” three times backwards in Latin, the Abbot was casting the devil out of Marty. In case you’ve never been to a Casting-the-Devil-Out Exorcism, I’m here to tell you it hurts. On top of that, the Abbot put Marty on Inquisition rations.

There was no more blowing off steam for Marty. Somehow he got himself under control. But he still had such an empty tummy from a lack of enough gruel. Things came to a head when one morning Marty got up enough courage to approach the Abbot. “More,” he pleaded with those Oliver Twist eyes of his. “More, sir.”

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back for the Abbot. He had had enough. Since everybody called Marty Spot, it seemed appropriate for the Abbot to cry out, “Out, damned Spot. Out, I say.” Out Marty went and landed on his caboodle.

NINETY-FIVE, NOT NINETY-FOUR, THESES

What happened next is greatly disputed. Marty said he saw the angel, Angel. The otherworldly creature had not been in the Lord’s Service long enough to have a real name. That’s what he told Marty. Then he instructed Marty to write down all the things the ex-monk thought was wrong with the Church.

The real story is much more mundane than that. Marty landed his caboose on a family of porcupines. He hurt so bad he couldn’t sit down for a month. During that month of de-pinning, he did a Hemingway and wrote down his complaints standing up. He wrote them out on a long roll of toilette paper a-la-Kerouac. Said it was good for his soul.

Mostly he was concerned with the lack of gruel for monks. This amounted to seven-five complaints. There were twenty additional complaints about church concerns. Concerns like the monasteries should be coed. Marty had always considered himself fashion-conscious so he demanded that the Pope wear brown, not white. Stuff like that. He called his complaints Theses.

Marty typed them up in Latin and they sounded real good. ‘Course anything sounds serious in Latin. That is what Latin was invented for. Back in the olden days of Ancient Rome, Seriosimus and his bosom bud, Mediocrites, thought Rome needed something to make the Greeks take it serious. “How about a language?” Mediocrites asked. Seriosimus felt like saying Eureka but somebody else had said that already. Instead he said, “Good idea. I’ll call it Latin.”

Nero recorded his first album, “There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight”, in Latin and, as the scribes say, the rest was history. It hit Number 10 with a bullet on the Billboard Charts. Pretty soon the darn thing went platinum. As you can see, Latin was some serious stuff.

Since there was no Fox News nor Dr. Phil nor Oprah in those days, Marty did the next best thing. He nailed those Ninety-Five Theses on a church door. Unfortunately the nail he used had termites. Before the next mass, the door fell off its hinges. Marty was arrested for destroying church property.

THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION

It looked bad for Marty. Real bad. It seems that two German princes, Blotto the Rufusite and Otto the Dufus, had gone to war over the Burning-at-the-Stake Concession. They both wanted to demonstrate their methodology to the Pope. Seems Burning-Witches-And-Heretics was the latest in sports. Not only was it a hoot of a game, it was the precursor to modern polo and futball. That’s soccer for all you who don’t know.

As a part of the Game, said Witch or Heretic would have their head chopped off just as they were getting toastee. The head would then be thrown into the field. Players on the two teams knocked it around with mallets. After a while, things did get kind of messy. The heads got chewed up something fierce.

Marty did not fancy going out this way. It didn’t sound like fun to him. This is the place I could say that something dramatic happened. Like Marty baptised Blotto in the Holy Ghost and he came out speaking in tongues. Or he raised Otto’s daughter from the dead. But I wouldn’t be speaking true. What really happened was that Blotto’s wife had the hots for Marty.

Since she was Otto’s kid sister, she put a stop to all the fighting. When she and Marty got together, they hit it right off. She was a former nun who left the order because she was getting none. So they made a religious connection immediately. She understood the gruel issue completely. On top of that, they had a hot time in the old town that night. To top it all off, here was a man she could tell what to do.

Before you could spit twice, the ex-nun was divorced and marrying Marty. Since the Pope did a Henry-the-Eighth to her and decreed no divorce for her, she took matters into her own hands. She talked the local JP into divorcing her, then she tied the knot with Marty. That’s when things got interesting.

Under his wife’s influence, Marty started his own church. They wouldn’t be Christians anymore. They’d be Lutherans. They had tent revivals all over Germany. The ex-nun, Griselda, was Amee Simple McPherson and Marty was Jimmy Swaggart (before he sinned). They really packed them in.

