Lord Larry Is a Lousy Hamlet

images-2.jpgSeveral years ago I suggested to my daughter, who was in High School and reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet, that perhaps she should speculate on whether Claudius was actually the bad guy in the play. Did Claudius interpret Hamlet’s activities (especially the play-with-the-play) as evidence that his crime was known or perhaps that Hamlet was planning to kill the new king, Claudius himself? Should we trust the ghost on the parapets?

As I said, it was speculation and should have resulted in a lot of careful reading of the play looking for clues and interpretations to support this alternate hypothesis. When I was at university it was made clear to me that in the humanities, having the right answer was less important than clearly representing the supporting evidence.

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Little Things That Irk Me

051a7f4322c133732035d16f87f39445c8c92“Irk”: Great word.

When I was at university I was considered laid back, easy going, accepting, slow to warm up, just a real nice guy. During several varieties of psychological tests (a common way for starving students to make a few bucks) I was calm, never got rattled, avoided panic and often ending up winning the “game.” Then  went to grad school and became much more confrontational.

Through the years I have encountered little things that, if only momentarily, shatter my calm acceptance. In popular parlance I believe these would be considered “pet peeves.” Unfortunately, the term “pet peeve” is possibly my biggest “pet peeve.” A peeve is an annoyance, something that irks someone, but the use of the word “pet” to (presumably) denote something personal, possibly uniquely held, I balk.

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There Are People That Never Read a Book?

download.jpgYou hear it all the time: some people even consider not-reading to be a positive characteristic. Of course there are levels and varieties of not-reading: some business types would not be caught reading fiction (although I knew a powerful corporate officer that rejected all fiction … except the romantic bodice rippers he read secretly at night in bed; some social climbers only read (or professed to having read) the most mainstream best-sellers; some readers are overly restrictive, concentrating on a specific genre such as fantasy or science fiction; and there are those who refuse to read anything older than ten years.

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Is That a Gat or …

download.jpgI confessed recently that I have an uncontrollable urge to read a mess of detective fiction. I recognize several strong influences, any one of which might boost Mickey Spillane ahead of Henry James on my short-term reading lists. But there are two facts that I need to recognize before I go full-out Peter Whimsey: first, I never have abandoned the fun of mystery stories like I have the tedium of science fiction (look at my reading lists: there’s a mystery or two almost every month), and second, there is so many examples of mystery or detective fiction available and being written every day — so many that no one, let alone I, would ever hope to read them all.

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