Pretty soon Marty had disciples. One of those disciples turned out to be a real troublemaker. Johnny Calvin told Marty to his face that the ex-monk was not predestined to be one of the Chosen but Griselda was. And so was Johnny. It wasn’t the theology that got to Marty. It was the way J C looked at Griselda, and Griselda looked at J C.

Marty couldn’t have that. Griselda was his one-and-only. Besides, if he lost Griselda, the offerings would drop. Seems Griselda was a real show stopper. Marty had a showdown with Johnny at sundown. They faced each other down on Main Street of Wittenberg Town. They eyeballed-to-eyeballed each other, then had a knocked-down-drag-out. At the end, Marty sent Johnny packing, kicking his heaney all the way to Geneva. That’s in Switzerland, you know. Not since Freud kicked Jung out of the psychoanalytical fraternity had there been such a theological rift between two intellectual giants.

After a couple of years, Marty and Griselda settled down in Wittenberg Town. Since they were loaded from all the cash they took in, they decided to do an Oral Roberts and start their own University, Wittenberg U. To prove he was a real edumacator, Marty translated the Bible into German. He left all the juicy parts out, like Solomon making whoopee big time.

THE HAMSTER COMES TO JESUS

That was where the Hamster came in. He was one of the first students to sign up at WU. Since Hamlet was not the smartest kid on the block, he had failed his SATs big time. So Mama Gertie was looking for anyplace that would take her son and turn him into a real prince. She saw Wittenberg U’s brochure, and she was smitten. That was the place for her boy.

It wasn’t really Marty that brought the Hamster to Jesus. It was the hangovers. When it came to drinking, Hamlet was no amateur. He could drink five people under the table. Thing was he hurt like the devil the next day. On top of that, his hangovers took an unusual course of action. Either his head hurt or his body. They didn’t hurt at the same time. And when his head hurt, his head hurt.

Hamlet had always been an inquisitive kid. In some future time, he would’ve been an investigative reporter for the New York Times and won the Pulitzer. The Hamster being the Hamster, he just about who-what-where-when-and-howed anything standing on campus. Anybody that gave him a hard time, he would say, “Inquiring minds want to know.”

So he gets to campus at Wittenberg U and hears about Marty’s cure for just about anything that ails you. He goes to a prayer meeting. One smack on the head from Marty and Griselda and the Hamster is a Lutheran.

HAMLET THE TEETOTALER

The first thing the Hamster did was join the campus chapter of AA. At first, he started packing folks into the meetings. After all, he was a prince and he did have those Elvis looks. The girls may not have wanted to give up the booze. But they sure wanted a date with the prince. Not because of the things he said but because he was Elvis.

The popularity did not last. As we all know, there is nothing more obnoxious than a reformed smoker. “You know you’re going to die from cancer. And not just any cancer. Lung cancer.” Then they start ticking off a list of other possible diseases. Sounds a little like a hypochondriac, doesn’t it?

The Hamster had become a regular stick-in-the-mud. He went around campus, handing out pamphlets. He busted up sorority and fraternity parties. And he put a real nix on tailgating. So when he got the call that Daddy was dead and Claudius was king, even Marty and Griselda were relieved. They loved Hamlet’s enthusiasm. But a little glass of wine at dinner wasn’t about to hurt anything.

BACK AT THE CASTLE

They say that misery loves company. Despite his enthusiasm for all things Marty, the Hamster was miserable. As we saw back in Act 1 Scene 2. He didn’t miss the hangovers. He did miss the fun guy he had been when he was snockered.

When he was drinking, there wasn’t a party he wasn’t invited to. There wasn’t a guy who wouldn’t choose the Hamster for their team. There wasn’t a girl he couldn’t seduce. He was a regular Casanova, Witttenberg U’s own Don Juan. Now all that was gone.

Just about the time he was ready to backslide, he got the call from home. Now he had a new mission. He would convert the folks back home to Protestantism. Make teetotalers out of them too.

So when he went up to the roof that night, it wasn’t to see no ghost. He went to have a prayer meeting. While Claudius, a Catholic king, was downstairs Henry-the-Eighthing all over the place, Hamlet was on the roof, having his first AA meeting at Elsinore. There would be some real casting out demons on that roof too. Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo would have their first come-to-Jesus moment that very night. Soon they would be new men.